Jan. 2, 2003
(#13 AP/#13 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-2) vs. (#7 AP/#6 ESPN/USA Today) Purdue Boilermakers (10-1)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2003, at 4:06 p.m. EST.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The TV Plans: CBS Sports national broadcast with Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Debbie Antonelli (analysis), Ken Mack (producer) and Chris Svendsen (director).
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) and Shawn Lewallen (analysis). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Purdue game via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and Purdue (www.purduesports.com) athletics websites.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Purdue (www.purduesports.com).
No. 13 NOTRE DAME SET TO FACE NO. 7 PURDUE BEFORE NATIONAL TV AUDIENCE
One of the nation’s top intersectional rivalries will be rekindled when No. 13 Notre Dame plays host to seventh-ranked Purdue before a national television audience Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST) at the Joyce Center. The Irish and Boilermakers have split their last eight meetings, although Notre Dame has logged wins in the last two matchups at the Joyce Center.
The Irish (8-2) equalled the third-best start in school history on Tuesday afternoon with a 75-68 victory at Marquette. Notre Dame used a 33-11 run midway through the second half to open up a 14-point lead and eventually register the win. The Irish also hit 16 of their final 24 shots from the field and finished with a stellar .540 field goal percentage for the contest.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast led all scorers with 23 points and added 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Junior guard Le’Tania Severe contributed a career-best 20 points and a season-high six assists, while freshman forward Courtney LaVere made her first career start a memorable one, collecting 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for her second consecutive double-double.
Purdue (10-1) enters Saturday’s contest on the heels of a 76-66 win at home over Tulane Thursday night. Junior guard Erika Valek carded a game-high 23 points and six steals, while junior guard Beth Jones tossed in 15 points and junior forward Lindsey Hicks tallied 14 points for the Boilermakers.
Junior forward Shereka Wright is Purdue’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 19 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Valek is second in scoring at 12.9 points per game, along with 5.5 assists per game.
Kristy Curry is in her fourth season as the Boilermakers’ head coach with a record of 88-22 (.800). She is 2-2 in her coaching career against Notre Dame.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame’s latest ascension to college basketball’s summit already is underway, thanks in large part to the nine returning monogram winners and three starters back from last season’s 20-10 club. Of the nine veterans back in the fold, only two are seniors, providing head coach Muffet McGraw with a rich blend of stability and experience upon which to build her next title contender.
McGraw now is in her 16th season at Notre Dame with a 350-129 (.731) record (438-170, .720 in 21 years overall) that includes 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament bids, four trips to the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 national championship. Along the way, she has groomed seven All-Americans, 17 all-conference selections (including 10 first-team picks), seven players who have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States, and three USA Basketball National Team players (who have won a total of six medals). In addition, 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently are coaching at the high school or college level, including five collegiate head coaches. She also has been a master recruiter, attracting seven consecutive top 20 classes, including this year’s freshman class, which was ranked eighth in the nation by Blue Star Basketball. McGraw recently coached the 600th game of her career on Nov. 29, a 69-57 win at USC, and she earned her 350th victory at Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve at Marquette, joining Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to win 350 games at Notre Dame.
Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (11.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg., .444 3FG%, .900 FT%) is a two-time Associated Press All-American and she is a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection this year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has seen her name sprinkled liberally througout the Notre Dame record book, including marks for scoring (6th, 1,489 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .478) and free throw percentage (1st, .871). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers would be good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history, and her three-point ratio would be the best in NCAA history. She has led the Irish in scoring four times this season, including a game-high 20-point effort (6-8 FG, season-high 5-6 3FG) vs. IPFW. Ratay also showed leadership and poise in crunch time against Colorado State, coolly knocking down two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to give the Irish a narrow victory.
In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 16.0 ppg., team-high 8.0 rpg., 2.3 apg., 1.1 bpg., three double-doubles) on the list of 30 candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s outstanding player. Batteast is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after turning in one of the finest rookie seasons in school history. Like Ratay, she also was a preseason first-team all-conference choice this year. Batteast has scored in double figures in nine games this season, including two 20-point efforts. She also nearly posted a triple-double in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Cleveland State, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. She did notch her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at USC. Batteast also contributed a season-best 24 points (10-15 FG) at Arizona State and added her second double-double (18 points, game-high 10 rebounds) vs. Colorado State. She tacked on her third double-double at Marquette, posting a game-high 23 points (career-best 11-17 FG) and 11 rebounds.
Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (10.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg., team-high 3.5 apg., 2.0 spg., .508 FG%), who quickly has developed into one of the top point guards in the BIG EAST. Last season, the speedy Severe capably filled the large shoes left by the graduation of All-American Niele Ivey, setting career highs in virtually every statistical category. Severe has evolved into a scoring threat for the Irish this year, scoring in double figures in five games this season after cracking double digits only seven times in her first two years at Notre Dame. She canned all three of her three-point attempts vs. Cleveland State and scored 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-14 FT. Severe turned her the best offensive performance of her career at Marquette, scoring a career-high 20 points (5-5 FG, 10-11 FT) and dishing out six assists. She is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (2.6 ppg., 2.5 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy dished out a game-high seven assists at Arizona State, the most by an Irish rookie since Ratay’s seven handouts against Butler on Dec. 1, 1999. She also scored a season-high six points at Marquette, knocking down the first two three-point field goals of her career.
At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (3.4 ppg., 2.8 rpg.) offers a unique mix of outside shooting ability and toughness in the paint. The 6-2 native of Gillette, Wyo., connected at a 33-percent clip from the three-point line as a freshman, and she showed no fear in playing some of the nation’s elite teams, scoring in double figures on the road at Connecticut and Tennessee. She scored a season-high 12 points against Temple, her third career double-digit game and best-ever outing at home.
Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (1.6 ppg., 0.4 spg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.6 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) also will be counted on for support at the guard positions. Swanson tied her career high with five points vs. Cleveland State, while Krause has seen action in five games, grabbing a career-high three rebounds vs. IPFW and canning her first career three-pointer vs. Tennessee. Meanwhile, Joyce is out indefinitely while recovering from a myriad leg injuries suffered during her career.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton (8.3 ppg., 5.8 rpg., team-high .585 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.1 ppg., 4.8 rpg., .500 FG%) have teamed up with Batteast to produce a formidable front line for Notre Dame this season. The 6-3 Borton turned in a solid performance in Notre Dame’s season opener, hitting her first six shots and finishing with 18 points. She also set new career highs with 11 rebounds and four assists vs. IPFW, and later added 14 points and a career-best four blocked shots against Tennessee. At the same time, Flecky is widely considered to be the most improved player on the Notre Dame roster, after logging 10 points per game during her team’s tour of Europe last May. She already has displayed her improvement this season, tallying a career-high 22 points and game-best eight rebounds vs. Cleveland State. Her five double-figure games this season already have topped her total (three) from all of last year. However, she missed the Marquette game with a lower back injury she aggravated vs. Tennessee.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (11.3 ppg., 6.2 rpg., .492 FG%) also is seeing significant playing time on the blocks for the Irish this season. LaVere was a consensus prep All-American as a senior at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif., averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, all while shooting 57 percent from the field. The potential the 6-3 LaVere brings to the table was noticed by one national media outlet prior to the season, as the website Women’s College Hoops.com named the Irish rookie one of its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact.” LaVere wasted little time in living up to that billing, coming off the bench to card 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists vs. Cleveland State. It was the highest scoring output by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut since Ratay’s 18-point night vs. Toledo in 1999. LaVere has been playing extremely well of late, averaging 13.7 ppg. and 7.2 rpg. in her last six games, including a season-high 20 points vs. IPFW and the first two double-doubles of her career vs. Tennessee (game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds) and Marquette (16 points, game-high 12 rebounds). She also made her first career start vs. Marquette in place of Flecky.
SERIES HISTORY VS. PURDUE
Purdue owns a 10-4 edge in the all-time series with Notre Dame, although the teams have split the last eight meetings since the Boilermakers won the first six games in the series. Purdue also holds a slight series edge over the Irish at the Joyce Center, winning three of the five previous meetings, but Notre Dame has won the last two times the Boilermakers have come to South Bend.
This intrastate rivalry began back in 1984, when Purdue claimed a 62-59 win at the Joyce Center. The teams played again the following year in West Lafayette, but the series then went dormant for the next five seasons. Notre Dame renewed acquaintances with the Boilermakers in 1991, and the series has been played annually since then, with the exception of the 1998-99 season.
Although the Irish came close against Purdue, they did not break through with their first win until the 1996 NCAA Tournament, when Notre Dame toppled the Boilermakers, 73-60, in the first round of the Midwest Regional at Lubbock, Texas. It also was the first-ever NCAA Tournament win for the Irish, and it coincided with Notre Dame’s first season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference.
Beginning with that postseason contest seven years ago, the rivalry has steadily grown in intensity, with each team winning four games. The Notre Dame-Purdue series reached a fever pitch two years ago when the two sides met in St. Louis to decide the 2001 NCAA championship. The Irish came out on top with a narrow 68-66 victory, getting two free throws from consensus national player of the year Ruth Riley with 5.8 seconds left to pull out the win.
The Boilermakers exacted a small measure of revenge last season in the teams’ only matchup, registering a 70-57 win at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette. Purdue let virtually the entire way, but could not completely shake a game Irish squad. Notre Dame trailed by just seven (31-24) at halftime, and actually wound up outshooting the Boilermakers for the game, hitting 42.6 percent from the field compared to 39.1 percent for Purdue. The major differences came in two areas < turnovers=”” (the=”” irish=”” had=”” 21=”” giveaways=”” to=”” only=”” 10=”” for=”” the=”” boilermakers)=”” and=”” foul=”” shooting=”” (purdue=”” made=”” 19-of-29=”” charities=”” versus=”” 7-of-10=”” for=”” notre=”” dame).=””>
Alicia Ratay scored 12 points, Jacqueline Batteast added 10 points and Le’Tania Severe chalked up six points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Irish. Mary Jo Noon led four Boilermakers in double figures with game highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds.
In many ways, Notre Dame and Purdue are similar teams. Both squads are coming off second round appearances in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Both teams also were picked high in their respective conferences and are pegged to be impact players in this year’s postseason. Like the Irish, the Boilermakers offer a strong mix of youthful talent and veteran savvy. And, like Notre Dame, Purdue has thrived despite playing a difficult non-conference schedule to date, posting a pair of wins over ranked opponents (No. 8 Vanderbilt and No. 19 Boston College).
The Boilermakers wrapped up a three-game homestand Thursday night with a 76-66 win over Tulane at Mackey Arena. Junior guard Erika Valek was one of three Purdue players in double figures, scoring a game-high 23 points. Junior guard Beth Jones added 15 points and junior forward Lindsey Hicks chipped in with 14 points and a game-high seven rebounds for the Boilermakers, who shot 48.2 percent (27-56) from the floor, and 85.7 percent (18-21) from the free throw line. Purdue also forced 25 turnovers, with Valek notching a game-high six steals.
