Dec. 13, 2002
(#8 AP/#8 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1) vs. Temple Owls (4-3)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002, at 1 p.m. EST.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
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 handling the play-by-play. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Temple game via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics website.
No. 8 IRISH OPEN THREE-GAME HOMESTAND SATURDAY AGAINST TEMPLE
Following an arduous four-game road trip that spanned 12 days and three time zones, eighth-ranked Notre Dame returns to the Joyce Center to take on defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion Temple Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST) in the first of a three-game homestand. The Irish also will be seeking to extend their 30-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, a string that dates back more than six years and includes victories over four ranked visitors.
Notre Dame ended its road trip on a sour note Wednesday night, falling at DePaul, 75-59. For the first time all season, the Irish were betrayed by their shooting touch, connecting at only a 37.7-percent clip from the floor. Notre Dame had come into the game leading the nation in field goal percentage and had topped the 50-percent mark in each of its first four games.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast led three Irish players in double figures, collecting 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman forward Courtney LaVere turned in a solid performance off the bench, registering 11 points and four rebounds, while senior guard Alicia Ratay pumped in 10 points and moved into eighth place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,435 points.
The Irish led by as many as four points midway through the first half, but DePaul went on a 13-4 run to end the period and take the lead for good. Notre Dame got within three points with 12 minutes to go, but that would be as close as the Irish would get.
Temple comes into Saturday’s game at 4-3, a mark which includes two losses in three games against BIG EAST Conference opponents. In their last outing on Tuesday, the Owls shot a season-low 27.3 percent and dropped a 52-42 decision at Rutgers.
Freshman center Candice Dupree leads Temple in scoring (12.6 ppg.), rebounding (6.6 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.506), while sophomore guard Khadija Bowens is carding 12 points and 4.1 assists per game. Dawn Staley is in her third season as head coach at Temple with a 43-25 (.632) record.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame’s latest ascension to college basketball’s summit already is underway, thanks in large part to the nine returning monogram winners and three starters back from last season’s 20-10 club. Of the nine veterans back in the fold, only two are seniors, providing head coach Muffet McGraw with a rich blend of stability and experience upon which to build her next title contender.
McGraw now is in her 16th season at Notre Dame with a 346-128 (.730) record (434-169, .720 in 21 years overall) that includes 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament bids, four trips to the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 national championship. Along the way, she has groomed seven All-Americans, 17 all-conference selections (including 10 first-team picks), seven players who have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States, and three USA Basketball National Team players (who have won a total of six medals). In addition, 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently are coaching at the high school or college level, including five collegiate head coaches. She also has been a master recruiter, attracting seven consecutive top 20 classes, including this year’s freshman class, which was ranked eighth in the nation by Blue Star Basketball. McGraw recently coached the 600th game of her career on Nov. 29, a 69-57 win at USC.
Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (12.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg., .545 FG%, .455 3FG%) is a two-time Associated Press All-American and she is a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection this year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has seen her name sprinkled liberally througout the Notre Dame record book, including marks for scoring (8th, 1,435 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .479) and free throw percentage (1st, .867). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers would be good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history, and her three-point ratio would be the best in NCAA history. After scoring a team-high 17 points at USC, Ratay poured in a season-high 21 points, connecting on 8-of-10 free throws at Valparaiso.
In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (team-high 17.4 ppg., team-high 8.2 rpg., one double-double) on the list of 30 candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s outstanding player. Batteast is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after turning in one of the finest rookie seasons in school history. Like Ratay, she also was a preseason first-team all-conference choice this year. Batteast nearly posted a triple-double in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Cleveland State, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. She did notch her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at USC. Batteast also contributed a season-best 24 points on a career-high 10-15 FG at Arizona State, and added a team-best 17 points and nine rebounds at DePaul.
Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (11.0 ppg., 3.8 rpg., team-high 3.2 apg., .576 FG%), who quickly has developed into one of the top point guards in the BIG EAST. Last season, the speedy Severe capably filled the large shoes left by the graduation of All-American Niele Ivey, setting career highs in virtually every statistical category. Severe has evolved into a scoring threat for the Irish this year, scoring in double figures in four games this season after cracking double digits only seven times in her first two years at Notre Dame. She canned all three of her three-point attempts vs. Cleveland State and scored a season-high 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-14 FT. Severe is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (1.6 ppg., 3.2 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy dished out a game-high seven assists at Arizona State, the most by an Irish rookie since Ratay’s seven handouts against Butler on Dec. 1, 1999.
At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (2.6 ppg., 3.0 rpg.) offers a unique mix of outside shooting ability and toughness in the paint. The 6-2 native of Gillette, Wyo., connected at a 33-percent clip from the three-point line as a freshman, and she showed no fear in playing some of the nation’s elite teams, scoring in double figures on the road at Connecticut and Tennessee. She collected a season-high six rebounds Wednesday at DePaul.
Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (2.5 ppg., 0.5 apg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.0 ppg., 0.3 spg.) also will be counted on for support at the guard positions. Swanson tied her career high with five points vs. Cleveland State. Meanwhile, Joyce is sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a myriad of leg injuries suffered during her career.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton (11.6 ppg., 5.0 rpg., team-high .634 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (12.4 ppg., 4.4 rpg., .595 FG%) have teamed up with Batteast to produce a formidable front line for Notre Dame this season. The 6-3 Borton turned in a solid performance in Notre Dame’s season opener, hitting her first six shots and finishing with 18 points. She also collected a season-high nine rebounds at Arizona State and currently ranks second in the BIG EAST (15th in the nation) in field goal percentage. At the same time, Flecky is widely considered to be the most improved player on the Notre Dame roster, after logging 10 points per game during her team’s tour of Europe last May. She already has displayed her improvement this season, tallying a career-high 22 points and game-best eight rebounds vs. Cleveland State. Her four double-figure games this season already have topped her total (three) from all of last year.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (8.4 ppg., 4.6 rpg.) also is seeing significant playing time on the blocks for the Irish this season. LaVere was a consensus prep All-American as a senior at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif., averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, all while shooting 57 percent from the field. The potential the 6-3 LaVere brings to the table was noticed by one national media outlet prior to the season, as the website Women’s College Hoops.com named the Irish rookie one of its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact.” LaVere wasted little time in living up to that billing, coming off the bench to card 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists vs. Cleveland State. It was the highest scoring output by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut since Ratay’s 18-point night vs. Toledo in 1999. LaVere also contribued 11 points Wednesday night at DePaul.
SERIES HISTORY VS. TEMPLE
The series between Notre Dame and Temple is a short one, with the Owls holding a 2-1 edge over the Irish. The teams have not met since Dec. 21, 1993, when Notre Dame won its only previous meeting with Temple at the Joyce Center, 83-51. Tootie Jones had 17 points and nine rebounds, Sherri Orlosky added 15 points and nine assists, and current Irish assistant Letitia Bowen chipped in nine points and eight rebounds for the Irish. As a team, Notre Dame shot 51.6 percent from the floor (32-62) and held a commanding 49-31 edge on the boards. The Irish opened up a 48-25 halftime lead on the Owls and cruised to the victory. A complete box score from that game is available on page two of these notes.
Fresh off an Atlantic 10 Conference title and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1989, Temple has put together a rigorous schedule designed to test not only its six returning letterwinners, but its six newcomers as well. The Owls are playing seven of their 11 non-conference games away from home, and they have five contests slated against BIG EAST Conference schools. Temple also has five games scheduled against teams ranked in the latest Associated Press poll, with Notre Dame being the third of those five Top 25 opponents.
The Owls are 4-3 this season after a 52-42 loss Tuesday night at Rutgers, the third stop on Temple’s BIG EAST tour. Senior guard Stacey Smalls was the only Owl to score in double figures vs. Rutgers, tallying 11 points. Freshman center Candice Dupree contributed eight points and a game-high nine rebounds for Temple, which shot a season-low 27.3 percent from the floor.
