Head Coach Muffet McGraw reaches another milestone as she will coach her 700th career game with Tuesday's contest vs. Iona.

Notre Dame to Host Iona Tuesday night at the Joyce Center

Nov. 29, 2005

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2005-06 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 5
#11/15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs.Iona Gaels (2-0 / 0-0 MAAC)

DATE: November 29, 2005
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Joyce Center (11,418)
SERIES: Notre Dame leads 1-0
1ST MTG: 12/19/80 (ND 69-65)
LAST MTG: 12/19/80 (ND 69-65), ESPN Radio 1580 AM, WNDV 1490 AM, Sean Stires, p-b-p
TV: None
LIVE STATS: www.und.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356

Notre Dame plays its final home game for nearly a month when it takes on Iona Tuesday night at the Joyce Center. The next Irish home game comes Dec. 28 vs. Valparaiso.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw reaches another milestone as she will coach her 700th career game with Tuesday’s contest vs. Iona.

After passing one of its sternest tests of the young 2005-06 season, No. 11/15 Notre Dame has little time to rest on its laurels, returning to the Joyce Center hardwood Tuesday at 7 p.m. (ET) against Iona. Notre Dame (4-0) stayed unbeaten this season by using a recurring formula – coming from behind to defeat No. 24/21 USC, 73-62 on Sunday at the Joyce Center. In all four of their games this season, the Irish have trailed in the second half, and all four times, they have rallied for the victory. Against USC, Notre Dame closed the day on a 10-2 run, holding the Women of Troy to a single field goal over the final 3:10.

Senior guard Megan Duffy led all scorers with 19 points, pacing four Irish players in double figures. Classmate Courtney LaVere added 16 points off the bench, while sophomores Charel Allen and Melissa D’Amico each had 13 points (D’Amico added a career-high 10 rebounds).

Notre Dame is 11th in the latest Associated Press poll and was 15th in last week’s ESPN/USA Today poll (new poll to be released Tuesday afternoon prior to tipoff). Iona is unranked.

Web Sites:
Notre Dame: http://www.und.com
Iona: http://www.iona.edu/athletics
BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
MAAC: http://www.maacsports.com

Setting The Standard:
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.

In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 579-254 (.695).

Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw (Saint Joseph’s ’77)
19th season at Notre Dame
* 415-155 (.728) at Notre Dame.
* 503-196 (.720) in 24 years as head coach.

27th NCAA Division I coach with 500 wins
2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
Four-time conference Coach of the Year
* BIG EAST Conference (2001)
* Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
* North Star Conference (1988)
* East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)

A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish:
Balance and chemistry will be the two main ingredients as Notre Dame looks to build upon last year’s successful 27-6 season that saw the Irish win the Preseason WNIT, rise to No. 3 in the national polls and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With the graduation of 2004-05 BIG EAST Player of the Year and All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast, as well as rugged and dependable center Teresa Borton, Notre Dame will have a large infusion of youth on its roster, as eight of its 12 players are underclassmen (four freshmen, four sophomores). However, the team is in more than capable hands, as senior point guard and two-time captain Megan Duffy returns to run the Irish offense. Duffy spent the summer as a co-captain on the USA World University Games Team that won a gold medal and went unbeaten in Izmir, Turkey, and she hopes to use the lessons she learned on the international stage to help her take the Irish to grand heights in 2005-06.

After being ranked anywhere from 15th to 22nd in preseason polls released by various media outlets, Notre Dame has steadily risen in the Associated Press poll through the first three weeks of the season, currently standing 11th, and was 15th in last week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll (a new version will be released Tuesday afternoon, just prior to tipoff vs. Iona).

The balance the Irish have sought this season has been evident at times during the team’s first four games this season. Notre Dame has had at least three double-figure scorers in each game and six of the nine players who have seen action have scored in double digits at least once thus far. What’s more, eight players are averaging at least 16 minutes of action per night.

Duffy has been a strong all-around contributor for Notre Dame during its first two games. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 16.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 steals per game,with a 3.00 assist/turnover ratio.

