May 30, 2009

1. The Dish will go out on a limb and predict that the NHL Stanley Cup within a few weeks will add the name of a former Notre Dame player to its list of winning players. Actually, that’s easy to do because both the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, who begin their battle for the Cup tonight, have a former Notre Damer on their roster. Defenseman Brett Lebda (2000-01 to 2003-04 at Notre Dame) is in his fourth season with the Detroit squad, while defenseman Mark Eaton (1997-98 at Notre Dame) is in his third season in Pittsburgh. Eaton previously played five seasons with the Nashville Predators and one with the Philadelphia Flyers.

2. The Dish is happy to note that, despite the demise of printed products in sports noted yesterday, newsstands already are littered with college football preview magazines. That means, even though school just ended, football season isn’t far away. Here’s what the first three magazines had to say about the Irish:

COVER: Jimmy Clausen is all by himself on the regional edition (one of 16) cover by The Sporting News. On the national cover by Athlon, Clausen shares the cover with Florida’s Tim Tebow and Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor.

RANKING: The Sporting News rates Notre Dame 18th and predicts a BCS bowl (Fiesta). Athlon rates the Irish 24th. Lindy’s put Notre Dame 37th.

ALL-AMERICANS: The Sporting News lists receiver Golden Tate and offensive lineman Eric Olsen as third-team All-Americans.

PLAYER RANKINGS: Lindy’s lists Clausen #23 among QBs, Tate #15 among WRs, Michael Floyd #20 among WRs, Sam Young #7 among offensive tackles.

TOP UNITS: Athlon rates Notre Dame’s wide receivers/tight ends as the #2 unit in the country (USC is #1). Lindy’s has the Irish receivers #4 (behind Kansas, Illinois and LSU).

RECRUITING: Athlon lists Notre Dame’s incoming freshman class 14th. Athlon’s consensus top 100 players (of the six major recruiting lists) has Manti Te’o #3, Cierre Wood #17, Shaq Evans #39, Chris Watt #49. Lindy’s lists Notre Dame #21 – including Te’o #12, Zeke Motta #54, Wood #76, Watt #77.

FANTASY: Athlon’s college fantasy football listings put Tate #48, Floyd #60, Clausen #113. Among QBs, Clausen is #23. Among RBs, Armando Allen is #64. Among WRs, Tate is #12, Floyd #16. Among TEs, Kyle Rudolph is #12. Lindy’s fantasy football list has Clausen the #21 QB, Floyd the #18 WR, Tate the #19 WR.

DRAFT: Lindy’s lists Young #32 on its preview of top 50 NFL draft selections for 2010.

4. The Irish track and field teams produced six top-10 finishes today at the NCAA Mideast Regional at Louisville: Women’s Javelin: Elise Knutzen finished sixth with a mark of 46.54m (152-00); Men’s Pole Vault: Matt Schipper finished fifth with a mark of 5.16m (16-11), just ahead of Kevin Schipper in sixth at 5.16m (16-11); Women’s 400 Meters: Joanna Schultz finished fifth in 53.32; Women’s 800 Meters: Kelly Langhans clocked in at 2:07.74 to finish eighth; Men’s Triple Jump: Eric Quick finished 10th with a mark of 15.42m (50-7 1/4). In results from yesterday, the Irish had three top-five finishes: Women’s Pole Vault: Mary Saxer finished fifth with a mark of 4.11m (13-5 3/4). Women’s Hammer Throw: Anna Weber finished fifth with a toss of 61.20m (200-09). Women’s Discus Throw: Jaclyn Espinoza recorded a toss of 52.55m (172-05) to finish fifth. The Irish now move on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships held June 11-14 in Fayetteville, Ark.

5. Former Notre Dame basketball assistant coach and St. Bonaventure men’s basketball player and head coach Jim Baron will be inducted into the St. Bonaventure Athletics Hall of Fame a week from today. A hard-nosed, defensive-minded guard, Baron made his initial mark as a player from 1973-1977, during which he led the Bonnies to a 73-28 record. As a senior co-captain and the team’s starting point guard, Baron led the Bonnies to one of the most magical seasons in school history that included 24 wins and a 1977 NIT Championship. Baron returned to St. Bonaventure in 1992, this time as the head coach, looking to lead his alma mater back to national prominence. Baron did exactly that, leading the Bonnies to an NIT berth in just his third season in 1995, earning Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year honors along the way. His most successful season came in 1999-2000, when he led St. Bonaventure to 21-10 record, a second place finish in the A-10 Tournament and the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 22 years. Overall, Baron finished his nine seasons with 132 victories, three NIT appearances and an NCAA Tournament berth.

May 29, 2009

1. The Dish is hard-pressed to miss all the chatter about social media – between blogging and Twitter and tweets and chat rooms. But, here’s at least one case where all of that came back to haunt a major Division I athletic program, when the reaction to all that sort of commentary produced a surprising result. Check this out: http://www.cbssports.com/print/collegebasketball/story/11776517.

2. The Dish is old-school enough to still enjoy picking the newspaper off the driveway in the morning. But The Dish understands that printed pieces are going the way of the dinosaur. Boy, are they disappearing fast! Take college athletics media guides, for example. Long before the Web changed the way we learn and read and do business, college media guides represented what sports teams were all about. For years, they were the defining publications when it came to college sports. The Dish is old enough to remember the Notre Dame football media guide as the “Dope Book” as it used to be known in the `50s and early `60s. It grew to a record 484 pages in its 8 ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½-by-11-inch format in 2003. But, those collectible press guides, apparently are going to disappear. Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin all announced Thursday there will go paperless when it comes to media guides. The motivation is a combination of economics, new media options and the move to go green. NBA teams have been told by the league to be paperless by 2010. At least two NFL teams already have said they will not print media guides in 2009. Those who are still printing are doing so in much more limited quantities. The Chicago Black Hawks, for example, published a postseason media guide this spring. They printed 500 numbered copies, some distributed to the media and some sold to the public. The same publication could be purchased online in digital form, in a fan-friendly format created by a company called Zinio.

3. Notre Dame has moved up to 17th in the NACDA Cup all-sports standings, thanks to spring NCAA points from men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and women’s golf. Still to come are softball points – and possibly some from men’s and/or women’s outdoor track and field.

4. Notre Dame junior Christine Lux has been named a Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) third-team All-American. Lux becomes the programs’s 17th NFCA All-American and the first for the program since Stephanie Brown received third-team honors following the 2006 season. Over 60 games, Lux started 59 contests. She hit .329 while also tallying 15 home runs, a number that ties the program’s single-season mark for home runs that she herself set in 2008. Her 33 career home runs has already moved her into second place on the career list behind only Jarrah Myers, who totaled 36 from 1999-2002.

5. Lauren Buck, Erica Copeland, Stephanie Gretsch, Laura Petnuch and Christine Trezza have all been named 2008-09 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Scholar Athletes. In order to be eligible, each of the award recipients must have taken part in at least two seasons as a member of the team while also maintaining a 3.5 GPA in the classroom as well. They also must have rowed in at least 75 percent of all races as a member of one of the varsity boats.

6. In a Tuesday piece on espn.com, Bruce Feldman offers his top 10 teams “with the best shot to make the biggest jump in wins” in 2009 college football. At the top of the list is Notre Dame. Wrote Feldman, “If they can become even a decent running team, they’ll be in a BCS bowl game.” Behind the Irish on Feldman’s list were Michigan, Ohio University, Baylor, UCLA, Washington, Southern Miss, Colorado, Stanford and UTEP.

7. Among the four new elected Notre Dame Board of Trustees members are two with athletics connections. Richard Nussbaum, a partner in the South Bend law firm Sopko, Nussbaum, Inabnit & Kaczmarek, was president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association from 2006 to 2008. Holder of bachelor’s and law degrees from Notre Dame, he’s currently the first vice president of the Notre Dame Monogram Club. He’s a former Irish baseball player (1971-74) whose son Matt also played baseball for the Irish (1999-2000). Rod West has been president and CEO of the electric and gas utility company Entergy New Orleans Inc. since 2007. He’s a former Irish tight end who played on the ’88 national title team. He’s also a past president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association (1995-97) and earned law and master’s degrees from Tulane.

8. The Dish late this morning spied former Irish Hall of Fame football coach Ara Parseghian hitting balls off the practice tees at the Warren Golf Course. Ara turned 86 on Thursday of last week and was feted by Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” also known as “PTI.”

9. For the first time in the 13-year history of the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program, the Fighting Irish had two players selected first-team Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Association (IWLCA)/US Lacrosse All-American and four players selected across the first two All-American teams. Selected to the first team for the first time in their careers are seniors Jillian Byers and Shannon Burke while teammates Shaylyn Blaney and Gina Scioscia were chosen second-team All-Americans for the first time. By being named to the first team, Byers becomes the first four-time All-American in the program’s history after being named second team for the first three years of her career.

May 28, 2009

1. The Dish took a brief hiatus for the long Memorial Day weekend and returned to the Joyce Center and barely recognized the arena. All the multi-colored lower-arena seats are gone and there’s nothing left but bare concrete. All but two of the upper-arena bleacher sections have been dismantled and removed. The entire place has a much more wide-open, airy look to it. The construction dustiness almost gives it a Roman Colosseum feel right now.

2. Irish men’s swim coach Tim Welsh Saturday received the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Distinguished Service Award at the CSCAA Convention and Awards Banquet in Chicago, based on 35 years of college coaching at Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins and Syracuse. Welsh also was re-elected to the CSCAA Board of Directors as the Division I representative. Welsh’s team achieved a 3.363 grade-pint average during the spring semester, which Welsh believes is the best in the history of Notre Dame men’s swimming. Next season’s captains accounted for a 3.9 (by John Lytle), a 3.846 (Mike Sullivan) and a 3.692 (MacKenzie LeBlanc).

3. If you happened to be watching the Pittsburgh-Washington NHL playoff game last Thursday on Versus from Pittsburgh, you saw former Irish star Christian Hanson and his father Dave interviewed live during the game (they had front-row seats!). The Hansons are from Venetia, Pa. Hanson spent the final 10 days of the regular season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

4. In last Friday’s digital version of Sporting News Today, Matt Hayes listed Notre Dame as one of four college football programs on the rise for 2009 (joining Oklahoma State, North Carolina and Miami). Wrote Hayes: “The difference between this year’s team and (Charlie) Weis’ first two that went to BCS bowls: this one has more talent and speed. Now it’s a matter of finishing games. . . . The Irish aren’t that far away, especially with a manageable schedule and an offense more dangerous than in Weis’ first two seasons. There’s more speed on defense, and any team that can rush the passer and cover in the secondary can create turnovers and force mistakes. ND will get those 10 wins this fall – and maybe more.”

