November 23, 1998
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The seventh-ranked Notre Dame women’s basketball team improved its record to 3-0 on the season as the Irish picked up two victories last week with wins over Butler (71-60) and sixth-ranked Duke (84-57). The victory against the Blue Devils was the second ranked opponent the Irish had beaten at the Joyce Center this season. Notre Dame’s 3-0 start is the best since the 1995-96 campaign. Notre Dame jumped four spots to seventh in the Associated Press rankings, tying its all-time high. The Irish, ranked in the top 10 for the second time in school history, reached an all-time high of seventh in the first week of December during the 1996-97 campaign.
Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad plays two games this week when it entertains 25th-ranked Illinois on Tuesday, November 24 at 7:00 p.m. It is the third ranked opponent the Irish will face just four games into the season. The game will be broadcast live on WHME-TV 46 in South Bend. The Irish play their second road game of the season when they travel to San Francisco for a first-ever visit on Saturday, November 28 at 2:00 p.m. (PST).
THE WEEK IN REVIEW — BUTLER: Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) led three Notre Dame players in double figures as she scored a game-high 23 points as the Irish earned an 11-point decision at Butler 71-60. Green had 15 first-half points to give the Irish a 31-22 halftime advantage. Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) had 12 of her 14 points in the second-half as she played 38 mintues in the contest. Ruth Riley (Macy, Ind.) was the only other player in double figures as she netted 13 points. Kelley Siemon (Edina, Minn.) led all rebounders with nine boards Notre Dame never trailed in the contest and jumped out to an 11-0 lead. The Irish led by as many as 13 in the second half, but the Bulldogs cut the advantage to three with 9:55 left to play in the game. Notre Dame then put the game away with a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 13 points with just under six minutes to play in the contest.
DUKE: Ruth Riley and Danielle Green recorded their first double-doubles of the season as they combined for 40 points and 33 rebounds in leading the Irish to their second straight win at home over a ranked opponent. Riley scored 20 points, grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and blocked a career-best and Notre Dame school record eight blocks, while Green netted 20 points and pulled down a personal best 15 boards. Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) was the only other Irish player in double figures as she scored 13 points. She also had five assists and four steals in the contest. Both teams shot under 40 percent for the game with Notre Dame connecting on 39.4 percent and Duke hitting just 30.7 percent. The Irish held a decisive 67-34 rebounding advantage on the boards.
HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW — Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 12th season along the Notre Dame sidelines and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and five overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Reginal championship. In 1998, McGraw’s squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In her 11 seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 238-105 (.694) and in 16 campaign overall, her teams have registered a 326-145 (.692) ledger.
SERIES RECORD VERSUS UPCOMING OPPONENTS – ILLINOIS: The will be the fourth meeting ever between the two schools and first since 1982 as the Illini make their second-ever visit to the Joyce Center. The last time they played at Notre Dame (February 28, 1981), Illinois beat the Irish 88-53. The Illini have won all three previous meetings.
SAN FRANCISCO: This is only the second-ever meeting between the two schools. The Irish beat the Lady Dons 62-47 a year ago.
McGRAW GOES UP AGAINST HER FORMER COACH — It will be a reunion of sorts on Tuesday, when the Irish face Illinois at the Joyce Center. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw goes up against her former coach,. Theresa Grentz. McGraw, a 1977 graduate of St. Joseph’s (Pa.), played for Grentz for two seasons at the Philadelphia school. Grentz coached at St. Joseph’s during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 campaigns before moving to Rutgers for the 1976-77 season. Grentz has coached at the collegiate level for 24 years, while McGraw is in 17th season. This will be the first time McGraw and Grentz have coached against each other.
GREEN GARNERS BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS — For the first time in her career, senior guard Danielle Green has earned BIG EAST Player of the Week honors as she was named this week’s honoree along with Connecticut Svetlana Abrosimova. This is the second straight week a Notre Dame player has copped player of the week honors. Last week, Niele Ivey was named for player-of-the-week honors for the second time in her career. Green earns the award after averaging 21.5 ppg. and 10.0 rebounds in Notre Dame’s two wins last week.
