Friday, December 31

The Daily Dish: Live From the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso


– With the Irish win, it marked the first time a first-year Notre Dame head coach has won a bowl game and the first time a freshman or first-year starting Irish quarterback has won a bowl game.

– Michael Floyd was selected the game MVP (as chosen by the CBS Sports staff) and, as he was presented with his trophy, Irish fans chanted “one more year.”

– Then, as Irish kicker David Ruffer received the award as the top special teams player in the game, Notre Dame fans chanted “scholarship” in reference to the current Irish walk-on.

– It was probably only fitting that as the Irish players and coach Brian Kelly headed to the interview tent, they did so with snow slowly falling.

– Irish offensive lineman Zach Martin received the trophy that went to the top lineman.

– The Irish squad posed for an impromptu team photo after the trophy presentations – with the championship trophy planted in the middle of the group.

– One of the better sights seen was Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese walking off the field all by himself, with his helmet in his left hand and the Sun Bowl trophy raised and sitting on the palm of his right hand.

– In the locker room, Brian Kelly gave a game ball to quarterback Tommy Rees.

– It’s the first time the Irish have won bowl games in consecutive years since beating Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl two years in a row in 1993 and 1994.

– It’s Notre Dame’s best season-ending win streak (four games) since 1992 when Notre Dame closed with seven straight victories.

– It’s Notre Dame’s longest win streak (four games) since a 2006 streak of eight straight wins.

– By halftime, Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith had caught more passes (three interceptions) than any Miami receiver.

– Notre Dame now owns a 15-15 record in bowl games and has played in 12 different postseason contests.

– Notre Dame’s defense held Miami to 211 total yards and a single touchdown through the first three periods.

– Miami had been averaging 190.4 rushing yards per game this season but managed only 103 against Notre Dame for its second lowest total of the season.

– Michael Floyd now has 171 career receptions – just eight shy of Jeff Samardzija’s career mark of 179.

– Notre Dame’s Delta charter flight back to South Bend, with a half dozen players on board, left El Paso at 9:30 p.m. EST.

End of Third Period

– Notre Dame’s 24-point halftime lead marked the second-largest in Sun Bowl history (Alabama led SMU 28-0 in 1983).

– Michael Floyd’s reception on third down at the 11-minute mark gave him his fourth 100-yard receiving day of the season and 13th of his career (ties with Tom Gatewood for second in Notre Dame history).

– David Ruffer’s field goal at 7:12 of the third period makes his streaks 18 in 2010 and 23 in his career and gives him his third three-fieldgoal game in 2010 and fourth in his career. He’s now tied for third for most field goals in a season at Notre Dame. His three field goals today tie a Notre Dame bowl record (Scott Cengia had three in 1997 Independence Bowl against LSU). His 12 points so far today are a Notre Dame bowl record for points by a kicker.

– Ruffer’s field-goal miss from 36 yards at :38.0 of the third period ended his streak at 18 straight in 2010 and 23 straight in his career.


– Cierre Wood’s 34-yard TD run at 13:21 of the second period was the third longest run of the season by an Irish back (39 by Wood for a TD vs. Western Michigan and Jonas Gray’s 36 vs. Utah).

– At an official 34 degrees at kickoff it’s the fourth-coldest Sun Bowl and coldest since the record of 24 degrees in 1983.

– When the Irish took over after Harrison Smith’s second interception at 12:47 of the second period, Notre Dame had run 23 plays compared to 13 for Miami. It’s the first time an Irish player has had two interceptions in a game since Kyle McCarthy versus Boston College in 2009. That’s also the last time the Irish as a team had three pickoffs in a game. Smith is now tied for fourth in the country in interceptions.

– At 8:20 of the second, Harrison Smith’s third interception ties the Notre Dame single-game record and makes him the 14th Notre Dame player to accomplish that, the last being Shane Walton versus Maryland in 2002. And that makes Smith third nationally in interceptions (only two other players have intercepted three times in a game this year – Jayron Hosley from Virginia Tech and Marco Nelson of Tulsa). And he ties the Sun Bowl record from 1968 when Auburn’s Buddy McClinton did that (three interceptions).

– David Ruffer’s 40-yard field goal at 4:50 of the second period kept him perfect on 16 attempts in 2010 and 21 in his career. The 21 qualify as the longest current streak in the country.

– Sign in the stands: “Sun Bowl: Where’s The Sun?”

– This is the 13th time the Irish have worn bowl jerseys with names on the back – 7-5 record in those games (4-3 in white with blue numbers).

– Ruffer’s 50-yard field goal at :26.7 of the second period ties his career long and extends his streaks to 17 in a season and 22 overall. The 50-yarder is tied for sixth longest in Irish history. He’s the third kicker in Notre Dame history with multiple 50-yarders (Dave Reeve and Harry Oliver)

– Halftime stats show Tommy Rees at nine completions on 18 attempts for 116 yards ands two TDs. Michael Floyd has five catches for 99 yards and two TDs. Cierre Wood leads in rushing at 61 yards on five attempts. Robert Hughes has 12 for 37. Manti Te’o led Irish tacklers at half with six. The Irish led in total offense 231-167 (115-62 in rushing, 116-105 in passing). Miami’s two quarterbacks combined were eight for 14 with four interceptions (both were four of seven, Jacory Harris for 37 yards and Stephen Morris for 68). Miami’s top rusher was Damien Berry (six for 25). The Irish led in first downs 14-8 and ran 40 plays to 29 for Miami.

– The attendance is 54,021, a Sun Bowl Stadium record and a Sun Bowl record (previous was last year at 53,713).

– The icy scene and cold temperatures at the stadium reminded Irish fans of a previous bowl game in Texas, the 1979 Cotton Bowl against Houston (Joe Montana’s last game with the Irish).

– Prior to Miami’s final drive of the first half, the ‘Canes had run only two plays in Irish territory and both resulted in Harrison Smith interceptions.

End of First Period

– Two of the Golden Knights on the pre-game parachute team jumpedinto the stadium wearing the respective helmets and jerseys of the two participating teams.

– Michael Floyd’s three-yard TD catch to start the scoring at 11:02 of the first period marked his 27th career TD reception, equaling Jeff Samardzija’s Notre Dame career mark.

– Midway through the first period, the press box PA announcer noted that it is a balmy 48 degrees in South Bend.

– The Irish showed a few new wrinkles early, with Michael Floyd lining up in the backfield on his TD catch and Theo Riddick leading the Wildcat formation for a few plays on the second possession.

– You are close enough to Mexico in the Sun Bowl Stadium press box that some cells phones indicate calls are categorized as international.

– Floyd’s 35-yard TD reception at 4:35 of the first made it 14-0 for Notre Dame and broke Samardzija’s record. It’s already Floyd’s seventh career multi-TD game.

– Tommy Rees completed the first six passes he attempted.

– Miami didn’t get a first down until there was a minute left in the opening period.


– The scene this morning was overcast and quite cool, with temperatures around 35 (the high is listed at 44). There’s snow everywhere on the mountains after a late afternoon-evening Thursday snowfall covered the El Paso area. There was still ice and snow all over the field when the Irish team arrived at the stadium this morning, with two sweeper-style vehicles pushing the ice and snow away. By 10:30 a.m., the field amazingly was all clear as the players emerged to warm up, with one vehicle finishing cleaning off the sideline areas. All in all, at least for Notre Dame, it didn’t seem much different than a November game at Notre Dame Stadium.

– Game-day captains for Notre Dame today are Robert Hughes, Chris Stewart, Brian Smith and Ian Williams.

– Two hours before kickoff one lone fan sat, bundled up against the cold, on the mountain just above section 18 on the far side of the field.

– The Irish were prepared for the weather, bringing two of their new heated benches from South Bend.

– The Irish are the designated visitors today, wearing white jerseys with their names on the back. The Hurricanes are wearing orange jerseys andwhite pants.

– You’ve seen it on television, but Sun Bowl Stadium literally is dropped down in between sections of mountains.

– Check out espn.com for a story this morning by Pat Forde on the old days of the Miami-Notre Dame rivalry.

– How cold can it be? The Notre Dame student managers are all wearing shorts.

– Just in case you’re interested, here’s a list of the 10 coldest Sun Bowl games:

1. Dec. 24, 1983 Alabama 28, SMU 7 24 Degrees (Clear, Cold)
2. Jan. 1, 1947 Cincinnati 18, Virginia Tech 6 29 Degrees (Snow)
3. Dec. 28, 1974 Mississippi St. 26, North Carolina 24 30 Degrees (Snow)
4. Dec. 25, 1982 North Carolina 26, Texas 10 35 Degrees (Snow Flurries)
5. Dec. 25, 1987 Oklahoma St. 35, West Virginia 33 35 Degrees (Snow)
6. Jan. 1, 1937 Hardin-Simmons 34, UTEP 6 36 Degrees (Clear, Cold)
7. Dec. 24, 1993 Oklahoma 41, Texas Tech 1 38 Degrees (Clear, Sunny)
8. Dec. 30, 1989 Pittsburgh 31,Texas A&M 40 Degrees (Cloudy, Cool)
9. Dec. 24, 1966 Wyoming 28, Florida State 20 41 Degrees (Sunny, Clear)
10. Jan. 1, 1948 Miami(Ohio) 13, Texas Tech 12 44 Degrees (Sunny, Clear)

– If West Virginia’s Major Harris hadn’t made it, another option for the Sun Bowl Legend award this year was former Irish coach Ara Parseghian, who played for Miami of Ohio in its 1948 13-12 win over Alabama.

– In uniform today is offensive line Dan Wenger who has not played all year long due to multiple concussions. Wenger is expected to apply to the NCAA for a final year of eligibility based on his season-long injury.

Thursday, December 30

The Daily Dish: Live From the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso

– The CBS Sports broadcast crew spent 90 minutes this morning meeting with Notre Dame coaches Brian Kelly, Bob Diaco and Ed Warinner — and Irish players Tommy Rees, Michael Floyd, Harrison Smith and Mani Te’o.

– It was a crazy day for weather with wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, making for brownish-gray skies, to go with a little rain. It should clear by tomorrow with much cooler temperatures and sunshine expected.

– Both head coaches met the media for the final time in a joint press conference at the Convention Center just prior to the Rotary Sun Bowl Team Luncheon. Major Harris was first introduced as the 2010 Sun Bowl Legend. That’s the same Major Harris that played quarterback for West Virginia when the Irish defeated the Mountaineers in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of the ’88 season to win the national title.

– Said Brian Kelly at the press conference: “Since there’s been a long layoff, this game becomes like an opener. Some unexpected things are probably going to be in evidence. We know what we need to do. Don’t turn it over, run the football and defend the run.”

– Miami coach Jeff Stoutland said Jacory Harris would start at quarterback but Stephen Morris would be available to play. “He (Morris) got dinged a little in practice but he’s way, way ahead of where we thought he’d be.” Stoutland noted the coaching change at Miami by suggesting the game provided “a little more incentive because it’s the last time we’re going to be together.”

– Kelly said Theo Riddick would have a “much more expanded role. He hasn’t been part of a game plan for two months.” Kelly also said running back Robert Hughes would have an expanded role “because he’s earned it.”

– Each table at the luncheon included a player from Notre Dame and one from Miami. Hyundai presented Kelly and Stoutland with real El Paso street signs with their names on them.

– At the luncheon Sun Bowl president Amen Ayoub said, “This isn’t our first rodeo, but it’s the biggest and the best one we’ve had the pleasure of putting on.”

– CBS will stream the game live tomorrow on its web site and also make the game available to the Armed Forces Network. The Sun Bowl, in its 43rd year on CBS, is that network’s second-longest-running sports property after Masters golf.

– The Sun Bowl has issued 463 credentials for tomorrow’s game – more than twice as many as a year ago.

– At the luncheon CBS’ Verne Lundquist introduced the starting lineups for both teams. CBS commentator Gary Danielson noted Tommy Rees’ first three starts coming at Notre Dame Stadium, Yankee Stadium and the Los Angeles Coliseum – and suggested that was like going out with Angelina Jolie on your first date.

– In his luncheon remarks, Kelly said, “I’ve led two teams to BCS games, the Orange and Sugar, and the Sun Bowl has done everything to rival those games.”

– Irish assistant coach Ed Warinner remembers being here with Army in 1988 and attending a bullfight in Mexico (in fact, he still has the framed handbill promoting the bullfight).

– If you wonder how the Sun Bowl takes over El Paso, just check outtoday’s edition of the El Paso Times. The headline on page one says “Sun Bowl Fever” and there’s a color shot of fans buying Notre Dame merchandise at the bookstore on the road at the downtown Doubletree hotel. There are page one stories on the weather, Sun Bowl behind the scenes planning and El Paso’s love fest with Notre Dame. The sports section showed color shots of the four coordinators (two from each team) from theirpress conferences yesterday. The local section includes photos of the players bowling last night. And the business section includes a feature on Sun Bowltitle sponsor Hyundai and the debut tomorrow of its 2011 Sonata Hybrid.

– The officials for the game tomorrow are from the Southeastern Conference.

– Family members spent much of the day enjoying laser tag, go-carts, bumper boats and batting cages at Bob-O’s Family Fun Center.

– Following the 1:30 p.m. official NCAA pre-game meeting, the Irishconducted their final walk-thru at Sun Bowl Stadium. But it was a brief stop, as the Irish stayed only long enough in the bizarre wind to get a look at their game day digs and take a team photo.

– The official Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta, featuring bands and cheerleaders from both schools, began at 4 p.m. at the Convention Center and went through 9 p.m. – with a battle of the bands at 6 p.m. and fireworks at 8 p.m.

– After the game tomorrow, the Irish travel party will fly home immediately, arriving in South Bend at 11 p.m. EST. Some players who live on the West Coast will be able to fly home tomorrow night after the game and the remainder will head home first thing Saturday morning.