5. Kate Kovenock, who spent four seasons as assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s swimming programs at Division III powerhouse Kenyon College, has been named assistant women’s swimming coach at Notre Dame. An 11-time All-American at Connecticut College, she helped Kenyon College to seven (four men’s and three women’s) NCAA men’s and women’s team championships during her four-year tenure at the school. During Kovenock’s tenure, 32 women’s swimmers earned 247 All-America citations, including 11 who earned 10 or more All-America accolades from 2005-09. Kovenock graduated from Connecticut College with honors and distinction, earning her bachelor’s degree in philosophy in ’05. A four-year member of the women’s swimming program from 2001-05, she was the NCAA champion in the 50-yard freestyle at the Division III national championships as a junior in 2004. She garnered 11 All-America accolades in the 50, 100 and 200-yard freestyle events. She was a two-time ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American.

6. Notre Dame women’s lacrosse standout Jillian Byers is one of four Division I players to be nominated for the Lacrosse Honda Sports Award that is presented annually to top collegiate athlete in that sport. The winner goes on to become a candidate for the Honda-Broderick Cup awarded to the Collegiate Woman’s Athlete of the Year. Joining Byers as nominees for 2009 are Amber Falcone of North Carolina, Caitlyn McFadden of Maryland and Northwestern’s Hannah Nielsen (the 2008 winner in lacrosse).

7. The second-ranked Irish duo of Kelcy Tefft and Kristy Frilling ended their season Friday with a 7-6, 6-3 loss to Tennessee’s Natalie Pluskota and Caitlin Whorisky in the second round of the NCAA Doubles Championship. As the #2 seed in the doubles tournament, Tefft and Frilling earned All-America honors. The honor was the second for Tefft, who garnered the citation a year ago, and the first for Frilling. Tefft and Frilling capped off one of the most impressive campaigns ever by an Irish duo by leading the Irish to their first-ever NCAA semifinals. Tefft and Frilling end the season with a 37-4 overall record and were just the third Irish pair to ever earn a #1 ranking in the national poll. Tefft and Frilling opened the 2009 season in the top spot and consistently ranked in the top three all year.

8. Notre Dame’s baseball team didn’t make it to the championship game of the BIG EAST Championships last week in Clearwater, Fla. But it’s hard to imagine a wilder ride (made even crazier by a long list of rain delays all week long) than what the Irish experienced. Dropped into the losers’ bracket after a loss to top-seeded Louisville, the Irish had to rebound from 9-0 (after three innings) and 10-2 after four) deficits to come back and beat St. John’s 11-10 to remain alive Friday. Golden Tate’s two-out RBI single in the last of the ninth won that one for the Irish, after Will Hudgins (Notre Dame’s only selection on the all-tournament team) threw four innings of two-hit relief.

Needing two wins over Louisville to advance to the title game, Notre Dame almost pulled it off Saturday. First, Hudgins induced a game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the last of the ninth to preserve a 6-5 Irish victory. Then, in the deciding game on that side of the bracket, Louisville held on for a 7-6 victory, after Notre Dame rallied from a 5-0 deficit, drawing within a single run on two occasions. Louisville went on to defeat Connecticut in the BIG EAST title game, then a day later the Cardinals became the only league team selected to the NCAA bracket.

9. Irish baseball coach Dave Schrage didn’t attempt to hide his disappointment over Notre Dame (36-23 and winner of 12 of its last 15 in the regular season) not receiving a bid to the NCAA baseball championships. Here’s what Schrage told the South Bend Tribune: “It’s tough for the kids to accept. I think our RPI (47), our strength of schedule (47) and our wins against top 50 teams should have gotten us in. The committee always tells you, it’s who you play and who you beat. Apparently for us, it wasn’t. To me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s real easy to point out a lot of things. There are 10 teams in the Big XII and they had eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. One of the teams, Oklahoma State, lost seven of their nine conference series and didn’t even go to the conference tournament, and they get a bid. I don’t know how you can explain that one. We can make our case, and have the numbers say what we want them to say, but in the end, the committee didn’t think it was good enough. I’m disappointed for the kids’ sake, and I think it doesn’t speak well for our conference to have only one team selected in a league that I think is a pretty good baseball conference. I was proud of the way we fought, of the way we came back in games. Our guys gave everything they’ve got. They learned a lesson that life’s not always fair. The guys returning know you can’t leave any doubt and get in.”

10. Not much left on the Notre Dame athletic docket for 2009. The Irish track and field teams are set to compete this weekend at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships at Louisville. Notre Dame will send 22 athletes to the regional with hopes of qualifying for the national meet (June 11-14 at Arkansas). Several Irish athletes currently hold some of the top marks in the nation. Patrick Smyth’s 10,000-meter time of 28:25.85 ranks fifth, while Mary Saxer is sixth with a pole vault mark of 4.30m (14-1 1/4). Matt Schipper is 12th in the pole vault with a height of 5.30m (17-4 1/2), Joanna Schultz carded a 400-meter time of 53.12 to rank 16th and Jaclyn Espinoza is 19th with a discus throw of 52.10m (170-11).

11. Two Notre Dame men’s lacrosse players were selected during the 2009 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Collegiate Draft Wednesday. Attackman Ryan Hoff was taken by the Chicago Machine with the first pick in the third round (17th overall pick), while his classmate Regis McDermott, a defenseman, also went in the third round to the Long Island Lizards with the 24th selection overall in the draft.

12. The NBA conducts its annual pre-draft combine starting today at Attack Athletics Gym in Chicago – and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody is there to participate (Irish coach Mike Brey is there watching today and tomorrow). Fifty-two players are scheduled to work out and conduct interviews with NBA personnel over the next five days in the hope of hearing their names called in the June 25 draft. There will not be five-on-five scrimmages as in years past at the camp, according to ESPN.com hoops guru Chad Ford. Still on the agenda: vertical jumps, bench pressing, other light drills, medical exams and one-on-one player interviews by NBA teams. On June 15, the draft-eligible list will be complete with the deadline for underclassmen returning to school who haven’t signed with an agent. Then teams will conduct individual workouts to get ready for June 25.

May 21, 2009

1. Five members of the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team today received All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA). Ryan Hoff (senior, attack), Regis McDermott (senior, defense) and Scott Rodgers (senior, goaltender) were named to the third team, while Sam Barnes (junior, defense) and Grant Krebs (junior, midfielder) were honorable mention picks. The five All-America selections matched a program record that also was achieved in 2001 and 2007.

2. Irish men’s tennis player Brett Helgeson was defeated in the second round of the NCAA singles championship today by second-seeded Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State 6-3, 6-4 at Texas A&M. Nedovyesov knocked out Helgeson in the round of 32 for the second time in as many seasons, having beaten Helgeson in 2008. With his run at the NCAA Championships coming to a close, Helgeson concluded an impressive career with the Irish with a 69-33 dual season singles record, a 50-18 open season singles record, and a 118-51 overall singles record. His 118 wins rank as the sixth most in program history.

3. In a game that was suspended in the top of the fourth inning on Wednesday night and resumed this morning, Louisville used a seven-run first inning and never looked back en route to a 12-2 victory over Notre Dame in a winner’s bracket game from the 2009 BIG EAST Tournament at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Fla. That would have moved the Irish into an elimination contest tonight against St. John’s, but heavy rains forced postponement until 10:00 a.m. Friday.

4. After going undefeated at the #3 doubles position during the tournament, Irish freshman Shannon Mathews and junior Colleen Rielley have been named to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship All-Tournament Team. Mathews and Rielley are the first Irish players to ever be selected for the all-tournament squad. The Irish duo went 5-0 in this year’s NCAA tournament and clinched the doubles point in three different matches, including the quarterfinal and semifinal contests.

5. Four Notre Dame student-athletes have been selected to the 2009 ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic all-District Five At-Large team in voting done by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) for the 2008-09 school year, with three named to the men’s team and one to the women’s squad. Three of the athletes — rower Lauren Buck and hockey players Erik Condra and 2008 second-team Academic All-American Jordan Pearce — were first-team all-district choices and move to the national ballot for Academic All-American honors that will be announced in June. Joining those three on the District Five At-Large second team is men’s lacrosse player Peter Christman. The at-large program includes women’s bowling, women’s crew, men’s and women’s fencing, women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rifle, men’s and women’s skiing, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s water polo and men’s wrestling.

6. The Notre Dame men’s soccer team has named its captains for the 2009 season. Seniors Cory Rellas (D/M), Michael Thomas (M), Dave Donohue (M) and Justin Morrow (M) have been selected as the Irish captains.

7. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told the New York Times today that the New York Yankees were open to having college football at the new Yankee Stadium, and he would like the Fighting Irish to be the first team to play there. Swarbrick stressed that no dates had been discussed. “We’ve been in contact with Yankee Stadium and asked and inquired,” Swarbrick said. “We will be discussing games with them, but we haven’t entered into any substantive discussions.” Some significant college football games were played at Yankee Stadium, many involving Notre Dame. Swarbrick said the rich history of Notre Dame and Army playing at the Stadium would make the Black Knights a preferred opponent. “It would be of great historical significance for us if it would be Army,” Swarbrick said. He added: “We would love that. Some of the most significant games in the history of college football involve those two schools and Yankee Stadium.” Swarbrick, who is finishing his first year as Notre Dame’s athletic director, said the notion of playing at Yankee Stadium came from “two independent tracks.” He said he understood the Yankees are going to try to maximize revenue from the new Stadium, and college football could be an option. He also cited the historical aspect. Swarbrick said Notre Dame’s 35-13 victory against Army at West Point in 1913 is considered the most important in the program’s history. He said he was trying to plan significant anniversary games and would love to have the 100th anniversary of that game played at Yankee Stadium. But Swarbrick said the Yankees may want college football at the Stadium before 2013, and if that is the case, he would like the Irish to be part of the debut. “On a personal level, the anniversary date aspect of it, with the 1913 game, would be great,” he said. “But if there’s going to be college football in Yankee Stadium, I’d like to be the first one.”

May 20, 2009

1. Freshman Kristy Frilling advanced to the second round of the NCAA Singles Championships today with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Florida State’s Katie Rybakova at Texas A&M. Frilling’s second round opponent will be a familiar one as she is set to take on Clemson’s 14th-ranked Josipa Bek on Thursday. Frilling and Bek met at #2 singles in the NCAA round of 16. Frilling pulled off the biggest upset of her career when she defeated Bek, 6-2, 6-1, and helped the Irish advance to the quarterfinals and eventually a semifinal match. Senior Kelcy Tefft was not as lucky in the first round, falling to Miami’s #24 Laura Vallverdu, 6-1, 6-4. Although her singles season may be complete, Tefft’s career with the Irish is not yet over. She will team up with Frilling as the #2-seeded doubles duo in the NCAA Doubles Championship. Tefft and Frilling will take on Georgia Tech’s Irina Falconi and Amanda McDowell Thursday in the first round of the doubles tournament.

2. Irish men’s tennis player Brett Helgeson overcame a first set loss to defeat Washington’s Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan in the opening round of the NCAA Singles Championship today at Texas A&M. Helgeson dropped the first set to the sophomore from Chennai, India, 3-6, before rebounding to win the second and third sets, 6-4, 6-0. With the win, Helgeson will take on second-seeded Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State in the round of 32 Thursday.