A pair of newcomers have been the driving forces for the Owls during the early going this year. Dupree is leading Temple in virtually every statistical category, logging 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while shooting a team-high 50.6 percent from the floor (39-77). Sophomore guard Khadija Bowens is second on the team at 12.0 ppg. on a .472 field goal percentage (34-72), along with a team-high 4.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game. Smalls is the third Owl scoring in double figures, carding 11.6 points per game, primarily from beyond the three-point line, where she is shooting 29.7 percent this season (11-37).
Dawn Staley is in her third season as the head coach at Temple, having compiled a 43-25 (.632) record at the school. She also was named Philadelphia Big Five Coach of the Year in 2000. Staley also remains a standout professional player, having spent the last four seasons with the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting and guiding her squad to back-to-back playoff berths. In addition, she was a captain on the 2002 U.S. National Team which won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships in China. Before her elevation to the professional ranks, Staley was one of the top players in NCAA history as a two-time national player of the year and three-time Kodak All-American at the University of Virginia.
Saturday’s game will mark Staley’s first-ever matchup with Notre Dame, either as a player or a coach.
NOTRE DAME-TEMPLE CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is a native of Pottsville, Pa., and is a member of the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame and the Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame. She is a 1977 graduate of SJU, having guided the Hawks to their best-ever ranking (third) in 1976-77.
- Both teams have ties to the WNBA < temple=”” head=”” coach=”” dawn=”” staley=”” and=”” notre=”” dame=”” assistant=”” coach=””>Coquese Washington both are active players in the league. Staley recently completed her fourth season with the Charlotte Sting, while Washington was traded to the Indiana Fever in midseason, after three years with the Houston Comets and two years with the New York Liberty. Both Staley and Washington also played in the now-defunct American Basketball League < staley=”” with=”” the=”” richmond/philadelphia=”” rage,=”” and=”” washington=”” with=”” the=”” portland=”” power.=””>
NOTRE DAME AGAINST THE ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
Notre Dame is 53-17 (.757) all-time against the current members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, including a 23-7 (.767) mark at the Joyce Center. The majority of those games (58) have come against three A-10 schools (Dayton – 20-6; LaSalle 4-5; Xavier 20-3) that used to be members of the North Star Conference or Midwestern Collegiate Conference, the last two league stops for the Irish before they joined the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season.
The last time Notre Dame faced an Atlantic 10 opponent was Nov. 27, 2000, when the Irish downed Fordham, 89-44 at the Joyce Center. Meaghan Leahy turned in her finest game at Notre Dame, carding her first career double-double with personal bests of 16 points (12-14 FT) and 14 rebounds. Her 12 free throws and 14 free throw attempts still rank fifth on the Irish single-game list.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Dec. 13)
Junior G Jeneka Joyce – leg injuries, out indefinitely
GOOD TO BE HOME AGAIN
The Irish finally are back home after wrapping up a four-game, 12-day road trip through three time zones. It was Notre Dame’s longest in-season junket since a similar four-game stretch Dec. 19, 1998-Jan. 2, 1999. Just as they did four seasons ago, the Irish went 3-1 on this year’s whirlwind tour, picking up victories at USC, Valparaiso and Arizona State before losing the last game of the road trip Wednesday night at DePaul.
Last season, Notre Dame struggled early on to find the winning formula on the road, dropping its first five games away from the Joyce Center before defeating Miami on Jan. 2. It took the Irish a lot less time to earn a road win this season, as Notre Dame claimed its road opener, 69-57 at USC. The Irish then added wins at Valparaiso and Arizona State < they=”” didn’t=”” pick=”” up=”” their=”” third=”” road=”” win=”” last=”” season=”” until=”” the=”” 10th=”” contest=”” away=”” from=””>
Despite Wednesday’s loss at DePaul, the Irish have won nine of their last 12 regular-season road games, including seven of their last eight. The only other blemishes on that record came last January with a last-second loss at Villanova and a setback at eventual national champion Connecticut.