– Halftime tomorrow features performances by both bands and then an 11-minute performance by country singer Lee Greenwood.

Wednesday, December 29

The Daily Dish: Live From the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso

– In the category of “They can’t stop talking about …. ” – the subject was the hyno-therapist at the joint team dinner Tuesday night at Fort Bliss at which dozens of participants, including multiple players from both teams, found themselves hypnotized during a rather amazing 90-minute session. Among those who found themselves under the “spell” of hypnotist Doug MacCraw (he’s from the Orlando, Fla., area) were Notre Dame players Kapron Lewis-Moore, David Ruffer and Carlo Calabrese.

– The first order of the day for the players was a shopping trip for cowboy boots at the nearby Lucchese Boot Company.

– At 10 a.m. Irish coordinators Charley Molnar (offense) and Bob Diaco (defense) met with the media at the Hawthorn Suites media headquarters hotel next door to the Irish team headquarters. Highlights of their comments included:

Molnar said the first order of business after the USC regular-seasonfinale “was just getting his (Tommy Rees’) confidence back. Then we slowly installed the game plan. What Tommy has to do is go through his reads and progressions and get the ball out of his hands and make good decisions. He never gets too high or low. He’s very even-keeled and that’s a good trait.”

On running back Robert Hughes, Molnar said, at the start of the year, “He ran like a 172-pounder, always looking for cuts instead of just lowering his pads and taking on tacklers. Now he’s using his natural strength and power and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

On the offense in general, Molnar said, “We want to throw it when we want to, not when we have to.”

On the multiple quarterbacks Miami has used, Diaco said, “The tangible traits of the two seem to be similar. The plan is the same no matter who comes in. They both have strong arms and can throw it on the move. With the turnover they’ve had (in coaches), we really don’t know exactly what we’re going to get. It’s under a different umbrella right now.”

On the reception in El Paso, Diaco said, “It’s been awesome in terms of energy and excitement everywhere you go. It was immediate the minute we landed on Sunday. Every place you go, the comment is ‘Thanks for coming.'”

– Practice lasted from 2-3:30 p.m.

– Irish offensive line coach Ed Warinner coached in the Sun Bowl in1988 while on the Army staff (a 29-28 Alabama win). In fact, this time he brought the same cowboy boots with him that he picked up on that trip to ElPaso. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco played his final college game in the Sun Bowl for Iowa in 1995 in a 38-18 win over Washington. In fact, Diaco reacquainted himself with several of the team hosts from that game (who areassigned this year to the Miami team).

– The Irish players spent the evening, including dinner, at the Kiwanis “Bowl Before the Bowl” at Oasis Lanes and Amusement Center.

– Staff members and coaches enjoyed the El Paso Sherriff’s Posse Party as the official evening activity, just over the state line in New Mexico.

Tuesday, December 28

The Daily Dish: Live From the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso

Irish head coach Brian Kelly took part in an 8:30 a.m. joint press conference with Miami interim coach Jeff Stoutland at the media headquarters, the Hawthorn Inn & Suites, almost next door to Notre Dame’s team hotel. The two coaches spent a combined half-hour answering questions after introductions from Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas.

Here are some highlights from Kelly’s remarks:

“We were in a position where a bowl game was not a certainty for us.”

“There are two teams with great traditions that are looking toward the future.”

Kelly was asked to fill in the blank to the question, if we don’t do X we won’t win. He responded, “We have to protect (quarterback) Tommy Rees. We can’t put our freshman quarterback in a position where he has to make all the plays himself. Second, we have to balance stopping the run and also play the ball in the air. We can’t sell out on the run.”

Kelly was asked about the enormity of coaching at Notre Dame, and hesaid, “You use your experience to make good decisions. We had to overcome some adversity.”

Kelly said the reaction to Notre Dame’s appearance at Yankee Stadium last month in a game against Army really hit home for him what the tradition of Notre Dame is all about. “There’s a passionate following. There’s also a lot of scrutiny day to day.”

The Irish coach was asked abut the prospect of receiver Michael Floyd playing his last game: “He sets the standard for how you want champions to prepare. He’s got a great work ethic. When you talk about, that’s how you practice? – look at Michael Floyd.”

The first question asked of Stoutland involved the player reaction to Randy Shannon being relieved of his job as head coach. “A lot of guys are still having a tough time. And it’s bittersweet because the man that brought me here is not here.”

On being in charge of the entre program, he said: “It’s like being on a rollercoaster and there’s no stopping it. It just keeps going.”

Asked the same question about filling in the blank in terms of what the Canes need to do to win, he said, “Eliminate turnovers. That’s really hurt us.”

On the question of who will start at quarterback, Stoutland said he has not yet told the team and would not for the next few days. “It’s real close. We’re not going to announce it today or tomorrow.” He said both quarterbacks might play depending on the schemes involved.

On the prospect of some emotional pre-game remarks, Stoutland said, “If I write it down, I’ll screw it up. I just let it fly. That’s what I told the players to do, too. I’m not looking for robots.”

– Today’s practice went from noon-1:45 p.m. Available after practice for interviews were Robert Hughes, Chris Stewart, Zach Martin, Manti Te’o, Ian Williams, Darius Fleming and defensive line/special teams coach Mike Elston. Then the team headed for Fort Bliss for the “Day and Dinner with the Troops” event. This had been billed as the highlight of the week for the players, with theIrish able to interact with U.S. Army soldiers based there, while also getting a close-up look at tanks, helicopters, missile launchers (among other things) on the base. The Notre Dame staff and families arrived later and joined theplayers and soldiers for dinner and entertainment.

– Among practice visitors today were UTEP head coach Mike Price and several members of his staff, on a day with sunny, near-perfect weather conditions.

– After practice the Irish players headed for tables set up adjacent to the field for a steak lunch catered by Great American Land & Cattle Company of east El Paso.

– The first stop at Fort Bliss was Building 724, the Marksmanship Center and home of the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 system. The Irish players split up on four separate ranges in the weapons simulator and were instructed on use of M4 weapons with scopes. Ten players at a time on each range engaged moving enemy targets on a variety of animated backgrounds, from industrial and city settings to a night-time desert panorama. All players wore safety goggles while using the same weapons provided to troops deployed in Iraq. The instructors wore blue and red football jerseys with Fort Bliss and Texas logos and the #1 on the front and back. The players were instructed, “Make sure you eliminate the enemy.” Most players shot from the prone position, though several knelt and a few sat cross-legged. John Goodman shot while modeling an ammunition/supply vest and a helmet. After all rounds were fired, the players watched a replay of their work, with green dots indicating misses and red showing hits.

– Next stop was Abernethy Park Patriot Training, where first the Irish players watched as soldiers exhibited a handful of repelling moves down ropes from a four-story structure (one move involved a head-first drive and another had the soldiers going upside down. Then, the Notre Dame players had a chance to be up close and personal with six different military vehicles, entering the various vehicles and posing for dozens of photos:

1. A Patriot Missile (PAC-2) M901 Launching Station, a SAM (surface to air) system used in the first Gulf War and known as the “skud-buster” (it carries four to 16 missiles).

2. An M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams, the Army’s main battle tank – with a main gun (120 mm) that has a range of 5,000 meters.

3. An M2A3 External Vehicle Storage unit.

4. An M-ATV MRAP (mine resistant ambush protection) All-Terrain vehicle.

5. A MaxxPro MRAP.

6. An Avenger Air Defense Weapons System known as “Earthquake” (it counters low-level aerial threats).

Monday, December 27

– A group of 21 Irish football players spent an hour this morning visiting patients at University Medical Center in El Paso, just a few milesfrom the team hotel. There were 24 patients on the seventh-floor pediatric unit, all of whom had spent Christmas in the hospital. A handful of local media, including photographers from several local television stations recorded the Irish players as they presented the children with small animals, footballs and autographed copies of the Notre Dame Sun Bowl media guides. Several of the Irish players did television interviews and there were dozens of photos snapped, many with the hospital employees who all wore blue Notre Dame shirts. The Sun Bowl princesses also were in attendance.

– Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas noted that the Hyundai Sun Bowl is worth more to the community from a financial standpoint than the 10 largest El Paso conventions combined.

– Beginning at 2:30 p.m. the Notre Dame players and coaches spent an hour and 45 minutes on the practice field at the Socorro Independent School District’s Student Activity Complex, about a 20-minute ride from the team hotel. The SISD covers 136 square miles of El Paso County and encompasses four high schools. Media visited with a handful of Irish coaches and players after the workout on the below-ground, artificial turf field surrounded by stands. Available to the media today were Tommy Rees, Michael Floyd, Trevor Robinson, Harrison Smith, Darrin Walls, Ethan Johnson and offensive line coach Ed Warinner.

– The evening staff event for both teams featured dinner at the El Paso Museum of Art, followed by a show by Springfire at the Plaza Philanthropy Theatre.

Sunday, December 26

Live From the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso

– It was overcast, calm and 26 degrees in South Bend as the Notre Dame traveling party boarded its Delta B767-300ER charter headed for El Paso.

– The Irish administrative group, coaches and families met in the Notre Dame Stadium press box before heading in four buses to Michiana Regional Airport – and already a few cell calls were coming in to Notre Dame assistant coaches from players struggling with cancelled flights due to rough weather all along the east coast. Irish players headed home after practice Wednesday morning, then were slated to fly individually to El Paso today, and all but a few made it in time for the 4:30 p.m. team meeting.

– One of the “junior” flight attendants on board was Grace Kelly (daughter of Irish head coach Brian). She helped serve breakfast and beverages.

– The 262-seat Notre Dame charter included only one player, Hawaiian freshman lineman Kona Schwenke. The two-hour, 47-minute flight landed at El Paso International Airport – with a Mariachi band and El Paso Dancers as part of the Sun Bowl welcoming party – and the Irish headed for their headquarters at the Radisson El Paso Airport. Brian Kelly helped conduct the band while donning a huge sombrero. Nearly 300 fans turned out to welcome the Irish, as the airport vestibule briefly turned into a mini-pep rally. Players from both Notre Dame and Miami joined the party as they arrived on their own commercial flights – with several Irish players and Kelly hitting the impromptu dance floor. The Sun Bowl queen and her court were introduced. Marisa Marquez from the El Paso district of the Texas House of Representatives (she has a Notre Dame master’s degree) spoke briefly, as did several Sun Bowl administrators. And, not to be underestimated, the sky was clear and blue and the sun was bright!

– At 6 p.m., the Notre Dame football squad and families departed by bus for Sunland Park (in nearby New Mexico) for a barbeque dinner that included a talent display by players from both squads. Dinner included Texas-style ribs, sausage, beef brisket and chicken – and a band added music to the festivities. John Folmer of the Sun Bowl presented Lucchese cowboy boots to the coaches and athletic directors from both schools. Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick noted that any time a school heads to a bowl for the first time, it naturally calls contacts from schools that have played in that event in recent seasons and, as Swarbrick said, “They all told us, ‘You won’t believe the hospitality in El Paso.'”

– The three Notre Dame talent representatives were freshman Danny Spond (he played an original composition on the keyboards), Jamoris Slaughter (he did an original rap, with help from Ian Williams) and the trio of MantiTe’o, Kona Schwenke and Justin Utupo who did a Haka dance. Then, walk-on defensive backs Nick Lezynski and Ryan Sheehan did solid imitations of Irish coaches Brian Kelly, Bob Diaco, Paul Longo and Chuck Martin.

– Temperatures in El Paso this week are expected to be around 60 degrees during the day and then in the 30s at night.

Wednesday, December 22

1. University of Notre Dame junior All-America women’s soccer forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas), one of the main catalysts behind the magical Fighting Irish run to the 2010 NCAA national championship, has beenselected as this year’s recipient of the Honda Sports Award for women’s soccer, designating her as the nation’s top collegiate athlete in that sport. Henderson is just the second Fighting Irish student-athlete (in any sport) to receivethis award, following in the footsteps of another Notre Dame women’s soccerplayer, Cindy Daws, who took home the 1997 Honda Sports Award.

Henderson was selected as this year’s award recipient based upon theresults of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of theCollegiate Women Sports Awards program, which is now in its 35th year. Joining Henderson on this year’s women’s soccer ballot for the Honda Sports Award were Alex Morgan (California), Christen Press (Stanford) and Sophie Schmidt (Portland), with all four candidates selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).

The Honda Sports Award is given annually to the top female student-athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, with the recipient in each sport earning a spot on the year-end ballot for the Honda-Broderick Cup, which goes to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year (an award Daws received in 1997). Henderson is the third of the 12 individual Honda Sports Award recipients this year, joining Villanova’s Sheila Reid (cross country) and Maryland’s Katie O’Donnell (field hockey). The Honda-Broderick Cup recipient will be announced June 27, 2011, at a ceremony in New York, at which the top three vote-getters/finalists are scheduled to attend.

2. The Philadelphia Inquirer this afternoon is reporting that former Notre Dame assistant football coachSteve Addazio will be hired as the new head football coach at Temple. Addazio most recently was the Florida offensive coordinator. He served on Bob Davie’s staff at Notre Dame from 1999-2001.

3. Former Irish football quarterback Steve Belles recently coached his Hamilton High School (Chandler, Ariz.) football team to a third straight Arizona Class 5A Division I state title. Hamilton (15-0) defeated Mesa Desert Ridge 21-13 to extend its win streak to 40. USA Today ranks Hamilton as the sixth-best high school football team in the country.

4. Has any team in any conference ever faced three straight opponents right out of the box in league play the way the Notre Dame men’s basketball team does in the BIG EAST this year? First it’s a home date with #9 and 10-1 Georgetown (Dec. 29), then on the road at #5 and 12-0 Syracuse (Jan. 1), then back home for #4 and 9-0 Connecticut (Jan. 4). Heading into play tonight the top eight teams in the BIG EAST – #5 Syracuse, #6 Pittsburgh, #4 Connecticut, #9 Georgetown, #20 Notre Dame, Cincinnati, #25 Louisville and #8 Villanova (APrankings) – have a combined 81-5 record.

