Nov. 24, 2004
(#6 AP/#6 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0)
USC Women of Troy (1-1)
The Date and Time: Friday, Nov. 26, 2004, at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET in South Bend).
The Site: Los Angeles Sports Arena (15,509) in Los Angeles, Calif.
The Tickets: Still available through the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356) or the USC athletics ticket office (213-740-4672).
The TV Plans: Comcast Local (Detroit)/Comcast SportsNet West regional broadcast with Tracy Warren (play-by-play), Tammy Blackburn (analysis) and Dennis Kirkpatrick (producer). The game can be seen live in South Bend on Comcast Cable channel 99, as well as via DirecTV (channel 656) or DISH network (channel 409).
The Radio Plans: Friday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, are available for the USC game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and USC (www.usctrojans.com) athletics web sites.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), USC (www.usctrojans.com).
#6 Irish Head West To Battle USC Friday
After opening with five consecutive home victories and the Preseason WNIT championship, No. 6 Notre Dame will test its skills on the road for the first time this season when it pays a visit to USC Friday for a 7 p.m. (PT) game at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Notre Dame (5-0) remained unbeaten on the young season with a workmanlike 69-47 victory over Colorado State on Monday night at the Joyce Center. The Irish used a 20-4 run that crossed over halftime to move clear of the Rams and then applied steady defensive pressure (highlighted by 20 steals) to keep CSU off balance the remainder of the evening.
Junior guard Megan Duffy led a trio of Notre Dame players in double figures with 15 points and a career-high seven steals, while senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast had a balanced night with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
USC (1-1) last played on Nov. 20, when the Women of Troy dropped a 99-77 decision at No. 20 DePaul in the title game of the Moran Realty Classic. Jamie Hagiya led USC with 14 points and six steals.
Freshman guard Camille LeNoir and senior forward Rachel Woodward are averaging a team-high 10.0 ppg., while junior guard Meghan Gnekow is registering a team-best 7.0 rpg.
Head coach Mark Trakh is in his first season at USC, with a 200-124 (.617) career record in 12 years.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE FIGHTING IRISH
With four starters and seven monogram winners back in the fold, Notre Dame would appear to have all the pieces in place for a magical 2004-05 season.
Despite playing five games in the first 11 days of the season, the Irish (5-0) could not have gotten off to a better start, winning the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT after back-to-back victories over top-10 opponents Duke (76-65) and Ohio State (66-62). As a result, Notre Dame has risen to sixth in this week’s Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast has been a major catalyst in the early-season charge for the Irish, averaging 20.0 points per game with a .481 field goal percentage. She was named the Preseason WNIT Most Valuable Player and BIG EAST Player of the Week after logging a career-high 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. She also has been a strong passer and ball handler thus far, averaging 4.8 assists per game with a 3.43 assist/turnover ratio (seven turnovers).
Batteast is one of three Notre Dame players currently scoring in double figures this season. Junior guard Megan Duffy is registering 13.4 points and a team-high 6.0 assists per game, serving as the focal point on an Irish offense that has raised its scoring average by 11 ppg. from last year. Duffy also leads Notre Dame with a .526 three-point percentage (10-19) this season. Junior forward Courtney LaVere rounds out the double-digit trio at 10.4 points per game, along with 5.2 rebounds per night.
Off the bench, freshman guard Charel Allen has been a major contributor early on, averaging 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Her play was critical in the Preseason WNIT semifinal win over Duke, as she scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half to help the Irish come back from an eight-point deficit and eliminate the Blue Devils.
SOME POTENT NOTABLES ABOUT THE FIGHTING IRISH
- Notre Dame is 5-0 for the fourth time in school history, and the third time in the past seven seasons. The other three hot starts came in 1977-78 (the program’s first year, when the Irish opened 5-0), 1998-99 (won six in a row to start) and 2000-01 (opened with 23-game win streak en route to school’s first national championship).
- The Irish have risen to their highest ranking (No. 6) since the end of the 2000-01 season. That year, Notre Dame was second in the final Associated Press poll (taken before the NCAA Tournament) and first in the year-end ESPN/USA Today poll.
- Including Friday night’s game, Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 in each of its three visits to USC. In 2000-01, the Irish were third and claimed a 70-61 win, and in 2002-03, Notre Dame was 10th and earned a 69-57 victory.