GREEN OFF TO A FAST START — Senior guard Danielle Green is Notre Dame’s leading scorer and is tied for team-high rebounding honors as she is averaging 22.0 points and 9.0 rebounds. She has scored 20-plus points in all three games, netting a career-high 23 points in the first two games against UCLA and Butler. Green grabbed a personal best 15 boards against Duke on Saturday. She also had 20 points against the Blue Devils for her first double-double of the season and second in her career.
BIG GAME FOR RILEY AGAINST BLUE DEVILS — Sophomore Ruth Riley had one of the biggest games of her career on Saturday in Notre Dame’s win over Duke. Riley nearly pulled off the first triple double in school history when she scored 20 points, grabbed a personal best 18 rebounds and tied a school record by blocking eight shots. It was the first double-double of the year for Riley and the 10th of her career.
McMILLEN EYES 1,000TH POINT — Senior guard Sheila McMillen is just three points shy of becoming the 14th player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. McMillen has played in 103 games during her three-plus seasons and has started 41 of those contests while averaging 9.7 ppg. She has a better than 40 percent shooting percentage from the field and has hit better than 77 percent of her free throw attempts. McMillen was Notre Dame’s leading scorer a year ago, averaging 13.6 ppg. and has scored in double figures in 47 games during her career.
BIG NUMBERS IN SEASON OPENER — Notre Dame’s 99 points were the second most in a season opener (the most was 113 versus Liberty on November 24, 1989) and most by a Notre Dame team in a season opener at the Joyce Center.
THE CAPTAIN — Sheila McMillen is Notre Dame’s captain this season. This is the first time since 1981-82, and the second time in the program’s history, that the Irish have had just one player serve as a captain during the course of the season. The only other lone captain during a basketball season was Missy Conboy, now an associated athletic director at Notre Dame.
LOFTY RANKINGS — For just the second time in its 22-year history, Notre Dame started the season ranked, and for just the second time in school history, the Irish are ranked in the top 10. The Irish began the 1998-99 campaign with its highest preseason rankings in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN rankings at 17th and 19th, respectively. Two years ago, Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad was 20th in the AP and 25th in the USA Today/ESPN preseason rankings to start the season. Wins against top 10 opponents UCLA (#6) and Duke (#6) have propelled the Irish to seventh in the Associated Press ranking, tying its all-time that it reached during the 1998-99 season. During the 1996-97 season, Notre Dame was ranked as high as seventh in the Associated Press Poll and finished fifth in the final USA Today/ESPN ranking.
OUT OF THE GATES — Notre Dame’s early-season schedule certainly is the toughest in school history. The Irish have already played two ranked opponents — UCLA and Duke, both number six at the time, and face 24th-ranked Illinois on Tuesday, November 24. The fourth ranked opponent Coach Muffet McGraw’s team will face in its first seven games will be the second-ranked Connecticut Huskies on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. While the schedule is formidable, McGraw and her team enjoy the luxury of playing all of those games at the Joyce Center.
ELITE COMPANY — Notre Dame was one of just nine schools to advance to the Sweet 16 in both 1997 and 1998. The eight other schools on the short list included: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Old Dominion and Tennessee. The Irish also were one of 29 teams to earn an NCAA tournament bid each of the last three seasons.
IRISH IN THE JOYCE CENTER — Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 186-64 mark for a .744 winning percentage since that first season. Last season, Notre Dame won school-record 12 games at home en route to a 12-1 record. Since a 78-59 loss to Connecticut on December 6 of last season, the Irish have won 13 straight home games. The record for consecutive home victories at the Joyce Center is 15 set from January 2, 1995 thru January 10, 1996.
