Monday, February 22, 2010

1. One victory over a #1-ranked team (women’s tennis over Northwestern). One road victory over a #2-ranked team (men’s lacrosse over Duke). Two BIG EAST championships (women’s swimming and men’s indoor track and field). Not a bad weekend for Notre Dame athletics.

2. The 17th-ranked Irish women’s tennis team recorded the biggest win in program history Sunday with a 5-2 victory over #1 Northwestern at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. It was the first time Notre Dame had ever beaten the country’s top-ranked team, and the first time since 2007 that the Irish had taken down the Wildcats.

Notre Dame handed Northwestern its first loss of the season, dropping the Wildcats to 8-1, while the Irish improved to 7-1. The Irish took a 1-0 lead after winning sweeping all three doubles matches. The eighth-ranked Irish duo of Kristy Frilling and Kali Krisik jumped out to a 5-0 lead before battling to an 8-5 win over #14 Lauren Lui and Elena Chernyakova at #1 doubles. The Irish tandem is now 8-0 on the season, including three wins over top-15 teams. Shannon Mathews and Chrissie McGaffigan topped Samantha Murray and Brittany Wowchuk, 8-4, at #2 doubles to clinch the point for the Irish. Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley toppled Stacey Lee and Maria Mosolova, 8-7, at #3 doubles to complete the sweep.

Number-23 Frilling improved her dual-match record to 8-0 when she knocked off the 12th-ranked Mosolova , 6-1, 6-2, at #1 singles to give the Irish a 2-0 lead. Five of Frilling’s eight opponents have been ranked in the top 100 this season. Mathews put the Irish ahead 3-0 as she upset #29 Murray, 6-2, 6-3, at second singles. At #3 singles, McGaffigan battled to a 6-3 win in the first set, before jumping out to a 5-0 lead in set two. Number-108 Kate Turvy managed to take the next two points, but McGaffigan powered through for a 6-2 win, clinching the win for Notre Dame.

Chernyakova gave the Wildcats their first point of the day with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Kristen Rafael at #6 singles. Krisik saw her seven-match win streak come to an end Sunday with a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Lui at fourth singles. Ciobanu added the Notre Dame’s fifth point of the match with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win over Wowchuk at #5 singles.

The Irish will have little time to relish the victory as they host Ohio State Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

3. It may not have been the biggest win in Irish men’s lacrosse history, but it certainly makes the conversation.

A hat trick from junior midfielder Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y.) helped lead the #9 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team to an 11-7 season-opening win over #2 Duke Saturday afternoon at Koskinen Stadium in Durham. The Irish never trailed in the contest en route to defeating a team ranked in the top two of the national polls for the first time in program history.

Senior attackmen Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) and Colin Igoe (Columbus, Ohio) along with freshman midfielder Steve Murphy (Shirley, N.Y.) all scored two goals apiece for the Irish. Senior All-America goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) had 15 saves.

Notre Dame (1-0) grabbed a 1-0 lead with 11:57 left in the first quarter as Igoe connected on his first shot of the game. The Irish had the first six shots of the contest and out shot the Blue Devils 46-33 on the day. Murphy made it 2-0 in favor of the Fighting Irish with just over eight minutes showing on the clock in the first quarter. Duke got on the board with 4:29 left in the first quarter on a Max Quinzani goal. Quinzani led the Blue Devils with three goals.

The Irish came right back and scored less than a minute later to regain their two-goal advantage as Murphy notched his second goal of the game. The Blue Devils had a response of their own with 2:41 remaining in the first period as Will McKee deposited a goal to make it 3-2 in favor of Notre Dame. The back-and-forth game continued as Igoe tallied his second goal of the game on an assist from Brenneman with 2:17 left in the first quarter. Notre Dame led 4-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Fighting Irish out shot the Blue Devils 16-8 in the period.

A man-up goal from Brenneman gave the Irish a three-goal lead (5-2) less than a minute into the second quarter. The Irish went up by four on a goal from sophomore attackman Nicholas Beattie (Columbus, Ohio) with 8:37 showing on the clock in the second quarter. Fellow sophomore Eric Keppeler (Baldwin, Md.) picked up the assist on the score. Notre Dame led 6-5 at halftime.

The Fighting Irish deposited the first tally of the second half as Hicks sent a shot into the back of the net with nearly five minutes elapsed in the stanza. Following Quinzani’s second goal of the game, Hicks tallied his second goal to make it 8-6 in favor of the Irish with three minutes left in the third quarter.

Brenneman scored less than a minute later, on an assist from Igoe, to give Notre Dame a three-goal advantage (9-6). Quinzani’s third tally of the day would make it a 9-7 contest in favor of the Irish after three quarters. The Notre Dame defense, which led the nation last season with a 6.19 goals-against average, held Duke without a goal in the final quarter. Brenneman completed his hat trick to put Notre Dame back up by three (10-7) with 5:35 left in the game. Hicks assisted on the goal. Junior midfielder David Earl (Simsbury, Conn.) put the cap on the Irish victory as he scored with one minute left to produce the final outcome.

The Fighting Irish return to action when they play host to Penn State in the home opener on Sunday, Feb. 28. Game time is slated for 1:00 p.m. (ET) inside the Loftus Sports Center.

4. Samantha Maxwell and Kim Holden each tacked on a second individual league title to their 2010 BIG EAST Conference Championships resume Saturday evening at Trees Pool while leading Notre Dame to earn its 14th consecutive BIG EAST team trophy. The win extended Notre Dame’s streak – which started in 1997 – as the longest of any team in any league sport. Maxwell had a hand in four titles at the meet (100 breast, 200 breast, 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay) to earn the BIG EAST Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer award, as Brian Barnes was named the BIG EAST Women’s Coach of the Year for the second straight season. Notre Dame (773.5) withstood second-place Louisville (718) and West Virginia (525) to top the 11-team field.

Maxwell (2:11.87) won her 200 breast prelim race with a pool record and NCAA B-cut, an automatic qualifying time for last year’s NCAA Championships. She then went 2:11.37 to win the title later in the evening, becoming the fifth Irish swimmer in program history to win three titles in the same event at the BIG EAST meet. Kim Holden (1:56.22) broke Kelly Hecking’s school record of 1:57.45 in the morning session to take the top seed in the 200 back. Not only did her prelim mark better Hecking’s program best set in 2002, it also set a Trees Pool record. Holden went on to take first-place in 1:55.79 to better each of those marks during the evening’s finals.

Maxwell crushed the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame and Trees Pool record Friday evening after winning the 100 breast in 59.64, the nation’s fastest time in the event this season. The win was the fourth career individual title for Maxwell at the BIG EAST meet, and the second straight in the event for the Irish standout. Maxwell, whose performance earned her and automatic berth into the NCAA Championships, was second in the 100 breast as a freshman in 2008.

Maxwell led the rally as Notre Dame regained the overall lead by opening the evening session with a 3:36.45 to win the 400 medley relay title. The relay was the nation’s third-fastest time of the season. Also getting a piece of Friday’s spotlight was freshman Kim Holden (53.88), who shelved her first BIG EAST individual title with a win in the 100 back to set a school and pool record.

Junior Amywren Miller won the women’s 50 freestyle Thursday evening at Trees Pool in 22.47, becoming the fastest swimmer ever with the facility’s walls. Miller also won the event as a freshman in 2008 and now has six individual all-BIG EAST citations to her name. Notre Dame set a school and league record in the 200 medley relay Wednesday evening at Trees Pool to wrap up the first night of swimming action at the 2010 BIG EAST Conference Championships. Holden, Maxwell, Lauren Scott and Miller went 1:39.31 for the new benchmark, vaulting Notre Dame on top of the leaderboard. The mark bettered the previous school record (1:39.29) set by the Irish at the league meet in 2009, as first-year swimmers Holden and Scott joined juniors Maxwell and Miller to post the NCAA B-cut performance.

5. For the fourth time in eight seasons, the Irish men’s track and field team brought home top honors at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships Saturday in New York. This marks the eighth consecutive season that the Irish have won either the indoor or outdoor conference titles.

Five individual titles and 15 all-BIG EAST honors led the Irish to the conference crown. Johnathan Shawel took home top honors in the men’s 1,000 meters, Jack Howard won the men’s 800-meter title, Eric Quick claimed the men’s triple jump championship and Justin Schneider earned the top spot in the men’s heptathlon. Kevin Schipper also took home the top prize in the men’s pole vault on Saturday. For his winning efforts, Quick was named the men’s field performer of the meet. The Irish coaches also were named the Men’s Indoor Coaching Staff of the Year.

The Irish men scored 146.50 total points, cruising past second-place Georgetown with 104. Louisville (93 points), Villanova (76.50) and Connecticut (75.50) rounded out the top five. The Irish women finished sixth as Joanna Schultz won the women’s 400 meter title and four student-athletes earned all-conference accolades. Villanova earned the women’s title with 115 total points, followed by Louisville in second with 107 and Connecticut in third with 84. The Irish earned 58.50 points.

6. The scoreboard tilted back and forth between Notre Dame and Louisville on the final day of the 2010 BIG EAST Conference Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, but the Cardinals staged a late rally to claim their first title since joining the league in 2005-06. The Irish received a solid second-place finish from John Lytle in the 100 free as Louisville won four of six races Saturday evening at Trees Pool to clinch the win. Louisville (808) topped Notre Dame (758) in the overall standings with Pittsburgh (535) and West Virginia (442) claiming the next two spots. The finish was Notre Dame’s fifth runner-up showing at the league meet since 1996 and snapped a potential three-peat for the program.

Two school records were left in the wake Friday evening at Trees Pool as Notre Dame remained on top of 2010 BIG EAST Conference Championships leaderboard. The 400 medley relay opened the evening with a school-record 3:15.25 for third-place honors and Petar Petrovic tapped in at 48.64 in the 100 back to break his own record in the event to claim the league’s bronze medal.

Freshman Bill Bass broke the Notre Dame record in the 200 individual medley during Thursday’s preliminary heats at the 2010 BIG EAST Championships, and then reset his own record in the finals to claim second-place honors for Notre Dame in 1:46.44.

The Fighting Irish 800 free relay squad took home the gold Wednesday evening to kick off the swimming portion of the 2010 BIG EAST Conference Championships. Notre Dame pounded through in 6:28.48, just over a second from its school-record performance of 6:27.19 set in 2009. The Irish went on to set a school record in the 200 medley relay to wrap up the evening.

7. The Notre Dame baseball team opened its season with a three-game series sweep of Mississippi Valley State this past weekend. The Irish outscored the Delta Devils, 39-10, along the way and secured their first 3-0 start to a season since 2004. In fact, it is the first ever three-game series sweep away from home to open a season in the 118-year history of Irish baseball.

Notre Dame came into the season with the mantra, “898 committed to win … one team rock solid.” The coaching staff generated the number 898 by adding up every player’s jersey number on the roster. The message being pushed by the coaches and players since the opening of practice has been it will take contributions from every player to have a winning season. Well, the Irish mantra was in full effect this weekend.

Notre Dame used 32 players this weekend in the series sweep, including 12 pitchers. The Irish had seven different players with at least one hit in each of the first two victories and then topped that total in the series finale when 11 different players had base hits in the 19-3 rout of Mississippi Valley State. In fact, Notre Dame also had 15 separate players account for its 19 runs scored. The team effort was also evident with the Irish pitching staff. Those 12 pitchers combined to make 14 appearances and nine of which were scoreless outings.

The Irish pitching staff also displayed significant improvement in control. Notre Dame averaged just over 3.8 walks per nine innings in 2009, the highest by an Irish staff since 1999. Notre Dame’s pitchers walked just seven batters in 27.0 innings of work over the weekend – good for just 2.3 walks per nine innings.

Senior 1B Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) paced the Notre Dame offensive attack and helped the Irish to a three-game sweep at Mississippi Valley State. It marked Notre Dame’s first 3-0 start since 2004 and its first ever road three-game series sweep to open a season in the now 118-year history of Irish baseball. Martin batted .500 (8-for-16) for the weekend with two home runs and seven RBI. He homered on consecutive days to open the year becoming the first Notre Dame player to do so since Kris Billmaier hit three long balls over Notre Dame’s first two games of 2003. Martin went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI in the season opener, 2-for-5 with a solo home run in game two of the series and closed the weekend with a double, run scored and four more RBI (also went 2-for-6). The four RBI were one shy of his career high. Martin registered a .938 slugging percentage and a .529 on-base percentage.

Notre Dame returns to action next weekend at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Baseball Challenge. The Irish will face Illinois (Fri., 4:00 p.m.), Ohio State (Sat., 4:30 p.m.) and Penn State (Sun., 10:00 a.m.). Notre Dame’s tilt with the Illini is scheduled for Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater. The Irish and Buckeyes will meet at Bright House Networks Field (home of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 BIG EAST Tournaments) in Clearwater. Notre Dame and the Nittany Lions will conclude the challenge at the Naimoli Complex in St. Petersburg.

8. Notre Dame picked up its third straight non-conference softball win Sunday behind Jody Valdivia’s 3-0 shutout against Stephen F. Austin at the Mizuno Classic. The Irish (4-4) swept the competition at the tournament hosted by Southern Miss and now look forward to next week’s Virginia Invitational (Feb. 26-28) in Charlottesville, Va. Notre Dame’s second scheduled game at the Southern Miss Softball Complex against Alcorn State was called off due to inclement weather in the Hattiesburg area.

Christine Lux put Notre Dame on the board in the top of the sixth with a two-run blast to center after Katie Fleury’s single. The lead extended to 3-0 starting with Alexia Clay’s triple one frame later, one of six Irish hits on the day. Clay would score on a Ladyjack wild pitch. Kayla Gutowski paced Stephen F. Austin (3-6) with a pair of hits, the second being a single through the left side of the infield with no outs in the bottom of the seventh to load the bases. A poised Valdivia found a way to get Karissa Jones to foul out to Lux at first, and struck out both Amber Price and Monika Covington to end the game. Valdivia (3-2) gave up five hits – three in the seventh inning – with six strikeouts and one walk.

9. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team was edged at #25 Washington on Saturday evening inside the Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle by a score of 4-3. The Irish, who were facing a ranked opponent for the seventh time in eight matches, have now taken part in four matches decided by just one point in the 2010 dual season.

Washington took a 1-0 lead by winning all three doubles matches. At first doubles, Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) and Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.) were defeated by Kyle McMorrow and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 8-1. At second doubles, Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland) fell to Derek Drabble and Martin Kildahl 8-4. At third doubles, the Husky duo of Alex Rosinski and Tobi Obenaus downed David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.) and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md.) 8-3.

Nedunchezhiyan, who is ranked 51st, put the Irish in a 0-2 hole by defeating 28th-ranked Watt at first singles 6-4, 6-1. Stahl then halved the Husky lead with a win at third singles over Drabble. In the first set, the 101st-ranked Stahl established a 3-2 lead and then held and broke serve to jump out to a 5-3 lead. He went on to win the first set 6-4. The second set was tied at 2-2 before Stahl pulled away for his third singles win of the season.

But then Washington earned wins at fifth and second singles to clinch the win. Obenaus downed 105th-ranked Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest School) at fifth singles 6-3, 6-3. Moros had tied the first set at 3-3 but Obenaus then took a lead he would not relinquish. McMorrow clinched the win for Washington at second singles with a win over 123rd-ranked Havens. Havens battled back to force a tie-breaker in the first, but ultimately dropped the first set 7-6 (7-2). Then McMorrow broke a 3-3 tie in the second set to defeat Havens 6-3. With the overall match decided, Anderson earned a win at fourth singles to move his record to 4-1 on the season. After dropping a close first set 7-6 (6) to Kildahl, Anderson earned a 6-3 win in the second set to force a third set. In the third, Anderson cruised to a 6-0 win. Sophomore Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo.) earned Notre Dame’s final win at sixth singles over Rosinski in three sets 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. The third set was tied at 3-3 before Keeton pulled away for the win. He is now 2-0 in 2010 dual season singles play. With the win, 25th-ranked Washington improves to 8-1 on the year, while 36th-ranked Notre Dame moves to 3-5.

The Irish return to the courts next weekend as they play host to three matches at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. On Saturday, Feb. 27 the Irish will play host to Michigan State at 3:00 pm. Then, on Sunday, Feb. 18 Notre Dame will take part in a doubleheader against Wisconsin and Toledo. Notre Dame’s class of 2014 has been ranked fifth-best in the country according to a recent tennisrecruiting.net poll, which was released on Jan. 25. The most recent ranking mark Notre Dame’s third consecutive top-six signing class according to the website making Notre Dame the only program in the nation that can currently boast a top-six recruiting ranking for three consecutive years (2008, 2009 & 2010).

10. On Saturday, the Georgetown Hoyas (22-4, 11-2 Big East) knocked off #4 Notre Dame 76-66 before a record crowd of 2,417 at McDonough Arena. Georgetown took a 45-42 lead with 14:51 remaining on a three-pointer by Sugar Rodgers and built a 58-47 lead with 8:17 remaining. They withstood a late rally by the Irish (23-3, 10-3), who closed to 62-60 on Natalie Novesel’s two free throws with 5:21 to play. Georgetown scored the game’s last seven points to secure the win. The Irish lost for just the third time in 26 meetings with the Hoyas and the first time since Jan. 7, 2004. Ashley Barlow led Notre Dame with 21 points. Leading scorer Skylar Diggins was held to nine.

The Irish were playing their second straight game without Lindsay Schrader, the team’s third leading scorer and leading rebounder, who is out because of a sprained left ankle. The Irish turned the ball over 21 times to the Hoyas’ 10. Notre Dame will honor its seven seniors (five players, two student managers) prior to Tuesday night’s game vs. Marquette.

11. For the second night in a row, Notre Dame took a lead into the third period and couldn’t hold it as Bowling Green got the lone goal of the third period to tie the game, 1-1, to force overtime. The game ended in the 1-1 tie with the Falcons getting the extra point in the standings by winning the shootout, 2-1, in front of 2,746 Saturday evening at the BGSU Ice Arena. Freshman Kyle Palmieri had the lone goal for Notre Dame in the second period with Bowling Green getting the tying goal from Tomas Petruska at 9:41 of the third period. In the shootout, Palmieri and Ryan Thang missed on their shots on Falcon goaltender Nick Eno while Dan Kissel scored on his. Bowling Green’s David Solway was stopped on his attempt before James Perkin and Petruska beat Irish goaltender Mike Johnson with backhanders to get the 2-1 advantage and the extra point in the CCHA standings.

The loss extends Notre Dame’s winless streak to four games (0-3-1) and the Irish are now 12-14-8 overall and 8-11-7-2 in conference play, good for 33 points in the standings. The Falcons improve to 5-22-5 overall and are 4-17-5-4 in the conference. Notre Dame is now 2-5 in CCHA shootouts this season and have lost four straight. Overall, the Irish are 3-5 in the shootout with the extra win coming versus North Dakota in the Shillelagh Tournament. Notre Dame out shot Bowling Green, 39-28, in the game. Eno finished with 38 saves while Johnson had 27 stops in regulation and overtime. The Irish dominated play in the first two periods as they had a 31-10 shot advantage in the first 40 minutes, but only had Palmieri’s goal to show for it.