3. Notre Dame’s BIG EAST tournament baseball game with Louisville was suspended in the top of the fourth inning due to torrential rains tonight. The Irish and Cardinals will resume the game Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m., with Louisville leading 9-2 (the Cards scored seven runs in he top of the first). Louisville scored two more runs in the top of the third inning without benefit of a hit to grab a 9-0 advantage. ?The Irish did get to Louisville starter Justin Marks in the bottom of the third. A.J. Pollock ripped a double just inside the third base bag and cruised home on Jeremy Barnes’ 14th home run of the season to bring Notre Dame within seven runs at 9-2.

4. Notre Dame senior center Dan Wenger was named to the 2009 Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List today. Wenger was one of 44 players selected to the watch list for the trophy awarded to the nation’s top center. The Rimington Trophy is awarded to the center with the most first team All-America votes.

5. Notre Dame seniors Peter Christman and Ryan Hoff will take part in the 68th United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) North/South Game that will be played at 4:00 p.m. Friday at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, Mass.

6. Notre Dame women’s basketball incoming freshman Skylar Diggins has been selected as one of 14 finalists for the 2009 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team. The choices were made from a field of 27 players ages 19-and-under that competed in three days of trials in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The remaining U19 finalists will return to Colorado Springs July 9 to begin training for the 16-team FIBA U19 World Championship For Women, scheduled for July 23-Aug. 2 in Bangkok, Thailand.

May 19, 2009

1. Here’s what the printed program said about Notre Dame men’s swimming coach Tim Welsh last night when he received the Presidential Values Award (“in recognition of employees whose performances reflects the University’s core values of integrity, accountability, teamwork, leadership in mission, and leadership in excellence”) at the Notre Dame Service Recognition Dinner: “Tim Welsh is truly one of those people who make Notre Dame a special place. As the head men’s swimming coach since 1985, Welsh strives to build community and character among his athletes throughout the season. A fervent supporter of the undergraduate education offered here, he recruits his swimmers with Notre Dame’s standards in mind: in 2009, his men’s swim program ranked 12th nationally among 207 teams that had average GPAs of 3.0 and above, marking the 21st time out of the past 25 years that his teams have ranked in the top 25 academically. His student athletes also shine in competition: the 2008-2009 men’s swim program went to the Big East Championship (as they have done four out of the past five years), breaking several school records and winning a dramatic victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay. At this Big East tournament, Welsh demonstrated another reason he is special: when he learned that another team had not brought enough suits for all of their swimmers, he offered to lend them some of Notre Dame’s high-tech swimsuits, so they would not be at a competitive disadvantage. You can be sure his compassion and sportsmanship were not lost on his swimmers. These young men benefit from Welsh’s character and spirit from the opening of the season, through each competition, and finally at the awards banquet, where Welsh recognizes each member of the senior class individually. They leave Notre Dame having experienced the values of the University, played out over and over again, in the actions of Tim Welsh.”

2. The Joyce Center arena is now officially a hard-hat venue. And Notre Dame’s home basketball facility since 1969 is closed for business until October 15. The last official event took place last night (Penn High School graduation), by 1:00 a.m. workers were already removing lower-arena seats – and by noon today bins of torn-apart bright-green seats could be seen behind Gate 6 of the Joyce Center. The Gate 8 entrance essentially was boarded up by 5:00 p.m. – and by late evening a good number of rows in one of the lower-arena sections of brown seats had been removed.

3. With all the hubbub surrounding President Barack Obama’s trip to campus for Notre Dame’s commencement, you may have missed the two honorary degrees conferred on individuals with athletics connections. One went to NCAA president and former Indiana University and University of Oregon president Myles Brand. For the first time in 27 years, the University broke from tradition by awarding Brand’s degree in absentia, as he is prevented from traveling due to serious health issues involving pancreatic cancer. In 1982, the University awarded an honorary degree to Polish leader Lech Walesa, with Walesa’s chair on the platform draped with an academic hood. This year’s other honorary degree with an athletic connection went to ’77 Notre Dame graduate Cindy Parseghian, who heads up the Ara Parseghian Medical Foundation’s fight to find a cure for the rare Niemann-Pick Type C disease that has claimed three of her four children. The presentation to an obviously-emotional Parseghian brought about a standing ovation. Also in attendance were Cindy’s husband Mike (a former Notre Dame football player and South Bend John Adams High School graduate who now practices sports medicine in Tucson), along with former Irish coach Ara Parseghian and his wife Katie.

4. Notre Dame baseball junior outfielder A.J. Pollock was named all-BIG EAST first team for the second consecutive year, while senior shortstop Jeremy Barnes (.355, 12 home runs, 63 RBI) and sophomore pitcher Cole Johnson (6-2 record) took home second-team honors Monday. Pollock finished the regular season with a .356 batting average, 15 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 48 RBI and 19 stolen bases – and leads the Irish in hitting, on base percentage (.441), runs (65), hits (77), doubles (tied) and stolen bases. Pollock is the first Irish player to receive first team all-BIG EAST accolades in consecutive seasons since Steve Stanley in 2001 and 2002. Junior Brayden Ashdown, Barnes, sophomore Mick Doyle, Johnson, Todd Miller, Pollock, sophomore Greg Sherry and junior Eric Maust were all named BIG EAST academic all-stars. Notre Dame led all eight teams that reached the tournament with eight selections.

5. Notre Dame athletic facilities manager Dan Brazo, who lives in Niles, Mich,, will be working the upcoming Michigan state high school softball tournament in Battle Creek as an umpire.

6. The Irish baseball team got off to a hot start in BIG EAST Championship play this morning in Clearwater, Fla., blasting St. John’s 14-5. Notre Dame took a 4-0 lead in the second, saw the margin cut to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth, then added three runs in the seventh, two in the eighth and five in the ninth. A.J. Pollock had four hits (two doubles) and three RBI, Jeremy Barnes had three hits (including a home run) and three RBI – and Golden Tate, Mick Doyle and Cameron McConnell had two hits each. Cole Johnson pitched six innings for the win, and Todd Miller finished the final three innings. The Irish move on in the winners’ bracket to play at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday against #1 seed Louisville.

7. For the first time in program history, two members of the Irish women’s tennis squad were recognized with ITA national awards today. Kelcy Tefft was named the ITA National Senior Player of the Year, while freshman Kristy Frilling was selected as the ITA National Player to Watch. Both players also earned those awards for the Midwest region. Tefft is just the second Irish player to win the Senior Player of the Year award, joining 2001 recipient Michelle Dasso. Frilling is Notre Dame’s first-ever National Player to Watch.

8. Irish men’s tennis player Brett Helgeson will represent the Irish in the NCAA Singles Championship on Wednesday at Texas A&M. Helgeson will take on Washington’s Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan at 3:00 p.m.

May 18, 2009

1. Notre Dame football players Dayne Crist, Joseph Fauria and Jonas Gray played on the Bookstore Basketball title team last month. Now, they may want to see if they can collect a cell phone number for Barack Obama to add to their Hallelujah Holla Back team roster for 2010. Here’s what the President had to say at Notre Dame’s Commencementexercises on Sunday: “Now, since this is Notre Dame I think we should talk not only about your accomplishments in the classroom, but also in the competitive arena. We all know about this university’s proud and storied football team, but I also hear that Notre Dame holds the largest outdoor 5-on-5 basketball tournament in the world — Bookstore Basketball. Now this excites me. I want to congratulate the winners of this year’s tournament, a team by the name of ‘Hallelujah Holla Back.’ Congratulations. Well done. Though I have to say, I am personally disappointed that the ‘Barack O’Ballers’ did not pull it out this year. So next year, if you need a 6’2″ forward with a decent jumper, you know where I live.” Since Bookstore participants have to have some sort of connection to Notre Dame, presumably Obama’s honorary degree conferred yesterday makes him a Bookstore option for next spring. Stay tuned.

2. By the way, among those pictured on the front page of the New York Times this morning greeting the President after the Commencement ceremonies were former Irish football players David Grimes, Darius Walker, D.J. Hord and Asaph Scwapp. Walker, who left school a year early, has been back on campus finishing his degree requirements during the spring semester.

3. Notre Dame just finished taking two out of three baseball games at St. John’s on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The same two teams meet tomorrow morning to open the BIG EAST Baseball Championship – in a 10:00 a.m. game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. Notre Dame (33-21 overall, 15-12 in BIG EAST) is the #5 seed, St. John’s (29-20, 16-11) is #4. The top three seeds are Louisville (40-14), South Florida (32-23) and West Virginia (36-16). SIRIUS XM Radio will broadcast every game from the 2009 Big East Conference Baseball Tournament live nationwide on XM channel 203 and on SIRIUS channel 217 with the “Best of XM” programming package.

4. Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick and men’s basketball coach Mike Brey are currently at BIG EAST Conference meetings in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

5. The Irish women’s tennis team claimed the doubles point but then claimed only one singles win, that by Kristy Frilling at #2 singles, as #9 seed California claimed a 4-2 victory over #5 seed Notre Dame in the NCAA semifinals tonight at Texas A&M. The Irish finished 28-5, best ever record by a Notre Dame team in women’s tennis. Kelcy Tefft and Frilling will represent the Irish in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships beginning Wednesday in College Station. While they both compete in the singles tournament, they will also team up as the second-seeded doubles team.

6. ESPN college football analyst was recently in South Bend and offered the following comments about Notre Dame’s football program: On Notre Dame’s first-year offensive line coach Frank Verducci: “I don’t know the other two new assistants, but I do know Frank Verducci is as good an offensive line coach as there is around. I hired him when he was a grad assistant at Iowa to come with me to Northern Illinois. He was a terrific line coach for me, then went on to other places and the pros and got even better. He’ll be terrific.” On Jon Tenuta making the defensive calls this year: “I used to say this about Jon when he was at Georgia Tech: ‘I don’t know what they pay him, but it ain’t enough money.’ I understand he’ll be calling the plays, and that’s a great move.” On the possibility of Notre Dame moving back toward national prominence: “I think Notre Dame being good is good for college football. If you bring three guys in from Mars and you ask the Martians where they would want to see a college football game, even they know enough to say Notre Dame. Notre Dame is college football. It’s tradition. It’s doing it the right way, with class. There’s nothing like Notre Dame when it comes to the prestige of college football. And college football is much better off, in my opinion, when Notre Dame is in the mix.”

7. Notre Dame men’s swimming coach Tim Welsh was honored at the University’s Service Recognition and Achievement Awards Dinner tonight with one of two Presidential Values Awards. More details on that tomorrow.