NOTRE DAME’S FAB FIVE
The Irish have posted four impressive early-season wins, thanks in large measure to the play of their starters. All five members of Notre Dame’s current lineup < three=”” of=”” whom=”” are=”” sophomores=””>< are=”” averaging=”” in=”” double=”” figures,=”” led=”” by=”” sophomore=”” forward=””>Jacqueline Batteast, who is logging 17.4 points per game, good for sixth in the BIG EAST Conference. Sophomore forward Katy Flecky is second at 12.4 ppg. (nearly three times her scoring average from last season), followed by last year’s scoring leader, senior guard Alicia Ratay (12.0 ppg.). Sophomore center Teresa Borton (11.6 ppg.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (11.0 ppg.) round out this stellar starting cast. As if that weren’t enough, all five Irish starters are shooting at least 50 percent from the field, paced by Borton’s superb .634 ratio (26-41), which is second-best in the BIG EAST and ranks 15th in the nation.
A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Notre Dame has raced out to a 4-1 start thanks to its well-balanced offense which has seen at least four players score in double figures in all four wins. The last time the Irish had that kind of balance over such an extended period was March 6-24, 2001, when they lost at Connecticut in the BIG EAST Championship game (four in double digits), then defeated Alcorn State (five), Michigan (four) and Utah (four) in the NCAA Tournament.
SCORCHING THE NETS
Another reason for Notre Dame’s early-season success has been its hot shooting from the field. The Irish are first in the nation in field goal percentage (.524), according to the latest NCAA statistical report released on Monday. Notre Dame has shot better than 50 percent in all four of its victories this year, including a season-high 60 percent (42-70) in the opener against Cleveland State.
START ME UP
Senior guard Alicia Ratay reached another milestone at Valparaiso, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native now has started 102 of 103 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay’s 102 starts tie her with current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (102) for seventh place on Notre Dame’s career games started list. Mary Gavin (105) is next on the list for Ratay, who should pass the former Irish point guard before the end of the calendar year. Ruth Riley holds the school record with 124 career starting assignments, a mark Ratay could reach by the time the BIG EAST Championship rolls around in early March.
Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native reached her first landmark at Valparaiso, becoming the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She also is the second Irish player in three seasons to turn that trick, following Kelley Siemon, who completed the hat trick when she scored her 1,000th point in Notre Dame’s NCAA championship game win over Purdue in 2001. The others in this elite group are Beth Morgan (1993-97), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95) and Trena Keys (1982-86). Ratay currently has 1,435 points, 529 rebounds and 203 assists.
Ratay also is 33 three-point field goals away from breaking the Notre Dame career record of 249, currently held by Sheila McMillen (1995-99). Ratay has averaged more than 70 treys per season during her first three years at Notre Dame.
Two other milestones also are within Ratay’s reach. She ranks eighth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,435 points, but she needs only 154 counters to move into the top five on that chart, catching Keys (1,589 from 1982-86). In addition, Ratay has been one of the most durable players in school history, appearing in all 103 Irish games in her career and starting all but one (2001 Senior Night vs. Georgetown). She can break the Notre Dame career records for starts and games played with 28 starts and 35 games played this season.
Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.867) and three-point field goal (.479) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition, her three-point percentage would stand as the best in NCAA history if her career ended today. For a complete rundown of Ratay’s place in the Notre Dame record books, please see the charts on page 9 of these notes.
Notre Dame is ranked eighth in the latest Associated Press poll, marking the fifth consecutive week the Irish have appeared in the top 10 this season. The current No. 8 ranking represents the 46th week in which Notre Dame has been ranked in the Top 10 (two weeks in 1996-97, 16 in 1998-99, 15 in 1999-2000, 18 in 2000-01 and five in 2002-03).
The Irish also are ranked eighth in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their highest ascension in that poll since they claimed the top spot after their run to the national championship in 2001. Notre Dame checked at No. 12 in the preseason coaches poll, marking the third time in four seasons that the Irish appeared in the top 12 of that survey < they=”” were=”” ninth=”” in=”” 1999-2000=”” and=”” fifth=”” to=”” open=”” the=”” 2000-01=””>
Notre Dame is slated to face four teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 3/2 Connecticut, No. 4/5 Tennessee, No. 6/6 Purdue and No. 21/18 Boston College). In addition, six other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls < arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” depaul,=”” temple,=”” usc=”” and=”” villanova.=””>
DRIBBLING TO THE DOME
Notre Dame is one of only three schools in the country to have both of its basketball teams ranked in the top 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, with the Irish men checking at No. 10 this week. The other schools in this elite group are Duke and Connecticut. In addition, Notre Dame is the only school in the nation to have both basketball teams in the AP top 10 and its football team ranked in the top 10 in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings.