A high-scoring club, the Boilermakers have tallied at least 70 points in all but two games this season, while allowing their opponents to reach that mark only twice. Purdue is averaging 78.3 points per game this season, and won each its first four contests by at least 19 points. However, the Boilermakers have been in some close battles of late, with five of their last six games decided by 10 points or less. In those tight affairs, defense has been the difference, as Purdue is giving up only 59.4 ppg. and forcing better than 21 turnovers per outing.
Junior forward Shereka Wright paces a balanced Boilermaker attack, posting team highs of 19.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Valek has set the tone for Purdue at both ends of the floor, collecting 12.9 points and 5.5 assists per game, along with 3.3 steals per contest. Jones is the Boilermakers’ primary sharpshooter, averaging 11.6 ppg. while making a team-high 29 three-point field goals and hitting at a .394 clip from beyond the three-point line. Senior center Mary Jo Noon is the fourth Purdue player scoring in double figures, posting 11.5 ppg. with a solid .511 field goal percentage.
Head coach Kristy Curry is in her fourth season patrolling the sidelines in West Lafayette, owning a career record of 88-22 (.800) at Purdue. She is 2-2 in her coaching career against the Irish, winning twice at Mackey Arena, but losing both of her matchups with Notre Dame away from home.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-PURDUE SERIES TIDBITS
- Saturday’s game will be the the third time Notre Dame and Purdue both have been ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press poll at tipoff. The Irish won the other two games, both in the 2000-01 season (72-61 and 68-66).
- Aside from a 33-point Purdue win in 1992, the other four series games between the Irish and Boilermakers at the Joyce Center have been decided by an average of 6.3 points per game.
- The 70-point mark seems to be a magic figure in the series. One or both teams have scored 70 points in 11 of the 14 matchups, with the first team to reach that milepost winning each time.
- Notre Dame and Purdue have played 11 times in the regular season, with all 11 games occuring within a 15-day span (Nov. 26 to Dec. 10). Saturday’s game will mark the first time the two teams have not played within that 15-day window.
- Two of Notre Dame’s four wins in the series have come in postseason play < a=”” 73-60=”” victory=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” round=”” of=”” the=”” 1996=”” ncaa=”” tournament,=”” and=”” a=”” 68-66=”” triumph=”” in=”” the=”” 2001=”” ncaa=”” championship=”” game.=”” the=”” 1996=”” win=”” also=”” was=”” notre=”” dame’s=”” first-ever=”” ncaa=”” tournament=”” victory.=””>
- The Irish and Boilermakers are the first and only teams from the same state to play for the NCAA title.
- Irish head athletic trainer Jim Russ < now=”” in=”” his=”” 17th=”” season=”” at=”” notre=”” dame=””>< served=”” as=”” an=”” assistant=”” athletic=”” trainer=”” at=”” purdue=”” from=”” 1977-82.=””>
- Notre Dame director of golf George Thomas is a 1950 Purdue graduate and was a member of the Boilermaker golf team that finished second at the 1950 NCAA Championship.
- Fourth-year Notre Dame assistant athletic trainer Doug Boersma is a 1997 Purdue graduate and worked with the Boilermaker football team as an undergraduate.
- Second-year Notre Dame assistant athletic trainer Tricia Matasyk is a 1999 Purdue graduate.
NOTRE DAME AGAINST THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
Notre Dame is 26-37 (.413) all-time against the current alignment of the Big Ten Conference, although the Irish have won five of their last seven games against Big Ten schools. Notre Dame has played all 11 members of the Big Ten, owning winning records against Indiana (5-3), Wisconsin (3-2), Northwestern (2-1) and Iowa (1-0). In addition, Notre Dame’s 14-game series with Purdue is the longest against any Big Ten opponent in school history.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- Notre Dame will earn its first victory over a top-10 opponent since defeating No. 9/8 Purdue, 68-66, in the 2001 NCAA championship game.
- The Irish will pick up their first win over a ranked opponent since Feb. 10, 2002, when they logged a 60-44 victory over No. 16/18 Boston College at home.
- Notre Dame will pocket its eighth consecutive home win against a ranked opponent, continuing a streak that dates back to Dec. 8, 1999.
- The Irish will improve to 72-4 (.947) all-time when playing as a ranked team at home.
- Notre Dame will win its 34th consecutive non-conference home game, a streak that dates back to Dec. 9, 1996.
- The Irish will card their 56th win in 57 home games, and their 81st victory in the last 84 home contests.
- Notre Dame will collect its third consecutive victory at home over Purdue, and its fifth series win over the Boilermakers (all in the last eight seasons).
