November 29, 2009

1. Here are some postgame notes on Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen:

— Clausen eclipsed 300 yards passing (for the seventh time in 2009 – a school record. It was his 10th career 300-yard passing game, which ranks second best in Notre Dame history.

— Clausen finished the regular season with 3,722 yards and 28 TDs and four interceptions. The 3,722 yards rank as the second most in single-season school history and the 28 TDs rank third best.

— Clausen recorded his fifth TD pass of the night, third alone to junior WR Golden Tate, with 12:56 remaining in regulation. The five TD passes is a season-high and equals his career-high set last season in the Hawai’i Bowl.

— Clausen has now recorded four or more TD passes in a single game three times over his career. He is the second Irish QB in school history to post multiple games with four or more passing TDs.

— Clausen has thrown a TD pass in all 12 games this season and 13 consecutive games when you include the 2008 Hawai’i Bowl.

— Clausen has registered multiple TD passes in 10 of Notre Dame’s 12 games this season. In fact, he has 20 multiple TD passing games in his career – all of which have occurred in the last 28 games for the Irish.

2. Kyle McCarthy surpassed the 100-tackle mark for the second consecutive season. He is the only Irish defensive back to surpass 100 tackles in one season and he has now done it in back-to-back seasons.

3. Some updates on Golden Tate include:
— Tate finished the Stanford game with a career-high 10 receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns. The 10 receptions was a career high and his 201 yards receiving were the second most in his career.

— Tate is the first Irish wideout to eclipse 200 or more yards receiving in a game on more than one occasion. His 201 yards rank seventh best in single-game school history.

— Tate finishes the regular season with 1,496 yards, 15 receiving touchdowns and 18 overall touchdowns.

— He also finishes with 1,915 all-purpose yards, which is the second most in single-season school history. Only Tim Brown (1986, 1,937) has ever had more in one year.

— He hauled in his third TD reception of the evening with 12:56 remaining in regulation to push Notre Dame’s lead to 38-30. The TD reception was Tate’s 15th of the season and 26th of his career. He has now recorded a touchdown reception in eight consecutive games – equally former All-American Jeff Samardzija’s school record for consecutive games with a touchdown catch. Tate has recorded a touchdown, either receiving, rushing or punt return, in 11 straight games. He has a touchdown in all but one game this season. C.J. Spiller of Clemson is the only FBS player to score a TD in every game this year.

— Tate’s 15 TD receptions this season equal Samardzija (2005) and Rhema McKnight (2005) for most in a single year in Irish history.

— Tate’s 18 total TDs this year rank tied for second in single-season Notre Dame history. In Notre Dame football history, only Jerome Bettis (1991, 20) has scored more TDs in a single year.

— Tate’s three receiving TDs against Stanford rank were a season high and equaled his career high set last season in the Hawai’i Bowl. It also is tied for second-most in single-season school history. He is the second Notre Dame wide out to ever post multiple games with three or more receiving TDs.

— Tate has recorded two or more TD receptions in four games this season and six times in his career.

— Already the owner of the most catches and receiving yards in single-season history, Tate surpassed the Notre Dame school record for career receiving yards – surpassing Samardzija’s total of 2,593. He also eclipsed 100 yards receiving for the ninth time in 2009. The nine 100-yard receiving games this year break Tom Gatewood’s (1970) school record for most in a single year. Tate already holds the career record for 100-yard receiving games with 15.

4. The Notre Dame hockey team gave up 2-0 and 3-2 leads while Bowling Green surrendered a 4-3 edge in the third period as the Irish and Falcons battled to a 4-4 tie on Saturday night at the Joyce Center. Bowling Green picked up an extra point in the standings with a 1-0 shoot-out win. Notre Dame was led by junior left wing Calle Ridderwall who recorded his first collegiate hat trick, scoring twice on the power play and senior Ryan Thang scored the tying goal in the third period. Sophomore Billy Maday had a hand in all four Irish goals, turning in the first four-point game of his career with four assists. Notre Dame out shot Bowling Green 37-25 in the game. Junior goaltender Nick Eno made 33 saves for the Falcons while junior Brad Phillips gave up all four Falcon goals while making 13 saves in 50:12. Freshman Mike Johnson finished out regulation, overtime and the shoot-out, making eight saves in 14:41. The tie gives Notre Dame a 7-5-4 overall record and a 4-2-4-2 record in the CCHA, good for 18 points in the league standings. The Falcons are 2-10-2 overall and 2-6-2-2 in conference play, good for 10 points. The tie also extended Notre Dame’s unbeaten streak to 18 games (16-0-2) versus the Falcons since the start of the 2005-06 season.

5. Freshman Skylar Diggins scored 16 points and #5 Notre Dame used a 20-0 run in the second half to beat #20 Oklahoma 81-71 on Saturday and win the Island Division of the Paradise Jam. Notre Dame (6-0) trailed 51-48 when its defense kicked in, triggering the big run that resulted in a 68-51 lead. The Sooners (4-2), with leading scorer Danielle Robinson on the bench with four fouls, went zero for eight from the field and committed eight turnovers during the run. Robinson, who finished with 26 points, got the Sooners within 73-63 by scoring 10 during a 12-5 run. But Oklahoma couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way. Diggins was the tournament MVP, while Brittany Mallory added 15 points for Notre Dame. Ashley Barlow scored 12 points and Lindsay Schrader had 11.

6. Luke Harangody scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, and #23 Notre Dame bounced back to beat Saint Louis 64-52 Saturday for third place in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. The Irish (6-1) also got 14 points from Ben Hansbrough, who’d managed only four on one-for-10 shooting a night earlier. Harangody is now two points shy of becoming the seventh 2,000-point scorer in Irish history. Harangody connected on his first three-point attempt of the game to start the second half — he’d been zero for six from long range Friday night. He then took a pass on the break and made a nice spin in the lane before hitting a layup as the Irish quickly expanded a three-point halftime lead to eight just over a minute into the half. Saint Louis got to within one when Kwamain Mitchell hit three straight baskets, but Harangody hit two of his own and Tim Abromaitis dropped in four free throws – two after a technical on Mitchell – to put Notre Dame up nine. Harangody picked up his fourth foul with 5:43 left and the Irish up by seven. Mitchell then hit a three-pointer to pull the Billikens within four. Notre Dame stretched the lead as Hansbrough hit a driving basket, Abromaitis a three-pointer and Harangody a jumper that put the Irish up 10 with just under two minutes remaining. Harangody, who struggled with his shooting Friday night while scoring 21 in the loss to Northwestern, was off again in the first half, missing five of seven attempts. He was scoreless before hitting a jumper with five minutes left that ended a six-minute Irish scoring drought.

7. Kristen Dealy had 12 kills and 12 digs to pace Notre Dame in a non-conference volleyball battle between a pair of ranked teams in front of 3,875 fans Saturday evening at the O’Connell Center. But in the end, #25 Notre Dame dropped the 3-1 (25-13, 27-29, 25-15, 25-9) decision to 15th-ranked Florida while also receiving 10 kills from Christina Kaelin. The defeat was Notre Dame’s third this season at the hands of a Southeastern Conference squad, after dropping contests to Tennessee and regular-season league champion LSU earlier this season. After finishing the regular season with a 21-6 record (14-0 BIG EAST) and the BIG EAST Conference’s regular-season title, Notre Dame now looks ahead to the NCAA Tournament. The brackets announced today send the Irish to Ann Arbor, Mich., where Notre Dame will take on Ohio University (26-6) in a first-round match. The winner of that one would meet the winner of #13 seed Michigan (24-9) versus Niagara (23-8).

8. In the NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup n Friday at Texas A&M, Stanford (24-0) will meet UCLA (21-2-1) at 5:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2, followed by Notre Dame versus North Carolina (both 21-3-1) at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPNU. The title game is Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Notre Dame was the #2 seed in its bracket, while the other three teams all were #1 seeds.

9. Notre Dame’s final regular-season average of 323.5 passing yards per game ranks second in Irish football history behind the 330.3 figure from 2005.

10. Notre Dame ranks fifth nationally in passing, 10th in total offense (451.75). Jimmy Clausen is second in passing efficiency at 161.42 (behind Boise State’s Kellen Moore at 168.74) and ninth in total offense (302.25 per game). Golden Tate is fourth in receiving yards per game (124.67), seventh in receptions per game (7.75), 13th in scoring (9.0 points per game, best by a wide receiver).

11. Notre Dame’s 2009 football schedule currently rates 47th in terms of difficulty at .524 (64-58). Among the ’09 Irish opponents — as far as schedule difficulty — Connecticut finished 20th, Washington 25th, Michigan State 27th, Pittsburgh 32nd, Washington State 38th, USC 40th, Purdue 56th, Stanford 7th, Navy 80th, Boston College 81st, Michigan 83rd, Nevada 101st. And here’s an early look at the 2010 Irish agenda:

Purdue 5-7 in 2009
Michigan 5-7
Michigan State 6-6
Stanford 8-4
Boston College 8-4
Pittsburgh 9-2
Western Michigan 5-7
Navy 8-4
Tulsa 5-7
Utah 9-3
Army 5-6
USC 8-3
Totals 81-60 (.574)

12. ABC Sports/ESPN had access to Notre Dame’s four road games in ’09 and those four games were decided by an average of 4.75 points, with these endings:
* Michigan – The Wolverines completed the game-winning TD toss with 11 seconds left in the 38-34 Michigan win.
* Purdue – Jimmy Clausen threw a two-yard TD pass for Kyle Rudolph with 25 seconds left in the 24-21 Irish win.
* Pittsburgh – Clausen fumbled at his own 28 with 2:10 left in the 27-22 Pitt win, as the Panthers ran out the clock.
* Stanford – Clausen threw incomplete into the end zone from the Stanford 31 on the final play of the game in the 45-38 Stanford win.

November 28, 2009

1. Second-seeded Notre Dame scored two goals in a 51-second span to topple top-seeded Florida State, 2-0, in front of a capacity crowd Friday afternoon at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee. With the win, the Irish advance to the College Cup for the fourth consecutive year and the fifth time in the past six seasons. It also marks the 11th time in program history that the Irish will play in the NCAA Championship final four. Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson took advantage of a loose ball in the box to give the Irish a 1-0 lead at 38:35. Less than a minute later, Haley Ford rose above the pack to head home a Rose Augustin corner kick, providing the final 2-0 victory margin. Nikki Weiss turned in an impressive performance in the Irish net that included five saves for her seventh solo shutout of the season. “We’re so excited about winning and getting a chance to go to College Station,” head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I think when you look around the country the eight teams to get this far are about what we all expected so we had beat a really good team today. I was really proud of the job our girls did here today, especially on the road. It was a really great win.” With the win, Notre Dame advances to 2009 NCAA College Cup in College Station, Texas and a rematch with North Carolina, which will take place Friday (Dec. 4) at the Aggie Soccer Complex at Texas A&M (time TBA). The win marked the 19th straight for the Irish, while it ended the Seminoles’ 18-match home winning streak (dating back to last season) and it also marked FSU’s first ever postseason home game loss (18-1-0). The Irish (21-3-1) and the Seminoles (19-5-1) finished even in shots, as each team took 14. Notre Dame put three shots on net and Seminole goalkeeper Erin McNulty made one save, while Florida State had five shots on frame, all of which were turned aside by Weiss. Both teams also took five corner kicks.

2. Notre Dame snatched a dramatic overtime hockey win from the jaws of a potential shoot-out on Friday night as Ian Cole chopped a rebound of his own shot off Bowling Green goaltender Nick Eno’s pads with 2.4 seconds left on the clock for a 2-1 win in overtime. Cole’s goal, his first of the season, snapped a 1-1 tie that saw the Falcons score on their first shot of the game, with freshman Nathan Pageau beating Irish goaltender Mike Johnson just 16 seconds into the game. Notre Dame answered back with a Kyle Palmieri power-play goal in the second period to even the score. From there the goaltenders held each team at bay as Johnson stopped the remaining 20 shots he faced in the game for Notre Dame while Eno finished with 31 saves as the Irish peppered him with 33 shots in the contest. The win improves Notre Dame to 7-5-3 overall and 4-2-3-2 in the CCHA, good for 17 points in the league standings. Bowling Green falls to 2-10-1 on the year and 2-6-1-1 in conference action. The Irish victory also extended the team’s winning streak to 13 straight in the series and the unbeaten run to 17 games (16-0-1) since the 2005-06 campaign. In the second period, Notre Dame capitalized on its second power-play chance of the night, scoring on a five-on-three man advantage. Junior center Ben Ryan, who assisted on both goals in the game, moved the puck from the left boards to Riley Sheahan in near the right circle. Sheahan served up to Palmieri at the top of the left circle where he blasted a shot past Eno at 4:07 for his fifth goal of the season and his third in as many games to even the score at 1-1. With a standing room only crowd of 2,857 on Friday night, Notre Dame has recorded sellouts (2,713) in seven of its first 10 games this year.

3. John Shurna scored a career-high 25 points and freshman Alex Marcotullio made a pair of key three-pointers in the second half Friday night as Northwestern beat #23 Notre Dame 72-58 in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. Northwestern built a 12-point lead in the second half before the Irish (5-1) rallied. They were within one when Marcotullio sank a three-pointer. When Notre Dame chopped it to 58-56, Marcotullio hit another three-pointer with two minutes left. Shurna then worked his way inside for a basket with a minute remaining and Michael Thompson dropped in four free throws in the final 48 seconds to secure the victory. Luke Harangody led Notre Dame with 21 points. Notre Dame, playing for the first time this season away from home, shot only 32 percent. Ben Hansbrough was one for 10 from the field and missed all seven of his three-point attempts. Northwestern, trying to recover from losing scoring leader Kevin Coble to a season-ending foot injury, used its typical screening, back-cut, work-the-clock offense. The Wildcats also slowed the Irish down with a 1-3-1 half-court zone defense that allowed them to surround Harangody. Thompson hit a 3-pointer and drove for a basket, Jeremy Nash sank a three, Luka Mirkovic worked inside for a basket and Shurna also scored during a 12-0 run that opened up a 50-38 lead with 12 minutes to go. The Irish then caught up by picking up their defense and getting to the line. Harangody made four free throws, Carleton Scott dunked, Tim Abromaitis hit a three-pointer, Scott made two free throws and Harangody had a layup in a 13-2 run that cut it to 52-51 with just over seven minutes left. Marcotullio ended Northwestern’s three-minute drought with a three-pointer and added two free throws to extend the lead to six. Abromaitis hit a three-pointer to make it 58-54 and the Irish missed three straight three-point attempts on the same possession. But after the Irish blocked a layup attempt by Shurna, Abromaitis worked free for a layup and Northwestern’s lead was down to 58-56 with 2:18 remaining. But Marcotullio, who finished with 13 points, connected again from beyond the arc to rescue the Wildcats. Northwestern led 30-27 at the half.

4. Melissa Lechlitner scored 15 points to lead four Notre Dame players in double figures, and the #5 Fighting Irish defeated South Carolina 78-55 in the Paradise Jam on Friday. Ashley Barlow scored 14 points for Notre Dame (5-0). Skylar Diggins contributed 12 points and Becca Bruszewski had 11. Notre Dame went on a 15-2 run midway through the first half and led by as many as 17 points at 40-23. After South Carolina pulled to within six early in the second half, the Irish reeled off an 11-0 run and cruised from there. Notre Dame takes on #20 Oklahoma today. Lechlitner, a 5-7 guard, hit six of 12 shots, including a pair of three-pointers.

5. Lots more action today. The Irish football team kicks off at Stanford at 8:00 p.m. EST (either ABC or ESPN2). Men’s basketball meets Saint Louis at 5:30 p.m. EST in the Chicago Invitational Challenge third-place game. Women’s basketball takes on Oklahoma at the Paradise Jam at 3:15 p.m. EST. Hockey plays host to Bowling Green at 7:05 p.m. EST. And volleyball plays at Florida at 7:30 p.m. EST.

6. The Irish football squad held a special-team meeting at 10 a.m. on Friday, went though 45-minute offensive and defensive meetings, then conducted a half-hour walk-through inside the Loftus Center. All that came prior to the team’s 2:15 p.m. EST flight to San Francisco. The Notre Dame party will fly back to South Bend immediately after tonight’s game, arriving in the pre-dawn hours.

November 22, 2009

1. Snippets from Charlie Weis’ media briefing today included:

— On this week — “The most important thing for Coach Weis and the coaching staff is to do all we can do to give our players the best plan to try to beat Stanford. We need to do what we do on a weekly basis and move forward.”

— On Connecticut – “There were different facets of the game I was disappointed with at different times. Our rush defense seemed to be going OK until the fourth period and then our rushing defense wasn’t any good. The passing game starts off hot – Jimmy’s 12 of 15 – but it still comes down to producing TDs. We’re down in the red zone six times and it’s three TDs and that’s not sufficient enough in a game like that. Our kickers were the highight in an area that has been a lowlight lately. Then we gave up a 31-yard punt return and a 97-yard KO return. So there were highs in the games and then some critical errors – and that’s the difference between winning and losing.”

— On the prospect of a coaching change – “If they decide to make a change I’d have a tough time arguing with that because 6-5 is not good enough. My intent is to be there, but if that’s the rationale it would be tough for me to argue with that.”

— On the prospect of his resignation – “That’s not happening.”

— On the Irish season – “I’m the head football coach. Who else is responsible? Ultimately it falls on my shoulders.”

— On this week’s challenge – “I’m worried about getting my players up again to go on the road and play another tough opponent. That’s where my energies have to go until we get through the Stanford game.”

— On playing Stanford – “Stanford is the only team we haven’t lost to since I’ve been here. Our players have been able to rally back against every other team we’ve played, so there’s no reasons to think it won’t happen again.”

— On where recruiting stands — “If there’s uncertainty it’s up to all of us to make sure recruiting goes full speed ahead because that’s the lifeline.”

2. All 33 Irish football seniors left the locker room yesterday with their individual framed and numbered jersey, with an inscription that thanked them for their contributions, from Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame football program.

3. Meeting in the BIG EAST Championship for the fifth time in as many seasons, top-seeded Notre Dame and fourth-seeded Louisville went head-to-head and put on a show in the semifinals of the 2009 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship Saturday afternoon at the Kentucky International Convention Center. With the home crowd behind them, Louisville upset the Fighting Irish, 3-2 (24-26, 25-16, 18-25, 25-16, 15-13) in the first match of the tournament that went five sets. No. 23 Notre Dame (21-5) saw its 15-match winning streak snapped but received a solid outing from Kristen Dealy, who led the team with 23 kills. Louisville native Christina Kaelin added 17 and Frenchy Silva scooped 17 shots for the Irish. Notre Dame travels to Florida next Saturday (Nov. 28) for a single match in Gainesville.