- The offensive production has returned for Notre Dame, as the Irish are averaging 75.2 points per game through the first five games of the season. That’s an 11-point increase over last year’s average (64.2 ppg.), which was the team’s lowest since 1980-81 (first year at the Division I level).
- Notre Dame currently owns a 25-game homecourt winning streak following Monday’s win over Colorado State. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and it’s the fifth-longest active run in the nation.
- Notre Dame has won 52 of its last 54 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
- The Irish have posted 32 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), including two in its first four games this year (76-65 vs. No. 6 Duke and 66-62 vs. No. 10 Ohio State).
- The Irish have defeated 20 top-10 opponents in their history, adding to that total with their victories over sixth-ranked Duke and 10th-ranked Ohio State in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT.
- Head coach Muffet McGraw needs five victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s). In 17-plus seasons with the Irish, McGraw has a 389-149 (.723) record, which also puts her just 11 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.
A QUICK LOOK AT USC
This season has an air of renewal to it for USC, as the Women of Troy begin a new era under first-year head coach Mark Trakh. Formerly the skipper at Pepperdine, Trakh takes over a USC program that has a long tradition of success, but is looking to break back into the national elite after hovering around the .500 mark for the past five years.
The Women of Troy (1-1) opened their season last weekend at the DePaul Moran Realty Classic in Chicago, splitting a pair of contests. USC began the year with a 54-49 win over Massachusetts, riding its trademark defensive pressure that created 31 turnovers, including 18 steals. However, fortunes changed for the Women of Troy one day later, as No. 20 DePaul handed USC a 99-77 loss in the tournament’s title game. The Women of Troy were in contention at the half, trailing by only six points, but the host Blue Demons pulled away over the final 20 minutes. Nevertheless, USC had five players score in double figures and caused 21 turnovers (15 on steals).
Freshman guard Camille LeNoir and senior forward Rachel Woodward, who had a career-high 22 points on Notre Dame’s last visit to Los Angeles in 2002, share the early scoring lead for USC this season, averaging 10.0 points per game. Junior guard Meghan Gnekow, who scored a career-high 20 points at Notre Dame last year, is averaging 7.0 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game. As a team, the Women of Troy are averaging 65.5 ppg. with a .358 field goal percentage.
Trakh came to USC during the off season after a sterling 11-year run at Pepperdine that included six postseason appearances (three NCAA berths). He has a career record of 200-124 (.617), with Friday’s game marking his first against Notre Dame.
THE USC SERIES
Contrary to the long-standing rivalry Notre Dame and USC have had on the football field (they will meet for the 76th time Saturday night), the two schools have a very short history on the hardwood. The Irish hold a 5-1 edge in the all-time series with the Women of Troy, including a 2-0 mark in Los Angeles. Notre Dame has won its last five games against USC, all since the series resumed on an annual basis in 1999, including a 73-62 victory in their most recent encounter last season at the Joyce Center (Dec. 22, 2003).
In their last meeting at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Nov. 29, 2002, the Irish shot 55.3 percent from the field to rally from an early nine-point deficit and post a 69-57 victory. Notre Dame was bitten by the turnover bug (29), but countered that with five players who scored in double figures. Alicia Ratay led the Irish double-digit quintet with 17 points, while Jacqueline Batteast notched the first double-double of her sophomore season with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
USC earned its only win over Notre Dame on Jan. 2, 1985, downing the Irish, 69-53 in a game played at Cal State Fullerton. Laura Dougherty scored 20 points and Trena Keys added 12 points for Notre Dame in a losing effort.
Batteast has been very successful against USC during her career, averaging 17.7 points and 10.3 rebounds with a .465 field goal percentage in three games against the Women of Troy. In fact, she has double-doubles in her last two games in the USC series, and narrowly missed one in her freshman season, ending up with 19 points and seven rebounds.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND USC MET
Jacqueline Batteast had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds and Notre Dame used a sturdy defensive effort in the first half to post a 73-62 victory over USC on Dec. 22, 2003 at the Joyce Center.
The Irish forced the Women of Troy into 15 turnovers during the first 20 minutes and ended the period on a 15-2 run to open up a 36-18 halftime lead. USC came back in the second half and trimmed the deficit to 11 points by the final horn, shooting an even 50 percent in the frame.