- The Irish will chalk up their sixth win in the last eight games against Big Ten Conference opponents.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Jan. 3)
Junior G Jeneka Joyce: leg injuries, out indefinitely
Sophomore F Katy Flecky: lower back injury, questionable (DNP at Marquette)
Notre Dame will face its second ranked opponent of the season when it takes on No. 7 Purdue Saturday at the Joyce Center. Ranked foes are nothing new for the Irish < they=”” faced=”” six=”” top=”” 25=”” clubs=”” last=”” season=”” and=”” posted=”” a=”” 2-4=”” record.=”” over=”” the=”” years,=”” notre=”” dame=”” has=”” had=”” most=”” of=”” its=”” success=”” against=”” ranked=”” opponents=”” when=”” it=”” is=”” ranked=”” itself=””>< the=”” irish=”” are=”” 23-22=”” (.511)=”” in=”” games=”” where=”” both=”” teams=”” are=”” ranked.=”” notre=”” dame=”” also=”” is=”” 156-32=”” (.830)=”” all-time=”” when=”” it=”” takes=”” the=”” floor=”” as=”” a=”” ranked=”” team=””>< the=”” irish=”” stand=”” 13th=”” in=”” both=”” major=”” polls=”” entering=”” saturday’s=”” game=”” with=”” purdue.=”” see=”” pages=”” 152-154=”” in=”” the=”” notre=”” dame=”” women’s=”” basketball=”” media=”” guide=”” for=”” more=”” information=”” on=”” the=”” irish=”” against=”” ranked=”” opponents.=””>
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
Including Purdue, the Irish have faced 10 other NCAA champions over the years, compiling a career record of 16-51 (.239) against these title-winning teams. Notre Dame has a .500 or better series mark against three former national champions < north=”” carolina=”” (2-0),=”” texas=”” (1-1)=”” and=”” usc=”” (4-1),=”” whom=”” the=”” irish=”” defeated,=”” 69-57=”” on=”” nov.=”” 29=”” in=”” los=”” angeles.=”” notre=”” dame=”” has=”” had=”” better=”” luck=”” since=”” it=”” hoisted=”” the=”” hardware=”” for=”” the=”” first=”” time=”” in=”” 2001,=”” owning=”” a=”” 2-4=”” record=”” against=”” other=”” ncaa=”” champions.=”” the=”” irish=”” have=”” defeated=”” usc=”” in=”” each=”” of=”” the=”” last=”” two=”” seasons,=”” while=”” falling=”” to=”” purdue,=”” connecticut=”” and=”” tennessee=”” (twice).=””>
EYE ON THE IRISH
For just the second time in school history, Notre Dame will play on network television when CBS broadcasts Saturday’s game with Purdue to a nationwide audience. The Irish also played on The Tiffany Network back in 1997, dropping a 74-67 decision at Ohio State. Despite the loss, Katryna Gaither was selected as the CBS/Chevrolet Player of the Game after piling up 23 points and 17 rebounds against the Buckeyes.
Notre Dame has been extremely successful against its fellow Indiana schools over the years, compiling a 99-29 (.773) record vs. the rest of the Hoosier State. Among current Division I members, the Irish have a winning record against all the other Indiana institutions except Ball State (1-2) and Purdue (4-10). Historically, Notre Dame has had the most in-state success against Butler (19-6), followed by Evansville (18-1) and Valparaiso (16-0). The game with Purdue is the last of three for the Irish this season against Indiana schools. Notre Dame won at Valparaiso, 74-68, on Dec. 4, and downed IPFW, 82-54 on Dec. 21 at the Joyce Center.
DIGGER AND ME
With a 75-68 Irish win at Marquette on Tuesday, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw joined Digger Phelps as the only Irish basketball coaches (men’s or women’s) to collect 350 victories at the school. McGraw is 350-129 (.731) in 16 seasons at Notre Dame, while Phelps posted a 393-197 (.666) mark in 20 years at the helm of the Irish men’s basketball program. In addition, McGraw has the third-highest winning percentage of any basketball coach at Notre Dame (men’s or women’s) with at least five years of service, and her ratio is the best by any coach in the last 60 years. Only men’s coaches Bertram G. Maris (.794 from 1907-12) and George Keogan (.771 from 1923-43) have had more success at Notre Dame over an extended period than McGraw.
The Irish pulled out a narrow 46-45 victory over Colorado State on Dec. 23, but a close game shouldn’t come as any surprise to Notre Dame fans. Over the last three seasons, the Irish have played 12 games that were decided by five points or less, splitting those dozen contests. However, the Colorado State nail-biter was the first one-point win for Notre Dame since a 63-62 squeaker over Villanova on Dec. 12, 1998 at the Joyce Center.
During the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw, the Irish have posted a 32-38 (.457) record in games decided by five points or less, including a 14-12 (.538) mark since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
COOL AS ICE
Senior guard Alicia Ratay added another chapter to her ever-growing legend at Notre Dame on Dec. 23 when she buried two free throws with 9.3 seconds left to defeat Colorado State, 46-45. It wasn’t the first time the Lake Zurich, Ill., product had stepped up in the clutch. Playing as a freshman at No. 8 Rutgers in 2000, Ratay set a BIG EAST Conference record by going 7-for-7 from three-point range, including two treys in the final 16 seconds of the contest with the Irish trailing by six. She went on to finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds as Notre Dame pulled out a 78-74 overtime win.
Last season, Ratay nearly topped herself in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals vs. Syracuse. With the Irish trailing by 16 points and only 3:52 left, Ratay scored 17 of the next 19 Notre Dame points, including nine in a span of 18 seconds, to single-handedly spark a 19-5 run that pulled her team within 81-79 with 18 seconds remaining. However, Syracuse finally forced a Ratay miss and hit three free throws to save the victory.
IRISH OFF TO A FAST START
With its win over Marquette on Tuesday, Notre Dame improved to 8-2 this season, matching the third-best 10-game start in school history. The Irish went 10-0 to open the 2000-01 campaign, and started off 9-1 in 1998-99. This year’s 8-2 debut also marks the fourth time in the last five seasons the Irish have won eight of their first 10 games.
THE BATTEAST 500
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast scored the 500th point of her career in Tuesday’s win at Marquette. She now has 518 points in only 36 career games, making her the fourth-fastest player to reach the 500-point mark in school history. A total of 13 players have scored their 500th point in less than two seasons at Notre Dame, although only five have done so in less than 40 career games (including Batteast and senior guard Alicia Ratay, who did it in 35 games).