4. No. 5 Notre Dame used defense to overcome a complacent offense and beat Iona 80-45 today. Irish coach Muffet McGraw said a one-point victory over No. 21 Michigan State on Thursday as well as the team’s upcoming games at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands may have been to blame for Notre Dame’s sluggish offense. “I think we were just a little lackadaisical,” she said. “I think we got up 11-2 and said, `Let’s pack our bags, we’re going to the Virgin Islands. Whose got the sun screen?”‘ The Irish shined defensively, though, particularly in the second half when the Irish (3-0) held the Gaels (2-2) to 29 percent shooting. Notre Dame also forced 33 turnovers for the game, leading to 34 points off of turnovers. Skylar Diggins, who led the Irish with 17 points, said the goal for the Irish defense was to try to slow Iona from getting the ball upcourt quickly. They also wanted to keep the ball away from Anna McLean, who entered the game averaging 16.7 points and 13 rebounds. Notre Dame forward Becca Bruszewski, who scored 14, held McLean to 10 points and six rebounds. Iona coach Anthony Bozzella said the Gaels knew the Irish were going to press them but couldn’t do anything about it. “Not to take anything away from Notre Dame, but I think we made some poor decisions,” he said. “I’m disappointed in that.” The Irish dominated from the start, going ahead 11-2 in less than 3 minutes when Lindsay Schrader scored on a layup. They extended the lead to 27-11 when Brittany Mallory hit a 3-pointer, and the Gaels (2-2) never got closer than 12.

5. Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team won three races Saturday during the second day of Indiana’s Hoosierland Invitational. Samantha Maxwell continued her impressive streak of breaststroke performances with an individual win in the 100 version of the event and Kim Holden tacked on a victory in the 100 fly – to go with a win by the 200 medley relay squad. Then Kim Holden and Katie Casey each recorded NCAA B-cut performances today on the final day of the Invitational, as the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team won four events to wrap up the meet. The Irish will have to wait until Jan. 9 for their next dual meet, a home affair with Northwestern at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. The program will head to Hawaii after Christmas for its annual winter training trip, after compiling these results today: 1,650 Freestyle: Gracie Fredlake turned in the top Irish performance in the endurance event and took home the third-place medal in 16:59.07 … Jaime Malandra came in fifth with her time of 17:10.87 to complete a strong showing for the freshman distance swimmers. 200 Backstroke: Holden blazed to first place in an NCAA B-cut qualifying time as she stormed the field in 1:57.98 to win by nearly four seconds … Megan Farrell swam to a fifth place finish in 2:04.69. 100 Freestyle: Amywren Miller led the charge of an Irish dominated championship final heat … she swam to gold in a swift time of 50.27 … Delia Cronin (51.30) and Farrell (51.86) helped complete the 1-2-3 sweep for the Irish … Kellyn Kuhlke (52.02), Zeina Shanata (52.28) and Lauren Scott (53.15) placed fifth through seventh place, respectively. 200 Breaststroke: Samantha Maxwell took charge of the competition as she dominated the race to take first-place honors for the Irish in the distance breaststroke … her time of 2:17.12 bested the second place finisher by a solid two seconds … Ashlee Edgell stopped the clock at 2:21.83 for fifth-place honors. 200 Butterfly: Fesenko of Indiana came away with the victory, but Casey turned in a strong performance of 1:59.46 to take the silver in the race … Casey’s time was also an NCAA B-cut … Kuhlke (2:05.04), Emily Barton (2:09.58), Scott (2:10.17) and Shanata (2:10.19) finished in the top eight spots. 400 Freestyle Relay: The squad of Holden, Farrell, Cronin and Miller finished out the meet for the Irish in fine fashion, taking gold medal honors in a strong time of 3:25.76 … Shanata, Kuhlke, Fredlake and Meg Reynolds teamed together to help round out the medal podium for third with a time of 3:31.36. 1-meter: Natalie Stitt (276.05) was fifth, Heidi Grossman (275.85) was sixth and Jenny Chiang (261.20) was eighth. 3-meter: Chiang posted a career-high 335.55 for third place … Grossman (317.60) and Stitt (312.50) also recorded season-highs … the meet’s diving field featured Olympian Christina Loukas and several 2009 NCAA finalists … Notre Dame qualified each of its three divers for the NCAA Zone meet this spring.

6. Three Notre Dame men’s soccer players have received national accolades from TopDrawerSoccer.com. Seniors Bright Dike and Michael Thomas were named to the national first team, while freshman Dillon Powers was a second-team all-rookie selection.

7. Brady Quinn completed 21 of 33 passes for 304 yards and four TDs (and no interceptions) but it wasn’t enough — as Detroit scored a TD on an untimed down with no time left (after an interference call in the end zone) and defeated Cleveland 38-37 today.

8. The NCAA announced tonight that Notre Dame’s quarterfinal match at Florida State in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship will be played Friday, Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. (ET) at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, Fla. The winner of Friday’s contest will earn a spot in the NCAA Women’s College Cup, to be held Dec. 4 & 6 in College Station, Texas.

9. Luke Harangody scored 32 points, making all 10 of his free throws, to lead Notre Dame to a 91-72 victory over Liberty tonight in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. The Flames (1-4) were able to keep the game close throughout the first half, trailing 47-39 at halftime, but Harangody scored three straight baskets to cap a 9-0 run early in the second half and give the Irish (4-0) a 56-40 lead. Not long after that, the Irish used a 10-0 run to open a 77-49 lead on a pair of free throws by Tory Jackson. Kyle Ohman led Liberty with 13 points, Evan Gordon scored 12 and David Minaya had 11. Tim Abromaitis and Tyrone Nash had 12 points each for Notre Dame. Harangody scored 20 points in the first half on 4-of-7 shooting, then made his first five shots from the floor to open the second half. He finished 10-of-14 from the floor and added nine rebounds. The Irish had a 38-32 rebounding advantage and outscored the Liberty 40-28 in the paint. The Irish also forced 12 turnovers in the second half and 19 for the game, leading to 23 Notre Dame points off turnovers. Jackson had three steals for the Irish and Ohman had six turnovers for Liberty. The game gave Irish coach Mike Brey a chance to get more time for some reserves, as 10 of the 12 players who got in for Notre Dame scored. Notre Dame used runs of 10-2 and 7-1 in the first half to move ahead 35-25 when Ben Hansbrough hit a 3-pointer with 5:45 left in the first half.

10. Notre Dame fencers Sarah Borrmann and Avery Zuck claimed gold medals at Penn State’s annual Garrett Open and 13 other Irish fencers turned in top-10 finishes in their respective weapons at the two-day event. Notre Dame’s other medalists included Hayley Reese, who took the silver in women’s foil, and Enzo Castellani, who earned the bronze in men’s foil.

11. The No. 19 Notre Dame men’s soccer team fell to No. 18 Northwestern 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA Championship this afternoon at Lakeside Field in Evanston. The Fighting Irish out shot the Wildcats 21-8 yet saw their season end with an 11-8-4 record. Northwestern (11-4-4) is the ninth seed in the tournament, while Notre Dame was unseeded. Jack Hillgard scored two goals for the Wildcats, while Piero Bellizzi had the third tally. Senior defender John Schaefer netted the lone Irish goal.

12. Michigan State saw its eight-game unbeaten streak come to an end in a 4-1 loss to Notre Dame on this afternoon in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Spartans’ lone goal came from sophomore Daultan Leveille in the first period, as the MSU offense fell victim for the second straight game to a disruptive Notre Dame defense. The Spartans fall to 9-3-2 overall and 6-2-2-0 in conference play. Notre Dame is 6-5-3, 3-2-3-2 in conference play. The Spartans outshot the Irish by a 26-16 margin, but watched the Irish tie up bodies in front for loose pucks and block passing lanes, preventing MSU from getting much of anything going all afternoon. Notre Dame, which has struggled offensively in the early part of the season, wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Kevin Deeth carried the puck into the Irish offensive zone, and dished off to Calle Ridderwall just above the left circle. Ridderwall’s shot eluded the glove hand of goalie Drew Palmisano for the winger’s seventh goal of the season just 4:24 into the game. The Irish took a 2-0 lead at 13:22, a second after a man advantage expired. Dan Kissel’s shot was saved by Palmisano, and the rebound came off the back wall and into the left circle. The MSU defenseman could not corral the loose puck, and Kyle Palmieri was just inside the dot in the left circle to collect it and send it back netward; his shot went into the upper right corner. The Spartans jumped right back to cut the lead in half 38 seconds later with a Leveille tally at the 14-minute mark. Zach Josepher did a nice job of keeping the puck in the zone and sent it netward; the shot was saved, and pushed out into the left circle. Leveille jumped on it at the bottom of the circle and sent a sharp-angle shot into the upper right corner to pull MSU within 2-1. Notre Dame went back up by a pair midway through the second – after a pair of shots were saved by Palmisano, and Kyle Lawson finally gathered the puck in the left circle, held it, then dished it to Riley Sheahan in the high slot. Sheahan’s blast went blocker-side on Palmisano, giving the hosts a 3-1 lead they would bring into the second intermission. The Spartans limited the Irish to just five shots in the third period, but were forced to pull Palmisano with more than a minute remaining to try to pull closer; Notre Dame got an empty-net tally from Deeth with 55 seconds remaining for the final 4-1 margin.

November 21, 2009

1. The Notre Dame athletic program ranks number one with an overall 99 percent graduation rate to lead all other Football Bowl Subdivision programs, according to the fifth year of Graduation Success Rate measurements developed and released this week by the NCAA. Notre Dame’s overall 99 GSR in 2009 for all its student-athletes represents its highest figure ever – after it tied for first in both 2008 and 2007 and rated second in 2006, all three years at 98. The combined four-year rating in 2009 includes student-athletes from all sports who enrolled at the institution from 1999-2002. Here are the top 20 FBS program scores (and ties) in ’09: 1. Notre Dame 99; 2. U.S. Naval Academy 98; 3. (tie) Duke, Northwestern 97; 5. Boston College 96; 6. (tie) Stanford, Vanderbilt 94; 8. (tie) Rice, Wake Forest 93; 10. U.S. Military Academy 92.

2. Just prior to the presentation of the colors today, a moment of silence will be observed in memory of Connecticut defensive back Jasper Howard, who lost his life last month.

3. Junior midfielder Rose Augustin scored her seventh goal of the season in the 62nd minute, as fifth-ranked (and second-seeded) Notre Dame advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the sixth consecutive year with a hard-fought 1-0 win over upset-minded Oregon State on last night before a boisterous crowd of 1,500 fans at Alumni Stadium. With the victory, the Fighting Irish (20-3-1) set up yet another rematch with Florida State deep in the NCAA Championship, as the teams will square off in the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, with all four meetings coming in the quarterfinals (final eight) or later. In another ironic twist, all four games will have been played at different locations, with the national semifinal encounters played at neutral sites in 2006 (Cary, N.C. – ND 2-1) and 2007 (College Station, Texas – FSU 3-2), while last year’s quarterfinal match (ND 2-0) took place at old Alumni Field. This season’s final-eight showdown — a battle of the top two seeds in this quadrant of the NCAA Championship bracket — is slated for the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, Fla., next weekend, although the exact date and time of the quarterfinal have not yet been announced. Augustin’s goal was her third career game-winner in NCAA tournament play, and it was made possible by a brilliant individual effort from sophomore forward Melissa Henderson, who picked up a point for the fourth consecutive game and now has 21 points (9G-2A) in the postseason this year.

4. Christina Kaelin and Serinity Phillips each pounded 12 kills as Notre Dame picked up a 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-19) win over Seton Hall during yesterday’s quarterfinal action of the 2009 BIG EAST Conference Volleyball Championship at the Kentucky International Convention Center. The Irish (21-4) now play the winner of the final quarterfinal match between fourth-seeded Louisville and fifth-seeded Syracuse. Today’s semifinal match for the Irish starts at 3:30 p.m. (ET). No. 23 Notre Dame, the tournament’s top seeded team, recorded its 11th sweep of the season and made quick work of the eighth-seeded Pirates (12-19), who struggled from the field with a .094 hitting percentage.

5. The Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team won four of five events yesterday at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center to kick off the Hoosierland Invitational hosted by Indiana. The Irish posted a number of season-best performances across the board in each event. The event is not being scored as unattached and independent athletes are competing in the meet. Here are results: 200 Freestyle Relay: The Irish earned first- and third-place honors … the quartet of Lauren Scott, Kellyn Kuhlke, Delia Cronin and Amywren Miller finished first in a time of 1:33.29 … the efforts of Meg Reynolds, Keri Masterson, Gina Mancini and Samantha Maxwell resulted in a third place finish with a time of 1:37.46. 500 Freestyle: Gracie Fredlake and Jaime Malandra finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with times of 4:54.64 and 4:58.70 … Lauren Sylvester placed four in the second heat in 5:05.50. 200 Individual Medley: Ashlee Edgell touched first to claim gold in 2:02.42 … the Irish then claimed the third, fourth and fifth spots with performances from Megan Farrell (2:04.96), Zeina Shanata (2:05.27) and Emily Barton (2:05.74). 50 Freestyle: The Irish placed five swimmers in the final heat … Miller took the win, stopping the clock at 23.12 … Scott (23.72), Kuhlke (23.77), Delia Cronin (23.85) and Reynolds (24.49) finished second, third, fifth and eighth, respectively. 400 Medley Relay: Kim Holden, Maxwell, Kuhlke and Miller finished the night of with a Notre Dame victory in 3:42.19 … Masterson, Lizzy Gormley, Scott and Cronin finished third overall in 3:49.22.

6. In town for today’s football game – former Irish offensive lineman Dan Santucci, currently on injured reserve with the NFL Cincinnati Bengals with a left foot injury. He began training camp as the #2 Bengals center, then suffered the injury early in camp.


November 20, 2009

Nineteen of 22 athletics programs at the University of Notre Dame compiled graduation rates of 100 percent, and none were below 93 percent, according to the fifth year of Graduation Success Rate measurements developed by the NCAA and released today.

None of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) programs in the country had a higher percentage of 100 GSR scores than did Notre Dame with its .863 figure (19 of 22). This marked the fourth time in the five years of the survey that Notre Dame has ranked number one in percentage of teams with 100 scores.

Here are the top institutions in that category (these are the only 11 institutions with 50 or more percent of their sports registering 100 marks):

Institution Percentage 100 Scores/Sports Rated
1. Notre Dame .863 19/22
2. Boston College .785 22/28
3. Northwestern .736 14/19
4. Wake Forest .714 10/14
5. Stanford .592 16/27
6. Duke .590 13/22
7. SMU .533 8/15
8. U.S. Naval Academy .500 10/20
Rice .500 6/12
Tulane .500 6/12
Bowling Green .500 9/18

NCAA figures released today showed that all 11 Irish women’s programs posted a GSR of 100 percent — basketball, cross country/track, fencing, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming/diving, tennis and volleyball.

Among Notre Dame’s men’s sports, baseball, basketball, cross country/track, fencing, golf, lacrosse, soccer, and swimming/diving achieved 100 percent GSR scores. Ice hockey scored 96 percent, football scored 96 percent, and tennis was at 93.

Overall, that’s the exact same number of perfect scores as a year ago (also 19 of 22 sports) for the Irish programs, after Notre Dame recorded 18 100 percent GSR scores (of 22) in 2007.

In football, among the FBS programs, Notre Dame and Duke shared the top score at 96, the Naval Academy was at 93, Northwestern 92, and Boston College and Vanderbilt both at 91.

2. Seven Notre Dame staffers and six NBC Sports staff members – including president Ken Schanzer and Rob Hyland (he produces the Notre Dame football games) – spent five hours at Yankee Stadium Tuesday looking at logistics for next November’s Notre Dame-Army football game, the first football game ever to be played at the Yankees’ new home. The field will run from home plate to center field, with broadcast positions and coaching booths to be located on the suite level. Just a few weeks after the World Series ended, the linescore boards in front of the two bullpens still featured the inning-by-inning results of the Yanks’ 7-3 win in Game Six. While touring the clubhouse facilities, the group spied Yankeee pitcher Mariano Rivera seated in front of his locker, signing baseballs. The World Series nameplates still remained above the Yankee lockers. The good news for fans is that the Stadium is an easy D train subway ride from midtown Manhattan to the 161st Street stop.

3. Introduced at timeouts during the Notre Dame-Connecticut game will be the senior student football managers, senior athletic student trainers, football video assistants and football office assistants. The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team also will be recognized at the first timeout for its 15-1 season and other accolades during a record-setting 2009 season.

4. The pep rally Friday night at Irish Green features all 33 senior Irish players in attendance – with senior captains Kyle McCarthy, Scott Smith and Eric Olsen slated to speak. Also on the speaking list is former Irish captain Mike Golic.

5. For the final two home football games of the 1960 Notre Dame season, a new sergeant from the Indiana State Police began delivering the safety message near the end of Irish games. Now in his 50th season in that role, Tim McCarthy has become a legendary figure at home games at Notre Dame Stadium. His quick wit and homespun puns are now eagerly anticipated by young and old alike in his customary time slot in the second half. He’ll be honored at the end of the third period Saturday with a framed montage of photos from his years at Notre Dame – and he’ll then deliver his message live from the field.

6. Thanks to Ashley Barlow, Notre Dame withstood a tough test on the road. Barlow scored 18 points and hit a tiebreaking free throw with 10 seconds left, lifting the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish to a 68-67 victory over #21 Michigan State on Thursday night. The Spartans had a chance to win after Barlow’s late foul shot, but Aisha Jefferson missed a jumper from the lane with 4 seconds to go. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wasn’t happy with ill-timed turnovers, sketchy shot selection and occasional lapses on defense. But she liked her team’s character at crunch time. “I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping our poise down the stretch,” McGraw said. Michigan State tied the score at 67 on a free throw by Porsche Poole with 55 seconds left. A foul by Michigan State after a missed free throw by the Irish put Notre Dame in the double bonus. Barlow missed her first free throw with 10 seconds left, but sank her second opportunity to put the Irish in front. Lindsay Schrader had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Notre Dame.

7. Debbie Brown was named the BIG EAST Conference Volleyball Coach of the Year, announced Thursday evening during the league tournament banquet at the Louisville Hyatt Regency. In addition, four Irish players earned all-BIG EAST citations. Brown’s honor was her 10th overall and sixth since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995. She last won the award in 2005. This season, Brown guided the top-seeded Irish into the BIG EAST Championship after finishing the regular season with a perfect 14-0 league record. Furthermore, No. 23 Notre Dame has won 16 of its last 18 matches while boasting an overall record of 20-4. Notre Dame was also crowned the BIG EAST regular season champion. A trio of Irish seniors – Christina Kaelin, Serinity Phillips and Jamel Nicholas – earned first team all-BIG EAST honors while junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca was named to the second team. Notre Dame’s last first-team selections came in 2006 (Mallorie Croal, Adrianna Stasiuk and Lauren Brewster). Sciacca, Kaelin and Phillips were each second-team choices in 2008.

8. Luke Harangody had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Notre Dame took control with a 13-2 run to open the second half, beating Long Beach State 82-62 Thursday night. Tory Jackson added 13 points and Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis added 11 points each for the Irish (3-0), who outscored Long Beach State 50-36 inside. Notre Dame outshot the 49ers (2-1) 64 percent to 38 percent in the second half. Hansbrough started the 13-2 run with a layup, had a pass inside for a dunk by Tyrone Nash, then capped the spurt with a 3-pointer to extend the Notre Dame lead to 50-37. The 49ers cut the lead to eight points three times, but couldn’t get any closer.

