Nov. 2, 2004
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 exhibition)
vs. Premier Sports (0-0 exhibition)
The Date and Time: Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2004, at 7 p.m. ET.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: Still available through the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).
The Radio Plans: Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, will be made available for the Premier Sports game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics web site.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com).
Bolstered by four returning starters and seven returning monogram winners, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team makes its 2004-05 season debut Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET) when it plays host to Premier Sports at the Joyce Center. It is the first of two exhibition games during the next four days for the Irish, who are less than two weeks away from their regular-season opener on Nov. 12 against Illinois State in the Sportsview.tv Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
Notre Dame posted a 21-11 record last season, advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive year and the sixth time in the past eight seasons. The Irish knocked off seven ranked opponents along the way and came dangerously close to adding an eighth Top 25 victim in the Sweet Sixteen. Notre Dame led fifth-ranked Penn State by five points in the second half, and later had a chance to break a 49-49 tie in the final minute, but the Lady Lions fought back to pull out the victory and eliminate the Irish.
Among the top returnees for Notre Dame this season is senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, who has been selected as a preseason All-American by five different outlets and the Preseason National Player of the Year by Basketball News. She ranks among the top 10 in 10 different Irish career statistical categories, and is 11th on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list with 1,315 points.
Wednesday’s exhibition opponent, Premier Sports, is comprised entirely of players who spent their careers at Ohio-based colleges. Notre Dame is the first of five stops for Premier Sports, which features a 10-player roster highlighted by eight former standouts from Ohio State. Joyce Brickley is serving as the team’s head coach on this exhibition tour.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE FIGHTING IRISH
With four starters and seven monogram winners back in the fold, Notre Dame would appear to have all the pieces in place for a magical 2004-05 season.
The Irish, who have just two seniors and four upperclassmen on their 11-player roster, have been a nearly unanimous top-15 selection by numerous preseason publications. Notre Dame has been placed as high as 10th by SLAM Magazine and Gballmag.com, with the Irish filtering out no lower than No. 17 (Women’s Basketball News Service) in the polls.
Notre Dame will have an abbreviated preseason, playing both of its exhibition games in a four-day span this week. The accelerated schedule is due to the second-earliest opener in school history, as the Irish entertain Illinois State on Nov. 12 at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Sportsview.tv Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). Notre Dame wound up third during its only other appearance in the Preseason WNIT (1996).
- The preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll will be released Wednesday afternoon, just prior to Notre Dame’s exhibition opener vs. Premier Sports. The Irish have appeared in the initial coaches’ poll of the season seven times in the past eight years, topping out at No. 6 in 2000-01.
- Notre Dame will take a 20-game homecourt winning streak into the 2004-05 campaign. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and eighth-longest active run in the nation heading into this season.
- The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past five seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 58.5 ppg. mark last year.
- On the flip side, Notre Dame’s offense averaged 64.2 points per game in 2003-04, its lowest output since 1980-81 (the program’s first season at the Division I level).
- The Irish have posted 30 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past six seasons (1998-99 to present), an average of five per year. Notre Dame set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents in 2003-04.
- Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast has been named a preseason All-American by five sources, including Basketball News, which tabbed her as its Preseason National Player of the Year.
- Batteast and junior guard Megan Duffy both earned preseason all-conference honors recently. Batteast is the 2004-05 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year (the first non-Connecticut player to be chosen in 12 years) and was a unanimous first-team all-league choice. Meanwhile, Duffy is a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST pick on the heels of her selection as the conference’s Most Improved Player last year.
- Head coach Muffet McGraw needs 10 victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s). In 17-plus seasons with the Irish, McGraw has a 384-149 (.720) record, which also puts her just 16 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.
A QUICK LOOK AT PREMIER SPORTS
Wednesday’s game will mark the first on a five-city exhibition tour for Premier Sports, a traveling squad based out of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to its stop at Notre Dame, Premier Sports also is scheduled to visit Virginia Tech, Bowling Green, Youngstown State and Ohio University during the exhibition season.
