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No. 9 Irish Continue Road Trip At Valparaiso

Dec. 3, 2002

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(#9 AP/#9 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0) vs. Valparaiso Crusaders (2-3)

The Date and Time:
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002, at 7:05 p.m. CST (8:05 p.m. in South Bend).

The Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) in Valparaiso, 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

Notre Dame (, Valparaiso (

The ninth-ranked Irish look to extend an unprecedented run of success against Valparaiso when they take on their in-state rival Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. (CST) at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Ind. Notre Dame is 15-0 all-time against the Crusaders, the best mark against one opponent in school history.

In addition to preserving their unblemished record against Valparaiso, the Irish will be seeking to card their second road win of the season, something that took two months and eight games to accomplish last year. Notre Dame opened its current four-game road trip last Friday evening with a hard-fought 69-57 victory over USC at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It was the fourth win for the Irish in five career meetings with the Women of Troy, but it didn’t come cheaply.

For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame had five players scoring in double figures, led by senior guard Alicia Ratay, who rang up 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast picked up where she left off last season, collecting her first double-double of the campaign with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Batteast finished second in the BIG EAST Conference with 11 double-doubles a year ago. Sophomore forward Katy Flecky came off the bench to contribute 13 points for the Irish, who shot 55.3 percent from the field and a solid 84.2 percent from the foul line in the victory.

Things didn’t appear rosy in the first half, as Notre Dame turned the ball over five times on its first six possessions and trailed 11-2 less than three minutes into the contest. However, the Irish righted the ship and eventually claimed a six-point lead later in the period before USC put together its own rally and took a 37-34 edge into halftime.

The second half was a study in Notre Dame defense, as the Irish clamped down and limited the Women of Troy to only 20 points and one basket over a critical six-minute stretch late in the period.

Valparaiso comes into Wednesday night’s game with a 2-3 record after a 58-47 home loss to Navy Sunday afternoon. Suzie Hammel led the Crusaders with 17 points, padding her team-high scoring average, which now stands at 12.2 ppg.

Keith Freeman is in his ninth season as Valparaiso’s head coach with a 139-96 (.591) record at the school. He is 0-5 all-time against Notre Dame.

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 344-127 (.730) record 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, she has developed a knack for training outstanding coaches, with 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently 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.

Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (10.5 ppg., 3.0 rpg.) 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 (9th, 1,396 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .479) and free throw percentage (1st, .870). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers are good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history. Ratay poured in a game-high 17 points in last Friday’s win at USC.

In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (16.5 ppg., team-high 9.5 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 in last week’s win at USC.

Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (12.0 ppg., 3.5 rpg.), 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. She started this season with a bang as well, scoring 13 points (3-3 from the three-point line) vs. Cleveland State. Severe is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (1.0 ppg., 2.5 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy averaged 14 points and 5.8 assists per game as a senior at Dayton’s Chaminade-Julienne High School before tearing the ACL in her right knee midway through the campaign.

At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (4.0 ppg., 2.0 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. Wicks earned the second start of her career last Friday at USC, playing seven minutes.

Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (5.0 ppg., 1.0 apg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.0 ppg., 1.0 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 (14.0 ppg., 2.5 rpg., team-high .722 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (team-high 17.5 ppg., 6.0 rpg.) 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 in 18 minutes. 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 and adding 13 points off the bench at USC.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (10.0 ppg., 4.5 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 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 as the Irish won their season opener over 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.


Notre Dame has held a decisive advantage in the all-time series with Valparaiso, winning all 15 games with the Crusaders, including a 6-0 mark in Valparaiso and a 3-0 record at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The two teams last met in the 2001-02 season opener, with the Irish claiming a narrow 42-35 win at the Joyce Center. Teresa Borton narrowly missed a double-double in her collegiate debut, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Alicia Ratay added 11 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame. Amber Schober scored a team-high 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Valparaiso, which shot 27.7 percent from the field and managed 15 second-half points in the contest.

The Irish are making their seventh trip to Valparaiso, having won on their previous six visits by an average score of 74-47. The last time Notre Dame faced the Crusaders at the Athletics-Recreation Center, the Irish walked away with a 71-46 victory behind a game-high 20 points and six three-point field goals from Ratay. Jeanette Gray paced the Crusaders with 14 points.

After reaching the WNIT quarterfinals last year, the Crusaders are off to a 2-3 start this season after a 58-47 loss to Navy on Sunday at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Junior guard Suzie Hammel scored a game-high 17 points and drained five three-point field goals, while senior forward Jeanette Gray carded a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for Valparaiso. The Crusaders were stymied by poor shooting (.304 FG%) and lost the battle on the boards by a 42-33 count.

Hammel leads a trio of Valparaiso players scoring in double figures this season, averaging 12.2 points per game with a team-best 12 three-point field goals. Gray is second at 11.4 ppg., along with a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game and a .421 field goal percentage. Freshman guard Jamie Gutkowski is third at 11.2 ppg., to go along with a .368 three-point percentage.