Notre Dame wound up outscoring the Women of Troy in the paint by a 52-28 count and also tallied 30 points off USC turnovers. Meghan Gnekow led the visitors with a career-high 20 points, including 15 in the second half.
NOTRE DAME-USC CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame has two California residents – junior forward Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena HS) and sophomore forward Crystal Erwin (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./St. Paul HS) – on its roster. LaVere and Erwin are only the fourth and fifth Notre Dame players ever to come from California, joining Christy Grady (Lodi, Calif.), Kristin Knapp (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Mickey Skieresz (Westlake Village, Calif.). Grady actually spent much of her tenure at Notre Dame as a student manager, but was pressed into service late in the 1996-97 season when injuries decimated the Irish roster.
- Although Notre Dame freshman guard Tulyah Gaines graduated from Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas, Nev., she spent much of her formative years in southern California, spending her first three prep seasons at John Burroughs High School in Burbank.
- Longtime Notre Dame women’s volleyball head coach Debbie (Landreth) Brown was twice named the national player of the year while helping USC win the 1976 and ’77 national championships in women’s volleyball. She is winding down her 13th season with the Irish, piloting them to their ninth BIG EAST Conference title in 10 years. Her team, which will make its 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance next month, is in southern California this weekend, competing in a tournament at Long Beach State. Brown also is a four-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003) and she received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in January 2003.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE
The Irish have a limited history against the Pacific-10 Conference, posting a 14-14 (.500) record against the league all-time (4-9 on the road). However, their recent history with the Pac-10 has been much better, as the Irish have won 11 of their last 13 games against that conference, dating back to a 93-72 loss at UCLA on March 18, 1992, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame has played six of the 10 Pac-10 member schools, holding .500 or better series records against Arizona (3-1), Arizona State (1-1), USC (5-1) and Washington (1-1). The Irish have never faced California, Oregon, Oregon State or Washington State on the hardwood.
Notre Dame split its two matchups with Pac-10 schools last year, losing at Washington (85-74), but rebounding to defeat USC (73-62) at the Joyce Center. Besides the UW loss, the only other Pac-10 setback for the Irish in the past 12 years was a last-second 72-70 loss at Arizona on Nov. 24, 2001.
Friday’s game is the first of two for Notre Dame against the Pac-10 this season. The Irish will get an opportunity to avenge last year’s loss at Washington when the Huskies come to South Bend Dec. 11.
BATTEAST NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was selected as the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. It’s the second time in her career that Batteast has earned the BIG EAST’s top weekly honor, having also won the award on Dec. 29, 2003. Ironically, both times she has been selected as Player of the Week, it has come just hours before a game with Colorado State.
Batteast averaged 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game with a .507 field goal percentage as Notre Dame swept four games in eight days to win the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. Along the way, she scored a game-high 17 points in a semifinal victory over No. 6 Duke and a career-high 32 points in the championship game win over No. 10/9 Ohio State. In both contests, she went on personal 10-point runs and helped the Irish overcome eight-point second-half deficits. Against OSU, she scored seven points in Notre Dame’s game-ending 12-0 run and blocked a potential game-tying three-point field goal by the Buckeyes’ Caity Matter with two seconds remaining. For her efforts, Batteast was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
The Irish moved up to sixth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls this week after winning the championship of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT and defeating two top-10 teams (No. 6 Duke and No. 10 Ohio State) along the way. Notre Dame’s No. 6 ranking is its highest in either major national poll since the end of the 2000-01 season, when the Irish were second in the AP poll and first in the ESPN/USA Today balloting after winning the program’s first national championship (the final AP poll was taken before the NCAA Tournament).
Notre Dame is 166-40 (.806) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are sixth entering Friday night’s game at USC). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 78-8 (.907) as a ranked host after opening this season with five consecutive victories at the Joyce Center. Conversely, the Irish are 64-24 (.727) all-time when they play on the road as a ranked team.
Upon closer inspection, Notre Dame has been very sharp when it’s ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. The Irish are 91-15 (.858) as a top-10 squad, including a 45-2 (.957) record at home. In fact, Notre Dame currently has a 41-game home winning streak when it is ranked in the AP top 10, ever since the No. 6 Irish lost to top-ranked Connecticut, 106-81 on Dec. 8, 1998.