5. The Notre Dame men’s basketball team will hold its annual Christmas Clinic in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Dec. 30 from 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. The clinic is open to boys and girls in grades 1-8. The cost of the three-hour session is $40.00 and all those attending the clinic are asked to enter through gates 1 and 2 of the Joyce Center. Parents are also reminded to bring proof of insurance with them. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. The entire 2010-11 Irish basketball team will be in attendance leading the youngsters through drills, and will be available to sign autographs following the clinic. For more information contact Harold Swanagan, coordinator of basketball operations, at 574-631-5357.

6. Irish senior forward Carleton Scott (San Antonio, Texas) has beennamed to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the first time this season and second time in his career. He became the third Notre Dame player recognized to the Honor Roll in 2010-11, joining teammates Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis as honorees this season. In the only Irish action last week following finalexams, Scott helped Notre Dame improve to 10-1 on the season, its best startsince the 2006-07 campaign, in scoring 20 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing off a career-high five assists in an 88-62 victory over Stony Brook on Dec. 19 at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The win enabled the Irish to remain unbeaten at home (7-0) this season.

7. Dr. Michael Collins, a former hockey player at the University of Notre Dame and a Chicago-based orthopedic surgeon, is the winner of the 2010 Lou Lamoriello Award, it was announced by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA). Named in honor of the former Providence College player,coach, and administrator, the Lamoriello Award recognizes a former college hockey player or coach who goes on to a distinguished career in or out of the game of ice hockey. Lamoriello, now the president and general manager of the New Jersey Devils, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on last year.

Collins is the oldest of eight sons. He was born on the West Side ofChicago where his mother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather were born. He attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. (where he was hockey captain and a Chicago Catholic League all-star) and then went on to Notre Dame where he graduated in three and a half years. While attending Notre Dame he played on the varsity hockey team and shoveled furnaces at the South Bend Foundry.

Notre Dame hockey became an NCAA Division I varsity during Collins’ time in South Bend. He played in 44 varsity games, compiling three goals and 11 assists as a defenseman. During those years (1968-69 and 1969-70), the Irish compiled a 37-16-4 record as an NCAA Division I independent.

Upon graduation from Notre Dame, Collins spent several years driving a cab, and working construction before finally deciding upon medicine as a career. After returning to college for two extra years to take pre-med courses, he attended the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine followed by five years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Collins is a full-time, board-certified orthopedic surgeon practicing with Hinsdale Orthopedic Associates in Hinsdale, Ill. He and his wife, Patti, have been married for 34 years and are the parents of 12 children.

In addition to practicing orthopedics, Collins has also been writing professionally for more than 30 years. His first book, “Hot Lights, Cold Steel,” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2005 and continues to be a best-seller in the medical memoir field. His second book, “Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs,” about his days as a construction worker and cab driver trying to get into medical school, was published in 2009.

The Lamoriello Award will be presented to Collins Jan. 28, prior to the Irish home game against Miami University. Game time is 7:35 p.m.

8. Former Notre Dame men’s soccer All-American Ryan Miller is one of 24 players selected to the U.S. National Team training camp in preparation for the squad’s first match of 2011, a friendly against fellow FIFA World Cup finalists Chile on Jan. 22 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Miller, a defender, becomes the first Fighting Irish men’s player, either former or current, selected to compete with the U.S. Senior NationalTeam. As a senior at Notre Dame in 2007, Miller earned All-America honors. In addition, he garnered first-team all-BIG EAST accolades and was tabbed an Academic All-American. Miller played in a program-record 91 games, including 89 starts, during his Fighting Irish career. He registered 25 points on seven goals and 11 assists. The Columbus Crew selected Miller in the third round (31st overall pick) of the 2008 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. He currently plays for Halmstads BK in the Swedish top division Allsvenskan.

9. Notre Dame and Army have produced some of greatest games and stars in the history of football rivalries. myTEAMBOOK, a division of MomentumMedia, is proud to offer an exlcusive book celebrating the renewal of the Notre Dame-Army football series. “Renewing A Tradition: Army vs. Notre Dame” includes special coverage of this year’s game, the 50th in one of the greatest rivalries in college football, and the first football game played in the new Yankee Stadium.

Renewing A Tradition: Army vs. Notre Dame” features:

  • Recaps for each of the 50 games in the series

  • Stories on Notre Dame greats like Knute Rockne, The Four Horsemen, Johnny Lujack and Terry Brennan, and Thom Gatewood

  • Exclusive photos from Notre Dame-Army games (dating as far back as the 1920s)

  • A selection of outstanding covers from historic game programs

  • Special section on this year’s 50th game with feature articles, action photos, and a behind-the-scenes look at the Notre Dame events taking place around New York

“Renewing A Tradition: Army vs. Notre Dame” is a must-have for Fighting Irish football fans and those who cherish the history and traditions of Notre Dame football. Order your copy today by clicking here.

10. Natalie Novosel scored 18 points while Natalie Achonwa and Brittany Mallory added 12 apiece to help #17 Notre Dame easily beat Valparaiso 94-43Monday night in women’s basketball action at Valparaiso. Notre Dame (9-3) had 24 steals and led by as many as 50 in the second half. The Irish, who have a tradition of slow starts against the Crusaders, jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the first media time out and never looked back. They built the lead to 34-11 with 6:45 left in the first half before subbing liberally. Novosel and Mallory had 10 points each at halftime for Notre Dame, which also recorded 14 steals and four blocked shots at the intermission. The second half was more of thesame as the Irish built their lead to over 50 with five minutes to go.

11. The 2010 Notre Dame Hyundai Sun Bowl Media Guide is now available online in PDF format. The 180-page document is the postseason encyclopedia of Fighting Irish football and includes game notes, stats, bios for players, coaches and support staff, bowl history, bowl records and information on Notre Dame athletics.

2010 Notre Dame Football Sun Bowl Media Guide

12. Notre Dame may have graduated all-star goaltender Scott Rodgers (he allowed only 23 goals in four combined NCAA games last May), but don’t expect any dropoff in defense for the Irish men’s lacrosse team. Inside Lacrosse in its Face-Off Yearbook rates Notre Dame as the top defensive unit in the country for the upcoming 2011 season, with these comments: “The Irish own the two ingredients for a successful defense – talent and a system. Defensive coordinator Gerry Byrne runs a tight ship. ND held opponents to 7.53 goals per game in 2010. He has been quoted saying the 2011 version may be better. Kevin Ridgway (21 GB) covers ground, matching footwork with the best in the business. Longstick middie Andrew Irving (76 GB) is everywhere and his motor sparks the entire team. Jake Brems, Sam Barnes (both of whom are returning from injury) and Bobby Smith all have logged miles and understand the scheme inside and out. Sophomore goalie John Kemp (56.9%, 7.52 GAA) got a taste of success and failure last year and should put up solid numbers playing behind this unit.” The Irish midfield, led by Zach Brenneman and David Earl, ranks fourth nationally in the top unit rankings. Notre Dame’s 2011 schedule is rated 13th most difficult n the country.

13. The Band of the Fighting Irish has been selected as the 2011 recipient of the Sudler Trophy, considered the “Heisman Trophy award of collegiate bands.” Awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, the Sudler Trophy is to identify and recognize collegiate marching bands of particular excellence who have made outstanding contributions to the American way of life. The SudlerTrophy is awarded annually to a college or university marching band which has demonstrated the highest musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas, and which has made important contributions to the advancement of theperformance standards of college marching bands over a period of years.

Friday, December 17

1. “Strong of Heart: Profiles of Notre Dame Athletics 2010” is now available through the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. The soft-cover book, produced by the University of Notre Dame Athletics Department and planned as an annual, contains profiles and portraits of 20 individuals connected with Notre Dame athletics. The 8 1/2-by-11-inch, 90-page book is available for $19.95 through the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, the Joyce Center/Purcell Pavilion Varsity Shops, or by calling the bookstore at 574-631-5757 or 574-631-6316. The profiles are by a wide variety of nationally-known and campus authors, many of them Notre Dame alumni. The photography was directed by the University’s award-winning photographer, Matt Cashore. Subjects profiled in the 2010 edition are Tim Abromaitis, Steve Boda, Paul and Linda Demo, Kevin Dugan, Pat Garrity, Danielle Green, Teddy Hodges, Joe Montana, Skylard Owens, Joe Piane, Ted Robinson, Adam Sargent, John Scully, Jen Sharron, Nicholas Sparks, Chris Stewart, Laurie Wenger, Monty Williams, Mariel Zagunis and Jimmy Zannino. Aportion of the proceeds from sales will benefit funds in the name of Matt James and Declan Sullivan, two members of the Notre Dame football family who werelost in the past year.

2. Three former University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse All-Americans were selected in Tuesday’s Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Supplemental Draft. Defenseman Regis McDermott (’09), goalie Joey Kemp (’08) and midfielder Michael Podgajny (’08) all heard their names called.

McDermott (Amityville, N.Y.) was taken by the Toronto Nationals with the first pick in the fifth round, which was the 25th selection overall. The Long Island native was a third-team All-American during his senior season at Notre Dame. He helped anchor an Irish defense that ranked first nationally during the 2009campaign with a 6.19 goals-against average. McDermott also led the Irish with 53 ground balls that season. The Long Island Lizards selected McDermott in the third round of the 2009 MLL Collegiate Draft.

The Chesapeake Bayhawks chose Kemp (Potomac, Md.) in the seventh round with the42nd pick overall. During his senior campaign at Notre Dame, Kemp became just the second first-team All-American in program history as he received the 2008 Kelly Award for Outstanding Goalie in Division I from the United States IntercollegiateLacrosse Association (USILA). Kemp, a three-time All-American, concluded his Fighting Irish career as the program record holder in career victories (40), goals-against average (7.20), saves (633), minutes played for a goaltender (3189:46) and games started for a goaltender (56). He went to the Los Angeles Riptide in the third round of the 2008 MLL Collegiate Draft.

The Denver Outlaws selected Podgajny (Ridley Park, Pa.) in the eighth round with the 45th overall pick. In 2008, Podgajny became the first MLL Collegiate Draft first-round pick in the history of the Fighting Irish program as he went to the San Francisco Dragons with the seventh overall selection. During hisFighting Irish career, Podgajny tallied 68 goals and 36 assists in 53 games en route to earning All-America accolades twice.

Each of the league’s six teams had 12 picks in Tuesday’s supplemental draft. Beginning today, teams may begin to claim remaining players to fill out their 40-man active roster. Major League Lacrosse will hold its 2011 Collegiate Draft onFriday, Jan. 21 in Baltimore, Md.

3. Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio), a member of the Irish women’s tennis team, and her teammates on the United States collegiate squad fell in the championship match of the Master-U BNP ParibasMonday in Rouen, France. The squad dropped a 5-1 decision to the host Frenchteam. The U.S. advanced to the championship match with victories over Ireland (7-0) in the quarterfinals and Germany (4-2) in the semifinals.

Frilling notched two of the American points in the tournament’s opening match, defeating Ireland’s Lynsey McCullough in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, insecond singles before teaming with Sekou Bangoura in mixed doubles for a 4-0, 4-2 victory. The sets were shortened to four games due to the fact the match was already in hand.

After playing in two matches in the opening round, Frilling was expected to compete in the mixed doubles pairing against Germany but due to time issues and with the outcome already in hand, the match was abandoned. She returned to the court in the finals to team with Allie Will in women’s doubles, but thetandem was unable to stop the French momentum as they dropped a 7-5, 6-4 decision to Manon Garcia and Mathilde Cor.

The U.S. team reached the championship match for the second consecutive year after winning the event in `09.

4. How does Notre Dame’s Hyundai Sun Bowl football matchup with Miami stack up? CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd rates it one of seven “five-star, can’t-miss prospects,” with the comment, “The Irish and Hurricanes are back, at least as a ratings winner. This old-school rivalry sold out in 21 hours. It’s worth it. We won’t see the teams play again until 2012.” SI.com’s Stewart Mandel rated it 14th of the 35 postseason games, with the comment, “Sometimes you tune in for the names alone, and this will be one of those times. It will be worth it just to see CBS show the old highlights from the teams’ late’80s/early ’90s classics.”

Tuesday, December 14

1. Former Irish men’s basketball great Austin Carr, who played at Notre Dame from 1968-71 and still remains the school’s all-time leader with 2,560 career points and a 34.6 career scoring average, will be the third individual to be inducted into the Notre Dame Basketball Ring of Honor inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. His legacy and achievements will be celebrated during halftime of Notre Dame’s BIG EAST matchup with Seton Hall on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011. The contest is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised by ESPNU. Carr will join Luke Harangody (2006-10) and Ruth Riley (1997-2001) as Notre Dame’s third member of the Ring of Honor. Harangody was the first honoree (February 2010), while Riley followed him in November 2010. The Ring of Honor was established by the Notre Dame athletics department to honor former and present men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball players who have made distinguished and noteworthy contributions during their careers while student-athletes at the University. A committee consisting of Irish coaches and administrators helps to determine the inductees.

2. Notre Dame freshman forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario) has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week. Achonwa is the third Fighting Irish player in as many weeks to earn recognition from the league, following junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky.) and sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.), who were named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Nov. 30 and Dec. 6, respectively. Achonwa also is the first Notre Dame player to be named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week since the final of Diggins’ four selections last season (Feb. 8, 2010). Last week, Achonwa averaged 13.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, scoring better than a point per minute (27 points in 26 minutes), and registering an astronomical .857 field goal percentage (12 of 14) as Notre Dame recorded a pair of 35-point wins, in both its BIG EAST opener at Providence last Wednesday (79-43) and in a non-conference matchup at home against Creighton this past Saturday (91-54).

