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No. 17 Notre Dame Set For Wednesday Night Matchup At Michigan State

Nov. 25, 2003

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(#17 AP/#17 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-1) vs. Michigan State Spartans (2-0)

The Date and Time: Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2003, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Site: Breslin Center (14,759) in East Lansing, Mich.

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 web site at

Web Site: Notre Dame (, Michigan State (

The 17th-ranked Notre Dame women’s basketball team continues its rugged early-season schedule at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday when it takes on Michigan State at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. The Irish are playing four of their first five games on the road, with all four coming against teams that currently are ranked or receiving votes in the national polls (MSU is receiving votes this week).

Notre Dame (2-1) opened its home schedule last Friday night with a 74-57 victory over Valparaiso at the Joyce Center. The Irish led almost the entire way against the Crusaders, opening up a 25-point lead midway through the second half and rolling to their ninth consecutive home-opening win. Notre Dame now has led or been tied for all but 5:54 of its first three games, which works out to more than 95 percent of the game action.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast set the pace for the Irish, picking up her second consecutive double-double with game highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere pitched in 11 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Le’Tania Severe contributed 10 points and six assists (with only one turnover). Sophomore guard Megan Duffy also turned in another strong backcourt performance with nine points, a career-high seven assists and six rebounds.

Michigan State (2-0) tipped off its season last weekend by winning the Dean Trailways of Michigan Spartan Classic in East Lansing. Senior guard Julie Pagel was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 11 points and four assists with a .571 field goal percentage in the two-game set. Freshman forward Rene Haynes (15 ppg.) and sophomore guard/forward Liz Shimek (12 ppg.) also made the all-tournament team.

MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie is in her fourth season with the Spartans, owning a 48-43 (.527) record in East Lansing. She previously spent eight years as the head coach at Maine and has a career record of 215-116 (.650). Wednesday’s game will be her first against Notre Dame.

After winning two of its first three games, one characteristic of this year’s Irish squad became readily apparent. Notre Dame has evolved into a very diverse club, with a variety of different scoring and playmaking threats on any given night. The Irish also unveiled their up-tempo transition game at the WBCA Classic with good success, jumping out to double-digit leads early in both of their games, and holding that edge for all but four minutes over the first weekend of the season. That’s an impressive statistic considering the quality of opposition Notre Dame faced in No. 22 Auburn and 20th-ranked Colorado. The Irish continued their early-season success with a near wire-to-wire win over Valparaiso, holding the Crusaders without a three-pointer, the first time in four seasons Notre Dame has posted a three-point shutout.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (18.3 ppg., 8.3 rpg., 2.0 bpg., 2.3 spg.) was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team after a superb weekend that included a career-high 27 points against Auburn. The preseason All-America selection also piled up a double-double vs. Colorado with 13 points and 10 rebounds. She then added her second consecutive double-double with game highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds last Friday vs. Valparaiso. Junior forward and Colorado native Katy Flecky (8.7 ppg., 3.7 rpg., .364 3FG%) also had a strong tournament in her homecoming, collecting 17 points and burying a trio of three-pointers in the win over Auburn. One of the bigger surprises thus far this year has been the contribution from junior center Teresa Borton (3.3 ppg., 4.7 rpg.), who wasn’t expected to rejoin the Irish until next month following off-season heel surgery. Yet, Borton has stepped in and averaged 18.3 minutes per game, offering strong defense against Colorado’s All-American center Tera Bjorklund. Borton also made all four of her free throw attempts in overtime against CU and was poised to be the hero until the Buffaloes rallied in the final seconds.

Meanwhile, the Irish backcourt has looked especially sturdy in the early going, as senior Le’Tania Severe (11.0 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 5.0 apg., 1.88 A/TO ratio) and sophomore Megan Duffy (10.0 ppg., 4.3 apg., .571 3FG%) both have kept the opposition guessing. Severe earned a place on the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team after logging a team-high 14 points and six rebounds in the loss to Colorado. She then chipped in 10 points and six assists vs. Valparaiso. At the same time, Duffy nailed four of seven three-pointers at the WBCA Classic and scored a career-high 13 points vs. Colorado. She then tied her career high with seven assists in the win over Valparaiso. They have been ably complemented by senior guard Monique Hernandez (5.0 ppg., 3.0 rpg., .462 FG%), who provided a jolt of energy off the bench in more than 21 minutes of action. Another senior, guard Jeneka Joyce, also has returned to action after more than 20 months on the sidelines with recurring leg injuries. In her first game back against Valparaiso, Joyce made the most of her 10 minutes on the floor, burying all three of her shots (all three-pointers) and scoring nine points in a Notre Dame victory.