NOTRE DAME HAS REASON TO BE THANKFUL AFTER FALL SEASONS
Irish teams have turned in exceptional performances during the 2002 fall sports season. All six of Notre Dame’s fall sports (football, volleyball, men’s/women’s soccer, men’s/women’s cross country) qualified for postseason play, headlined by a third-place finish for the women’s cross country squad at the NCAA Championships, an NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team, and a Gator Bowl berth and No. 9 BCS ranking for the football team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.
RATAY, BATTEAST NAMED TO 2002-03 NAISMITH PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) have been named preseason candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.
For Ratay, this year’s selection to the Naismith Preseason Watch List is her third in as many seasons. The senior guard is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and ranks eighth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,435 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.479) and free throw percentage (.867), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 33 treys to eclipse Sheila McMillen’s total of 249 from 1995-99.
Last season, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection after finishing third in the conference in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She also averaged a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record 88.2 percent of her charities. Ratay started every game for the Irish last season and has played in every Notre Dame game in her career, starting 102 of a possible 103 contests to date.
Batteast was named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America pick after averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in her rookie season at Notre Dame. The sophomore forward ranked second in the BIG EAST in rebounding and double-doubles (11) and fifth in blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), earning second-team all-conference honors along the way. She also was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a six-time conference Rookie of the Week in 2001-02. Batteast is one of only four sophomores to be named to the 2002-03 Naismith Preseason Watch List.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools to have more than one women’s basketball player named to the Naismith Preseason Watch List, joining Duke, Kansas State, LSU and Tennessee in that select group.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
Over the last seven seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame?s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 104-2 (.981) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. The only times that notion didn?t come to pass were on Feb. 17, 2001 (Rutgers 54-53), and Feb. 26, 2002 (Villanova 48-45). Notre Dame has added two wins to that count this season with victories at USC and Arizona State.
… BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SCORE IF YOU WANT TO WIN
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the last seven seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 83-3 (.965) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame has added two wins to that total with its victories over Cleveland State and Arizona State.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Notre Dame has two captains this season < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla.).They are the 34th and 35th different players to serve as captains for the Irish in the 26-year history of the program (not including the 1986-87 season, when captains were chosen on a game-by-game basis).
IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
The 11 players on this year?s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster < michigan=”” (14)=””>< is=”” not=”” represented=”” for=”” the=”” second=”” year=”” in=”” a=”” row,=”” although=”” assistant=”” coaches=”” (and=”” former=”” notre=”” dame=”” players)=””>Coquese Washington and Letitia Bowen both are Michigan natives.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that are a bit uncommon in Irish colors. Freshman guard Megan Duffy has chosen to wear No. 13, becoming only the second Notre Dame player since 1986 to wear those digits. Danielle Green was the last to sport No. 13, doing so during her freshman season (1995-96). Prior to Green, no Irish player had worn that number since Trena Keys (1982-86).
In addition, freshman forward Courtney LaVere is wearing No. 41 this season, a number which has been modeled just once before by an Irish player. Imani Dunbar had that jersey number throughout her Notre Dame career from 1997-2001.
NOTRE DAME PICKED FOR SHARE OF BIG EAST TITLE IN PRESEASON POLL
For the first time in its eight-year affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame was picked to finish first in the preseason coaches’ poll that was released Oct. 24 at BIG EAST Media Day. The Irish shared top billing with defending national champion Connecticut, with each team earning seven first-place votes and 161 total points in the balloting. Boston College (143 points), Villanova (128 points) and Virginia Tech (110 points) round out the top five.