3. Four Notre Dame men’s soccer players have been invited to the 2011 adidas Major League Soccer (MLS) Player Combine, which will take place Jan. 7-11 at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The Irish quartet is among 54 college seniors from 36 NCAA Division I schools that will participate in the annual event. Jeb Brovsky (M), Bilal Duckett (D), Greg Klazura (D) and Steven Perry (F) all have been invited to participate in the combine. The four invitees are the most ever for the Fighting Irish program. Notre Dame is one of just three schools with at least four players invited. California and North Carolina both had five players selected. The combine will separate all players into four teams and feature two games per day on Jan. 8, 10 and 11.

4. If you think the college football regular season just ended and the college basketball season has barely begun, you may be surprised to know that ESPN’s first web version of Bracketology is already out. In it the Irish men’s team is a #8 seed paired against #9 St. Mary’s in Tulsa. The other half of the bracket is #1 seed Kansas versus #16 Nicholls State. The first women’s version (which dates back to Nov. 15) had the Irish playing at Penn State as a #3 seed versus #14 Liberty – with #6 Georgia and #11 Arizona State on the other side of the bracket.

5. Notre Dame is the only program in the country scheduled to play in a football bowl game and also ranked in the current polls for men’s and women’s basketball and hockey. There are seven schools that make three of those four lists – Boston College, Ohio State, Connecticut, Tennessee, Baylor, Michigan State and Kentucky. Of those seven, Boston College is the only one to include hockey as one of its qualifications. The Irish play Miami in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl in football and are currently ranked 13th (hockey), 16th (women’s basketball) and 23rd (men’s basketball).

6. Check the Notre Dame Hammes Bookstore soon for a copy of “Strong of Heart: Profiles of Notre Dame Athletics 2010.” The book contains 20 profiles and portraits of individuals connected with Notre Dame athletics.

Sunday, December 12

1. For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame outshot Northern Michigan by a large margin (43-17) — but this time the results were much better as the Irish found the back of the Wildcat net three times in the third period on the way to a 5-2 hockey victory in front of 2,592 fans at the Joyce Center this afternoon.

The trio of Anders Lee, Nick Larson and T.J. Tynan paced the Notre Dame attack with a goal and an assist — while Calle Ridderwall and Stephen Johns added single goals in the victory that moved the Irish back into first place in the 2010-11 CCHA race.

Mike Maltese and Nicholas Kosinski each had a goal for Northern Michigan in the loss. Wildcat goaltender Reid Ellingson made 38 saves in the game as the Irish followed Saturday’s 53-shot effort with 43 on Sunday.

The win improved 11th-ranked Notre Dame to 11-6-2 overall and 9-4-1-1 in the CCHA, good for 29 points and a one-point lead over Michigan in the CCHA race. Northern Michigan is now 8-8-3 overall and 7-5-2-0 in conference play with 23 points and a tie for fourth in the league standings.

Jackson was pleased with his team’s efforts — as the Irish now break for finals and the Christmas holidays, taking a 17-day break before retuning to action Dec. 29 versus Canisius at the Joyce Center.

Northern Michigan freshman goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 51 of 53 Notre Dame shots Saturday night and the Wildcats built a 3-0 lead on the way to a 3-2 win over the Irish in front of 2,623 at the Joyce Center.

The 6-5, 200-pound rookie puck-stopper from Perth, Ont., who was making just his fifth start of the season, made first period power-play goals by teammates Tyler Gron and Scott Macaulay and a second-period tally by Brian Nugent stand up as Notre Dame poured a season-high 53 shots on goal, including a single-period high of 22 in the second stanza.

The Irish got third-period goals from a pair of freshmen as David Gerths (his sixth) and Tynan (his 10th) finally broke through in the final period, but it wasn’t enough as Notre Dame lost at home for the first time this season, ending a six-game home winning streak this year and an eight-game streak going back to Jan. 30 of last season.

2. Notre Dame’s lead reached 14 at one point in the second half and it looked like the Irish might cruise to a victory. But they clanged some free throws, Gonzaga made some clutch shots and the Bulldogs trailed by only two twice in the final 13 seconds.

Ben Hansbrough then cut off the comeback, making four from the line as the 23rd-ranked Irish held on for an 83-79 men’s basketball victory Saturday night at Purcell Pavilion.

“It kind of makes us nervous, but we trust each other and the guys pulled it out,” said Carleton Scott, who led the Irish with a career-high 23 points — 19 in the first half. “We trust each other and that is what’s the key. We work on those situations in practice and it’s like second nature to us.”

The Irish (9-1), coming off a loss to Kentucky, got eight straight points from Tim Abromaitis to break a tie early in the second half and staved off the late rally before a boisterous home crowd. Abromaitis finished with 21 points, 12 in the second half.

Gonzaga (4-5) lost to a top 25 team for the fourth time this season. The Bulldogs have struggled to defend the three-pointer and did so again as Notre Dame hit 11 of 20 from beyond the arc — the same number Gonzaga made in the same number of attempts.

Notre Dame, which missed 12 of 36 free-throw attempts, was up by 10 with 1:18 to go. But Gonzaga’s press forced a turnover and a Zags three cut the lead to 75-70 with a minute left.

Gonzaga’s Mangisto Arop made a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to slice it to 79-77. Hansbrough then sank his free throws — the final two with about three seconds left — and Notre Dame held on.

Scott’s 19 points in the first half were two more than his previous high for an entire game and Notre Dame led 43-37. But Gonzaga got a dunk from Robert Sacre and a steal from Marquise Carter that led to a basket on a goaltending call, tying the game at 50-50 five minutes into the second half.

Abromaitis then foiled the Bulldogs’ zone defense by sinking back-to-back three-pointers, his third and fourth of the game. And after a Gonzaga turnover, he got loose on the baseline, took a nice pass from Tyrone Nash and dunked to put the Irish up by eight. Minutes later, he hit a pair of free throws and then after a nice fake canned a jumper and Notre Dame’s lead went to 11 with under nine minutes remaining.

3. Skylar Diggins scored 18 points to lead #18 Notre Dame to an easy 91-54 women’s basketball win over Creighton on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion. Diggins hit a three-pointer with 8:13 left to put Notre Dame (8-3) up by 30, and Creighton (4-4) never got the lead below that margin for the remainder of the game.

Becca Bruszewski had 17 points and six rebounds, and Natalie Novosel, the Irish’s leading scorer, had 11 points — four below her season average. Natalie Achonwa scored 12 points in the first half on six-for-seven shooting and finished with 14 for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame posts its school-record fifth win of the season by 35-plus points, topping the previous standard of four set in 2008-09 … the Fighting Irish also have six 30-point victories, more than halfway to the program record of 10 set in 2000-01 … Notre Dame eclipsed the 90-point mark for the fifth time this year, closing in on the school record of seven 90-point games set three times before (1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08) … the Fighting Irish shot a season-high 63.3 percent (38 of 60) from the floor, their best field goal percentage in a single game since Nov. 23, 2008, when they connected at a .646 clip (42 of 65) in a 102-54 win at Boston College … for the second consecutive game, Notre Dame was charged with just 10 turnovers.

4. Notre Dame junior All-America women’s soccer forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas) — a first-team All-American and the 2010 NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player — has been selected as one of three finalists for this year’s Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy. It’s the first time in Henderson’s career that she has been named a finalist for the national player-of-the-year award, and she is the fourth Fighting Irish women’s soccer player in the past six years to be chosen as one of the final three candidates for the Hermann Trophy, joining 2005 finalist Katie Thorlakson and two-time award recipient Kerri Hanks, who earned the Hermann Trophy in 2006 and 2008.

One of the catalysts behind Notre Dame’s run this season to its third national championship, Henderson is aiming to become the fourth Fighting Irish women’s soccer player to receive the award, joining Cindy Daws (1996), Anne Makinen (2000) and Hanks (2006, 2008). Two other Notre Dame standouts previously have garnered national player of the year honors from other organizations — Jen Renola (1996 by the NSCAA before the award merged with the Hermann Trophy) and Thorlakson (2004 by Soccer America).Alex Morgan of California and Christen Press of Stanford join Henderson as finalists for this year’s Hermann Trophy, with the recipient to be revealed Jan. 7 at approximately 7 p.m. (ET) during a news conference at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis. A banquet at the M.A.C. later in the evening will include a formal presentation of the prestigious crystal soccer ball trophy to this year’s recipient. The finalists were determined in voting by Division I women’s soccer coaches who are members of the NSCAA.

5. Notre Dame men’s soccer players Steven Perry (Edmond, Okla.) and Aaron Maund (Dorchester, Mass.) have earned All-Great Lakes Region honors for the 2010 campaign from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Perry, a senior forward, was a second-team pick, while Maund, a junior defender, was named to the third team.

6. Former Notre Dame football defensive coordinator Rick Minter apparently will join the Kentucky staff (under head coach Joker Phillips, another former Irish assistant) as co-defensive coordinator.

7. Final exams begin tomorrow at Notre Dame and go through Friday — so the next Irish athletic event is not until next Sunday when the Irish men’s basketball squad plays host to Stony Brook (4:30 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion).

8. Miami (Ohio) finished 9-4 in football in 2010 and won the 2010 Marathon MAC Championship under second-year head coach Mike Haywood (a former Irish player and assistant coach) and recorded the best turnaround in college football with an eight-win improvement over last season (1-11 in 2009). Miami will play Middle Tennessee State (6-6) in the Go Daddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and will be making its first bowl appearance since the 2004 Independence Bowl.

9. The Notre Dame football coaching staff and travel party will charter to El Paso on Dec. 26 and then return to campus immediately following the Dec. 31 Hyundai Sun Bowl game against Miami (Fla.)

Friday, December 10

1. Less than a week after winning its third NCAA national championship, the Notre Dame women’s soccer team remains firmly in the spotlight, appearing in a place they’ve never been before — the “Crossroads of the World,” also known as New York’s famed Times Square. Beginning today and continuing through the weekend, a series of congratulatory messages honoring the 2010 national champions will be appearing in a rotation on the massive video screens in Times Square, courtesy of the BIG EAST Conference and one of its corporate partners, American Eagle Outfitters. The messages also display a photo of the Fighting Irish players and coaches with the NCAA championship trophy, taken on the pitch a few moments after winning the title.

2. Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf recently announced the 2011 spring schedule, which includes 15 home dates and trips to a pair of prestigious non-conference tournaments. The Irish will face 10 participants from the 2010 NCAA Tournament — including World Series contestant Washington — and will scratch the dirt with four first-time opponents (UCF, Delaware, College of Charleston and Fordham). Coming off a 47-12 campaign in 2010 while earning a share of the BIG EAST Conference regular-season title with an 18-3 league record, Notre Dame lifts the 2011 lid at the UCF Invitational (Feb. 18-20) in Orlando, Fla. UCF will also play host to Miami (Ohio), Illinois-Chicago and Delaware in the championship-format tournament. Notre Dame stays in the southeast for the College of Charleston Invite (Feb. 26-27) while playing the host Cougars, Iowa State, Marist and Liberty.

Another trip to Florida comes one week later with the inaugural Disney Wide World of Sports Invite (March 4-6) in Kissimmee, which will showcase the bulk of the nation’s premier collegiate softball programs. The Irish will face Longwood, North Carolina, Maryland, Alabama and Fordham in the Sunshine State. An invitation to one of the nation’s most recognized preseason showdowns (Judi Garman Classic) highlights a West Coast swing from March 13-19. Oklahoma, Cal State Fullerton, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico, Washington and Michigan await the Irish for the event in Fullerton, Calif.

The first of six straight home games will be March 25 against Northern Illinois, followed by non-conference bouts with Western Michigan (March 29) and Purdue (March 31). Notre Dame will play each of its home contests at Melissa Cook Stadium, a facility in which the Irish posted a flawless 19-0 record in 2010.

2. Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson today announced that five players have signed national letters of intent to attend the University beginning with the 2011-12 campaign. Signing in the early-signing period are defensemen Eric Johnson (Verona, Wis.), Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) and Andrew Ryan (Brighton, Mich.) along with forward Peter Schneider (Vienna, Austria). They join forward Garrett Peterson (Manhattan, Ill.) who signed a letter of intent in the 2009 early-signing period but returned to the Lincoln Stars in the USHL this season.

Two members of the class — Russo and Ryan — play for USA Hockey’s National Team Developmental Program while the other three are currently playing in the United States Hockey League (USHL). Two members of this group — Russo and Ryan — are currently listed by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting in their preliminary rankings.

Johnson is a 6-1, 201-pound left-handed shooting defenseman who is the brother of sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson. A tough, hard-nosed defenseman, Johnson is extremely competitive and is known for taking the body. A product of the Madison (Wis.) Capitols Midget Major program, he played in 29 games with the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) last season, scoring a pair of goals with five assists for seven points. He was +7 with 24 penalty minutes as the Wild were first in the NAHL West Division with a 45-10-3 record. They advanced to the Robertson Cup finals where they were 2-2 in round-robin play. This season, Johnson started the year with Wenatchee where he had two assists in 19 games with 18 penalty minutes and was +8. He was traded to the Dubuque Saints (USHL) on Dec. 3 and has played two games for former Irish volunteer assistant coach Jim Montgomery’s squad and is +2 in those games.

