2005-06 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 2
#15/16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (0-0 / 0-0 MAC West Division)
|DATE:||November 20, 2005|
|TIME:||2:00 p.m. ET|
|AT:||Kalamazoo, Mich. – University Arena (5,421)|
|SERIES:||Notre Dame leads 7-0|
|1st MTG: 12/8/82 (ND 68-62)|
|LAST MTG: 12/12/01 (ND 71-48)|
|RADIO:||ESPN Radio 1580 AM|
|WNDV 1490 AM|
|Sean Stires, p-b-p|
|TV:||Comcast Local (live)|
|(Cable Ch. 3 in South Bend)|
|Ben Holden, p-b-p|
|Paula Sanders, color|
- Notre Dame plays its second game in less than 48 hours when it travels north to Kalamazoo, Mich., for a Sunday matinee contest with Western Michigan.
- The Irish have won six of their last seven road openers, but they are 14-14 all-time in their first game of the year away from the Joyce Center.
Fresh off an emotional opening-night victory over traditional rival Michigan, No. 15/16 Notre Dame doesn’t have much time to savor the winning feeling as it visits Western Michigan Sunday for a 2 p.m. (ET) game in Kalamazoo. The Irish will be heading into a hostile University Arena, sure to be rocking as the Broncos tip off their 2005-06 season against the nationally-ranked Irish.
Notre Dame got off on the right foot with a 55-45 win over Michigan on Friday night at the Joyce Center. Sophomore guard Charel Allen came off the bench to score a game-high 16 points and freshman guard Lindsey Schrader rang up a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds in her college debut to help head coach Muffet McGraw earn her 500th career victory.
Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 576-254 (.694).
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Balance and chemistry will be the two main ingredients as Notre Dame looks to build upon last year’s successful 27-6 season that saw the Irish win the Preseason WNIT, rise to No. 3 in the national polls and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the graduation of 2004-05 BIG EAST Player of the Year and All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast, as well as rugged and dependable center Teresa Borton, Notre Dame will have a large infusion of youth on its roster, as eight of its 12 players are underclassmen (four freshmen, four sophomores). However, the team is in more than capable hands, as senior point guard and two-time captain Megan Duffy returns to run the Irish offense. Duffy spent the summer as a co-captain on the USA World University Games Team that won a gold medal and went unbeaten in Izmir, Turkey, and she hopes to use the lessons she learned on the international stage to help her take the Irish to grand heights in 2005-06.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 25 by every major media outlet, including a No. 15 preseason ranking in the Associated Press poll and a current No. 16 slot in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll (after being ranked 15th in the preseason balloting). Other outlets have placed the Irish anywhere from 15th (Athlon Sports and Women’s Basketball News Service) to 22nd (Basketball Times).
Notre Dame looked sharp at times during its two exhibition victories against NCAA Division II foes Indianapolis (84-59) and Ferris State (96-45). As a team, the Irish averaged 90.0 points per game, shot 52 percent from the floor (66-127), connected at a 55-percent clip from the three-point line (11-20), held a +12.5 rebound margin and forced 25.5 turnovers per game (highlighted by 18.5 steals a night).
As expected, Duffy led the way for Notre Dame in the preseason, collecting 21.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game with a .625 field goal percentage (15-24) and a .615 three-point ratio (8-13). Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader, a 2005 consensus prep All-American and the reigning Illinois Miss Basketball, made solid contributions with 16.0 points per game on a .560 field goal percentage (14-25). Meanwhile, sophomore center Melissa D’Amico showed flashes of the improvement she has made during the summer and gave Irish fans hope for another strong post presence this season, averaging 16.0 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game with a .522 field goal percentage (12-23).
Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish
- Notre Dame’s No. 15 preseason ranking in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls marks the ninth time in the past 10 seasons the Irish have appeared in both preseason surveys. In addition, it’s the seventh consecutive year in which Notre Dame has been ranked 16th or better to open the campaign.
- The Irish have won 55 of their last 58 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. All three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004).
- The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01).
- The Irish have posted 37 wins over top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), an average of more than five per year. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents.