Other athletics personnel honored tonight for service included:

10 years of service: Ann Whitesel, Ticket Office; Tony Rolinski, Strength & Conditioning; Dave Brown, RecSports; Donald Stephens, Housekeeping; Heidi Uebelhor, Business Office; Karen Demeter, Football; Mark Zmyslo, Golf Course; Matt Thuruthiyil, Housekeeping; Juli Schreiber, Administration; Randy Waldrum, Women’s Soccer; Tim Rosbrugh, Housekeeping

15 years: Andy Slaggert, Hockey; Jeanne Checkley, Olympic Sports; Mike Karwoski, Administration; Yul Hubbard, Athletic Grounds

20 years: Cathy Brown, RecSports; John Strickland, Athletic Grounds; Kevin Corrigan, Men’s Lacrosse; Pat Klaybor, Ice Rink; Tom Blicher, Joyce Center; Tim Connelly, Track & Cross Country

25 years: Sally Derengoski, Administration-RecSports

35 years: Don Anglin, Golf Course; Kevin Hirl, Issue Room

40 years: Lefty Smith, Loftus

May 16, 2009

1. The Dish offers its apologies for missing out on the late-night NCAA women’s tennis score — for the Irish match that didn’t end until nearly midnight Eastern time at Texas A&M. After a late start in the beginning and then nearly an hour delay between doubles and singles due to a power outage, the fifth-ranked and #5-seeded Irish women’s tennis team advanced to the NCAA Championships quarterfinals with a 4-0 victory over #12 Clemson. Notre Dame is now 27-4 and will make its third quarterfinal appearance in the last four years. After the Irish took the doubles point, #38-ranked Kristy Frilling pulled off the biggest upset of her career with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over 14th-ranked Josipa Bek at second singles, putting the Irish up 2-0. Kristen Rafael cruised past Laurianne Henry 6-0 in the first set, then battled to a 6-3 win in the second set to claim the #6 singles match and give the Irish a 3-0 lead. Kali Krisik clinched the win for the Irish as she defeated Alexandra Luc, 6-4, 6-1, at #5 singles. The Irish now face #4-seeded Baylor Sunday at 6:00 p.m. (ET).

2. The 25th-ranked Notre Dame softball team was three outs away from a win over #7 Michigan on the Wolverines’ home field, but the home team responded with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to hold off the Irish 2-1 this afternoon. Michigan used a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to break open the 1-1 contest. That sent the Irish into an elimination games against Miami (Ohio), which the Irish won 5-3. That means Notre Dame will have to defeat Michigan twice on Sunday to advance. The Wolverines need only a single win to advance to the super regional.

The Irish made the most of their second hit as Heather Johnson creamed a solo home run to dead center in the top of the fourth for a 1-0 lead that held up until the last of the seventh. Michigan’s Maggie Viefhaus sent a 1-2 pitch over the right-field fence to tie the game at 1-1 in the seventh. After a bloop single to center by Nikki Nemitz, Irish coach Deanna Gumpf opted to relieve starter Brittney Bargar with Jody Valdivia. Valdivia’s first pitch struck Dorian Shaw and Steph Kirkpatrick popped up a bunt before pinch-hitter Marley Powers stepped into the box. Powers, who homered against Notre Dame during last year’s NCAA Regional, went back to the dugout on three strikes. Bree Evans then breezed a single into left field to score the game-winning run.

In the second game, sophomore Brianna Jorgensborg had a double and a triple, scored two runs and knocked in a pair as the Irish prevailed. Game times Sunday for Notre Dame-Michigan are 1:00 p.m., then 3:30 p.m. if necessary.

3. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team saw its 2009 season come to an end at the hands of the #3-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in a 16-10 loss in the second round of the NCAA Championships today at hot, muggy Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill. Senior Jillian Byers led the Irish with five goals and one assist, including all four Notre Dame goals in the second half. Kailene Abt scored twice while Kaitlin Keena added a goal and two assists. The Heels held an 8-6 halftime lead, then broke it open with five straight goals to take a 15-8 advantage. The loss ended one of the best campaigns in the Notre Dame program’s history as the Irish finished the year 16-5. The 10 goals for Notre Dame marked just the second time in 21 games this year that the Irish had less than 11 goals in a game. Byers’ six -point game (5g, 1a) gives her 83 goals and 28 assists for 111 points, three points off the Notre Dame record of 114 by Crysti Foote in 2006. This was Notre Dame’s fifth appearance in the NCAA Championships in the last eight years and third in the last four. It marked the third time the Irish have advanced to the quarterfinals. They lost in 2002, won in 2006 to go to the Final Four and lost in 2009.

4. With day one complete from the South/Central Sprints at Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the Notre Dame rowing team has placed five of six boats in either the Grand or Petite Finals on Sunday. The Irish will see the varsity four boat taking to the water looking to capture the Grand Final gold, while four other boats (Notre Dame “A” open four, novice eight, second varsity eight and varsity eight) will row in the Petite Final. The Notre Dame “B” open four boat also will look to capture the Open Four C Final crown.

5. The Irish baseball squad fell 10-6 today to St. John’s, but wins on Thursday and Friday enabled Notre Dame to claim the series. The Irish will be the #5 seed in the eight-team BIG EAST Championships that begin Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla.

6. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team today played the last of its three games on its European tour, defeating Athena Basket 94-39 in Rome behind Ashley Barlow’s 18 points.

May 15, 2009

1. Irish pitcher Brittney Bargar earned her second Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Region honor in as many seasons yesterday as she was one of five Notre Dame softball players to earn the distinction. The senior was joined by classmate Beth Northway, junior Christine Lux, sophomore Erin Marrone and freshman Dani Miller. The five honorees comprise the largest group of all-region selections since Notre Dame placed six on the team in 2001.

2. The Irish women’s tennis got a late start in its round of 16 match tonight versus #12 seed Clemson — and then was thwarted by a late-evening power outage on the stadium courts where Notre Dame was playing.

3. The #2 seed Irish softball team got off to a solid start in NCAA Regional play today in Ann Arbor, defeating #3 seed Cleveland Sate 3-1 on a tie-breaking two-run sixth-inning single by Katie Fleury. Notre Dame’s other run came on a second-inning home run by Dani Miller. Brittney Bargar gave up a first-inning home run to Cleveland State but that was it (she pitched four innings and Jody Valdivia the final three).

4. NBC Sports has a new producer for Notre Dame football games in 2009 in Rob Hyland. He and several other NBC staffers will be on campus Monday to do a site survey and preview for the ’09 season.

5. Espn.com’s Mark Schlabach has posted his latest (post-spring practices) preseason top 25 for the ’09 college football seasons and rated Notre Dame 17th. Among Irish opponents, USC at #4 is the only one on the list. Schlabach also lists six teams he considers BCS national title contenders – and another 11 (including the Irish) who he expects to contend for a BCS game of some sort.

6. Former Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer and his wife Stephanie (they live in the San Diego area) are in the wine business under the label Mirror Wine. They recently produced a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon that received a 94 rating from Wine Enthusiast.

May 14, 2009

1. Former Irish golf assistant Tom Hanlon has been invited to be an honorary starter for the 2009 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships May 26-30 at Inverness Country Club in Toledo, Ohio. That’s because 65 years ago, when Hanlon participated on the 1944 NCAA Championship team for the Irish, that event was played and won at Inverness.

2. A reminder on Notre Dame’s NCAA competition this weekend:

  • Notre Dame women’s tennis in round of 16 at 7:00 p.m. EDT tomorrow against Clemson (at Texas A&M). Notre Dame is seeded #5, Clemson #12.
  • Notre Dame softball in regional opener at 4:30 p.m. EDT tomorrow against Cleveland State in Ann Arbor. The Irish are seeded #2 in the regional, Cleveland State #3.
  • Notre Dame women’s lacrosse in quarterfinal game at 1:00 p.m. EDT Saturday at North Carolina. Notre Dame is the #6 seed, North Carolina #3.

3. Producer for the Notre Dame-Maryland NCAA men’s lacrosse game Sunday that was live on ESPNU from Notre Dame’s Alumni Field was former Irish women’s lacrosse star Kerry Callahan. She was a two-time Irish captain (1998 and ’99) who set Notre Dame career records (since broken) for goals and points.

4. The Irish women’s basketball team today won its second game on its foreign tour — defeating GEAS Sesto San Giovanni 78-68 in Milan, Italy, behind Lindsay Schrader’s 15 points and eight rebounds and 13 points from Natalie Novosel. Notre Dame plays again Saturday in Rome.

May 13, 2009

1. More NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship nominees from Notre Dame spring sports: Kelcy Tefft from women’s tennis and Anna Weber from track and field. With spring sports winners yet to be announced, Notre Dame already has three winners in 2008-09 (all from fall sports), as many as the Irish have ever had in a full school year.

2. More details on Notre Dame’s new outdoor track. The Mondo FTX surface material will arrive next week and installation will begin in the infield areas, then proceed to the lanes. Completion date is second week of July.

3. Bruce Springsteen played the United Center in Chicago last night. Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis is a big Springsteen fan. You can connect the dots.

4. If combined returning career starts along the offensive line equate to winning football games, then research in the Wall Street Journal says Notre Dame is in great shape in 2009. With the Irish at 100, there’s no team in the Bowl Championship Series leagues with more (Virginia Tech also has 100). Next in line are Georgia with 99 and Iowa with 98. Texas leads the Big 12, USC the Pac-10 and Connecticut the Big East, all with 91. Teams with big numbers from the so-called non-BCS conferences include Colorado State with 125, Louisiana-Lafayette with 113, UAB with 107, and East Carolina and Florida International with 101. How about other Irish opponents in ’09? Beyond USC and UConn, Washington State has 82, Boston College 80, Michigan 75, Washington 67, Pittsburgh 62, Nevada 62, Purdue 56, Stanford 53, Michigan State 47, Navy 32. The national median was 61.

5. Monday night’s baseball game against Western Michigan qualified as the last of 221 home events for Notre Dame sports teams in 2008-09 (led by 27 in baseball, 22 softball, 20 men’s basketball, 19 each in volleyball and women’s soccer). The vast majority of those events involved extensive hosting work (both preliminary and on-site) by Irish assistant athletics director Tony Yelovich and his two game management assistants, Kathryn Coneys and Stephen Springfield.

6. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, new Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari is exploring the prospect of neutral-site basketball games (probably in Louisville) and mentioned Notre Dame as a possible opponent (he called Mike Brey yesterday to discuss). Calipari is looking for games in which the participants would split the tickets 50-50.

7. Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick spoke yesterday in South Bend to the National Tourism Week luncheon sponsored by the South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau. In discussing his 28 years in Indianapolis, he said, “That initiative – amateur sports initiative in central Indiana – is the most successful private/public economic development initiative in the United States for the past 50 years.”

8. A study released today by the Virginia Commonwealth’s Center for Sport Leadership indicated that the 2008 Notre Dame-North Carolina football game in Chapel Hill generated $6.4 million for the Chapel Hill and Orange County economies, plus another $350,00 in local and state tax revenue. The study showed that 83.9 percent of the attendees came from North Carolina, 2.3 percent (1,400) came from Indiana – and 41.2 percent of the Notre Dame fans came from North Carolina.

9. Former Notre Dame golfer and ’07 graduate Mark Baldwin Monday shot an ever-par 70 at the Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus to advance in U.S. Open golf qualifying. He now moves on to sectional play May 25 in Purchase, N.Y. The U.S. Open is June 18-21 at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. Baldwin spends most of his time these days playing the Asian and Korean Tours. Five current Notre Dame golfers also played but did not qualify (Doug Fortner and Dustin Zhang were best of that group at 74) – nor did former Irish standout Cole Isban, who shot 76.

10. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News suggests Notre Dame will have a potentially large impact on the Pac-10 football race in ’09 since the Irish play four teams from that league. Wilner rates the difficulty of the Pac-10 schedules – with Washington State #10 (easiest), Stanford #4, Washington #2 (two of first three games are LSU and USC), USC #1 (toughest).

May 12, 2009

1. The Dish inadvertently left rowing out of yesterday’s list of road-trip options to see Notre Dame athletic teams the rest of the spring. The Irish women head for Oak Ridge, Tenn., this weekend for the South/Central Sprints.

2. One day after the NCAA men’s and women’s lacrosse games, the press box on Alumni Field was demolished yesterday. The field remains intact and available for use up until the opening of Notre Dame’s new soccer facility.

3. In another construction update, now that the weather is up to par, the new outdoor track will be put in place soon and that new facility will be ready for business by July. The grass already is in place in the infield. Still to come is the stadium surrounding the outdoor track and field venue.

4. The University of Toledo has hired Notre Dame assistant volleyball coach Greg Smith as its head women’s volleyball coach, the school announced yesterday. Smith’s coaching background includes six years as a head coach and nine seasons as an assistant coach. The Rochester, Ind., native spent the last three years as the top assistant at Notre Dame. Smith served as head coach at Virginia Tech for six seasons (2000-05), registering an 81-94 record (he was 2002 BIG EAST coach of the year). Smith previously was an assistant at Ohio State, Hofstra, and the University of Indianapolis.

5. Penn High School holds its commencement exercises in the Joyce Center arena on Monday – and then the doors to the arena literally will be closed and locked until October. Gates 8 and 10 at the Joyce Center will be closed during this period, and removal of the lower-arena chair-back seats will begin almost immediately.

6. You can catch Notre Dame’s Saturday baseball game at St. John’s at 1:00 p.m. EDT on CBS College Sports.

7. The BIG EAST Baseball Championships begin next Tuesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., with four games beginning at 10:00 a.m. EDT. With one weekend left of conference play, the Irish currently project as the #5 seed in the eight-team field.

8. Lots of planning going on this summer for all the graphic theming that will be part of the updated Joyce Center arena. Good news for fans – due to the new configuration of the seating in the area that previously housed the upper-arena bleachers, the upper concourses will now almost double in width. Upgraded concession stands and restrooms are part of the plan as well.

9. A couple of Notre Dame alumni played a role in the breeding of Kentucky Derby 50-1 long-shot winner Mine That Bird. Former Irish running back Pete Lamantia (he played on the ’66 Irish national title football team) was co-breeder of the gelding that originally sold for $9,500 at a 2007 yearling auction. Now living in Toronto, Lamantia admittedly thought so little of the horse’s chances to win the Derby that he talked a friend out of a $100 win bet (costing her $5,000). Mine That Bird was Canada’s two-year-old champion in 2008. Also part of Mine That Bird’s breeding was Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds (since dissolved) near Lexington, Ky. – including another Notre Dame grad, Bill Betz.

10. NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship nominees from Notre Dame spring sports include Ryan Hoff and Peter Christman (men’s lacrosse), Lauren Buck and Christine Trezza (rowing), Heidi Rocha (women’s track and field).

11. The South Bend Tribune today says Notre Dame junior Luke Harangody will begin auditioning for NBA teams this week. He will work out for three teams in four days beginning Friday at Miami (he’s also scheduled to audition for Cleveland and Milwaukee). Harangody is scheduled to eventually travel to Oakland, where the Golden State Warriors will host a group workout for 12 different teams, and to New Jersey, where the Nets will host a 10-team workout. He’s also expected to be one of 55 prospects invited to the May 27-31 pre-draft workouts in Chicago. Harangody declared for the 2009 NBA draft, but has left open the possibility of returning for his senior season.

12. Notre Dame softball has earned its first national ranking since 2004 – Irish are 25th in the final NFCA poll – the first time for Notre Dame ending a season nationally ranked since 2002. The Irish have won 20 of their last 22 games.

May 11, 2009

1. Tonight is your last chance to see any Notre Dame athletic team compete at home this spring (baseball versus Western Michigan). So here’s where you need to go to see the Irish from here on out:

Chapel Hill, N.C. – The #6 seed Irish women’s lacrosse team takes on #3 seed North Carolina Saturday (1:00 p.m. EDT on Fetzer Field) in the NCAA quarterfinals. All eight seeded teams played at home Sunday and won.
College Station, Texas – The #5 seed Irish women’s tennis team takes on #12 seed Clemson (19-7) Friday (7:00 p.m. EDT) in the NCAA round of 16. The only national seeds that did not make the round of 16 were #7 USC and #10 Tennessee.
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The #2-seeded Irish softball team takes on #3 seed Cleveland State Friday (4:30 p.m. EDT) in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional. Also participating are #1 seed Michigan and #4 Miami (Ohio). Friday winners plays at noon EDT Saturday, losers play at 2:30 p.m. EDT Saturday.
Louisville, Ky., and Fayetteville, Ark. – The Irish outdoor track teams are pointing for the May 29-30 NCAA Regional in Louisville and then the June 11-14 NCAA Championships in Fayetteville.
Joliet, Ill., Jamaica, N.Y., and Clearwater, Fla. – The Notre Dame baseball teams heads tomorrow for Joliet to meet Illinois State, plays a weekend series at St. John’s, then looks to the BIG EAST Championships May 19-23 in Clearwater.
Knoxville, Tenn. — Irish rowing heads to Central/South Region Championships this weekend.
France, Monaco and Italy – That’s where Irish squads in women’s basketball and volleyball will be competing in coming weeks on their foreign tours.

2. Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team played its first game in Paris today against the French Junior National Squad – winning 77-44 behind Natalie Novosel and Becca Bruszewski, who had 15 points each.

3. The June issue of Touchdown, the Japanese magazine on American football (http://www.touchdown.co.jp), includes an extensive feature on Notre Dame football. The magazine includes a 10-page feature (including 31 color photos) on Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold spring football contest and the tryouts for the Irish Legends trip to Japan in July. UG Kondo, the entertainment director for the Japan Bowl, was in town today making arrangements for that event.

4. At a 12:30 p.m. press conference today, former Notre Dame deputy athletics director Bernard Muir (most recently AD at Georgetown) was named the AD at the University of Delaware. According to the Wilmington News-Journal, “He comes several months after Delaware announced ambitious plans to build new athletic facilities, beginning with an athletic performance center, and refurbish existing ones that will require major financial gifts.”

5. The Notre Dame Monogram Club is selling raffle tickets for a Notre Dame Football VIP Weekend Experience for the Notre Dame/USC game on Oct. 17, 2009. Only 525 tickets will be sold at $100 each. Interested parties should contact the Monogram Club Office at 574-631-5450. Details and an entry form available at: http://www.und.com/sports/monogramclub/spec-rel/042909aag.html

6. Golden Tate’s two-sport escapades at Notre Dame (football and baseball) are detailed today on espn.com by Ivan Maisel at http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=4157587

May 10, 2009

1. Notre Dame lacrosse teams batted .500 today in NCAA Championships action on their home field. After the seventh-seeded men fell 7-3 to Maryland, the sixth-seeded Irish women reversed an earlier 18-11 loss to Vanderbilt in a 19-13 win. See below for details.

2. The Irish men managed only a season-low three goals, including no shots from top goal-scorer Ryan Hoff, in a defense-dominated Maryland victory. The Terps scored twice in the first four minutes, but after a Zach Brenneman goal made it 2-1, the Irish didn’t score again for 36:31 (until a Peter Christman goal with 3:51 left in the third). By then, Maryland had run off four straight goals and led 6-1 and held on from there. The Irish had only 12 shots on goal, while goalie Scott Rodgers made 14 saves. Notre Dame ended up 15-1, with the Terp win ending the overall 15-game win streak for the Irish and their 25-game homefield win streak (both longest in the nation). Notre Dame’s senior class had never lost a home game until today.

3. Later in the afternoon, on the same Alumni Field grass in a light-to-steady rain, the Irish women broke away from a 4-4 tie with four straight goals (two by Gina Scioscia, who ended up with three goals and three assists). After Vandy cut the lead to 10-7, Notre Dame ran off seven straight goals at the end of the first half and start of the second to lead 17-7 at the 23:27 mark. Jillian Byers, Shaylyn Blaney and Kailene Abt all had four goals for the Irish. With all eight seeded teams winning at home, Notre Dame (16-4, most wins ever) now moves on to meet #3 seed North Carolina (14-4 after a 15-4 win over Towson today) Saturday in Chapel Hill.

4. Notre Dame’s baseball team barely missed a three-game sweep of first-place South Florida today, as the Bulls managed a single run in the top of the ninth for a 6-5 victory. Ryan Connelly had three hits for the Irish (now 29-20) and Jeremy Barnes hit his 10th home run. Notre Dame plays its final home game Monday night against Western Michigan.

5. Notre Dame teams finished the weekend two for five in terms of advancing in NCAA Championships play. The Irish women’s tennis (26-4) and women’s lacrosse teams (16-4) advance to further NCAA action this weekend, while Notre Dame teams in men’s tennis (13-13), women’s golf and men’s lacrosse (15-1) are done for the year.

6. Next up in NCAA Championships action is the Notre Dame softball team. The Irish (41-15), fresh off their BIG EAST Championship clinched on Saturday night, head for Ann Arbor, Mich. The Irish meet Cleveland State (35-16) Friday, with #5 national seed Michigan (41-10) and Miami (Ohio) (32-22) also competing in the double-elimination bracket. BIG EAST Conference regular-season champion DePaul received the #15 national seed and was sent to the Columbia, Mo., regional. Louisville also made the bracket and will play host to a regional that includes #9 national seed Arizona.

7. The Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal today reported that current Georgetown athletics director Bernard Muir (formerly deputy athletics director at Notre Dame) has emerged as the top candidate for the University of Delaware athletics director post.

8. Check out today’s New York Times sports section for a feature on Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse squad. The story highlights Notre Dame’s wide-ranging recruiting and the variety of places it has played games of late (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver in ’09).

May 9, 2009

1. A big day for Irish athletics – a BIG EAST title in softball, a second-round NCAA women’s tennis victory, and a second straight (and series-clinching) baseball win over BIG EAST leader South Florida. Details below. Meanwhile, Sunday could prove to be one of the biggest days in Notre Dame lacrosse history – with both the men’s and women’s teams playing host to NCAA first-round games.

2. The Irish today clinched their sixth BIG EAST softball crown with a bang – as Christine Lux made sure of the 1-0 win over 19th-ranked DePaul with a one-out diving catch at first base and doubled off DePaul pinch-runner Lynsey Ciezki at third in the bottom of the seventh.

The effort sparked one of two huge double plays for the Irish, who helped strand five Blue Demons on base behind the efforts of pitcher Brittney Bargar’s five-hitter. Bargar was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Also earning accolades for Notre Dame (41-15) were all-tournament team members Jody Valdivia, Heather Johnson, Linda Kohan and Lux. The win in Louisville gave Notre Dame its 101st BIG EAST title (the last softball title came in 2006). The Irish receive the BIG EAST’s automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Championships that start Friday. The NCAA Softball Selection Show airs tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. EDT on ESPNU.