Individually, Notre Dame was the only school to place two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST first team. Senior guard Alicia Ratay earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors for the second time in her career last season, and was a first-team all-conference selection. She is the top returning scorer for the Irish, averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in ’01-02. She also led the BIG EAST and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record .882 from the charity stripe. Ratay also was named one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award, her third selection in as many seasons.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast also was recognized by the conference coaches after being named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association National Freshman of the Year. The South Bend native averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, and was a unanimous selection as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. She also registered 11 double-doubles (second in the conference) and was a second-team all-league selection, the only freshman to make an all-BIG EAST squad in ’01-02. In addition, Batteast was a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America selection last year and like Ratay, she was chosen as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
RATAY NAMED CANDIDATE FOR SENIOR C.L.A.S.S. AWARD
Senior guard Alicia Ratay was selected as one of 30 candidates for the second annual Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the nation?s senior Player of the Year by the Senior CLASS Organizing Committee. Ratay is one of three BIG EAST Conference student-athletes on the list of Senior CLASS Award ?Players to Watch,? joining Villanova?s Trish Juhline and Brianne Stepherson of Boston College. Connecticut guard Sue Bird received the inaugural award last year.
Ratay is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection last season. She ranks eighth in school history with 1,435 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .479 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 86.7 percent of her free throws at Notre Dame, and both her free throw and three-point percentages would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history.
Ratay also is an exemplary student, owning a 3.46 cumulative grade-point average while pursuing a double major in psychology and education. She has been named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team each of the last three years, and she has garnered Dean?s List honors three times.
The Senior CLASS Award < the=”” acronym=”” stands=”” for=”” celebrating=”” loyalty=”” and=”” achievement=”” for=”” staying=”” in=”” school=””>< is=”” based=”” on=”” a=”” number=”” of=”” factors,=”” the=”” most=”” important=”” being=”” that=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” have=”” exhausted=”” their=”” four=”” years=”” of=”” eligibility=”” and=”” have=”” fulfilled=”” their=”” commitment=”” to=”” their=”” respective=”” university.=”” in=”” addition,=”” the=”” recipient=”” must=”” be=”” working=”” toward=”” their=”” degree,=”” be=”” in=”” good=”” academic=”” standing=”” and=”” be=”” of=”” sound=”” moral=”” character.=”” the=”” award=”” was=”” developed=”” last=”” season=”” in=”” response=”” to=”” the=”” recent=”” trend=”” of=”” college=”” basketball=”” players=”” leaving=”” early=”” to=”” turn=””>
The performances of the 30 ?Players to Watch? will be tracked during the season, and from that pool of players, a group of 10 finalists will be selected by a national committee of sportscasters and sportswriters that cover Division I college basketball. The finalists then will appear on the official ballot which will be voted upon in March by the national media committee and Division I college basketball coaches. The winner will be announced during the Women?s Final Four April 6-8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
LaVERE NAMED ONE OF NATION’S “TOP 21 FRESHMEN OF IMPACT”
Courtney LaVere was a consensus All-America selection and one of the top 25 prep players in the country following her senior season at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. One media outlet believes LaVere will continue that success in her initial campaign at Notre Dame. Women’s College Hoops.com chose the 6-3 freshman forward as one its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact” for the 2002-03 season.
LaVere joins the Irish after averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game during her senior season. She finished her high school career with 1,897 points (second in school history), 1,029 rebounds (third in school history) and 303 blocks (first in school history). She also holds school single-game records for points (45) and blocks (9), as well as BHS single-season marks for points (741), scoring average (26.5) and blocks (99). LaVere was named the 1999 California Freshman of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports, and she helped lead Buena to the top spot in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings for much of the 2000-01 season.
Coach Muffet McGraw has 346 wins in her career at Notre Dame.
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 77 of their last 80 games at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak (10th-longest in NCAA history) from 1998-2002. Notre Dame also has a 55-5 (.917) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale. Besides the Wildcats, Connecticut (three times) and Boston College (once) are the only other BIG EAST schools to successfully conquer the Irish on their home floor.