- Following Friday’s game with Michigan, the Irish have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 66 of their last 68 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy has been named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and recently was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by ESPN.com. Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
- With Friday’s 55-45 victory over Michigan, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50.
A Quick Look At Western Michigan
Anxious to erase the memory of last season’s injury-plagued 10-18 season, Western Michigan opens its 2005-06 campaign Sunday at home against Notre Dame. The Broncos are aiming to return to the heights that saw them win the Mid-American Conference championship and earn an NCAA Tournament berth in 2003, followed by a trip to the WNIT quarterfinals in 2004.
WMU split its two exhibition contests this season, dropping its opener to Hillsdale College, 72-66, before snapping back with a vengeance to defeat Northwood, 93-59. Junior forward Lindsey Brown posted double-doubles in both games for the Broncos, averaging 13.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in the preseason. Meanwhile, senior guard Casey Rost logged a team-high 19.0 ppg. in exhibition play, punctuated by a 26-point outburst against Northwood.
Rost was the 2004 MAC Player of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak All-America finalist before missing all but two games last season due to injury. Her backcourt mate, senior point guard Maria Jilian, was the 2003 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, but like Rost, she sat out the bulk of last season with an injury.
Jilian’s medical woes continued during the preseason this year, as she suffered a broken foot that required surgery and will keep her out of action for at least one month. Even more troublesome, senior forward Kate Verseput was forced to retire after accumulating numerous knee injuries, compounded by a sprained thumb suffered in warmups prior to Western Michigan’s first exhibition game this season. Verseput had started all 28 games for the Broncos last year (5.6 ppg., 4.4 rpg.) and was second among this season’s returnees in assists (55), steals (26) and blocked shots (12).
Ron Stewart is in his ninth season as the head coach at Western Michigan, having compiled a 118-118 (.500) record. He will be facing Notre Dame for the third time in his coaching career on Sunday, having dropped both of his previous encounters with the Irish.
The Notre Dame-Western Michigan Series
Although their campuses are located just 75 miles apart, Notre Dame and Western Michigan will be playing for only the eighth time ever, and just the third time in 19 seasons. The Irish have won each of their previous seven games against the Broncos, including both prior matchups in Kalamazoo. Sunday’s game will mark Notre Dame’s first visit to the WMU campus since Dec. 2, 1985, when the Irish posted a 94-65 victory at University Arena.
Notre Dame and Western Michigan first played one another on the hardwood early in the 1982-83 season, with the Irish edging out the Broncos, 68-62, in Kalamazoo. That would mark the first of five consecutive seasons in which the two schools played one another, capped by another tight affair, a 65-58 Notre Dame win on Feb. 3, 1987 at the Joyce Center.
Following that contest, the series went dormant, not reviving until 14 seasons later on Dec. 18, 2000, when the Irish registered an 84-54 victory over Western Michigan, also at the Joyce Center, early in Notre Dame’s run to the NCAA championship. The Broncos returned to South Bend a year later and fell to the Irish, 71-48, on Dec. 12, 2001, in the most recent encounter between the clubs.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Western Michigan Met
Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast posted her third double-double of her rookie season with a (then) career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds to pace Notre Dame to a 71-48 win over Western Michigan on Dec. 12, 2001, before a crowd of 7,173 at the Joyce Center. The victory was the 42nd consecutive home triumph for the Irish, extending the nation’s longest active home court winning streak.
Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney added season highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds, charting her first double-double of the year and sixth of her career. Junior guard Alicia Ratay chipped in with 10 points for Notre Dame, which remained unbeaten in seven career meetings with Western Michigan.
Curleta Harris came off the bench to score a team-high 12 points for WMU. Casey Rost contributed 10 points for the Broncos, who shot just 27.4 percent (17-of-62) from the field. The game was virtually even through the first 10 minutes of play. Western Michigan took an early 5-3 lead, but Notre Dame bounced back with five of the next six points to move in front by two with 15:39 left in the first half. The two teams then went nearly basket-for-basket over the next five minutes, culminating with a turnaround jumper by Bronco forward Kristin Koetsier, which cut the Irish lead to 16-12 at the 10:28 mark. As it turned out, those would be the final points WMU would score in the first half.