9. Two of the nation’s top hockey teams – Notre Dame and Michigan State – got together on Thursday night at Munn Arena and battled to a 1-1 overtime time. The Irish then picked up an extra point in the CCHA standings by winning the shoot out, 2-1, as Ben Ryan and Dan Kissel scored for Notre Dame. Freshman right wing Kyle Palmieri scored the lone goal for the Irish while Derek Grant got the lone goal for the Spartans. Notre Dame freshman goaltender Mike Johnson stopped 23-of-24 shots on the night while Michigan State’s Drew Palmisano stopped 25-of-26. In the shoot out, Billy Maday and Palmieri were stopped on the first two shots for the Irish while Johnson stopped Dean Chelios only to see Andrew Rowe beat him with a back-hander from the right side. Ryan kept the Notre Dame hopes alive when he beat Palmisano with a deke to his forehand before sliding a backhander inside the left post. Johnson stopped Nick Sucharski as he lost the puck in his feet before pushing the puck on goal and the shoot out was tied 1-1 after three shots each. In the sudden-death portion Kissel beat Palmisano with a great move. A left-handed shot, Kissel came down the right side, moved toward the middle before spinning to his right, pulling Palmisano down, then tucking the puck inside the right post. Johnson then stopped Corey Tropp to give the Irish the shoot out win. The shoot out was the second in a row for the Irish and their third of the season while Michigan State was playing in its second of the year. Notre Dame, ranked 14th in the nation, is now 5-5-3 overall and 2-2-3-2 in the CCHA, good for 11 points. The sixth-ranked Spartans are 9-2-2 on the year and 6-1-2-0 in the conference, good for 20 points.

10. The #19 Notre Dame men’s soccer team captured a 2-1 victory over Green Bay in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Thursday evening at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish used goals from Bright Dike and Jeb Brovsky to post the win and advance to play at Northwestern on Sunday in the second round. The entertaining match went down to the final seconds as Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Andrew Quinn saved a header attempt from Green Bay’s Tony Patterson with three seconds left in the contest. “They (Green Bay) kept at us right up until the final seconds of the game,” said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. “It was an exciting game. This is the great thing with the NCAA (Tournament). If you lose, you go home. It’s sad for the team that goes home, but it makes it very exciting. There’s no safety net of having another game guaranteed. It’s all or nothing.”

11. Women’s tennis head coach Jay Louderback has announced the signing of three student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to continue their careers at Notre Dame. The three signees include Britney Sanders of Ontario, Calif., Jennifer Kellner of Smithtown, N.Y., and Julie Sabacinski of Plantation Fla. Sanders is currently ranked 28th by tennisrecruiting.net and was a 2009 Spring National Doubles Finalist with Sabacinski. Ranked as a high as 17th nationally, Sanders, a senior at Ontario Christian High School, is considered the fourth-best player in California. Kellner, a senior at Hauppaige High School in Smithtown, is currently the 30th-ranked player by tennisrecruiting.net. The 2008 National Open Singles Champion, Kellner is considered the second-best recruit in the state of New York. Currently ranked 53rd by tennisrecruiting.net, Sabacinski was the 2008 National Open Doubles Champion and was a finalist with Sanders at the 2009 Spring National Doubles. A senior at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Sabacinski has been ranked as high as 17th nationally and captured the 2008 high school state championship in Florida.

12 All 33 senior football players will be introduced prior to the Notre Dame-Connecticut football game on Saturday. It’s the first time in some years the introductions have happened at the final home game – in recent seasons the players and parents have been introduced at the final Friday night pep rally.

13. Some notes and quotes from the speakers at today’s Kickoff Luncheon:– From defensive line coach Randy Hart: (on what it was like to coach against Notre Dame when he was at Purdue and Washington) “If you think you’re going to sneak up on someone at Notre Dame, you’re not. You could whisper the game plan but when it’s Notre Dame they’ll get it.” . . . (on Bryant Young) “If you find someone who can saying anything negative about Bryant Young, get away from that person. There’s not a negative thing about Bryant Young.”

— From offensive tackle Chris Stewart: “My parents are coming to Notre Dame for the first time this weekend to see me play.”. . . . (on adjusting to Notre Dame) “The biggest thing I had to do was drop 60 or 70 pounds to get in shape to play.” . . . (on traveling to Haiti) “Sixty-five to eighty percent of the country lives below the poverty line, and I used my history background to study why a country that had been so prosperous became so poor. I hope to go back soon.”

— From quarterback Evan Sharpley: (on being drafted in 2009 in baseball ) “I was about the 1,593rd pick, but I’m not really counting.” . . . (on playing in the minor leagues last summer on a team where 90-95 percent of the players spoke Spanish) “I hadn’t taken Spanish since my sophomore year, so I know someone was talking about me, I just don’t know what they are saying.” . . . (on student teaching at Adams High School in South Bend – where Charlie Weis also student taught) “I come in on Monday, and they say, ‘And how was your weekend Mr. Sharpley?'” — From defensive end John Ryan: (on his relationship with Irish receiver Robby Parris, both of whom attended St. Ignatius in Cleveland) “We’ve known each other since third grade.” . . . . (on Irish line coach Randy Hart’s enthusiasm) “He doesn’t sleep, he just waits.” . . . . (on being a high school tight end) “I was begging (Charlie Weis) for a little goal line action but he wasn’t budging.” . . . (on playing basketball) “In high school as a freshman that was my true love. We’ve got some guys like Kyle Rudolph and Michael Floyd and Sergio Briwn who could play. We sometimes wonder how we’d do against the (Notre Dame) men’s team.”

— From head coach Charlie Weis: “We’re disappointed to be sitting here at 6-4. Every week has been a unique situation, but team has shown great intestinal fortitude. . . . We’ve tried to do a few things different this week so we can get off to a quicker start.”

14. Golden Tate needs just five catches against Connecticut to break Jeff Samardzija’s single-season Notre Dame record for catches – and only 78 more receiving yards to break Samardzija’s mark for receiving yards in a season.

15. The Sports Illustrated college basketball issue lists Luke Harangody as a projected first-team All-American and rates Notre Dame’s men 40th among the teams projected for the NCAA Championships. On the women’s side, the Irish rated fifth.

16. The Irish offense has totaled at least 20 first downs in each of the first 10 games this year, the first time a Notre Dame offense has accomplished such a feat since 1974. . . . Notre Dame ranks ninth in total offense and is on pace to record its highest ranking in that category since 1992 when the Irish offense ranked third in the nation. . . . Sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph has been named one of the eight semifinalists for the 2009 John Mackey Award. . . . Freshman LB Manti Te’o has recorded 45 tackles this year, tied for seventh-most ever by a Notre Dame freshman. . . . Six fifth-year and 27 more fourth-year seniors will be honored at midfield of Notre Dame Stadium prior to Saturday’s kickoff. . . . Junior HB Armando Allen, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, is on pace to record the highest per carry average by the leading Irish rusher since Julius Jones in 2003. . . . Junior WR Golden Tate’s 74 receptions this season ranks fourth in Notre Dame single-season history. . . . Junior QB Jimmy Clausen is littered throughout Notre Dame’s record book, ranking in the top three in 15 different career passing categories. . . . Sophomore WR Michael Floyd ranks second among FBS active players in career receiving yards per game at 82.8 yards per game. . . . Floyd and Tate each surpassed 100 yards receiving in the last two games and became the first Notre Dame duo to each eclipse 100 receiving yards together in consecutive games. . . . When senior OT Sam Young starts at right tackle this weekend, he will be opening his 49th straight game in the starting lineup. No Irish player has ever donned the blue and gold uniform as many times as Young.

17. No Irish football team has ever been part of eight games (four wins by a combined 17 points, four losses by a combined 18) decided by a touchdown or less (the 1990 team took part in seven, winning four). Interestingly, Connecticut comes to town having played in seven games decided by eight points or less (including all five losses by a combined 15 points). No other team in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision has played in even six games decided by seven points or less.

18. The exploits of Irish senior Golden Tate remain remarkable and record-setting:
— He’s already passed Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown in terms of career receptions (he has 138) – and this from a player who caught only six balls as a rookie just two seasons ago while making the transition from running back.
— He already has seven 100-yard receiving days this season – more than any other player in the FBS – and one short of Tom Gatewood’s Irish record of eight from 1970.
— He’s already tied with Gatewood with 13 career 100-yard receiving games.
— He ranks fourth in the country with 117.2 receiving yards per game.
— Loaded with personality, the effervescent Tate may well have become the most exciting player in Irish history (10 games into his junior campaign, he at least is rivaling names like Brown and Raghib Ismail for that honor).

The storyline hasn’t been much different for Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen:
— He ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency with 158.21 rating points.
— He’s thrown at least one TD pass in 11 straight games.
— He has recorded 17 TDs (15 passing, two rushing) with the Irish tied or trialing this season.
— In the fourth period of ’09 games Clausen is 65 of 105 for 881 yards with 11 TDs (two rushing).
— He jumped over the 3,000-yard mark in passing yards Saturday at Pittsburgh (now at 3,053) – and now joins Brady Quinn as the only Notre Dame quarterbacks to throw for more than 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Despite missing five games due to injury, sophomore Michael Floyd is back (he has eight career 100-yard receiving days of his own) and forms with Tate probably the most formidable receiving duo anywhere in the nation. Meanwhile, despite his current injury status, sophomore tight end Kyle Rudolph – with his 62 career catches – has been more productive than any other Notre Dame tight end over his first two seasons.

19. University of Notre Dame athletic programs again rank among the best in the country in graduation rates, based on Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figures released today by the NCAA – including first-place ratings in the sports of football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and ice hockey.

Among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision institutions, Notre Dame had the highest percentage of its sports with 100 percent scores (for the fourth time in five years), with a .863 figure (19 of 22).

In football, Notre Dame achieved a 96 GSR rating, tying Duke for the highest figure among FBS schools.

Here are the FBS institutions with scores of 80 or higher in that category:
Score    Institution
96    Notre Dame, Duke
93    U.S. Naval Academy
92    Northwestern
91    Boston College, Vanderbilt
89    Stanford
87    U.S. Air Force Academy
86    U.S. Military Academy
85    Miami (Ohio), Penn State
84    Rice, Southern Mississippi
83    Troy
82    Connecticut
81    Rutgers, Wake Forest
80    North Carolina

In men’s basketball, Notre Dame achieved a perfect 100 GSR rating, with only Bowling Green, BYU, Marshall, Utah State, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky also reaching the top slot.

Here are the FBS institutions with scores of 80 or higher in that category:
Score    Institution
100    Bowling Green, BYU, Marshall, Notre Dame, Utah State, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky
98    U.S. Military Academy
92    Duke, Northwestern
90    U.S. Air Force Academy
88    Buffalo
86    Central Michigan
85    Alabama, Ohio University, Vanderbilt
84    U.S. Naval Academy
83    Nebraska, Rice
82    UCLA, Oklahoma State, SMU, Troy
80    East Carolina, Florida State, Illinois, TCU

In women’s basketball, Notre Dame also achieved a 100 GSR rating, as one of 29 Division I-A football-playing institutions with a perfect score.

Here are the FBS institutions with scores of 90 or higher in that category:
Score    Institution
100    Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green, BYU, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kent State, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon State, SMU, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Toledo, Tulane, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington, Western Kentucky
98    U.S. Military Academy
97    U.S. Naval Academy
96    Texas
94    Ball State
93    Colorado State, Memphis, Missouri, Nevada, Rice, Wyoming
92    Akron, California, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico, Oregon, Pittsburgh
91    Arizona State, Illinois, Indiana, Washington State, Western Michigan
90    Iowa State, Penn State

In hockey, Notre Dame achieved a 96 GSR rating, to lead all Division I-A football-playing institutions.

Here are the FBS institutions with scores of 65 or higher in that category:
Score    Institution
96    Notre Dame
92    U.S. Air Force Academy
89    U.S. Military Academy
88    Bowling Green
87    Boston College
81    Connecticut
77    Western Michigan
75    Michigan
72    Michigan State
70    Miami (Ohio)
68    Wisconsin
65    Ohio State


November 16, 2009

1. The final pep rally Friday night prior to the Notre Dame-Connecticut game will be held at Irish Green. In recent years the final pep rally has featured introductions of the senior Irish players and their parents – but this year those ceremonies will move to Notre Dame Stadium just prior to kickoff on Saturday.

2. Notre Dame’s men’s soccer team will play host to a first-round NCAA Championships game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Alumni Stadium against Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Irish will be making their ninth straight NCAA Championship appearance and the 13th trip overall in program history. Notre Dame will bring a record of 10-7-4 into the match, while Green Bay is 14-2-3. The Irish are coming off a runner-up finish in the BIG EAST Championship. St. John’s topped Notre Dame in a penalty kick shootout, 5-3, following a scoreless draw in yesterday’s BIG EAST title game. Green Bay, nicknamed the Phoenix, captured the Horizon League Championship by upsetting top-seeded Butler in penalty kicks, 3-2, on Sunday. The match ended as a scoreless tie. The Fighting Irish are 2-1 all-time against Green Bay. The last meeting occurred during the 1994 campaign and Green Bay won that match 2-1 at Notre Dame. Notre Dame won at Green Bay, 3-2 in overtime, in 1985 and captured a 2-1 home victory over the Phoenix in 1988. This will be the first NCAA Championship appearance for Green Bay since 1983. The winner of the Notre Dame-Green Bay match will travel to Evanston, Ill., to face Northwestern on Sunday, Nov. 22, at 1:00 p.m. (CST) in the second round. The Wildcats are the tournament’s No. 9 seed. Last season, Notre Dame suffered a 2-1 setback to Northwestern at home in the tournament’s second round. Akron is the top seed in the NCAA Championship with a perfect 20-0 record. Virginia is the No. 2 seed, while Wake Forest is the third seed. Only the top 16 teams in the field of 48 are seeded and those squads received a first-round bye. Notre Dame faced eight teams that made this year’s tournament.

3. Notre Dame associate athletics director Mike Danch joined University assistant vice president Mike Seamon and security director Phil Johnson in Pittsburgh last weekend for the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh football game. Then, that trio stuck around on Sunday for the NFL Steelers-Bengals contest at Heinz Field to observe the Steelers’ home-field security procedures.

4. ESPN announced today that ABC will carry the Notre Dame-Stanford game on Nov. 28 to at least half the country (some areas will see Georgia-Georgia Tech). In areas where the Notre Dame-Stanford contest is not on ABC, it will be mirrored on ESPN2.

5. The Irish men’s basketball team moved to 2-0 tonight with a 95-72 homecourt win over St. Francis (Pa.). Luke Harangody had 27 points and nine rebounds and Notre Dame shot 56 percent. The Fighting Irish used a 14-0 run early to take a double-digit lead, but the inexperienced Red Flash (1-1) quickly cut the lead back to five. Notre Dame regained a 15-point lead five minutes into the second half when Harangody made a three-pointer to give the Irish a 60-45 advantage. Ben Hansbrough scored 18 points, Tim Abromaitis scored a career-high 17 points and Tyrone Nash had 11 for Notre Dame. Umar Shannon scored 18 points for the Red Flash, who played the Irish surprisingly tough considering they were picked by coaches to finish last in the Northeast Conference.

6. A half-dozen Notre Dame staffers headed to New York tonight for a full day of meetings on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium for continued planning for next year’s Notre Dame-Army football game at that facility. NBC Sports personnel also will be part of the meetings.

7. Notre Dame sophomore tight end Kyle Rudolph has been named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, the Nassau County Sports Commission announced today. The Mackey Award is presented annually to college football’s top tight end. The 6-6, 260-pounder from Cincinnati, Ohio, has caught 33 passes for 364 yards with three touchdowns. Twice this year he set his career high with six receptions (versus Michigan State and Washington State) and his 95 yards versus Michigan State was his career best. He started each of the first nine games this year before injuring his shoulder against the Midshipmen. Rudolph might miss the rest of the regular season. Rudolph is the only sophomore selected a semifinalist and joins six seniors and one junior on the next ballot. The eight semi-finalists were determined by confidential balloting of the John Mackey Selection Committee. The 2009 John Mackey Award finalists will be announced on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. The 2009 recipient of “The Mackey” will be announced at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show live Dec. 10, 2009 on ESPN and presented at the Nassau County Sports Commission “Salute to Champions” Awards Dinner.

8. Junior Jake Walker has earned an individual bid to the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships following his performance Saturday at the Great Lakes Regional meet. Walker finished ninth with a time of 31:21.10 at the Great Lakes meet, earning his second career all-region honor. The senior from Ellwood City, Pa., will make his fourth trip to the NCAA Championships. Last season, Walker finished 66th with a time of 30:53. The Irish women’s squad will also represent Notre Dame at the NCAA Championships after automatically qualifying for the national event with a first-place finish at the Great Lakes Regional. Thirty-one teams were selected to participate in each championship. The top two teams automatically qualified from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large. Thirty-eight individuals were selected to participate in each championship through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process. All individual qualifiers finished in the top 25 in their region. Indiana State University will host the Championships, November 23, at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course located at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind. The men’s race will begin at 12:08 p.m. (EST), followed by the women’s race at 12:58 p.m. Both championship races will be broadcast live on Versus Network and streamed online at www.NCAA.com.

November 15, 2009

1. The #5-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s soccer team used an offensive onslaught to blast past the Chippewas of Central Michigan, 6-1, in NCAA Championship second round play today at Alumni Stadium. Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson led the Irish as she scored a first-half hat trick and added a program record fourth goal 15 minutes into the second half. With the win, the Irish (19-3-1) advance to the NCAA Championship round of 16 where they will face Oregon State. As the second seed, Notre Dame will play host to the Beavers at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 20) at Alumni Stadium. Oregon State downed third-seeded Florida in overtime today to advance to the Round of 16 for the first time in program history. Notre Dame snapped the Chippewas’ 18 game unbeaten streak and extended its own unbeaten streak to 17 games (16-0-1), including an active 11-game winning streak. Central Michigan, who was making its first-ever NCAA Championship appearance, concludes the year at 17-4-3. The Irish set the tone early, as they netted their quickest goal of the season at 2:29. Junior forward Taylor Knaack fired a shot from distance that hit the crossbar and dropped to the feet of Melissa Henderson inside the six-yard box. The 2009 second team all-BIG EAST selection calmly tucked the rebound inside the near post to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.

2. No. 14 St. John’s topped #25 Notre Dame in a penalty kick shootout, 5-3, in the title game of the men’s soccer BIG EAST Championship this afternoon in Morgantown, W. Va. The match was officially a tie following a scoreless draw through regulation and two overtime periods. Notre Dame (10-7-4) was the tournament’s second seed from the league’s Blue Division, while St. John’s (9-2-9) was the No. 2 seed from the Red Division. All three of Notre Dame’s 2009 BIG EAST Championship matches went to a penalty kick shootout. The Irish bested USF in penalty kicks, 5-4, in the quarterfinals and then defeated Louisville in a shootout, 4-3, in the semifinals. St. John’s hit all five of its penalty kicks, while Notre Dame connected on three of its four attempts. Sending in kicks for the Irish were Matt Armstrong, Dillon Powers and Bright Dike. The NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship selection show will take place Monday between 5:30-6:00 p.m. (ET) (approximately) on ESPN News. Immediately following the announcement, the bracket will be available on www.ncaa.com.