Notre Dame’s performance early this season has been encouraging in light of the fact that sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (7.3 ppg., 5.0 rpg.), a freshman All-American last season, was hampered with foul trouble thus far. LaVere shrugged off her early difficulties against Valparaiso, carding 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks, despite playing most of the second half with four fouls. The Irish also got just a small taste of the contributions their freshman might make, as forward Crystal Erwin (2.3 ppg., 1.3 spg.) has been the only rookie to see significant action, logging 9.7 minutes per night.

Don’t be surprised if you see some hard hats and heavy machinery lurking on the Michigan State campus these days. That’s because the Spartans are in the midst of a significant construction project which they hope will result in their emergence as a regular player on the national women’s basketball scene.

MSU took its first step in that direction last season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign. The Spartans have four starters back from that club, which narrowly lost to TCU in the first round of last year’s “Big Dance” and that quartet is hungry to make a return trip to the national tournament.

Michigan State opened its season on the right foot, winning the Dean Trailways of Michigan Spartan Classic last weekend in East Lansing. The Spartans edged out Davidson, 74-68 in the opening game on Nov. 22, followed by a 78-40 pasting of Temple in the championship game. Freshman guard Rene Haynes averaged a team-high 15 points in the tournament, while junior guard Kristen Haynie and sophomore guard/forward Liz Shimek tied for second with 12 points per game. Haynes and Shimek were named to the all-tournament team and senior guard Julie Pagel was selected as the tournament MVP after averaging 11 points and four assists with a .571 field goal percentage in the two-game series.

Head coach Joanne P. McCallie is in her fourth season at Michigan State after a successful eight-year career at Maine. She has a record of 48-43 (.527) at MSU and an overall coaching record of 215-116 (.650) that includes seven NCAA Tournament berths and five conference titles. Wednesday’s game will mark her first-ever matchup with Notre Dame.

Michigan State leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 6-4, including a 3-2 edge when the scene shifts to East Lansing. The teams also met once on the MSU campus in 1975 before the Irish program achieved varsity status with the Spartans winning, 84-23 (that game is not reflected in the overall series record).

Notre Dame has won the last two games in the series, including an 84-54 victory in their most recent encounter on Dec. 11, 1999 at the Joyce Center. Ruth Riley scored a game-high 18 points on nine of 11 shooting and added six blocked shots, and Niele Ivey picked up a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists as Notre Dame rolled to its largest margin of victory ever against Michigan State. The Irish shot 52.8 percent from the floor and forced 24 Spartan turnovers to ensure the win. Guard Monique Hernandez is the only member of this year’s squad who has faced MSU, having scored two points in six minutes during the 1999 contest.

The last time Notre Dame visited the Breslin Center, the Irish came away with a 75-64 win on Dec. 21, 1998. Riley had a double-double with game highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Danielle Green added a double-dip of her own with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ivey chipped in with 16 points and Sheila McMillen carded 11 points for Notre Dame, which opened up an eight-point halftime lead and maintained their edge in the second half to log the victory.


  • There are three Ohio natives playing in Wednesday night’s game. Notre Dame sophomore guard Megan Duffy is from Dayton (Chaminade-Julienne HS), while MSU freshman guard Rene Haynes is from Columbus (Wellington School) and Spartan freshman forward Myisha Bannister is from Cleveland (Villa Angela-St. Joseph HS).
  • Notre Dame assistant coach Coquese Washington is a native of Flint, Mich., and is one of 14 Michiganders who played for the Irish, the most from any state.
  • MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie served as a color analyst this summer on television broadcasts of games for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock. The starting center for the Shock is former Notre Dame All-American and 2001 consensus national player of the year Ruth Riley, who was named the 2003 WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player after leading Detroit to its first league title. Riley is the first women’s basketball player ever to earn Finals MVP honors at both the college and professional levels (she was the Most Outstanding Player at the 2001 Final Four when Notre Dame won its first national championship).
  • Longtime MSU football and Detroit Pistons broadcaster George Blaha is a 1966 graduate of Notre Dame, earning a degree in economics.
  • Michigan State assistant athletics director for media relations John Lewandowski is a 1984 graduate of Notre Dame, earning a degree in business administration.
  • ND director of recreational services and fitness Sally Derengoski is a native of East Lansing, Mich.