The Irish needed just two hits to secure the win. The top of the Irish lineup in the sixth managed to score the lone run of the game on Johnson’s long RBI double to the wall. Beth Northway drew a walk two batters before Johnson’s one-out crusher to right-center and beat the throw home to score the winning run. Bargar struck out three with one walk in the win.

3. The fifth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team today punched its ticket to the NCAA round of 16 in College Station, Texas, with a 4-1 win over #17 Michigan on the Notre Dame courts. Notre Dame improved to 26-4 on the season and 12-2 in NCAA action at home. The Irish will make their eighth trip to the NCAA round of 16 – and will take on #12 seed Clemson at 7:00 p.m. EDT Friday.

The Irish clinched a 1-0 lead after battling to take the doubles point. Second-ranked Kelcy Tefft and Kristy Frilling prevailed 8-2 for Notre Dame at #1 doubles. Shannon Mathews and Colleen Rielley clinched the point for the Irish with an 8-5 comeback win at #3 doubles. Frilling put the Irish up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-1 win at #2 singles. Mathews won 6-0, 6-4 at #4 singles to give the Irish a 3-0 lead. With the Irish down at #3 singles and even at #5, Tefft stepped up to clinch the win for Notre Dame with a 6-1, 6-4 victory #1 singles.

4. Seniors Ryan Connolly, Evan Sharpley, Jeremy Barnes and, most noticeably, Sam Elam helped the Irish rally from a 6-0 deficit and secure a thrilling 7-6 victory over first-place South Florida this afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. Barnes drew a bases-loaded, game-winning walk in the bottom of the ninth inning.

With the Irish trailing 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Connolly reached to lead off when USF starting pitcher Derrick Stultz plunked him on a 3-2 pitch. Connolly then scampered to second base on a wild pitch. After Stultz retired one batter, Sharpley pinch hit and drew a walk. The Bulls went to the bullpen and junior A.J. Pollock greeted Joe Cole with a RBI single back up the middle to tie the score at 6-6. USF then elected to intentionally walk sophomore Golden Tate to load the bases with one out for Barnes. Cole proceeded to walk Barnes on four straight pitches.

Elam picked up the win in relief. The southpaw tossed 4.2 scoreless innings of dominant relief to register his first career victory. Elam yielded just two hits, one of which did not even leave the infield. He struck out four and walked four.

5. Thirty-seven strokes. Over the course of three 18-hole rounds, that’s what the Notre Dame women’s golf team would have needed to make up to advance to the NCAA Finals (the top eight teams advanced out of the three-day NCAA regional event). The Irish today shot 338 and ended up in 16th place among the 21 teams at 959. UCLA won the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio, at 877 (plus-13). Freshman Becca Huffer had Notre Dame’s top individual score of the day at 81 and she finished at 230 (76-73-81) to tie for 27th.

6. The weather forecast calls for a beautiful Mother’s Day on campus – sunny and 60 degrees. At noon on Alumni Field, Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse team will play host to Maryland – then at 4:00 p.m. the Irish women’s lacrosse squad will meet Vanderbilt.

May 8, 2009

1. Irish men’s lacrosse goalie Scott Rodgers appears in Sports Illustrated this week (the issue with Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird on the cover) in the “Faces in the Crowd” segment. This is what they wrote: “Rodgers, a senior goalie at Notre Dame, led the nation in save percentage (.663) through Sunday and was second in goals-against average (6.08). Recently named Great Western Lacrosse League player of the year, he led the second-ranked Fighting Irish to an undefeated (15–0) record, which included two wins in the league tournament.” Rodgers has been one of the feel-good stories in men’s lacrosse this year, given that he never even played in a game in 2008 and came into ’09 replacing a first-team All-American (Joey Kemp).

2. The Denver Broncos added former Notre Dame football standout and former Houston Texan running back Darius Walker to their roster Thursday. Walker was an undrafted free agent who played sparingly for the Texans in 2007, and not at all in 2008 when he split time with Houston and St. Louis. Walker in four games with the Texans in 2007 rushed for 264 yards on 58 carries and had 13 catches for 81 yards. In a 31-13 win against the Broncos on Dec. 13, 2007, Walker rushed for 66 yards on 13 carries, a 5.1-yard average. After losing seven tailbacks to injured reserve last season, the Broncos now have eight running backs on their roster: Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, LaMont Jordan, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain, Walker and undrafted rookie Kestahn Moore.

3. Two Notre Dame women’s soccer alumni and current members of the Los Angeles Sol in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) — Brittany Bock (’09) and Shannon Boxx (’99) — were named Wednesday to the 21-player U.S. National Team roster for a pair of international exhibitions (known as friendlies) against Japan later this month. The Americans will take on the Japanese at 7:30 p.m. CDT on May 20 in Frisco, Texas, at Pizza Hut Park, and again at 4 p.m. MDT on May 23 in Sandy, Utah, at Rio Tinto Stadium. The second match will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel.

4. It’s Notre Dame week starting Monday on “College Football Live,” ESPN’s half-hour, weekday afternoon college football show (3:30 p.m. EDT, Monday-Friday), with daily segments featuring interviews with various Irish players.

5. Coming soon to a Notre Dame alumni club near you! Lots of Notre Dame athletics staffers speaking at Notre Dame Celebration events this spring and summer. Here’s who is going where and when (no date listed means event already has taken place or date is TBD):
— Brian Boulac: Austin, Blue Ridge (June 14), Reading, West Texas/Eastern New Mexico (July 25)
— Mike Brey: Delaware (June 30), Philadelphia (June 30)
— Debbie Brown: Tallahassee
— Missy Conboy: Gettysburg (June 27), Jersey Shore
— John Heisler: Maine, New York City (May 20), South Jersey, Washington, D.C. (June 20)
— Bill Lewis: Houston, Idaho, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill County
— Tom Nevala: Cape Cod
— Bill Reagan: Central New Jersey (May 28), Pioneer Valley, Worcester County (June 11)
— Bill Scholl: Charlottesville, Rhode Island/SE Massachusetts (Aug. 2), Richmond (June 10), Tulsa
— Harold Swanagan: Greater Hartford, Greater Louisville (June 16), Memphis (June 9), Triple Cities
— Charlie Weis: Central Missouri, Milwaukee, Fort Wayne, Detroit, El Paso, Stuart, Fla. (May 29), North Florida (June 1), Hilton Head (June 18)
— Tony Yelovich: Hanover Township, Harrisburg, Maryland, New Haven, Southeastern Connecticut
— Chris Zorich: Northern New Jersey, San Antonio

6. Notre Dame’s men’s tennis season came to an end this afternoon in Columbus, Ohio, with a 4-1 first-round NCAA loss to Michigan. The lone Irish win came at #1 singles on a 6-3, 7-6 victory by 31st-ranked Brett Helgeson. Notre Dame’s Tyler Davis lost a straight sets match at #6 singles and both Stephen Havens (#2) and Daniel Stahl (#4) dropped split-sets singles events. The Irish dropped the #2 and #3 doubles matchups to lose the doubles point. Notre Dame finished 11-11 overall.

7. The fifth-seeded Irish women’s tennis team rolled to an easy 4-0 victory over UIC this afternoon in a first-round NCAA match at Notre Dame. The home team moves on to face Michigan (a 4-2 winner over Sacramento State) in the second round at 1:00 p.m. Saturday. The Irish never lost a set in any of the matches, with Cosmina Ciobanu at #3, Shannon Mathews at #4 and Kristen Rafael at #6 recording the single victories – while losing only a combined four games in the process.

8. Notre Dame’s women’s golf team completed its second of three 18-hole rounds today in the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio – with the Irish holding onto 16th place after a 305 team total (Notre Dame shot a 316 Thursday). UCLA leads at 574 (the Irish are at 621). Notre Dame is 19 shots away from eighth place, which is where the Irish need to be by the end of tomorrow’s round if they want to move on to the NCAA Finals. Freshman Becca Huffer shot a one-over 73 today and individually is tied for 16th at 149. Lisa Maunu had a 75 today.

9. Notre Dame’s BIG EAST Championships semifinal softball matchup against Louisville has been delayed much of the day by weather in Louisville. Check back to www.UND.com to see if the game happens yet tonight. The winner takes on #1 seed DePaul at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow on CBS College Sports for the BIG EAST crown.

May 7, 2009

1. Notre Dame’s first spring foray into NCAA play happened today in Columbus, Ohio, as the Irish women’s golf team played its first 18-hole round in the NCAA Central Regional on Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. The Irish shot 316 (plus-28), led by Becca Huffer’s 76 and So-Hyun Park’s 77, and stood 18th among the teams. Susan Holt’s team needs to finish among the top eight to advance (two more 18-hole rounds Friday and Saturday). Notre Dame’s currently 13 shots away from that eighth position

2. Next up, also in Columbus, Ohio, the Irish men’s tennis team takes on Michigan at 10:00 a.m. on Friday in a first-round NCAA match. The winner takes on the Ohio State-Xavier survivor at noon Saturday.

3. A good start for the second-seeded Irish softball team at the BIG EAST Championship in Louisville. Notre Dame defeated #7 seed St. John’s 5-1 this afternoon and now will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday against #3 seed Louisville (live on CBS College Sports). That game time is earlier than originally scheduled, after conference officials announced the semifinal time changes late Thursday due to a bleak weather forecast for Friday evening.

4. There will be a new look to the press box at Notre Dame Stadium. Now 12 years after the renovation/addition, the multiple levels are being re-painted, re-carpeted and will trade out the original television monitors for new flat-screen models.

5. Notice the radio tower disappearing this morning south of the Joyce South parking lot, just off Angela? That’s owned by Artistic Media, who purchased the former WNDU radio stations some years ago. The tower is moving to make way (eventually) for Notre Dame’s new ice hockey facility.

6. The NCAA competition on Notre Dame’s campus begins Friday morning with women’s tennis action – Notre Dame vs. UIC at 1:00 p.m. following Michigan-Sacramento State at 10:00 a.m. Winners return at 1:00 p.m. Saturday. Then on Sunday it’s an NCAA lacrosse doubleheader at Alumni Stadium – with the #2-ranked men meeting Maryland at noon, followed by the #6-seeded Notre Dame women versus Vanderbilt at 4:00 p.m. Once competition is done for the year at Alumni Field, the press box on the west side of the field will be torn down to make way for the berm on the far side of the new lacrosse facility, Arlotta Stadium. If the Irish women win, they could have a chance to play host to a quarterfinal game on May 16, but only if #3 seed North Carolina loses its Sunday home game against Towson.

7. In addition to the NCAA tennis and lacrosse action on campus, Notre Dame’s baseball team also plays a crucial three-game series Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons against first-place South Florida (USF is 17-4 in league play — compared to 11-10 for the Irish).