3. All cylinders clicked this afternoon for #24 Notre Dame as the Irish finished their volleyball regular season at Purcell Pavilion with a 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19) win over visiting USF. Notre Dame became the second team in league history to win each of its 14 regular-season conference contests as St. John’s accomplished the feat in 2006, the first season in which the BIG EAST extended the league slate to 14 games. Now with seven undefeated BIG EAST regular-season efforts under its belt, Notre Dame (20-4 overall, 14-0 BIG EAST) last went unscathed in BIG EAST play in 2001 (12-0). The victory also earned the program its 18th 20-win season in 30 years of varsity competition. Top-seeded Notre Dame will face eighth-seeded Seton Hall in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship hosted by Louisville at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Seton Hall will make its first appearance in the tournament since 1994 after defeating West Virginia earlier today. The match will begin at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday. The Irish were honored after the match with the league’s regular-season championship trophy, which was clinched after a 3-0 win against Georgetown on Friday. Notre Dame’s starting lineup against USF (17-8, 9-5) featured each of its six seniors — Tara Enzweiler, Megan Fesl, Christina Kaelin, Kim Kristoff, Jamel Nicholas and Serinity Phillips.

4. Becca Bruszewski had 19 points and 10 rebounds and #4 Notre Dame dominated inside, opening the season with a 102-57 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on tonight. Ashley Barlow added 15 points and freshman Skylar Diggins had 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals for the Fighting Irish (1-0), who had eight players in double figures. The Lady Lions (0-2) gave up 100 points for a second straight game. They lost their season opener to Mississippi State 106-48 on Friday. The Irish outscored the smaller Lady Lions 68-26 in the paint.

5. Notre Dame and Northern Michigan battled to a 2-2 overtime tie on this afternoon at the Joyce Center with the Irish picking up the extra point in the CCHA standings by winning the shoot out, 2-1. Junior right wing Billy Maday keyed a Notre Dame comeback from a 2-0 second-period deficit, scoring twice in the game and then added one of two Irish goals in the shoot out. Linemate Calle Ridderwall scored the winning goal in the shoot out victory. The Wildcats got second-period goals from Ray Kaunisto and Jared Brown 42 seconds apart to build the 2-0 lead. Junior goaltender Brad Phillips, making his first start since Oct. 31 versus Ohio State stopped 32 of 34 Northern Michigan shots in the game, including 14 in the third period and then two of three in the shoot out. Brian Stewart finished with 25 saves for the Wildcats on the night. The Notre Dame win snapped a two-game Irish losing streak and left them with a 5-5-2 overall record and a 2-2-2-1 CCHA mark, good for nine points in the league standings. Northern Michigan leaves the weekend with a 3-5-2 record on the year and is now 2-3-1-0 in the conference, good for seven points. Despite scoring just three goals or less for the 12th straight game, the Irish showed signs of breaking out of their season-long scoring slump. The Irish will have a short turnaround in keeping the momentum going as they return to action Thursday with a road game at Michigan State. Notre Dame’s 2-1 shootout win marked the fifth time that the Irish have been involved in a shoot out over the last two seasons. The Irish are 1-1 this season and 4-1 all-time.

6. Instead of introducing the football senior players and their parents at the Friday night pep rally, they’ll be introduced this year on the field just prior to the start of Notre Dame’s final home game Saturday against Connecticut.

November 14, 2009

1. No reason to give former Irish assistant football coach Bill Lewis a tour in Pittsburgh before the football game here tonight. A Philadelphia native, Lewis played quarterback at East Stroudsburg State and later spent three years (1966-68) as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh. Then he coached the Miami Dolphin defensive backs from 2000-04 under Dave Wannstedt, the current Pittsburgh head coach. Here at the game with Lewis is his wife, Sandy, who’s from Pennsburg, Pa.

2. You can help former Notre Damers qualify for the NFL Pro Bowl to be played Jan. 31, 2010, in Dolphin Stadium in South Florida (it’s played this year the week prior to the Super Bowl). Go to www.nfl.com/probowl and you can vote. Former Irish on the ballot include RBs Ryan Grant (Green Bay) and Julius Jones (Seattle), TEs John Carlson (Seattle) and Anthony Fasano (Miami), Cs Jeff Faine (Tampa Bay) and John Sullivan (Minnesota), OTs Ryan Harris (Denver) and Mike Gandy (Arizona), DEs Justin Tuck (New York Giants) and Victor Abiamiri (Philadelphia), ILB Corey Mays (Kansas City), K John Carney (New Orleans), P Hunter Smith (Washington), kick returners Allen Rossum (Dallas) and Arnaz Battle (San Francisco), plus special teamers Tom Zbikowski (Baltimore) and Maurice Stovall (Tampa Bay).

3. Think this football game is a big deal in Pittsburgh? Found this afternoon on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette web site: “Leave now. That’s our advice to University of Pittsburgh or Notre Dame fans who plan to attend tonight’s football game at Heinz Field. By mid-afternoon today, traffic was in gridlock around the stadium and had backed up on roads and highways leading to the North Shore. Parking lots already were filled or filling up, and ticket scalpers were out in abundance, hawking wares at prices ‘cheaper than $100.’ Students, too, have swarmed to the North Side and have lined the sidewalks leading to the stadium’s gates. Some are sleeping on the sidewalks, where they’ve apparently camped for some time to avoid that last-minute rush.” This is Pitt’s first sellout since the last time Notre Dame came to town to open the 2005 season.

4. These are two of the best teams around in terms of taking care of the football. In nine games each, both Pitt and Notre Dame have only nine turnovers each (three by the Irish a week ago against Navy).

5. Check out the new Sports Illustrated Presents edition on the 75th anniversary of the Heisman Trophy. With seven previous winners, the Irish are well represented in the publication.

6. Ben Hansbrough scored 19 points in his Notre Dame debut and Luke Harangody added 19 points and seven assists, leading the Fighting Irish to an 86-65 win over North Florida this afternoon. Hansbrough, a transfer Mississippi State, was five of five from three-point range. Tim Abromaitis had 13 points for the Irish (1-0). Jonathan Peoples added 11 and Tory Jackson added nine points and seven assists. Stan Januska had 14 points for North Florida (0-1), an Atlantic Sun member that finished 8-22 last season and is beginning its first year as a full-fledged Division I team. Hansbrough hit back-to-back three-pointers seven minutes into the game to give the Irish a 21-5 lead. The Irish led 35-10 after Harangody, the Big East leader in scoring and rebounding the past two seasons, made his first shot from the field with 5:25 left in the first half. They made it 40-10 when Harangody converted on a three-point play.

7. The Notre Dame women’s cross country team won the 2009 Great Lakes Regional Championship today in Bloomington, Ind., as five Irish runners finished in the top 40 individually. The Irish scored 94 points, winning the title for the first time since 2003, and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships. Three members of the women’s squad garnered all-region recognition for their efforts on the course. Senior Lindsey Ferguson led the Irish women with a third-place finish and a time of 20:58.62. Freshman Jessica Rydberg clocked in at 21:23.84 to finish 10th, and sophomore Rachel Velarde finished 15th with a time of 21:32.40. Junior Marissa Treece crossed the line in 21:57.99 to finish 30th, followed by junior Erica Watson in 36th at 22:06.34. Freshman Rebecca Tracy finished 79th with a time of 22:44.84, and senior Beth Tacl was 103rd in 23:04.50. Ohio State finished second with 102 points, followed by Michigan in third with 104. Indiana and Michigan State rounded out the top five. The Irish men finished seventh with 205 total points. Senior Jake Walker earned all-region honors with a ninth-place finish and a time of 31:21.10. Sophomore Joe Miller finished 35th in 32:04.11, just ahead of junior Dan Jackson in 39th with a time of 32:10.75. Sophomore Jordan Carlson clocked in at 32:34.90 to finish 57th, sophomore Johnathan Shawel was 65th in 32:46.31, junior Ryan Jacobs finished 74th with a time of 32:57.92 and junior Paul Springer was 131st in 34:16.88. Wisconsin won the team title with 62 points, followed by Michigan State in second with 128 and Ohio State in third with 144 total points. Indiana and Butler closed out the top five. The top two teams at the regional meets automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. Thirteen at-large bids will also be awarded. The top four individual regional finishers, whose teams did not qualify for the national meet, will also be selected to compete in the NCAA Championships, which will be held Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.

8. The Irish football team stayed in the same Pittsburgh hotel as the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, several Irish staffers ran into Bengal QB Carson Palmer at the elevator as they headed to the buses.

9. Notre Dame peppered Northern Michigan goalie Brian Stewart, forcing him into making 36 saves (compared to 15 for Notre Dame’s Mike Johnson) – but the Wildcats grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead and made it stand up in a 3-2 victory over the Irish at the Joyce Center in South Bend. Kevin Deeth had a power-play goal in the first period for the Irish and Calle Ridderwall accounted for Notre Dame’s only other tally in the final period.

November 13, 2009

1. The Irish football team traveled late today, conducting a walk-through on campus, then flying late afternoon and arriving at its Pittsburgh hotel just before 6:00 p.m. It’s a huge sports weekend in Pittsburgh with, in addition to the Irish-Panther game Saturday night, a Pittsburgh Penguin-Boston Bruin NHL game Saturday night at Mellon Arena (just across the street from the Notre Dame team hotel), followed by the Pittsburgh Steeler-Cincinnati Bengal NFL contest on Sunday. The Notre Dame travel party won’t arrive home until 3:00 a.m. Sunday.

2. Based on the late arrival in Pittsburgh, Irish coach Charlie Weis did a conference call on Wednesday with the ABC Sports crew. It figures to be a hectic weekend for Kirk Herbstreit who is currently in Fort Worth, Texas, where ESPN GameDay is at TCU-Utah. Then between noon tomorrow and 8:00 p.m. EST Herbstreit will travel from Fort Worth to Pittsburgh to arrive in time to do the Notre Dame-Pitt contest. The Irish game goes to 83 percent of the country (only Big 12 area sees Oklahoma State-Texas Tech).

3. Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced today that three of the country’s top high school student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame.Natalie Achonwa (last name pronounced uh-CHAWN-wuh), a 6-3 forward from Guelph, Ontario (St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School/National Elite Development Academy), Ariel Braker, a 6-1 forward from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. (Grosse Pointe North High School) and Kayla McBride, a 5-11 guard from Erie, Pa. (Villa Maria Academy) all made their official commitments to the Fighting Irish.

All three student-athletes are rated among the top 50 players in the country by various national recruiting services. As a group, this trio is ranked as the No. 10 recruiting class in the country by All-Star Girls Report (and a consensus top 16 class by other recruiting services), giving Notre Dame a top 25 recruiting class for the 14th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match. It’s also the third consecutive top 10 recruiting class for the Fighting Irish.A capsule look at the newest additions to the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program follows:

NATALIE ACHONWA, 6-3, Forward (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School/National Elite Development Academy)
Statistics/Records: Enrolled at St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario, but cannot play this season due to her previous participation with the National Elite Development Academy (NEDA); NEDA is a national training center program that brings together the top 12 female developmental athletes from across Canada to train, live and attend high school in a central location (hosted jointly by the city of Hamilton and McMaster University, and overseen by Canada Basketball) … selected to join NEDA for her sophomore and junior years of high school before Academy closed in 2009 due to lack of funding; was youngest player selected for NEDA in 2007-08 (age 14) … played for NEDA team (coached by Mark Walton) that competed against variety of opponents, including Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) teams, American junior college programs (NJCAA), American prep schools, and other international competition … highlights of her NEDA career included: game-high 25 points in 2009 game vs. the Toronto Stealth of the semi-pro Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL); 18 points in 2009 exhibition vs. Genesee Community College (N.Y.); 19 points in 2009 game vs. Oak Hill Academy (Va.); 19 points and 11 rebounds in 2008 exhibition vs. Monroe Community College (N.Y.); game-high 30 points in 2008 exhibition vs. Laurentian University (Sudbury, Ontario); averaged 16.3 points and 11.7 rebounds with three double-doubles in three-game 2008 exhibition series vs. Argentina U18 National Team; averaged 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game at 2007 Laurentian University Invitational Tournament … spent her freshman year at Centennial Collegiate & Vocational Institute (CCVI) in Guelph, Ontario.

Provincial/Travel Competition: Member of U17 Team Ontario that captured back-to-back Canadian national championships in 2007 (15.3 ppg., 7.1 rpg.) and 2008 (18.2 ppg., 8.0 rpg.) … also led U15 Team Ontario to 2006 Canadian national title … played for Guelph CYO All-Stars travel squad, averaging 14.2 ppg., 8.1 rpg., 2.5 apg. and 1.9 spg., helping team to 2006 and 2007 Division I provincial championships (Ontario Basketball Association).

International Competition: Three-time Canada Basketball selection and two-time international medalist … most recently this past summer, became youngest player (age 16) ever named to Canadian Senior Women’s National Team for the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship in Cuiaba, Brazil, helping country to bronze medal (third-place finish) and berth in 2010 FIBA World Championships in Czech Republic … played in all five games for Canada in tournament, averaging 6.6 ppg. and 4.2 rpg., while finishing second on team in steals (1.2 spg.) and blocks (0.6 bpg.) … earlier in the summer of 2009, suited up for Canadian Junior Women’s National Team at FIBA U19 World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, sparking team to its best-ever placement (fourth) — reached semifinals before losing to USA squad co-captained by her future Notre Dame teammate, Skylar Diggins … started all nine games in tournament, averaging 10.3 ppg. (second on team) and 6.1 rpg. (third on team), along with a team-high 1.4 spg. … made international debut at age 15 (youngest player selected) for Canada’s junior team at 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, pacing her nation to the silver medal (4-1 record); averaged 7.2 ppg., 5.8 rpg. and 1.0 spg. in the tournament.

Awards/Honors: Third-team all-star at 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships … 2007 Laurentian University Invitational all-tournament team … MVP of Canadian provincial championship tournaments in 2006 (U15) and 2008 (U17), and first-team all-star in 2007 (U17) … two-time tournament MVP (2006, 2007) for Ontario Basketball Association Division I provincial championships … NEDA team captain as junior (2008-09) … CCVI Female Athlete of the Year in 2006-07 … as freshman at CCVI, earned city MVP honors in both basketball and soccer, as well as regional MVP laurels in basketball … lettered and was team all-star in three sports at CCVI (basketball, soccer and volleyball) … ranked 24th by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (fifth-highest small forward), 80th by All-Star Girls Report (18th among wing forwards) and 85th by Blue Star Basketball … not rated by ESPN Hoopgurlz, which does not currently evaluate Canadian players; if she were rated in that service’s top 25, that would place Notre Dame in top 10 in ESPN Hoopgurlz class recruiting rankings.

ARIEL BRAKER, 6-1, Forward (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich./Grosse Pointe North High School)
Statistics/Records: Entering fourth season at Grosse Pointe North High School (combined record of 70-9, .886) in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., where she has been a three-year letterwinner and mainstay for head coach Gary Bennett … has helped team to 2007-08 Michigan Class A state title, as well as two regional championships (and one regional runner-up finish), three district crowns and three conference titles (undefeated in league play past two seasons) … as junior in 2008-09, averaged 12.3 ppg., 8.1 rpg., 4.3 spg. and 2.4 apg., after suffering a knee injury during AAU ball the previous summer … as sophomore in 2007-08 (state title season), averaged 16.0 ppg., 11.0 rpg., 7.2 spg. and 3.8 apg. … as freshman in 2006-07, averaged 10.6 ppg., 8.8 rpg., 5.0 spg. and 3.4 apg. … currently holds eight school records, including: rebounds in game (24), steals in a game (12), rebounds in season (271), steals in season (181), free throws made in season (96) and free throws attempted in season (163) … found great AAU success playing for Michigan Shock/Pistons and head coach John Ciszewski … helped AAU teams to four consecutive top-10 finishes at AAU Division I Nationals from 2006-09 (best was third in 2008), as well as two adidas Deep South Classic titles (2008 U17 select, 2009) and four AAU state championships … averaged 19.7 points, 15.3 rebounds, 6.7 steals and 5.3 assists per game during final three seasons of AAU career (led team in scoring each year) … also a standout high jumper at GPN, qualifying for state meet as a sophomore in 2008.

Awards/Honors: Detroit News Class A Player of the Year (2008) … Detroit Free Press Final Four All-Tournament Team (2007) … two-time Detroit News Dream Team selection (2007, 2008) … three-time Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) Class A all-state (2006 – third team, 2007 and 2008 – first team when renamed “BCAM’s Best”) … three-time all-metro selection (2006, 2007, 2008) … three-time MAC Red Conference MVP and all-conference pick (2006, 2007, 2008) … two-time team captain (2008, 2009) … ranked 41st by All-Star Girls Report (eighth among wing forwards), 42nd by Blue Star Basketball, and 84th by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (14th among small forwards).

KAYLA McBRIDE, 5-11, Guard (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy)
Statistics/Records: Beginning her fourth year, third as a starter, at Villa Maria Academy (combined record of 78-13, .857) in Erie, Pa., where she has been coached by Scott Dibble … recently helped VMA to 27-3 record and 2009 Pennsylvania Class AA state championship, while team rose as high as 15th in ESPN Hoopgurlz East Region rankings during season … as junior in 2008-09, posted team highs of 17.3 ppg., 7.8 rpg. and 4.6 apg., along with 3.1 spg. and .820 free throw percentage … as sophomore in 2007-08, sparked top-ranked team in Pennsylvania to 24-5 record while averaging 13.0 ppg., 6.8 rpg., 4.5 apg., 3.1 spg. and shooting .730 from foul line … as freshman in 2006-07, served as top reserve (“sixth man”) on Pennsylvania Class AA state runner-up squad that went 27-5; she averaged 6.7 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 1.6 spg. and 1.3 apg. with a .740 free throw percentage that season … enters senior year with 1,111 career points, only 293 shy of school’s all-time record … tallied career highs of 32 points and 14 rebounds in the same game — a victory last season over Oak Hill Academy (Va.), which was ranked 16th in the nation at tipoff … VMA has earned three consecutive preseason No. 1 rankings in Pennsylvania Class AA (including 2009-10), while collecting one state title, two state finals appearances and three consecutive district championships in McBride’s career … also sharpened her skills on AAU circuit playing the past three years for Erie Irish AAU under head coach Doug Chuzie, following one season with the Western Pennsylvania Bruins (coached by Hal Kestler).