Notre Dame put the Broncos on their heels in the latter stages of the period, going on a 16-0 spurt over the final 10:13 to take a 32-12 lead at the half. The Irish shot 60 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, while holding Western Michigan to 12 points on 17.9 percent shooting (5-for-28).
In the second half, Notre Dame preserved its lead, never letting the visitors get closer than 17 points and opening up its largest lead at 56-27 with 10:26 remaining. On offense, the Irish cooled off somewhat in the second half, but still managed to shoot 46 percent from the field and 60 percent from the three-point line. Notre Dame wound up outscoring Western Michigan, 38-14 in the paint and tallied 13 points in transition.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Western Michigan Met In Kalamazoo
Senior guard/forward Trena Keys rang up 24 points and seven rebounds, while freshman forward Heidi Bunek chipped in with 21 points and eight rebounds as Notre Dame used a hot shooting performance to ease past Western Michigan, 94-65 on Dec. 2, 1985 at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.
As a team, the Irish shot a blistering 61.4 percent from the floor (35-of-57) and tacked on 24 of 31 free throw tries (.774) en route to their second-highest point total of the ’85-86 season and one of four 90-point outbursts that year. Notre Dame also forced 25 Bronco turnovers, one of nine times the Irish caused at least 25 opponent miscues in 1985-86.
The two leading scorers for Notre Dame, Keys and Bunek, would go on to be two of the 20 players in the Irish 1,000-Point Club. Keys ranks seventh in school history with 1,589 points, and Bunek stands 15th all-time with 1,202 markers, despite suffering a career-ending torn ACL six games into her senior season (and truncating a potential All-America campaign).
Other ND-Western Michigan Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame has blended solid offensive production with defensive intensity during its series with Western Michigan. The Irish are averaged 76.1 ppg. all-time against the Broncos, while holding WMU to 55.3 ppg.
- Notre Dame has scored at least 70 points six times in its seven previous outings against Western Michigan. Conversely, the Broncos have never topped the 65-point mark against the Irish, and have scored at least 60 points twice against Notre Dame (with both of those games coming in Kalamazoo).
- In the only two matchups between the clubs during the past 19 seasons (1987-present), the Irish have won by an average of 26.5 ppg., tying the series high with a 30-point win (84-54) on Dec. 8, 2000, at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame is 44-19 (.698) all-time against Michigan schools. However, prior to Friday’s 55-45 win over Michigan, the Irish had not defeated a team from the Wolverine State since its last meeting with Western Michigan (a 71-48 triumph on Dec. 12, 2001 at the Joyce Center).
- The states of Indiana and Michigan have produced more Notre Dame women’s basketball players (14 each) than any other in the program’s 29-year history. One of those Michigan natives on the all-time Irish roster is current Notre Dame associate head coach Coquese Washington, who grew up in Flint and played for the Irish from 1989-93 before embarking on a successful pro career in the American Basketball League (ABL) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
- Sunday’s game will mark the first time Notre Dame has ever opened its season with back-to-back games against teams from the state of Michigan.
Notre Dame vs.The Mid-American Conference
The Irish are 26-14 (.650) all-time against Mid-American Conference teams, although Notre Dame is just 9-6 (.600) when playing a MAC team on its campus. This represents the second consecutive season the Irish will visit a MAC school – they ousted Northern Illinois, 73-49, on Dec. 30, 2004, in DeKalb, Ill.
Notre Dame’s record against MAC teams is a bit better in the Muffet McGraw era, as the Irish are 11-5 (.688) against that conference under the tutelage of their 19th-year head coach, including an active nine-game winning streak that pre-dates Notre Dame’s current affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference.
Northern Illinois is the last MAC team to defeat the Irish, earning an 87-64 victory on March 10, 1995, in the semifinals of the MCC Tournament.
Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Friday night, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw has a career record of 500-196 (.718) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (412-155, .727).
Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:
- She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 years old.
- McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (723, as of Nov. 19), Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (560) and Villanova’s Harry Perretta (508).
- She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.
A Toss Of The Coin
It’s a 50-50 proposition as to how Notre Dame will fare in its first game of the season on the road. The Irish are 14-14 (.500) all-time in their first outing away from the Joyce Center, with an 11-7 (.611) record in the Muffet McGraw era.
However, prospects have been much brighter for Notre Dame in recent seasons. The Irish have won eight of their 10 road debuts since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, including victories in their last three such contests and six of the past seven. The most recent setback in a road opener for Notre Dame occurred on Nov. 21, 2001, at No. 20/22 Colorado State, when the Rams upset the 15th-ranked Irish, 72-66.
Game #1 Recap: Michigan
Most of Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw’s previous 499 career victories looked a lot better than win No. 500.
She will take the 55-45 victory Friday night over Michigan just the same. Especially after seeing sophomore guard Charel Allen return from a knee injury in last year’s NCAA Tournament to lead the 15th-ranked Irish with 16 points and freshman guard Lindsay Schrader get 10 points and 14 rebounds in her debut.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach so many great people and I’ve had great assistant coaches,” McGraw said. “There are a lot of great people who helped me get here.”
McGraw became the 27th women’s coach with 500 wins and the 10th to accomplish the feat before turning 50. Three other active Big East coaches also won 500 before 50: Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
After the victory, McGraw walked into the stands and hugged the Rev. Edward Malloy, C.S.C., who retired as University president in June, repeating her reaction after the Irish won the NCAA championship in 2001.
“It’s really an honor to be coaching at Notre Dame,” she said. “I’m just so thankful, and that’s why I went to Father Malloy first.”
She also hugged her husband, Matt, her son, Murphy, athletics director Kevin White, who presented her with the game ball, and then began hugging her players as the Joyce Center crowd of 6,134 fans gave her a standing ovation and held up signs with the No. 500 on them.
It looked for a while like she might have to wait for the milestone victory with the Irish offense struggling. But Allen scored inside with 13:39 left to start a 12-3 run, during which she scored six points, as the Irish went ahead 42-38. The Irish opened a 49-43 lead when Allen hit a 16-footer.
“I thought Allen was the player of the game on the offensive end and Lindsay was the defensive player of the game,” McGraw said.
Allen missed several easy shots in the first half, but finally got going in the second half.
“The coaches told me to keep shooting and they would eventually go in,” she said.
The 14 rebounds by Schrader were the most by an Irish player since Jacqueline Batteast had 18 against Connecticut nearly three years ago. Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico added 10 points and seven rebounds in her first career start for the Irish. As a team, Notre Dame outrebounded the Wolverines, 54-33.
Noting The Michigan Win
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw earned her 500th career win, becoming the 27th NCAA Division I coach to reach that milestone, and the 10th to do so before the age of 50.
- The Irish now are 21-8 (.724) all-time in season openers, including a 16-3 (.842) record in the McGraw era, and they have won their last 11 lidlifters, coinciding exactly with the program’s membership in the BIG EAST Conference.
- Notre Dame takes over the series lead against Michigan, 7-6, and has won six of its seven all-time matchups with the Wolverines at the Joyce Center.
- Friday’s game also marked the 350th Irish women’s basketball game to be played at the Joyce Center (278-72, .794).
- Notre Dame’s 54 rebounds were the most for the Irish in a single game since Dec. 12, 2001, when they plucked 56 boards in a win over Western Michigan.
- The +21 rebound margin was the largest for Notre Dame since a similar spread (47-26) at Syracuse on Jan. 19, 2005.
- Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader became the first Notre Dame rookie to start a season opener since Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton did so against Valparaiso on Nov. 18, 2001.
- Schrader’s 14 rebounds are the most for an Irish player since Batteast collected a career-high 18 boards at Connecticut on Feb. 23, 2003.
- Schrader’s double-double also is only the second ever for a Notre Dame freshman in her college debut, and the first since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81. Shari Matvey tallied 21 points and 14 rebounds in her first game at Notre Dame (a 68-60 victory over Marion on Nov. 30, 1979).