Although she was held to three points in the season opener vs. Michigan, Duffy found other ways to help her team win, coming up with eight assists, four steals and four rebounds in 39 minutes. Since then, she has regained her scoring touch with a flourish, averaging 21.3 ppg. and leading the team in scoring during the past three Irish wins, highlighted byb a career-high 26 points at Indiana (13 of those coming in the final eight minutes) and a game-high 19 points against No. 24/21 USC.

Sophomore guard Charel Allen, who is still working her way back to full strength after surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in last spring’s NCAA Tournament, has shown little sign of her injury to this point. In the season opener against Michigan, Allen came off the bench to drop in a game-high 16 points, including 12 in the second half. Having scored in double figures three times in Notre Dame’s first four outings, she is second on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.500), while standing fourth in rebounding (4.5 rpg).

Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader also has shown tremendous promise during the early portion of the season. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. Schrader leads the team in rebounding (6.8 rpg.) and is tied for third in scoring (9.0 ppg.).

Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish:
Notre Dame’s No. 11 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll represents the 22nd consecutive appearance for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 131 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.

The Irish have won 56 of their last 59 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. All three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004).

The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are allowing opponents to score just 59.0 ppg.

The Irish have posted 38 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 24/21 USC, 73-62 on Sunday at the Joyce Center. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 11-2 (.846) at home against Top 25 competition.

Following Sunday’s win over No. 24/21 USC, the Irish have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 67 of their last 69 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.

Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and most recently was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by ESPN.com. Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.

With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50.

A Quick Look At Iona:
The road to success can be a long and sometimes painful journey, and Iona has learned first-hand the rigors of that trip. Based in New Rochelle, N.Y., the Gaels are seeking their first winning season since 1981-82, but they feel confident that the tools are there to not only move back into the black, but also make a run deep into the postseason.

Iona posted a 6-22 record last year, including a 4-14 mark and 10th-place finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Gaels subsequently lost in the opening round of the MAAC Tournament to Siena, 76-67. However, nine letterwinners and four starters are back from that club, spearheaded by five of the top six scorers from a season ago.

This year, Iona has gotten off to a solid 2-0 start with home wins over Bucknell, 75-58, and Wichita State, 73-71. In the latter contest played last Saturday, the Gaels led by nine with just over 90 seconds to play before WSU went on an 8-1 run to get within striking distance. In the end, Iona held on for the victory, as the Shockers missed the first of two potential game-tying free throws with no time remaining.

Sharpshooting junior guard Toni Horvath has been Iona’s leading scorer thus far in 2005-06, averaging 14.0 ppg. with a .526 field goal percentage and .750 three-point ratio (6-of-8). Sophomore guard Tiara Headen is second on the squad in scoring (13.5 ppg.) and rebounding (7.0 rpg.), while 6-5 junior center Martina Weber is third in scoring (11.5 ppg.) and junior center Regan Pettijohn is tops in rebounding (12.0 rpg.). Pettijohn also was the first MAAC Player of the Week selection this season after collecting 16 rebounds in the win over Bucknell.

Anthony Bozzella is in his fourth season as the head coach at Iona with a record of 16-70 (.186). He is in his 14th year as a college head coach with a 170-201 (.458) ledger, having also spent time at Southampton and Long Island and leading LIU to the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Tuesday night’s game vs. Notre Dame will be Bozzella’s first-ever matchup with the Irish.

The Notre Dame-Iona Series:
This year represents just the second time ever that Notre Dame and Iona have met on the basketball court, with the Irish having won the only prior contest in the series.

On Dec. 19, 1980, Notre Dame edged out the Gaels, 69-65 in the first round of the Penn Holiday Tournament, which was held at the famed Palestra in Philadelphia. Janice Crowe rang up a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Sheila Liebscher chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds and Shari Matvey had nine points and seven rebounds for the victors, who rallied from a 37-33 halftime deficit.