8. Lots of honors for Irish softball players: first-team all-BIG EAST for Beth Northway, Christine Lux and Dani Miller, second-team all-league recognition for pitchers Brittney Bargar and Jody Valdivia plus Linda Kohan – and third-team honors for Erin Marrone. Meanwhile, Lux and Marrone earned Academic All-District V honors and move on to national voting for the softball Academic All-America team. Northway was a second-team district selection on the all-academic team.

9. Notre Dame senior women’s lacrosse standout Jillian Byers has been named one of five finalists for the 2009 Tewaaraton Trophy that is presented annually to the top male and female collegiate lacrosse players in the country. The award will be presented May 28, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

10. For the sixth time in eight years, Notre Dame will be represented at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials, as incoming freshman guard Skylar Diggins has accepted an invitation from USA Basketball to compete in the USA U19 World Championship Team Trials, which will take place May 14-17 in Colorado Springs, Colo. A total of 27 players ages 19-and-under (born on or after Jan. 1, 1990) have been invited to take part in the trials, which will be used to select finalists for the 12-member team that will represent the United States at the 16-team FIBA U19 World Championship For Women, scheduled for July 23-Aug. 2 in Bangkok, Thailand. The 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team will be coached by Northern Illinois skipper (and former Notre Dame aide) Carol Owens, as well as Iowa State’s Bill Fennelly (another former Irish assistant).

11. All 26 athletics programs at Notre Dame again exceeded the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate standards — and the Irish had more teams (nine) earn perfect 1,000 scores than any other Football Bowl Subdivision program, in the fifth annual set of APR statistics issued Wednesday by the NCAA. The 2009 report features a four-year compilation of APR data from the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years. Irish men’s programs registered perfect 1,000 scores in cross country, golf, indoor track and outdoor track — while women’s programs scored 1,000 in fencing, rowing, soccer, tennis and volleyball. Near-perfect scores came in men’s lacrosse (997), women’s lacrosse (997), softball (996), women’s swimming (995), men’s ice hockey (994), men’s swimming (994), men’s soccer (993), men’s tennis (993), men’s fencing (992), women’s golf (992), and women’s cross country (990). Among Notre Dame’s most significant peer group (formerly the NCAA Division I-A football-playing schools), no other institution had more programs post perfect 1,000 scores than Notre Dame’s nine. Duke had eight, followed by Boston College and Stanford (six each), the U.S. Naval Academy (five), and Michigan (four). In the Football Bowl Subdivision, institutions with the top APR figures in football included Stanford (984), the U.S. Air Force Academy (983), Duke and Rutgers (980 each), Rice (979), the U.S. Naval Academy (978), Miami, Fla. (977), Penn State and Georgia (976 each), Notre Dame (974), Northwestern (973) and Boston College (970).

12. The Irish women’s basketball team is signed up for the 10th annual Paradise Jam Nov. 26-28 in St. Thomas (Virgin Islands). Notre Dame will face San Diego State, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

13. The Notre Dame’s women’s basketball squad heads for a 10-day excursion to France, Monaco and Italy, leaving Saturday night for Paris. The Irish play games May 11 in Paris against the French Junior National team, May 14 in Milan against GEAS Sesto San Giovanni and May 16 in Rome versus Athena Basket. You can follow the team during its tour through its official UND.com tour web page at http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/europe-blog-2009.html.

May 4, 2009

1. Crazy logistics when it comes to men’s and women’s NCAA lacrosse – especially when you consider the number of schools playing host to both men’s and women’s first-round games on the same weekend, and in three cases the same day. Check out the brackets and you’ll see that five different schools – Notre Dame, Duke, Syracuse, Princeton, North Carolina – had two teams that earned top eight national seeds and will play host to both men’s and women’s games. All the women’s games are on Sunday — and Duke and North Carolina saw their men’s teams assigned to play on Saturday. So that leaves Notre Dame, Princeton and Syracuse to plan for doubleheaders on Sunday. The men’s games all are pre-assigned start times due to television (ESPNU), so the women’s games will be slotted around them. Here are the five schools that have both men’s and women’s teams playing host to games this weekend:

Notre Dame           Men #7 (Noon Sunday)             Women #6 (4:00 p.m. Sunday)Duke                 Men #3 (7:30 p.m. Saturday)      Women #5 (2:00 p.m. Sunday)Syracuse             Men #2 (7:30 p.m. Sunday)        Women #7 (3:30 p.m. Sunday)Princeton            Men #4 (5:00 p.m. Sunday)        Women #8 (noon Sunday)North Carolina       Men #6 (2:30 p.m. Saturday)      Women #3 (1:00 p.m. Sunday)

Notre Dame’s men finished the regular season with the best defense in the nation, allowing 6.13 goals per game. The Irish were the only team in the country that did not have a single contest in which the opponent reached double figures in goals. Senior Scott Rodgers led the nation in save percentage (.663) and his 6.08 goals-against average rated second only to Siena’s Brent Herbst (6.01). Notre Dame also ranked second in scoring margin at 5.4, rating 10th in scoring at 11.53 goals per contest (Syracuse was #1 in scoring margin at 5.5, after leading the nation with 13.14 goals per game) . . . . Notre Dame has meet Maryland only three previous times, one of those a 14-11 Terp win in NCAA quarterfinal play in 1995 at College Park.

2. Serious NCAA Championship fever coming this weekend. Five Notre Dame teams will compete in the NCAAs, three of them at home on campus:
— The #7 national seed men’s lacrosse team will play host to Maryland at noon EDT Sunday on Alumni Field live on ESPNU.
— The #6 national seed women’s lacrosse team will play host to Vanderbilt at 4:00 p.m. EDT Sunday on Alumni Field, streamed live on www.und.com.
— The #4 national seed women’s tennis team will play host to UIC in a first-round match at 1:00 p.m. EDT Friday at the Courtney Tennis Center (Michigan meets Sacramento State at 10:00 a.m.). Winners meet at 1:00 p.m. Saturday.
— The men’s tennis team travels to Columbus, Ohio, for a first-round match against Michigan at 10:00 a.m. EDT Friday (Ohio State meets Xavier at 1:00 p.m.) Winners meet at noon Saturday.
— The women’s golf team also travels to Columbus, Ohio, to play 18 holes Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course in the NCAA Central Regional (one of 21 teams; top eight move on to NCAA Finals).
— And if that’s not enough for you, the Irish softball team heads to the BIG EAST Championships in Louisville this weekend where the #2-seeded Irish open play at 4:00 p.m. Thursday against #7 seed St. John’s (DePaul is the #1 seed). Notre Dame finished the regular season 19-4 in conference play, 38-15 overall. The Irish are seeking BIG EAST crown #101.

3. The Notre Dame women’s water polo club team traveled to Davis, Calif., over the weekend to play in the National Collegiate Club Water Polo Championship and came away as national runner-up. The Irish faced their first opponent Friday night in the pouring rain, defeating Central Florida 11-3, as senior Kelly Horner scored five goals. Saturday morning the Irish met the home team, University of California-Davis, in a quarterfinal game (again in the rain), overcoming a 2-0 deficit with three goals by Horner for a 3-2 victory. In the last game of the day, the Irish matched up against Oregon, with Ali Durkin scoring three goals in the 8-1 win. Back at the pool on Sunday, the Irish were set to face number-one-ranked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the national championship game. Poly came out hard with three quick goals in the first quarter and held on for a 6-4 win (all four Irish goals by Horner). Irish coach Brian Coughlin earned national coach-of-the-year honors — and four players earned all-tournament team honors (Cristina Romano and Kat Kennifer earned second-team awards, while Horner and goalie Betsy O’Neill both earned first-team awards).

4. Yes, we’re tweeting at Notre Dame, too. Fans of Notre Dame athletics now have yet another way to keep up with the Fighting Irish through the development of the nationÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½s fastest growing on-line social network, Twitter. The official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, in conjunction with the Notre Dame Sports Information Office, has created its own Twitter page where Fighting Irish fans can stay connected with all 26 varsity athletics programs on campus, as well as receive other up-to-the-second breaking news and daily updates on other pertinent topics in the world of Notre Dame athletics. Twitter is a free social networking service that allows its users to send and read updates ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ also known as “tweets.” Tweets can be received on a user’s cell phone via text or on the web. It is free to join Twitter and Notre Dame fans can easily sign up at www.twitter.com/signup or by going directly to the Fighting Irish UND.com Twitter page at twitter.com/UND_com.

May 3, 2009

1. It came by the smallest of margins, but Notre Dame now has won 100 BIG EAST Conference championships. That’s because today, for the second consecutive season, the Irish men’s track and field team won the BIG EAST Outdoor Championship, edging Louisville by half a point for the 2009 title. Notre Dame claimed the men’s title for the fifth time in seven years, while the Irish coaching staff earned their sixth outdoor BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year award. This marks the seventh consecutive year that the Irish men have won either the indoor or outdoor conference crown. After being tied for second after the second day of competition, the Irish rallied to edge Louisville 130.50-130. The Irish women finished fourth with 85.50 points, as Louisville took top team honors with 138. Connecticut finished second with 102 points, Georgetown was fourth with 91. The Irish will compete at the Georgia Tech Invitational May 15-16, before heading to the NCAA Regional May 29-30.

Here are BIG EAST performances today that merited all-conference recognition or better:
* Men’s 1500 Meters: Daniel Clark earned all-BIG EAST honors with a third-place finish in 3:45.11.
* Men’s 5000 Meters: Patrick Smyth ran 14:17.31 to finish third and earn all-league honors.
* Men’s 4×100-Meter Relay: The Irish men earned all-BIG EAST honors with a third-place time of 41.38.
* Men’s 4×400-Meter Relay: The Irish team finished second with a time of 3:11.26 to earn all-league honors.
* Men’s 4×800-Meter Relay: Notre Dame finished third in 7:26.65, earning all-BIG EAST nods.
* Men’s Pole Vault: Matt Schipper earned all-BIG EAST honors and an individual title with a first-place mark of 5.25m (17-2 3/4).
* Men’s Hammer Throw: Jeff Mensch won an individual title and earned all-conference honors with a first-place toss of 58.79m (192-10).
* Women’s 400 Meters: Joanna Schultz won an individual title and all-BIG EAST honors with a first-place time of 53.12.
* Women’s Hammer Throw: Anna Weber earned all-conference honors with a third-place toss of 57.94m (190-01).

2. Notre Dame takes a perfect 15-0 record into a first-round NCAA Championships game against Maryland (9-6) to be played at noon Sunday at Alumni Field on the Notre Dame campus. The Irish were assigned the #7 national seed. If Notre Dame wins, it would advance to play the following Saturday against the winner of the #2 Syracuse-Siena game. It’s the second straight year the Irish have played at home in the first round (a year ago as the #6 seed the Irish held off Colgate 8-7 in OT).

The Irish men’s lacrosse team defeated Ohio State 16-7 earlier today for its second straight (and final, with the Irish moving to the BIG EAST next spring) Great Western Lacrosse League Tournament title today on a beautiful sunny 70-degree day in Birmingham, Mich.