Awards/Honors: Two-time Sporting News preseason honorable mention All-American (2009, 2010) … 2009 Pennsylvania Class AA Player of the Year … two-time all-state selection (2008 – third team, 2009 – first team) … two-time first-team all-region pick (2008, 2009) … 2007 Western Pennsylvania Freshman of the Year and recipient of the Swintayla Cash Award … ranked 20th by both ESPN Hoopgurlz (fourth among shooting guards) and Blue Star Basketball … ranked 22nd by All-Star Girls Report (also fourth among shooting guards) … ranked 67th by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report (10th among shooting guards).

4. Campus visitors this week included Joe Bowen, radio and TV play-by-play voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who was in town Thursday to a speak to a class prior to the Leafs-Chicago BlackHawks NHL game tonight in Chicago. Bowen stopped in briefly at football practice, took in part of hockey practice and updated Irish hockey coach Jeff Jackson on the play of Christian Hanson (he’s the leading scorer for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League).

5. Former Irish standout Greg Meredith was among the Notre Dame hockey alumni in town for the funeral today of Mickey Smith, wife of longtime Notre Dame hockey coach Charles “Lefty” Smith. Current coach Jeff Jackson and the entire current Irish squad attended the visitation Thursday night.

6. Notre Dame won 10 of 12 individual swimming events — each by different swimmers — tonight to hand Pittsburgh a 179-121 defeat in BIG EAST Conference swimming and diving action in Pittsburgh. The Irish (4-1 overall, 1-0 BIG EAST) now receive a few weeks of rest until heading to the Ohio State Invite, a three-day event spanning from Dec. 4-6. On the eve before the two school’s football program clash on the gridiron, Notre Dame earned its sixth straight win over the Panthers.

7. Notre Dame women’s lacrosse coach Tracy Coyne has announced the signing of seven high school lacrosse players to national letters of intent. Signing letters in the early-signing period are: Kaitlyn Brosco (Shoreham, N.Y.), Kristin Cousins (Glen Ridge, N.J.), Grace Dooley (Chicago, Ill.), Lindsay Powell (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.), Molly Shawhan (Fulton, Md.), Margaret Smith (Westminster, Md.) and Lauren Sullivan (Winchester, Mass.).

Kaitlyn Brosco is a 5-2 midfielder from Shoreham, N.Y., where she attends Shoreham Wading River High School and plays for the Yellow Jackets lacrosse club. A two-sport standout in lacrosse and field hockey, Brosco will begin her fifth season of varsity lacrosse action in the spring where she has helped Shoreham Wading River High School to three (2007, 2008, 2009) New York Lacrosse Class C championships, including last spring’s win over fellow recruit Lindsay Powell’s Honeoye Falls-Lima team. A 2009 U.S. Lacrosse All-American, she scored 54 goals with 42 assists for 96 points after a 50-goal, 28-assist season in 2008 that gained her honorable mention All-American honors. Selected the most valuable player in the 2009 New York State championship, Brosco is a three-time all-Suffolk County selection. The talented middie has been selected to Newsday’s all-Long Island team #2 in `08 and `09 and has been selected by Inside Lacrosse as a rising senior in 2009. A two-year team captain for the field hockey team, she has been the team’s top scorer in each of the last three seasons, helping the team to three consecutive Suffolk County class B championships. Heading into this season, Brosco is a two-time all-New York State, all-Suffolk County and all-Long Island selection. In 2008, she was a member of Newsday’s 2008 first team all-Long Island field hockey team.

Kristin Cousins joins the Irish as a 5-11 defender from Glen Ridge, New Jersey where she plays for Glen Ridge High School. As a junior she helped Glen Ridge to a 13-5 record and its first appearance in the New Jersey state sectional finals. She had 19 goals and 23 assists from her defensive midfield spot and chipped in 49 ground balls, 43 draw controls and 32 caused turnovers. A member of the STEPS Elite lacrosse program, Cousins was a first team all-Essex County and all-Stripes Division selection. An honorable mention U.S. Lacrosse All-American, she was chosen second team all-state and was selected to the Under Armour All-American Classic New Jersey underclass all-star team. She will bring size and a physical presence to the Irish defense during her career.

Grace Dooley is a 5-8 midfielder from Chicago, Illinois who plays for Loyola Academy and the Wildcat Elite club program. A four-year varsity team member at Loyola, Dooley was a key member of Loyola’s 2008 Illinois State championship team that went 22-3 on the year. She led Loyola in scoring and was sixth in the state with 47 goals and 23 assists for 70 points on the way to first team all-state and U.S Lacrosse All-American honors. A two-time all-State selection, Dooley also has been selected all-conference in three consecutive years. In 2009 she was a member of the Under Armour All-American Classic Midwest Elite Underclass team and was a member of the Great Lakes national team. Dooley also plays basketball, volleyball and runs cross-country at Loyola Academy.

Lindsay Powell is a 5-3 midfielder from Honeoye Falls, New York where she is a two-sport standout in soccer and lacrosse at Honeoye Falls-Lima Senior High School. She also plays club lacrosse for the Lady Roc Club team in Rochester, N.Y. As a junior, she helped lead Honeoye Falls-Lima to a 19-3 record and its first New York state championship game where they lost to incoming Irish recruit Kaitlyn Brosco’s Shoreham Wading River team. Powell led the team with 69 goals and 34 assists for 103 points with 56 ground balls and 38 caused turnovers. A three-time all-Monroe County selection (first team in `08 and `09, second team in `07), she also was selected to the all-Greater Rochester team in her junior year. The Time Warner Sport most valuable player for Honeoye Falls-Lima in the Class C final game, Powell also helped lead her club team to the 2009 Star-Spangled Elite Tournament Championship last summer. In soccer, Powell had 12 goals and nine assists this season in helping Honeoye Falls-Lima to the state championship game while taking first team all-Monroe County honors. As a junior, she was a first team all-County choice and third team all-state.

Molly Shawhan is a 5-8 midfielder from Fulton, Maryland, who plays field hockey and lacrosse at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md. During her junior year in 2009 she helped Good Counsel to its sixth Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) title while taking first team all-WCAC honors. A member of two WCAC title teams (2008-09), Shawhan was a member of the Metro D.C. Team 1 that played in the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse national tournament. A member of the Hero’s Lacrosse Club, she was selected to the Under Armour All-American Classic Washington, D.C., underclass all-star team. A 2009 U.S. Lacrosse Academic All-American, Shawhan was a 2009 WCAC honorable mention selection in field hockey. She also has played basketball, soccer and ran track during her high school career.

Margaret Smith is a 5-7 midfield/defender from Westminster, Maryland and plays soccer and lacrosse at the McDonogh School. One of the top-ranked high school players in the nation she was ranked by Inside Lacrosse.com as the No. 2 rising senior last August. A tough, talented midfielder, she helped lead McDonogh to the 2009 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A conference state championship with a 13-10 win over Notre Dame Prep. A first team all-Baltimore County selection, she was an all-Baltimore Sun first team all-Metro choice and a U.S. Lacrosse first team high school All-American. A member of the M&D Lacrosse Club, she was selected as the most valuable player at the Vail Tournament in 2009. The soccer team captain in 2009, she will serve as the lacrosse captain this coming year. As a junior in 2009, Smith had 29 goals and 11 assists for 40 points and led the team in ground balls (52), draw controls (52) and caused turnovers (39).

Lauren Sullivan is a 5-5 attack player from Winchester, Mass., where she plays ice hockey and lacrosse at Winchester High School and is a member of the Mass. Elite lacrosse Club. The sister of current Irish midfielder, sophomore Megan Sullivan, Lauren is the captain of the hockey and lacrosse teams. She and her sister, Megan, become the ninth set of sisters to play for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program. A two-time member of LNE team 1 as a sophomore and a junior, she was a Middlesex League all-star and an Eastern Massachusetts all-star in 2009 as she set a school record with 115 points. Sullivan also was selected to the Under Armour All-American Classic as a member of the New England underclass team. In 2008 she was a starter on Winchester’s Division 2 state championship team and was an all-Galaxy first team selection.

8. One week after securing the No. 1 seed for the upcoming BIG EAST Conference Championship, the Notre Dame volleyball team powered past Georgetown to clinch the league’s regular-season title for the 11th time in program history. It is the first outright title for the Irish since 2004 after tying for first in 2005. Along with the 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-19) victory tonight at Purcell Pavilion, the Irish improved to 13-0 against BIG EAST opponents and extended the nation’s fifth-longest winning streak to 13 matches. Notre Dame (19-4) received 12 kills from junior middle blocker Kellie Sciacca and overcame deficits in each of the three periods to sweep the Hoyas (13-16 overall, 3-10 BIG EAST) for the eighth consecutive time.

9. The #25 Notre Dame men’s soccer team won a penalty kick shootout, 4-3, against #7 Louisville in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship tonight at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. The match ended as a scoreless draw following regulation and two overtime periods. The Fighting Irish (10-7-3), the No. 2 seed from the Blue Division, now will face St. John’s, the second seed from the Red Division, in the league title game on Sunday at 12 noon (ET). Louisville (13-2-4) was the top seed from the Red Division. Notre Dame missed its first penalty kick attempt, yet made the next four while the decisive save was made by Irish senior goalkeeper Philip Tuttle (Hooksett, N.H./Brewster Academy) in the final try from Louisville. Tuttle came up big for the Irish as he made six saves on the night.

10. The Irish women’s soccer team got goals from Melissa Henderson (two), Haley Ford, Rachel VenderGenugten and Ellen Jantsch, taking a 3-0- halftime lead and coasting to a 5-0 NCAA first-round win at Alumni Stadium. Randy Waldrum’s crew moves on to play Central Michigan in the second round Sunday after CMU defeated Purdue 2-0.

11. ESPN’s Lou Holtz and Mark May made a friendly wager on the outcome of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh football game, with the loser wearing the other team’s gear for some late Saturday night segments. Notre Dame sent a #73 jersey and hat as its part of the bargain.

November 12, 2009

1. The Notre Dame Monogram Club presented 108 Notre Dame student-athletes with their Monogram jackets last night in the Joyce Center Monogram Room in the club’s annual Letter Jacket Ceremony for winter and spring sports. Speakers included current Monogram Club president Joe Restic, athletics director Jack Swarbrick, University president Father John Jenkins and former Irish soccer player and Olympic gold medalist Kate Sobrero Markgraf. Tricia Bellia, chair of the Faculty Board on Athletics, made the monogram presentations.

2. Irish men’s tennis head coach Bobby Bayliss has announced the signing of four student-athletes to national letters of intent. The four signees include Greg Andrews of Richland, Mich., Ryan Bandy of Cincinnati, Ohio, Matt Dooley of New Braunfels, Texas and Billy Pecor of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Andrews, a senior at Gull Lake High School in Richland, signs with the Irish after having recently captured the 2009 high school state championship in Michigan. He made it through the entire scholastic season without dropping a set. He also played No. 3 singles for the Midwest team that won the USTA Boys National Team Championships in August. He was joined on that national championship team by current Irish freshman Michael Moore. Andrews comes to the Irish as the highest ranked player from the Midwest Region and the 15th-ranked prospect in the nation according to tennisrecruting.net (he had been ranked as high as eighth overall as recently as last week). He carries an overall 2009 junior circuit record of 59-17, including a 25-17 mark versus fellow Blue Chip and five star recruits.

Bandy, a senior at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, is the third-ranked prospect in the state of Ohio according to tennisrecruiting.net, and he has been ranked consistently in the nation’s top-100, reaching as high as 67th in 2009. He placed third in last spring’s state high school championships. He carries a 2009 junior circuit record of 26-16.

Dooley, a senior at New Braunfels High School in New Braunfels, joins the Irish as the eighth-ranked prospect from the state of Texas according to tennisrecruiting.net. He went undefeated at No. 1 singles for New Braunfels, leading the team to an undefeated record in 2009 and their third consecutive state championship. Another fixture in the top-100, Dooley has been ranked as high as 73rd overall in 2009. He carries an overall 2009 junior circuit record of 53-30.

Pecor, a senior at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, is the top-ranked player from Arizona, the eighth ranked player from the Southwest Region and the 22nd-ranked player in the nation according to tennisrecruiting.net. He carries an overall 2009 junior circuit record of 75-15, including a 27-12 mark versus blue chip and five star recruits. On Sept. 21, Pecor captured the Boys’ 18 singles title at Mike Agassi’s No Quit Championships.

3. Women’s golf head coach Susan Holt has announced the signing of two student-athletes to national letters of intent. The two signees include Nicole Zhang of Calgary, Alberta, and Kristina Nhim of Buena Park, Calif.

Zhang, who currently attends Bishop Carroll in Calgary, joins the Irish as the 10th-ranked recruit for the class of 2010 according to Golfweek. She is also ranked 13th by the National Junior Golf Scoreboard. She has had a series of impressive results over the past two years on the junior golf circuit, including a sixth place finish at the American Junior Golf Association’s Emerson Junior Golf Classic, which concluded on Aug. 20, 2009. She shot a 219 (71-73-75) at the event. She also finished 31st at the United States Golf Association’s Girls Junior Amateur Championship on July 25, 2009.

Zhang earned another AJGA top-10 finish on July 4, 2009 when she wrapped up play at the Rolex Tournament of Champions in seventh. She fired a 69 in the first round of the event and followed with a 70-75-75 to finish at 289 for the four-round tournament. She has also had great success on the Futures Collegians World Tour, where she has finished in the top-three in each of her last three FCWT starts. Most recently, she finished third at the Terra Lago Open on April 4-5, 2009. She is the younger sister of current Irish men’s golf team member Dustin Zhang.

Nhim, who currently attends Cypress High School in Cypress, Calif., is the 43rd-ranked recruit for the class of 2010 according to Golfweek. She has had several impressive finishes on the junior golf circuit in the past year alone. At the American Junior Golf Association’s Junior at Wenatchee, which concluded on Aug. 13, 2009, she posted a ninth-place finish. She also had top-10 finishes at two other AJGA events in 2009, namely the Trader Joe’s Junior Championship (eighth) and the West Junior Open (eighth). She also competed on the Southern California Junior PGA Tour (SCPGA). In her three SCPGA events of the 2009 season, she finished 18th, second and eighth, respectively, with her second place finish coming at the Toyota Tour Cup event at Warner Springs on April 18-19.

4. Guards Eric Atkins (Columbia, Md.), Alex Dragicevich (Northbrook, Ill.) and Jerian Grant (Bowie, Md.) have signed national letter of intent, it was announced by 10th-year men’s basketball head coach Mike Brey.

Atkins, a 6-1, 170-pound point guard, averaged 23.4 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 steals en route to earning Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) player-of-the-year honorees and leading Mount St. Joseph High School to a final 21-12 overall record and fourth-place conference finish in 2008-09. A three-year starter, he was a first-team all-Baltimore Metro selection by the Baltimore Sun, in addition to all-BCL and all-Maryland Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) honors. Atkins also was named to the Gonzaga DC Classic, Benedictine Holiday Tournament and BCL all-tournament teams.

As a sophomore, he netted 15.2 points, dished off 7.4 assists, grabbed 3.2 rebounds and made 5.0 steals per game as his team finished with a final 31-6 ledger and captured the BCL regular-season championship and the Leon Brogden tournament crown. Atkins earned a spot on the Baltimore Sun’s all-Baltimore Metro second team while also garnering first team all-BCL and all-MIAA accolades. As a freshman, he helped guide his prep squad to a 26-9 mark while averaging 6.2 points and 5.4 assists.

Atkins is member of the DC Assault AAU team and in 2009 helped his squad capture the adidas Take 5 championship and the Teak Breakdown Tournament title, while also making the final four at the adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas after winning the crown in 2008. He was named to the all-tournament teams at the Bob Gibbons Memorial Day Tournament and at adidas Take 5.

In addition to winning the adidas Super 64 title in ’08, DC Assault also captured crowns at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest, the Bob Gibbons Memorial Day Tournament in Raleigh, N.C., the Harley Davidson Tournament in Morgantown, W. Va., and the Playaz Spring Fling in Piscataway, N.J.

Dragicevich, a 6-6, 210-pound shooting guard led his Glenbrook North High School prep team to a 23-5 record in ’08-’09 as his squad captured the Central Suburban League North (CSLN) regular-season and tournament crowns. Glenbrook also won regional and sectional titles and reached the Elite Eight of the Illinois state tournament. After averaging 20.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his junior season, he was named the CSLN Player of the Year. An all-area selection by the Chicago Sun Times, he garnered first-team all-league honors and was a second team all-state selection. Dragicevich was an all-tournament team honoree at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament and earned MVP honors at the Niles West Thanksgiving Tournament.

He has helped Glenbrook North to a combined 61-19 record over three seasons and three CSLN championships. A three-year member of the varsity team, Dragicevich copped first-team all-CSLN honors while averaging 16.3 points per game and earned all-area honorable mention honors. He plays for the Full Package Elite AAU team and led that squad reach the Elite Eight of the gold bracket at the adidas Super 64.

Grant, a 6-5, 180-pound guard out of DeMatha High School, will be one of three members of the Notre Dame basketball family in 2009-10 with DeMatha connections as it also is the alma mater of Brey and assistant coach Rod Balanis. In two seasons as a member of the varsity team, he helped DeMatha to a 52-14 record.

As a junior, he averaged 7.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists while garnering first-team all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) honors and second all-Met accolades from the Washington Post. He helped DeMatha to a final 32-4 mark and led his squad to the WCAC regular-season crown as well as WCAC tournament title. His team won the Washington, DC city crown and was ranked second in the DC Metro Area by the Washington Post in addition to earning a No. 7 ranking in the USA Today poll.As a sophomore, DeMatha finished with a 20-10 record and finished third in the WCAC as Grant averaged 4.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The son of former Harvey Grant and the nephew of former Chicago Bulls standout Horace Grant, he also is a member of Nike Team Takeover. In 2009, he was named MVP of the Nike Super Showcase championship game in Orlando, Fla., after leading his team to the tournament crown. Grant also helped Team Nike reach the semifinals of the Nike Peach Jam in Augusta, Ga., was named to the all-tournament team at the King James Classic in Akron, Ohio.

5. The Notre Dame senior volleyball class was featured yesterday on ESPN.com, as writer Dave Reed highlighted the six-person class that has Notre Dame ranked 24th in the nation with a perfect 12-0 BIG EAST Conference record. The feature can be viewed at the following link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4644167 The Irish finish the regular season this weekend with home matches against Georgetown (tomorrow) and USF (Sunday). Sunday will be the program’s Senior Day.