As a team, the Irish shot just 34.6 percent from the floor (27-of-78), but held a decisive 60-45 edge in the rebounding column and forced 24 Iona turnovers. Celeste Grier led the Gaels with a game-high 25 points, while Maria Johnson registered a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Debra Stephens just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Notre Dame would go on to lose in the semifinals of the Penn Holiday Tournament the next afternoon, falling to Delaware, 70-56.

Other Notre Dame-Iona Series Tidbits:
When Tuesday’s game tips off, it will mark the longest hiatus between games in Notre Dame women’s basketball history (24 years, 11 months, nine days). That’s 11 days longer than the break between contests in the series between the Irish and IPFW (Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne), who went 24 years, 10 months and 28 days before their series picked up against on Dec. 21, 2003 (an 82-54 Irish win at the Joyce Center).

Notre Dame has two New York natives on its roster – sophomore center Melissa D’Amico (Manorville/William Floyd HS) and freshman forward Christine Trezza (Staten Island/Notre Dame Academy HS). In the 29-year history of Irish women’s basketball, eight players have come from the state of New York, including All-America forward and Mount Vernon product Katryna Gaither (1993-97).

Notre Dame is 35-2 (.946) all-time against New York schools, including an 18-0 record at the Joyce Center, with an average winning margin against the Empire State of 25.1 points per game. What’s more, in those 18 home wins, only two have been by single-digit margins (71-66 vs. Syracuse on Dec. 8, 1990; 72-65 vs. St. John’s on Jan. 26, 2005).

Notre Dame vs. The MAAC:
The Irish are 4-0 all-time against current Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) teams, although this will be Notre Dame’s first matchup against a school from that league since 1992.

Iona is just the second MAAC team to ever play at the Joyce Center. On Dec. 21, 1991, Loyola (Md.) came to South Bend and dropped an 84-49 decision to the Irish. The Greyhounds are 0-2 all-time vs. Notre Dame, while both Iona and Fairfield are 0-1. Curiously, of the four previous Irish encounters with the MAAC, only the Iona contest took place prior to the arrival of head coach Muffet McGraw in 1987.

Starting Strong:
The Irish are off to a 4-0 start for the second time in as many seasons, marking the first time in the 29-year history of the program Notre Dame has put together back-to-back 4-0 starts (the Irish began last year with a 7-0 record).

All told, Notre Dame has won the first four games of the season only seven times, with six of those coming in the Muffet McGraw era, and five in the past eight years (1998-99 to present). In the six previous 4-0 starts, the Irish went on to win at least 20 games and reach the NCAA Tournament five times. The lone exception was the program’s first season (1977-78), when only 17 games were played, all at the AIAW Division III level, and the Irish went 13-4.

A November To Remember:
Notre Dame will be seeking to close out the month of November undefeated for the second time in as many seasons and the third time in four years. The Irish are 40-8 (.833) in November games since they joined the BIG EAST Conference 11 seasons ago. In addition, Notre Dame has won 11 in a row and 22 of its last 27 games during the year’s penultimate month. The last time the Irish lost a game in November was on Nov. 30, 2003 – an 83-59 setback at No. 3 Tennessee.

The 700 Club:
Although it doesn’t have the same cachet as her 500th career win 11 days ago vs. Michigan, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw will coach the 700th game of her career when the Irish return to action Tuesday night vs. Iona.

McGraw is in her 24th season as a collegiate mentor, having posted a 503-196 (.720) record, including a 415-155 (.728) mark in 19 years at Notre Dame. During her first 23 seasons walking the sidelines on campus, McGraw has piloted her teams to an astounding 18 20-win seasons (16 at ND) and 21 winning campaigns (16 with the Irish). In addition, McGraw’s clubs have earned 12 NCAA Tournament berths, six trips to the NCAA Sweet 16, two NCAA Final Four showings and the 2001 national title. McGraw also has steered eight league champions (regular season and/or tournament) and she has been named conference Coach of the Year by four different leagues – East Coast (@Lehigh), North Star, Midwestern Collegiate and BIG EAST.

No Rest For The Weary:
Notre Dame is set to play its fifth game in 11 days when it takes on Iona Tuesday night at the Joyce Center. It also will be the second 48-hour turnaround for the Irish this season, who opened Nov. 18 with a 9 p.m. game vs. Michigan (W, 55-45), then came back 41 hours later with a road game at Western Michigan (W, 71-68).