The team is comprised entirely of players who competed for Ohio-based colleges during their careers, with eight of the 10 squad members having played at Ohio State. The players also range in age from 24-year-old guard Tomeka Brown up to 40-year-old guard Joni O’Connell.
Astute observers of Notre Dame women’s basketball might recognize some of the players on Premier Sports from their participation with the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Magazine (OGBM) Legends team in exhibition games against the Irish in 2001 and 2002. Forward Larecha Jones averaged 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, and guard Tomeka Patterson averaged 1.0 point and 4.5 rebounds per game as the Irish defeated the OGBM Legends on both occasions (76-62 in 2001; 70-60 in 2002).
Former WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America guard Lisa Cline, who played at Ohio State from 1985-89, led Premier Sports in scoring during its exhibition tour last year, averaging 15.0 points per game. O’Connell, who played at OSU from 1984-86, was second on the team at 13.0 ppg.
EXHIBITION EXCELLENCE FOR IRISH
Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in exhibition games over the past 11 seasons. Since the 1993-94 campaign, the Irish are 20-1 (.952) in these preseason tilts and own an active 15-game exhibition winning streak. During that time, Notre Dame has outscored its preseason opponents by an aggregate score of 1,829-1,314, which is good for an average score of 87-63. The last squad to defeat the Irish in exhibition play was the Lithuanian National Team, which edged Notre Dame, 94-89 in 1996-97. But the Irish were not fazed by that loss – they went on to reach their first NCAA Final Four that year.
WARMING UP QUICKLY
In addition to Notre Dame’s team success in exhibition games, several players also have performed well during preseason play. Here’s a brief thumbnail sketch on how some of the current Irish players have done in exhibitions during their careers:
- Jacqueline Batteast – 14.0 ppg., team-high 10.7 rpg., four double-doubles (all in past four games)
- Teresa Borton – team-high 15.8 ppg., 8.5 rpg., team-high .684 FG%, two 20-point outings
- Megan Duffy – 7.5 ppg., team-high 4.8 apg., .556 FG%, 13 assists vs. Northwest Sports in 2003
- Crystal Erwin – 7.5 ppg., 6.5 rpg., nine points and 10 rebounds vs. Team Concept in 2003
- Courtney LaVere – 12.8 ppg., 5.5 rpg., scored 21 points vs. Northwest Sports in 2003
IRISH READY TO TIP OFF SEASON IN SPORTSVIEW.TV PRESEASON WNIT
For the first time since 1996, and just the second time in school history, Notre Dame will take part in the Sportsview.tv Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Irish will play host to Illinois State in the opening round of the 16-team event on Friday, Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center.
Notre Dame is one of nine teams in this year’s Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT that qualified for postseason play last year, joining Arizona, Duke, Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, Ohio State, Rice, Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) and South Florida.
The Irish last played in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT eight years ago, advancing to the semifinals with victories over Kent State (66-41) and No. 6 Iowa (61-50). Following a 72-59 loss to third-ranked Tennessee in the semifinals, Notre Dame bounced back to defeat No. 8 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the consolation game (which no longer exists). Katryna Gaither earned a spot on the all-tournament team after making a tournament-record 42 field goals in the four-game set (a record that still stands). Notre Dame went on to log a 31-7 record in 1996-97, advancing to its first NCAA Final Four.
The Irish will be looking to continue the BIG EAST Conference’s run of success in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. BIG EAST teams have reached the semifinals six times in the 10-year history of the tournament, with Connecticut winning titles in 1997 and 2001. Last year, Rutgers made its second trip to the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT championship game before bowing to Texas Tech, 73-45.
GETTING A JUMP ON THINGS
Notre Dame will open its season on Nov. 12 against Illinois State in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT. It will be the earliest debut for the Irish since the program’s second season, when Notre Dame defeated Clark College, 81-51 on Nov. 1, 1978.
Notre Dame’s opening-round game vs. Illinois State in the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT is scheduled for a late tipoff (9 p.m. ET) on Nov. 12 at the Joyce Center, immediately following the traditional football pep rally for the next day’s matchup between the Irish and Pittsburgh at nearby Notre Dame Stadium. It will mark the first time in Notre Dame women’s basketball history that the Irish will play a regular-season game at the Joyce Center immediately after a football pep rally.