Notre Dame closes out the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series against Michigan. The Irish travel to Ann Arbor on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7:35 p.m. The teams then return to South Bend to face off at the Joyce Center on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7:05 p.m. The Irish will celebrate Senior Night that night.

12. The magazine Successful Coach and Athletic Director features Brian Kelly on the cover of its January issue. Inside is a featured titled “Bearcats’ Brand of Football) in which Kelly talks about conditioning and limiting turnovers as keys to success.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

1. The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams each claimed the top overall spot in the latest USFCA Coaches’ polls it was announced this morning by the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA). The men’s and women’s fencing teams are the first Notre Dame teams to earn national number one rankings during the 2009-10 academic year.

The men were previously ranked second behind Penn State in the preseason USFCA poll, but after posting a 33-0 regular season record including a 16-11 defeat of the Nittany Lions on Jan. 24, they earned top honors. The women’s team was previously ranked second as well, but posted a 35-0 regular season record that included a 14-13 defeat of Penn State on Jan. 24 at the St. John’s Challenge.

The men’s and women’s teams combined for undefeated regular seasons for the first time in 19 years and just the fourth time overall, having previously done so in 1986, 1987 and 1991.

The teams are ranked first overall for the first time since the final poll of the 2009 season. With their newfound top rankings, at least one of the Irish fencing teams has now held sole possession of the top spot in nine of the past 10 seasons (2001-06, 2008-10). Furthermore, the Notre Dame women now have been ranked number one in six of the past seven years (all but ’07).

As has become the custom on the Notre Dame campus, the traditional lighted #1 sign will reappear atop Grace Hall, and a #1 flag will now fly outside the Irish athletic department offices at the Joyce Center.

The poll was the second of three polls the USFCA will release during the 2010 fencing season, with the final poll to appear in March after the NCAA Regional Qualifiers.

The Irish fencing teams will now look to follow up on their dominating 2010 regular season performance when they play host to the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships on March 6/7 at the Joyce Center. Then on March 13/14 the Irish will participate in the 2010 NCAA Midwest Regional, which will be hosted by Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

Dating back to 2008, the men have not lost a regular season match in their last 77 contests, which is the fourth longest streak in program history (third best stretch was 90 consecutive wins from 2000-04) … Dating back to last season, the women have now won 59 consecutive regular-season matches, which is the second longest unbeaten stretch in program history (best stretch is 75 consecutive wins from 1993-96) … senior epeeist Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) concluded her final regular season with the Irish on a 62-bout undefeated streak, which dates back to the St. John’s Challenge … Hurley also improved her career record to 213-23 after the Notre Dame duals, placing her in third on Notre Dame’s all-time regular season wins list for female epeeists … Hurley is just the third epeeist, and 12th fencer overall, to crack the 200-career regular season wins plateau in the storied history of the women’s fencing program at Notre Dame.

2. The Fighting Irish men’s golf team finished 11th at the Battle at the Beach after posting a final day 11-over par 366 to finish at +31 (1,096) for the tournament. Sophomore Max Scodro (Chicago, IIl.) carded an even-par 71 in the third round to finish at +1 (214), good for a 22nd-place tie on the individual leader board.

Scodro’s final round included six birdies as well six pars. The tie for 22nd was his second best finish of the season, behind only a tenth place showing at the 2009 Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic. Of additional note, Scodro finished ahead of five players currently ranked in Golfstat’s top-100.

Sophomore Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) matched Scodro’s final day 71 to finish tied for 58th at +10 (223). Walker, who lowered his score in each of his three rounds, netted four birdies, 10 pars and four bogeys. Sophomore Tom Usher (Bradford, England) took four strokes off his second round score to post a three-over par 74 to finish at +12 (225). He tied for 67th. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) also shot a three-over par 74 in the third round to finish tied for 42nd with a six-over par 219. Fortner’s final round included an eagle, a birdie, ten pars and six bogeys. He eagled the par-5 eighth, which Scodro and Usher eagled in earlier rounds.

Senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C.) shot a final day five-over par 76 to finish at +15 (228) for the tournament. Sandman, who had all three of his rounds at the Pelican Hill Golf Club counted towards Notre Dame’s team score, tied for 73rd. Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif.) closed with a final day 83, moving his three day total to +13 (226). Chen tied for 71st. UCLA claimed the inaugural Battle at the Beach title by finishing at 10-under par, one stroke ahead of Arkansas and Washington, who tied for second. David Lingmerth of Arkansas and Chris Williams of Washington tied for medalist honors at eight-under par.

The Irish return to competition when they take part in the Border Olympics on March 5 and 6 at the Laredo Country Club in Laredo, Texas. Check back with UND.com for a preview of the two-day event, which will be hosted by the University of Houston.

3. Jimmy Clausen will have to impress teams with his head, not his arm, at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next week. During an interview on Sirius NFL Radio, the Notre Dame quarterback said that recovery from surgery to repair tendon damage in his right toe will prevent him from participating in drills. “I’m planning on doing all the interviews and, obviously, being seen by the doctors so they can see my toe, but my toe isn’t ready to go right now,” Clausen said, according to NFL.com.

Clausen will have his toe examined on Thursday and could then host a pro day at Notre Dame in April, the Web site reported. The draft is April 22-24 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Clausen doesn’t see the combine as a waste, even if he can’t throw. “I’m really excited to go down to Indianapolis next week so teams can get to know me as a person,” Clausen said, according to NFL.com. “And I think after they get to know me as a person, they’ll see the truth from what the perception is out there about me.” Clausen is a 6-foot-3, 223-pound junior who threw for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions for Notre Dame last season.

4. Check out the front page of the college football area on ESPN.com for a Notre Dame preview.

5. Among those at the announcement today at Notre Dame of former Bengal Bouter Mike Lee turning pro were Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and former Irish footballer and a former Top Rank boxer, Tom Zbikowski (now with NFL Baltimore Ravens).

6. Brad Aldrich, former Notre Dame hockey operations coordinator, is keeping an Olympics journal for the Chicago Sun-Times. Aldrich now is the Chicago Black Hawks video coach and is handling that same assignment for the USA men’s hockey team in Vancouver.

7. Jimmy Clausen is pictured in the feature slot on the front page of ESPN.com – and he moves from sixth to fourth on Mel Kiper’s latest board, with Kiper projecting him now as fourth pick overall to Washington Redskins.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1. More NFL Draft preview information on cbssports.com. The site’s overall list of prospects has Jimmy Clausen rated #10 and Golden Tate #16. One mock draft (by Rob Rang) has Clausen going 11th overall to Jacksonville and Tate 25th to Baltimore. The other (by Chad Reuter) puts Clausen ninth to Buffalo and Tate 29th to the New York Jets.

2. Three runners with Notre Dame ties will represent the United States at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships after earning top-five finishes at the USA Cross Country Championships Feb. 13 in Spokane, Wash. Seven-time Irish All-American Patrick Smyth finished second in the Men’s Open 12K race with a time of 34:52. Ten-time All-American Molly Huddle clocked in at 26:01 to finish second in the Women’s Open 8K event. Irish signee Walter Schafer finished second in the Junior 8K race with a time of 24:10. All three runners will compete for the US at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 28 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

3. The Fighting Irish men’s golf team Monday took two strokes off of their opening round score to turn in an nine-over par 364 second round score at the Battle at the Beach. The Irish remain in 10th with a 20-over par 730 score. Sophomore Max Scodro (Chicago, IIl./Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.)) led Notre Dame on day two by firing a two-under par 69 in the second round. Scodro, who improved upon his first round score by five strokes, totaled four birdies on the day to go along with 12 pars and two bogeys. It was his third round shot in the 60’s for the Irish and moved him into a tie for 30th place at the Pelican Hill Golf Club.

While Scodro showed the most improvement from round one to round two, Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif./Los Altos) displayed consistency for the Irish as the junior shot a one-over par 72 for. Chen’s second round included two birdies, 13 pars and three bogeys. At one-over par, Chen is also tied for 30th. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) shaved a stroke off of his round one score to match Chen’s one-over par 72 on Monday. Through two rounds he is three-over par and tied for 36th. His second round included two birdies, 14 pars, a bogey and a double. Sophomore Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) improved upon his first round score by four strokes to card a second round 74. His three-over par mark included four birdies, eight pars, five bogeys and a double. He had a strong second round on par fives, playing the courses three par fives at a minus-two clip. With five-count-six scoring in effect, senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) also scored for the Irish on Monday as he turned in a six-over par 77. His day included four birdies, five pars, eight bogeys and a double. Sophomore Tom Usher (Bradford, England/Guiseley School) turned in a seven-over par 78. His second round included 12 pars and an eagle on the par-5 eighth — the same hole Scodro eagled in the first round of play. But Usher was hurt by two bogeys, two doubles and a triple. Oregon State leads after two rounds of play with a nine-under par 701. Washington moved into second by virtue of shooting a two round total of 704 (six-under par). Chris Williams of Washington shot a second round 65 to move into the lead at minus-eight (134).

4. The Fighting Irish fencing program sent seven team members to the 2010 Junior Olympic Championships, which took place Feb. 12-15 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. The Irish contingent was led by freshman Jason Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.), who finished tied for third out of 157 junior men’s sabre entrants. The Irish also sent a trio of freshmen to compete in the junior women’s sabre division, led by Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.), who finished fifth. Osier was joined in the women’s junior sabre division by classmates Abigail Nichols (Concord, Mass.) and Kathryn Palazzoto (Nutley, N.J.). Nichols finished 11th in the field of 111 competitors, while Palazzoto finished 58th. Notre Dame’s third top-10 finish at the event was turned in by sophomore Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas), who overcame a field of 205 entrants to finish seventh in the junior men’s foil division. The Irish also sent an epee competitor in both the men’s and women’s junior divisions. Freshman Jack Piasio (DuBois, Pa.) finished 94th of 208 entrants on the men’s side, while sophomore Stephanie Myers (El Paso, Texas) finished tied for 153 out of 172 junior women’s epee competitors.

The Junior Olympic Games served as the final domestic competitions of the current selection cycle for the junior and cadet World Fencing Championships and only qualified individuals were eligible to compete. The Irish fencing teams will now look to follow up on their dominating 2010 regular season performances as they get set to play host to the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships on March 6 and 7 at the Joyce Center.

5. Notre Dame senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) has been named one of 20 candidates for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in the men’s lacrosse division. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Rodgers earned third-team All-America honors last season as he led all Division I goalies in goals-against average (6.14) and save percentage (.663). He started all 16 games in goal for the Fighting Irish and led the squad to a 15-1 record, which established program records for wins and winning percentage in a single season. The Long Island native carries a 3.077 cumulative grade-point average as a sociology major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. Rodgers, a two-time team captain, has been named a preseason first-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse and Matt DaSilva at Lacrosse Magazine. He also was the lone goalie selected to the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team.

The 20 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of classroom, character, community and competition.

6. At the Opening Night Dinner for the Irish baseball program (the ninth annual edition) tonight, there was a new wrinkle involved with the event moving from the north dome field house (where instead the second round of the Bengal Bouts took place Tuesday night) to the floor of Purcell Pavilion.

WHME’s Chuck Freeby (radio voice of Notre Dame baseball) opened by introducing the 2010 Irish team, then threw in a dig at MC Jeff Jeffers (from WNDU) by identifying him as “a former assistant baseball coach at Notre Dame – and yet the program has survived.” Fans filled 57 tables on the basketball floor, with another 100 or more fans in the Purcell Pavilion seats as part of a general admission offering. The event drew a larger than usual media contingent, in particular due to new Irish football coach Brian Kelly’s presence.

Coach Dave Schrage kidded that you can count on it snowing in South Bend any time the opening dinner is scheduled. Former Indiana governor Joe Kernan led the crowd in a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” while wearing sunglasses.

Schrage noted the 30 returning players compared to five freshmen — and remembered back to last spring when his team did not make the NCAA bracket and he had to think of what to say to his players. He also held up the 2010 team T-shirt with the number 898 on it – signifying the numbers of all the players on the roster added together.

Speaker Ron Reed, a former Notre Dame star in both baseball and basketball and a longtime MLB pitcher and NBA veteran now living in Atlanta (originally from LaPorte, Ind.), began by welcoming Kelly to the Notre Dame family. He also told the story of being the winning Atlanta Brave pitcher the night Hank Aaron hit his record 715th home run. He talked about facing the San Francisco Giants Juan Marichal in his first MLB start, including Willie Mays (he got Mays out) and Willie McCovey (he hit a home run). Finally, he read some typically hilarious remarks from Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.

Kelly received a standing ovation before he ever said a word. He referred to Schrage’s 898 shirt and used the phrase “next man in” — in other words, nobody is indispensible and everyone has to contribute. Kelly said winning once in a while is one thing – winning consistently is another matter. “Everybody has a value on this team. Everybody has to be ready to contribute,” he said. Kelly talked about “unconscious competence” as being the key to winning on a consistent basis, as it happens naturally – and suggested the Irish baseball team is close to that next stage.

During the Q&A period, Kelly was asked by a youngster if there were any season tickets he could have. Reed’s “best advice” was that these are the five most important things a pitcher needs — have control, learn ball movement, have control, have some velocity, and have control. Kelly talked about having shorter, high-tempo practices and trying to find a way to shorten the days for his players to keep them fresh. Finally, the Irish captains presented Kelly and Reed with framed green Irish baseball jerseys.

7. Just two days after Notre Dame men’s basketball team lost to St. John’s without its injured senior big man (Luke Harangody), the Irish women met the same fate. Muffet McGraw’s squad traveled to St. John’s and tonight – without injured veteran Lindsay Schrader – fell 76-71 to the Red Storm.

Shenneika Smith scored 23 points and Da’Shena Stevens added 21 to help #22 St. John’s upset #4 Notre Dame. Sky Lindsay scored 13 points for the Red Storm (21-5, 9-4 Big East), who had never beaten a top-five opponent. They are off to the best start in coach Kim Barnes Arico’s eight-year tenure. They were coming off a 66-52 loss at top-ranked UConn–the closest any team has come in the conference to the Huskies this season. The close loss to UConn helped St. John’s move up to No. 22 in the poll Monday–its highest ranking since 1983-84.

Skylar Diggins scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half and Brittany Mallory added 17 to lead the Fighting Irish (23-2, 10-2), who had won eight straight since losing to Connecticut on Jan. 16–its only other loss of the season. Leading 61-57 with 8:30 left, St. John’s held Notre Dame without a point for over six minutes to extend its lead to 69-57 with 3:15 left.

Ashley Barlow finally ended the Irish drought, hitting a three-pointer with 2:25 left. The Irish cut the deficit to 69-65 on Diggins’ three-point play with 52.6 seconds left after Lindsay had missed the front end of a one and one. Stevens hit the first of two free throws and then rebounded her own miss and was fouled. The sophomore forward connected on both to make it 72-65.

Notre Dame was missing Schrader, who sprained her left ankle in Sunday’s win over DePaul. Schrader had played in 119 straight games for the Irish, including starting the last 73. She is day to day and was on the bench in a protective boot. Notre Dame plays at Georgetown on Saturday.

St. John’s led by 11 points early in the second half before Diggins took over. She scored seven of Notre Dame’s 10 points as the Irish cut their deficit to one. The freshman guard started the spurt with a three-point play then converted four free throws around Mallory’s three-point play. Smith ended the run with five straight points to extend the lead back to 56-50 midway through the second half. Notre Dame cut its deficit to 61-57 on Devereaux Peter’s putback with 8:30 left.

St. John’s took an 18-6 lead in the first five and a half minutes of the game as Lindsay had seven points. Nadirah McKenith’s nifty drive down the middle of the lane for a layup capped the early spurt. St. John’s made eight of its first 12 shots, but then went cold from the field missing nine straight as Notre Dame climbed within 21-20 on Erica Williamson’s layup.

Kelly McManmon finally ended the seven-minute drought hitting a three-pointer to start a 16-5 spurt that restored the 12-point lead. Smith’s layup with 2:08 left made it 37-25. Notre Dame closed to five and trailed by 39-32 at halftime.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series 18-3, but St. John’s has won the last three meetings at home, including a win over then-No. 9 Notre Dame in 2008. St. John’s assistant coach Megan Duffy was a star guard for Notre Dame from 2003-06. She is one of three Irish players ever to have 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in her career.

Monday, February 15, 2010

1. D. J. Kennedy made a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left and St. John’s held on to win 69-68 Sunday night at Purcell Pavilion for its first Big East road win of the season. It was the second straight win for St. John’s (14-10, 4-8) after five straight losses. The Fighting Irish (17-9, 6-7) couldn’t win without Luke Harangody, who was out with a deep bone bruise to his right knee. Notre Dame’s Tory Jackson missed a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds. Tim Abromaitis led the Irish with 24 points. His three-pointer with 90 seconds left put the Irish ahead 66-64. Dwight Hardy, who led the Red Storm with 16, made a three with 57 seconds left to give St. John’s a 67-66 lead. But Tyrone Nash, who had a career-high 16, made two free throws with 38 seconds left to put Notre Dame back in front. Harangody remains doubtful for Notre Dame’s next game Wednesday at Louisville, though Mike Brey indicated after the game last night that Harangody would try to ride a stationary bike today as his next step in terms of rehabilitation.

Notre Dame built an early 22-14 lead (its largest of the night) midway through the opening half – before the Red Storm went on a 16-2 run (including 12 straight, as the Irish went almost five minutes without a field goal) to grab its biggest first-half lead at 30-24. In the second half, St. John’s moved to its largest lead at 43-34 at the 18:04 mark before the Irish tied it at 52 at 8:18. The game was tied at six different points over that final 8:18.

* Harangody had played in 54 consecutive contests dating back to the 2008-09 campaign.
* The Fighting Irish had won five straight games over the Red Storm at the Purcell Pavilion before falling to St. John’s Sunday night.
Notre Dame had not lost to St. John’s in South Bend since Feb. 24, 1999.
* Abromaitis had hit 32 straight free throws, which dated back to Jan. 27 at Villanova. The streak ended Sunday with 33 seconds left in the first half
during the front end of a one and one.

2. Becca Bruszewski wouldn’t let fourth-ranked Notre Dame miss a beat when Lindsay Schrader went down with a sprained left ankle. Bruszewski scored 19 of her career-high 25 points as the Irish dominated the second half, beating DePaul 90-66 on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion. The Blue Demons shot 47 percent to keep the game close through much of the first half, but shot just 31 percent in the second half and finished with 25 turnovers. The Irish usually depend on Schrader, a six-foot guard, to get their inside game going. But with Schrader watching from the sidelines in the second half after injuring her ankle when she stepped on a teammate’s foot, the 6-1 Bruszewski took over. She was seven of nine shooting against DePaul’s zone in the second half. Skylar Diggins added 18 points and helped force DePaul’s Sam Quigley into 10 turnovers. With the game tied late in the first half, Diggins scored eight points during a 12-2 run, including a jumper at the buzzer to give the Irish (23-1, 10-1 BIG EAST) a 42-32 halftime lead.