Last season, Notre Dame struggled early on to find the winning formula on the road, dropping its first five games away from the Joyce Center before defeating Miami on Jan. 2. It took the Irish a lot less time to earn a road win this season, as Notre Dame claimed its road opener, 69-57 at USC. The Irish then added wins at Valparaiso, Arizona State and Marquette < notre=”” dame=”” didn’t=”” pick=”” up=”” its=”” fourth=”” road=”” win=”” last=”” season=”” until=”” the=”” 11th=”” contest=”” away=”” from=”” home=”” on=”” feb.=”” 5,=”” 2002=”” at=”” pittsburgh.=””>
The Irish have won 10 of their last 14 regular-season games outside the Joyce Center, including eight of their last 10. Of those last 10 games in hostile territory, the only blemishes on that record came earlier this season with losses at DePaul and at a neutral site vs. Tennessee.
A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Notre Dame has raced out to a 8-2 start thanks to its well-balanced offense which has seen at least three players score in double figures in seven of those eight wins. In addition, the Irish have had four players reach double digits in five games this season (Cleveland State, USC, Valparaiso, Arizona State, Temple) and had five double-figure scorers on three occasions (Cleveland State, USC, Temple). The last time Notre Dame had five double-figure scorers three times in the same year was the 2000-01 season, when the Irish turned the trick against Connecticut (twice) and Alcorn State.
As you might expect, Notre Dame also has five players averaging in double figures for the season as well. Sophomore forward and Naismith Award candidate Jacqueline Batteast has been the pacesetter at 16.0 ppg., followed by fellow Naismith nominee, senior guard Alicia Ratay (11.4 ppg.). Freshman forward Courtney LaVere has come on of late, moving up to 11.3 ppg., while junior guard Le’Tania Severe is fourth at 10.4 ppg., and sophomore forward Katy Flecky rounds out the high-scoring quintet at 10.1 ppg. (more than double last year’s scoring average of 4.9 ppg.). In addition, sophomore center Teresa Borton is lurking not far out of double figures at 8.3 ppg.
LaVERE IS THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere has made good use of her time on the floor this season. Although she is averaging just 19.5 minutes per game, the Ventura, Calif., product is collecting 11.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, ranking third and second on the team, respectively. If LaVere were to average 40 minutes played, she would be logging 23.2 ppg. and 12.7 rpg., both tops on the squad. By comparison, Notre Dame’s leading scorer and rebounder, sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast, would be registering 21.8 ppg. and 10.9 rpg. if she averaged a full 40 minutes.
LaVere has continued her rapid development over the last six games, collecting 13.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She also has posted double-doubles in each of her last two outings vs. Tennessee (game highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds) and Marquette (16 points, game-high 12 rebounds). In addition, LaVere made her first career start in the latter game, replacing an injured Katy Flecky.
START ME UP
Senior guard Alicia Ratay reached a milestone at Valparaiso, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native now has started 107 of 108 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). With her start vs. Tennessee last weekend, Ratay moved past Mary Gavin (1984-88) into sixth place on Notre Dame’s career games started list. Ratay is now 17 starts away from the school record of 124, currently held by Ruth Riley. At her current pace, Ratay would break Riley’s mark by the time the BIG EAST Championship rolls around in early March.
RATAY’S MILESTONE WATCH
Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several other career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native reached her first landmark at Valparaiso, becoming the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She also is the second Irish player in three seasons to attain that feat, following Kelley Siemon, who completed the hat trick when she scored her 1,000th point in Notre Dame’s NCAA championship game win over Purdue in 2001. The others in this elite group are Beth Morgan (1993-97), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95) and Trena Keys (1982-86). Ratay currently has 1,489 points, 542 rebounds and 209 assists.
Ratay also is 25 three-point field goals away from tying the Notre Dame career record of 249, currently held by Sheila McMillen (1995-99). Ratay averaged more than 70 treys per season during her first three years at Notre Dame.
Two other milestones also are within Ratay’s reach. She ranks sixth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,489 points, but she needs only 100 counters to move into the top five on that chart, catching Keys (1,589 from 1982-86). In addition, Ratay has been one of the most durable players in school history, appearing in all 108 Irish games in her career and starting all but one (2001 Senior Night vs. Georgetown). She can break the Notre Dame career records for starts and games played with another 17 starts and 24 games played this season.
Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.871) and three-point field goal (.478) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition, if her career ended today, Ratay’s three-point percentage would stand as the best in NCAA history, and her free throw ratio would be sixth in NCAA annals. For a complete rundown of Ratay’s place in the Notre Dame record books, please see the charts on page 9 of these notes.
Notre Dame was ranked 13th in the latest Associated Press poll, marking the eighth consecutive week the Irish have appeared in the AP poll this season. Notre Dame was among the top 10 for the first five weeks of the season, and the Irish have spent 56 weeks in the top 10 in the 26-year history of the program (two weeks in 1996-97, 16 in 1998-99, 15 in 1999-2000, 18 in 2000-01 and five in 2002-03).
Notre Dame has been extremely successful at home when playing as a ranked team. The Irish are 71-4 (.947) all-time at the Joyce Center when they appear in the AP poll at tipoff, including 45 wins in their last 47 games and a 4-0 mark this season.
The Irish also are ranked 13th in the Dec. 24 ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their eighth consecutive week in that survey as well. Notre Dame spent two weeks in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today poll earlier this season, marking its first foray into the top 10 since finishing No. 1 after winning the 2001 NCAA championship. That top ranking also capped a string of 52 consecutive weeks in the coaches’ top 10 for the Irish, who appeared in the poll’s upper division continuously from Nov. 22, 1998-April 2, 2001.