IRISH PLAYING EARLY AND OFTEN
Monday’s game with Colorado State capped off a rugged early-season stretch for Notre Dame that saw the Irish play five times in the first 11 days of the campaign. The last time Notre Dame had such a compressed start to the season was 2000-01, when the Irish played their first five games in a 10-day span. They wound up winning all five contests, highlighted by victories over No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 6 Georgia at the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.
Actually, Notre Dame isn’t quite off the hook as far as quick turnarounds are concerned. By the time the Irish leave the floor after facing Michigan State on Dec. 2, they will have played eight games in 20 days, with just one break of more than three days in that time frame (between the USC game on Friday and the Valparaiso contest on Nov. 30).
The schedule finally becomes a bit kinder to Notre Dame after the MSU game. The Irish will play just four times during the ensuing 30 days, with the trickiest stretch coming with games at Dayton (Dec. 9) and home against Washington (Dec. 11).
THE SEASON FOR SHARING
One of the key elements in Notre Dame’s early success has been its penchant for distributing the ball well. In fact, the Irish have averaged 19.8 assists in their first five games, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 handouts in the season opener vs. Illinois State. Junior guard Megan Duffy leads the way, averaging 5.8 assists per game with at least five dimes in four of her first five outings.
PROTECTING THE PILL
The Irish have doen a solid job of limiting their turnovers through this initial stretch of the season. Notre Dame is giving the ball up less than 16 times per game, notably registering only 11 turnovers against Nebraska on Nov. 14. Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast has only seven turnovers this season (1.4 per game), with nearly half of those coming on offensive fouls. In fact, Batteast is sporting a 3.43 assist/turnover ratio through her first five games (24 assists, seven turnovers). Junior guard Megan Duffy also has handled the ball well with a 1.81 assist/turnover ratio (29 assists, 16 turnovers).
LOTS OF FREE STUFF
When given the opportunity, Notre Dame has taken advantage of its trips to the free throw line this season. The Irish are shooting 75.7 percent from the charity stripe, led by junior guard Megan Duffy (.958, 23-24) and freshman guard Charel Allen (.909, 10-11). What’s most impressive is the fact Notre Dame is connecting on almost 81 percent of its foul shots (21-26) in the final five minutes of regulation, often times with the game in the balance (see chart on page 4).
One side note about Duffy’s free throw prowess – the Irish junior struggled at the line early in her freshman season, shooting just 59.3 percent (16-27) during her first 15 collegiate games. However, in the 54 games since then (Jan. 20, 2003 to present), Duffy is connecting at an .857 clip (138-161) on her foul shots. She also has made 31 of her last 33 free throws (.939) in the past 11 Irish games, dating back to Feb. 28, 2004.
A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER
Notre Dame has been very successful in the month of November over the past decade. Since the start of the 1995-96 campaign, the Irish are 34-8 (.810) in November games, including wins in 16 of their last 21 games in the month.
IRISH DEFEAT OHIO STATE IN PROGRAM’S 800TH ALL-TIME GAME
The Notre Dame women’s basketball program achieved an important milestone last Saturday, playing its 800th game as the Irish downed No. 10/9 Ohio State, 66-62 in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. Notre Dame has an overall record 552-248 (.690) in 28 seasons of varsity competition, starting with the 1977-78 campaign
SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT REWIND
Punctuated by emotional second-half rallies in the semifinal and final, Notre Dame won four consecutive games to claim the 2004 Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT championship. The Irish capped off their season-opening charge with a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the title game, scoring the final 12 points of the contest to erase an eight-point Buckeye lead with a little more than five minutes remaining. That win came on the heels of a 76-65 semifinal conquest of No. 6 Duke, a victory that also saw Notre Dame come back from an eight-point deficit late in the second half.
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists with a .507 field goal percentage in the four-game series. Batteast was at her best in the final two games, scoring a game-high 17 points vs. Duke (including a personal 10-0 run that put the Irish ahead for good) and then rolling up a career-best 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. In that latter contest, she had another 10-point run in the first half and later scored seven of her team’s last 12 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:45 to play. However, her biggest contribution came with two seconds remaining, when she raced from the top of the key all the way to the corner, blocking OSU’s potential game-tying three-pointer to cement Notre Dame’s title.
Not to be overlooked, junior guard Megan Duffy earned a place on the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team after recording 15.0 points and 6.0 assists per game with a .500 field goal percentage (.600 from beyond the arc). She was the catalyst for an Irish offense that averaged nearly 77 points per game and dished out better than 20 assists per night in the tournament, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists in the first round vs. Illinois State.