6. Kyle McCarthy (72 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, 4 passes broken up)tidbits include:
– He is the ONLY player in the FBS that ranks among the top 100 ininterceptions, total tackles and solo tackles
– Tied for 6th in the nation with 5 interceptions
– Ranks 3rd among strong safeties in both tackles and solo tackles
– Totaled at least 9 tackles in six of nine games this year
– Recorded 2 interceptions against Boston College in the second half topreserve the Irish victory
– Tallied 12 tackles and a critical pass breakup on the final play ofovertime against Washington, dislodging the ball from the Huskies receiverat the 1 yard line
– Recorded an interception in each of the first three games of the yearversus Nevada, Michigan and Michigan State

7. Golden Tate by the numbers . . .
— 3 His national ranking in total receiving yards (1,059) and receiving yards per game (117.7)
— 6 The number of 100-yard receiving games he has totaled this year – tied for most in the nation
— 10 The number of touchdown receptions this year – tied for second in the nation
— 12 The total number of touchdowns scored this year (rushing and receiving) – more than any other wide receiver
— Tate has registered six 100-yard receiving games in 2009.
— No other FBS player has more 100-yard receiving games.
— Tate ranks among the top FBS receivers (among qualifiers on the NCAA receiving report) in the nation in the following categories:

8. Jimmy Clausen by the numbers . . .
— 3 His ranking in passing efficiency this year (162.88)
— 4 The number of fourth quarter comebacks for wins he has led this year, most ever by a Notre Dame quarterback
— 5 His ranking in passing yards per game (307.8 yards)
— 9 Number of touchdowns he has totaled in the fourth quarter alone this year (he has thrown for 786 yards with eight passing TDs, one rushing TD and only one interception in fourth quarters this season)
— 15 Number of touchdowns he has accounted for this year when tied or trailing (only has thrown one interception when tied or trailing)
— 20-3 His touchdown-to-interception ratio this year (only one QB has a better ratio)
— When the Irish have been tied or trailing, he has totaled 15 touchdowns (14 passing and one rushing) and only one interception
— Set Notre Dame record with four fourth quarter comebacks for wins this year
— In the fourth quarter this year, he has passed for 786 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception
— He has eclipsed 300 yards in five games this year and passed for more than 400 yards twice

9. Notre Dame senior forward Bright Dike was named the 2009 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year tonight at the annual BIG EAST men’s soccer awards banquet. In all, six Fighting Irish players garnered league accolades on the night. Joining Dike on the all-BIG EAST first team was Irish senior midfielder Michael Thomas. Fellow senior Justin Morrow, a defender, was a second-team pick. Junior forward Jeb Brovsky and sophomore defender Aaron Maund were selected to the third team. Freshman midfielder Dillon Powers was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team.

10. According to today’s South Bend Tribune, Walter Waller is hoping to solve the mystery of how a junior fencing championship medal from the University of Notre Dame ended up buried in his London garden. And he’d like to reunite the medal with its proper owner. The medallion is a small square piece of metal bearing the words “1979 Junior World Fencing Championships,” an image of the Golden Dome and the words “University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A.” Waller said he found the medal several years ago while he was digging in his front garden in Blackheath, an area in southeast London, England. The medal was encrusted with dirt and what appeared to be rust. He stored it away in a box, but recently came across it and decided to clean it up. He used an old English cleaning remedy. Waller soaked the medallion in HP Sauce, a popular brand of brown sauce made of malt vinegar blended with fruit and spices. The sauce is a well-known and often used condiment in Great Britain. Waller said he’s discussed the medal with a few friends in the local pub. They speculated that perhaps each athlete who competed in the 1979 Junior World Fencing Championships at the university received a medal for participating. But how did it end up buried in his garden? Waller, 64, and his wife have lived in their home for 14 years. Before that, an unmarried elderly woman lived there for many years, he said. “I’d just like to find out more,” he said. And he’d like to return the medal to its rightful owner.

November 9, 2009

1. Jimmy Clausen arguably had the most prolific passing half in the history of Notre Dame football on Saturday against Navy, with 340 second-half yards. The effort will be lost to some extent because of the final score – but consider what Clausen did in just two periods of football in Notre Dame Stadium:

1. complete to Golden Tate for 13 yards and a first down (FD)
2. incompletion
3. complete to Tate for 12 and FD
4. complete to Tate for 13 and FD
5. complete to Michael Floyd for 22 and FD
6. complete to Robert Hughes for 9
7. complete to Kyle Rudolph for 14 and FD
8. complete to Floyd for 13 and FD
9. complete to Mike Ragone for 3
10. complete to Hughes for 5
11. complete to Robby Parris for 5
12. incompletion
13. complete to Parris for 6 and FD
14. complete to Paris for 11 and FD
15. complete to Ragone for 30 and FD
16. incompletion
17. incompletion

18. complete to Floyd for 16 and FD
19. complete to Tate for 11 and FD
20. interception
21. incompletion
22. complete to Floyd for 11 and FD
23. complete to Tate for 15 and FD
24. complete to Tate for 13 and FD
25. incompletion
26. complete to Hughes for 30 and FD
27. complete to Floyd for 10 and FD
28. incompletion
29. complete to Floyd for 12 and a touchdown
30. incompletion
31. incompletion

32. complete to Tate for 19 and FD
33. complete to Theo Riddick for 16 and FD
34. complete to Tate for 31 and FD and a touchdown

Clausen’s second-half totals:
34 attempts
24 completions
340 yards
2 touchdowns
1 interception
19 first downs
Clausen threw for 225 yards in the fourth period alone (13 of 21 passing).

2. Over the weekend three Notre Dame athletes won gold medals during the United States Fencing Association North America Cup Continental International event for the junior age category in Kansas City. This event involved participation of the best fencers from the USA, Canada and Mexico. Courtney Hurley (women’s epee), Gerek Meinhardt (men’s foil) and Lian Osier (women’s sabre) won gold medals. In men’s foil Enzo Castellani took bronze, losing only the final bout against his teammate Meinhardt — and Rada Sarkisova finished seventh in women’s foil.

3. Notre Dame’s current 12-game win streak in volleyball has produced these items:

The Irish are now ranked 24th in the AVCA top 25 poll, so Notre Dame is ranked for the first time since the start of the 2006 campaign (21st)
Heading into last weekend, the team’s RPI of 14th was the highest of any team not ranked in the top 25 – and each of the four losses came to formidable opponents according to that week’s RPI numbers: Florida State (#3), LSU (#8), Michigan (#10) and Tennessee (#20)
Twelve straight wins is the nation’s fifth-best active victory streak: Penn State (26), Northern Iowa (22), Florida International (19), Hawaii (19) and Notre Dame (12)
The team has clinched the #1 seed in the conference tournament and at least a share of the BIG EAST regular-season title – the Irish need one win this weekend to secure the outright distinction (it would be the first outright title since 2004 after tying for first in 2005)
Notre Dame senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin became the fourth Fighting Irish volleyball player to be named BIG EAST Player of the Week this season, as she received the honor from the league today. An All-American selection in 2008, Kaelin shouldered much of the offensive load for Notre Dame in a pair of conference road wins at Marquette and Syracuse. She registered double-digit kills in both matches with 17 versus the Golden Eagles and 13 versus the Orange.

4. Notre Dame’s Golden Tate has 10 receiving TDs this year – and only Houston’s James Cleveland has more (11). Cleveland has caught 74 balls compared to 65 for Tate. Throw in Tate’s two rushing TDs and he has 12 total TDs – and no receiver in the country can top that, making him the highest-scoring wide receiver in the nation. Tate is one of five receivers in the country currently over the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards – 1,176 yards for Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes (107 catches), 1,164 for Hawai’i’s Greg Salas (69 catches) and 1,059 for Tate.

5. Irish senior forward Luke Harangody has been tabbed as one of 60 men’s and women’s basketball candidates (30 men, 30 women) for the 2009-10 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athletes must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — classroom, character, community and competition. This marks the ninth year that the award has been presented in basketball.

November 8, 2009

1. Charlie Weis’ comments from his media briefing today included:

On Jimmy Clausen – “He had a bruised left hand at the end of the day – he was a little silly for a minute down by the goal line.”
On Notre Dame’s offensive struggles – “In the red zone, we hardly ever turn the ball over. This was an unusual set of circumstances. Jimmy took a vicious blow and turned the ball over at the same time. Jimmy throws a perfect throw and Michael thought it was a different play. He just missed it. On fourth down we had a play designed for that situation and they win on that one. On two others we missed field goals. We just laid an egg on a couple of those opportunities.”
On dealing with fans: “The only two fans I dealt with last night live in my house. They are the fans I was concerned about last night.”
On Dayne Crist – “It (his Friday surgery) went very, very well — better than we could have expected. It was as clean as it could be- no cartilage, no other ligaments – it took an hour to fix. The prognosis is good – a time frame faster than we normally would have expected. I visited with him Friday night at the health center and he was in good spirits.”
On rookie RB Theo Riddick – “It’s tough to ignore what he does with the ball in his hands. He’s not just shaking and baking – he runs with power for a guy his size. You’ll see a lot more of him. He runs with toughness.”
On difference between this one and losses to USC and Michigan: “This was different because the whole theme will be about accountability and dependability – too many opportunities squandered yesterday. We don’t turn the ball over three times – that’s not us. Our two biggest concerns were tackling the fullback and not giving up a play action shot and both came to fruition. Those were the two biggest issues we were dealing with coming into game.”
On looking at the tape: “There’s plenty of evidence today understanding who was at fault in various situations. I don’t give up players, but when they watch tape, don’t point fingers at anyone but yourself.”
On positives from Navy: “One positive is that right to end our players were playing hard. I’m not questioning their effort. Now it’s accountability on assignments. You want to know why you lose, here’s why you lose. There’s plenty of evidence — these guys will feel sick to their stomachs. They aren’t going to feel good about what they see. There were people in position who should have made plays. “
On where Irish go from here: “You can look at the glass half full or half empty. We have some dynamic players on our team. It still comes down to situational football. You have to convert on third down, score in the red zone, score on the goal line. Football is simple between the 20s – bottom line was points — we didn’t score enough. Your best players need to execute when it’s that time. How many times have you seen Michael Floyd on the fade route – he tried it a couple of times last night and it didn’t come to fruition. We fumbled on the third play and never got any chance to get into an ebb and flow of the game. There was a lot of standing around during the first half – the defense got `em off the field more in the second half. But the fact they went the length of the field the first two times doesn’t fire me up too much.”
On Navy: “They’ve given us trouble three years in a row. This is not the first rodeo for us.”
On whether there’s a defensive player analogous to Jimmy Clausen as a leader on defense: “It’s Kyle McCarthy, he’s the clear leader of the defense – it’s not close.”
On the Irish defense: “I would have felt good about our chances if you told me before the game we were going to give up 21 points – it was our lack of (offensive) production in the red zone.”

2. The #4 Notre Dame women’s soccer team earned a defiant 2-1 victory over Marquette to claim the 2009 BIG EAST Championship in a physical matchup of #1 seeds this afternoon at Connecticut’s Morrone Stadium. The Irish had taken a 1-0 lead early in the first half only to see the Golden Eagles tie the game late in the first half before senior midfielder Amanda Clark scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 70:13. The win marked the 11th BIG EAST title in program history and Notre Dame’s fourth conference crown in the past five seasons. The Irish will now wait for the selection committee to announce the 64-team field for the 2009 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship to learn when and where they play next. The field will be announced tomorrow at approximately 8:00 pm (EST) on ESPNews and first-round games will be played Nov. 13 at campus sites around the country. For their roles in Notre Dame’s march to the 2009 title, Clark, Jessica Schuveiller, Lauren Fowlkes, Courtney Barg and Nikki Weiss were named to the 2009 BIG EAST All-Tournament team. Schuveiller was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, while Fowlkes was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player.

3. Following a 2-2 draw, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team topped #8 USF in a penalty kick shootout 5-4, in BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal action this afternoon at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish now will face Louisville in the league semifinals Friday in Morgantown, W.Va. Notre Dame is the second seed from the league’s Blue Division, while USF was the Red Division’s third seed. Notre Dame (10-7-2) hit its first five penalty kicks and USF’s Sebastian Thuriere sent the Bulls’ final attempt off the crossbar. Connecting on the kicks for the Irish were Michael Thomas, Matt Armstrong, Dillon Powers, Bright Dike and Jeb Brovsky. Kicking in the first four rounds for USF were Javed Mohammed, Bernardo Anor, Hasani Sinclair and Zak Boggs. Notre Dame senior Philip Tuttle was in goal for the Irish, while Jeff Attinella manned the frame for the Bulls. USF (13-3-3) took a 1-0 lead in the third minute as Jorge Mora sent a shot in from 18 yards out. The Bulls claimed a two-goal advantage in the 23rd minute when Thuriere headed in a cross from Kevin Olali. The Irish converted on a chance in the 43rd minute when Dike, a senior forward, put home his team-leading 10th goal of the season. Thomas, a senior midfielder, sent the pass to Dike to collect his team-best sixth assist of the campaign. The Fighting Irish did get the equalizer in the 83rd minute as sophomore defender Aaron Maund headed a Powers corner kick off the near post and into the back of the net. That was the first career goal for Maund. Notre Dame and Louisville, the top seed from the Red Division, will meet in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Friday in Morgantown, W.Va. The match will be aired live on CBS College Sports. The Irish topped the Cardinals 4-0 at Notre Dame on Sept. 25. St. John’s (Red Division #1 seed) and Providence (Blue Division #5 seed) will meet in the first semifinal at 3:00 p.m.

4. Syracuse recorded eight blocks and held Notre Dame to a season-low 15 points in the opening frame of today’s BIG EAST Conference volleyball match at Manley Field House, but the Irish rallied back to sweep the remaining sets — snapping the Orange’s 10-match winning streak and extending its own win streak to 12.

5. For the first 40 minutes of Saturday night’s game at the Carlson Center, the Irish controlled play against Alaska, outshooting the Nanooks by a 20-13 edge. The final 20 minutes were another matter as Alaska scored three times to wipe out a 1-0 Notre Dame lead to give the Nanooks a 3-1 hockey win over the Irish. Two third-period goals by Derek Klassen and a game winner from Andy Taranto offset Notre Dame’s second-period goal by Ben Ryan to give the Nanooks a split on the weekend after dropping Friday’s game 3-2. Sophomore goaltender Scott Greenham stopped 26 of 27 Irish shots in the game while Irish freshman Mike Johnson, making the first back-to-back starts of his career, had 21 saves in the loss. The loss dropped ninth-ranked Notre Dame to 5-4-1 overall and 2-1-1-0 in the CCHA, good for seven points in the standings. Alaska, ranked 14th in the nation, improved to 6-1-1 on the year and 3-1-0-0 in conference play for nine points in the league standings. The loss also ended the 11-game Irish unbeaten streak (10-0-1) against Alaska that started Dec. 2, 2006. The last time the Nanooks beat Notre Dame was on March 4, 2006, a 1-0 win in game two of the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

5. Senior Kali Krisik won the singles title today at the Western Michigan Invitational after compiling a 3-0 record during the weekend. Krisik topped Louisville’s Mandy Brown, 6-3, 6-4, to claim the singles crown. Krisik is now 4-1 in singles action this season.

6. Here’s the list of top football teams in the country in terms of least amount of offensive three and outs:

Team                Per Game       Totals (number/games)Idaho                 1.00                      10/10Notre Dame            1.22                       11/9Florida               1.33                       12/9Nevada                1.38                       11/8Arizona               1.38                       11/8

7. The Notre Dame men’s tennis team closed out its fall season today with the final day of play at the fourth-annual Tribe Invitational at the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center. After three days of play, the Irish posted a 21-4 mark in singles play versus opponents from William & Mary, Maryland and the College of Charleston and a 8-4 mark in doubles. Junior David Anderson as well as sophomore Niall Fitzgerald and freshman Blas Moros all ran their singles records to 4-0 with wins on day three of play. Notre Dame led the way with four singles players on the all-tournament squad as Anderson, Michael Moore, Moros and Sam Keeton earned all-tournament honors for the Fighting Irish. In doubles, Notre Dame’s Daniel Stahl and Fitzgerald made the all-tournament team as well.

8. Notre Dame heads to Pittsburgh ranked fifth nationally in passing offense (325.56 yards per game), sixth in total offense (463.67), 14th in turnover margin (tied with Pitt) at plus-.89, and fifth in passing efficiency (161.16), Individually, Jimmy Clausen is third in passing efficiency (162.88), and eighth in total offense (300.89). Golden Tate is third in receiving yards per game (117.67) and 10th in receptions per game (7.22).

9. Pittsburgh comes in rated 16th in scoring (34.56 points), 19th in scoring defense (17.11), 21st in total defense (310.89), sixth in passing efficiency (161.02) and first in sacks (4.33 per game).

10. This will be a battle of two of the top five most efficient passers in the country this season – Jimmy Clausen third at 162.88 and Pitt’s Bill Stull fifth at 161.61. Meanwhile, Pitt’s Dion Lewis ranks seventh nationally in rushing at 126.56 yards per game.

11. In the NCAA toughest schedule ratings Notre Dame is 34th at 53-44 (.546), while Pitt is 17th at 45-33 (.576). In terms of future opposition, Pitt is fourth at 20-5, while Notre Dame is 21st at 16-9.

12. Pittsburgh’s 8-1 start is the best for a Panther team since 8-1 in 1982 (the Irish dented that Dan Marino-led team when Pitt was #1 with a win in Pittsburgh).

13. Pitt ranks best in the BIG EAST in total defense, second in both scoring offense and scoring defense and third in total offense. Dion Lewis leads the BIG EAST in rushing (1,139 yards and 12 TDs) and scoring, while Bill Stull leads the BIG EAST in passing (208.8 yards and 161.6 in efficiency).

14. Pittsburgh has rushed for at least 214 yards in each of its last four games. The best other BIG EAST units have done is two Saturdays in a row (by Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia.

15. With 65 receptions already, Golden Tate needs to average four catches per game in his last four contests (assuming a bowl game) to beat the Notre Dame single-season record of 78 catches from 2006 by Jeff Samardzija. Tate already has 1,059 receiving yards this year and needs only 191 the rest of the season to beat Samardzija’a all-time best single-season total of 1,249 from 2005.

16. Jimmy Clausen threw for 340 yards Saturday in the second half against Navy.

November 7, 2009

1. The #9 Notre Dame hockey team got a stellar performance from freshman goaltender Mike Johnson and just enough offense to hand #13 Alaska its first loss of the season last night at the Carlson Center. Johnson, making just his third career start, stopped 35 of 37 Nanook shots in the game and got goals from Christiaan Minella, Ryan Thang and Kyle Lawson in the win. For Notre Dame, the win improved the Irish to 5-3-1 overall and 2-0-1-0 in the CCHA, good for seven points in the conference standings. Alaska suffers its first loss of the season and is now 5-1-1 for the season and 2-1-0 in the CCHA with six points in the standings. The win gives the Irish an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) against the Nanooks since Dec. 2, 2006. The two teams will close out the weekend series on tonight, with the opening face-off set for 7:05 Alaska time (11:05 p.m. Eastern time). In three starts this season, freshman goaltender Mike Johnson has given up just three goals on 94 shots. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage with one shutout to start his Notre Dame career.

2. The No. 4 Notre Dame women’s soccer team advanced to the BIG EAST championship match with a 2-1 overtime win over St. John’s last night in Storrs, Conn., on the strength of a Jessica Schuveiller golden goal scored with just over a minute remaining in the first overtime stanza. For the game winner, Schuveiller rose above the St. John’s defense to head home a Rose Augustin corner kick after making a run through the center of the Red Storm box. It marked Schuveiller’s second goal of the year and third of her Irish career. All three goals have proved to be game winners. Lauren Fowlkes scored early in the first half to give the Irish a 1-0 lead, with the assist also going to Augustin, but the Red Storm answered with a second-half goal to send the game into overtime. With the win, the Irish advance to the BIG EAST Championship game for the sixth consecutive year where they on Sunday will face Marquette (noon ET, CBS College Sports, Comcast SportsNet Chicago), who will be making its first ever appearance in the BIG EAST title match.