Notre Dame is 26-39 (.400) all-time against the current alignment of the Big Ten Conference, although the Irish have won five of their last nine 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). Michigan State is the first Big Ten opponent other than Purdue that the Irish have faced since Dec. 2, 2001, when Michigan defeated Notre Dame, 78-63 at the Women’s College Basketball Showcase in Grand Rapids, Mich.

MSU also is the first of three Big Ten opponents on this year’s Irish schedule. Notre Dame will play host to Wisconsin on Dec. 4 before traveling to West Lafayette, Ind., on Jan. 4 for a matchup with Purdue in the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge.

Notre Dame has gotten off to a strong start in the month of November over the last eight seasons. Since the start of the 1995-96 campaign, the Irish are 29-6 (.829) in November games, including wins in 11 of their last 14 games in the month. Notre Dame is 2-1 in the month of November this year, defeating No. 22 Auburn and Valparaiso, and falling in overtime at 20th-ranked Colorado.

Notre Dame wasted little time in squaring off with ranked competition this season as the Irish took on No. 22 Auburn and No. 20 Colorado at the WBCA Classic. It marked the sixth time in school history that Notre Dame opened with a ranked opponent, and with the 77-64 win over Auburn, the Irish defeated a Top 25 foe in their first game of the year for the second time ever. Notre Dame almost made a bit of school history with back-to-back wins over ranked opponents to start the season, but Colorado rallied and defeated the Irish in overtime (67-63) to foil that claim.

Over the years, Notre Dame has had most of its success against ranked opponents when it is ranked itself < the=”” irish=”” are=”” 160-37=”” (.812)=”” all-time=”” when=”” they=”” takes=”” the=”” floor=”” as=”” a=”” top=”” 25=”” team.=”” notre=”” dame=”” stands=”” 17th=”” in=”” the=”” associated=”” press=”” poll=”” and=”” 20th=”” in=”” the=”” espn/usa=”” today=”” coaches’=”” poll=”” entering=”” wednesday’s=”” game=”” at=”” michigan=”” state.=”” see=”” pages=”” 170-172=”” in=”” the=”” notre=”” dame=”” women’s=”” basketball=”” media=”” guide=”” for=”” more=”” information=”” on=”” the=”” irish=”” against=”” ranked=”” opponents.=””>


  • Notre Dame will close the gap in the all-time series with Michigan State to 6-5 and even the series record in East Lansing at 3-3. The Irish also will pick up their third consecutive win over the Spartans, marking Notre Dame’s longest winning streak in the series.
  • The Irish will improve to 27-39 (.409) all-time against the Big Ten Conference and earn their first win against a Big Ten opponent since a 68-66 conquest of Purdue in the 2001 NCAA Championship game.
  • Notre Dame will register its first win on a Big Ten campus since Nov. 22-24, 2000, when the Irish defeated Wisconsin (83-56) and Georgia (75-73) to win the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.
  • The Irish will rise to 30-6 (.833) in the month of November over the last eight seasons.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 366-139 (.725) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 454-180 (.716) in 22 years at the college level.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 530-238 (.690) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 20 Notre Dame held Valparaiso to 29 percent shooting, beating the Crusaders 74-57 on Friday night at the Joyce Center. Sophomore forward Courtney LaVere added 11 points, senior guard Le’Tania Severe had 10, and 11 of the 12 Irish players who got in the game scored. Jenna Stangler and Mayella Kuikhoven scored 15 points each for Valparaiso.

Although Notre Dame (2-1) has won all 17 games it has played against Valparaiso (0-3), the Crusaders had played the Irish tough the past two seasons. Last season, the Irish held on for a 74-68 victory despite not making a basket the final 4:52. Two years ago, Notre Dame outscored the Crusaders 7-2 down the stretch to win 42-35.

Valparaiso wasn’t able to remain competitive long Friday, though, because of a tough defense by Notre Dame and poor shooting. Midway through the second half, Valparaiso was 11-of-48 before making some shots against the Irish reserves. LaVere and junior center Teresa Borton had three blocked shots each for the Irish and Batteast had two as Notre Dame blocked 10 shots and had 12 steals, led by four from Severe.

The tough defense helped the Irish get their offense going. After making just 3-of-11 shots to start the game, the Irish hit seven of 10 to open a 26-13 lead. The Irish, who led 32-23 at halftime, took a 64-39 lead, their biggest of the night, when LaVere scored inside with six minutes left.