As a team, the Crusaders are averaging 59 ppg., while shooting 35.3 percent from the floor and 34.1 percent from behind the three-point line. Valparaiso is in the red in the rebounding column, pulling down 33.6 rpg., seven fewer than its opponents. The hallmark for the Crusaders thus far this season has been their defense < they=”” are=”” forcing=”” better=”” than=”” 20=”” turnovers=”” per=”” game=”” while=”” collecting=”” more=”” than=”” eight=”” steals=”” per=”” outing.=””>

Valparaiso is coached by Keith Freeman, who is in his ninth season at the Crusader helm. A three-time Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year, he has compiled a 139-96 (.591) record at Valparaiso and owns a 268-143 (.652) overall mark in his 15th season as a collegiate head coach.

Wednesday night’s contest wraps up a three-game homestand for the Crusaders, who defeated Division III entity Concordia (Wis.) 91-48 on Saturday. Notre Dame is the second ranked opponent Valparaiso has faced this season. The Crusaders dropped an 81-46 decision at current No. 10 Texas Tech back on Nov. 27.

The Irish have faced only three of the eight current members of the Mid-Continent Conference, sporting a perfect 18-0 record (6-0 on the road) against the MCC. The vast majority of those games have come against Valparaiso, with Notre Dame owning a 15-0 mark against the Crusaders. The Irish also have faced MCC members Chicago State (2-0) and Oakland (1-0) in their history.

(as of Dec. 3) Junior G Jeneka Joyce

leg injuries, out indefinitely

Coming into the 2002-03 season, Notre Dame had a perfect all-time record against eight of the opponents on its schedule. Valparaiso represents the second foe in that list, with the Irish holding a 15-0 series record against the Crusaders, the best mark for Notre Dame against one opponent in its history. In fact, Valparaiso is one of four foes the Irish have defeated at least 10 times without a loss < the=”” others=”” are=”” pittsburgh=”” (11-0),=”” providence=”” (10-0)=”” and=”” st.=”” john’s=”” (10-0).=””>

So far, Notre Dame is 1-0 this season when protecting its unbeaten series marks < the=”” irish=”” moved=”” to=”” 5-0=”” all-time=”” against=”” cleveland=”” state=”” with=”” a=”” 107-65=”” win=”” back=”” on=”” nov.=”” 26.=”” the=”” other=”” erfect=”” series?=”” remaining=”” on=”” notre=”” dame?s=”” schedule=”” this=”” year=”” include=”” one=”” non-conference=”” opponent=”” (ipfw)=”” and=”” five=”” big=”” east=”” conference=”” foes=”” (pittsburgh,=”” providence,=”” st.=”” john?s,=”” virginia=”” tech=”” and=”” west=”” virginia).=””>

Notre Dame has been extremely successful against its fellow Indiana schools over the years, compiling a 97-29 (.770) record vs. the rest of the Hoosier State. Among current Division I opponents, the Irish have a winning record against all the other Indiana institutions except Ball State (1-2) and Purdue (4-10). Historically, Notre Dame has had the most in-state success against Butler (19-6), followed by Evansville (18-1) and Wednesday night’s opponent, Valparaiso (15-0).

The game with the Crusaders is the first of three for the Irish this season against Indiana schools. Notre Dame will face IPFW for the first time since 1979 later this month, and the Irish will battle sixth-ranked Purdue in a nationally-televised matchup on Jan. 4 at the Joyce Center.

The Irish are in the midst of a four-game road trip through three time zones, their longest in-season junket since a similar four-game stretch Dec. 19, 1998-Jan. 2, 1999. Notre Dame went 3-1 on that extended road swing, winning at South Florida and Michigan State, dropping a BIG EAST Conference contest at Boston College, before bouncing back to topple Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

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, last Friday night at USC.

With the win over the Women of Troy, the Irish have won seven of their last nine regular-season road games, including the last five in a row. The only blemishes on that record came last January with a last-second loss at Villanova and a setback at eventual national champion Connecticut.

The Irish have posted a pair of impressive early-season wins, thanks in large measure to the play of their starters. Notre Dame’s top five players < three=”” of=”” whom=”” are=”” sophomores=””>< are=”” averaging=”” in=”” double=”” figures,=”” led=”” by=”” sophomore=”” forward=””>Katy Flecky, who is logging 17.5 points per game (more than three times her season scoring average last year). Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast is second at 16.5 ppg., followed by sophomore center Teresa Borton (14.0 ppg.), junior guard Le’Tania Severe (12.0 ppg.) and last year’s scoring leader, senior guard Alicia Ratay (10.5 ppg.).