DePaul (16-10, 5-7) cut its deficit to 43-36 early in the second half on a jumper by Quigley. But Bruszewski scored inside to spark a 9-2 spurt as Notre Dame went ahead 56-39 and the Irish continued to pull away. Both teams wore pink as part of the Pink Zone initiative, a program aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer. Both teams wore pink T-shirts during pregame warm-ups and during the game both teams had uniforms with pink highlights and wore pink shoes. Notre Dame raised more than $70,000 for cancer research. McGraw said she’s not sure how long Schrader will be out.

Notre Dame now matches the 2000-01 team for the best 24-game start in school history (that club opened at 23-0 before losing its 24th game, 54-53 at Rutgers). Senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow dished out a career-high eight assists, one more than her previous best, set on Jan. 24, 2010 against #16/11 West Virginia (a 74-66 win at Purcell Pavilion). Notre Dame attracted its school-record fourth sellout (9,149) of the season, as well as the 10th capacity crowd in program history. For the sixth time this season, Notre Dame topped the 88-point mark at home, meaning the sellout crowd received coupons for free Big Macs from South Bend-area McDonald’s restaurants; Bruszewski hit the “Big Mac basket” on a free throw with 46 seconds left, the second time this season Bruszewski has fed the crowd (she also hit a foul shot to reach the mark on Nov. 15 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff). Notre Dame played on Valentine’s Day for the seventh time, improving to 6-1 on Feb. 14 (first Valentine’s game since 2004, an 81-51 home win over Providence).

3. The Fighting Irish men’s golf team opened up the spring portion of its 2009-10 schedule at the Battle at the Beach by shooting an eleven-over par 366 to stand in 10th place after one round of play. Junior Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif.) led the Irish by shooting an even-par 71 to tie for 23rd at the Pelican Hill Golf Club.

Chen’s round one scorecard included three birdies, 12 pars and three bogeys. His 71 ties for the lowest round of his Irish career, which he shot twice during his freshman season. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) and sophomore Tom Usher (Bradford, England) turned in two-over par 73s. Fortner notched two birdies, 13 pars, two bogeys and a double. Usher recorded five birdies, eight pars, three bogeys and two doubles. Usher’s 73 marks the second lowest round of his Irish career.

The Battle at the Beach utilizes a unique scoring system in which the top five of each team’s six scores are counted towards team scoring, thus sophomore Max Scodro (Chicago, IIl.) and senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C.) also saw their rounds counted for the Irish. Scodro carded a three-over par 74 that included an eagle on the par-5 eighth and he added two birdies, 11 pars, two bogeys and two doubles. Sandman shot a four-over par 75. He netted three birdies, 11 pars, two bogeys, a double and a triple. Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) rounded out the Irish contingent with a seven-over par 78 that included two birdies, eight pars, seven bogeys and a double.
Oregon State leads after one round of play with a seven-under par 348. Arkansas is in second by virtue of shooting a six-under par 349. Oregon State’s Mike Barry and Diego Velasquez are tied for first (-5/66). The Battle at the Beach continues with the second round of play today and will conclude with the third round of play tomorrow.

4. Junior Notre Dame diver Wes Villaflor took the top mark at Sunday’s three-meter trials and did not look back, finishing with a mark of 373.65 in the finals to take the title at the 2010 BIG EAST Championships at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh. For his efforts, Villaflor was named the championship’s Most Outstanding Diver.

Villaflor held a 45.3 point lead on the field after the trials. Nathan Geary (333.15) stood in second after the preliminaries with Pittsburgh’s Colin Forner (299.55) rounding out the top three. The Notre Dame duo held their leads in the finals to claim the top two spots. Connecticut’s Stephen Ferreira improved four spots and 46.9 points to take third overall.

Irish head diving coach Caiming Xie was named the BIG EAST Men’s Diving Coach of the Year. The BIG EAST Championships resume Wednesday at 6 p.m. (EST) as men’s and women’s swimming teams will both be in action.

5. Notre Dame stayed stride-for-stride with No. 1 Washington and held the defending national champions scoreless for all but one inning Sunday at the Tempe Sports Complex. And that one inning happened to be a five-run output by the Huskies as Notre Dame was blanked, 5-0, at the Tempe Sports Complex.

Reigning National Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie (3-0) tossed a complete-game one-hitter aided by a solo home run in the fifth. She struck out 13 Irish (1-4) batters without a walk and was joined in the home run department by Jenn Salling. Lawrie and Salling hit back-to-back jacks in the fifth, with Salling’s coming in the form of a grand slam to break open a scoreless game and put Washington ahead, 4-0.

The defeat was Notre Dame’s third to a Pacific-10 Conference team in as many days as the Irish finished with a 1-4 record at Arizona State’s season-opening Kajikawa Classic. It was also the third loss for Notre Dame in four tries all-time against a top-ranked opponent.
Washington (5-0) totaled five hits, led by Kimi Pohlman who finished with a pair. The Huskies were stifled at times by the Irish defense, which hustled around the field to strand eight Washington runners.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

1. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly recently was named the Ohio College Football Coach of the Year by the Columbus Dispatch in voting by Ohio college coaches at all levels. The honor was based on his work at Cincinnati in leading the Bearcats to a 12-0 regular-season mark in 2009 and a Sugar Bowl invitation.

Here are some of Kelly’s comments from the story announcing his award:

“That’s my upbringing. My parents told me I could do anything if I stuck with my plan. I was always told I was too small to play college football, but I played. My attitude is part of my DNA. I never listen to people when they talk about limitations.

“A lot of major college coaches have a pedigree, but I became a head coach at 28, messed up and learned from it.

“Cincinnati had no ownership in the program and we had to go into the community. I met a lot of boosters and business leaders. There were a lot of stops. I told them I could do it.

“We brought the stock at Cincinnati to its highest rating, and now it’s time to bring another stock to its highest rating.”

Tim Hinton, a Columbus-area native who has followed Kelly from Cincinnati to Notre Dame as an assistant, said Kelly wins because he has a player’s mentality.

“The energy comes from someone who is so competitive,” Hinton said. “He understands when it’s time to push, push and push. What he did at Cincinnati was unparalleled. Brian had a concise and clear plan and doesn’t have a lot of buyer’s remorse. He knows the environment, recognizes his strength and weaknesses and gets the job done.”

Jon Carpenter, a Lancaster graduate who was a linebacker and graduate assistant at Cincinnati, told his parents that Kelly is a born leader.

“Jon said coach Kelly would tell the players that they were going to win and no one doubted him,” mother Susie Carpenter said. “He said they would win the championship and they all believed it would happen. And they won the championship. Brian Kelly has that confidence and it transfers to the players.”

2. Former Irish football standout Golden Tate attended the two Notre Dame softball games Friday in Tempe, Ariz. Tate is training in the Phoenix area in preparation for the upcoming NFL Combine.

3. Speaking of Golden Tate, he had trouble flying from Phoenix into Tallahassee because of the winter storms and missed accepting the Biletnikoff Award in person Saturday night as the top receiver in the country. At the last minute, the event organizers set up an Internet feed so that Tate could speak to the patrons who attended the sold-out banquet. “It was a long, long shot that I was going to get it,” said Tate, who was scheduled to be honored at the University Center Club on Florida State’s campus. “Anyone that’s decent is going to be on that (watch) list. But then I was on the semifinal list and then the final lists, and it became a stark reality that I could win this award. I wasn’t shooting for the Biletnikoff, though. For me to do that would mean I was playing selfish. I was trying to help the team. It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence with the (Michael) Crabtrees and guys like that. It’s a really exciting time in my life. And I very much appreciate winning the award and getting written down in the history books.”

4. Irish football coach Brian Kelly was in Grambling, La., Saturday morning for the opening of the Eddie Robinson Museum. “Today is an historic day, a unifying day,” Kelly said, just before the ribbon was cut on the Robinson Museum. “We honor a man who dedicated his life to service. In that service, he provided the mentorship, the traditional values that we still espouse today.”

5. On day one of the seven-day BIG EAST Conference Swimming and Diving Championships Friday at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh, Pa., Louisville freshman Hannah Gadd won the 1-meter diving event. Gadd narrowly edged out Notre Dame’s Natalie Stitt who was the Most Outstanding Diver at last year’s championship. Gadd was fourth after the preliminary round with a score of 256.10. Connecticut’s Danielle Cecco was third (257.20) after her first dive. Notre Dame manned the first two spots with Stitt anchoring second (262.75) and Heidi Grossman taking the overall lead (266.25) after the first session. Gadd impressed in the finals, joining Stitt as the only two divers to stop the 300-point mark. The Cardinal freshman beat out the Irish veteran by a single point, winning with a score of 310.60.

Notre Dame freshman diver Jenny Chiang took the top spot in the 3-meter diving final Saturday, holding off 1-meter diving champion Gadd, winning by a margin of 12.7 points. Her win wrapped up a stellar weekend of diving efforts for the Irish at the 2010 BIG EAST Championships. Stitt held the lead after the trials with a mark of 299.10. Gadd anchored second at 285.70, while Notre Dame’s Heidi Grossman came in third with a score of 276.65. Chiang found herself in fifth after qualifying at 259.60. It was in the finals where Chiang shined, improving her score by over 50 points to finish with a mark of 313.35. Gadd, Stitt and Grossman finished second, third and fourth respectively, while Louisville’s Kayla Purkiser rounded out the top five.

Grinding back from a sixth-place showing after the preliminary heat of the men’s 1-meter diving event at the 2010 BIG EAST Championships, Wes Villaflor posted a 347.00 in the finals to capture the overall title for Notre Dame Saturday. Villaflor went 262.95 in the prelims and was joined on the podium by Nathan Geary, who scored a 326.75 in the finals for second place. Notre Dame’s Ryan Koter (272.25) was sixth in his BIG EAST debut. After the trials, Pittsburgh owned the top two spots as Colin Forner (328.00) and Zane McClain (312.20) were two of only three divers to top the 300-point plateau. Geary joined the Panther duo with a mark of 303.40.

6. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team saw its comeback bid fall just short as the Michigan Wolverines earned a narrow 4-3 win on Saturday evening inside the Michigan Varsity Tennis Center. Notre Dame fell behind 0-2 and 1-3 but rallied to force a 3-3 tie, only to see the Wolverines edge the Irish in the third set of the night’s final singles match.

Michigan jumped out to a 1-0 lead by winning all three doubles matches. At No. 1 doubles the Wolverine team of Jason Jung and Evan King defeated Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland), 8-3. At No. 2 doubles, George Navas and Mike Sroczynski downed the Irish tandem of Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Hill Christian School) and Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College), 8-4. Also, at No. 3 doubles, Michigan’s Chris Cha and Chris Madden took out David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), 8-3.

The Wolverines extended their lead to 2-0 when Navas earned a 6-1, 6-0 win over Fitzgerald at No. 4 singles. Notre Dame then got on the board when Anderson won in straight sets over Cha at No. 6 singles 7-6 (7-5), 6-3. Dating back to March 28 of last season, Anderson is 9-1 in his last 12 dual season singles starts (two matches unfinished). Michigan quickly re-established a two point cushion with a win by 73rd-ranked King over 93rd-ranked Havens at No. 2 singles 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. The Irish fought back at No. 1 singles where 18th-ranked Watt defeated 50th-ranked Jung. Watt took the first set 6-3 and then fought off a comeback bid by Jung to close out the second set 7-6 (7-4). Watt had been leading the second set 5-4 but then had to hold serve to tie it at 6-6 before prevailing in the tiebreaker.

Notre Dame then tied the overall match at 3-3 on the strength of a hard-fought three set win by 95th-ranked Stahl at No. 3 singles 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Stahl held serve at deuce to claim the clinching game in the third set. Seventy-fourth ranked Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest School) fought off two double match points in his third set but he was outlasted at No. 5 singles by Madden 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and the Wolverines escaped with the 4-3 win. With the win, 36th-ranked Michigan moves to 3-3 on the year and the 35th-ranked Irish fall to 3-4. The Irish will look to even their record in their next match, which will be at 24th-ranked Washington on Saturday, Feb. 20.

7. Notre Dame dropped a pair of non-conference softball contests Saturday at Arizona State’s Kajikawa Classic. The day started with a 5-2 loss to Auburn followed by a 7-3 setback to Oregon State on a picturesque evening at the Tempe Sports Complex. Notre Dame (1-3) fell behind early in each of the contests and could not heat the bats at the right times, scoring a combined five runs in the two games on 16 hits. The Irish had eight hits against both Auburn (2-2) and Oregon State (1-3). Jody Valdivia (1-1) saw her 18-game winning streak come to an end after going 7.0 innings versus Auburn despite striking out nine batters. Valdivia gave up five earned runs on eight hits while the Irish committed three errors in the game. The Irish wrap up the Kajikawa Classic against No. 1 Washington today at 12:30 p.m. (EST). Live stats will be available at UND.com.

Friday, February 12, 2010

1. Former Irish football assistant Jon Tenuta is the new linebacker coach at North Carolina State. Tenuta replaces Andy McCollum, who left for a job as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia Tech.

2. Jeremy Hazell rebounded from one of his worst games of the season to score 35 points to lead Seton Hall to a 90-87 victory over Notre Dame on Thursday, snapping the Pirates’ three-game losing streak. Hazell hit 12 of 16 shots from the field and was clutch down the stretch, hitting a three-pointer with 1:21 to go and a bank shot with 1:08 left as Seton Hall (13-9, 4-7 Big East) ended a six-game losing streak against Notre Dame (17-8, 6-6). The Irish played most of the final 8:42 without All-American Luke Harangody. The nation’s third-leading scorer (24.5 points) appeared to sprain his left ankle coming down on a rebound attempt. Still, Notre Dame had two chances to tie the game in the closing seconds. Tim Abromaitis missed a three-pointer with about four seconds to play and Carleton Scott missed another three at the buzzer. Senior point guard Tory Jackson led the Irish with a career-high 25 points (nine of 12 from the floor, including four of six from the three-point area) to go with six assists. Abromaitis added 18 points (12 of 12 on free throws) and a team-high eight rebounds, while Tyrone Nash and Harangody each had 13 points. The Irish shot 54 percent from the field – including 16 of 28 for 57 percent after halftime – and nailed 23 of 27 free throws. Notre Dame returns to action Sunday against St. John’s in a 7:30 p.m. game at Purcell Pavilion.

3. The latest issue of Sports Illustrated rates Notre Dame’s football recruiting class 13th nationally.

4. Sports Illustrated also includes a photo (page 26) of Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, with the Irish listed in the magazine’s “Bubble Watch” item.

5. In a Sporting News feature on Boston College’s cancer survivor Mark Herzlich, Herzlich writes, “Charlie Weis has been great. He’d text me all through the season, on Christmas, on New Year’s, you know, say Good luck! or Hope treatments go well.”

6. Sporting News also published a long feature on the seven new African-American head coaches in Division I-A college football – including two former Irish assistants, Charlie Strong (Louisville) and Joker Phillips (Kentucky). Also part of the package is a sidebar with former Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham.

7. On the Mike & Mike in the Morning radio show on ESPN Radio today was current Irish football coach Brian Kelly, talking about his new job as well as his speaking appearance tomorrow at the new Eddie G. Robinson Museum in Grambling, Miss.

8. It’s a long time until football season, but Anthony Travel already is offering accommodations for the Notre Dame-Army game Nov. 20 at Yankee Stadium. Official University headquarters are at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street (about a 16-minute, four-stop subway ride from Yankee Stadium). The Notre Dame band is expected to travel to the game in a nine-bus caravan leaving from campus Thursday night.

9. Preliminaries of the 80th Bengal Bouts begin tomorrow afternoon in the north dome (field house) of the Joyce Center – with a record number of boxers (nearly 200) expected to participate.

10. Here are Mel Kiper’s latest thoughts on Jimmy Clausen, in response to a question involving a Brady Quinn comparison: “They’re two completely different guys, the biggest similarity being that both were coached by Charlie Weis. In the case of Quinn, let’s at least point out that the jury is still out on how this guy will be perceived as an NFL quarterback. He still has a chance, bottom line, and that’s up to Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini. Start with style. Clausen, despite really gaudy TD-INT numbers, has a bit of riverboat gambler in him, and until this year, his surrounding team and blocking were bad. Quinn played with much better talent. Clausen is also a more accurate thrower. Their arm strength is similar — neither guy is remarkable there, but both can get it done. Neither is a scrambler, but they can maneuver. One thing I’ll say about Clausen: he’s tough, and when I talk to people who know, his marks as a competitor are off the charts. Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta told me that if everyone played with Clausen’s competitiveness, the last staff would all still have their jobs. Golden Tate said he can’t remember throws that were off the mark, and Tate, as good as he is, wasn’t a guy who gets much separation. He’s more physical. I know Clausen could drop, and I’m higher on him than a lot of people, but this kid’s done well, played hurt, and he’s done it under center, which means a lot. He could even go higher.”

11. Notre Dame men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark has announced the signing of seven players to national letters of intent. The talented class features will be eligible to play for the Fighting Irish beginning in the fall of 2010. Comprising the Notre Dame men’s soccer 2010 signing class are: forward Leon Brown (Mattapan, Mass.), goalkeeper Adam LaPlaca (Glastonbury, Conn.), defender Luke Mishu (Knoxville, Tenn.), defender Andrew O’Malley (West Chester, Pa.), forward Alex Priede (Cincinnati, Ohio), midfielder Harrison Shipp (Lake Forest, Ill.) and goalkeeper Patrick Wall (Sugarland, Texas). “This is another excellent group of players for us,” states Clark. “I’ll tell you in three years just how good they are, but we’re very excited with this group of players. We lost a good senior class, but I think this group has the potential to keep the program where it is and maybe hedge it up a little bit further. We’re very excited with this group.”

Leon Brown – F – 5-11 – 160 – Mattapan, Mass./The Roxbury Latin School – FC Greater Boston — 2009 NSCAA All-Region-I New England … 2009 all-state … 2007, 2008 and 2009 Independent School League (ISL) all-conference honors … 2009 ISL Offensive Player of the Year … 2009 ISL scoring leader with 17 goals and six assists … established the ISL freshman scoring record with 12 goals and two assists (the record previously was held by current U.S. National Team member Charlie Davies) … Roxbury Latin School career scoring record holder with 55 goals and 18 assists … led his high school team in scoring during all four of his seasons … former high school teammate of current Irish defender Aaron Maund.

Adam LaPlaca – GK – 5-9 – 170 – Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury – Oakwood Soccer Club — 2009 NSCAA/adidas Boys High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year … 2009 NSCAA/adidas Boys High School All-America Team … 2008 and 2009 NSCAA All-Region-I New England … 2009 NSCAA/adidas Connecticut State Player of the Year … 2009 ESPN RISE Boys’ Soccer All-America first team … 2008 and 2009 CSCA all-state … 2007, 2008 and 2009 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) all-conference and all-academic … 2009 Connecticut Junior Soccer Association (CJSA) High School Player of the Year … CSCA Senior Bowl participant in 2009 … varsity captain of his high school squad during his senior season.

Luke Mishu – D – 6-0 – 165 – Knoxville, Tenn./Knoxville Catholic – KCFC Liverpool 91′ — Will begin his senior season this spring … 2009 NSCAA All-Region-III -South … three-time all-state and all-south selection … five-time state champion … two-time team captain of KFC Liverpool … three-time all-district … three-time all-region.