BATTEAST RAKES IN PRESEASON HONORS
Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) has been squarely in the national spotlight during the past three months as the 2004-05 campaign gets closer. In fact, no less than six different outlets have placed the 6-foot-2 wing among the nation’s elite women’s college basketball players heading into this season (see chart on page 3 for complete rundown of honors).
The run began in August, when Batteast was selected to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-American Team, putting her on a list of the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Women’s Award that is presented to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player. This marks the second consecutive year in which Batteast has been accorded preseason honors from the Wooden Women’s Award.
Shortly thereafter, Batteast’s name was placed on the 31-player watch list for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, that also goes to the country’s top female collegiate cager. Like the Wooden Award, this is Batteast’s second consecutive appearance on the Wade Trophy Watch List.
In early September, two national publications came out with their preseason All-America teams and Batteast was a top selection by both outlets. Lindy’s College Basketball Annual touted Batteast as a preseason first-team All-America selection, while Street & Smith’s put the South Bend native on its preseason “Terrific 10” list, highlighting what it believes to be the 10 best players in the country.
The web-based publication Gballmag.com also chimed in on Batteast’s abilities, making her a preseason second-team All-America selection in October.
Batteast’s highest honor to date came in late October, when Basketball News chose her as its 2004-05 Preseason National Player of the Year. The magazine also made her a preseason first-team All-America choice. All three preseason publications (Lindy’s, Street & Smith’s and Basketball News) are currently available at newsstands across the country.
BATTEAST, DUFFY EARN PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE AWARDS
Notre Dame senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. In addition, Batteast was a unanimous preseason first-team all-conference selection, while Irish junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) was named a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST honoree. The preseason all-conference teams were announced Oct. 28 at BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.
Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. Plowden went on to earn first-team all-conference honors and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1993 BIG EAST Championship, which Miami won.
Batteast is coming off the finest campaign of her Notre Dame career, averaging personal bests of 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while garnering first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors, her third consecutive all-league selection. In addition, Batteast was dominating in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a .483 field goal percentage and three double-doubles as the Irish advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and came within a minute of ousting top-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinals before falling, 55-49. Her performances against Top 25 opponents last season also were sharp, as she registered 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with five double-doubles and three near double-doubles in 11 games.
Entering her final season at Notre Dame, Batteast ranks 11th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,315 points and stands in the top 10 on 11 other Irish career statistical categories, including rebounds (7th – 747), blocks (tie-5th – 124), scoring average (4th – 14.6 ppg.) and double-doubles (tie-3rd – 32). She also has been the picture of consistency for the Irish, having started 64 consecutive games and 86 of a possible 90 contests in her three-year tenure (she missed four games with a knee injury late in her freshman season).
Duffy was chosen as the 2004 BIG EAST Most Improved Player and was an honorable mention all-conference selection last season after averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 assists per game. She posted a nearly 100 percent improvement in both her field goal (.403) and three-point (.404) percentages while more than tripling her scoring average from her freshman season. She also was a steady influence at the point guard position, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio (1.36) and free throw percentage (.819). She is set to begin her second full season as a starter for the Irish next month.
PRESEASON PUBLICATIONS HAVE NOTRE DAME AMONG NATION’S BEST
While the first Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls have not yet been released, all indications are that Notre Dame will be a Top 25 club this season.
In fact, the Irish were a consensus top-15 selection in each of the preseason magazines that have been published. However, this should come as no surprise to faithful Notre Dame observers. The Irish have been ranked in the preseason Top 25 of both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls seven times in the past eight seasons (since 1996-97). The only time Notre Dame wasn’t included in the initial rankings was 1997-98, the season after the Irish made their first NCAA Final Four appearance.