While the grueling schedule averages approximately one game every two days, it’s not a surprise to most of the current Irish players. Last season, Notre Dame opened up with five games in 10 days, the first four coming in the Preseason WNIT, which was headlined by wins over No. 6 Duke (76-65) and No. 10/9 Ohio State (66-62).

In addition, the Irish are no strangers to postseason play. The BIG EAST Championship has seen Notre Dame play on consecutive nights several times in recent years, and the NCAA Tournament commonly features games split 48 hours apart.

It’s A Local Call:
During its first seven games of the season, Notre Dame leaves the state of Indiana just twice. Back on Nov. 20, the Irish traveled one hour over the state line to Western Michigan (a 71-68 victory in Kalamazoo). Notre Dame will hit the open road again this weekend, visiting Wisconsin Sunday for a 1:30 p.m. (CT) game in Madison.

Of the remaining five games in this unique opening part of the schedule, three are home contests (Michigan, USC, Iona) and two are against in-state rivals (Indiana and Purdue).

Get ‘Em While They’re Hot:
Tickets are going extremely fast for Notre Dame’s Dec. 31 home game vs. Tennessee at the Joyce Center. As of Nov. 28, less than 1,000 tickets were available to the general public for the New Year’s Eve matinee, which will represent the Lady Vols’ first visit to South Bend since 1994.

Should the game sell out, it would be the third capacity crowd in Notre Dame women’s basketball history and the first since the 2000-01 season. That year, the Irish hosted two sellouts at the Joyce Center – Jan. 15 vs. No. 1 Connecticut (W, 92-76) and Feb. 24 vs. Georgetown (W, 65-53 on Senior Night).

For more information on how to obtain tickets for all Notre Dame women’s basketball games, fans may contact the Irish athletics ticket office Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.(ET) at (574) 631-7356 or stop by the ticket windows located on the second floor of the Joyce Center (enter via Gate 1).

Megan Duffy Named ToBIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll Senior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) earned a place on the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll, it was announced by the league office on Monday. The Weekly Honor Roll is a new citation presented by the BIG EAST this season to recognize additional players who were not chosen as the conference’s Player or Freshman of the Week.

Duffy averaged 22.5 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 steals per game with a .452 field goal percentage (14-of-31) last week as the Irish improved to 4-0 on the campaign with victories over Indiana (74-61) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62). Duffy poured in a career-high 26 points against Indiana, including 13 in the final eight minutes, and led the team in scoring with 19 points vs. the nationally-ranked Women of Troy. In addition, Duffy played all 40 minutes in both games last week and committed just one turnover. That works out to a sparkling 11.00 assist/turnover ratio. South Florida forward Jessica Dickson was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week after logging 28.3 ppg. and 7.0 rpg. in three wins.

Game #4 Recap: No. 24/21 USC
Nothing came easy for Notre Dame against USC. The 13th-ranked Fighting Irish turned the ball over 20 times, struggled from the free-throw line down the stretch and scored in spurts, yet managed to beat the 24th-ranked Trojans, 73-62 on Sunday at the Joyce Center.

“We’d kind of like to have one where it just looked good and felt good the whole game,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “But I think that’s the way it’s going to be for us this year.”

McGraw was most pleased that the Irish didn’t let the mistakes get them down.

“In the end, when we just couldn’t make a free throw, and we had possessions where we couldn’t make a rebound, I thought we just kept battling,” she said. “I think that was one of the turning points for this young team. One of our worries was that when they made a lot of mistakes, they might put their heads down.”

The Trojans trailed only 63-60 with 3:11 left, but were 1-of-9 from the field down the stretch. The drought included two air balls, and they missed front ends of two one-and-ones.

“We forced them to take some contested shots,” McGraw said.

The Irish (4-0) pulled away despite missing six straight free throws in the final minutes. Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader drove end-to-end for a layup to give the Irish a 65-60 lead and start the decisive run. Senior guard Megan Duffy, who had a game-high 19 points, followed with a layup off one of her six steals. Notre Dame ended its poor shooting from the free throw line, making 6-of-7 to put the game away.

Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico had career highs of 13 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double. Senior forward Courtney LaVere had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and sophomore guard Charel Allen added 13 points – both players came off the bench for the Irish.

Chloe Kerr led USC with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Camille LeNoir had 12 points, Eshaya Murphy had 11 and Jamie Hagiya had 10. However, USC shot just 31.9 percent from the floor in the game (23-of-72).

“If we could have shot around 36 percent, who knows?” USC coach Mark Trakh said. “You have to execute the last few minutes of the game. You have to make big shots, and Notre Dame did that.”

It was the second straight road loss for the Trojans (2-2), who were 6-7 on the road last year.

Noting The USC Win:
* The Irish knock off their first ranked opponent this season, their 15th in the past two-plus seasons and their 38th in the past seven-plus years; since the start of the 2003-04 season, Notre Dame is 11-2 at home against Top 25 teams (and one of the two losses was an 82-73 overtime setback to #15 Michigan State last season).
* Late-game runs have played a pivotal role in the last two Irish wins – Notre Dame closed its victory at Indiana on a 19-6 spurt, and ended the win over USC on a 10-2 charge.
* The Irish have won 56 of their last 59 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season.
* Notre Dame improves to 7-1 all-time against USC, including a 4-0 record at the Joyce Center; this year’s score also was identical to the last time the Women of Troy came to South Bend (73-62 on Dec. 22, 2003).
* Notre Dame was one point shy of its largest point total in the series, while USC matched its second-highest series point total.
* The Irish now are 17-15 (.531) all-time against Pac-10 Conference teams, but have won 14 of their last 17 games vs. the Pac-10.
* The eight-point first-half deficit (29-21 at 4:36) was the largest for Notre Dame at any time this season.
* The Irish had a season-best four players score in double figures, the first time that’s happened since March 6, 2005, when another Notre Dame quartet pulled off the feat vs. West Virginia in the BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals at the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center.
* Senior forward Courtney LaVere came off the bench to score 16 points, her highest output since she had 17 in a reserve role at Pittsburgh on Feb. 5, 2005.
* Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico registered new career highs with 13 points and 10 rebounds en route to her first career double-double; prior to this season, D’Amico had scored in double figures just once, but she has done so twice in four games this year.
* Junior guard Breona Gray made her first start of the season, grabbing a career-high eight rebounds and matching her personal best with three steals.

A Double Cheeseburger For Schrader:
A 2005 McDonald’s All-America selection who played in that elite all-star game back in March on her new home floor at the Joyce Center, freshman guard Lindsay Schrader felt right at home from the first moment she stepped into the historic venue, scoring nine points in that contest.

As if there was any doubt about her abilities, Schrader put them all to rest in Friday’s season-opening win vs. Michigan, rolling up a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds) in her first college game, which she started.

Schrader is just the second Notre Dame player ever to record a double-double in her debut contest, and the first Irish player to do so since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81 (ND was a Division III program for its first three seasons). The only other career-opening double-double by a Notre Dame freshman came from Shari Matvey, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 68-60 conquest of Marion on Nov. 30, 1979 at the Taylor Invitational in Upland, Ind.

Give Her Five (Hundred):
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 503-196 (.720) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (415-155, .728).

Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:
* She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday is Dec. 5).
* McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
* She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.

Duffy Rakes In Preseason Honors:
Senior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio) already has found her name on preseason candidate lists for two of the top national player-of-the-year trophies this season. The 5-foot-7 floor general is among 25 early candidates for the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy, and she is on the 30-player watch list for the John R. Wooden Women’s Award. It’s the first time in Duffy’s career she has been placed under consideration for either award, and it marks the third consecutive season a Notre Dame player has made both preseason candidate list (Jacqueline Batteast was chosen prior to the 2003-04 and 2004-05 campaigns).

Besides the Wade Trophy and Wooden Women’s Award, Duffy is a prime candidate for the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, which goes the country’s top senior player who stands 5-foot-8 or under, and the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is presented to the nation’s top point guard.