Andrew O’Malley – D – 6-0 – 180 – West Chester, Pa./Salesianum School – FC Delco — Two-time NSCAA/adidas Boys High School All-America Team (2008 & 2009) … 2008 & 2009 NSCAA All-Region-II (East) … 2009 ESPN RISE Boys’ Soccer All-America first team … two-time Delaware player of the year … three-time first-team all-state in high school … second-team all-conference (2006) … three-time Delaware state champion (2006, 2007, 2008) … four-year varsity starter … ODP: National Team U-13 to U-16 (played in Mexico) … Regional Team U-13 to U-16 (played in Spain) … FC Delco captain since U-13 … Selected for Disney Soccer Showcase that played at Chelsea FC against international professional youth teams … trained for two weeks with Rangers FC (professional team in Scotland).

Alex Priede – F – 5-9 – 155 – Cincinnati, Ohio/Summit Country Day – Cincinnati United Premier — 2009 NSCAA Scholar All-American … 2009 ESPN Rise All-American … 2009 NSCAA All-Region … 2009 first-team all-state … four-year starter on his varsity squad … scored 126 goals during his high school career … 2008 ODP Region II Team … 2006-2008 ODP state team … 2007, 2009 Disney Showcase Champion … 2008 S.U.M. Cup player with Crew Academy Team … all-star selection at Notre Dame soccer camp … member of the National Honor Society.

Harrison Shipp – M – 5-9 – 145 – Lake Forest, Ill./Forest – Chicago Fire — Ranked No. 19 on Top Drawer Soccer’s 2010 Top 100 Men’s Recruits list … 2008 adidas ESP camp attendee … 2008 Development Academy Midwest Starting XI … named 2009 all-area first team by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Pioneer Press … Region II ODP Team (2005-2007) … Region II ODP team made trips to Italy and Argentina … Illinois State ODP Team (2005-2007) … 2007 Illinois ODP team regional and national champions … three-year varsity starter in high school … tallied 32 goals and 27 assists during his high school career … two-time all-state selection … received All-Midwest honors on one occasion … member of the National Honor Society and Cum Laude Society.

Patrick Wall – GK – 5-11 – 160 – Sugarland, Texas/Strake Jesuit College Prep – Houston Dynamo — Member of the South Texas ODP for four years … plays for the Houston Dynamo U-18 club squad … won the Dallas Cup U19 with the Houston Dynamo (age-16) … part of the Region III pool for one year … played for the Eclipse Soccer Club from ages 8-17 … 2006 USYSNC state champion with the Eclipse 91 Black … made regional appearances with his Eclipse 91 Black squad in 2006 (quarterfinals) and 2009 (semifinals) … earned all-district honors in high school during his sophomore season as a defender and during his junior campaign as a goalkeeper … has taken several foreign trips with his club teams.

12. The Irish softball team got off to a quick start this morning with a season-opening, six-inning 11-3 win over Creighton – thanks to back-to-back home runs from Christine Lux (three-run shot) and Dani Miller. Shortstop Katie Fleury had three hits and scored three runs for the Irish. Jody Valdivia pitched all six innings for Notre Dame, gave up four hits and struck out 10. That was the first of five games this weekend in Tempe, Ariz., at the Kajikawa Classic. In today’s second game played by the Irish, Oregon recorded a 4-1 win — with Notre Dame’s lone run coming on an RBI double in the seventh by rookie Amy Buntin.

13. Notre Dame women’s basketball incoming freshman guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) is one of 24 student-athletes who have been named to the 2010 McDonald’s Girls’ High School All-America Team, it was announced late Thursday evening. With the selection, McBride will compete for the East team in the McDonald’s High School All-America Game, which is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 31 and will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU from Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

1. The winter weather has created at least one travel issue with Irish sports. Charter flights to and from Cincinnati for the Notre Dame women’s basketball game Tuesday at Cincinnati had no problems, but a snowstorm in Cincinnati limited the crowd to less than 500 fans Tuesday night. Meanwhile, with the Irish men slated to play at Seton Hall tonight and another big storm slated to hit the New Jersey area, Mike Brey’s group left a day early, taking its flight to the east coast at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and then practicing Tuesday and Wednesday at Seton Hall in advance of tonight’s contest.

2. Golden Tate receives his Fred Biletnikoff Award Saturday night at a banquet in Tallahassee, Fla., sponsored by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.

3. Mike Seamon, assistant vice president of University events and protocol and director of Notre Dame football game day, and Mike Danch, associate athletic director for facilities, made a presentation yesterday during the Stadium Managers Conference in Orlando, Fla. Their talks addressed the issues of safety and security, hospitality and communication that derived from the new initiatives put in place at Notre Dame for the 2009 season. In addition, Seamon participated in a panel discussion Tuesday dealing with new initiatives in the area of fan hospitality at stadium venues. SMA – the Stadium Managers Association — includes managers of pro and college football and baseball stadiums.

4. Mel Kiper’s latest “Big Board” on espn.com has Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen ranked sixth individually among Kiper’s top 25 players for the 2010 NFL draft.

5. If you are wondering how and why Brian Kelly has been successful, you might check out a recent recruiting analysis by Bill Connelly of Football Outsiders on espn.com. On his list of recruiting “overachievers” since 2005-06, Cincinnati rated third (behind only TCU and Boise State).

6. Irish men’s tennis coach Bob Bayliss recently authored his own press release on a noteworthy career achievement. Here is that document:

Notre Dame’s Bobby Bayliss has achieved a career milestone-his 300th career loss. “I would never have dared to dream that this could be possible” said Bayliss, in the middle of his 41st year as a collegiate head coach. “I have so many players and coaches to thank for their parts in this achievement. It would be impossible to list them all, but I want them to know that I remember each and every one.” The Irish dropped a 7-0 decision to Duke in Durham last weekend to cement the record. “If it had to happen, a 7-0 shutout seems appropriate.”

“This could not have happened without the assistance of assistant coaches like Billy Pate and Todd Doebler. And let’s not forget Ryan [Sachire, current assistant]. He was right by my side Sunday to help make it all possible.” Bayliss also agreed that much of the credit should also go to current and former players, most of whom shall remain unnamed except for Navy’s Bill Mountford. He also wants to claim most of the credit for himself. “Face it, there aren’t many coaches out there who could have amassed a record like this,” mused the follicle-challenged giant. “Gould, Basset, Leach, even Fish at Harvard fall short to what I have been able to do. I think Benjamin left Princeton because he knew he could never match this.”

Former Naval Academy athletic director J. O. “Bo” Coppedge agreed with the accolades, adding, “I knew when we hired Bobby that this could be a possibility, but I had no idea it come this quickly. I am justifiably proud of him.” Former West Point adversary Paul Assaiante chimed in,” We just set the record for consecutive wins in collegiate competition at 221 in squash here at Trinity [CT], but Bobby’s achievement puts mine to shame.” Notre Dame Senior Associate Athletics Director John Heisler noted, “We have 7 Heisman Trophy winners and 11 football national championships, but they pale in comparison to what Bobby has just achieved. We can only speculate what might yet be possible.”

7. Top Rank, Inc. and Wheaton, Ill., native Mike Lee will hold press conferences in two locations Wednesday to announce that Lee, a Chicago Golden Gloves and three-time Notre Dame Bengal Bouts champion, will turn pro. Lee, a Notre Dame graduate (2009 in finance), will be available at the Joyce Center Basketball Auditorium C-14 at 9:30 a.m. EST on the Notre Dame campus. He will then be available at Harry Caray?s Restaurant in Chicago (33 West Kinzie, second floor) at 1 p.m. CST for a media luncheon. Lee was undefeated as a light heavyweight during his collegiate boxing career and was crowned a Chicago Golden Gloves champion in his class this past spring. He first stepped into the ring as a competitive boxer at Notre Dame after transferring from the University of Missouri following his freshman year. While at Notre Dame, he became a three-time Bengal Bouts champion, which raises money for the people of Bangladesh. “Mike Lee is a great example of the graduates who Notre Dame produces,” says Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank. “We at Top Rank hope we can fulfill Mike’s ambitions as a professional boxer. We know Mike will enhance the sport of boxing and we look forward to promoting his professional career.”

“Going to Notre Dame was always a dream of mine and I was grateful to have the opportunity to transfer and complete my education at such an esteemed university,” says Lee. “Notre Dame gave me so many opportunities and changed my life forever. Going to Bangladesh and witnessing the simple things we take for granted, like running water and a clean place to sleep, are not so simple for the natives in Bangladesh and that forever changed my view on life. The Bengal Bouts and Notre Dame opened my eyes to another world. I may have left Notre Dame, but Notre Dame will never leave me. That is why it is very important to give back and help fund the Holy Cross Missions of Bangladesh.”

8. As previously reported here by the Dish, Stanford on Tuesday officially announced that it had hired Brian Polian and Randy Hart (both former Irish football assistants) to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford.

9. Notre Dame head women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum announced Wednesday that six student-athletes have chosen to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Fighting Irish, signing national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2010. Mandy Laddish, a 5-7 midfielder (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit HS/Blue Valley Stars), Adriana Leon, a 5-3 forward (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School/Mississauga Falcons), Kecia Morway, a 5-3 defender (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community HS/Eclipse Select), Elizabeth Tucker, a 5-6 midfielder (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny HS/Jacksonville Fury), Rebecca Twining, a 5-4 midfielder (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist HS/Challenge SC) and Elizabeth Wilson, a 5-9 defender (Kansas City, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy/KCFC Alliance Jazz), all made their official commitments to Notre Dame during the current signing period, which began Feb. 3. Three of the six incoming Fighting Irish freshmen are ranked among the top 100 in the latest Top Drawer Soccer club soccer player ratings, with Morway leading the way at No. 5, followed by Laddish (No. 26) and Twining (No. 98). “I think we have a very solid class coming in for 2010,” Waldrum said. “We filled the needs that we had due to graduation. I love the personalities of the incoming class, as they are all creative, committed, talented, and are all very team-oriented. Chemistry is such a huge part of success, and this class will fit in nicely with a very talented group of returning players.” Notre Dame will return 19 players, including nine starters, from last year’s 21-4-1 squad that advanced to the NCAA Women’s College Cup for the fourth consecutive season and the fifth time in six years. The Fighting Irish also fashioned a 19-match unbeaten streak during the final two months of the season, leading to their 12th BIG EAST Conference regular-season title, as well as their 11th BIG EAST post-season crown.

10. Check out the Jack Swarbrick Show this week for previews of the Irish baseball and men’s lacrosse seasons with coaches Dave Schrage and Kevin Corrigan, respectively.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

1. You’re going to read somewhere around a million NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket projections over the next month or so, so there’s probably no reason to get to excited yet with four weeks to go in the regular season. But, that said, here’s what they’re saying this week about the Irish.

This week’s espn.com bracket has a definite BIG EAST flair to it. Louisville is listed as the very last team in – while the first four out are Marquette, Cincinnati, Notre Dame and South Florida. Then, among the next four out, the first team listed is Connecticut. So that puts – as of today – six BIG EAST teams all in a row in the fight for slots.

Meanwhile, the CBSSports.com bracket has the Irish as one of five BIG EAST teams “on the fence.” Marquette is one of the last four in – Cincinnati and South Florida two of the first four out. Also on the fence are Connecticut and Louisville.

The SI.com bracket has Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida and Marquette (as well as Notre Dame) still trying to play their way in – and only five BIG EAST teams in as of now.

You’ll hear lots more versions before it’s over. The Irish men have seven more regular-season games to go, plus the BIG EAST Tournament.

2. Lindsay Schrader scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half, when #4 Notre Dame built a 20-point lead with its full-court pressure and held on for a 66-50 road win over Cincinnati tonight. The Irish (22-1, 9-1 Big East) have won seven straight since their loss to #1 Connecticut Jan. 16, a streak set up by offensive balance and unrelenting defensive pressure. Schrader led the way against Cincinnati (10-12, 3-7), shaking off a one-for-seven first half. The senior guard made six straight baskets early in the second half, pushing the lead to 20. When Cincinnati got the lead down to nine, Schrader made a three-point play that ended the comeback. Becca Bruszewski added 14 points and eight rebounds.

3. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team that opens the 2010 season Feb. 23 at Hofstra has been ranked eighth in the preseason Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Association (IWLCA) coaches’ poll. The poll puts the Irish in good company, as eight of the teams on the 2010 schedule are included in the preseason rankings. Last week, Notre Dame also was ranked eighth in the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll.

4. Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly will deliver the keynote address at the grand opening ceremony of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum Saturday in Grambling, La. The Eddie G. Robinson Museum will officially open on what would be the 91st birthday of the legendary Grambling State University head coach. Robinson remains the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I football history, collecting 408 victories during his 57 years at Grambling. Kelly will serve as the keynote speaker for the grand opening ceremony Saturday and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will address the celebration banquet Friday.

Robinson transcended generations and is widely regarded as a great American hero for his ability to positively affect the lives of the thousands of young men he coached while instilling the values of loyalty, generosity, humility, courage, commitment, and leadership. He always endeavored to give a positive piece of himself to everyone with whom he came in contact. He had a remarkably profound impact not only on Grambling, but also on the state of Louisiana, the game of football, and the United States.

“Everybody knows about the incredible number of games that Coach Robinson won, but it’s how he did it that always impressed me,” Kelly said. “The class he consistently displayed and his integrity are only a couple items I was always impressed with.

“As the head coach at Notre Dame, I was only too excited to be invited to be part of an event that we believe recognizes one of the finest men in our coaching professions’ history. We like to think the values he instilled in his players are cornerstones of our program as well.”

“We are extremely honored to have Coach Kelly join us in opening the Eddie G. Robinson Museum,” said John Belton, Chairman of the Louisiana governor-appointed Eddie G. Robinson Museum Commission. “Coach Kelly is someone of whom Coach Robinson would have been extremely proud, knowing the hard work, dedication, and commitment it takes to move up the coaching ranks from a small Division II school to his dream job at Notre Dame.”

The 8,000 square-foot Eddie G. Robinson Museum will be housed in a newly renovated and re-constructed facility on the Grambling campus that was once the women’s gymnasium. Robinson coached in the building during his early years at Grambling when he also coached the women’s basketball team, among other sports.

5. There have been several minor changes to the Notre Dame 2010 baseball schedule, since its initial release on Oct. 29. The Irish will no longer face Jackson State on Sunday, Feb. 21. Notre Dame will play a full, three-game series with Mississippi Valley State. Friday’s season opener remains on Feb. 19, but first pitch has been moved to 1:00 p.m. CT. Each of the final two contests of the series will be played at Legion Field in Greenville, Miss. – each at 1:00 p.m. CT. The May 20 matchup series opening matchup against Louisville will be telecast live by ESPNU (other TV broadcasts are TBA). The start time for Notre Dame’s third and final game at Georgetown on April 3 was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, but has been moved ahead one hour earlier to noon. The full schedule for the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic has been finalized. Notre Dame will face Bradley on Thurs., March 11, at 4:00 p.m. CT, Pacific on Fri., March 12, at 3:00 p.m. CT and Gonzaga on Sat., March 13, at noon. The third place game will begin at 10:00 a.m. and the championship game at 1:00 p.m. on Sun., March 14.

Monday, February 8, 2010

1. A former Notre Dame football standout may receive a Super Bowl ring after all. John Carney started the 2009 season with the New Orleans Saints after regular kicker Garrett Hartley was suspended from the first four games. Carney hit 13 of his 17 field-goal attempts, but after Hartley regained the kicking job Carney was released Dec. 22. He was added back as a Saints’ kicking consultant two days later, working with the snap and hold and with Hartley. That resulted in Hartley last night setting a Super Bowl record with three field goals from 40 yards or longer – 44, 46 and 47. Carney, 45, is the third-highest scorer in the history of the NFL with 2,044 career points. He kicked 473 career field goals for nine different NFL teams (he had two stints with the Saints). Carney played at Notre Dame from 1983-86 and was undrafted by the NFL. He attended high school in West Palm Beach, Fla., not all that far from the Super Bowl XLIV site.

2. The Fighting Irish men’s fencing team went 11-0 on day two of the 2010 Notre Dame Duals yesterday to close out an undefeated regular season with a 33-0 record, marking the first time in 19 years that both the Irish men’s and women’s fencing teams have gone undefeated in the same regular season (and the fourth time overall: 1986, 1987 and 1991). “I think it was a very good season, you know, for different reasons,” said head coach Janusz Bednarski. “The record of wins and losses was in our favor, which can be very hard to get if you are fencing the best teams in the country like we did this year.” The Irish men earned wins over Lawrence (25-2), Michigan (24-3), Northwestern (25-2), Wisconsin (22-5), Michigan State (25-2), Illinois (24-3), Chicago (25-2), Cleveland State (26-1), Purdue (25-2), Indiana (19-8) and Detroit (24-3) to complete the 22nd undefeated regular season in program history. Dating back to 2008, the men have not lost a match in their last 77 regular-season contests, which is the fourth longest streak in program history (third best stretch was 90 consecutive wins from 2000-04).

On an individual level, junior Greg Schoolcraft led the way with 23 epee wins against just one loss. Included in the 23 wins was his 100th with the Irish, which came against Michigan. He now stands at 120-60 for his career. Also reaching the 100-win plateau was a pair of junior foil all-Americans in Zach Schirtz (Rochester, N.Y.) and Steve Kubik (San Antonio, Texas). Schirtz posted a flawless 11-0 record on the day to move to 114-29 for his career, while Kubik also went undefeated at 9-0 and he is now 107-22 for his career. Other Irish fencers who posted undefeated marks on the day included epeeists Jacob Osborne (Colleyville, Texas) and James Kaull (Washington, D.C.). Osborne, a junior, went 11-0 and Kaull, a freshman, went 5-0 to finish his first regular season with an impressive 49-13 record. Freshman Grant Hodges (Salina Kan.) posted a 16-0 record for the foil squad. He was joined by in the ranks of the undefeated by foil teammates Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) and Reggie Bentley (Little Rock, Ark.). Castellani went 11-0 to push his season record to 38-6, while Bentley added a 7-0 mark to run his record to 33-8. Freshman William McGough (Bronxville, N.Y.) and sophomore Anthony Schlehuber (Carmel, Ind.) led the sabre squad as they combined for a 34-1 record. McGough went 16-0 on the day and Schlehuber finished with a 17-1 record. Other highlights included Bentley (3-0) and Xavier Lebec (1-0) debuting at sabre, as well as Diego Silva (Greenwich, Conn.) making his epee (1-0) debut.

“The spirit of the team — the team is very close — holds it together,” added Bednarski. “On both sides, the freshmen and the upperclassmen just cooperate, so I would say it was a very successful year. Whatever happens at NCAAs, I am very happy with this team and with our situation.” The Irish fencing teams will now look to follow up on their dominating 2010 regular-season performances when they play host to the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships on March 6 and 7 at the Joyce Center.

3. The Irish men’s golf team Saturday and Sunday played its yearly Alumni Match at Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., to kick off its spring season. Senior Carl Santos Ocampo led all scorers with a 69 on Saturday. Sophomore Tom Usher led our Irish golfers with a 68 on Sunday, finishing his round with four consecutive birdies — including a 15 footer on the 472-yard, par-four 18th to cap off the round.