- Sophomore guard Charel Allen’s 16 points were the most she has scored since she tossed in a career-high 17 points at Syracuse on Jan. 19, 2005.
- Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico made her first collegiate start against Michigan and responded with 10 points and a career-high seven rebounds.
- Sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines also got her first college starting assignment vs. the Wolverines.
- Senior guard Megan Duffy hit three free throws late to avoid her first scoreless outing since March 27, 2004 vs. Penn State (NCAA Sweet 16 game at Hartford, Conn.); still Duffy dished out a game-high eight assists (her 37th career outing with at least five dimes) and ended up with a game-best four steals, just missing her sixth career five-theft performance.
For all the talk about Notre Dame’s veteran leadership in senior co-captains Megan Duffy and Courtney LaVere, it turned out to be the Irish kiddie corps that made the difference in Friday’s season-opening win over Michigan. In fact, 42 of Notre Dame’s 55 points (76.4 percent of the Irish offense against the Wolverines) came from freshmen and sophomores.
All three Notre Dame players who scored in double figures were underclassmen, led by sophomore guard Charel Allen, who had 16 points in her first game since suffering a torn ACL in last year’s NCAA Tournament second-round loss to Arizona State.
Also pitching in were sophomore center Melissa D’Amico, who made the most of her first career start with 10 points, and freshman guard Lindsay Schrader, who looked every bit like a wily veteran with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
A Double Cheeseburger For Schrader
A 2005 McDonald’s All-America selection who played in that elite all-star game back in March on her new home floor at the Joyce Center, freshman guard Lindsay Schrader felt right at home from the first moment she stepped into the historic venue, scoring nine points in that contest.
As if there was any doubt about her abilities, Schrader put them all to rest in Friday’s season-opening win vs. Michigan, rolling up a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds) in her first college game, which she started. Schrader is just the second Notre Dame player ever to record a double-double in her debut contest, and the first Irish player to do so since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81 (ND was a Division III program for its first three seasons). The only other career-opening double-double by a Notre Dame freshman came from Shari Matvey, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 68-60 conquest of Marion on Nov. 30, 1979 at the Taylor Invitational in Upland, Ind.
A Simple Trade-Off
During the exhibition season, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw lamented her team’s problem areas of rebounding and defense, despite the fact the Irish had held their preseason foes to a 52.0 ppg. average and .360 field goal percentage, and owned a +12.5 rebounding margin.
After a week of concentrated effort on both perceived problems, McGraw’s fears were calmed, at least for one night, as Notre Dame got defensive in a 55-45 win over Michigan on Friday night. The Irish dominated the Wolverines on the glass, 54-33, nearly matching their point total while snaring 22 offensive caroms. For perspective, one has to go back almost four years to find the last time a Notre Dame squad grabbed more than 54 rebounds in a game (Dec. 12, 2001 – 56 vs. Western Michigan).
In addition, the Irish held UM to just 45 points, highlighted by a pair of long defensive stands (no points in 6:34 of the first half; two points (one FG) over the final 5:55 of the contest). For the game, the Wolverines shot just 32.1 percent (18-of-56), a figure obscured somewhat by Notre Dame’s own shooting woes (.305, 18-of-59).
Duffy Rakes In Preseason Honors
Senior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio) already has found her name on preseason candidate lists for two of the top national player-of-the-year trophies this season. The 5-foot-7 floor general is among 25 early candidates for the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy, and she is on the 30-player watch list for the John R. Wooden Women’s Award. It’s the first time in Duffy’s career she has been placed under consideration for either award, and it marks the third consecutive season a Notre Dame player has made both preseason candidate list (Jacqueline Batteast was chosen prior to the 2003-04 and 2004-05 campaigns).
Besides the Wade Trophy and Wooden Women’s Award, Duffy is a prime candidate for the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, which goes the country’s top senior player who stands 5-foot-8 or under, and the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is presented to the nation’s top point guard. In addition, Duffy has been tapped as a preseason All-American by three national media outlets – Women’s Basketball News Service (first team), Street & Smith’s (“Terrific 10”) and Lindy’s College Basketball Annual (third team) – and has been chosen as one of the top five point guards in the country in the ESPN.com 2005-06 season preview.