THE COLORADO STATE RECAP
Junior guard Megan Duffy scored 15 points and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast added 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead No. 6 Notre Dame to a 69-47 victory over Colorado State on Monday night at the Joyce Center.
After beating top-10 opponents Duke and Ohio State last week to win the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT, the Irish (5-0) had little trouble with the Rams (1-1). Notre Dame took control with a 20-4 run that started with five minutes remaining in the first half and extended into the second half, moving ahead 41-25 when Batteast hit a free throw with 15:33 left.
Playing their fifth game in 11 days, the Irish were a little ragged at times, turning the ball over 16 times. But they dominated inside, outscoring the Rams 38-20 in the paint. Notre Dame also had a season-high 20 steals, outscoring Colorado State 38-13 off of turnovers.
Sophomore forward Crystal Erwin added 12 points for the Irish on 6-of-9 shooting. Lindsay Thomas led the Rams with 12 points and 10 rebounds. No one else scored in double figures for the Rams, who shot 37 percent.
CSU led 15-11 when Msur Tor-Agbidye hit a jumper in the lane midway through the first half. But the Irish responded with a 9-0 run for a 20-15 lead on a layup by Batteast with seven minutes left. The Rams tied it at 21 before a 10-0 run by the Irish put the host team ahead to stay. Notre Dame dominated in the second half, moving ahead by as many as 25 points (61-36) when Erwin scored inside with 6:49 remaining.
NOTING THE COLORADO STATE VICTORY
- Notre Dame was playing its fifth game in 11 days, the most compressed early-season schedule for the Irish since 2000-01, when Notre Dame also went 5-0.
- The Irish improve to 3-1 all-time against Colorado State, winning their third in a row against the Rams since losing the initial matchup in Fort Collins, Colo., in November 2001.
- For the fourth time in five games, Notre Dame had at least three players scoring in double figures.
- Also for the fourth time this season, the Irish finished on the plus side of the assist/turnover ratio.
- The Irish forced 29 turnovers, their best defensive production since they caused 37 Miami turnovers on Feb. 25, 2004 at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame came up with 20 steals against Colorado State, the most thefts the Irish have recorded in a single game since Nov. 26, 2002, when they also had 20 steals in a victory over Cleveland State at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame held CSU to an opponent season-low 47 points, including just 23 in the first half.
- Junior guard Megan Duffy swiped a career-high seven steals, while freshman guard Charel Allen added five thefts.
- For the third time in the past four games, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast tied her career high with seven assists.
- Sophomore forward Crystal Erwin had her second double-figure scoring game of the year after having only one all of last season. She also set new career highs with six field goals made and nine field goal attempts.
BATTEAST RAKES IN PRESEASON HONORS
Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) has been squarely in the national spotlight during the past three months as the 2004-05 campaign gets underway. In fact, no less than seven different outlets have placed the 6-foot-2 wing among the nation’s elite women’s college basketball players heading into this season (see chart on page 8 for complete rundown of honors).
The run began in August, when Batteast was selected to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-American Team, also putting her on a list of the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Women’s Award that is presented to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player. This marks the second consecutive year in which Batteast has been accorded preseason honors from the Wooden Women’s Award.
Shortly thereafter, Batteast’s name was placed on the 31-player watch list for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, that also goes to the country’s top female collegiate cager. Like the Wooden Award, this is Batteast’s second consecutive appearance on the Wade Trophy Watch List.
In early September, two national publications came out with their preseason All-America teams and Batteast was a top selection by both outlets. Lindy’s College Basketball Annual touted Batteast as a preseason first-team All-America selection, while Street & Smith’s put the South Bend native on its preseason “Terrific 10” list, highlighting what it believes to be the 10 best players in the country.
The web-based publication Gballmag.com also chimed in on Batteast’s abilities, making her a preseason second-team All-America selection in October.
Earlier this week, two more honors came Batteast’s way. The Associated Press named her to its exclusive five-player preseason All-America team, while the Naismith Trophy placed her on its 50-player preseason watch list for the award, which goes to the nation’s top player.
However, Batteast’s highest honor to date came in late October, when Basketball News chose her as its 2004-05 Preseason National Player of the Year. The magazine also made her a preseason first-team All-America choice. All three preseason publications (Lindy’s, Street & Smith’s and Basketball News) are currently available at newsstands across the country.