4. For the fourth time this season and the third time in the past five weeks, Notre Dame freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.) has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced today by the conference office. Diggins becomes just the third Fighting Irish rookie ever to earn four BIG EAST Freshman of the Week citations in a single season, joining Alicia Ratay (six in 1999-2000) and fellow Washington High School alum Jacqueline Batteast (six in 2001-02) in that elite company. Diggins also earned BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honors back on Nov. 23, Jan. 11 and Jan. 25, and was chosen for a place on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Nov. 30, one of four Fighting Irish players to collect Honor Roll status at least once this season. Last week, Diggins averaged 18.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game with a 7.00 assist/turnover ratio as Notre Dame picked up conference wins at Rutgers and at home vs. Pittsburgh.

5. Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) has been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the second time this season after averaging 28.0 points and 14.5 rebounds and leading Notre Dame to wins over Cincinnati (83-65) and USF (65-62) last week. This marks the sixth time that Harangody has earned the honor during his career. Dane Miller of Rutgers was named the conference’s rookie of the week, while Austin Freeman of Georgetown, Lazar Hayward of Marquette, Dominique Jones of USF, Kris Joseph of Syracuse and Da’Sean Butler of West Virgina were selected to the conference’s Weekly Honor Roll.

Harangody collected double-doubles in each of the two victories that were the 62nd and 63rd of his career. In the win over Cincinnati, he scored a season-high 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while playing 38 minutes. In the victory over the Bulls, he finished with 19 points and matched a season-best with 15 rebounds as he extended his double-figure scoring streak to 29 games (second longest of his career).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

1. Luke Harangody hit a pair of free throws with four seconds left to finish with 19 points and Tory Jackson scored nine of his 18 points in the final 5:40, driving inside repeatedly, to lead Notre Dame to a 65-62 victory over South Florida on Sunday at Purcell Pavilion. Jarrid Famous had a chance to tie it with a free throw with 8.3 seconds left after he scored on a dunk, but missed. After Harangody’s free throws, Dominique Jones missed a three-pointer at the buzzer as the Bulls (15-8, 5-6 Big East) saw their league winning streak end at four games.
The Irish (17-7, 6-5) led by 15 in the first half, but by halftime the Bulls tied the game at 34. Jackson drove inside to tie the game at 60, then his three-point play with 61 seconds left gave the Irish the lead. Jackson started his strong finish when he hit a pair of free throws with 5:40 left to tie the score at 52. After he had a shot blocked, he scored on a rebound with 3:36 left to give the Irish a 56-54 lead. But just like when the Irish beat the Bulls 74-73 last month, Harangody clinched the game at the free-throw line.

Harangody, second only to Jones in Big East scoring this season, was five-of-17 shooting and had a season-high 15 rebounds. Jones was three of 17 from the field for 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. He had been averaging 35 points and 7.5 rebounds as South Florida won four straight league games for the first time since joining the Big East in 2005. The Bulls are now 4-36 in road games in the league, but had a shot at winning their third straight on the road.

Chris Howard led the Bulls with 23 points. Famous had 18 points and eight rebounds as the Bulls outscored the Irish 36-16 in the paint and 11-4 on second-chance points. But the Irish had a 39-32 advantage on the boards. Ben Hansbrough added 13 points for the Irish. Notre Dame opened the game by making seven of nine shots, taking a 16-2 lead on a reverse layup by Harangody, while the Bulls started making just one of nine shots. The Irish led by as much as 25-10 when Hansbrough hit a three-pointer to cap a 7-0 burst. But Jones, who missed his first six shots and two free throws, finally got the Bulls going when he drove to the basket to spark a 22-6 run. Famous scored eight points during the run and the Bulls briefly took the lead at 32-31 on a basket inside by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick.

2. Skylar Diggins answered Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw’s challenge to be a better rebounder. Diggins grabbed 10 rebounds to go with her 23 points, both season highs, to lead the third-ranked Fighting Irish to an 86-76 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion. Diggins, who also had six assists and two blocked shots with no turnovers, said she went into the game focusing on rebounding. “I wanted to see how many I could get,” she said. Diggins, whose previous high for rebounds was six against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, said she watched tape of recent games and found she was standing around too much. “I was getting in there, I just wasn’t being aggressive to the ball,” she said. Diggins was nine of 11 from the free-throw line and the Fighting Irish (21-1, 8-1 BIG EAST) were 21-of-29. The Irish outscored the bigger Panthers 46-34 in the paint and had a 38-32 rebounding advantage. Lindsay Schrader added 18 points for Notre Dame and Becca Bruszewski had 10.

After the Irish went on a 14-2 run in the first half to open a 13-point lead, the Panthers gradually cut the deficit to four late in the first half. But the Irish led 45-37 at halftime, then used a 10-2 run early in the second half take a 48-45 lead. Notre Dame extended the lead to 81-62 when Ashley Barlow hit a three as the shot clock sounded with 5:13 left. Pitt used a 14-3 run to cut the lead to 84-76 on a jumper by Sims, but couldn’t get any closer.

Notre Dame led wire-to-wire in Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh, the fifth time this season the Fighting Irish have led start to finish in a victory, and the first since Dec. 20, when they posted a 90-31 win over Charlotte at Purcell Pavilion. Diggins notched her first career double-double and is the third Notre Dame player with a double-double this season. Schrader tied her season high with 18 points (previous: vs. #18/16 Vanderbilt on Dec. 31 and vs. South Florida on Jan. 12) and four assists (previous: vs. Iona on Nov. 22 and at Purdue on Jan. 4). Brittany Mallory celebrated her 21st birthday Saturday and was serenaded with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the Notre Dame band and fans during a timeout in the second half. Notre Dame set a school record with its third sellout of the season (9,149), after having two sellouts each in 2000-01 and 2007-08; it’s also the ninth sellout in program history, with seven of those nine sellouts and 15 of the top 20 crowds in Notre Dame history coming in the past five seasons. The Fighting Irish now are averaging a school-record 8,559 fans per game, and with Saturday’s sellout, Notre Dame has attracted more than 100,000 total fans (102,707) for the fourth consecutive season and the fifth time in program history. Club Naimoli, named for benefactor Vince Naimoli and his family, was dedicated with a pre-game brunch and ceremonies.

3. The Notre Dame men’s tennis team fell at 21st-ranked Duke by a 7-0 margin on Sunday afternoon to move to 3-3 on the season. Notre Dame dropped a tough doubles decision and could not get back on track after that. The Irish took a 1-0 lead in doubles play when David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.) and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md.) downed Duke’s team of Torsten Wietoska and Alain Michel at No. 3 doubles by an 8-3 score. Duke tied doubles play with a win at No. 1 doubles, as the eighth-ranked team of Henrique Cunha and Reid Carleton beat Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.) and junior captain Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn.), 8-4. Duke then claimed the doubles point with a win at No. 2 doubles as Dylan Arnould and David Holland knocked off Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland) and Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) in a marathon clinching match, 9-8 (12-10). Duke took a 2-0 lead in the overall match when 18th-ranked Watt was forced to retire at No. 1 singles early in the second set of his match with 17th-ranked Cunha. Cuhna had edged Watt in the first set, 7-5. The 34th-ranked Irish were then forced into a 3-0 hole when 62nd-ranked Arnould downed 95th-ranked Stahl, 6-0, 6-3 at No. 3 singles. The Blue Devils clinched the win at No. 2 singles when Carleton defeated Havens 6-4, 6-3. Havens had the first set tied at 4-4, but fell behind after that and could not recover. Duke completed the sweep with wins at No. 4, 5 and 6 singles. 74th-ranked Blas Moros’ (Boca Raton, Fla.) fell at fourth singles to Jared Pinsky 7-5, 6-2. Anderson then dropped a tough three-set decision to David Holland 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 at No. 6 singles. Fitzgerald lost a shortened match versus Alain Michel at No. 5 singles 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (12-10). The Irish are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to face the 36th-ranked Michigan Wolverines.

4. The Fighting Irish women’s fencing team went 11-0 Saturday on day one of the 2010 Notre Dame Duals to close out an undefeated regular season at 35-0. The day was highlighted by the return of Teddy Hodges (Salina, Kan.) who was welcomed back with a short ceremony before Notre Dame’s pivotal match versus fifth-ranked Northwestern. Hodges was reunited with his Irish teammates after overcoming a viral infection that necessitated a heart transplant in the fall of 2009. “It was very special to fence with our Teddy Hodges here as all our matches were dedicated to him and we won them all!” declared Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski. Of the 11 wins Notre Dame was able to dedicate to Hodges on day one of the Duals, its 19-8 win over Northwestern was most telling of their recent dominance. “The kids did really well winning quickly against Northwestern as they are a really good opponent,” Bednarski added. “It was a good tournament for us, especially to finish undefeated at home because home is related with many emotions, including friends coming to watch, so it was a good day.” With additional wins over Lawrence (26-1), Michigan (25-2)), Wisconsin (24-3), Michigan State (22-5), Illinois (26-1), Chicago (24-3), Cleveland State (25-2), Purdue (25-2), Indiana (21-6) and Detroit (24-3) the Irish completed the seventh undefeated regular season in program history. Dating back to last season, the women have now won 59 consecutive regular-season matches, which is the second longest unbeaten stretch in program history (best stretch is 75 consecutive wins from 1993-96). On an individual level, the day was once again highlighted by senior epeeist Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), who posted a 27-0 record. She pushed her personal undefeated streak on the season to 62 bouts, which dates back to the St. John’s Challenge. Hurley also improved her career record to 213-23, placing her in third on Notre Dame’s all-time regular season wins list for female epeeists. She is just the third epeeist, and 12th fencer overall, to crack the 200-career regular season wins plateau in the storied history of the women’s fencing program at Notre Dame. Not to be outdone, foilist Phenix Messersmith (El Cerrito, Calif.) and sabreists Beatriz Almeida (Chappagua, N.Y.), Danielle Guilfoyle (Pittstown, N.J.), Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) and Kathryn Palazzoto (Nutley, N.J.) also turned in unbeaten records on the day. Messersmith, a freshman, went 19-0 on the day to finish her regular season at 40-8. Almeida, a sophomore, added 15 wins against zero losses while Guilfoyle went 19-0. Guilfoyle posted 3-0 records against Michigan State, Illinois, Cleveland State and Detroit. Hassett went 7-0 in her appearances, including a 3-0 record in the Irish win over Northwestern. Palazzoto, a freshman, rounded out the undefeated contingent with an 11-0 mark that included a 3-0 performance against Illinois. Junior captain Sarah Borrmann went 4-0 in sabre on the day, including a 3-0 record versus Northwestern. With the four wins, she moves to 156-26 in the regular season and remains fourth all-time in women’s sabre regular season victories. Borrmann also made her epee debut for the Irish on Saturday, posting a 5-2 mark.

5. Track fans at the Loftus Sports Center were treated to a record-setting meet Saturday as the Meyo Invitational wrapped up its 23rd edition. On top of some of the nation’s best collegiate marks, Alabama’s Kirani James set the current world’s fastest 400-meter time at 45.79 and Purdue’s Brianna Neumann broke the Meyo track women’s pole vault record with a mark of 4.21m (13-9 3/4). For the Irish, Jack Howard ran the nation’s fourth-fastest 800-meter time and set an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 1:48.60, while Nevada Sorenson qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.41. The Irish will take next week off before competing at the BIG EAST Championships Feb. 20-21 in New York.

6. After putting in a lackluster performance in Friday night’s 7-2 loss at Western Michigan, Notre Dame did everything possible on Saturday night except win the game. The Irish ran into red-hot goaltender Riley Gill and the Broncos got a hat trick from Derek Roehl, on the way to a 4-1 win over Notre Dame in front of 3,171 at Lawson Arena on Saturday. Notre Dame peppered Gill with 55 shots and the senior kicked out 54 in the win. Roehl, a sophomore left wing, who came into the weekend series with just one goal on the year, scored three in the victory and had four in the weekend series to lead Western Michigan to the sweep.

Defenseman Tyler Ludwig had the fourth Bronco goal while Irish blue liner Brett Blatchford had the lone lamplighter for Notre Dame. On the night, the Irish had 12 power-play chances and failed to score while Western Michigan was three for four with the man advantage. The Broncos had five power-play goals in the series while Notre Dame was 0-for-18 on the weekend. The Irish penalty-killing unit came into the week ranked No. 1 in the nation only to see Western Michigan go 5-for-6 in the two games. The loss dropped Notre Dame into a tie for eighth place with Lake Superior in the CCHA standings as the Irish are now 12-13-7 for the year and 8-10-6-2 in the CCHA, good for 32 points in league play. Notre Dame is just one point ahead of 10th-place Ohio State and both the Buckeyes and the Lakers have two games in hand. The Broncos, who snapped an 11-game unbeaten streak (0-8-3) on Friday, improved to 8-15-5 overall and 4-14-4-1 in the conference. The 55 shots were the most for the Irish in a game this season since November of 2004 when they fired 54 shots on Bowling Green in a 4-4 tie. Notre Dame’s 12 power-play chances saw the Irish get 27 shots but no goals to show for it. The sweep by Western Michigan marks the third time this season that Notre Dame was swept in a weekend series as Miami and Ferris State turned the trick earlier this winter. The Irish will take a break from hockey action next week as they are idle. Notre Dame will return to action on Friday, Feb. 19, when the Irish travel to Bowling Green, Ohio for a weekend series with the Falcons. Game time at the BGSU Ice Arena is 7:05 p.m.

7. The 13th-ranked Irish women’s tennis team improved to 4-1 on the season, sweeping Kansas, 7-0, Friday evening at the Jayhawk Tennis Facility. Notre Dame earned the doubles point after winning all three matches. No. 12 Kristy Frilling and Kali Krisik topped Sara Lazarevic and Ekaterina Morozova, 8-2, at No. 1 doubles, before Cosmina Ciobanu and Chrissie McGaffigan downed Erin Wilbert and Vika Khanevskaya, 8-2, at second doubles. Shannon Mathews and Colleen Rielley defeated Maria Martinez and Alessandra Dzuba, 8-1, at No. 3 doubles to complete the sweep. No. 30 Frilling edged Morozova, 7-6, 6-2, at No. 1 singles, while Mathews downed Lazarevic, 7-6, 6-3, at second singles. McGaffigan topped Kunigunda Dorn, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 3, Krisik knocked off Martinez, 6-3, 6-1 at fourth singles and Ciobanu defeated Wilbert, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 5. Rielley toppled Khanevskaya, 4-6, 6-0, 1-0 (10-6) at sixth singles to finish off the Jayhawks.

The 13th-ranked Irish women’s tennis team handed No. 16 Michigan its first loss of the season Sunday with a 4-3 victory in Ann Arbor. With the win, Notre Dame improved to 5-1, while the Wolverines fell to 4-1. Michigan took the early lead after winning the double point. No. 12 Kristy Frilling and Kali Krisik kept their perfect record intact with an 8-4 win over Denise Muresan and Tania Mahtani at No. 1 doubles. The Irish duo is now 6-0 on the season. Michigan’s Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian topped Shannon Mathews and Colleen Rielley, 8-4, at third doubles to even the match. Despite a hard fought battle, Cosmina Ciobanu and Chrissie McGaffigan fell to Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno, 8-6, at No. 2 doubles to give the Wolverines the edge. Rielley dropped her No. 6 singles match to Sulahian, 6-4, 6-2, as Michigan took a 2-0 lead. No. 30 Frilling improved her dual-match record to 6-0 and gave the Irish their first point of the match with a 6-1, 6-4 win over 36th-ranked Muresan at No. 1 singles. Krisik also improved to 6-0, topping Nguyen, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 4 singles to tie the match at 2-2, but Taney edged Ciobanu, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, at fifth singles to pull the Wolverines ahead by one. Mathews knocked off Mahtani, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, at second singles to tie the match at 3-3, before McGaffigan clinched the win for the Irish with a 7-6, 5-7, 6-0 victory over Tatsuno at No. 3. The Irish begin a six-match homestand Feb. 20 when they host Illinois at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.

Friday, February 5, 2010

1. Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind.) has been named to the 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Second Team, it was announced Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). It’s the first time Lechlitner has earned the award, and she is the first Fighting Irish player to garner academic all-district status since 2006, when former Notre Dame point guard Megan Duffy received her second consecutive district award and parlayed that into first-team Academic All-America honors. What’s more, Lechlitner becomes the eighth Fighting Irish women’s basketball player in the past 12 seasons to be an academic all-district selection. Lechlitner currently maintains a 3.377 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) in the College of Arts and Letters, where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She earned dean’s list honors in the spring of 2007 with a 3.75 semester GPA, and is coming off a stellar fall 2009 term that saw her post a 3.583 GPA. In addition, she is a three-time BIG EAST Conference All-Academic Team selection and is a prime candidate to make that squad once again this year.

2. Irish junior forward Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) has been named to the 2010 ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) Academic All-District V Men’s Basketball First Team. Abromaitis will now be among 40 individuals whose names will now appear on the national ballot. Voting will commence on Feb. 9 and the three national teams (five on each team) will be announced on Feb. 24, 2010. Abromaitis is the first Notre Dame men’s basketball player to honored as a first team all-District V selection since Chris Quinn in 2006. Seven Irish players have earned Academic All-America honors on 12 occasions since 1967. He is finance major in the Mendoza College of Business and owns a 3.72 grade point average. A three-time Dean’s List honoree, he will graduate in May 2010 (one full year ahead of his class) and will enroll in Notre Dame’s one-year intensified MBA program during the 2010-11 school year.

3. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team, the defending BIG EAST champions, has been selected to finish third in the annual BIG EAST preseason poll in voting done by the league’s head coaches. Defending regular-season champ, Georgetown, was selected in the top spot while Syracuse was picked for second. The Hoyas received four first-place votes to three for Syracuse and one for the Irish. Overall, the Hoyas recorded 59 points with Syracuse getting 57. The Irish were third with 54, just five points behind first-place Georgetown. Loyola (Md.) was selected fourth with 43 points and was followed by Louisville (34), Rutgers (32), Connecticut (21), Cincinnati (16) and Villanova is last with eight points. The Wildcats will be making their BIG EAST debut this season. The BIG EAST also announced its preseason all-BIG EAST team and its preseason offensive and defensive players of the year. Leading the way of the Irish was senior attack standout Gina Scioscia (Summit, N.J.) who was named the preseason offensive player of the year and a unanimous preseason all-BIG EAST selection. She was joined on the all-BIG EAST team by junior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney (Stony Brook, N.Y.) and senior defender Rachel Guerrera (Wantagh, N.Y.).

4. Luke Harangody had a season-high 37 points and 14 rebounds, and Tim Abromaitis added 22 points Thursday as Notre Dame beat Cincinnati 83-65 in men’s basketball at Purcell Pavilion. Harangody, who was just five of 20 shooting for 14 points with 11 rebounds in a 60-58 loss to the Bearcats on Jan. 16, was seven of 13 for 16 points and 10 rebounds at halftime. He finished with 15-of-25 shooting to lead Notre Dame (16-7, 5-5 Big East). The Irish, who were outrebounded 50-31 by the Bearcats (14-8, 5-5) in that loss last month, had a 41-32 edge in the victory. Notre Dame used runs of 11-3 and 10-2 to open a 40-27 halftime lead and the Bearcats never got closer than nine points in the second half.