Senior guard Jeneka Joyce , who sat out all of last season with a myriad of leg injuries, played for the first time this season for the Irish. She didn’t attempt a shot in the first half, but was three for three from three-point range in the second half as the Irish hit four of six three-pointers in the second half. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy also had nine points, a career-high seven assists and six rebounds for the Irish.

One of the bright spots for Notre Dame this year has been the amount of time it played from in front. Through the first three games of this season, the Irish have either led or been tied for 119:06 out of a possible 125 minutes (95.3 percent of the time). In the remaining 5:54, Notre Dame has trailed by two points or less for all but two seconds of that span (the final two seconds of overtime in Colorado’s 67-63 win on Nov. 15).

A warm round of applause and a great sigh of relief went up from the Joyce Center crowd on Friday night, as senior guard Jeneka Joyce made her first appearance on the court after a 20-month hiatus due to recurring leg injuries. Despite not having seen any meaningful action since March 17, 2002 at Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Joyce looked very comfortable in her 10 minutes of court time, canning all three of her three-point attempts (including the last from nearly 25 feet out) and scoring nine points.

Notre Dame put the clamps on Valparaiso from the three-point line last Friday night, as the Crusaders went 0 for 11 from beyond the arc. It represented the first three-point shutout for the Irish since Nov. 27, 1999 (a span of 130 games), when Illinois went 0 for 5 from the three-point line, but still managed to pull out a 77-67 win over Notre Dame in Champaign, Ill.

The Irish dished out 24 assists on 29 baskets last Friday against Valparaiso, which works out an .828 assist percentage. That’s the highest assist ratio for Notre Dame since Dec. 21, 2002, when the Irish had 26 assists on 30 field goals (.867) in an 82-54 win over IPFW at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame’s backcourt played a key role in their efficient performance against Valparaiso. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy tied her career high with seven assists, while senior guard Le’Tania Severe chalked up six assists. The tandem also combined for just three turnovers, giving them a superb 4.33 assist/turnover ratio for the contest.

Notre Dame is quickly learning how it rates against the rest of the nation’s elite programs. The Irish are playing four of their first five games away from home, with all four road contests coming against teams that are currently ranked or receiving votes in both major national polls. Notre Dame already has defeated No. 22 Auburn (77-64) and lost a narrow overtime decision at No. 20 Colorado (67-63) after leading much of the way in that game. Following Wednesday’s matchup at Michigan State (which is receiving votes in both polls this week), the Irish will close out their rugged early-season stretch Sunday afternoon at third-ranked Tennessee.

In its first two games, Notre Dame rocked its opponent with big game-opening runs. Against No. 22 Auburn, the Irish began the game on a 15-4 run and never looked back, ousting the defending WNIT champion Tigers, 77-64. One night later, Notre Dame stunned No. 20 Colorado and a vocal crowd at the Coors Events Center by going on a 12-0 run in the first four minutes of the contest. The Irish went on to lead the Buffaloes virtually the entire way before CU pulled out a 67-63 overtime win.

Although they didn’t come away with the trophy they wanted at the WBCA Classic, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and senior guard Le’Tania Severe did receive individual honors as members of the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team. Batteast averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two-game tournament, while shooting .529 from the field. Severe carded 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament and posted a stellar .857 free throw percentage (12 of 14). It was the first career all-tournament team selection for both players.

Notre Dame is ranked 17th in the latest Associated Press poll, marking the 97th week in which the Irish have appeared in the AP Top 25 poll. The Irish were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year.

Notre Dame also is ranked 17th in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, following its No. 16 in the preseason coaches poll. That represented the seventh time in eight years that the Irish had appeared in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the year.