WITH THE STUFF — Notre Dame has 22 blocks on the season in its first three games (7.33 per game), while its opponents have just six. Ruth Riley leads the Irish with 14 blocks (4.67) after a career-high eight blocks against Duke on Saturday night, which tied the school record set by Shari Matvey against Wisconsin-LaCrosse on March 15, 1980.
DOMINATION ON THE BOARDS — Notre Dame outrebounded Duke 67-34 on Saturday night as the Irish were just seven rebounds away from tying the school record of 74 set against IUPUI-Fort Wayne on January 24, 1978. Ruth Riley and Danielle Green combined for 33 of those 67 rebounds as Riley finished with a career-high 18 rebounds, while Green also established a personal best with 15. Both lead the Irish in rebounding with 9.0 boards per game. Notre Dame is averaging 47.7 rebounds per game and is outrebounding its opponents by a 10.7 margin.
POINTS A PLENTY — Notre Dame is averaging 84.7 points through its first three games and is outscoring its opponents by an 18.4 margin as it has yielded opponents just 66.3 ppg. Last season, Notre Dame averaged 74.2 points per game. Notre Dame has outscored the two ranked opponents it has played — UCLA and Duke — by an average of 22.0 ppg. In its season opener against the Bruins, the Irish scored 99 points which represented the second most points in a season opener and the most points by a Notre Dame team in a season opener at the Joyce Center.
ASSOCIATED PRESS – (Week of Nov. 23)
1. Connecticut (3-0) 2 2. Louisiana Tech (1-0) 3 3. Tennessee (2-1) 4 4. Purdue (2-1) 1 5. North Carolina (5-0) 5 6. Georgia (1-0) 7 7. NOTRE DAME (3-0) 11 8. Alabama (3-0) 9 9. Old Dominion (2-0) 1510. N. Carolina State (2-0) 1611. Rutgers (3-1) 1012. UCLA (1-2) 1413. Florida (2-1) 2014. Arkansas (4-1) 1815. Texas Tech (1-1) 1216. Colorado State (4-0) NR17. Virginia (1-1) 818. Vanderbilt (2-0) 1919. Kansas (2-2) 1720. Duke (1-3) 621. Iowa State (2-0) 2122. George Washington (2-1) 1323. Wisconsin (4-0) 2524. Nebraska (3-0) 2325. Illinois (2-0) 24
USA TODAY/ESPN – (WEEK OF NOV. 23)
1. Connecticut (3-0) 3 2. Louisiana Tech (1-0) 2 3. Tennessee (2-1) 1 4. Purdue (2-1) 5 5. North Carolina (5-0) 7 6. Georgia (1-0) 10 7. Alabama (3-0) 13 8. N. Carolina State (2-0) 12 Old Dominion (2-0) 1510. NOTRE DAME (3-0) 1911. UCLA (1-2) 612. Rutgers (3-1) 1113. Texas Tech (1-1) T814 Arkansas (4-1) 1815. Duke (1-3) 416. Kansas (2-2) T817. Florida (4-1) 2018. Colorado State (4-0) NR19. Virginia (1-1) 1420. Wisconsin (4-0) 2321. Vanderbilt (2-0) 2222. Iowa State (2-0) 2523. Illinois (2-0) 2424. Nebraska (3-0) NR25. Stanford (1-3) 17
bold italics indicates 1998-99 opponent
1998-99 BIG EAST STANDINGS – (through games of nov. 22)
BIG EAST Overall Boston College 0-0 3-0 Connecticut 0-0 3-0 NOTRE DAME 0-0 3-0 Pittsburgh 0-0 3-0 Rutgers 0-0 3-1 Villanova 0-0 2-1 Miami 0-0 1-1 St. John's 0-0 2-2 Syracuse 0-0 1-1 Seton Hall 0-0 1-2 West Virginia 0-0 1-2 Georgetown 0-0 1-2 Providence 0-0 0-1