Peterson is a 5-11, 190-pound right wing who is in his third season with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. He originally signed a national letter-of-intent to attend Notre Dame in the early-signing period (November) of 2009. A fast, aggressive two-way forward with excellent speed, Peterson plays with an edge to his game. He just returned to the Lincoln lineup after missing the first part of the season due to shoulder surgery. In his eight games since returning to the lineup, Peterson has six goals and two assists for eight points and is +1 with 12 penalty minutes. The Stars are currently second in the USHL’s Western Division with an 11-7-1 record. A product of the Team Illinois Midget AAA program, Peterson was a first round selection of Lincoln in the 2007 USHL Futures Draft. In 2008-09, he helped Lincoln to the USHL West Division title with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points and 104 minutes in penalties. Last season, Lincoln was last in the West Division and Peterson had six goals and nine assists for 15 points in 56 games with 120 minutes in penalties. He was a teammate in each of his first two seasons with current Irish freshman David Gerths. Peterson was a member of the 2008 USA Under-18 Select Team that participated in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic in August of 2008.

Russo is a 5-11, 183-pound, right shot defenseman who is in his second year with the USA National Team Development program in Ann Arbor, Mich. A strong, puck-moving defenseman, Russo is an offensive-minded blue liner with good hands and outstanding hockey skills. A teammate of current Irish freshman T.J. Tynan with the Chicago Mission Midget program, Russo has the skills to quarterback the power play and be an offensive force on the ice. He was ranked 10th by NHL Central Scouting in their preliminary rankings on Nov. 16 of skaters in the USHL and with the USA Under-18 team. In 25 games this season with the Under-18 team, Russo has two goals and nine assists for 11 points with 16 penalty minutes. In international play, Russo helped the U.S. to a gold medal at the Four Nations Cup in Sundsvall, Sweden as he tied for third in the tournament in scoring with two goals and four assists for six points. In the gold medal game, he scored once in regulation and then twice in the shootout to help the U.S. beat Sweden. With the Under-17 team in 2009-10, Russo played in 52 games with seven goals and 24 assists for 31 points while picking up 58 penalty minutes to finish second in team scoring and first among defensemen. He helped the U.S. to a first-place finish at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ont., where he had five points (three goals and two assists) with all three goals coming on the power play.

Ryan is a 6-0, 185-pound right-handed defenseman who is the brother of current Irish senior center Ben Ryan and is a teammate of Russo’s with the USA National Team Developmental Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. A shutdown type defenseman, he often matches the opposition’s top line. A strong skater who plays a strong game down low in the defensive zone, Ryan is a product of the Victory Honda midget program in Detroit. As a member of the Under 18 team this season, he has played in 15 games with one assist and six penalty minutes. He was listed as a limited view player in NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list on Nov. 16. Last season with the Under-17 team, he played in 52 games with two goals and five assists for seven points and 28 penalty minutes. He was a member of the team that won the gold medal at the World Under-17 Challenge in Timmins, Ont. In his final season with Victory Honda, as a 15-year old playing on the Under-18 team, Ryan had three goals and 18 assists for 21 points and 26 minutes in penalties in 70 games played.

Schneider rounds out the group of five and he is a 5-11, 180-pound right wing who is currently playing for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League. A talented, offensive threat, Schneider is quick with a good shot and a goal scorer’s instincts around the net. He’s a strong, dynamic player with good hands and the ability to beat an opponent one-on-one. Through 18 games this season, Schneider is second on the Ice in scoring with 17 points on 12 goals and five assists. He has three power-play goals and one game winner while being +9 on the year. In the USHL, Schneider ranks 13th in the league in points while his 12 goals are third best overall. Indiana is seventh in the USHL’s East Division with a 7-9-2 record. He will become the first Austrian to play at Notre Dame and the third European joining current senior Calle Ridderwall and Robin Bergman. He was a member of Austria’s 2009-10 World Junior team that participated in the `09-’10 World Junior Championships and will be a member of this year’s team that will play in the relegation tournament.

3. Former Irish women’s swimmer Cara (Garvey) Coleman (’95) has recently published a children’s book entitled “I Am Justice, Hear Me Roar!” It is an educational children’s book about a young girl with a disability, a biographical piece based on the life of Garvey’s five-year old daughter, Justice. After graduating from Notre Dame, Garvey earned a master’s degree in public health from Tulane and a law degree from Temple. The book, and more information about Garvey, can be found at seesaycreate.com

4. Members of Notre Dame’s athletic teams took a break from their preparations for final exams Thursday night to spread some Christmas cheer. Student-athletes from nearly all of Notre Dame’s 26 varsity teams hosted the annual “Fighting Irish Fight for Life” Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Christmas party at the Joyce Center. Patients from Memorial Hospital’s pediatric cancer center were invited for a night of fun, games and gifts. “You think about what they’ve been through, and you think about what you’ve been through and it doesn’t compare,” football linebacker Manti Te’o said. “It’s always nice to be around the kids.”

5. The Joyce Center will be a busy place this weekend in the final days before Notre Dame final exams begin on Monday. On Saturday, the Irish women’s basketball team plays host to Creighton at 2 p.m. EST, the Notre Dame hockey team plays host to Northern Michigan at 7:05 p.m. – and the Irish men’s basketball squad plays host to Gonzaga at 8:30 p.m. Then, on Sunday at 4:05 p.m., the Irish hockey team plays another game against Northern Michigan.

6. Members of the Notre Dame athletic administration flew to San Antonio Thursday to make arrangements for the football squad’s trip to the Sun Bowl in a few weeks — as did Irish head coach Brian Kelly who took part in a press conference and luncheon.

Thursday, December 9

1. Here’s what happened Sunday night once the Notre Dame national champion women’s soccer team returned to town:

— The team landed at South Bend Regional (Atlantic Aviation charter terminal) around 8:50 pm ET (delayed a bit by weather) … South Bend and Note Dame police provided escorts from airport back to campus …

— The team pulled in to Purcell Pavilion around 9:30 and was greeted by a crowd of 300-400 people, as well as the leprechaun and pep band …

— The team was introduced by Alumni Stadium public address announcer Jim Greundlich and walked through Gate 6 tunnel to the floor with senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss and freshman midfielder Mandy Laddish leading the team with the national championship trophy …

— The team and coaching staff lined up on the floor as they were introduced one by one …

— Senior co-captain Lauren Fowlkes addressed the crowd before highlights of the national championship match were shown on the video boards (huge cheer when game-winning goal by freshman forward Adriana Leon was shown) …

— After the video, head coach Randy Waldrum had a few brief remarks for the crowd, thanking them for coming out under adverse weather conditions and supporting the team all season, as well as how excited he and the team were to be able to light up the Grace Hall #1 sign again …

— The pep band then played the Alma Mater and the Victory March and the team held the trophy aloft one more team for the crowd before festivities ended.

2. Ian Farr has joined the Irish fencing staff as an assistant coach and sabre specialist after previously serving as a volunteer coach for the Northwestern fencing team. Farr joined the Wildcat staff in August ’09 and worked with the team through May ’10. During his stint, Farr coached a team of 35 female student-athletes, providing one-on-one instruction and sharing knowledge of the sport. He helped the team to a 45-4 record on the season. Farr joins a staff long in experience and excellence at the University of Notre Dame. Last season, both the men’s (33-0) and women’s (35-0) squads posted undefeated regular seasons en route to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Individually, the Irish also had 11 named as All-Americans for their championship finishes. Farr brings plenty of expertise to the job, as he was a two-time NCAA All-American (’04 and ’07) with Penn State. Along with those accolades, he also was a member of the 2007 NCAA Championship team and represented the United States in several World Cup fencing competitions.

3. Despite not feeling well, Natalie Achonwa provided a big lift for Notre Dame.

Achonwa scored a career-high 13 points off the bench and the #18 Irish routed Providence, 79-43 on Wednesday in the BIG EAST opener for both women’s basketball teams.

“She didn’t even come to practice and couldn’t keep any food down,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “She had a rough night. But she said I’ll play if you need me and I’m a little weak.

“She played great. I was really pleased, but I don’t think she could have gone too many more minutes.”

Achonwa only played nine minutes but was 5 for 6 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the free throw line.

Mi-Khida Hankins scored 16 points for the Friars (5-6), who were held to 16 points in the second half.

Notre Dame (7-3) broke the game open when it went on a 16-0 run in the second half, during which the Irish held Providence without a point for 9:11.

The Irish forced the Friars into seven of their 28 turnovers during that run.

“I thought our press was good,” McGraw said. “I thought we came out and put a little pressure on them. I also thought Devereaux Peters missing most of the first half (because of foul trouble) was a problem for us. But Erica Solomon (11 points, 10 rebounds) had a great game off the bench. She gave us great energy. She gave us rebounding.”

Notre Dame also made a defensive adjustment in the half court that made a difference.

“We switched up defensively,” McGraw said. “We didn’t front as much. I thought they were getting inside a little bit more so we played behind in the post. I thought that stopped them a little bit.”

Notre Dame led 35-27 at halftime and after the Friars cut their deficit to seven points (40-33), Natalie Novosel ignited the Irish’s 16-0 run.

The Irish are 19-0 all time against Providence, their longest active winning streak against any BIG EAST opponent.

4. Terrence Jones didn’t sleep through this one. A game after Kentucky coach John Calipari chastised his talented freshman forward for taking a midmorning nap before playing miserably in a loss at North Carolina, Jones erupted for 27 points as the 17th-ranked Wildcats pulled away from Notre Dame 72-58 on Wednesday night in the men’s basketball SEC/Big East Invitational.

“Jones is an amazing talent, a tough match up,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

Jones added 17 rebounds and several clutch free throws in the closing minutes. Brandon Knight had 20 points for the Wildcats (6-2), who avoided Calipari’s first losing streak on the bench since 2005 by shutting down the Fighting Irish (8-1) in the second half.

Notre Dame shot just 20 percent (6 of 30) in the second half and had no answer for Jones, who took the loss to the Tar Heels personally. He slogged through a miserable 3-of-17 performance, a showing Calipari blamed on poor preparation and an ill-timed snooze that Calipari said had Jones sleepwalking against the Tar Heels.

Jones was wide awake against the Irish, showcasing a variety of skills. He hit two 3-pointers, added three assists and two blocks in 38 minutes.

“Coming in, all I was thinking about was supporting my team and to make up for a loss,” Jones said. “I love challenges. It was a game that was very intensely played. They made us rise up and play harder.”

Ben Hansbrough led the Irish with 21 points but scored just two in the second half as Kentucky’s defense clamped down. Notre Dame went without a field goal for over 12 minutes spanning the first and second half, allowing Kentucky to turn an 11-point deficit into a seven-point lead it would never give up.

“We missed some stuff around the basket, and that deflated us a little,” Brey said. “I thought we were poised at times and we were frazzled at times. We weren’t scoring.”

Kentucky’s lack of interior depth had been exploited while losing to the Tar Heels, as Jones, Josh Harrellson and Eloy Vargas all struggled with foul trouble.

The trio managed to stay on the court against the Irish, helping the Wildcats control the glass. Kentucky outrebounded Notre Dame 42-34 and showed some grit it lacked at times against the Tar Heels.

“We talked about a sense of urgency,” Calipari said. “We had some guys not ready to play at North Carolina. We’re just beginning to learn.”

The Wildcats even showed some touch at the free-throw line. Kentucky made 17 of 22 free throws (77 percent), well above its season average of 64 percent.

Notre Dame, which rode the hot hand of Hansbrough to the lead, struggled when the game grew more physical in the second half. Even when the whistle blew, the Irish couldn’t find their stroke. Notre Dame missed 5 of 6 free throws over the final 3:48 and couldn’t contain Jones.

He clapped his hands together after hitting a little runner in the lane to put the Wildcats up 62-55, then held his left hand aloft after making a 3-pointer from the corner on Kentucky’s next possession to push the lead to 65-57. Notre Dame’s Tyrone Nash missed two free throws while Jones made two at the other end to increase the lead to 67-57 with 1:14 to go.

“No way we were going to lose coming off a loss,” Jones said.

The venue was technically a neutral site, but it hardly seemed like it, and it wasn’t just the highly partisan Kentucky crowd that made the short hour drive from Lexington for the game.

The Kentucky State Fair Board purchased a University of Kentucky court in hopes of getting the Wildcats to play at Freedom Hall more than once a year. The baselines and sidelines were a familiar shade of blue, though the massive ‘UK’ logo at center court was covered up by a larger one promoting the event. It was an odd look for an arena that served as the home of rival Louisville for 54 years before the Cardinals moved to the new KFC Yum! Center this fall.

The raucous atmosphere didn’t affect the senior-laden Irish, at least not early.

Hansbrough ripped off 11 straight points – knocking down three consecutive 3-pointers – as the Irish eventually built an 11-point lead. The younger brother of former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough seemed to thrive in the environment, he stuck his hands behind his back after drilling a particularly deep 3-pointer and stared into the crowd while getting back on defense after nailing another.

The Wildcats, however, responded behind the play of Jones. He gave Kentucky a much-needed jolt with a stepthrough two-handed dunk that sparked a late 13-2 run as Kentucky tied it at 40 at halftime.

“We had early mistakes, we wanted to concentrate on cutting down on them and getting back in the game,” Jones said. “As a team we said we needed to stop (Hansbrough). If we do that, we take over the game and it’ll be easy.”

4. Volleyball outside hitter Andrea McHugh has been named the AVCA’s Northeast Region Freshman of Year. McHugh, who was honored as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Year earlier this season, also earned an all-region honorable mention nod. McHugh is the latest of three Notre Dame players to earn the region’s top honor for a freshman, as Kellie Sciacca (2007) and Lauren Kelbley (2002) also earned the distinction while wearing an Irish uniform. The dynamic McHugh led Notre Dame in 2010 with 386 kills (3.48/set), 32 aces (0.29/set) and was third with 279 digs (2.51/set). She accounted for 437.5 of Notre Dame’s 1,887.5 points this season.

5. Five seniors on the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team have garnered preseason All-America honors from Inside Lacrosse. Zach Brenneman (M) and Kevin Ridgway (D) were named to the first team, while Sam Barnes (D) was a second-team pick. David Earl (M) was selected to the third team and Andrew Irving (LSM) was an honorable mention selection.

Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y./East Hampton) led the Fighting Irish with career-high totals in goals (29) and points (42) last season. He also notched a career-high 13 assists. Brenneman earned honorable mention All-America accolades in 2010. The midfielder netted hat tricks against both Cornell and Duke in the semifinals and finals, respectively, of the NCAA Tournament and was selected to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. Brenneman also was named to the all-BIG EAST first team.

Ridgway (Kensington, Md./Georgetown Prep) started all 17 games last season and helped anchor an Irish defense that ranked second nationally by posting a 7.53 goals-against average. Notre Dame only surrendered 23 goals (5.75 per game) during its four games of the NCAA Championship. Ridgway was an honorable-mention All-American and he also was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. Additionally, he was tabbed as a second-team all-BIG EAST performer.

Notre Dame is ranked seventh in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook top-20 preseason coaches poll. Virginia tops the poll, while Syracuse, North Carolina, Duke and Maryland round out the top five, respectively. The Fighting Irish went 10-7 last season. Notre Dame fell to Duke, 6-5 in overtime, in the national title game.

Monday, December 6

1. Natalie Novosel scored 16 points and #16 Notre Dame celebrated the 1,000th game in school history with a 72-51 victory over Purdue on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.

The Irish (7-3) forced 24 turnovers and converted them into 29 points and dominated in the paint, scoring 46 points while holding Purdue to only 29 inside.

Brittany Rayburn had 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds for Purdue (6-2), which struggled from the field, shooting just 36.5 percent for the game. Courtney Moses scored 11.

Purdue coach Sharon Versyp was visibly frustrated with her team’s inability to take care of the ball and convert on the offensive end of the court.

“We didn’t execute anything – nothing. Every time I drew something up it didn’t work. We played no defense, no communication, we weren’t physical,” Versyp said. “Our post players had some shots and they didn’t finish, and Notre Dame did.”

Irish coach Muffet McGraw liked her team’s focus on attacking opponents down low, but noticed plenty of things to work on in what she called an “ugly present” on her birthday.

“We did get some scoring from the post, and that’s what I was most concerned with,” she said. “I was really happy with the way we ran the Princeton offense.”

Notre Dame had noticed early that they would be able to catch Purdue sleeping on backdoor cuts and off-the-ball screens, just like Princeton has done for years.

“We weren’t able to control the tempo of the game, and I think that that’s something that you have to be able to do,” Rayburn said.Moses had to deal with the Notre Dame press all afternoon.

“We knew that Notre Dame was a team that thrived off getting their points off turnovers, fast break,” she said, “and they took advantage of it,” Moses said.

Two of Purdue’s starters went down early in the season, sophomore guard KK Houser and junior forward Drey Mingo, and the Boilermakers have been forced to adjust since.

“Every player has to step up a little bit,” Versyp said. “It’s reality, we have ten kids, we’ve got make adjustments, and we have to become better.”

2. The University of Notre Dame community came together on Saturday to help raise awareness for peace in Sudan. The Fighting Irish men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse teams worked together with Notre Dame student government and a host of departments across the campus to sponsor the Playing for Peace 3v3 Basketball Tournament.

Ninety-six teams competed in the tournament, which began at 9:00 a.m. and concluded at 3:30 p.m. in the Joyce Center Field House on the Notre Dame campus. The co-ed tournament was played as in a single-elimination format until a champion was crowned.

The tournament took a break at noon for the main event of the day, the Stand With Sudan Peace Rally. The rally involved a unique collaboration of several different University offices; The Center for Social Concerns, Campus Ministry, The Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, Play Like A Champion and the Alliance for Catholic Education.

Both the tournament and rally were free of charge. The rally was open to the public and to all students, faculty and staff regardless of whether or not they are participating in the tournament. The mission of the event was to raise awareness about Sudan because on Jan. 9, 2011, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan in 2005 will expire.

Guest speakers at the peace rally included former University of Notre Dame President Father Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame men’s basketball head coach Mike Brey, Irish men’s lacrosse head coach Kevin Corrigan, Ed Bona (the first African to play Division I basketball) and Joe Touomou (Cameroon native and former basketball captain at Georgetown University). The rally also featured special talks from University representatives Mike Hebbeler (The Center for Social Concerns,) Jerry Powers (The Kroc Institute), Emmanuel Gore (Notre Dame student from Southern Sudan) and Patrick McCormick (Notre Dame student government). There also were special videos from Catholic Relief Services and NBA star Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls.

Here are a selection of quotes from the speeches (in order of appearance) …

Mike Hebbeler: “As members of the Notre Dame community, we are called to create a sense of solidarity and concern for the common good. We rally today for the people of Sudan and to take a stand against injustice and oppression and to learn how we can further promote peace and security for all the people of Sudan, including those in the North and in the South, Muslims, Christians, Arabs and Africans.”

Kevin Corrigan: “It’s been a real privilege to see the collaboration amongst different groups on campus to see this happen. It does the body good to see this many students out on a Saturday morning for such a righteous cause.”

Jerry Powers: “The fact that the basketball and lacrosse teams sponsored this event and that they recruited adidas, which was probably the first time adidas has ever sponsored a peace rally, is a real testament as to how Notre Dame is different and special.”

Emmanuel Gore: “On behalf of my family that is still living in Sudan, I’d like to extend a heartfelt gratitude to all of you and for your dedication to our peace in Sudan. I consider myself one of the lucky few that I’m a part of this amazing Notre Dame family.”

Mike Brey: “It’s an honor for me and our players to be a part of this rally today. I’d like to introduce two gentlemen (Joe Touomou and Ed Bona) that played college basketball. They had a chance to come over from their respective countries to get an education and play college basketball.”

Joe Touomou: “This is great today. I would like to thank Notre Dame for putting this together. I think a lot of schools in the country need to follow this lead. I’m here as an African. I’m here to talk on behalf of the African youth. The youth of Africa need peace. They need peace because so many kids in Sudan, two generations, have missed great opportunities to get an education. We can’t allow that to happen again. For you guys to be here today it’s important because we need that kind of support. We need that support around the world. Your voices should be heard in Washington, D.C. and New York where the decisions are made. Unfortunately with all of the problems that Africa has today, whether it’s HIV and AIDS, unemployment or the lack of education, we cannot afford to have another war in Sudan. Sudan is such an important part of Africa. It’s the largest country in Africa and we can’t afford to have another war there.”

Ed Bona: “When I graduated from Fordham in 1983 I thought that now I have my degree I want to go back home and contribute to developing my country. In 1983 a war broke out in Sudan and that war went from 1983-2005. It cost 2.5 million lives and we lost generations. I was one of the fortunate ones because I happened to be in the United States at that time. People like Emmanuel (Gore) were caught in the middle of that war. All of my plans came to a halt because of that war.”

Luol Deng: “What’s up Irish nation. Thank you for coming out today. I know I could count on Notre Dame to show up today and take a stand for peace in Sudan. Your presence and your voice makes a difference. My people in Sudan appreciate your support. Thank you for your help to stop a war before it starts. Together we can make a stand and say `never again’ starts today.”

Patrick McCormick: “A special thanks to each of you here to take the time on a busy Saturday the week before final exams to come together to call the world’s attention to a land most of us have never seen with our own eyes or perhaps even known of at all before this rally. Some wondered whether anyone would show up this afternoon. Some wondered whether a rally on this scale for this issue was even possible on a college campus. Well today, they have their answer. Your commitment to this place, to this University, to this family is at the heart of what makes Notre Dame like no other school on Earth.”

Father Hesburgh: “May I first say that many things around here surprise me from time to time. I’ve been around here since 1934. It is a surprising place and the most surprising thing that never fails to inspire me is our student body. There are thousands of schools in this country with student bodies. You usually don’t hear about those student bodies unless something awful happens. But here at Notre Dame, I am continually surprised by the goodness and the dedication and the world vision of our student body. This student body over many years has been alert not just to the justice here in our neighborhood at Notre Dame, but justice all over the world.” “I think what you’re hearing about today is a country that long has been without justice that has seen million of its people starve and be killed. It’s been kind of a forgotten country in the vast land called Africa. It’s a beautiful country in a beautiful continent. For all of you here today, I hope sometime in your lifetime you can visit this wonderful continent.”

“You are here today because even though it’s a country far away and not heard of very often, it’s a country which has people who are suffering. Like people in many parts of the world, they are poor, they are hungry and they are dying. There is violence that threatens the lives of families. There are people who have to walk for five or six days just to find some food or water to drink. The world isn’t as nice and pleasant everywhere as it is here at Notre Dame, but I think the beauty of Notre Dame is that we’re going to reach out to places that don’t enjoy what we enjoy. They don’t have peace and there is a profound peace across this campus.”

“My heart swells with pride when I see so many of you out here. You’re out here for a country that needs help to see what you can do to help. Even though you’re far away, there are many things you can do to help. What you’re doing today is perhaps the best thing of all. You’re here to give witness to the fact we do care about people who suffer everywhere and today we are interested with those who are suffering in a far-away land called Sudan. I applaud you all for your interest in this part of the world.”

3. The Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team capped off a successful weekend with a second-place finish Sunday at Iowa’s Hawkeye Invitational at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City. Only the host Hawkeyes (1,177.5) placed higher than the Irish (822) in the seven-team field, and senior Michael Sullivan and freshman Frank Dyer again led the way for the team by garnering a pair of fourth-place finishes.

Sullivan posted a swift time in the 200 backstroke (1:48.66) en route to his fourth-place finish, and Dyer hit the wall in 45.08 in the 100 freestyle to add more fourth-place points for the Irish.

The 400 freestyle relay squad of Dyer, Marshall Sherman, John McGinley and Thomas Van Volkenburg completed the trifecta of fourth-place finishes for the Irish, hitting the wall in 3:01.72.

The meet concluded the 2010 portion of the Irish schedule. The team will return to dual-meet action Jan. 11 at Northwestern.

4, On the final day of the U.S. Short Course Nationals held at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio, Samantha Maxwell led the Notre Dame women’s swimming team with a sixth-place in the A-final of the 200 breast in 2:11.06. That performance Saturday evening was the fourth fastest time in program history.

Lauren Stauder complemented Maxwell’s performance with a first-place finish in the C-final of the event, clocking in at 2:14.95.Kim Holden led the Irish in the 200 back as she froze the clock at 1:58.67 to claim seventh place in the B-final.

Amywren Miller hit the pad seventh in the C-final of the 100 free with a 50.44 performance. Katie Casey recorded a sixth-place finish in C-final of the 200 fly with her time of 2:00.72.

Gracie Fredlake and Lauren Sylvester represented the Irish in the 1,650 free with 15th (17:08.93) and 16th-place (17:11.28) performances, respectively.

Miller teamed up with Amy Prestinario, Kelly Ryan and Lauren Scott to finish 12th in the final event of the meet (400 free relay) in 3:25.42.

Also at the event, Michael Alexandrov set the American record in the men’s 200 breaststroke after turning in a 1:51.73. It bettered the former mark set in 2006 by Olympian Brendan Hansen by one-hundredth of a second.It was Alexandrov’s second win and second American record in as many days. He also set the American record in the 100 breast Friday night, a performance that earned him the ConocoPhillips Performance of the Meet award.

The Irish were third in the women’s college standings behind California and USC.

Notre Dame will now look forward to a trip to Hawaii in late December for a two-week training trip, during which the Irish will take on Hawaii in a dual meet contest.

5. As the 2010 college football season comes to a close, the 16 Campbell Trophy Finalists — including Notre Dame’s Chris Stewart — have arrived in New York City, where each will claim an $18,000 scholarship, and The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) will announce that one of them has become the 21st recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth.

The Campbell Trophy is one of college football’s most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The award comes with a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Stewart is the only player in the history of Notre Dame football to attend law school as a player. He was a 2009 CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-American and earned CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District honors this season. He graduated with a degree in history in three and a half years, is a member of the History Honors Program – and he journeyed to Haiti during his spring break of 2009 for earthquake relief efforts.

Sunday, December 5

1. Randy Waldrum thought his team would win the national title. He even had a guess as to how it would happen. Notre Dame’s coach was correct on both accounts.

Freshman Adriana Leon scored in the 63rd minute to help the Fighting Irish defeat Stanford 1-0 on Sunday for their third NCAA Women’s College Cup championship. Melissa Henderson assisted on the goal for Notre Dame (21-2-2), which joined North Carolina as the only schools with at least three Women’s College Cup titles.

“Please have the courage to write that this was the best team in the country, not that this was an upset,” Waldrum said. “I know everybody had preordained Stanford as the national champion this year. But I would make the argument that once the NCAA tournament started, the path we took and the way we won games … we clearly were the best team in the country.”

Stanford (23-1-2) had its 22-game winning streak snapped and lost in the NCAA championship game for the second year in a row. The Cardinal had not trailed since Sept. 10, a span of 20 matches, before Leon’s fourth goal of the season.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Stanford forward Christen Press said. “It’s hard coming in being the undefeated team, so there are a lot of things that don’t necessarily go our way because of that pressure.”

The Fighting Irish felt no such burden. Before the game, Waldrum even told Leon that she would score the winning goal.

“I don’t think words can describe the feeling,” she said. “Best feeling in the world.”

Leon shot the ball with her left foot into the top of the net over the outstretched right arm of Stanford goalkeeper Emily Oliver. Henderson made the play possible with one of several scoring opportunities she generated on a cold, blustery day after snow fell overnight. Henderson gained control of the ball in the midfield and dribbled past two defenders down the left flank. Just before she reached the end line, Henderson crossed the ball to the middle where Leon was waiting.

The Fighting Irish improved to 44-0-2 in games in which Henderson, the tournament’s most outstanding offensive player, has tallied a goal or an assist.