Duffy also was one of 12 players selected to the 2005-06 Preseason all-BIG EAST Conference Team, as voted on by the league’s coaches. Duffy is one of three returning first-team all-BIG EAST picks from a year ago, joining West Virginia’s Meg Bulger and this year’s Preseason Player of the Year, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers. Duffy is tops among all returnees in assists (5.39 apg. in 2004-05, second in the BIG EAST), steals (2.73 spg., first) and free throw percentage (.895, first), setting a school record and ranking fourth nationally in the latter category. She also ranks fourth among BIG EAST returnees in assist/turnover ratio (1.73) and is seventh among veterans in three-point field goals per game (1.52).
Last season, Duffy was an honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press and was a finalist for the Kodak/WBCA All-America Team. She also earned a spot on the all-tournament teams for the Preseason WNIT and the BIG EAST Championship.
Notre Dame Ranked Third In Preseason BIG EAST Poll
According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish third in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 27 at the ESPN Zone in New York’s Times Square. The Irish earned 191 points, which placed them behind the defending BIG EAST regular-season champion Rutgers (221 points, 11 first-place votes) and the reigning BIG EAST Championship victor, Connecticut (215 points, five first-place votes). Conference newcomer DePaul was fourth, followed by Villanova, Louisville, West Virginia, St. John’s, South Florida and Marquette. All 10 of those schools qualified for postseason play last season, with Notre Dame, Rutgers, Connecticut, DePaul and Louisville all advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame is beginning its 11th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06. The Irish have gone 137-31 (.815) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .779 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished among the top three in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings nine times in its first 10 seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.
Changes On The Sideline
There are three changes to the Notre Dame staff for the 2005-06 season. Coquese Washington, who is in her seventh season on the Irish bench, has been promoted to associate head coach. Washington, who also played for head coach Muffet McGraw from 1989-93, has been part of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program for 11 of the 19 seasons of the McGraw era.
Angie Potthoff has been hired as an assistant coach, replacing longtime aide Carol Owens, who resigned in March to become head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois. Potthoff, a 1997 graduate of Penn State where she was a two-time All-American and three-time first-team all-Big Ten selection, focuses her efforts primarily on working with the Irish posts. Stephanie Menio (pronounced MANY-o) is Notre Dame’s new coordinator of basketball operations, assuming the marketing and promotional responsibilities for the program. She replaces Heather Maxwell, who departed in August to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota.
Late Additions To Irish Roster
Notre Dame has added two walk-on players to its roster for the 2005-06 season, with both joining the squad through preseason tryouts after the media guide went to press.
Brittney Bolden (5-7, Fr., G, South Bend, Ind./Adams HS) averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season while helping Adams to one of its best seasons of late in the Northern Indiana Conference (NIC). She is the fourth South Bend native ever to play for the Irish, with the most recent being former South Bend Washington High School standout Jacqueline Batteast (2001-05). Ironically, Bolden graduated from John Adams High School, making Adams the fourth different South Bend school to send a player to Notre Dame – the others are St. Joseph’s (Molly Mahoney in 1986-87) and Clay (Mary Borkowski, 1983-84).
Bolden was a three-sport letterwinner at Adams, participating in basketball, soccer and track & field. She was a two-time all-Northern Indiana Conference selection in basketball and a two-time first-team all-conference pick in soccer, as well as a four-time state finalist on the track as a sprinter. In addition, she was an excellent student, graduating with a 3.7 grade-point average and academic honors. She comes from a family with a rich athletic heritage – two of her cousins are Shannon Bolden (currently a senior guard/forward at Minnesota) and Stephanie Bolden (a former standout at South Dakota State, where she helped the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Division II title in 2002-03).