BATTEAST, DUFFY EARN PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE AWARDS
Notre Dame senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. In addition, Batteast was a unanimous preseason first-team all-conference selection, while Irish junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) was named a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST honoree. The preseason all-conference teams were announced Oct. 28 at BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.
Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. Plowden went on to earn first-team all-conference honors and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1993 BIG EAST Championship, which Miami won.
Batteast is coming off the finest campaign of her Notre Dame career, averaging personal bests of 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while garnering first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors, her third consecutive all-league selection. In addition, Batteast was dominating in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a .483 field goal percentage and three double-doubles as the Irish advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and came within a minute of ousting top-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinals before falling, 55-49. Her performances against Top 25 opponents last season also were sharp, as she registered 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with five double-doubles and three near double-doubles in 11 games.
Duffy was chosen as the 2004 BIG EAST Most Improved Player and was an honorable mention all-conference selection last season after averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 assists per game. She posted a nearly 100 percent improvement in both her field goal (.403) and three-point (.404) percentages while more than tripling her scoring average from her freshman season. She also was a steady influence at the point guard position, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio (1.36) and free throw percentage (.819). She is set to begin her second full season as a starter for the Irish next month.
NOTRE DAME DEBUTS 10TH IN AP POLL, 11TH IN ESPN/USA TODAY COACHES’ POLL
For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, Notre Dame was ranked in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. The Irish were tabbed 10th in this year’s first AP poll and 11th in the initial coaches’ poll, marking the sixth consecutive year that Notre Dame was ranked 16th or higher by both polls to start the season. The Irish achieved their highest preseason ranking in 2000-01, when they debuted at No. 5 in the coaches’ poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll.
In addition to its placement in the two major national polls, Notre Dame also was ranked high in the polls by several preseason media outlets (see chart at right).
NOTRE DAME RANKED SECOND IN PRESEASON BIG EAST POLL
According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish second in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 28 in Newark, N.J. The Irish earned 105 points, including two first-place votes, which placed them behind only three-time defending national champion Connecticut (120 points, 10 first-place votes). Boston College was third, followed by Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia. All six of those schools qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Notre Dame, Connecticut and Boston College all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
Notre Dame is beginning its 10th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2004-05. The Irish have gone 124-28 (.816) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .778 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished either first or second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings eight times in its first nine seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.
HALF AND HALF
Over the past four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 81-7 (.920) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead. Notre Dame has added four wins to that count this season (Illinois State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Colorado State).
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
During the past decade, 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 131-6 (.956) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. That count includes this season’s wins over Nebraska 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 past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 89-3 (.967) 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 another win to that ledger with its opening-night 92-73 win over Illinois State.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times in the past eight seasons (1997-2004). The others are Connecticut (eight times), Tennessee (eight times), Duke (seven times) and Louisiana Tech (seven times).
THE GOLD STANDARD
The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (28), Texas Tech (15), Louisiana Tech (13), Old Dominion (13) and Connecticut (11).
NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 207 games over the past nine seasons, which stands as the eighth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
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 118 of their last 127 games (.929) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 25-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and the fifth-longest active run in the nation (through games of Nov. 23). Notre Dame also has a 69-7 (.908) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 52 of their last 54 non-BIG EAST contests (.963) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). 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 268-70 (.793) record at the venerable facility. In three of the past five 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 in the top 15 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years. The Irish extended that streak in 2003-04, ranking 12th with an average of 6,650 fans per game.
All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 18-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 past six seasons (1999-2000 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and 54 of the past 56 games with at least 5,000 fans in the house.
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
The Irish are scheduled to make at least eight appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season (additional broadcasts may be announced at a later date).
Notre Dame made its TV debut this season on Nov. 20 when it defeated No. 10/9 Ohio State, 66-62 in the championship game of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. That contest was shown globally via broadband Internet connection at www.sportsview.tv, as well either live or delayed on several Comcast SportsNet outlets nationwide. The American Forces Network, which broadcasts to more than one million U.S. service men and women in 176 countries, also aired the game.