In addition, Duffy has been tapped as a preseason All-American by three national media outlets – Women’s Basketball News Service (first team), Street & Smith’s (“Terrific 10”) and Lindy’s College Basketball Annual (third team) – and has been chosen as one of the top five point guards in the country in the ESPN.com 2005-06 season preview.

Duffy also was one of 12 players selected to the 2005-06 Preseason all-BIG EAST Conference Team, as voted on by the league’s coaches. Duffy is one of three returning first-team all-BIG EAST picks from a year ago, joining West Virginia’s Meg Bulger and this year’s Preseason Player of the Year, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers. Duffy is tops among all returnees in assists (5.39 apg. in 2004-05, second in the BIG EAST), steals (2.73 spg., first) and free throw percentage (.895, first), setting a school record and ranking fourth nationally in the latter category. She also ranks fourth among BIG EAST returnees in assist/turnover ratio (1.73) and is seventh among veterans in three-point field goals per game (1.52).

Last season, Duffy was an honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press and was a finalist for the Kodak/WBCA All-America Team. She also earned a spot on the all-tournament teams for the Preseason WNIT and the BIG EAST Championship.

Notre Dame Ranked Third In Preseason BIG EAST Poll According to a preseason survey of the BIG EAST Conference coaches, Notre Dame is expected to finish third in the conference this season. Those were the results released at the league’s annual Media Day Oct. 27 at the ESPN Zone in New York’s Times Square. The Irish earned 191 points, which placed them behind the defending BIG EAST regular-season champion Rutgers (221 points, 11 first-place votes) and the reigning BIG EAST Championship victor, Connecticut (215 points, five first-place votes). Conference newcomer DePaul was fourth, followed by Villanova, Louisville, West Virginia, St. John’s, South Florida and Marquette. All 10 of those schools qualified for postseason play last season, with Notre Dame, Rutgers, Connecticut, DePaul and Louisville all advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame is beginning its 11th season as a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 2005-06. The Irish have gone 137-31 (.815) all-time in regular-season conference games, posting the best winning percentage in league history. Connecticut is second with a .779 success rate. Notre Dame also has finished among the top three in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings nine times in its first 10 seasons in the conference, including a share of the BIG EAST title in 2000-01.

Changes On The Sideline:
There are three changes to the Notre Dame staff for the 2005-06 season. Coquese Washington, who is in her seventh season on the Irish bench, has been promoted to associate head coach. Washington, who also played for head coach Muffet McGraw from 1989-93, has been part of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program for 11 of the 19 seasons of the McGraw era.

Angie Potthoff has been hired as an assistant coach, replacing longtime aide Carol Owens, who resigned in March to become head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois. Potthoff, a 1997 graduate of Penn State where she was a two-time All-American and three-time first-team all-Big Ten selection, focuses her efforts primarily on working with the Irish posts.

Stephanie Menio (pronounced MANY-o) is Notre Dame’s new coordinator of basketball operations, assuming the marketing and promotional responsibilities for the program. She replaces Heather Maxwell, who departed in August to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota.

Late Additions To Irish Roster:
Notre Dame has added two walk-on players to its roster for the 2005-06 season, with both joining the squad through preseason tryouts after the media guide went to press.

Brittney Bolden (5-7, Fr., G, South Bend, Ind./Adams HS) averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season while helping Adams to one of its best seasons of late in the Northern Indiana Conference (NIC). She is the fourth South Bend native ever to play for the Irish, with the most recent being former South Bend Washington High School standout Jacqueline Batteast (2001-05). Ironically, Bolden graduated from John Adams High School, making Adams the fourth different South Bend school to send a player to Notre Dame – the others are St. Joseph’s (Molly Mahoney in 1986-87) and Clay (Mary Borkowski, 1983-84).