3. Four Irish players scored in double figures and preseason first-team All-American Luke Harangody notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds as Notre Dame topped Quincy, 75-54, in exhibition play inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center Friday night. Ben Hansbrough finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and six assists, and Jonathan Peoples also assisted on six scores. Tim Abromaitis finished with seven rebounds, while Tory Jackson finished with 11 points, four rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Tyrone Nash also recorded 11 points while knocking down a game-high five free throws.

4. In the midst of all these athletics, we’ll provide a bit of culture this morning. The famous British author G. K. Chesterton wrote a poem about Notre Dame Stadium, called “The Arena” (attached below). It begins with a reflection upon a golden statue of the roman emperor and Nero and the death of the gladiators (“those about to die salute thee!”), but moves under the civilizing gaze of the golden image of the Mother of God (“the mother of the master of the masterers of the world”) on the Dome to a reflection on “boys at play” in the modern arena (“those about to live salute thee!”). It may actually have been written on the occasion of the dedication of the stadium in 1930 and the Navy game that year, when Chesterton was visiting Notre Dame. (http://archives.nd.edu/hope/hope29.htm)

The Arena
Causa Nostrae Laetitiae
(Dedicated to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana)

There uprose a golden giant
On the gilded house of Nero
Even his far-flung flaming shadow and his image swollen large
Looking down on the dry whirlpool
Of the round Arena spinning
As a chariot-wheel goes spinning; and the chariots at the charge.
And the molten monstrous visage
Saw the pageants, saw the torments,
Down the golden dust undazzled saw the gladiators go,
Heard the cry in the closed desert
Te salutant morituri,
As the slaves of doom went stumbling, shuddering, to the shades below.
“Lord of Life, of lyres and laughter,
Those about to die salute thee,
At thy godlike fancy feeding men with bread and beasts with men,
But for us the Fates point deathward
In a thousand thumbs thrust downward,
And the Dog of Hell is roaring through the lions in their den.”
I have seen, where a strange country
Opened its secret plains about me,
One great golden dome stand lonely with its golden image, one
Seen afar, in strange fulfillment,
Through the sunlit Indian summer
That Apocalyptic portent that has clothed her with the Sun.
She too looks on the Arena
Sees the gladiators grapple,
She whose names are Seven Sorrows and the Cause of All Our Joy,
Sees the pit that stank with slaughter
Scoured to make the courts of morning
For the cheers of jesting kindred and the scampering of a boy.
“Queen of Death and deadly weeping
Those about to live salute thee,
Youth untroubled; youth untutored; hateless war and harmless mirth
And the New Lord’s larger largesse
Holier bread and happier circus,
Since the Queen of Sevenfold Sorrow has brought joy upon the earth.”
Burns above the broad arena
Where the whirling centuries circle,
Burns the Sun-clothed on the summit, golden-sheeted, golden shod,
Like a sun-burst on the mountains,
Like the flames upon the forest
Of the sunbeams of the sword-blades of the Gladiators of God.
And I saw them shock the whirlwind
Of the World of dust and dazzle:
And thrice they stamped, a thunderclap; and thrice the sand-wheel swirled;
And thrice they cried like thunder
On Our Lady of the Victories,
The Mother of the Master of the Masterers of the World.
“Queen of Death and Life undying
Those about to live salute thee;
Not the crawlers with the cattle; looking deathward with the swine,
But the shout upon the mountains
Of the men that live for ever
Who are free of all things living but a Child; and He was thine.”

–G.K. Chesterton (1930)

5. Ryan Steenberge is the top-ranked senior student at Annapolis and has the honor of leading the non-football Midshipmen as they march onto the field prior to the football game today at Notre Dame Stadium. Ryan is the nephew of former Irish quarterback Patrick Steenberge.

6. Thirty ties and 13 lead changes marked the Notre Dame volleyball team’s 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-13) victory Friday night against Marquette at the Al McGuire Center. Notre Dame was aided by 15.0 blocks — including eight apiece from freshman middle blocker Hilary Eppink and senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips — to keep its BIG EAST Conference record flawless at 11-0. Notre Dame (17-4), the only undefeated team in the league, now travels to Syracuse for a Sunday contest set to begin at 2:00 p.m. The Irish dropped the first set and came back to win for the second time this season, doing so once prior against Wisconsin on Sept. 11. Notre Dame has won 11 straight BIG EAST matches for the seventh time since joining the league in 1995.

7. Covering the football game today is a sportswriter by the name of Sakakibara from Japan’s Asahi newspaper. He has been in the United States since the Presidents Cup golf event and is preparing a story about college sports business and interviewed several Irish athletic officials yesterday. Asahi is Japan’s second largest paper, with circulation of six million. Also covering the game is photographer Thomas Savoja representing a French Web site that covers American football.

8. Six races were won by the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team Friday at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center — but the Irish were ousted by host Purdue 121-179. Both Samantha Maxwell and Katie Casey shelved a pair of individual victories for Notre Dame. John Lytle and Petar Petrovic both earned a pair of first-place finishes but the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team fell by a 105-195 margin to Purdue on Friday.

9. The tragedy at Fort Hood has prompted the Governor of the State of Indiana to order all flags to be flown at half mast on Federal buildings – and so that will observed today at the Notre Dame-Navy football game. In addition, a moment of silence will be observed just prior to the flag presentation. The moment of silence will not change any pre-game timings.

10. Attendance at the pep rally Friday night at Irish Green was 6,671 – and 6,413 more fans on Friday entered Notre Dame Stadium and walked down the tunnel to the field (in and around the Navy team’s hour-long walk-through).

11. One of the pilots involved in the flyover today is 2001 USNA graduate Lt. Mark Huber from Hillsboro, Ill. He has a brother David who is a Notre Dame grad (2004), as well as a father-in-law, two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law who are Notre Dame grads, plus a sister-in-law who is a Saint Mary’s graduate.

November 5, 2009

1. Notre Dame football is the subject of a one-page piece in this week’s Sports Illustrated in the Inside College Football section (page 34). The title is, “The Jury’s Out – Notre Dame is piling up points and victories, but are the Irish worthy of a BCS bid?” The story calls Jimmy Clausen “a bona fide Heisman contender – and arguably the best quarterback in the game.”

2. Luke Harangody, who earlier this week was named the leading vote-getter on the Associated Press Preseason All-America Team, was one of 50 players today named to the 2009-10 Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List, as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Harangody is one of 19 seniors on the list, followed by 14 juniors, 12 sophomores and five freshmen. The BIG EAST and Atlantic Coast Conferences had the most representatives on the list with nine apiece, while the Big XII and Southeastern Conferences each had eight.

3. Notre Dame senior volleyball setter Jamel Nicholas today was named ESPN The Magazine second-team Academic All-District V. The Gibsonia, Pa., native has guided the Irish to a 10-match winning streak heading into this weekend’s action at Marquette (Nov. 6) and Syracuse (Nov. 8). Nicholas is 22nd nationally with 11.14 assists/set and fourth among BIG EAST Conference setters with 11.37 assists/set in league play. Nicholas has a 3.34 grade-point average and is pursuing majors in sociology and film, television and theater. She plans on enrolling in Notre Dame’s ACE program after graduation.

4. Nan Tulchinsky and her late husband Mark tonight were inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame at Century Center in South Bend at its 23rd annual banquet. Both Nan and Mark worked the scorer’s table at Notre Dame men’s and women’s basketball games for many years – and Nan continues as the official scorer for both the Irish men’s and women’s games. Both Mark and Nan were career educators in the South Bend Community School Corporation. Also inducted was Rev. David Link, a former longtime member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty.

5. Notre Dame football senior special teams stalwart Mike Anello and senior offensive guard Chris Stewart were each named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District Team for District 5 today. Anello and Stewart, each of whom graduated in 3.5 years and currently take graduate level courses, now get placed on the national ballot for the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America Team. Anello, who was named Academic All-America second team last year, earned a degree from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in finance. He finished his undergraduate work with a 3.93 cumulative grade point average (GPA). Anello earned dean’s list recognition in each of his seven semesters at Notre Dame. He registered a perfect 4.0 GPA in his major courses and was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honors society. Anello was also named one of 10 finalists for the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) Sportsmanship Award. The ARA Sportsmanship Award is presented annually to an NCAA Division I college football player who exemplifies sportsmanship both on and off the field. The selection of the winner is made by a blue-ribbon panel comprised of retired coaches, ARA executives and members of the media who cover college sports. Stewart earned a degree from the College of Arts and Letters in history. He finished his undergraduate studies with a 3.536 cumulative GPA. Stewart registered a 3.834 GPA in his final semester (`09 spring). Stewart has started 18 career games for Notre Dame on the offensive line, including all eight games this season at left guard. During his undergraduate coursework, Stewart had the opportunity to learn about Haiti and the diseases that affect it. Over the ’09 spring break, he was given the chance to visit the country and see firsthand Notre Dame’s Haiti Program. During his weeklong visit, Stewart conducted research, learned the logistics of the program and toured facilities geared toward eradicating lymphatic filariasis – a parasitic disease caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. The disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can cause swelling and decreased function of the lymph system, making it difficult for the body to fight germs and infections.

November 4, 2009

1. The start time for the Notre Dame – Northern Michigan hockey game on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Joyce Center rink has been moved up to 5:05 p.m. (EST). The game originally was scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. (EST) and now avoids Notre Dame’s 8:00 p.m. football kickoff at Pittsburgh on ABC Sports that was announced earlier this week. Game two between the Irish and the Wildcats is on Sunday, Nov. 15 with that starting time still set for 4:05 p.m.

2. One last leftover from San Antonio – smart move by the Notre Dame band to play “Deep in the Heart of Texas” as part of its halftime show, with a Texas flag displayed on the field. The number prompted huge audience participation in terms of singing alone and clapping.

3. You can make a great case for Notre Dame’s football offense being one of the best in the country. The Irish are second in the nation in fewest three-and-outs on offense with only 11 (Arizona also has 11, but in one less game) for 1.38 per game. Florida is #1 at 1.13 per game with nine in eight games.

4. Alabama’s Mark Ingram held on to a healthy lead in the latest edition of the HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll released today. The sophomore running back collected six of 13 first-place votes by the panel, comprised of Heisman voters from around the country. His 48 total points put him comfortably ahead of Florida’s Tim Tebow (27 points, three first-place votes). Three other quarterbacks were bunched closely together behind Tebow: Colt McCoy of Texas (26 points), Case Keenum of Houston (26 points, one first-place vote) and Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame (25 points, one first-place vote). “I think Clausen has had a Heisman-type season for Notre Dame and that’s why he’s No. 1 on my ballot right now,” said one voter. “His stats are excellent and, more importantly, the Irish would be a mess without him. With him, they might make a BCS bowl. I think Jacquizz Rodgers is the best all-purpose back in the nation, while Keenum has been consistently dominant for Houston.” The HeismanPundit.com Heisman Poll appears every Wednesday in the Orlando Sentinel and in various Tribune Company media outlets.

5. If you are following the postseason hopes of Notre Dame’s fall Olympic sports teams, here are dates you need to know:

Women’s Soccer
BIG EAST Championships – Friday and Sunday, Nov. 6/8 (Storrs, Conn.)
NCAA 1st Round – Friday, Nov. 13 (campus sites)
NCAA 2nd Round – Sunday, Nov. 15 (campus sites)
NCAA 3rd Round – Friday-Sunday, Nov. 20, 21 or 22 (campus sites)
NCAA Quarterfinal – Friday-Sunday, Nov. 27, 28 or 29 (campus sites)
NCAA College Cup – Friday and Sunday, Dec. 4 & 6 (College Station, Texas)

Men’s Soccer
BIG EAST Quarterfinal – Sunday, Nov. 1 (at Notre Dame)
BIG EAST Championships – Friday and Sunday, Nov. 13/15 (Morgantown, W.Va.)
NCAA 1st Round – Friday or Saturday, Nov. 20/21 (campus sites)
NCAA 2nd Round – Tuesday, Nov. 24 (campus sites)
NCAA 3rd Round – Saturday or Sunday, Nov. 28 or 29 (campus sites)
NCAA Quarterfinal – Friday-Sunday, Dec. 4, 5 or 6 (campus sites)
NCAA College Cup – Friday and Sunday, Dec. 11 & 13 (Cary, N.C.)

Women’s Volleyball
Home vs. Georgetown – Friday, Nov. 13 (at Notre Dame)Home vs. South Florida – Sunday, Nov. 15 (at Notre Dame)BIG EAST Championships – Friday-Sunday, Nov. 20-22 (Louisville, Ky.)Away at Florida – Friday, Nov. 27 (Gainesville, Fla.)NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds – Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 3-6 (campus sites)NCAA Regionals – Friday-Saturday, Dec. 11-12 (Gainesville, Omaha, Stanford, Minneapolis)NCAA Championships – Thursday and Saturday, Dec. 17 & 19 (Tampa, Fla.)

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
NCAA Great Lakes Regional – Saturday, Nov. 14 (Bloomington, Ind.)
NCAA Championships – Monday, Nov. 23 (Terre Haute, Ind.)

6. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Notre Dame Bengal Bouts. The Bengal Bouts is an intramural boxing tournament put on annually by the Notre Dame men’s boxing team for the benefit of the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world. The program was founded in 1929 by boxing coach Dominic “Nappy” Napolitano and legendary football coach Knute Rockne. Nappy’s words to the team that year would forever serve as the motto of the Bengal Bouts: “Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished.” Since then, the Bengal Bouts has grown into one of the most special and unique athletic traditions at Notre Dame, developing hundreds of young men in body and mind while raising more than $50,000 a year for development projects in Bangladesh. Bengal Bouts alumni from the classes of 1949 through 2009, as well as missionary Father Shankar Rozario, who traveled all the way from Bangladesh, will be honored on the field at the Notre Dame-Navy football game. This weekend, more than 200 former boxers are kicking off the 80th year by gathering for a reunion and for the premiere of a new documentary film on the Bengal Bouts. The film, Strong Bodies Fight, tells the inspiring story of the Notre Dame boxing team and its unique partnership with the people of Bangladesh. The film will be shown at 9:30 p.m. EST Friday at the Browning Cinema in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $6 for the public, $5 for Notre Dame faculty and staff, $4 for seniors and $3 for students. Bill Donaruma (associate professional specialist in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television and Theatre) and Mark Weber produced the 97-minute documentary.

7. The next time you visit Purcell Pavilion, check out all the new theming on the upper concourse. The area that used to be nothing but the back end of bleacher sections now contains huge walls featuring photos, graphics and lots of facts and figures. Here are the titles for the various sections (some are still being completed):

Athletic Debuts
Rockin’ the Joyce (concerts)
Post-Season Success
Jam the Joyce
Venue Versatility
Conference Success
Individual Moments
Beating #1
Commencement Speakers
Home Court Advantage

The areas above these massive walls show the evolution of the interlocking ND logo – and there also are real pennants with those same logos hanging at various spots around the concourse. There’s also lots more way-finding signage, all in a nifty Celtic font.

8. The Maxwell Football Club announced its 16 semifinalists today for its national player of the year award and Notre Dame had two – QB Jimmy Clausen and WR Golden Tate (Texas was the only other school with two players on the list). Clausen is second in the country in passing efficiency this week – while no receiver in the country has scored more TDs this year than Tate (he has 11).

9. Irish defensive back Mike Anello is one of 10 finalists for the fifth annual ARA (Awards and Recognition Association) Sportsmanship Award.

November 3, 2009

1. Below are charts indicating this week’s BCS football rankings — along with a re-ranking of those 25 teams based on their cumulative schedule strength and their future schedule strength. The cumulative schedule strength used is both past and future opposition records tabulated by the NCAA, while the future schedule strength is simply the cumulative record of remaining opponents. The first number listed is the NCAA’s schedule strength ranking, followed by the school and then this week’s BCS ranking of that team:

Cumulative SOS Team BCS Rank
2 Oklahoma 24
6 Arizona 18
7 Iowa 4
7 Virginia Tech 23
11 Oregon 8
13 Miami (Fla.) 17
17 Pittsburgh 13
20 Ohio State 16
22 Alabama 3
27 USC 12
29 South Florida 25
33 Notre Dame 22
33 Oklahoma State 19
35 Texas 2
36 Wisconsin 21
40 Penn State 11
42 Florida 1
45 LSU 9
54 California 20
58 Cincinnati 5
59 Georgia Tech 10
75 TCU 6
87 Utah 14
95 Boise State 7
105 Houston 15
Future SOS Team BCS Rank
1 Ohio State 16
7 Pittsburgh 13
17 Notre Dame 22
17 Oklahoma 24
21 Alabama 3
27 Iowa 4
34 LSU 9
36 Arizona 18
38 Oregon 8
42 Miami 17
45 California 20
46 Cincinnati 5
47 Utah 14
53 Penn State 11
55 South Florida 25
56 USC 12
62 Texas 2
62 Georgia Tech 10
66 Oklahoma State 19
82 Boise State 7
84 TCU 6
93 Wisconsin 21
101 Florida 1
104 Virginia Tech 23
117 Houston

2. The coin being used in the pre-game coin toss for the Notre Dame-Navy game is a Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. This beautiful and unique commemorative coin is the first in U.S. history with readable Braille embossed on it, and was issued this year by the U.S. Mint to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille. Proceeds from sales of the coin will help the National Federation of the Blind to reverse the high rate of illiteracy among blind children in America. The coin was brought to campus for use in the toss by distinguished Notre Dame alumnus Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. More information on the coin and the Braille literacy crisis is available on the Web at www.Braille.org

3. The national colors will be presented at the Notre Dame-Navy football game by Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan, a 1980 graduate of Notre Dame and commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command. He is this year’s recipient of the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., Award for distinguished military service and will be honored during halftime ceremonies. Gen. Brogan will be accompanied by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Adm. Mullen is the 17th chairman of the joint chiefs and serves as the principal military advisor to the president, secretary of defense, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. Adm. Mullen also will be part of the coin toss.

4. The pregame flyover for the Notre Dame-Navy game will be by four China Lake, Calif.-based VX-9 F/A-18 Super Hornets, all piloted by U.S. Naval Academy graduates. NBC Sports has revamped its pregame timings and will show the National Anthem live (with both teams on the field) as well as the flyover.

5. A few tickets still remain for the Notre Dame home football games against Navy (Nov. 7) and Connecticut (Nov. 21). They are available to the public.

6. Golden Tate has nine touchdown receptions in 2009 – and the only player in the country with more is Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles with 10. The Notre Dame season record is 15 by Jeff Samardzija in 2005 and Rhema McKnight in 2006.