Notre Dame achieved its highest preseason rankings in 2000-01, when the Irish debuted at No. 5 in the AP poll and No. 6 in the coaches’ poll. Last season, Notre Dame opened at No. 15 in the AP balloting and No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today survey. The latter ranking proved to be pretty accurate – the Irish wound up 20th in the final coaches’ poll of the 2003-04 season after making their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
NOTRE DAME RANKED SECOND IN PRESEASON BIG EAST POLL
According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish second in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 28 in Newark, N.J. The Irish earned 105 points, including two first-place votes, which placed them behind only three-time defending national champion Connecticut (120 points, 10 first-place votes). Boston College was third, followed by Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia. All six of those schools qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season, with Notre Dame, Connecticut and Boston College all advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
Notre Dame is beginning its 10th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2004-05. The Irish have gone 124-28 (.816) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .778 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished either first or second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings eight times in its first nine seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.
HALF AND HALF
Over the past four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 77-7 (.917) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 14-3 mark last year.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
Over the past nine seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 129-6 (.956) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added 15 more wins to that ledger last season.
… BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SCORE IF YOU WANT TO WIN
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the past nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 88-3 (.967) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame tacked on three more wins to that tally in 2003-04.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen six times in the past eight seasons (1997-2004). The others are Connecticut (eight times), Tennessee (eight times), Duke (seven times) and Louisiana Tech (seven times).
THE GOLD STANDARD
The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 11 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (28), Texas Tech (15), Louisiana Tech (13), Old Dominion (13) and Connecticut (11).
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 113 of their last 122 games (.926) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a current 20-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history and eighth-longest active run in the nation entering this season. Notre Dame also has a 69-7 (.908) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 47 of their last 49 non-BIG EAST contests (.959) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 263-70 (.790) record at the venerable facility. In three of the past five seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the top 15 in the nation in attendance each of the past four years. The Irish extended that streak in 2003-04, ranking 12th with an average of 6,650 fans per game.
All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 18-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the past six seasons (1999-2000 to present), including 12 audiences of 8,000 or more fans, and an active streak of 51 consecutive games with at least 5,000 fans in the house.
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
The Irish are scheduled to make at least seven appearances on regional or national television during the 2004-05 season (additional broadcasts may be announced at a later date).
Notre Dame makes its TV debut this season on Dec. 2 when it plays host to Michigan State on College Sports Television (CSTV). That’s the first of three games that will air nationally on the fledgling cable network, which recently signed an agreement with the BIG EAST Conference to carry a national women’s basketball Game of the Week eight times in 2004-05. The Irish also will face Connecticut on Jan. 12 at the Joyce Center and visit Boston College on Feb. 15 in front of the CSTV cameras.
In addition, Notre Dame is scheduled to play twice on ESPN2 this season. On Jan. 16, the Irish will battle Purdue in the second annual BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Joyce Center. Two weeks later on Jan. 30, Notre Dame travels to Storrs, Conn., to meet Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion.
The BIG EAST also has added two Irish games to its regional television package this season. Notre Dame will visit Villanova on Jan. 9 and will play host to Rutgers on Jan. 23, both on BIG EAST Television. Among those affiliates carrying the BETV package are Comcast SportsNet outlets in Chicago, Philadelphia and the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as Fox Sports Net outlets in New York, New England and Pittsburgh. Exact clearances will be made available closer to game time.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network – WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fifth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site (www.und.com) by subscribing to College Sports Pass, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
For the fourth time in school history (all during the Muffet McGraw era), Notre Dame will have three players sharing the captain’s duties this year. Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast, senior center Teresa Borton and junior guard Megan Duffy all were accorded the honor based upon a vote of their teammates prior to the season. All three are serving as captains for the first time in their respective careers.
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season (additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date):
- Nov. 3 vs. Premier Sports – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule magnets
- Nov. 6 vs. Hoosier Lady Stars – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule magnets
- Nov. 22 vs. Colorado State – Notre Dame women’s basketball schedule posters
NEXT GAME: HOOSIER LADY STARS (exhibition)
Notre Dame will play its second exhibition game of the 2004-05 season this Saturday, Nov. 6, when it welcomes the Hoosier Lady Stars to the Joyce Center for a noon (ET) tipoff. The Lady Stars have scheduled a six-game exhibition tour, with Saturday’s matchup at Notre Dame marking the third game on their docket. Prior to arriving in South Bend, the Lady Stars will play Wednesday night at Xavier (coached by former Irish assistant Kevin McGuff) and Thursday night at Butler.