The Irish return to the airwaves on Dec. 2 when it plays host to Michigan State on College Sports Television (CSTV). That’s the first of three Notre Dame games that will air nationally on the fledgling cable network, which has signed an agreement with the BIG EAST Conference to carry a national women’s basketball Game of the Week eight times in 2004-05. The Irish also will face Connecticut on Jan. 12 at the Joyce Center and visit Boston College on Feb. 15 in front of the CSTV cameras.
In addition, Notre Dame is scheduled to play twice on ESPN2 this season. On Jan. 16, the Irish will battle Purdue in the second annual BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Joyce Center. Two weeks later on Jan. 30, Notre Dame travels to Storrs, Conn., to meet Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion.
The BIG EAST also has added two Irish games to its regional television package this season. Notre Dame will visit Villanova on Jan. 9 and will play host to Rutgers on Jan. 23, both on BIG EAST Television. Among those affiliates carrying the BETV package are Comcast SportsNet outlets in Chicago, Philadelphia and the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as Fox Sports Net outlets in New York, New England and Pittsburgh. Exact clearances will be made available closer to game time.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) airs 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 fifth 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 College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
For the fourth time in school history (all during the Muffet McGraw era), Notre Dame will have three players sharing the captain’s duties this year. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton and junior guard Megan Duffy all were accorded the honor based upon a vote of their teammates prior to the season. All three are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers.
IRISH ADD TWO PLAYERS DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has announced that Lindsay Schrader, a 6-0 guard from Bartlett, Ill., and Chandrica Smith, a 6-1 forward from Stone Mountain, Ga., have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing National Letters of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2005.
With the additions of Schrader and Smith, Notre Dame’s newest recruiting class is ranked 16th in the nation by Blue Star Index. That marks the ninth consecutive year the Irish have had a top-20 class, according to that publication, which makes Notre Dame one of only three schools in the nation that can claim that distinction (Connecticut and Tennessee are the others).
Schrader has been widely regarded as one of the top all-around players in the state of Illinois while attending Bartlett High School the past three seasons. She is a three-time all-state selection, a two-time Illinois Miss Basketball finalist, and a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America selection who has averaged 20.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in her prep career. Her finest all-around season came as a junior in 2003-04, when she averaged 20.8 ppg., 10.8 rpg. and 2.0 bpg. while earning first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette. She also was a sixth-team All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a finalist for Illinois Miss Basketball honors, an award she will likely contend for once again this season.
On the summer camp circuit, Schrader was an Underclass All-Star at the 2002 adidas Top Ten Camp, before attending the Nike All-America Camp in both 2003 and 2004. She is ranked among the top 30 high school seniors in the nation by three separate recruiting services – Blue Star Index (14th), All-Game Sports (21st) and All-Star Girls Report (26th overall – eighth among shooting guards).
In addition, Schrader made a significant impact at the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the North Team that won the silver medal, she ranked third at the Festival in scoring (14.8 ppg.) and rebounding (8.6 rpg.), as well as second in field goal percentage (.542). All three figures were team highs, as were her 2.2 steals per game. For her efforts, Schrader was invited to attend the 2004 USA Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying Team Trials, where she was one of 17 finalists for the 12-player team that won the gold medal this past August.
Smith currently attends Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where she transferred prior to her senior season. Previously, she was a standout at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., where she averaged 12.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.4 blocks per game with a .620 field goal percentage. She also was a key component in the Jaguars’ run to a 32-1 record and the Georgia 5A state championship last year. In fact, during her first three prep seasons, her teams posted a combined 89-7 (.927) record with three trips to the Georgia state championship and one state title.
Smith herself has received numerous accolades during her high school career. She is a two-time honorable mention All-America selection by Street & Smith’s and was a Student Sports All-American in 2004. In addition, she attended the adidas Top Ten Camp three consecutive years and was named to its prestigious all-star team all three years (Underclass All-Star in 2002 & 2003; Upperclass All-Star in 2004). Last season, she was an honorable mention 5A all-state selection and a first-team all-county choice. She is ranked as high as 29th in the nation among high school seniors by All-Star Girls Report.
Like Schrader, Smith also attended the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Playing for the South Team, she averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, scoring a personal-best 13 points in the bronze-medal game victory over the East squad.
Muffet McGraw SIGNS CONTRACT EXTENSION THROUGH 2010-11 SEASON
On Nov. 6, Notre Dame announced that Muffet McGraw has signed a two-year extension to continue as head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program through the 2010-11 season.