Christine Trezza (6-0, Fr., F, Staten Island, N.Y./Notre Dame Academy HS) averaged 10.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game during her high school career, earning second-team all-borough honors from the New York Daily News and all-conference laurels as a senior. Last year, she helped Notre Dame Academy to a regional title (had career highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds in one playoff game) and averaged 14.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game along the way. Also, she was a three-time captain of the nationally-ranked Staten Island Rebels AAU squad that finished second at the USA Junior Nationals in 2003. Like Bolden, Trezza was a multi-sport athlete in high school, garnering four letters in volleyball and one in cross country.
Trezza was a member of the National Honor Society, in addition to serving as student government president, class valedictorian and captain of the math team. She is from the same borough as Irish men’s basketball freshman Kyle McAlarney (Moore Catholic HS) and joins Notre Dame sophomore center Melissa D’Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd HS) as the New York natives on this year’s Irish roster.
Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 98-8 (.925) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 27 of their last 29 such contests. Notre Dame opened this season by parlaying a 26-20 halftime edge over Michigan into a 10-point victory on Friday night.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense
During the past 11 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 151-9 (.944) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added another tally to this ongoing defensive trend with a 55-45 conquest of Michigan on Friday night at the Joyce Center.
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. During the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) 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 tacked on three more wins to that tally in 2004-05.
Notre Dame is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).
The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).
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 128 of their last 139 games (.921) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 76-8 (.905) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 55 of their last 58 non-BIG EAST contests (.948) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 278-72 (.794) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
Jammin’ The Joyce
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame opened this season with a crowd of 6,134 fans on hand to witness Friday’s 55-45 win over Michigan.
What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 66 of their last 68 home games, including 12 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first two sellouts in the program’s history (both in 2001).
Oh Captain, My Captain
Notre Dame’s two seniors – guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere – will serve as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-February.
This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has played in 60 televised games, including 37 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.
Notre Dame will make its 2005-06 television debut Sunday when its 2 p.m. (ET) road opener at Western Michigan is aired live on Comcast Local. That will be the first of two regional Irish women’s basketball broadcasts for the Detroit-based network, with the second coming a week later (Nov. 27) in a 2 p.m. (ET) home game against USC.
The remaining six televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule all are slated for national broadcasts. The first of three Irish appearances on College Sports Television (CSTV) comes on Dec. 31, when Notre Dame plays host to Tennessee at 2 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame returns to the CSTV airwaves for a pair of January contests that will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package. The Irish will welcome DePaul to the Joyce Center on Jan. 17, before visiting Rutgers on Jan. 24, and both games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. (ET). CSTV has aired eight Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past three seasons, with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).
The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game now will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.
Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.
Notre Dame On The Airwaves
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his sixth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356) or on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center. Please note – additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
- Nov. 27 vs. USC – Family Day (four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas for $25) ? Notre Dame women’s basketball mouse pads to first 1,000 fans (courtesy of Chili’s and Papa Vino’s) ? post-game autograph session courtside with selected Irish players.
Next Game: Indiana
Notre Dame plays its third game in six days, all within 200 miles of South Bend, when it ventures to Bloomington, Ind., on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest with Indiana at Assembly Hall. It will be the first matchup between the two in-state rivals since the 1996-97 season and it’s slated to be Notre Dame’s first visit to the IU campus in almost exactly a decade (Nov. 24, 1995).
Indiana (0-1) opened its season Saturday night at home with a 74-62 loss to defending NCAA champion and sixth-ranked Baylor. Taking advantage of a tired Lady Bear squad that flew overnight to Bloomington after a home win over UCLA the day before, IU led by six in the early going and went into halftime tied at 40-all. However, Baylor used a 23-5 run in the opening minutes of the second half to pull clear of the Hoosiers and take the victory. Indiana also was hampered by cold shooting in the second half, making just two field goals in the first 13 minutes of the stanza. Senior guard Cyndi Valentin led all scorers with 25 points for the Hoosiers.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with IU, 5-3, including a 2-1 mark in Bloomington. In their most recent game on Dec. 11, 1996, the Irish claimed a 71-63 victory at the Joyce Center behind 25 points from Bloomington native Beth Morgan and a double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds) from fellow senior All-American Katryna Gaither.