Bolden was a three-sport letterwinner at Adams, participating in basketball, soccer and track & field. She was a two-time all-Northern Indiana Conference selection in basketball and a two-time first-team all-conference pick in soccer, as well as a four-time state finalist on the track as a sprinter. In addition, she was an excellent student, graduating with a 3.7 grade-point average and academic honors. She comes from a family with a rich athletic heritage – two of her cousins are Shannon Bolden (currently a senior guard/forward at Minnesota) and Stephanie Bolden (a former standout at South Dakota State, where she helped the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Division II title in 2002-03).

Christine Trezza (6-0, Fr., F, Staten Island, N.Y./Notre Dame Academy HS) averaged 10.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game during her high school career, earning second-team all-borough honors from the New York Daily News and all-conference laurels as a senior. Last year, she helped Notre Dame Academy to a regional title (had career highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds in one playoff game) and averaged 14.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game along the way. Also, she was a three-time captain of the nationally-ranked Staten Island Rebels AAU squad that finished second at the USA Junior Nationals in 2003. Like Bolden, Trezza was a multi-sport athlete in high school, garnering four letters in volleyball and one in cross country.

Trezza was a member of the National Honor Society, in addition to serving as student government president, class valedictorian and captain of the math team. She is from the same borough as Irish men’s basketball freshman Kyle McAlarney (Moore Catholic HS) and joins Notre Dame sophomore center Melissa D’Amico (Manorville, N.Y./William Floyd HS) as the New York natives on this year’s Irish roster.

Half And Half: During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 100-8 (.926) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 29 of their last 31 such contests. Notre Dame has opened this season by winning three of its first four games after it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of Sunday’s win over USC).

The Best Offense Is A Good Defenses: During the past 11 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 151-9 (.944) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added another tally to this ongoing defensive trend with a 55-45 conquest of Michigan on opening night at the Joyce Center.

?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. During the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) 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.

Sweet Success:
Notre Dame is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).

The Gold Standard:
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).

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 129 of their last 140 games (.921) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 76-8 (.905) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 56 of their last 59 non-BIG EAST contests (.949) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). 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 279-72 (.795) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six 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 among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame has averaged 6,014 fans in its first two games this season, including 6,134 for the season opener Nov. 18 vs. Michigan.

What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 67 of their last 69 home games, including 12 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first two sellouts in the program’s history (both in 2001).

A third sellout could be on the horizon for Notre Dame, as there are less than 1,000 tickets remaining for the Dec. 31 game vs. Tennessee, the Lady Vols’ first visit to the Joyce Center since 1994.

Oh Captain, My Captain:
Notre Dame’s two seniors – guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere – will serve as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.

Notre Dame On The Small Screen:
Notre Dame will have nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-February.

This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has played in 60 televised games, including 37 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.

Notre Dame already is 2-0 in televised games this season. The Irish defeated both Western Michigan (71-68 on Nov. 20) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62 on Nov. 27) in contests broadcast live to a regional audience by Comcast Local (based in Detroit).

Six of the remaining seven televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule all are slated for national broadcasts. The first of three Irish appearances on College Sports Television (CSTV) comes on Dec. 31, when Notre Dame plays host to Tennessee at 2 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame returns to the CSTV airwaves for a pair of January contests that will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package. The Irish will welcome DePaul to the Joyce Center on Jan. 17, before visiting Rutgers on Jan. 24, and both games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. (ET). CSTV has aired eight Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past three seasons, with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).

The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game now will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.

Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.

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 sixth 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 Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

Promotional Corner:
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356) or on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center. Please note – additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
* Nov. 29 vs. Iona – Teddy Bear Toss ($2 off admission when bringing a stuffed animal); on PA announcer’s cue at halftime, toys will be tossed to the Joyce Center court and collected for donation to Toys for Tots ? 2005-06 Notre Dame women’s basketball Beanie Bears will be given to the first 1,000 fans in attendance ? post-game autograph session with selected Irish players.

Next Game: Wisconsin
The Irish opened a two-game road trip against Big Ten Conference schools when they take on Wisconsin Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CT) at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Notre Dame is 4-2 all-time against the Badgers, whom they defeated in their last matchup, 82-64 on Dec. 4, 2003 at the Joyce Center.