Notre Dame has faced or will face five teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 1/1 Connecticut, No. 3/3 Tennessee, No. 8/11 Purdue, No. 15/15 Rutgers and No. 20/16 Colorado). In addition, Auburn is ranked 25th in the latest AP poll, while Virginia Tech is 24th in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. Seven other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls this week < boston=”” college,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” georgetown,=”” michigan=”” state,=”” pittsburgh,=”” villanova=”” and=”” washington.=””>

Notre Dame has a full stable back in the fold this season, with four starters and eight monogram winners returning from last year’s club that advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the fifth time in seven seasons. Numerous media outlets took notice of these facts and pegged the Irish high in the their preseason rankings. Seven of those publications ranked Notre Dame in the Top 20 in the country to begin this season < athlon=”” sports=”” (13th),=”” basketball=”” times=”” (13th),=”” women’s=”” basketball=”” magazine=”” (16th),=”” street=”” &=”” smith’s=”” (17th),=”” women’s=”” basketball=”” news=”” service=”” (17th),=”” full=”” court=”” press=”” (18th)=”” and=”” lindy’s=”” annual=”” (18th).=”” in=”” addition,=”” women’”” had=”” the=”” irish=”” ranked=”” 14th=”” in=”” its=”” “early=”” bird=”” top=”” 50=”” for=”” 2003-04.”=””>

According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame will finish third in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 30 in Newark, N.J. The Irish earned 139 points, placing them behind two-time defending national champion Connecticut (169 points, 13 first-place votes) and Rutgers (156 points, one first-place vote) in the preseason poll. Virginia Tech was fourth, followed by Boston College, Miami and Villanova. All seven of those schools qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Notre Dame, Connecticut, Boston College and Villanova all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.

Notre Dame is beginning its ninth season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2003-04. The Irish have gone 112-24 (.824) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .773 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished either first or second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings six times, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) is one of 30 players who were named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 13. Based on a vote of the Wooden Women’s Award National Advisory Board, these 30 players are considered the top candidates for the inaugural Wooden Women’s Award, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast is one of five BIG EAST players named to the Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, and the Connecticut duo of Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi.

In mid-January, the Wooden Women’s Award Committee will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot which will consist of the top 10-15 players who have proven their success in the classroom (minimum 2.0 grade-point average) as well as on the court. More than 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women’s college basketball experts around the country, will then cast their votes for the five-member Wooden All-America Team and the Wooden Award winner.

Although the 2003-04 season marks the debut of the Wooden Women’s Award, the honor initially was created in 1976 to recognize the top male collegiate basketball player in the nation. Past winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is one of 35 players who were selected to the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List on Aug. 20 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Based on a vote of committee members which include leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators, these 35 players are considered the top candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast was one of five BIG EAST players named to the ’03-04 Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Ieva Kublina of Virginia Tech, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers and last year’s Wade Trophy recipient, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 27th year, is named after Margaret Wade, the late Delta State University coach who won three national championship in the mid-1970s. The Wade Trophy is considered the one of the most prestigious individual awards in women’s college basketball and is organized by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Adding to her armload of preseason hardware, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in the magazine’s annual basketball preview issue. It’s the third preseason honor for the talented 6-2 wing, who is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. She also was the 2001-02 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American that season, as well as the unanimous choice for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) and freshman forward Crystal Erwin (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) both received preseason recognition in a vote of the BIG EAST Conference coaches that was released at the league’s annual Media Day on Oct. 30 at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Hilton. Batteast was a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection, while Erwin was named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Liz Sherwood.

Batteast led the Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.), blocked shots (1.56 bpg.) and double-doubles (8), ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in all four categories. She is a two-time second-team all-conference selection and is one of only five players in school history to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

As a senior last year at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Erwin earned All-America honors from Parade, Street & Smith’s and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and also was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game in Atlanta. She averaged 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during her storied prep career, averaging double-doubles during both her junior (24.9 ppg., 14.9 rpg.) and senior seasons (21.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg.). She holds career records at St. Paul for points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as the school single-season scoring mark (869 in 2001-02). She follows Batteast as the second Irish rookie in three years to be chosen the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is among 30 preseason candidates named to the watch list for 2003-04 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atanta Tip-Off Club. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th 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.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

The Naismith Award is the latest in a series of preseason honors for the Batteast. She was named a preseason All-American by both the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and Street & Smith’s magazine, and she also was selected to the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List. In addition, she was chosen as a first-team all-BIG EAST choice, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches.

Over the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 64-5 (.928) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 2-1 mark this year. One of those rare losses occurred vs. Colorado in the WBCA Classic on Nov. 15. Notre Dame led 37-33 at the intermission before the Buffaloes rallied for a 67-63 overtime win.

Over the last nine 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 115-4 (.966) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added another notch on that tally last Friday night vs. Valparaiso by holding the Crusaders to 57 points.