Nevertheless, Notre Dame still owns a 30-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center that dates back more than six years < a=”” stretch=”” that=”” includes=”” victories=”” over=”” a=”” trio=”” of=”” sixth-ranked=”” teams=”” (ucla=”” and=”” duke=”” in=”” 1998-99=”” and=”” purdue=”” in=”” 2000-01),=”” as=”” well=”” as=”” 25th-ranked=”” illinois=”” in=”” 8-99.=”” notre=”” dame?s=”” last=”” non-conference=”” loss=”” at=”” home=”” came=”” back=”” on=”” dec.=”” 9,=”” 1996,=”” when=”” 19th-ranked=”” wisconsin=”” toppled=”” the=”” irish,=””>
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 240-66 (.784) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 90-5 (.947) at the Joyce Center.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
For the second consecutive season, Notre Dame finished among the top 10 in the nation in attendance for 2001-02. The Irish averaged a school-record 7,825 fans for their 14 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last season also saw Notre Dame register 13 of the top 20 crowds in school history, including a gathering of 9,676 fans, the third-largest in school annals, for the Feb. 10 win over No. 16 Boston College.
Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last three seasons.
NOTRE DAME FACING ONE TOUGH SLATE
Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2002-03 is no exception. The Irish will play no less than 14 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including nine NCAA Tournament teams (highlighted by defending national champion Connecticut and Final Four participant Tennessee). In addition, six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 17 of the 24 Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 10 squads that posted 20-win campaigns.
IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Notre Dame is getting a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least seven times, including nationally-televised contests against Arizona State (Dec. 7 on Fox Sports Net), Purdue (Jan. 4 on CBS) and Connecticut (Jan. 20 on ESPN2). In addition, Notre Dame will appear three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Miami (Jan. 11, noon ET) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 25, noon ET) and Virginia Tech (Feb. 9, 2 p.m. ET). All three of those games will be telecast in South Bend on WHME-TV on a tape-delayed basis as part of the league?s TV deal. WHME-TV also will broadcast the Irish game at DePaul (Dec. 11) live from Chicago. In addition to the regular-season package, the BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference championship game on March 11 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game will air on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and WDND sports director Sean Stires is now in his third season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a wide variety of Irish events on radio for only $6.95 per month.
THE MUFFET McGRAW SHOW
Muffet McGraw?s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its fifth season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and will air at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays beginning December 14. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).
NOTRE DAME INKS PAIR OF TOP 20 PREP STANDOUTS IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 14 that two of the nation?s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2003. Crystal Erwin, a 6-2 forward from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and Susie Powers, a 5-11 guard from Highlands Ranch High School in Denver, Colo., will join the Irish for the 2003-04 campaign.
Erwin has averaged 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her three-year prep career at St. Paul. She holds the school records for career points (2,084) and rebounds (1,324), as well as single-season points (869) with one year still to play for the Swordsmen. Ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Erwin was named to the 2002-03 USA Today Preseason Super 25 Team, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America pick, earning third-team honors last season. She also has been named to all-star teams at the adidas Top Ten Camp each of the last two years and she was a member of the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team this past summer. Erwin is the second California native in as many seasons to commit to the Irish, following current Notre Dame freshman Courtney LaVere.
Powers averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game last season for perennial national power Highlands Ranch High School, which won its third consecutive Colorado Class 5A title last season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the campaign according to the USA Today Super 25 poll. Powers was ranked as high as 12th in the nation by the Greg Swaim Basketball Report, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America selection. She also was Erwin’s teammate on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team in the summer of 2002. In addition to Erwin, Powers will have some familiarity with another Irish player — she played with sophomore forward Katy Flecky at Highlands Ranch in 2000, helping lead the Falcons to the first of their three straight state championships.
With the addition of Erwin and Powers, Notre Dame has its seventh consecutive top 20 recruiting class, according to Blue Star Basketball, which rated the newest Irish signees 16th in the nation.
McGRAW INDUCTED INTO SAINT JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
University of Notre Dame women?s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was one of seven people inducted into the Saint Joseph?s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame Nov. 16 in Philadelphia. McGraw was a standout point guard for Saint Joseph?s during its first four years of varsity competition, serving as team captain during her final two seasons (1975-76 and 1976-77). She helped lead the Hawks to an 18-3 record as a junior and a third-place finish in the AIAW Eastern Regional Tournament. A year later, she guided SJU to a 23-5 record, a sixth-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament, and a No. 3 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest year-end poll finish in school history. She also set the Saint Joseph?s single-season record for steals with 102 during the 1976-77 campaign.