“Every single one of those defenders is a great player,” Henderson said. “But there was a point, even in the first half, where we were like, ‘We’ve got this. We can match up and we can just shred them if we need to.’ And we did it.”

The Cardinal’s best chance to score came a minute before Leon’s goal, but Notre Dame goalkeeper Nikki Weiss saved a diving header by Alina Garciamendez after a feed from Lindsay Taylor on a free kick.

Stanford’s Courtney Verloo nearly scored in the 17th minute of the first half, making a long run from her defender position and blasting a right-footed shot from just outside the box. The ball hooked out of the reach of Weiss, but it hit the left post and bounced away from the goal.

“If the shot from Courtney would have went in, I think that would have broken the ice for us and boosted the confidence and then we could have won,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said.

Instead, the Cardinal went home empty-handed after its third consecutive trip to the Women’s College Cup. The Fighting Irish know the feeling. They fell short in four consecutive Women’s College Cup appearances from 2006-09, including championship game losses here in ’06 and ’08.

But they broke through for their first national title since 2004 with a six-game tournament run in which they outscored their opponents 15-1.

“We’ve been through it all together,” Henderson said. “We were talking about this today. We’ll take those losses in the past years. We’ll take that because today it all came down to it, and we won it. It’s a national championship. There’s nothing better.”

2. For the first time in history, Notre Dame is headed to the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Notre Dame (7-5) meets Atlantic Coast Conference representative Miami (7-5) in the 77th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2010.

It’s the second bowl appearance for the Irish in the last three seasons (following their Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl victory two years ago) and their fifth in the last seven years.

Site of the game is 50,426-seat Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas, on the UTEP campus. CBS Sports will nationally televise the game (for the 43rd year) at 12:15 p.m. MST (2:15 p.m. EST in South Bend), and Sports USA Radio Network also will carry the game.

The Irish and Hurricanes face off for the 24th time, with the two teams meeting for the first time since 1990. Notre Dame holds a 15-7-1 series lead – with the Irish winning two of the last three meetings (both at Notre Dame Stadium in 1988 and 1990) and the two teams splitting 13 contests (6-6-1) in Miami. Notre Dame also won an international matchup with a 40-15 victory over the ‘Canes in 1979 in Tokyo, Japan, in the Mirage Bowl (final regular-season game).

Notre Dame will be making its 30th bowl appearance overall – its first in the Sun Bowl – and its eighth in the state of Texas (seven previous Cotton Bowl appearances and a 5-2 mark in those Dallas contests). The Irish stand 14-15 in postseason play and had lost nine straight bowl games until their record-setting 49-21 victory over Hawai’i in the 2008 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl in Honolulu.

This marks Notre Dame’s fifth bowl game against a current member of the ACC – after a 19-18 win over Boston College in the 1983 Liberty Bowl, followed by losses to Florida State in the 1996 Orange Bowl (31-26) and losses to Georgia Tech (35-28) and North Carolina State (28-6) in the 1999 and 2003 Gator Bowls.

Miami will be making its 36th postseason appearance (19-16 record) – its third in the state of Texas after previously playing in the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston in 1967 (losing 31-21 to Colorado) and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas following the 1990 season (defeated Texas 46-3).

Notre Dame will be the designated visiting team in the game. The Irish will be filling the side of the matchup designated for the Pacific-10 Conference, since the Pac-10 did not fill all its bowl slots.

Notre Dame’s Sun Bowl ticket allotment is on sale now. Tickets are $40 each and can be ordered by calling the Notre Dame Athletic Department Ticket Office at 574-631-7356 or by visiting www.und.com/tickets. VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover are accepted forms of payment online and over the phone. There is a $20 charge per order for trackable FedEx delivery service to ensure receipt during the busy holiday season. A personalized email has been sent to alumni, benefactors, parents, friends, faculty and staff with an address on file at the Notre Dame Ticket Office for priority seating purposes. A student ticket sale will be held Dec. 9. Tickets may also be purchased in person beginning tomorrow at 9:00 A.M. EST, at the Purcell Pavilion ticket office located between gates 8 and 10 of the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame in 2010 enjoyed one of its strongest regular-season finishes in years under first-year head coach Brian Kelly. The Irish were a perfect 3-0 in November (defeating an 8-1 and #15-ranked Utah team, a 6-4 Army squad and a 7-4 USC team). That late-season success marks the first time the Irish have gone undefeated in November since a 4-0 mark in 2005 and contrasts the past two years (1-4 in ’08 and 0-4 in ’09).

Notre Dame in 2010 played more bowl-eligible football teams (.500 record or better) at 11 than anyone else in the country (only Purdue among the dozen Irish opponents finished below the .500 mark at 4-8).

Notre Dame’s #1 ranking in the NCAA strength-of-schedule standings is its highest since a #1 ranking in 1995. The current .650 winning percentage of Irish opponents makes for its strongest schedule faced in 21 years – since a .655 percentage when Notre Dame finished #1 in the toughest-schedule derby in 1989. The Irish have a long history of playing challenging schedules – with Notre Dame ranking (since the NCAA began this rating in 1977) first in 1978, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2010; third in 1986, 1999, 2003; and fourth in 1979 and 1990. That makes for 11 top-four finishes in that category in the 34 years the NCAA has calculated these numbers.

Kelly, in his 20th season as a collegiate head coach, owns a 13-5 postseason record. That includes an 11-4 mark in NCAA Division II playoffs during his tenure at Grand Valley State (national championships in 2002 and 2003). Kelly’s Cincinnati teams defeated Western Michigan 27-24 in the International Bowl following the 2006 season (just after taking the Bearcat job), defeated Southern Mississippi 31-21 in the Papajohns.com Bowl in 2007 and then fell 20-7 in 2008 to Virginia Tech in the Bowl Championship Series FedEx Orange Bowl. Last year, Kelly coached his Cincinnati team to a 12-0 record and an invitation to the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but he did not coach that game after accepting the job at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is scheduled to play Miami again in a regular-season game in 2012 (Oct. 6) at Soldier Field in Chicago. Then, the two teams will play a home-and-home series in 2016 (at Notre Dame) and 2017 (at Miami).

Saturday, December 4

1. Freshman Mandy Laddish broke away from the pack at midfield and streaked through the Ohio State defense in the 83rd minute to net Notre Dame’s only goal at WakeMed Stadium in the NCAA College Cup semifinal last night in Cary, N.C. Laddish scored her second goal of the season for the Fighting Irish (20-2-2), who advanced to the championship game for the fourth time in the last seven years. Notre Dame will play top-ranked and unbeaten Stanford tomorrow at noon EST on ESPN2. “It’s almost just like a blur to me,” Laddish said. “I remember the shot on goal, and I was just in shock that I actually scored and was helping us win.” Katie Baumgardner made a career-high 10 saves, many of them acrobatic, for the Buckeyes (17-5-2). “It was exhausting,” Baumgardner said. Laddish broke through with a long run down the middle of the field. Outracing pursuit, she drilled a left-footed shot from the top of the box into the upper left-hand corner of the net. The Fighting Irish threatened the Buckeyes with similar runs throughout the second half, nearly scoring on two other occasions after Laddish’s goal. “I know what our Achilles’ heel is, and they found it,” Ohio State coach Lori Walker said. “Penetrating on the dribble through the midfield was the one thing that if they did that, we didn’t have an answer.” Ohio State’s best opportunity came in the 89th minute. Paige Maxwell lofted a shot that got past Notre Dame goalkeeper Nikki Weiss, but the ball bounced off the right post. “I guess it was our turn to get robbed,” Maxwell said. “They got robbed a few times. The soccer gods were not in our favor on that one. I just put everything I had, all my being, through that ball.” The Fighting Irish dominated possession throughout, particularly in the second half. They outshot the Buckeyes 15-3 in the half, getting turned away time after time by Baumgardner. Notre Dame put together a flurry midway through the period. Melissa Henderson rocketed a shot from inside the box that Baumgardner saved, but Henderson threatened again just 10 seconds later. Henderson hit a left-footed shot from straight on that Baumgardner dived to her right to knock away just before the ball found the bottom corner of the net. Notre Dame’s Rose Augustin generated the best scoring opportunity in the first half. Augustin’s blast from the left wing just outside the box in the 24th minute hit the far post near the top of the goal, and the Buckeyes cleared the loose ball. Augustin also had a header in the seventh minute that Baumgardner saved.

2. Notre Dame advances to its eighth NCAA Women’s College Cup final (fifth in the 12-year Randy Waldrum era), improving to 8-4 all-time in NCAA national semifinal matches, including a 4-0 mark when playing in semifinals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. … for the second consecutive visit to Cary, the Fighting Irish advanced to the title match with a 1-0 victory on the strength of a goal by a freshman midfielder — in 2008, then-rookie midliner Courtney Barg scored in the 15th minute to propel Notre Dame past Stanford 1-0; Melissa Henderson earned the assist on that score and also started the sequence that led to Laddish’s goal on Friday night … the Fighting Irish also rise to 58-15-1 (.791) all-time in the NCAA Championship, including a 10-9 record in the College Cup … Notre Dame posts its 20th win of the season, securing its seventh 20-win campaign in the past eight years (the Fighting Irish had 19 wins in 2007) and the 14th in the program’s 23-year history … Notre Dame records its fourth win over a ranked opponent in five matches during this year’s NCAA Championship, while also notching its fourth shutout in five NCAA tournament matches this season (14-1 scoring margin; lone goal by North Carolina’s Crystal Dunn in third-round win on Nov. 20 in Chapel Hill, N.C.) … the Fighting Irish jump to 64-9-2 (.867) all-time against Big Ten Conference opponents (3-0 this season), including a 14-1 record in the NCAA Championship … Notre Dame also moves to 6-0 all-time against Ohio State, including a 2-0 record in the NCAA Championship … Laddish had scored just one other goal in her rookie season, a 37th-minute strike on Sept. 24 in a 4-0 win over Cincinnati at Alumni Stadium … Laddish’s goal was the latest game-winning score of the season for Notre Dame, surpassing Melissa Henderson’s game-winner at 78:42 in the 1-0 season-opening win against another Big Ten opponent, Minnesota, on Aug. 20 at Alumni Stadium … it also was the latest game-winner in regulation for the Fighting Irish since Oct. 9, 2009, when Lauren Fowlkes potted the lone tally at 83:55 at #10/12 Rutgers … Laddish’s goal was the latest regulation game-winner for Notre Dame in an NCAA Championship match since Nov. 14, 2004, when Jill Krivacek headed home a corner kick from Katie Thorlakson at 89:07 for a 1-0 win over Wisconsin at old Alumni Field (Notre Dame defeated visiting Minnesota, 1-0 in overtime in a 2008 third-round match on an extra-time penalty kick by Kerri Hanks) … Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum coached his 299th game with the Fighting Irish on Friday, boosting his record under the Golden Dome to 252-36-11 (.861) in 12 seasons.

3. Over the last three seasons, the Miami RedHawks have had Notre Dame’s number, winning six straight hockey meetings going into Friday’s game at Steve Cady Arena. That all changed on Friday night as the Irish rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to pull out a 5-4 win over the RedHawks in front of a crowd of 2,937 for their first win against Miami since Nov. 9, 2007. Freshman right wing Bryan Rust scored a pair of goals and had a three-point night to lead Notre Dame’s attack. Ryan Guentzel, Nick Larson and T.J. Tynan added solo goals in the Irish victory. Freshman left wing Anders Lee had three assists on the night. The win improved the 12th-ranked Irish to 10-4-2 overall and 8-2-1-1 in the CCHA as they moved back into first place in the CCHA with 26 points, two points ahead of the RedHawks. Miami, ranked sixth in the nation, is now 9-5-3 on the year and 7-4-2-1 in the conference. Miami took its first two-goal lead of the game, scoring twice in the final 3:15 of the first period. Notre Dame finally broke through on Miami goaltender Cody Reichard, who had back-to-back shutouts against the Irish over the last two seasons, at 2:28 as Rust got his second of the year to make it a 2-1 game. The score would remain that way until the 18:18 mark when the RedHawks scored their second power-play goal of the night, this time with a four-on-three advantage. Notre Dame answered right back in the final minute of the period when Guentzel got his third of the year at 19:32. Freshman right wing Mike Voran took a puck off the right boards in the neutral zone and fed Guentzel at the Miami blue line. Guentzel moved into the right circle and whipped a wrist shot over Reichard’s glove to make it 3-2 after two periods of play. After being down twice by two goals, the Irish took the lead in the third period with a pair of goals in the first half of the stanza. Rust picked up his second of the night at 5:23 to tie the game at 3-3. Notre Dame would take its first lead of the night at 9:37 when Larson, on his off wing, snapped a shot from the right face-off dot through Reichard’s pads for his fifth goal of the season. Voran picked up his second assist of the night on the goal. Miami wasn’t done though as it tied the game at 16:44 at 4-4. Just 40 seconds later, the Irish capitalized on a turnover in the Miami zone to get the game winner. Lee stripped the defense behind the goal and fed Rust on the right wing boards. Rust passed across to Tynan who was parked in front and redirected the pass in one motion over Reichard for the game winner at 17:24. The goal was his ninth of the season. Miami pulled its goaltender with 1:10 left but the Irish held them off the board for the big come-from-behind win. Notre Dame out shot Miami, 23-20, in the game. Notre Dame’s Mike Johnson and Reichard each had 18 saves in the game. The two teams meet again tonight.

4. T.J. Tynan was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association’s national rookie of the month for November. The freshman center had six goals and six assists to lead the CCHA in scoring for the month. . . . Notre Dame’s talented freshmen class accounted for 11 of the team’s 13 points in the win, getting three goals and eight assists on the night. . . . Each team has one player that has been selected to attend Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp, Dec. 12-15, in Toronto. Notre Dame sophomore center Riley Sheahan will be joined by Miami sophomore left wing Reilly Smith. . . . Notre Dame is now 3-3-2 on the road this season to go with 6-0-0 at home and 1-1-0 on neutral ice.