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 nine 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 is one of only eight schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen five times in the past seven seasons (1997-2003). The others are Connecticut (seven times), Tennessee (seven times), Duke (six times), Louisiana Tech (six times), North Carolina (five times), Old Dominion (five times) and Texas Tech (five times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (27), Texas Tech (14), Louisiana Tech (12), Old Dominion (12) and Connecticut (10).

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Irish are wearing white uniforms at home this season, eschewing the golden togs they sported for the past four seasons. Notre Dame has worn white uniforms on numerous occasions on the past, dating as far back as the school’s first varsity women’s basketball squad, which took the floor in 1977-78. Blue will continue to be the primary color for the Irish road uniforms.

The newest addition to the Notre Dame coaching staff is Jonathan Tsipis, who was hired on May 13, 2003. Tsipis (pronounced SIP-iss) comes to Notre Dame following one season as the director of men’s basketball operations at UNC Greensboro, working under former Irish assistant coach Fran McCaffery.

Prior to arriving at UNC Greensboro, Tsipis spent two seasons as an assistant men’s coach at Elon (N.C.) University. While there, he worked primarily with the Phoenix’s perimeter players and also helped coordinate the team’s scouting and recruiting efforts. In addition, he was responsible for organizing the team’s travel plans and off-season workout programs.

Tsipis came to Elon after one year as the top assistant men’s coach at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. He also spent three seasons on the men’s basketball staff at Cornell University (one as a full-time assistant, two as a volunteer aide), and one year as a student assistant men’s basketball coach at Duke University. In the latter role, he served under legendary Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski and worked alongside current University of Missouri head men’s basketball coach Quin Snyder.

In addition to his coaching duties, Tsipis also serves as the President of the Future Hoopsters Basketball Camp which he founded in 1991. The four-week camp, which focus on specialized individual instruction, originated with 13 campers and now brings in over 100 each summer. He also worked at the Basketball Camp USA in Letahoria, Greece, in July of 2001. There, Tsipis worked clinics for top-ranked junior players from Greece and Macedonia, focusing on perimeter and ball handling skills.

A Cleveland, Ohio, native, Tsipis graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996 with a bachelor of science degree in Pharmacy. He and his wife, Leigh, reside in South Bend.

Notre Dame has won 183 games over the last eight seasons, which stands as the seventh-most wins of any school in the country during that time.

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 86 of their last 93 games (.925) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak from 1998-2002 (at the time, it was the 10th-longest string in NCAA history. Notre Dame also has a 61-7 (.897) 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.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 249-70 (.781) 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 for the 1995-96 season, Notre Dame is 99-9 (.917) at the Joyce Center.

For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame finished among the Top 10 in the nation in attendance for 2002-03. The Irish averaged 7,132 fans for their 13 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last season also saw Notre Dame register two of the top 10 crowds in school history, including a season-high gathering of 9,483 fans, the fifth-largest in school history for the nationally-televised matchup with Purdue on Jan. 4.

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.

Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2003-04 is more evidence of that fact. The Irish will play no less than 17 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including 12 NCAA Tournament squads and six that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (highlighted by two-time defending national champion Connecticut and NCAA runner-up Tennessee). In addition, five opponents (Connecticut, Purdue, Tennessee, Valparaiso and Villanova) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 19 of the 26 possible Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 12 squads that posted 20-win campaigns. All told, Notre Dame opponents had a combined winning percentage of .610 last season (490-313).

With all of this in mind, Notre Dame’s 2003-04 schedule was ranked 22nd in the nation, according to the preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/Summerville RPI.

Based on its success in recent years, Notre Dame continues to be a favorable television draw and the 2003-04 season will be no exception. The Irish are slated to play on the small screen no less than seven times in the coming campaign, including three appearances on national television.

Notre Dame will make its ’03-04 television debut Dec. 7 at Washington in a matchup that will be shown to a national cable audience on Fox Sports Net. The Irish are back on coast-to-coast television Jan. 4 when they visit Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. That contest will be shown live on ESPN2.

In addition, Notre Dame has been selected to appear on the BIG EAST Conference television package four times this season, including three home games. The Irish will take on Virginia Tech (Jan. 10), Villanova (Jan. 24) and Boston College (Jan. 31) at home and travel to Rutgers (Feb. 28) for games in front of the BIG EAST TV cameras. Those games may be seen on a regional basis in several major East Coast markets, including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as South Bend, where WHME-TV will show the games on a delayed basis.