7. This week’s ESPN Experts’ Poll of Heisman votes lists Alabama’s Mark Ingram #1 with 56 points, Florida’s Tim Tebow #2 with 47 points and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen #3 with 35 points. Golden Tate is #8 with five points (he received one third-place votes and two fifth-place votes). In terms of first-place votes, Ingram received six, Clausen four, Tebow three and Boise State’s Kellen Moore two.

8. Honored at the Notre Dame-Navy game will be the Irish men’s swimming, rowing and men’s outdoor track teams – all BIG EAST champions in 2009. The Presidential Team Irish Award goes to the Email Transition Team, and the Notre Dame faculty recognition goes to Law School professor A.J. Bellia (his wife Tricia is the University’s Faculty Athletic Representative).

9. After missing five games with a broken collarbone, Michael Floyd will be back in action this week against Navy. Floyd was cleared on Monday after doctors evaluated the healing in his shoulder. Said Charlie Weis, “He’s back and ready to go. There was some hooting and hollering when he went down the steps last night. I let Michael make the call on whether this was the week or not. I think number seven (Jimmy Clausen) was just as happy as number three (Floyd). We have a plan — he won’t play every down. He’ll see what happens when he gets tackled in a game.”

10. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Dayne Crist has a torn ACL (knee) and will have season-ending surgery Friday. He’ll be out of action for four to six months. Charlie Weis says he doesn’t know if Crist will be available for spring ball in 2010 – “We will definitely be conservative. We want him full-go in August.” Receiver John Goodman becomes the #3 quarterback.

11. Notre Dame will play host to 10 individuals at the Navy home football game Saturday as part of the Wounded Warriors Project. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) honors men and women of the United States armed forces who have been severely injured during conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world. It serves to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

12. Dr. Ronald Zamber, a 1983 graduate and co-founder of International Vision Quest (IVQ), will receive the Harvey G. Foster Award on Nov. 5 for distinguished involvement in civic and University initiatives. He also will be honored at the end of the first period of the Notre Dame-Navy football game. In 2001, Zamber and his wife, Suzan, founded the non-profit organization that provides free eye care to people in developing countries, and provides financial resources to entities that care for children living in poverty. The Zambers also funded, organized and participated in medical and surgical mission trips to Ecuador, Nepal, Malawi and Costa Rica, and during these trips Zamber performed free sight-restoring surgeries and sight-preserving medical care on thousands of impoverished adults and children. These experiences inspired the founding of IVQ, which helped fund the Rotary Netra Rural Eye Hospital in Vizag, India; supported the Malawi Children’s Village in Africa; and has provided donations for more than 100,000 meals for destitute children through the Feed My Starving Children Organization. in addition, IVQ has contributed funds to the O’Hana Heritage Foundation to aid construction of a respite home for medically fragile children in South Bend, Ind. Zamber was voted a member of the “Best Doctors in America” for 2009-10 and was featured in Ophthalmology Management Magazine for his humanitarian work.

13. More from Charlie Weis at his Tuesday media briefing:

On Navy: “They are very good and very consistent at what they do. This is by far the best Navy defense since I’ve been here – it’s not even close. All their linebackers are seniors and all their DBs are juniors and seniors. One thing you know abut Navy – the easiest part of their day is football practice.”

On the future schedule: “Since USC we’ve talked about taking steps. Navy is step number three.”

14. Former Notre Dame All-America and Academic All-America center Mike Oriard has a new book out – “Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football From the Sixties to the BCS Era.” It will be published next month by the University of North Carolina Press — and it was excerpted last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Oriard is a professor of English and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.

15. Jimmy Clausen has throw only two interceptions this season – and the only FBS quarterback with fewer is Diondre Borel of Utah State (with one).

16. In the last two football games, Notre Dame’s defense has allowed zero or negative yards on 20 of 48 first-down plays.

17. It will be a comparatively quiet weekend on campus in terms of other athletic events if you are coming to Notre Dame for the football game against Navy. There’s a men’s basketball preseason game at 7:30 p.m. Friday night against Quincy College – and then at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday there’s a BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal men’s soccer game between Notre Dame and either South Florida or Marquette (they play each other on Thursday).

18. Former QB Steve Beuerlein took a quick tour of campus today with his wife and some old friends. They went through Notre Dame Stadium, stopped at practice for a chat with Charlie Weis and also visited the Gug.

19. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team posted a 97-53 victory over Indianapolis tonight in its preseason home opener. Erica Solomon led the Irish (off the bench) with 17 points and six rebounds — Natalie Novosel had 13 points and six rebounds. Rookie Skylar Diggins made her Purcell Pavilion debut and came off the bench for 17 points, four rebounds and three steals in 20 minutes.

November 2, 2009

1. Also seen in San Antonio – former Irish captain Chuck Lanza on the sidelines at the Alamodome.

2. Former Irish QB Steve Beuerlein is headed to South Bend Tuesday for an afternoon visit to campus. Beuerlein and his wife are spending a few days in Chicago and are taking the South Shore to town.

3. Florida Panthers general manager Randy Sexton announced Saturday that the club recalled forward Victor Oreskovich. Oreskovich, 23, received his first-ever NHL promotion (and made his NHL debut Saturday at St. Louis) after registering four points and two penalty minutes in five American Hockey League contests with the Amerks. The former Notre Dame product picked up his second multi-point game of the season with a pair of assists Friday to help Rochester win in its eighth straight game, a 4-2 decision over the Binghamton Senators. A native of Oakville, Ontario, the 6-3, 225-pound forward signed a two-year deal with Florida as a free agent on Oct. 8.

4. With Notre Dame’s first off-site football venture now in the books, Irish officials head to New York Nov. 17 to make more arrangements for Yankee Stadium in 2010.

5. The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback AwardÃÆ €™Ãƒ € Ã¢ ‚¬ „¢ ¯ ¿ ½ (The O’Brien) continues its On-the-Road Campaign as it stops at four more semifinalists’ campuses Nov. 7, including Notre Dame. College football enthusiasts and fans alike are encouraged to stop by The O’Brien display (in the Joyce Center fieldhouse) and vote for their favorite semifinalist. Fans who vote at The O’Brien display will automatically be entered into the “Defend Your Pride. Vote O’Brien Sweepstakes,” for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2010 O’Brien Awards Dinner at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The O’Brien displays will be open pre-game through kickoff. Fans not able to cast a vote in person can register and vote at www.VoteOBrien.org. Online fan voting will close at noon CST on Nov. 22 and finalists will be announced on Nov. 23. Finalists will be selected by The O’Brien Selection Committee, comprised of journalists, broadcasters, commentators and former winners, with the Fan Vote accounting for five percent of the total vote.

Week 10: The O’Brien On-the-Road Campaign Locations:

Daryll Clark No. 16 Ohio State at No. 11 Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m. (CST) on ABC
Jimmy Clausen Navy at No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1:30 p.m. (CST) on NBC
Tony Pike Connecticut at No. 5 Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. (CST) on ABC
Tim Tebow Vanderbilt at No.1 Florida on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 6:15 p.m. (CST) on ESPN2

The 2009 O’Brien Winner will be announced live on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show airing Dec. 10 on ESPN and will be honored at the 33rd Annual Davey O’Brien Awards Dinner held at The Fort Worth Club on Feb. 15, 2010, in Fort Worth, Texas.

6. The holiday season is upon us, and it kicks off with National College Football Day on Saturday, Nov. 7… an event that honors the birth of college football while increasing awareness and raising money for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the National Association of Collegiate Football Officials (NACFO), the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), the Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA) and the College Sports Information Directors Association of America (CoSIDA) have teamed up with the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic and The V Foundation for Cancer Research as official partners of the Sixth Annual National College Football Day. National College Football Day, observed on the first Saturday of November, was created by the AT&T Cotton Bowl six years ago as a way to pay tribute to a significant moment in our nation’s history. On Nov. 6, 1869, Rutgers defeated Princeton, 6-4. More importantly, those college athletes left a lasting legacy that would evolve into the great spectacle of football. In 2006, the holiday took on added significance when the Classic teamed up with The V Foundation for Cancer Research. ESPN and legendary coach and commentator Jim Valvano founded the V Foundation, based in Cary, N.C., in 1993. The Foundation has raised more than $90 million to fund essential cancer research nationwide. To honor college football’s 140th birthday, the AT&T Cotton Bowl has produced limited edition lapel pins. Over 4,000 pins will be distributed to coaches, athletic directors, university presidents, sports publicists, game officials, equipment managers and media throughout the United States in hopes that everyone will wear their pin on National College Football Day. The AFCA has asked each Football Bowl Subdivision head coach to donate a minimum of $140, one dollar for each year of college football. NACFO has requested that each game official donate a portion of their stipend on NCFD in support of The V Foundation. The FWAA has made a donation to The V Foundation and will work to solicit other donations from within its membership. CoSIDA and AEMA are the newest additions to NCFD’s partners. Both organizations lent their support to NCFD for the first time this year and have pledged to help spread the word about this great cause.

7. Luke Harangody should get used to being on top of lists. The senior forward from Notre Dame was the leading vote-getter today on The Associated Press’ preseason All-America team, and if he has the type of season he usually does, he will become the leader for his school and conference in scoring and rebounding. The 6-8 Harangody received 57 votes from the 65-member national media panel and was followed in the balloting by Kansas teammates Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins. Harangody averaged 23.3 points and 11.8 rebounds last season, the only player to rank in the top 10 nationally in both categories. He was a preseason All-American in 2008-09 and was selected to the second team after the season. He enters this season with 1,823 points — 738 away from Austin Carr as Notre Dame’s career leader. He needs 370 rebounds to pass Tom Hawkins as the Fighting Irish’s career rebound leader, and averaging 20.6 points and 9.0 rebounds this season would make him the Big East’s career leader in both categories, passing Syracuse’s Lawrence Moten and Derrick Coleman, respectively. Harangody decided to return to Notre Dame for his senior season after exploring his options for entering the NBA draft. “It was a good experience for Luke to go through the process he did last summer,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “He’s even more confident at moving around to different spots on the floor. We’re going to have him open up in transition much like he did at the end of last season and run him off a screen for 15- and 18-foot jump shots. He’ll be our main threat in the low post because that is his bread and butter, but we’re going to have him step out along the perimeter which should add another dimension to his game.”

8. A 68-page, soft-cover, full-color book of text and photos chronicling the Notre Dame football alumni trip to Japan in July and titled “Inside the Legends” is now in print. It includes a DVD created by Ted Mandell.

9. Former Notre Dame All-America defenseman D.J. Driscoll has been named to the 23-man United States national team roster that will compete in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship in Manchester, England from July 14-24, 2010. Driscoll, a 2006 Notre Dame graduate, is currently playing with the Chicago Machine of Major League Lacrosse (MLL). During his senior season with the Fighting Irish, he earned second-team All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA).

10. The start time for the Notre Dame men’s basketball season opener against North Florida at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center on Nov. 14 has been moved to 2:00 p.m. (EST). The game originally was scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. (EST) and now avoids Notre Dame’s 8:00 p.m. football kickoff at Pittsburgh on ABC Sports that was announced earlier today.

11. The hottest Notre Dame athletic team right now? It has to be Debbie Brown’s volleyball squad. Notre Dame’s home win Sunday vs. Rutgers made the Irish 100-7 (.935) in their home confine against conference foes. The victory gave Notre Dame (16-4) another feather in its cap as the Irish have now registered 10 or more BIG EAST regular-season wins for the 11th time since joining the league in 1995. Notre Dame has won each of its 10 BIG EAST matches in 2009. The team’s last loss came Sept. 20 at Florida State. The Irish now hit the road with upcoming matches at Marquette Friday and Syracuse Sunday.

12. Sophomore epeeist Courtney Hurley took home the women’s epee gold medal at a Junior World Cup event that concluded yesterday. It marks her second consecutive gold medal finish at the Montreal event, having won the gold last year as well.

13. Notre Dame fencer Abigail Nichols made it to the championship sabre bout of the 30th annual Temple University Open this past weekend. Nichols was joined by freshman teammates Kathryn Palazzoto and Danielle Guilfoyle as participants in the 73-player women’s sabre field. The tournament featured student-athletes from over 25 schools, including participants from Penn State, Penn, NYU, Rutgers, Cornell and Johns Hopkins. Nichols met Penn’s Danielle Kamis in the championship bout. Kamis, a junior, edged Nichols, a freshman, in the dramatic final by a narrow 15-13 margin.

November 1, 2009

1. It’s been a busy weekend for athletic events at Notre Dame – with 10 home Irish contests taking place between Friday night and Sunday night. There was a hockey game on Friday – then hockey, rowing, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and volleyball on Saturday – followed by rowing, volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s basketball on Sunday. And that didn’t count the “home” football game Notre Dame played host to in San Antonio.

2. It was a tough weekend for Irish football opponents, so Notre Dame’s strength of schedule stands at 33rd (48-40 for .545). Navy is 80th on 38-44 (.463). When it comes to future opposition, Notre Dame stands 17th at .645 (20-11). The toughest future schedules belong to Ohio State (19-5), Stanford (24-7) and Auburn (12-4).

3. Notre Dame as a team stands fourth in turnover margin (plus-1.38), fifth in passing efficiency (162.01 rating points), fifth in total offense (457.63) and eighth in passing offense (309.75). Individually Jimmy Clausen is second in passing efficiency (164.25), Golden Tate is fourth in receiving yards per game (115.88), Kyle McCarthy is fifth in interceptions (.62), Nick Tausch 10th in field goals (1.75), Darius Fleming eight in tackles for loss (1.64).

4. Jimmy Clausen had a 189.3 passing rating vs. Washington State (22 of 27 for 268 and two TDs). That leaves him at 164.25, behind only Boise State’s Kellen Moore at 171.02. Florida’s Tim Tebow is eighth at 153.68 and Texas’ Colt McCoy is 25th at 144.57.

5. Check out the cumulative comparative stats of three of the nation’s top quarterbacks:

Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen is 172 of 257 for 2,318 yards, 18 TDs, 2 ints., 171.02 rating
Florida’s Tim Tebow is 99 of 153 for 1,323 yards, 10 TDs, 4 ints., 153.68 rating
Texas’ Colt McCoy is 198 of 275 for 1,977 yards, 15 TDs, 8 ints., 144.57 rating

6. Navy comes in this weekend ranked third nationally in rushing (279.78 per game), compared to 118th in passing (71.67). The Middies rank 23rd in pass defense at 178.11 yards per game. Navy’s Ricky Dobbs leads the country in scoring at 12.0 points per game (on 18 TDs).

7. Notre Dame is now fifth nationally in time of possession at 33:19 – behind only Georgia Tech, Navy, Kansas State and Bowling Green.

8. Notre Dame trails only Rutgers, Air Force and Cincinnati in turnover margin.

9. Notre Dame in total offense trails only Houston (563.25), Nevada (504.38), Texas A&M and Texas Tech. In passing efficiency, the Irish trail only Cincinnati, Boise State, Georgia Tech and TCU.

10. Speaking at the Notre Dame football kickoff luncheon on Friday will be running backs coach Tony Alford plus players Golden Tate and Kerry Neal.

11. Other sightings in San Antonio over the weekend included actress Lara Flynn Boyle and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson (he watched the game from a suite and was on the field pregame).

12. The Irish women’s soccer squad easily moved into the BIG EAST semifinals, taking a 5-0 halftime lead and finishing with that same score to defeat South Florida today at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame now moves into a 7:30 p.m. game Friday against St. John’s in Storrs, Conn. Volleyball recorded a 3-0 home victory over Rutgers. The men’s golf team finished second of 11 teams at The Match Play at Southern Pines, N.C.

13. Former North Carolina star and current Indiana Pacer Tyler Hansbrough came to watch his brother Ben play at Purcell Pavilion tonight. Ben scored 12 points, added seven rebounds and three assists as Notre Dame defeated Lewis 70-54 tonight in the team’s first preseason game. Luke Harangody had 33 points and nine rebounds, as the Irish made it work down the stretch after trailing 44-42 with 14 minutes to go.

14. Notre Dame’s football team today rated 19th by AP, 20th by Harris, 21st by USA Today and 22 by the BCS.

15. Here are some of Charlie Weis’ comments from his media session tonight:

On QB Dayne Crist: “He’s going to get an MRI tomorrow. We’re cautiously optimistic it’s not as bad as we originally thought. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

On OG Trevor Robinson: “He got a low ankle sprain. As of tonight I’d list him as doubtful.”

On the Irish defense: “When the first guys were in there, they gave up 109 yards. That’s pretty impressive. I thought it was a complete performance. I thought both lines really controlled the game.”

On the future: “If you keep on winning and teams ahead of you keep on losing, you’re going to keep on moving up. That’s just a fact. We’ve got to take care of business. We can’t worry about what everyone else is doing.”

On Crist’s play: “He got off to a slow start. But the seam he threw to Goody (John Goodman) was as good a throw as anyone could make.”

16. The Notre Dame rowing team concluded the its fall season of competition today by playing host to Iowa, Michigan State and Indiana in a quad meet held on the St. Joseph River in South Bend. The four teams competed in two separate flights of eights, fours and novice eights. The Notre Dame B crew of coxswain Jacqueline Gilhooly, Stephanie O’Neill, Stephanie Boggs, Joanna Poinsatte and Meghan Solomon won fours flight two race nearly 17 seconds better than the second-place boat as the Irish posted a time of 14.39.2. Notre Dame’s C boat of coxswain Lauren Peartree, Sarah Thompson, Kate Monahan, Alyce Kanabrocki and Kathleen Bracke were fourth in the heat with a time of 15:12.0. In the first flight of the fours, Notre Dame A crew of coxswain Alicia Elliott, Paige White, Stephanie Figg, Andrea Archer and Brianna Krafcik took fourth in the five-boat race with a time of 14:59.2. In the first flight of novice eight the Notre Dame A crew of coxswain Danielle Schneider, Catherine Hermann, Kelsey Murphy, Alisa Blumenthaler, Analisa LaMair-Orosco, Jennifer Lee, Sarah McShane, Paige Aiello and Kim Dunbar was fourth in 14:31.4. In the second flight of the novice eight the Notre Dame B crew of coxswain Abby Meyers, Maura Newell, Caitlyn Kalsheur, Caitlin Connelly, Anne Hart, Meg Vertovec, Camille Sharrow, Theresa Blumenstein and Kelly Brakora finished third in the four-boat heat with a time of 15:14.9. In the first flight of the varsity eight, the Notre Dame B crew of coxswain Rachel Louie, Emily Backer, Braegan Padley, Casey Robinson, Maria Lang, Valerie Brencher, Katherine Suyo, Colleen McKenna and Ching-Ting Hwang was third in 13:20.8. In the final race of the day, the Notre Dame A varsity eight crew of coxswain Sarah Keithley, Christina Buckley, Stephanie Gretsch, Carol Ann Michel, Brittney Kelly, Katherine Linnemanstons, Genevieve Malone, Morgan Kelley and Megan Keegan also took third in its heat as they posted a time of 13:05.9.

17. The season is two-thirds finished and Irish rookie kicker Nick Tausch’s 14 field goals put him two-thirds of the way to John Carney’s Notre Dame single-season record of 21 from 1986.