5. If you watched the Notre Dame-Cincinnati basketball game last night on ESPN or were there at Purcell Pavilion in person, you saw the new front to the scorer’s table with “IRISH” in big block capital letters.

6. Irish football coach Brian Kelly renewed acquaintances with old friends from Cincinnati and sat in the front row at the basketball game, right across from the Notre Dame bench. Early in the second half, Kelly sat in with ESPN announcers Dave Pasch and Doris Burke. With the game decided and about two minutes left on the clock, the Notre Dame students directed an all-in-fun chant of “BRI-an KELL-y” in the direction of the Bearcat bench.

7. In the 24-hour period that began Wednesday morning on football signing day, und.com had 328,902 video viewers, including nearly 90,000 who watched various elements on demand.

8. As part of the dedication events Thursday night, Phil Purcell received framed Irish jerseys from the men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball programs. Women’s basketball senior Erica Williamson spoke on behalf of the Notre Dame student-athletes in thanking Purcell and the other benefactors at the dinner.

9. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team that opens the 2010 season on Feb. 23 at Hofstra has been ranked eighth in the preseason Inside Lacrosse media poll. The poll puts the Irish in good company, as eight of the teams on the 2010 schedule are included in the preseason rankings. That list includes five-time defending national champion Northwestern, as the Wildcats open the season ranked No. 1 in the nation after going 23-0 last season. Joining Northwestern on the list are BIG EAST foes, Syracuse at No. 6, Georgetown at No. 7 and Loyola (Md.) at No. 14. Joining those three are Vanderbilt (No. 12), Boston University (No. 12), Dartmouth (No. 16) and Ohio State (No. 19). A fourth BIG EAST team, Louisville, also received votes.

10. The Notre Dame hockey team will return to its hockey roots on Friday, Feb. 12, when the Irish move practice from the Joyce Center to “Practice On The Pond,” at Merrifield Park in Mishawaka, Ind. The practice will run from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. EST and is free and open to the public. The popular event will give fans a chance to meet the Irish hockey team and to get autographs of their favorite players. Cat Country 99.9 FM, the flagship radio station for Notre Dame hockey will be on hand with a live remote from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and will have a variety of prizes to hand out to those in attendance. Free hot chocolate will be provided to the first 200 fans in attendance. This marks Irish hockey’s third trip to practice outdoors at Merrifield Park. Last season, the Irish practiced on the outdoor rink during their bye week and prior to their series with Michigan in late January. The Irish have an off week the week of Feb. 12-13 and return to action the following weekend at Bowling Green on Feb. 19-20 with a pair of games.

11. Irish seniors Cosmina Ciobanu (women’s tennis) and John Lytle (men’s swimming) each earned the BIG EAST Conference Scholar-Athlete Award as the institutional representatives for the University of Notre Dame, announced this week by the league. As the recipients of the league honor, both Ciobanu and Lytle will receive a $2,000 scholarship towards graduate studies. The BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Award is one of a number of scholarships presented by the BIG EAST Conference during the 2009-10 academic year. Thirty-two student-athletes (one male and one female from each of the BIG EAST’s 16 member institutions) receive postgraduate scholarships as the winners of their respective institutions’ Scholar-Athlete Awards. The conference also names male and female Basketball Scholar-Athletes of the Year and a Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Ciobanu has had a stellar career at Notre Dame both on and off the court. The Brea, Calif., native earned all-BIG EAST honors in 2009 and was named to the conference all-tournament team for both singles and doubles in 2008, helping the Irish win BIG EAST Conference Championships in both seasons. A three-time NCAA team participant, Ciobanu led the Irish to an NCAA quarterfinal appearance in 2007 and an NCAA semifinal performance in 2009, the highest finish in program history.

She has been a regular on the Dean’s List at Notre Dame, earning the honor four of the past six semesters, as a double major in science pre-professional studies and anthropology with a 3.857 grade-point average. She is a member of the Notre Dame’s Academic Honors Program and has been named an ITA Scholar Athlete and BIG EAST Academic All-Star for the past three years.

Lytle is one of the most decorated swimmers in Notre Dame history as the Clearfield, Pa., native boasts a program-best four BIG EAST titles and 16 total all-BIG EAST honors. Lytle copped the 200 free title in 2009 while his three BIG EAST relay titles established the Notre Dame record. In all, Lytle has a hand in seven school records, including the 50, 100 and 200 free. The sprinter was also part of the 400 free relay squad that upset Louisville to win the 2009 BIG EAST title in one of the most dramatic races in Irish history.

He has been a staple on the Dean’s List at Notre Dame (fall 2007, spring 2008, fall 2008 and spring 2009) as a finance major enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business with a 3.63 grade-point average. Lytle has earned All-Academic Honorable Mention from the College Swimming Coaches Association in 2008 and 2009 for his efforts in the classroom. He has also been involved in the Notre Dame Rosenthal Leadership Academy (2009-2010), the Notre Dame Academic Honors Program (2008- 2010) and the Student-Athlete Leadership Institute (2008).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1. The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team debuted at #9 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) preseason top-20 coaches poll. The Fighting Irish have four teams on their 2010 slate that appear in the rankings. Syracuse, the defending national champion, tops the poll, followed by Duke and Virginia, respectively. North Carolina and Johns Hopkins round out the top five in that order. Notre Dame will open the season at Duke on Feb. 20, while the Irish will close out the regular-season against Syracuse at Notre Dame’s brand new Arlotta Stadium on May 1. The Fighting Irish and Orange are part of the new seven-team BIG EAST men’s lacrosse league. The other ranked opponents on Notre Dame’s schedule are BIG EAST foe Georgetown (#13) and Loyola (#15). The Irish will travel to Georgetown on April 11, while the Irish and Greyhounds will meet in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on March 6 in Baltimore, Md.

2. Irish senior Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) has been named one of the 10 finalists for the 2009-10 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in men’s basketball. Harangody is the first Notre Dame men’s basketball player to be selected as a finalist for the award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as and NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — classroom, character, community service and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 men’s candidates who were announced in October.

A two-time second team All-American and John R. Wooden All-America Team honoree, Harangody leads Notre Dame in both scoring and rebounding for the third straight year as he is averaging 24.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. He ranks third nationally in scoring, the second straight year that he been in the top 10 in scoring. Harangody currently ranks second all-time in Notre Dame history with 2,356 career points and 1,163 rebounds. Currently, he owns a 27-game double-figure scoring streak and has reached double figures in all but 13 of the 121 games he has played in during his career.

Joining Harangody as finalists are: Matt Bouldin (Gonzaga), Da’Sean Butler (West Virginia), Marquis Hall (Lehigh), Damion James (Texas), Adam Koch (Northern Iowa), Chris Kramer (Purdue), Raymar Morgan (Michigan State), Jon Scheyer (Duke) and Josh Young (Drake). The 10 names are being placed on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award basketball ballot for a nationwide vote beginning today and concluding March 22. Fan balloting will be available on the award’s official web site http:www.seniorCLASS.award.com as well as through text messaging. Fans can text MBBALL to vote for men’s finalists. These votes will be combined with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award.

3. Notre Dame hockey senior alternate captain Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) has been selected as one of 18 nominees on the national level for the College Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented by BNY Mellon Wealth Management. The award is presented every year to college hockey’s finest citizen for their contributions to society in all areas. This is the 15th year for the Hockey Humanitarian Award that will be presented in a special ceremony on Friday, April 9, at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., in conjunction with the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four.

Deeth is in his fourth year at Notre Dame and serves as one of the team’s three alternate captains. He currently is fifth on the team in scoring with three goals and 15 assists for 18 points. He has scored once on the power play and is -4 for the season. The veteran center is currently fifth on the all-time games played list with 157 games and ranks 35th on Notre Dame’s all-time points list with 113 (35 goals, 78 assists).

Throughout his career, Deeth has been active in the team’s community service projects and this year as an alternate team captain he has become the team’s leader within the community. During the 2009-10 season the team has been involved in several pet projects. Included among the projects was the highly successful, “Give Them The Shirts Off Our Backs,” jersey auction that was held the weekend of Jan. 29-30 with all proceeds going to the Wounded Warriors Project. The auction itself raised $16,604.60 and with matching gifts from several benefactors totaling $25,000, the grand total raised for the Wounded Warriors Project reached $41,604.60.

Other projects the team is involved in this season include:

  • Working with the South Bend School District as members of the “Dream Team.” This is a group of 10 players who volunteer as mentors at two local elementary schools – Perley and Madison – where they work with 2nd and 3rd graders. They interact with the kids, acting as Big Brothers, talking about school, playing sports, etc. The group does this for an hour twice a week.
  • One day a week the team is involved with the South Bend Robinson Center working with inter-city kids in an after school program. Deeth and several players are continuing a program started last season by graduated teammate Luke Lucyk where the teach inter-city kids the game of hockey, putting them through various drills, teaching the game. The kids from the program attend an Irish hockey game and skate with the Notre Dame players.
  • Also this season, Kevin has participated in the annual Buddy Walk for kids with Downs Syndrome, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk and has served as a mentor at St. Joseph Middle School where he reads to students. He has spent time at Notre Dame’s Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC), just talking to children 2-3 years of age. On the hockey front, he, like all his teammates assist with clinics for the Irish Youth Hockey League (IYHL) and on Nov. 28, 2009, participated in the Skate with the Irish following the game with Bowling Green.

Joining Deeth on the list of 18 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award are: Bobby Butler (New Hampshire), Ethan Cox (Colgate), Kirsten Dier (Amherst College), Jon Globke (New England College), Barry Goers (UMass.-Lowell), Caitlin Hogan (St. Cloud State), Dion Knelsen (Alaska), Sam Kuzyk (Adrian College), Shareef Labreche (Buffalo State), Zach Miller (Williams College), Mario Mielleli (Augsburg College), Bridget O’Gorman (Connecticut), Jordan Pietrus (Brown University), Garrett Raboin (St. Cloud State), Todd Sheridan (The College at Brockport), Brandon Vossberg (Denver) and Brett Watson (Massachusetts).

Finalists for the award will be announced on the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation website at www.hockeyhumanitarian.org in February. More information on the history of the award, the 2010 schedule of events and a list of past nominees, finalists and recipients can be found at http://www.hockeyhumanitarian.org.

4. The Cincinnati Enquirer this morning touted the quality of the current class of high school football seniors in the Cincinnati area: “The Class of 2010 in Cincinnati was extremely deep this year,” said Mark Porter, director of ScoutingOhio.com. “To have two quarterbacks – (Luke) Massa and (Andrew) Hendrix – headed to Notre Dame is an embarrassment of riches. Jordan Hicks, Matt James, Welch, Dominique Brown, Jibreel Black, Andrew Norwell, Spencer Ware – guys like that are as good as anyone in the country at their respective positions. …When you have that many guys headed to BCS programs in one year, it’s very special.” Among Cincinnati area high schools, Moeller had seven signees, Elder had five, Middletown had 10. Considering Brian Kelly’s Cincinnati and Ohio connections, it won’t be a surprise to see Notre Dame a continuing presence in that area.

5. Here’s an interesting Brian Kelly recruiting story, as told by Dave Curtis on the Sporting News web site: “Nobody knew about Connor Barwin a few years back, either. He signed with Cincinnati and then-coach Mark Dantonio as an undersized tight end out of Jesuit High in Detroit. Rivals gave him two stars. As a college junior, he caught 31 passes and dreamed of a pro career. Kelly, who took over at Cincinnati before Barwin’s junior year, dreamed something else. He saw his team’s best athlete dependent on a quarterback to get him the ball and a line to block for the quarterback. So Barwin became a defensive end, where he needed no help to wreak havoc. A conference-best 12 sacks and 4.37 40-yard dash time later, he was a second-round NFL draft pick. ‘A lot of people wouldn’t have made that switch,’ Barwin said by phone. ‘But that’s Coach Kelly. The players always think he’s doing the right thing. I can’t really put my finger on it, but that’s why they gravitate toward him.’ So maybe Kelly and company will start pulling in Florida-level recruiting classes. Or maybe Notre Dame, circa 2014, will feature 22 Barwin-types in the starting lineup.” (Barwin had 18 total tackles and 4.5 sacks as a rookie in 2009 for the NFL Houston Texans.)

6. Brian Kelly talks recruiting and more on Notre Dame football as the featured guest on the Jack Swarbrick Radio Show this week. Hear it Saturday on WLS 890 AM radio in Chicago, on NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM in South Bend, on XL 950 (AM) in Indianapolis – or on und.com.

7. Check back to und.com tomorrow afternoon to find the feature on tonight’s dedication of Purcell Pavilion.

8. Former Irish All-American Troy Murphy was in town yesterday visiting the Irish men’s basketball offices on an Indiana Pacers’ day off. Murphy averages 14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds this season for the Pacers and is 18th in the NBA in double-doubles with 20.

9. If you’re looking for a great and worthwhile event to attend, mark your calendar for May 14-15 for the “One More Victory, Ara!” Celebrity Golf & Gala Weekend in Tucson, Ariz. It benefits the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation that fights Niemann-Pick Type C disease. Go to www.parseghian.org for details.

10. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody ranks third nationally in scoring (24.2) and 29th in rebounding (9.7). Tory Jackson is 22nd in assists (5.68), while Ben Hansbrough is 50th (5.0). Tim Abromaitis is third in three-point field-goal percentage (.477) and 37th in three-point field goals per game (2.82). Abromaitis is also 33rd in free-throw percentage (.864). Jackson and Hansbrough are two and three nationally in turnover-assist ratio (3.68 and 3.44). As a team, Notre Dame is 21st in scoring (79.9), fourth in assists (18.36), 27th in field-goal percentage (.478), 14th in three-point field-goal percentage (.403), 39th in three-point field goals per game (7.86), fourth in turnovers (fewest) at 10.3 — and first in turnover-assist ratio (1.78).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Und.com Signing Day 2010

5:30 p.m.

Latest tally on live hits on UND.com today: 233,000.

5:00 p.m.

More notes and quotes from Brian Kelly’s press conference:

* He talked about the defensive line pool being critical for a year from now, especially the defensive end position.

“We need to get bigger and stronger on the edge of our defense. We’ll balance out the skill positions on offense – and we’ll probably take five or six more quarterbacks next year (as Kelly noted, that last part was said in jest).”

* Why will recruiting be even better next year? “We’ve got time. Two months is not enough time to get the guys I want at Notre Dame.

“Today is a good start for us. I think you’ll see growth next year.”

* “The Notre Dame brand is alive and well. There’s an anticipation when you walk through a high school and the librarian comes up asking for an autograph. That’s unique. That’s the power of Notre Dame.”

* Kelly listed the items that need to be cleared on a potential roster addition – profile, academics, medical history, social trust and character. “It takes time to hit home runs in all those areas.”

4:00 p.m.

Here were Brian Kelly’s opening comments in his media briefing at the Gug Auditorium:

“It became apparent to me today that the brand of Notre Dame is very much respected and in play.”

Kelly talked abut the process of building relationships, fit, and style of play all being a part of recruiting.

“At Notre Dame, we have a vision as to the kind of player we’ll recruit.”

Kelly noted the class of 23 players comes from 12 states — which is “indicative of our scope.”

“Let’s make no mistake about it, these young men were re-recruited. We went about starting all over again with them. It’s obvious the brand of Notre Dame carried a lot of weight.”

Referencing the short time he and his staff had to work after the coaching transition, Kelly said, “The proof of our work will come down the road with this class and next year’s class. I think we addressed some short and some long-term needs. They fit what we’re looking for at Notre Dame.”

“You see the areas we always recruit at Notre Dame – Chicago, Illinois, the west coast, New Jersey, Florida, and expanding to Hawaii. There are a number of players from the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area – the state of Ohio has had a number of players come to Notre Dame and be successful.”

“We hope this class becomes like the 1946 class that came to Notre Dame and graduated without ever losing a game. That’s the bar – we want them to come in here and think like that.”

3:10 p.m.

So far, 178,442 hits today on UND.com Signing Day Central

2:20 p.m.

Here are Irish coach Brian Kelly’s comments from his live interview on ESPN (shot from the Gug Auditorium):

(on his biggest challenge this year) “The kids you’re trying to recruit have great profiles – so you’ve got to re-recruit them. You’ve got to build relationships in a short period of time – just a month or month and a half.”

(on filling roster needs for 2010) “We only had one scholarship quarterback on the roster, and we lost some offensive linemen through graduation. (Jimmy) Clausen and (Golden) Tate were outstanding players, but we’ve got some good skill players back. We recruited guys who love to play the game. That was our charge this year with just six weeks in the process.”

(on the Irish offense) “We’ve got some perimeter players that can be big time. Michael Floyd, Armando Allen, Dayne Crist, Kyle Rudolph. We’ll give ’em the opportunity in the spring and see where it goes.”

(on expectations at Notre Dame) “That was part of the allure of the Notre Dame job. I know you want to have the BCS success and play for championships. Anything less than that is not going to be viewed as successful.”

(on the difference on signing day at Notre Dame) “At Notre Dame I get to talk to you on ESPN. We recruit coast to coast — and there are a lot of people that follow Notre Dame. But it’s all about building relationships with kids.”

12:37 p.m.

The 18th addition to today’s Irish class comes from Hawaii:

Kona (COE-nuh) Schwenke (SHWENK-ee), DL, 6-4, 227, Hauula, Hawaii (Kahuku) – First-team Hawaii all-state selection for 2009 as defensive lineman by Honolulu Advertiser . . . named second-team all-state as senior by Honolulu Star-Bulletin . . . helped lead team to Hawaii state championship game and 12-1 record as senior at Kahuku High School in Kahuku, Hawaii . . . only loss came 34-21 in Division I title game to Kamehameha . . . participated in 2009 Hawaii/Polynesia vs. Mainland Bowl . . . selected to Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100 team . . . one of 14 defensive linemen from 11 Western states selected to Western 100 team . . . ranked by Rivals.com as top defensive lineman, fourth-best player in Hawaii for 2009 and one of top 35 defensive ends nationally . . . selected Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East defensive player of year for 2009 as Kahuku claimed OIA crown . . . had six tackles, four for loss, and two sacks, in Kahuku’s 24-20 victory over Leilehua to earn 2009 OIA Red Conference title . . . one of four finalists for 2009 Island Sports Media Athlete of the Year award . . . played for coach Reggie Torres at Kahuku . . . born May 11, 1992 . . . son of McKay and Angela Schwenke.

12:30 p.m.

More media hits for Irish coach Brian Kelly today:

  • 2:20 p.m. live on ESPN/ESPNU
  • 4:00 p.m. live Brian Kelly press conference from the Gug Auditorium
  • 5:10 p.m. live on CBS College Sports
  • 5:25 p.m. live on Rivals Radio
  • 5:40 p.m. live shot on ESPNU
  • 5:50 p.m. live on the Huge Show (radio) with Bill Simonson in Detroit
  • 6:06 p.m. live on WSBT Radio Sportsbeat in South Bend.

11:47 a.m.

Charlotte native and Notre Dame signee Prince Shembo stopped by the ESPNU studio to talk about his commitment to the Fighting Irish.