The Irish broke out from an early 3-2 advantage to score the final six goals of the opening half. David Earl’s tally at 7:21 of the second period made it 7-2, the same number of goals the Irish had managed the entire night in the semifinal versus Quinnipiac Friday. Ryan Hoff’s fourth tally advanced it to 8-2 on a man-up goal at 1:35, followed by a Peter Christman unassisted tally at 1:25 (same 9-2 score as final in ’08 GWLL title game between same two teams). Irish junior defender Sam Barnes limited lefthander Joel Dalgarno, the Buckeyes’ senior all-time scoring leader, to only a single shot in the opening half, as Notre Dame outshot the Buckeyes 27-11 in the first two periods combined.

Rookie goalie Colt Power replaced senior Scott Rodgers (10 saves) for the Irish with 9:21 to go in the game – after Notre Dame scored the first three goals of the final period to put it away. Hoff finished with a season-high six goals, while Christman added three and David Earl two (Grant Krebs had a goal and four assists).

3. Notre Dame’s women’s lacrosse team (15-4) will play host to a first-round NCAA game next Sunday (May 10) against Vanderbilt (10-6) at Alumni Field (the Irish home soccer facility). It’s the third time the Irish have been an NCAA first-round host (also in 2002 and 2006). It’s a rematch of a game earlier this season (April 15) at Vanderbilt (Vandy won 18-11).

May 2, 2009

1. The Irish men’s and women’s track and field teams are both in second place after the second day of competition at the BIG EAST Championships at Villanova. Three Notre Dame athletes won individual titles today. Mary Saxer broke the BIG EAST Championship record with a 4.20m (13-9 1/4) vault to win the women’s pole vault title. Patrick Smyth won the men’s 10,000 meters in 30:41.89 — and Jaclyn Espinoza recorded a mark of 50.80m (166-08) to win the women’s discus throw. Louisville leads the men’s teams with 104 points, followed by Connecticut and Notre Dame in second with 37. The Louisville women also sit atop the leader board with 79 points, followed by Notre Dame in second with 54 and Cincinnati third with 34.

2. After winning the BIG EAST title last weekend with victories over top-10 league foes Syracuse and Georgetown, the Irish women’s lacrosse team needed one more win to buttress their chance of playing host to a first-round NCAA game next week (the top eight seeds host – and Notre Dame currently is #6 in both the polls and the RPI). But Tracy Coyne’s team needed a dominating second-half today against #19 Cornell to overcome an early 3-0 deficit and a 7-3 second-half deficit. Senior All-American Jillian Byers paced a second-half Notre Dame rally, leading the Irish from behind to an 11-9 win. Byers, who had four goals and two assists in the game, scored three times in the second half and set up two others as Notre Dame outscored the Big Red 8-3 in the second half to run the Irish record to 15-4 on the season, equaling the program’s best record ever set in 2006. Notre Dame will find out at 10:00 p.m. tomorrow (on CBS College Sports) who and where they will be playing their opening round game on Sunday, May 10.

3. Notre Dame’s unbeaten men’s lacrosse team plays Ohio State for the Great Western Lacrosse League title Sunday, then returns home to watch the NCAA bracket revealed at 9:00 p.m. that same day on ESPNU. If the #2 Irish can defeat the Bucks for the second time in a week (and the second time in as many GWLL title games), Notre Dame (#6 in the RPI) presumably would have a great shot at 15-0 at playing host to a first-round NCAA game. Inside Lacrosse predicts the Irish will be seeded seventh and host Brown. No Irish team ever has won 15 games (14 wins in 2001 and 2008). Notre Dame lowered its best-in-the-nation defensive average to 6.07 opponents goals per game after allowing only four goals to Quinnipiac Friday night.

4. If you were listening to Erik Kuselias about 10 a.m. this morning on ESPN Radio, you would have heard him say that he rated Notre Dame 10th when asked for a 2009 preseason college football poll by prognosticator Phil Steele. Kuselias suggested the Irish would be favored in at least 10 games and possibly 11 (Purdue the question mark). Kuselias added that Notre Dame will win at least nine games and that if the Irish win 10 they definitely will be a top-10 team.

5. ESPN’s web site, espn.com, recently listed the 50 All-Time Best Buys in the NFL Draft, based on a formula that takes into account draft position and rewards points for MVP, all-pro, and rookie-of-the-year honors, as well as Super Bowl wins and losses. The poll listed San Francisco’s Jerry Rice #1, with Notre Dame’s Joe Montana (3rd round, 82nd pick) #2, Alan Page #16 (1st round, 15th pick) and Rocky Bleier #24 (16th round, 417th pick). Both Montana and Bleier were 4-0 in Super Bowls.

May 1, 2009

1. The Fighting Irish pushed their perfect men’s lacrosse record to 14-0 tonight, in an off-and-on chilly drizzle in Birmingham, Mich. Top-seeded Notre Dame trailed 1-0 midway through the opening period in its Great Western Lacrosse League semifinal versus Quinnipiac, but junior Neal Hicks tied it at the 6:25 mark on a man-up opportunity. And GWLL player of the Year Scott Rodgers (the Irish senior goaltender) and the top-rated Notre Dame defense took over from there. Junior Grant Krebs gave the Irish the lead at the :14 point of the opening period. It became 3-1 Irish at 11:10 of the second on a Nick Beattie score – and senior Duncan Swezey pushed it to 4-1 at 6:54 on an unassisted tally. Hicks made it 5-1 five seconds later coming directly out of a Quinnipiac timeout – and Notre Dame had a 31-7 edge in shots by halftime.

Notre Dame scored (Krebs again) just 67 seconds into the second half, then the Bobcats came back to cut it to 6-2 at 11:34 (matching their scoring total from the regular-season game won 10-2 by the Irish at Quinnipiac two weeks ago tonight). Hicks made it 7-2 at 12:22 of final period, but Quinnipiac answered 15 seconds later. The Bobcats scored again at 6:11 to cut the advantage to 7-4. And that’s the way it ended – so the Irish will play at noon Sunday for the GWLL Tournament title. Notre Dame ended up with a final 48-19 edge in shots – with Rodgers making 13 saves.

2. Lots more honors for lots more Notre Dame athletes and coaches . . . . The 2009 Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) all-conference teams and individual awards were announced Thursday and Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers was named the GWLL Player of the Year and Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan was tabbed as the GWLL Coach of the Year. Eight members of the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team were selected to the first or second all-conference squads.

The Fighting Irish boasted seven first-team picks. Rodgers, Ryan Hoff (Sr./A), Duncan Swezey (Sr./A), Peter Christman (Sr./M), Grant Krebs (Jr./M), Sam Barnes (Jr./D) and Regis McDermott (Sr./D) all were named to the league’s top team, while Neal Hicks (Jr./A) was a second-team selection. The eight all-league members were the most from any of the conference’s six schools. The league’s head coaches voted on the awards and all-conference teams. The eight all-GWLL performers are tied for the second-most all-time in Notre Dame history. The Fighting Irish also had eight selections in 2007. Nine picks from the 2001 campaign are the most ever for the Irish. The seven first-team nods tie the program mark, which also was achieved in ’01.

3. Junior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) and freshman Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.)) have been selected to the 2009 All-BIG EAST Conference men’s golf team. For the first time since the BIG EAST began awarding all-conference status in 1999, the all-BIG EAST squad was chosen through a vote of the conference coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.

This marks the seventh time in the past eight years (all but 2006) that Notre Dame has had more than one golfer tapped for all-BIG EAST honors. The Irish were one of three programs with multiple honorees on this year’s 11-man all-conference team, joining Louisville and Marquette in that category.

Fortner posted a team-best 74.24 stroke average in 2008-09, while collecting all-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive year. Scodro became the sixth Irish freshman to receive all-BIG EAST plaudits and the first since Cole Isban in 2004. It capped off a superb rookie season for the Chicago native, who rolled up four top-10 finishes, the most for any Notre Dame freshman in his first year since the program moved from dual matches to tournament play in 1968-69. He wound up third on the team with a 74.72 stroke average, the second-lowest single-season index recorded by an Irish freshman (minimum of 13.5 rounds) since 1954.

4. Irish women’s golfer Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) has been named the 2009 BIG EAST women’s golf Freshman of the Year. Additionally, senior captain Lisa Maunu (St. Thomas, Ontario), junior Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) and sophomore So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea) joined Huffer as members of the 2009 All-BIG EAST Conference team.

In previous seasons, the BIG EAST honored an all-tournament team based on top-10 finishes at the conference championship tournament, but the format was switched to an All-BIG EAST team for the 2009 season. The league’s coaches voted for the Player of the Year, the Freshman of the Year and the Coach of the Year, as well as for the All-BIG EAST Team.

Huffer most recently finished tied for 11th at the BIG EAST Championship. She boasts a 75.43 stroke average to go along with four top-15 finishes and two under-par rounds. 2009 marks Maunu’s third BIG EAST honor, having earned top-10 finishes in 2007 and 2008 to garner all-conference accolades in those seasons as well. Her medalist finish at the 2009 BIG EAST Championship helped ensure her spot on the 2009 All-BIG EAST team. Brophy, the 2008 BIG EAST medalist, has now earned all-BIG EAST accolades in each of her first three seasons with the Irish. She carries a 76.33 stoke average for the 2008-09 season. Park, named the program’s first All-American following her freshman campaign, earned her second all-BIG EAST honor in 2009. She finished tied with Brophy for ninth place at the 2009 conference championship. She has a team-best 75.40 stroke average through 10 events.

5. Check out the exclusive live interview with Notre Dame’s newest College Football Hall of Famer, Tim Brown, on www.und.com.

6. It’s three months until college football gets serious again, so in the meantime (assuming you are having withdrawal symptoms) we present some random facts and figures about the Irish (courtesy of Kickoff Publishing in Chattanooga):
— All-time postseason bowl appearances (through 2008 season): Notre Dame is tied for 22nd with 29 (don’t forget the self-imposed drought between 1924 and 1969 seasons). Alabama is #1 with 56, Texas #2 (48), USC and Tennessee #3 (47).
— All-time bowl victories: Notre Dame is tied for 19th with 14 (Alabama and USC are #1 with 31 each).
— All-time consecutive bowl appearance streaks: Notre Dame’s best streak of nine (1987-95) is tied for 24th best (Nebraska played in 35 straight from 1969-2003).
The Kickoff’s top 120 high school prospects for 2009: Includes Notre Dame signees Cierre Wood #18, Manti Te’o #22, Chris Watt #51, Shaquelle Evans #54, Tyler Stockton #104.
— All-time appearances in weekly Associated Press polls from 1936-2008: Michigan 754, Ohio State 753, Notre Dame 707.
The Kickoff’s top college football recruiting classes for 2009: USC #1, Georgia #2, Florida #3; Notre Dame #12.
— Players selected in the NFL Draft (1936-2008): Notre Dame 461, USC 450, Ohio State 383, Oklahoma 334, Michigan 330.
The Kickoff 2009 spring top 25: #1 Florida, #2 Oklahoma, #3 USC, #4 Texas, #5 Penn State, #22 Pittsburgh, #23 Notre Dame, #25 Michigan State.