Notre Dame is slated to face four teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 3/2 Connecticut, No. 5/5 Tennessee, No. 7/6 Purdue and No. 23/22 Boston College). In addition, Villanova is 24th in the most recent AP poll, while DePaul is ranked 24th in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Six other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls < arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” miami,=”” rutgers,=”” virginia=”” tech=”” and=”” west=”” virginia.=””>
NOTRE DAME HAS REASON TO BE THANKFUL AFTER FALL SEASONS
Irish teams have turned in exceptional performances during the 2002 fall sports season. All six of Notre Dame’s fall sports (football, volleyball, men’s/women’s soccer, men’s/women’s cross country) qualified for postseason play, headlined by a third-place finish for the women’s cross country squad at the NCAA Championships, an NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team, and a Gator Bowl berth and No. 9 BCS ranking for the football team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.
Thanks to its successful finishes in the fall, Notre Dame has moved into fourth place in the latest NACDA Directors’ Cup standings, which were released Dec. 19 (see note on page 11).
RATAY, BATTEAST NAMED TO 2002-03 NAISMITH PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) have been named preseason candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball.
The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.
For Ratay, this year’s selection to the Naismith Preseason Watch List is her third in as many seasons. The senior guard is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and ranks sixth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,489 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.478) and free throw percentage (.871), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 25 treys to match Sheila McMillen’s total of 249 from 1995-99.
Last season, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection after finishing third in the conference in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She also averaged a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record 88.2 percent of her charities. Ratay started every game for the Irish last season and has played in every Notre Dame game in her career, starting 105 of a possible 106 contests to date.
Batteast was named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America pick after averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in her rookie season at Notre Dame. The sophomore forward ranked second in the BIG EAST in rebounding and double-doubles (11) and fifth in blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), earning second-team all-conference honors along the way. She also was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a six-time conference Rookie of the Week in 2001-02. Batteast is one of only four sophomores to be named to the 2002-03 Naismith Preseason Watch List.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools to have more than one women’s basketball player named to the Naismith Preseason Watch List, joining Duke, Kansas State, LSU and Tennessee in that select group.
HALF AND HALF
Over the last three seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 54-1 (.982) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. In that span, the only time Notre Dame didn’t win with a halftime lead was Jan. 12, 2002 at Villanova, when the Irish took a 31-25 advantage at the intermission, only to see the Wildcats claim a last-second 60-59 victory.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
Over the last seven seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 106-2 (.981) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. The only times that notion didn’t come to pass were on Feb. 17, 2001 (Rutgers 54-53), and Feb. 26, 2002 (Villanova 48-45). Notre Dame has added four wins to that count this season with victories over USC, Arizona State, IPFW and Colorado State.
… BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SCORE IF YOU WANT TO WIN
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the last seven seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 85-3 (.966) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame has added four wins to that total this year with its victories over Cleveland State, Arizona State, Temple and IPFW.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Notre Dame has two captains this season < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla.).They are the 34th and 35th different players to serve as captains for the Irish in the 26-year history of the program (not including the 1986-87 season, when captains were chosen on a game-by-game basis).
IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
The 11 players on this year’s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster < michigan=”” (14)=””>< is=”” not=”” represented=”” for=”” the=”” second=”” year=”” in=”” a=”” row,=”” although=”” assistant=”” coaches=”” (and=”” former=”” notre=”” dame=”” players)=””>Coquese Washington and Letitia Bowen both are Michigan natives.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that are a bit uncommon in Irish colors. Freshman guard Megan Duffy has chosen to wear No. 13, becoming only the second Notre Dame player since 1986 to wear those digits. Danielle Green was the last to sport No. 13, doing so during her freshman season (1995-96). Prior to Green, no Irish player had worn that number since Trena Keys (1982-86). Not one to bow to superstition, Duffy chose the No. 13 because she was born on Friday the 13th.
In addition, freshman forward Courtney LaVere is wearing No. 41 this season, a number which has been modeled just once before by an Irish player. Imani Dunbar had that jersey number throughout her Notre Dame career from 1997-2001.
NOTRE DAME PICKED FOR SHARE OF BIG EAST TITLE IN PRESEASON POLL
For the first time in its eight-year affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame was picked to finish first in the league’s preseason coaches poll that was released Oct. 24 at BIG EAST Media Day. The Irish shared top billing with defending national champion Connecticut, with each team earning seven first-place votes and 161 total points in the balloting. Boston College (143 points), Villanova (128 points) and Virginia Tech (110 points) round out the top five.
Individually, Notre Dame was the only school to place two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST first team. Senior guard Alicia Ratay earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors for the second time in her career last season, and was a first-team all-conference selection. She is the top returning scorer for the Irish, averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in ’01-02. She also led the BIG EAST and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record .882 from the charity stripe. Ratay also was named one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award, her third selection in as many seasons.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast also was recognized by the conference coaches after being named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association National Freshman of the Year. The South Bend native averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, and was a unanimous selection as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. She also registered 11 double-doubles (second in the conference) and was a second-team all-league selection, the only freshman to make an all-BIG EAST squad in ’01-02. In addition, Batteast was a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America selection last year and like Ratay, she was chosen as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
RATAY NAMED CANDIDATE FOR SENIOR C.L.A.S.S. AWARD
Senior guard Alicia Ratay was selected as one of 30 candidates for the second annual Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s senior Player of the Year by the Senior CLASS Organizing Committee. Ratay is one of three BIG EAST Conference student-athletes on the list of Senior CLASS Award “Players to Watch,” joining Villanova’s Trish Juhline and Brianne Stepherson of Boston College. Connecticut guard Sue Bird received the inaugural award last year.