McGraw graduated from SJU in 1977 with a bachelor?s degree in sociology. She played one season for the California Dreams in the Women?s Professional Basketball League (WBL) before beginning her college coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater from 1980-82. Following five successful seasons at Lehigh (1983-87), McGraw was named the head coach at Notre Dame, a position she has held ever since. Now in her 16th year with the Irish, McGraw has posted a stellar 346-128 (.730) record (434-169, .720 overall in 21 years), guiding Notre Dame to 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament berths, four Sweet Sixteen visits, two Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA title. The 2001 Naismith and AP National Coach of the Year, McGraw also is a member of the SJU Women?s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.
IRISH ASSISTANT COACH FEATURED ON WNBA.COM
When she’s not diligently working with the Notre Dame women?s basketball team, assistant coach Coquese Washington spends the offseason playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). A six-year veteran point guard, Washington guided the Indiana Fever to their first-ever playoff berth this past summer, following her midseason trade from the Houston Comets.
During the course of the 2002-03 college basketball season, WNBA.com will feature regular interviews and chat sessions with Washington. Readers will get an inside look at how she successfully handles the challenges of being a collegiate assistant, while also remaining prepared for the next professional basketball season.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR NOTRE DAME-TENNESSEE GAME AT CONSECO FIELDHOUSE
A potential matchup of Top 10 teams is on the horizon when Notre Dame and Tennessee tangle Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. (EST) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tickets still remain for this battle of college basketball powers — $14 for lower level seats, and $10 for club level seats. Fans can also register to attend a post-game “Meet ‘N Greet” with Indiana Fever standouts Tamika Catchings (Tennessee ’01) and Niele Ivey (Notre Dame ’01), as well as purchase discounted tickets for the NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets which will follow at 7 p.m. (EST).
For more information on this game, or to buy tickets, call the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office at (317) 917-2500, or visit the Conseco Fieldhouse website at www.ConsecoFieldhouse.com.
IRISH ENJOY SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TRIP TO EUROPE
Last May, the Irish embarked on a 12-day tour of Italy and France, going 3-1 in a four-game series against Italian professional teams. Among the Notre Dame victories was an 82-76 conquest of 14-time Italian First Division champion Pool Comense 1872, which had won its latest league title only two weeks prior to playing the Irish. Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks shared team-high scoring honors on the tour, averaging 14.8 points per game during the series. Batteast, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, also registered two double-doubles and carded 11.3 rebounds per game while in Europe.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton collected team-high rebounding laurels, averaging 12.3 boards per contest. She also posted double-figure rebounding totals in three of four games, finishing with nine caroms in her other outing. Like Batteast, she averaged a double-double, adding 10 points per night. All told, five Irish players scored in double figures while in Europe < the=”” aforementioned=”” trio,=”” along=”” with=”” junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe (13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.0 ppg.). As a team, Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points and 51.3 rebounds per game during the trip.
UP NEXT: IPFW
Notre Dame will take the next week off for final exams before continuing its three-game homestand Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. (EST) against Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne at the Joyce Center. It will be the just the third all-time meeting between the Irish and Mastodons, and the first since Jan. 24, 1979 (a span of 23 years, 10 months and 27 days < the=”” longest=”” hiatus=”” between=”” series=”” games=”” in=”” school=”” history).=”” ipfw,=”” a=”” division=”” i=”” independent,=”” was=”” 2-6=”” this=”” year=”” heading=”” into=”” its=”” game=”” at=”” louisville=”” friday=”” night.=”” the=”” longest=”” hiatus=”” between=”” series=”” games=”” in=”” school=”” history).=”” ipfw,=”” a=”” division=”” i=”” independent,=”” was=”” 2-6=”” this=”” year=”” heading=”” into=”” its=”” game=”” at=”” louisville=”” friday=””>