As if that weren’t enough, all five Irish starters are shooting better than 50 percent from the field, paced by Borton’s superb .722 ratio (13-18). And this success isn’t limited to the starters < freshman=”” forward=”” courtney=”” lavere=”” has=”” come=”” off=”” the=”” bench=”” to=”” average=”” 10.0=”” ppg.=”” and=”” shoot=”” 60=”” percent=”” from=”” the=”” floor=”” during=”” the=”” first=”” two=”” games=”” of=”” the=”” season.=””>

Notre Dame topped the 100-point mark for only the 10th time in school history with its 107-65 season-opening win over Cleveland State on Nov. 26. It also was the first time the Irish had cracked triple digits since a 111-90 win over West Virginia on Jan. 7, 1999. The 107-point outburst vs. CSU matched the fifth-highest single-game scoring total in the 26-year history of the program. The only better scoring nights for the Irish were a school-record 113-35 win over Liberty in 1989, the aforementioned West Virginia game, and 109-point eruptions against Marquette in 1990 (109-56) and Providence in 1998 (109-60).

Senior guard Alicia Ratay should reach another milestone Wednesday night, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has started 99 of her first 100 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay’s 99 starts rank 10th in school history and she can tie Margaret Nowlin (100) for ninth on that list if she gets the starting nod vs. Valparaiso. Sandy Botham (101), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (102) and Mary Gavin (105) are next on the list for Ratay, who should pass that trio before the end of the calendar year. Ruth Riley holds the school record with 124 career starting assignments.

Notre Dame had five players score in double figures in each of its first two games (107-65 over Cleveland State and 69-57 at USC). It marks the first time the Irish have registered five double-digit performances in back-to-back games since Feb. 2 & 6, 1997 vs. St. John’s (five in double figures) and Syracuse (seven in double digits).

Notre Dame’s 42-point season-opening win over Cleveland State on Nov. 26 was its largest since a 98-49 drubbing of Alcorn State in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament. It also was the largest winning margin for the Irish in their opening game since a 43-point victory over Illinois-Chicago (93-50) to tip off the 1993-94 campaign.

Freshman forward Courtney LaVere got her college career going in the right direction with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists in her debut game on Nov. 26 vs. Cleveland State. It was the most points scored by an Irish freshman in her first contest since Alicia Ratay also scored 18 points at Toledo on Nov. 20, 1999.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native is only one assist away from becoming just the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She would be 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), Trena Keys (1982-86) and current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95).

Ratay also is 37 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 ninth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,396 points, but she needs only 193 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 100 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 (.870) and three-point field goal (.479) percentages, records which currently rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. 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 ninth in the latest Associated Press poll, marking the fourth consecutive week the Irish have appeared in the top 10 this season. The current No. 9 ranking represents the 45th 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 four in 2002-03).

Notre Dame was ranked 10th in the preseason AP poll, marking the sixth time in the last seven seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year. It was the third time in the last four years that Notre Dame was ranked in the top 10 of the preseason AP poll < the=”” irish=”” were=”” seventh=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” 1999-2000=”” poll,=”” and=”” placed=”” sixth=”” in=”” the=”” 2000-01=”” preseason=”” poll.=””>

The Irish are ranked ninth 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=”” campaign.=””>

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. 22/20 Boston College). In addition, nine other Notre Dame opponents presently are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls < arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” depaul,=”” pittsburgh,=”” rutgers,=”” temple,=”” usc,=”” villanova=”” and=”” virginia=”” tech.=””>

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 ninth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,396 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.479) and free throw percentage (.870), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 37 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 99 of a possible 100 contests.

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 103-2 (.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 added a win to that count last Friday with a 69-57 victory at USC.

… 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 82-3 (.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 added a win to that total in its season opener, routing Cleveland State, 107-65.

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).

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.

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.

Irish teams 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 and a NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.

Notre Dame has won 162 games over the last six-plus seasons, which stands as the fifth-most wins of any school in the country during that time. Here?s where the Irish rank in terms of their wins since the start of the 1996-97.

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 has been 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 has been chosen as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award.

Senior guard Alicia Ratay has been 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 ninth in school history with 1,396 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 87 percent of her free throws at Notre Dame, and both her free throw and three-point percentages currently stand 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=”” professional.=””>

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 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.

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 nearly 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,=”” 81-69.=””>

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 will get a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least six 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. The BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 also will be aired on the BIG EAST TV package, 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 ( 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.

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).

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 343-127 (.730) record, 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.

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, 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.

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

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.

ARIZONA STATE Notre Dame continues its four-game road trip Saturday when it takes on Arizona State at noon (MST) in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II at Wells Fargo Arena. The game will be televised live nationwide on Fox Sports Net (including Fox Sports Chicago) and serves as a fundraiser for the Phoenix affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. ASU has raced out to a 5-0 start this season, punctuated by a 74-70 win over No. 14 Georgia Monday night in Tempe. The Notre Dame contest is the sixth in a seven-game season-opening homestand for the Sun Devils.