11:27 a.m.

Next on the list is Cameron Roberson:

Cameron Roberson, RB, 6-1, 220, Newbury Park, CA (Newbury Park) – First-team pick as running back as both senior and junior in 2009 and 2008 on California Southern Section Marmonte League all-conference squad . . . named to Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100 squad for 2009 . . . second-team running back on all-county large school squad selected for 2009 by Ventura County Football Coaches Association . . . carried 199 times for 1,107 rushing yards and 20 TDs as senior in 2009 for Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, Calif. . . . top game in 2009 featured 26 attempts for 186 and three TDs versus Saugus . . . caught 29 passes for 268 yards and one TD in 2009 while helping Panthers to 9-3 record . . . listed on Rivals.com 250 chart for 2009 . . . rushed 226 times for 1,452 yards and 18 TDs as junior in 2008 – and also caught 29 passes for 279 yards and three TDs as Newbury Park finished 7-4 . . . grandfather Thomas Murray Turner is ’59 Notre Dame graduate . . . played for coach George Hurley at Newbury Park . . . born March 13, 1992 . . . son of Marvin Roberson and Tanya Turner.

11:20 a.m.

Athletics director Jack Swarbrick stops by the Gug and gets a hallway briefing from Brian Kelly on the events of the day.

11:15 a.m.

Check out the UND.com feature that shows you exactly what happens to the national letter of intents as they arrive via fax.

11:05 p.m.

Comments from Irish assistant Ed Warinner from his UND.com interview:

“The three young offensive linemen we’re really excited about – they give us a good nucleus. We’re going to base our offense out of a spread here, and we did that my last few years at Kansas and Illinois. The biggest thing is finding out what your players are good at and playing to those strengths. We want to physically develop these guys and work with the skill set these offensive linemen have. All these guys coming in are good players – we need to assess them and work on their weaknesses. They have a lot of strengths to start with, so let’s get ’em confident in our system.

(on Matt James) “It’s been tentative over the last few days. He had a really good visit based on his interaction. The question was what would his decision be based on. We developed a relationship the last few weeks – and the last piece for him was to come here and meet the new coaches and meet the players – and that all went well. We thought we were a good fit for him — and we thought he’d pick Notre Dame — and he did.

“Today starts the next cycle of recruiting. We’ll get to know our players better. Next week I’ll have individual conferences with my guys to get to know them better. We’ll start to get together offensively and decide what we want to do and communicate. For some of us, we have to learn this system if we hadn’t worked with Coach Kelly. Preparation for spring football is the main emphasis the next few months.”

11:00 a.m.

The tab currently is 60,154 hits on the live UND.com stream.

10:50 a.m.

Comments from Irish assistant Chuck Martin from his UND.com interview:

(on James, Lombard and Nichols) “With our offense, adding some bookend tackles is a great way to start the first year.

(on what’s ahead) “I’ve had a great relationship with Brian Kelly, so part of it is just learning Notre Dame.

(on his past) “It’s good to start having had 20-some years of relationships with a lot of high school coaches in the Midwest.

(on his position area, the secondary) “It gives you a chance if you can keep the ball in front of you and not give up big plays. If you give up big plays, you won’t be interviewing me on signing day next year.

“Overall, it’s a great opportunity in front of us, to try to get Notre Dame back to where people think it belongs.”

10:40 a.m.

Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco just did an interview with Jack Nolan on the UND.com set ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ look for it soon on UND.com.

10:21 a.m.

Californian Justin Utupo sends along his paperwork – and assistant Mike Denbrock and head coach Brian Kelly visit with him on the cell phone. He becomes #16.

Justin Utupo (you-TWO-poe), LB, 6-3, 250, Lakewood, CA (Lakewood) – First-team defensive lineman on California Division I all-state squad as senior in 2009 . . . named Lineman of the Year for 2009 by Los Angeles Times . . . first-team defensive lineman on Los Angeles Times All-Star team for 2009 . . . defensive player of the year on all-Southland team named by Los Angeles Times . . . named Moore League defensive player of the year as senior in 2009 . . . recorded 67 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, 29 tackles for loss and forced four fumbles as senior defensive tackle and tight end in 2009 at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Calif. . . . made seven receptions for touchdowns as tight end in 2009 as Lancers finished 11-2 . . . helped Lakewood to final #9 Southern California overall top 25 ranking and final #4 ranking in CIF Division I South by CalHiSports.com . . . recovered a pair of fumbles to help Lakewood end Long Beach Poly’s 80-game conference win streak with 21-14 victory in 2009 and ensure Lakewood’s first outright Moore League title since 1974 . . . had four sacks in Lancers’ CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division quarterfinal win over #23 La Puente Bishop Amat . . . first-team all-conference selection as defensive lineman as junior in 2008 on Lakewood squad that finished 10-3 . . . made 70 tackles and six sacks as junior in 2008 while leading conference in tackles for loss . . . helped Lakewood to CIF Southern Section Pac-5 semifinals in 2008 . . . played in Offense-Defense All-American game in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in January 2010 . . . played for coach Thadd Macneal at Lakewood . . . born March 26, 1992 . . . son of Dennis and Maria Utupo.

10:15 a.m.

Look on UND.com for a two-minute feature on Brian Kelly arriving at the football offices this morning.

Here are some of Kelly’s latest comments:

“We’re excited about the two guys from St. Xavier in Cincinnati. Luke Massa at quarterback is a guy we’ve been very familiar with. And Matt James as an offensive lineman is a guy who can come in and physically compete right away. He’s a real good get. Then, Danny Spond is a big skill guy who is pretty accomplished as a quarterback, can play tight end or outside linebacker — and he’s physically capable of helping us right away on special teams.

“Some of these guys are examples of people we had to recruit in a very short period of time. We had to sell both the University and where we are going in the future. You want to envision being in a BCS game, so you try to piggyback the tradition here at Notre Dame with the success we’ve had the last few years.

“Overall, this is a good start for us. It’s a foundation to build on. We’ve got better depth moving forward, we’ve addressed the quarterback situation. We’ve tried to add more athletes.”

10:05 a.m.

At this point in the morning, the live stream on UND.com has seen 35,451 hits. Check back at noon for the live UND.com wrapup show with Jack Nolan – then come back at 4:00 p.m. to see Brian Kelly’s live media briefing.

9:50 a.m.

Brian Kelly does another UND.com spot with Jack Nolan to talk about the latest players to become official, including Matt James. The official tally now stands at 15 in terms of official additions today.

9:30 a.m.

Kathryn Schuessler drops off Danny Spond’s documents in the staff room:

Danny Spond, ATH, 6-3, 232, Littleton, CO (Columbine) – First-team all-Colorado selection by Denver Post as junior and honorable mention all-state by Post as senior in 2009 . . . played quarterback for Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and helped lead Rebels to state semifinals as junior and quarterfinals as senior in 2009 . . . rated by Rivals.com as second-best player in Colorado and the 27th-best athlete nationally . . . labeled as “best athlete” in Colorado high school football prior to start of 2009 season by Denver Post . . . missed four games as a senior in 2009 due to injury . . . passed for 517 yards on 41-for-64 throwing with 10 touchdowns and rushed for 386 yards with four TDs in 2009 . . . also kicked five of seven PATs, connected on both field-goal attempts (one for 46 yards), punted 14 times for 35.9-yard average, intercepted one pass and made 13.5 tackles as cornerback . . . rushed for 178 yards in one 2009 game vs. Chatfield . . . first-team all-Big 8 Conference selection for 2009 on Columbine team that finished 8-4 and qualified for Colorado 5A playoffs . . . played quarterback in wing-T offense and passed 57 times for 511 yards as junior in 2008, with eight passes for TDs . . . totaled 874 rushing yards in 2008 and averaged 9.8 rushing yards per carry with 10 rushing TDs . . . led Columbine to 11-2 record in 2008 . . . named all-conference linebacker in 2007 and also served as placekicker for Rebels as sophomore . . . named Denver Post high school student-athlete of week on Sept. 6, 2009 . . . won seven consecutive Carnation Bowls, South Jeffco (Colo.) youth league’s version of Super Bowl . . . compiled 77-1 record in youth football with one loss occurring as he sat out due to injury . . . played for coach Andy Lowry at Columbine . . . born Dec. 30, 1991 . . . son of Don and Janet Spond.

9:15 a.m.

The faxed papers for Kendall Moore arrive on the scene:

Kendall (KEN-dull) Moore, LB, 6-3, 235, Cary, NC (Southeast Raleigh) – Named SuperPrep All-American and eighth-best player in North Carolina by SuperPrep . . . earned All-America accolades at inside linebacker in 2009 from PrepStar . . . named first-team all-state as senior by NCPreps.com . . . tallied 120 tackles and 10 sacks during senior season in 2009 at Southeast Raleigh High School in Raleigh, N.C. . . . helped Southeast Raleigh to 10-3 record and second round of North Carolina state playoffs in 2009 . . . scored tying touchdown for Bulldogs as running back on three-yard plunge in fourth quarter of second-round playoff game to force overtime . . . key member of defense that limited five opponents to a touchdown or less . . . named eighth-best player in North Carolina by Charlotte Observer . . . recorded 125 tackles with seven sacks and added 30 receptions and seven touchdowns as tight end during junior campaign in 2008 . . . led Southeast Raleigh to 11-3 record in 2008 . . . registered 110 tackles and one interception as a sophomore in 2007 . . . played for coach Daniel Finn at Southeast Raleigh . . . born Nov. 15, 1991 . . . son of Jeffrey and Tammie Moore.

9:05 a.m.

Big news – Matt James from Cincinnati calls the Irish to tell them he’s coming to Notre Dame. He’d been one of the question marks coming into signing day. Actually, assistant coach Ed Warinner had caught James on the cell phone on his way to school before 8:00 a.m., but James didn’t give away any secrets, based on his plan to call all the schools and let them know of his final decision at 9:00 a.m. Assistant Tim Hinton received a call from St. Xavier coach Steve Specht and then put both Specht and James on the phone with Irish head coach Brian Kelly. By 9:43 the fax arrives to make it official.

Matt James, OL, 6-6, 291, Cincinnati, OH (St. Xavier)USA Today first-team prep All-America offensive lineman . . . named to EA Sports second-team All-America squad … ranked 86th nationally on USA Today/Rivals.com list of top 100 prep players . . . listed 60th nationally on MaxPreps Top 100 and a second-team MaxPreps All-American . . . listed 99th nationally on The Kickoff Top 120 . . . first-team Ohio Division I all-state pick in 2009 . . . three-year offensive line starter at right tackle for St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio . . . named to Cincinnati Enquirer first-team Division I Football All-Stars for 2009 . . . earned all-league honors in 2009 and 2008 while helping St. Xavier to ’09 Cincinnati Greater Catholic League South title . . . ranked as 12th best player on 2009 Detroit Free-Press Best of the Midwest team . . . a SuperPrep All-American who was listed 78th nationally on Offense-Defense Top 250, 91st on Scout.com Top 300 list and 87th on SI.com/TAKKLE Top 200 . . . helped St. Xavier to final number-four ranking in Associated Press poll to end 2009 regular season ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ and 9-3 final record following regional semifinal playoff loss to Elder in 2009 Ohio Division I playoffs . . . played in U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio . . . helped St. Xavier to Ohio Division I state title and 15-0 record as sophomore starter in 2007 . . . led way for St. Xavier running backs to earn first-team all-league honors in 2007, 2008 and 2009 . . . also plays basketball at St. Xavier . . . from same high school that produced 2001 Irish captain and current Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Rocky Boiman . . . played for coach Steve Specht at St. Xavier . . . born April 9, 1992 . . . son of Jerry and Peggy James.

8:39 a.m.

Next on the list is Bennett Jackson, with Irish assistant Bob Diaco walking his documents into the staff room:

Bennett Jackson, WR, 6-0, 170, Hazlet, NJ (Raritan) – Named second-best wide receiver in New Jersey by SuperPrep . . . recorded 40 receptions for 729 yards and rushed 20 times for 350 yards as senior in 2009 at Raritan High School in Hazlet, N.J. . . . also played defensive back and intercepted four passes in 2009 . . . led high Raritan to 8-3 record in 2009 . . . named second-team all-state, first-team all-area and first-team all-Group 2 following senior season by Newark Star-Ledger . . . selected first-team all-area by Asbury Park Press . . . named preseason first-team all-state by MaxPreps . . . scored 13 touchdowns and converted 53 PATs for 131 points as senior, ranking 26th in New Jersey scoring . . . caught 35 passes for 509 yards with four TDs during junior season in 2008 and rushed 35 times for 267 yards and four TDs . . . added two passing TDs, two punt returns for TDs and one kickoff return for a score during junior campaign . . . averaged 38 yards per kickoff return and 18 yards per punt return in 2008 . . . participated in New Jersey vs. Northeast All-Star Football Classic in June 2009 . . . also competed in track and field as sprinter and high hurdler . . . played for coach Bob Generelli at Raritan . . . born Sept. 16, 1991 . . . son of Bennett Sr. and Grace Jackson.

8:30 a.m.

Christian Lombard becomes the first addition from the Central time zone to send along his papers:

Christian Lombard, OL, 6-5, 293, Inverness, IL (Fremd)USA Today first-team prep All-America offensive lineman . . . EA Sports first-team All-American …named to Parade magazine All-America team for 2009 as one of 18 offensive and defensive linemen . . . MaxPreps #30 national prospect and second-team All-American . . . played offensive right tackle for Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill. . . . Gatorade Player of the Year for state of Illinois in 2009 . . . selected to Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 8A all-state football squad for 2009 (one of 18) . . . named to Chicago Tribune all-state team as senior in 2009 after helping Fremd to perfect regular season and final 11-1 finish after falling in Illinois Class 8A quarterfinals . . . first-team pick on Champaign News-Gazette all-state squad for 2009 . . . rated #13 offensive lineman nationally by SuperPrep . . . rated 103rd nationally on The Kickoff Top 120 . . . made 32 tackles on defense as senior in 2009 . . . played in 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio . . . named to Daily Herald Northwest Suburban all-area team for 2009 and 2008 . . . helped team average 331 yards per game . . . helped Fremd to 8-3 record as junior in 2008 . . . attended U.S. Army All-American Combine in January 2009 and Notre Dame football camp in summer of 2009 . . . earned special mention on all-area team as sophomore in 2007 . . . played for coach Mike Donatucci at Fremd . . . born Jan. 5, 1992 . . . son of Greg and Erin Lombard.

8:18 a.m.

Louis Nix is next on the list to send along his documents:

Louis Nix, DL, 6-3, 315, Jacksonville, FL (Raines) – Named to Florida Super 75 and to Jacksonville Super 24 teams by Jacksonville Times-Union following his senior year in 2009 . . . rated 59th nationally on Sporting News Top 100 list . . . tabbed SuperPrep All-American and eighth-best defensive tackle nationally . . . made 50 tackles and 10 sacks as senior in 2009 at Raines High School in Jacksonville, Fla. . . . a 2009 all-First Coast pick as defensive lineman by Jacksonville Times-Union . . . selected to play in Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. . . . tallied 19 combined sacks as a sophomore and junior in 2007 and 2008 . . . selected to Jacksonville Times-Union Super 11 squad prior to senior season and was labeled “most disruptive” player in First Coast . . . named to Super Southeast 120 team by Mobile Press-Register . . . rated 64th-best player nationally and sixth-best defensive tackle in ESPNU 150 . . . listed as seventh-best defensive tackle nationally and 85th-best player by Rivals.com . . . rated ninth-best defensive tackle in country and 102nd-best prospect nationally by Scout.com . . . ranked 108th player nationally by SI.com/TAKKLE . . . rated on Offense-Defense Top 250 list . . . rated 75th nationally by The Kickoff Top 120 . . . tallied 60 tackles and 10 sacks as junior and named second-team all-First Coast by Jacksonville Times-Union . . . helped Raines High School to 7-4 record and appearance in Florida state playoffs as sophomore in 2007 . . . named to Jacksonville Times-Union second-team all-First Coast in 2007 . . . also played basketball . . . played for coach Deran Wiley at Raines . . . born July 31, 1991 . . . son of Louis Nix Sr. and Stephanie Ancrum.

8:10 a.m.

Some quick observations from coach Brian Kelly:

“The early returns are in and we’re pulling our base. The Cincinnati area guys – Luke Massa, Andrew Hendrix, Tate Nichols, Austin Collinsworth, Alex Welch. Now we’re starting to get some of the other guys from other areas, like Prince Shembo. I think we’ve done well early in the process with guys we think can contribute to what we’re going to be doing.

“Any time you have a transition, you have to prove yourself. These guys were committed to Notre Dame and what it stands for. But we still had to get out there and recruit every one of them. What you see is how Notre Dame is respected as a University or we would mot have been able to hold this class together.”

8:05 a.m.

Cincinnati tight end Alex Welch is the next player to fax along his documents:

Alex Welch, TE, 6-5, 225, Cincinnati, OH (Elder) – First-team Ohio all-state tight end for 2009 by OhioVarsity.com . . . an honorable mention selection on 2009 Cincinnati Enquirer Football All-Stars . . . rated #10 tight end nationally by SuperPrep . . . rated 112th player nationally by The Kickoff Top 120 . . . caught 43 passes for 620 yards and five touchdowns as senior in 2009 . . . had five catches for 98 yards, including 41-yarder for a TD vs. Trinity in 2009 . . . also caught five for 89 yards and two TDs vs. St. Francis de Sales in 2009 . . . caught 32 passes for 480 yards as junior in 2008, four of them for TDs at Elder High School in Cincinnati, Ohio . . . helped Elder to 10-3 mark as senior in 2009, including Ohio Division I semifinal loss to Hilliard Davidson . . . selected to South roster for Ohio North-South Classic in April 2010 in Columbus, Ohio . . . 2009 Elder team had been ranked as high as third nationally early in the fall . . . as junior in 2008 helped Elder to 13-2 record, including Ohio Division 1 championship game loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius . . . from same high school as current Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph . . . played behind Rudolph at tight end as a sophomore in 2007 when Rudolph was a senior . . . starting center on 2009 Elder basketball team . . . joins long list of Elder graduates to play football at Notre Dame, including 1975 co-captain and offensive tackle Ed Bauer . . . nephew of former Irish linebacker Steve Heimkreiter (1975-78) . . . played for coach Doug Ramsey at Elder . . . born Nov. 20, 1991 . . . son of Austin and Lynn Welch.

7:53 a.m.

Recruiting Kathryn Schuessler heads into the staff room with Daniel Smith’s faxed papers:

Daniel Smith, WR, 6-4, 215, South Bend, IN (Clay) – First-team pick as receiver on 2009 Associated Press Indiana Class 4A all-state squad . . . named to Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 All-State team for 2009 as one of four receivers . . . four-year starter as wide receiver for Clay High School in South Bend, Ind. . . . caught 60 passes as senior in 2009 for more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns . . . grabbed nine catches for 175 vs. Mishawaka in 2009, including TD receptions of 30 and 57 yards . . . caught 10 passes for 124 yards and a TD vs. Elkhart Central in 2009 . . . caught 51 passes for 1,061 yards and nine TDs as junior in 2008 . . . also made seven interceptions as junior starter at defensive back for Clay team that finished 5-5 and Indiana Class 4-A sectional runner-up . . . first-team all-conference receiver as junior . . . caught 30 passes for 400 yards and eight TDs as sophomore in 2007 . . . grabbed 49 passes for 800 yards and eight TDs as a freshman in 2006 . . . caught 61-yard TD pass on first play of his career as freshman . . . also a standout at Clay in basketball and track and field (as long jumper) . . . brother-in-law is former Irish safety Gerome Sapp (1999-2002) . . . played for coach Joe Szajko at Clay . . . born July 16, 1991 . . . son of Robert and Vicki Smith.