Ratay is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection last season. She ranks sixth in school history with 1,489 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .478 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 87.1 percent of her free throws at Notre Dame, and both her free throw and three-point percentages would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history.
Ratay also is an exemplary student, owning a 3.46 cumulative grade-point average while pursuing a double major in psychology and education. She has been named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team each of the last three years, and she has garnered Dean’s List honors three times.
The Senior CLASS Award < the=”” acronym=”” stands=”” for=”” celebrating=”” loyalty=”” and=”” achievement=”” for=”” staying=”” in=”” school=””>< is=”” based=”” on=”” a=”” number=”” of=”” factors,=”” the=”” most=”” important=”” being=”” that=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” have=”” exhausted=”” their=”” four=”” years=”” of=”” eligibility=”” and=”” have=”” fulfilled=”” their=”” commitment=”” to=”” their=”” respective=”” university.=”” in=”” addition,=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” be=”” working=”” toward=”” their=”” degree,=”” be=”” in=”” good=”” academic=”” standing=”” and=”” be=”” of=”” sound=”” moral=”” character.=”” the=”” award=”” was=”” developed=”” last=”” season=”” in=”” response=”” to=”” the=”” recent=”” trend=”” of=”” college=”” basketball=”” players=”” leaving=”” early=”” to=”” turn=”” professional.=””>
The performances of the 30 “Players to Watch” will be tracked during the season, and from that pool of players, a group of 10 finalists will be selected by a national committee of sportscasters and sportswriters that cover Division I college basketball. The finalists then will appear on the official ballot which will be voted upon in March by the national media committee and Division I college basketball coaches. The winner will be announced during the Women’s Final Four April 6-8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
LaVERE NAMED ONE OF NATION’S “TOP 21 FRESHMEN OF IMPACT”
Courtney LaVere was a consensus All-America selection and one of the top 25 prep players in the country following her senior season at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. One media outlet believes LaVere will continue that success in her initial campaign at Notre Dame. Women’s College Hoops.com chose the 6-3 freshman forward as one its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact” for the 2002-03 season.
LaVere joins the Irish after averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game during her senior season. She finished her high school career with 1,897 points (second in school history), 1,029 rebounds (third in school history) and 303 blocks (first in school history). She also holds school single-game records for points (45) and blocks (9), as well as BHS single-season marks for points (741), scoring average (26.5) and blocks (99). LaVere was named the 1999 California Freshman of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports, and she helped lead Buena to the top spot in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings for much of the 2000-01 season.
NOW THAT’S A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 80 of their last 83 games at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak (10th-longest in NCAA history) from 1998-2002. Notre Dame also has a 56-4 (.933) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale. Besides the Wildcats, Connecticut (three times) is the only other BIG EAST school to successfully conquer the Irish on their home floor.
Nevertheless, Notre Dame still owns a 33-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center that dates back more than six years < a=”” stretch=”” that=”” includes=”” victories=”” over=”” a=”” trio=”” of=”” sixth-ranked=”” teams=”” (ucla=”” and=”” duke=”” in=”” 1998-99=”” and=”” purdue=”” in=”” 2000-01),=”” as=”” well=”” as=”” no.=”” 19=”” illinois=”” in=”” ’98-99.=”” notre=”” dame’s=”” last=”” non-conference=”” loss=”” at=”” home=”” came=”” back=”” on=”” dec.=”” 9,=”” 1996,=”” when=”” 19th-ranked=”” wisconsin=”” toppled=”” the=”” irish,=”” 81-69.=””>
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 243-66 (.786) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 93-5 (.949) at the Joyce Center.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame is ranked among the top 10 in the nation in attendance, according to the latest unofficial rankings compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office. The Irish have averaged 6,432 fans for four home games this season, placing them seventh in the country (through games of Dec. 29).
Notre Dame averaged a school-record 7,825 fans for their 14 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. The 2001-02 season also saw Notre Dame register 13 of the top 20 crowds in school history, including a gathering of 9,676 fans, the third-largest in school annals, for a 60-44 win over 16th-ranked Boston College.
Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last four seasons.
NOTRE DAME FACING ONE TOUGH SLATE
Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2002-03 is no exception. The Irish will play no less than 14 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including nine NCAA Tournament teams (highlighted by defending national champion Connecticut and Final Four participant Tennessee). In addition, six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 17 of the 24 Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 10 squads that posted 20-win campaigns.
IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Notre Dame is getting a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least seven times, including nationally-televised contests against Arizona State (Dec. 7 on Fox Sports Net), Purdue (Jan. 4 on CBS) and Connecticut (Jan. 20 on ESPN2). In addition, Notre Dame appears three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Miami (Jan. 11, noon ET) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 25, noon ET) and Virginia Tech (Feb. 9, 2 p.m. ET). All three of those games will be telecast in South Bend on WHME-TV on a tape-delayed basis as part of the league’s TV deal. WHME-TV also broadcast the Irish game at DePaul (Dec. 11) live from Chicago.
Besides the regular-season conference television deal, the BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 also will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference championship game on March 11 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
The Irish are 1-1 on television this season, defeating Arizona State and falling at DePaul.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game will air on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and WDND sports director Sean Stires is now in his third season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a wide variety of Irish events on radio for only $6.95 per month.
THE MUFFET McGRAW SHOW
Muffet McGraw’s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its fifth season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and will air at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays through the completion of the 2002-03 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).