McGraw, who is now in her 18th season with the Irish, most recently signed a four-year contract extension in July 2002 that took her through the 2008-09 season. Her first 17 seasons at Notre Dame have been highlighted by 15 20-win campaigns (including a current string of 11 straight), 11 NCAA tournament appearances (including a current streak of nine straight) and the 2001 NCAA title. Entering the 2004-05 season, she had a 384-149 (.720) record at Notre Dame.
In 2003-04, McGraw skillfully guided her team to a 21-11 record and a second consecutive berth in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen (the fourth for the Irish in five years). McGraw’s charges placed second in the BIG EAST Conference, their eighth top-two finish since joining the league nine years ago. In addition, the Irish went 15-0 at home, their third perfect record at the Joyce Center in the past five seasons, and extended their overall home win streak to 20 games, the second-longest in school history and eighth-longest active string in the nation heading into the 2004-05 campaign.
McGraw has continued to enhance her reputation as one of the nation’s outstanding big-game coaches and tacticians, piloting Notre Dame to a school-record seven wins over top 25 teams during the 2003-04 regular season. During her 17-year tenure with the Irish, McGraw has compiled 40 victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including 30 in the past six seasons (an average of five per year).
Under McGraw’s guidance, the past nine years have been the most successful in Notre Dame’s history as the Irish have compiled an impressive 225-69 (.765) record, including a sparkling 124-28 (.816) regular-season mark in BIG EAST play, the best winning percentage in league history. Notre Dame also has averaged 25 victories per campaign during that span, with two 30-win seasons to its credit. The Irish have won at least one NCAA tournament game every season over that time, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen six times (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and the Final Four twice (1997 and 2001).
BIG EAST CONFERENCE APPROVES BASKETBALL STRUCTURE FOR 2005-06
The Presidents of the BIG EAST Conference institutions have approved all recommendations by the league’s athletic directors relating to the structure of men’s and women’s basketball beginning in the 2005-06 academic year. The approvals were made at the Presidents’ annual meeting held in Philadelphia on Nov. 9.
The recommendations include maintaining a 12-team postseason conference championship tournament and a one-division regular season structure. The men’s and women’s teams will continue to play 16-game regular season league schedules.
In 2005-06, the BIG EAST will include 16 schools. The new members will be: University of Cincinnati, DePaul University, University of Louisville, Marquette University and University of South Florida. While the tournament format will be the same for the men and women, the formula for regular season scheduling will be different. The men’s teams will play 13 opponents with three repeat matchups to reach 16 league games. The women’s teams will meet each opponent once and have one repeat opponent.
For regular season scheduling, the conference office will determine prior to each season which matchups will be repeated. The factors in making the repeat games will be television, rivalries and geography.
BIG EAST men’s teams have captured the last two NCAA crowns and three of the last six. BIG EAST women’s teams have won the last five NCAA titles. The BIG EAST conducts its men’s championship at Madison Square Garden in New York. The women’s championship is played at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Conn.
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. 2 vs. Michigan State – Notre Dame women’s basketball rally towels (first 1,500 fans)
- Dec. 11 vs. Washington – Notre Dame women’s basketball glow balls (first 2,000 fans)
- Jan. 2 vs. Seton Hall – Adidas bracelets (first 5,000 fans)
NEXT GAME: VALPARAISO
Following a 2,100-mile trip to the West Coast for the USC game, Notre Dame’s second road contest of the year will feature a considerably shorter journey. The Irish will venture just 60 miles west to take on Valparaiso next Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 7:05 p.m. (CT). Notre Dame is 17-0 all-time against the Crusaders, including a 7-0 mark at Valparaiso’s Athletics-Recreation Center. Last season, the Irish picked up a 74-57 victory at the Joyce Center.
The Crusaders (0-2) stumbled out of the gate last weekend, losing twice at the Subway Classic, hosted by nationally-ranked Minnesota. Valparaiso fell to former BIG EAST Conference member Virginia Tech, 64-57 in its opener before losing to a hot-shooting Arkansas State club, 82-61 in the consolation game of the tournament. Senior forward Jenna Stangler averaged a team-high 19.0 points per game during the two-day event.
Prior to facing Notre Dame, Valparaiso will take on NAIA power St. Xavier Sunday afternoon as part of the Valparaiso State Farm Classic, to be held at the Genesis Center in Gary, Ind.