5. Freshman Frank Dyer led an exceptional night of performances by the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team on the first day of the Hawkeye Invitational Friday at Iowa’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Dyer blitzed the field with a meet-record time in the 500 freestyle (4:24.04) to secure the victory in the first individual event of the evening session. The time also was recognized as a NCAA B-standard. Michael Sullivan added to the Notre Dame medal haul in the 200 individual medley, touching the wall in a swift readout of 1:50.85 to collect the silver medal in the event. The relay team of Dyer, Joshua Nosal, Kevin Overholt and Christopher Johnson also brought in hardware for the Irish, placing third in the 200 free relay in 1:22.33. With 259 points, Notre Dame trails only Iowa (379) in the seven-team field. The action resumed this morning.

6. The Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams began its indoor track season Friday with the Blue and Gold Invitational at the Loftus Sports Center in Notre Dame, Ind. The Irish compiled 17 victories (10 women’s and seven men’s) against opponents, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Marquette and Bethel College. Among the first-place finishes for the men includes senior Kevin Labus (Indianapolis, Ind./Brebeuf Jesuit) in the 800-meter run. Labus concluded the race in 1:52.06. 2010 All-American Jack Howard (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) claimed the crown in the 1,000-meter run, finishing the race in 2:27.68. In the jumps department, junior Doug Onuscheck (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft) won the high jump, clearing 2.01m. Freshman Logan Renwick (Butler, Pa./Butler) jumped 14.18m in the triple jump for a first-place finish. Junior Kevin Schipper (Leo, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) won the pole vault, clearing 4.85m. Senior thrower, Greg Davis (Peachtree, Ga./Starr’s Mill) won the weight throw with a toss of 18.17m. On the women’s side, the sprint crew had a strong showing claiming first place in the 60-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles, 400-meter dash and 500-meter dash. Freshman Aijah Urssery (Inglewood, Calif./St. Mary’s Academy) won the 60-meter dash in 7.78. Sophomore Nevada Sorenson (Sioux Falls, S.D./Lincoln) took home first place in the 60-meter hurdles, while freshman Michelle Brown (Shamong, N.J./Seneca) ran the 400-meter dash in 57.08 for first place. Freshman Megan Yanik (Plymouth, Mich./Ladywood) finished first in the 500-meter dash, crossing the line in 1:15.70. Freshmen McKinzie Schulz (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) and Kelly Curran (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic) made their Irish track and field debuts with victories. Schulz won the 1,000-meter run in 2:55.88 and Curran finished the mile in 4:49.85. Sophomore Rebecca Tracy (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) won the 3,000-meter run in 9:48.01. Junior Maddie Buttinger (Waterloo, Ontario/Resurrection C.S.S.) high jumped 1.68m to edge out teammate Kendra Jennings (La Prairie, Ill./Central). Junior Mason Bashaw (Houston, Texas/Kincaid) earned a victory in the shot put with a throw of 16.02m. The Irish men’s and women’s track and field team returns to action on Jan. 15 at the Grand Valley State Open in Allendale, Mich.

7. One night after senior All-American Amywren Miller led the Notre Dame women’s swimming team at the U.S. Short Course Nationals, fellow senior All-American Samantha Maxwell took the spotlight with a ninth-place finish in the A-final of the 100 breast at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. Maxwell registered her fastest time of the season with a 1:00.53 in the preliminary session and then posted a 1:00.75 in the evening session. Freshman Lauren Stauder recorded a 1:02.54 to collect a seventh-place finish in the C-final of the event. The Irish also had two swimmers in the final session of two more events on the evening. Senior Katie Casey froze the clock at 55.22 in the 100 fly to finish ninth in the B-final while sophomore sensation Kim Holden swam a 54.86 to finish with a fifth-place showing in the C-final. Holden jumped back into the pool and touched the pad ninth in the B-final of the 100 back with a 54.89. Freshman Kelly Ryan took home silver in the C-final when she stopped the clock at 55.10. The quartet of Holden, Maxwell, Lauren Scott and Miller started off the evening session with a fifth-place performance in the 200 medley relay (1:40.85). Meanwhile at the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa, the Irish divers represented the program well with a pair of top-10 finishes. Heidi Grossman (271.95) was fifth in the 1-meter as Jenny Chiang (266.10) placed sixth among the nine-team, 28-diver field.

Wednesday, December 1

1. As postseason football bowl reps look at options, it’s worth noting that Notre Dame in 2010 played more bowl-eligible football teams (11) than anyone else in the country (only Purdue had a below-.500 season among the dozen Irish opponents).Here’s how the 25 teams that played the NCAA toughest schedules in 2010 compare in terms of number of bowl-eligible teams (6-6 record or better) on the slate:

11: Notre Dame
10: Florida, South Carolina (becomes 11 with 13th-game SEC title match vs. Auburn)
9: Cincinnati (becomes 10 with Saturday game vs. Pittsburgh), Clemson, Miami (Fla.), Minnesota
8: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn (becomes 9 with 13th-game SEC title game vs. South Carolina), Iowa State, LSU, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Purdue, UNLV (becomes 9 with 13th game Saturday at Hawaii)
7: Illinois (becomes 8 with Saturday game vs. Fresno State), Iowa , Oklahoma (becomes 8 with 13th-game Big 12 title game vs. Nebraska), San Jose State, Texas A&M
6: Oregon State (becomes 7 with Saturday game vs. Oregon)
4: Arizona State (becomes 5 with Saturday game vs. Arizona)

2. If you are looking at the BIG EAST options for the Champs Sports Bowl, here are some numbers to consider:
— Notre Dame – 2nd in nation in schedule difficulty at .647 (77-42), 11 bowl-eligible teams on the 2010 schedule
— West Virginia – 63rd in schedule difficulty at .495 (53-54), 7 bowl eligible teams
— South Florida – 87th in schedule difficulty at .452 (48-58), 7 bowl eligible teams (includes Saturday game vs. Connecticut)
— Connecticut – 98th in schedule difficulty at .433 (46-60), 7 bowl eligible teams (includes Saturday game vs. South Florida)

3. The University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams will play host to a food drive at their annual indoor season opening meet, the Blue and Gold Meet, at 6 p.m. (EST) on Friday at the Loftus Sports Center in Notre Dame, Ind. The team is collecting canned goods and non-perishable items to donate to a local food shelter for the holiday season. Monetary contributions are also welcomed and appreciated. Come out and support the start of the track and field season while helping others in need.

4. The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse teams are collaborating with student government and a host of departments across campus to sponsor the Playing for Peace 3v3 Basketball Tournament Saturday. The tournament will be held all day in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse on the Notre Dame campus. The event is the University’s opportunity to raise awareness and to stand with Sudan for a just and lasting peace. The tournament will break for the main event of the day, which is the Stand With Sudan Peace Rally at noon in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse. The rally is open to the public and to all students, faculty and staff regardless of whether or not they are participating in the tournament. The peace rally involves a unique collaboration of several different University offices: The Center for Social Concerns, Campus Ministry, The Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, Play Like A Champion and the Alliance for Catholic Education. Both the tournament and rally are free. The tournament is limited to 128 teams, made up of a minimum of three players per team. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The tournament is co-ed, but individual teams can be comprised of all men, all women or a combination of both. Each team will be guaranteed two games, however the event will be run in a single-elimination format throughout the day until a Playing for Peace 3v3 Tournament champion is crowned. This event is important to raise awareness about Sudan because on Jan. 9, 2011, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan in 2005 will expire. Guest speakers at the event include, former University of Notre Dame President Father Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame men’s basketball head coach Mike Brey, Irish men’s lacrosse head coach Kevin Corrigan, Ed Bona (the first African to play Division I basketball) and Joe Touomou (Cameroon native and former basketball captain at Georgetown University). The rally also will feature special videos from Catholic Relief Services and NBA star Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls.

5. Notre Dame freshman center T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) has been named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s (CCHA) rookie of the month for November. He is the second Irish player to receive the honor as he joins Anders Lee (Fr., Edina, Minn.) who was the conference’s rookie of the month in October. During the second month of the 2010-11 season, Tynan was an offensive dynamo for the Irish, leading the team in scoring with six goals and six assists for 12 points. Two of his goals came on the power play, two were short-handed and one was a game winner while he was +5 over the eight-game period. His six goals came on just 19 shots, giving him a .316 shooting percentage for the month. During November, Tynan was named CCHA rookie of the week twice following games the week of Nov. 1 and Nov. 8. For the season, Tynan leads all CCHA rookies in scoring with eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points. That ranks him fourth in the overall CCHA scoring race and his 18 points ties him for second among freshmen scorers in the nation while his 1.20 points per game is fourth among the nation’s rookie point getters. The 5-8, 156-pound center recorded points in seven of the team’s eight games during the month that saw Notre Dame go 4-3-1, playing six of eight on the road and six of eight versus nationally-ranked teams. Five of the games were of the multiple-point variety with a season-best three-point game (1g, 2a) coming in a 6-3 win on Nov. 6 at Bowling Green.

6. Most basketball coaches will tell you rankings don’t mean anything, especially at this point of the season. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey disagrees with that after his Irish moved into the Top 25 this week for the first time this season. “At least it is for this team,” Brey said after the 25th-ranked Irish beat Indiana State 81-72 on Tuesday night. “I told the team yesterday that I was very proud of (being ranked). You enjoy this moment. Understand it and use it to get yourselves confident.” The motivational speech may have been enough to help Notre Dame avoid a “trap” game after winning the Old Spice Classic last weekend. Ben Hansbrough scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half for the Irish (8-0), who are off to the best start in the 11 seasons under Brey. The last time the Irish accomplished the feat was in 1973-74 when that squad went 12-0. After Notre Dame managed a 38-33 halftime lead, Hansbrough led the second-half charge with three 3-pointers. All five Notre Dame starters scored in double figures. Tyrone Nash had 16 points, Scott Martin 15, Tim Abromaitis 13 and Carleton Scott 11. “This was a grind-it-out kind of game,” Brey said. “Right now we need a little bit of rest. It is great that we are 8-0 but have you looked at our next eight? The last time I was 8-0 was when I played in a recreational league, or maybe my DeMatha High School JV team was 8-0, I don’t know. But we are thrilled with the start. I think we are confident with where we are.”

7. Notre Dame women’s soccer is no stranger to the NCAA College Cup, with its 12th appearance on deck this weekend, but one would be hard-pressed to find a tougher road to the national semifinals than the route the Fighting Irish took this year. Seeded fourth in its portion of the bracket, Notre Dame successfully turned back challenges from New Mexico (3-0) and three successive ranked opponents — No. 22 USC (4-0), No. 3/4 North Carolina (4-1) and No. 6 Oklahoma State (2-0), the latter two victories coming on the road. In fact, the Fighting Irish became the first team since Florida State in 2003 (and third all-time) to advance to the College Cup with back-to-back road wins in the preceding two rounds of the NCAA Championship.Notre Dame has benefitted from a balanced offensive attack in the NCAA tournament, led by three goals and three assists each from junior forward Melissa Henderson (17G-10A for season) and senior forward/co-captain Lauren Fowlkes (4G-5A). Senior forward/midfielder Rose Augustin (11G-10A) has two goals in the Championship, while freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (9G-3A) potted both scores in last Friday’s quarterfinal win at Oklahoma State.Junior defender/co-captain Jessica Schuveiller (1G-3A) and senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (0.53 GAA, 8 ShO) anchor a Fighting Irish defense that has posted 13 shutouts and allowed just one goal in four NCAA Championship matches this season.

8. Notre Dame is competing in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship for the 18th consecutive year, the second-longest active streak of consecutive berths, trailing only North Carolina (29) in that category.

— Notre Dame has a 57-15-1 (.788) all-time record in NCAA tournament play, including 44-3-0 (.936) in NCAA games played at home.
— The Fighting Irish are 9-9 all-time in College Cup matches (4-2 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.), including a 7-4 (.636) mark in national semifinals and a 3-0 mark at WakeMed Soccer Park (1-0 vs. Santa Clara in 2004; 2-1 vs. Florida State in 2006; 1-0 vs. Stanford in 2008). All four semifinal losses have come by one goal (2-1 vs. Connecticut in 1997; 2-1 vs. North Carolina in 2000; 3-2 vs. Florida State in 2007; 1-0 vs. North Carolina in 2009).
— Against non-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponents, Notre Dame is 7-1 in College Cup matches (5-1 in semifinals; 2-0 in final), with the lone loss coming in 1997 to fellow BIG EAST member Connecticut (2-1).
— Including this season, Notre Dame and UNC remain the only teams to have reached the final-32 or further in every NCAA Championship since 1993, and remain 1-2 in virtually all tournament appearance records during that time — round-of-16 trips (UNC-18, ND-15, Portland-15), quarterfinals since 1994 (ND-14, UNC-14, Portland-13), College Cup berths since 1994 (UNC-13, ND-12) and title game appearances since 1994 (UNC-11, ND-7; no one else with more than three).
— The Fighting Irish claimed NCAA titles in 1995 and 2004, joining UNC and Portland as the only repeat winners in the history of the tournament. Notre Dame also has finished as the NCAA runner-up five times (1994, 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2008) as part of its 12 NCAA College Cup berths (also semifinalist in 1997, 2000, 2007 and 2009), all since 1994.

9. Notre Dame is just the third team in the 29-year history of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship to advance to the national semifinals following consecutive road wins in the tournament. In 2000, Portland made the final four with 1-0 wins at No. 2 national seed Washington and No. 7 seed Penn State (the latter in overtime). Most recently in 2003, Florida State won its round-of-16 match at No. 6 seed West Virginia (3-2, 2ot) and its quarterfinal at No. 3 seed Florida (2-1) to book a spot in the College Cup.