NOTRE DAME INKS PAIR OF TOP 20 PREP STANDOUTS IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
University of Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 14 that two of the nation’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2003. Crystal Erwin, a 6-2 forward from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and Susie Powers, a 5-11 guard from Highlands Ranch High School in Denver, Colo., will join the Irish for the 2003-04 campaign.
Erwin has averaged 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her three-year prep career at St. Paul. She holds the school records for career points (2,084) and rebounds (1,324), as well as single-season points (869) with one year still to play for the Swordsmen. Ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Erwin was named to the 2002-03 USA Today Preseason Super 25 Team, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America pick, earning third-team honors last season. She also has been named to all-star teams at the adidas Top Ten Camp each of the last two years and she was a member of the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team this past summer. Erwin is the second California native in as many seasons to commit to the Irish, following current Notre Dame freshman Courtney LaVere.
Powers averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game last season for perennial national power Highlands Ranch High School, which won its third consecutive Colorado Class 5A title last season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the campaign according to the USA Today Super 25 poll. Powers was ranked as high as 12th in the nation by the Greg Swaim Basketball Report, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America selection. She also was Erwin’s teammate on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team in the summer of 2002. In addition to Erwin, Powers will have some familiarity with another Irish player — she played with sophomore forward Katy Flecky at Highlands Ranch in 2000, helping lead the Falcons to the first of their three straight state championships.
With the addition of Erwin and Powers, Notre Dame has its seventh consecutive top 20 recruiting class, according to Blue Star Basketball, which rated the newest Irish signees 16th in the nation.
McGRAW INDUCTED INTO SAINT JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
University of Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was one of seven people inducted into the Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame Nov. 16 in Philadelphia. McGraw was a standout point guard for Saint Joseph’s during its first four years of varsity competition, serving as team captain during her final two seasons (1975-76 and 1976-77). She helped lead the Hawks to an 18-3 record as a junior and a third-place finish in the AIAW Eastern Regional Tournament. A year later, she guided SJU to a 23-5 record, a sixth-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament, and a No. 3 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest year-end poll finish in school history. She also set the Saint Joseph’s single-season record for steals with 102 during the 1976-77 campaign.
McGraw graduated from SJU in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She played one season for the California Dreams in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) before beginning her college coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater from 1980-82. Following five successful seasons at Lehigh (1983-87), McGraw was named the head coach at Notre Dame, a position she has held ever since.
Now in her 16th year with the Irish, McGraw has posted a stellar 350-129 (.731) record (438-170, .720 overall in 21 years), guiding Notre Dame to 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament berths, four Sweet Sixteen visits, two Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA title. The 2001 Naismith and AP National Coach of the Year, McGraw also is a member of the SJU Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.
IRISH ASSISTANT COACH FEATURED ON WNBA.COM
When she’s not diligently working with the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, assistant coach Coquese Washington spends the offseason playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). A six-year veteran point guard, Washington guided the Indiana Fever to their first-ever playoff berth this past summer, following her midseason trade from the Houston Comets.
During the course of the 2002-03 college basketball season, WNBA.com will feature regular interviews and chat sessions with Washington. Readers will get an inside look at how she successfully handles the challenges of being a collegiate assistant, while also remaining prepared for the next professional basketball season.
IRISH ENJOY SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TRIP TO EUROPE
Last May, the Irish embarked on a 12-day tour of Italy and France, going 3-1 in a four-game series against Italian professional teams. Among the Notre Dame victories was an 82-76 conquest of 14-time Italian First Division champion Pool Comense 1872, which had won its latest league title only two weeks prior to playing the Irish.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks shared team-high scoring honors on the tour, averaging 14.8 points per game during the series. Batteast, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, also registered two double-doubles and carded 11.3 rebounds per game while in Europe.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton collected team-high rebounding laurels, averaging 12.3 boards per contest. She also posted double-figure rebounding totals in three of four games, finishing with nine caroms in her other outing. Like Batteast, she averaged a double-double, adding 10 points per night.
All told, five Irish players scored in double figures while in Europe < the=”” aforementioned=”” trio,=”” along=”” with=”” junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe (13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.0 ppg.). As a team, Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points and 51.3 rebounds per game during the trip.
UP NEXT: WEST VIRGINIA
Notre Dame will open BIG EAST Conference play next Wednesday, Jan. 8, with a 7 p.m. (EST) game against league upstart West Virginia at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are off to the best start in school history this season, going 10-0 in non-conference play, including wins over Duquesne and Ohio University. WVU is one of only five teams in the nation that still are undefeated this season, joining fellow BIG EAST member Connecticut, top-ranked Duke, No. 2 LSU and 10th-ranked Minnesota.
The Mountaineers are led by junior guard Kate Bulger, a second-team all-conference selection last season. Bulger currently ranks first in the BIG EAST in three-point percentage (.552), second in three-pointers made (2.9 per game), fourth in scoring (17.7 ppg.) and fifth in field goal percentage (.532). She is complemented by junior guard Sherell Sowho, who ranks fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (.543), ninth in steals (2.4 spg.) and 15th in scoring (14.9 ppg.). Sophomore point guard Yolanda Paige has been the driving force behind the Mountaineers’ early success, averaging a league-best 9.0 assists per game, a mark that ranks among the top five in the nation this season.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with West Virginia, 9-0, following a 72-63 victory last season at the Joyce Center. The Irish are 4-0 at the WVU Coliseum, including an 87-64 win in their last visit on Jan. 24, 2001.
NCAA AND BIG EAST STATISTICAL LEADERS
Here’s where the Irish players and team stand in the most recent NCAA statistics report (through games of Dec. 16) and BIG EAST Conference statistics report (through games of Dec. 29):