It also was recently announced that Notre Dame will make a third national TV appearance during the 2003-04 regular season. The Feb. 25 game between the Irish and Miami at the Joyce Center will be broadcast live by College Sports Television (CSTV) and will tip off at 8 p.m. (ET) < some=”” early=”” schedules=”” initially=”” had=”” this=”” game=”” listed=”” one=”” hour=”” earlier.=””>

The semifinals of this year’s BIG EAST Championship presented by State Farm also will be broadcast on the BIG EAST television package Monday, March 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. (ET) from the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. WHME-TV in South Bend will carry those games live. The championship game will air live on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (EST).

After a two-year absence, the Joyce Center once again will be home to NCAA Tournament competition as Notre Dame was selected to be one of 16 sites for first- and second-round games in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Action at the South Bend subregional will take place Sunday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 23, with exact tipoff times and potential television broadcasts to be determined by the NCAA during the week leading up to the competition.

Should Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history (and the ninth consecutive season), the Irish are guaranteed to play at home. Notre Dame has played five NCAA tourney games at the Joyce Center in its history, going 4-1 and and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and 2001 (the Irish went on to win the national championship in the latter season).

Tickets for NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center currently are available only to Notre Dame season ticket holders, who have a priority option to purchase seats for the event. Tickets for the Sunday and Tuesday sessions will go on sale to the general public Monday, Dec. 1. Single-game tickets will not be made available until after the field of 64 is announced on March 14. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the 2004 NCAA Tournament at the Joyce Center, contact the Notre Dame ticket office at (574) 631-7356.

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=”” 1620)=”” and=”” wndv-am=”” (1490)=”” in=”” south=”” bend.=”” veteran=”” broadcaster=”” and=”” amp=”” sports=”” director=”” sean=”” stires=”” is=”” now=”” in=”” his=”” fourth=”” season=”” handling=”” the=”” play-by-play=”” for=”” notre=”” dame,=”” while=”” amp=”” sports=”” personality=”” shawn=”” lewallen=”” is=”” in=”” his=”” second=”” season=”” providing=”” analysis.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” can=”” be=”” heard=”” on=”” the=”” internet=”” at=”” notre=”” dame’s=”” official=”” athletics=”” website=”” (”” by=”” subscribing=”” to=”” fighting=”” irish=”” pass,=”” which=”” gives=”” listeners=”” full=”” access=”” to=”” a=”” variety=”” of=”” irish=”” athletics=”” events=”” on=”” radio=”” for=”” only=”” $6.95=”” per=”” month.=””>

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw tried her hand at writing during the past year and has co-authored a book with Bradley University professor Paul Gullifor entitled “Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula For Winning In Sports And In Life.” The book, which currently is in bookstores nationwide and may be purchased through on-line booksellers such as, touches on how, in the shadows of the nation’s most storied football program, McGraw has quietly built the women’s basketball program into a national power.

Women’s basketball has been one of the University’s most consistently successful varsity sport during the past 16 years, qualifying for the postseason 13 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Final Fours berths. The team’s rise to national prominence was then cemented with a national championship in 2001. In short, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program has been steadily built into a perennial national championship contender, and its architect for those 16 years has been McGraw. Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pottsville, Pa., native has won 363 games at Notre Dame, has a stellar .725 winning percentage and was the consensus 2001 national Coach of the Year.

Personal accolades aside, McGraw has always been more concerned with off-court success than the progress of her teams. Accordingly, this book is a motivational and inspirational book in which she shares her ingredients for success — on and off the court. It provides lessons for those aspiring toward success in basketball, and in life, while illustrating why Muffet McGraw is one of college basketball’s most accomplished coaches.

Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season (additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date):

  • Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin — Notre Dame player trading cards to the first 2,500 fans
  • Dec. 13 vs. Dayton — Women’s basketball window clings to the first 3,000 fans
  • Dec. 22 vs. USC — Holiday celebration (“Rubber Boy” will perform at halftime)

Notre Dame continues its tough early-season schedule at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on third-ranked Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena. This will mark the third consecutive year in which the Irish and Lady Vols have met, and the second time in the last three seasons that they will tangle in Knoxville. UT has won all 15 previous games in its series with Notre Dame, including six at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee (1-0) opened its season last Sunday with an 83-52 win over Chattanooga in Knoxville. Shyra Ely piled up game highs of 20 points and niine rebounds and Shanna Zolman added 13 points for the Lady Vols, who led by 22 points at the half and cruised home with the victory. UT is not scheduled to play again prior to facing Notre Dame this weekend.