7:53 a.m.

As the process unfolds, Hinton sits in the Irish staff room, penning notes to junior prospects for a year from now. Meanwhile, head coach Brian Kelly prepares to do a live hit with Jack Nolan on UND.com, talking about the players who have signed so far this morning.

7:45 a.m.

Now added to the list of official Irish freshmen-to-be is Prince Shembo:

Prince Shembo (shim-bo), LB, 6-2, 232, Charlotte, NC (Ardrey Kell) – Selected to play in 2010 Offense-Defense Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. . . . named SuperPrep All-American and 11th-best linebacker nationally . . . rated seventh-best inside linebacker in nationally and among top 250 players nationally by Rivals.com . . . received honorable mention accolades on Orlando Sentinel all-Southern Team following senior year in 2009 . . . played in only five games during senior campaign at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, N.C., due to an ankle injury . . . invited to play in Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and helped North Carolina defeat South Carolina 24-14 . . . ranked sixth-best player in North Carolina by SuperPrep . . . rated ninth-best player in North Carolina by Charlotte Observer . . . recorded 86 tackles with nine sacks and added two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as junior in 2008 . . . made 117 tackles during sophomore season in 2007 and was named to 2007 all-Observer team by Charlotte Observer . . . one of only two sophomores on that team and was joined by current Irish defensive back Robert Blanton . . . helped lead Knights to first state playoff appearance in 2007 . . . became starter on Ardrey Kell’s initial varsity team as freshman in 2006 . . . also competed in basketball and track in high school . . . played for coach Marty Woolbright at Ardrey Kell . . . born Dec. 24, 1991 . . . son of Maurice and Gina Shembo . . . father moved to United States in 1986 from Democratic Republic of the Congo.

7:35 a.m.

Next name added to the official list is Andrew Hendrix:

Andrew Hendrix, QB, 6-3, 226, Cincinnati, OH (Moeller) – Completed 103 of 183 passes for 1,242 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions as senior in 2009 at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio . . . rushed 47 times for 238 yards and six TDs in 2009 . . . completed 15 of 20 throws for 251 yards and two TDs in 2009 game vs. St. Edward . . . helped Moeller to #5 ranking in final 2009 Ohio Division I Associated Press poll with 9-2 record, losing in Ohio Division I Region 4 state playoff quarterfinal to Middletown . . . honorable mention pick on Cincinnati Enquirer Football All-Stars squad for 2009 . . . named to Offense-Defense Top 250, Rivals.com 250 and SI.com/TAKKLE Top 200 lists for 2009 season . . . completed 158 of 292 for 1,731 yards and 11 TDs with eight interceptions as junior in 2008 . . . started for East squad in January 2010 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. . . . played for coach Jon Rodenberg at Moeller . . . born Oct. 23, 1991 . . . son of Rick and Jennifer Hendrix.

7:32 a.m.

Warinner walks into the staff room carrying Austin Collinsworth’s papers and speaking with Collinsworth on his cell:

Austin Collinsworth, WR, 6-1, 195, Fort Thomas, KY (Highlands) – EA Sports second-team All-American as a multi-purpose player …rushed for 1,503 yards and 23 touchdowns on 172 carries in 2009 as a senior at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., while playing as running back, wide receiver and defensive back . . . ran for 229 yards and two TDs on 26 carries in one 2009 game vs. Covington Catholic . . . won Paul Hornung Award for 2009 from Louisville Touchdown Club as top high school player in Kentucky . . . earned first-team Kentucky all-state honors in athlete category in 2009 from Louisville Courier-Journal . . . first-team pick as running back on Cincinnati Enquirer Northern Kentucky Football All-Stars for 2009 . . . Lexington Herald-Leader named him one of 22 players on its Class of the Commonwealth squad for 2009 . . . nominated for Brian Williams “That’s My Boy” Award given by local chapter of National Football Foundation to top scholar-athlete in Northern Kentucky . . . ran for 176 yards (25 carries) and three TDs as Highlands defeated John Hardin 35-7 for final 15-0 mark and third straight Kentucky 5A state title in 2009 . . . caught 46 passes for 840 yards and five TDs as junior in 2008 while earning first-team all-state honors as receiver . . . also played as defensive back as junior in ’08 . . . rushed 18 times for 166 yards and one TD in ’08, returned three kickoffs and two punts for TDs and also intercepted four passes on defense and returned one for a score . . . played safety and returned kicks as sophomore in 2007, intercepting five passes and earning second-team Associated Press all-state honors at defensive back . . . Highlands lost only one game combined over his final three seasons (2007-09) and ranked third on final USA Today listing of top high school teams for ’09 and eighth on ESPN Rise Fab 50 listing . . . one of four players from Kentucky on Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team . . . selected for U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio but did not play due to injury . . . also competed in track as sprinter . . . son of Cris Collinsworth, who caught 120 career passes as collegiate wide receiver at Florida, played eight years (1981-88) with NFL Cincinnati Bengals (earning all-pro honors in 1981-82-83 and catching 417 career passes for 6,698 yards and 36 TDs), and now is analyst on NBC Sports’ Football Night in America Sunday night NFL games (and also does work for the NFL Network) . . . played for coach Dale Mueller at Highlands . . . born Dec. 24, 1991 . . . son of Cris and Holly Collinsworth.

7:28 a.m.

Derek Roback calls Irish assistant Tim Hinton in the staff room on Hinton’s cell phone to tell him his documents have been sent. Says Hinton, “We’re really excited you hopped on board.”

Derek Roback (ROE-back), ATH, 6-3, 225, Waverly, Ohio (Waverly) – Passed for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns as senior quarterback in 2009 at Waverly High School in Waverly, Ohio . . . could not play quarterback in three games as senior due to injury so lined up at wide receiver instead and caught two TD passes . . . named first-team all-district by Associated Press following senior year in 2009 . . . played quarterback, tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker, free safety and returned kicks at different times during his high school career . . . passed for 1,585 yards with 21 TDs as junior in 2008 and also rushed for 480 yards and four TDs . . . started junior season with monster game against Piketon as he accounted for 605 total yards and eight touchdowns in 54-53 victory . . . completed 28 of 48 passes for 422 yards and six TDs in that game . . . rushed for 98 yards with one TD, returned punt 85 yards for TD with under a minute to play in that same game and then completed pass for two-point conversion and victory . . . also added 17 tackles on defense against Piketon . . . played wide receiver and safety as sophomore in 2007 . . . caught 47 passes for 833 yards and 12 TDs during sophomore season . . . recorded 36 tackles and four interceptions in 2007, helping Waverly to 10-2 record . . . named first-team all-district as sophomore by Associated Press . . . received special mention all-state honors as sophomore, junior and senior . . . became starter on Waverly basketball and baseball teams as sophomore in 2007-08 . . . carries 4.0 grade-point average . . . finalist in national punt, pass and kick competition in 2006 . . . father Mike played quarterback at Ohio University and served as quarterbacks coach at Waverly . . . played for coach Rusty Wright at Waverly . . . born Nov. 23, 1991 . . . son of Mike and Susan Roback.

7:23 a.m.

Next on the list is Tate Nichols – with assistant coach Ed Warinner walking into the staff room with his faxed documents.

Tate Nichols, OL, 6-7, 291, Walton, KY (Ryle)- Caught 28 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns as senior tight end and defensive end in 2009 at Ryle High School in Union, Ken. . . . one of 22 players on Class of the Commonwealth squad for 2009 by Lexington Herald-Leader . . . second-team 2009 all-state pick in Kentucky in athlete category by Louisville Courier-Journal . . . first-team selection as tight end on Cincinnati Enquirer Northern Kentucky Football All-Stars . . . nominated for Brian Williams “That’s My Boy” Award given by local chapter of National Football Foundation to top scholar-athlete in Northern Kentucky . . . helped Ryle to 9-4 record in 2009, including second-round Kentucky playoff loss to eventual state champion St. Xavier . . . one of Ryle’s four losses in 2009 came to eventual state champion Highlands team that includes fellow Notre Dame letter-of-intent signee Austin Collinsworth . . . played wide receiver as sophomore, then moved to tight end for junior and senior seasons . . . distant relative of current Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph . . . played for coach Bryson Warner at Ryle . . . born March 19, 1992 . . . son of Dave and Annie Nichols.

7:08 a.m.

Next up is Cincinnati quarterback Luke Massa:

Luke Massa (MASS-uh), QB, 6-5, 205, Cincinnati, OH (St. Xavier) – First-team quarterback on Cincinnati Enquirer Division I Football All-Stars squad for 2009 . . . threw for 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his throws as senior in 2009 for St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati . . . earned all-league honors in 2009 while helping St. Xavier to Cincinnati Greater Catholic League South title . . . helped St. Xavier to final number-four ranking in Associated Press poll to end 2009 regular season – and 9-3 final record following regional semifinal playoff loss to Elder in 2009 Ohio Division I playoffs . . . completed 20 of 28 passes in that Elder game, his final high school contest, for 221 yards and a TD . . . hit 14 of 17 throws for 194 yards and three TDs in first-round state playoff win vs. Centerville . . . completed 66 of 124 passes for 752 yards and three TDs as junior in 208 despite laying in only four games due to collarbone injury . . . career numbers at St. Xavier included 3,496 passing yards and 28 TDs . . . also a starting forward in basketball in 2009-10 for St. Xavier . . . father Gary is former basketball captain at Xavier . . . grandfather Larry Krutko played football as fullback at West Virginia and three seasons with NFL Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958-60 . . . mother Mary is a television personality in Cincinnati real estate market . . . from same high school that produced 2001 Irish captain and current Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Rocky Boiman . . . played for head coach Steve Specht at St. Xavier . . . born Aug. 16, 1991…son of Gary and Mary Massa.

7:05 a.m.

The first fax to arrive comes from Florida and certifies Bruce Heggie:

Bruce Heggie (HEGG-ee), DL, 6-6, 240, Sorrento, FL (Mount Dora) – Played both offense and defense as senior in 2009 at Mount Dora High School in Mount Dora, Fla. . . . caught 16 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns as senior tight end in 2009 and tallied four sacks as defensive end . . . first-team all-Lake/Sumter Counties selection as offensive lineman/tight end following senior campaign by Orlando Sentinel . . . missed first three games of 2009 season due to injury, then returned to help Hurricanes to 6-4 record . . . named one of top 100 players in Central Florida prior to senior year by Orlando Sentinel . . . received honorable mention all-area accolades from Southlake Press following 2009 season . . . ranks 10th in senior class academically with 4.2 grade-point average . . . named academic all-state as senior in 2009 . . . father Bruce Sr. played defensive end at Florida State from 1983-86 . . . played for coach Chad Grabowski at Mount Dora . . . born Oct. 18, 1991 . . . son of Bruce Sr. and Susan Heggie.

6:45 a.m.

Traffic is light around the Gug, on a quiet, overcast and a little bit frosty morning on the Notre Dame campus (high today is 30 degrees).

A handful of assistants are already around the football offices, some of them already studying film of juniors for next year’s candidates for the recruiting cycle.

Dave Peloquin, who has kept the Irish recruiting efforts coordinated in recent weeks, is set up in the staff room (with a ready supply of bagels, just in case) ready for letters of intent to arrive.

Meanwhile, UND.com is already on the air from the top of the Gug auditorium.

For five of the new Irish players, the drama has been over for some weeks because they enrolled at the University for the spring semester and began taking classes in January. They are not required to sign letters of intent. Here they are:

Chris Badger, DB, 6-1, 192, Provo, UT (Timpview) – First-team Utah 4A all-state defensive back for 2009 by both Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City Deseret News . . . named defensive MVP on 2009 all-Valley team selected by Provo Herald . . . ranked 10th-best player and second-best defensive back in Midlands region (Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah) by SuperPrep . . . selected to Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100 team for 2009 . . . one of 12 defensive backs from 11 Western states named to Western 100 … made 77 tackles and had three interceptions as senior safety in 2009 for Timpview High School in Provo, Utah . . . also played as wide receiver . . . Provo Herald all-Valley selection as defensive back as junior in 2008 as one of only two juniors to earn all-state honors . . . led Timpview in tackles as junior in 2008 with 74 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles . . . made 51 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as sophomore in 2007 . . . earned second-team all-conference recognition as sophomore, to go with all-Valley honorable mention notice . . . led Thunderbirds to four straight Utah 4A state titles, as starter each of last three seasons . . . in Utah 4A state title games Timpview defeated Salt Lake City Highland 21-12 in 2006, Pine View 50-7 in 2007 (defensive MVP of that game), Cottonwood 34-28 in 2008 and Springville 35-6 in 2009 . . . helped Timpview to four-year combined record of 49-3 – 11-2 in 2009, 13-0 in both 2008 and 2007 and 12-1 in 2006 . . . led Timpview to four straight Utah 4A Region 7 league titles, including 6-0 conference marks in 2009, 2008 and 2007 and 5-0 record in 2006 . . . enrolled for classes at Notre Dame in January 2010, joining classmates Spencer Boyd, Tai-ler Jones, Tommy Rees and Lo Wood …played for coach Louis Wong at Timpview…born Nov. 20, 1991…son of Rod and Shauna Badger.

Spencer Boyd, DB, 5-10, 175, Cape Coral, FL (Cape Coral) – Intercepted six passes and broke up 12 others while making 53 tackles as a senior in 2009 at Cape Coral High School in Cape Coral, Fla. . . . gained 516 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns as running back in 2009 . . . named 2009 first-team all-area defensive back by Fort Myers News-Press . . . helped Cape Coral to undefeated regular season and Florida District 4A-12 title in 2009 . . . missed both Seahawks playoff games due to injury . . . named all-district as senior in 2009 by Florida Athletic Coaches Association . . . selected to play in John Carrigan Rotary Classic All-Star game in 2009 but did not participate due to injury . . . returned two kickoffs for touchdowns as junior in 2008 – the first for 104 yards against Mariner and the second for 90 yards in playoff loss to Venice . . . rushed for 1,059 yards and 15 TDs as sophomore in 2007, helping Seahawks to Florida Class 5A regional final . . . MVP among running backs at Schuman’s National Underclassman Combine following sophomore season . . . one of five early enrollees at Notre Dame in January 2010, joining classmates Chris Badger, Tai-ler Jones, Tommy Rees and Lo Wood . . . played for coach Mike Goebbel at Cape Coral . . . born Oct. 29, 1991 . . . son of Scott and Monica Boyd.

Tai-ler (TY-ler) Jones, WR, 6-0, 183, Gainesville, GA (Gainesville) – Selected as SuperPrep All-American and 13th-best wide receiver nationally . . . named MaxPreps.com second-team All-American as senior in 2009 . . . finished with 76 receptions for 1,399 yards and 18 touchdowns as senior at Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Ga. . . . also scored TDs via rushing, passing and fumble return in 2009 . . . listed as 35th best player nationally on Sporting News Top 100 . . . ranked 40th-best player nationally by SI.com/TAKKLE . . . listed 68th-best player and 10th-best wide receiver in ESPNU 150 . . . ranked by Scout.com as 138th-best prospect in 2009 . . . Rivals.com ranked him 141st-best player in 2009 … rated on the Offense-Defense 250 list . . . member of Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia Top 50 team . . . selected in 2009 preseason to Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia Super 11 squad . . . named first-team all-state by Georgia Sports Writers Association following 2009 senior season . . . rated 84th nationally on The Kickoff Top 120 . . . selected to play in Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., and caught three passes for 29 yards . . . helped Gainesville to Georgia state championship game in 2009 for first time since 1982 . . . rated sixth-best player in Georgia by SuperPrep . . . selected to Mobile Press-Register Super Southeast 120 team . . . caught 81 passes for 979 yards as junior in 2008 . . . first-team all-state pick by Associated Press and Georgia Sports Writers Association following junior campaign in 2008 . . . helped high school team advance to Georgia state quarterfinals in 2008 . . . averaged 19.6 yards on kickoff returns and 17.5 yards on punt returns as junior . . . one of five players to enroll at Notre Dame in January 2010, joining Chris Badger, Spencer Boyd, Tommy Rees and Lo Wood . . . father Andre Jones was defensive end at Notre Dame from 1987-91 and played on 1988 Notre Dame national championship team . . . uncle is Philip Daniels, defensive lineman with Washington Redskins . . . godfather is former Notre Dame flanker Raghib “Rocket” Ismail . . . played for coach Bruce Miller at Gainesville . . . born July 19, 1992 . . . son of Andre and Jones.

Tommy Rees (REESE), QB, 6-3, 192, Lake Forest, IL (Lake Forest) – Completed 215 of 308 passes for 2,572 yards and 23 touchdowns as senior in 2009 at Lake Forest High School in Lake Forest, Ill. . . . threw for 526 yards and six TDs in one 2009 game versus Bradford (Wis.) . . . also threw for five TDs and 348 yards in 2009 vs. Warren . . . as junior in 2008 completed 195 of 344 passes for 2,170 yards and 21 TDs (including four in 65-52 win over Wauconda) in seasons that ended with Illinois Class 6A first-round playoff loss to Lemont . . . played basketball at Lake Forest until he enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2010 . . . started final six games at quarterback for Lake Forest as sophomore in 2007 . . . brother Danny was junior punter and holder at UCLA in 2009 . . . father Bill is former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for years at UCLA (1979-93) under Terry Donohue, also has worked in scouting and pro personnel for Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers ÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ after playing quarterback at Ohio Wesleyan and serving as an assistant coach at Northwestern (1976-78) for three years . . . played for coach Chuck Spagnoli at Lake Forest . . . born May 22, 1992 . . . son of Bill and Susan Rees.

Lo Wood, DB, 5-11, 176, Apopka, FL (Apopka) – First-team all-Central Florida selection following senior season in 2009 by Orlando Sentinel . . . registered one interceptions and eight pass breakups as senior in addition to 58 tackles, five blocked kicks, and a fumble recovery for Apopka High School in Apopka, Fla. . . . named second-team all-state by SunStateFootball.com . . . ranked 55th on Orlando Sentinel Final Florida Top 100 list, including fourth on Sentinel Final Central Florida Top 100 . . . led Apopka to undefeated regular season and semifinals of Florida Class 6A state playoffs as senior . . . Blue Darters were District 5-6A champions in 2009 . . . led defense during senior season that allowed only 86 points through first 11 games . . . first-team defensive back on all-Metro Conference team for 2009 as selected by Orange County coaches . . . first-team defensive back on all-Orange County team for 2009 by Orlando Sentinel . . . named third-best cornerback in Florida prior to 2009 season by Orlando Sentinel . . . selected one of top players in Florida by SuperPrep . . . totaled 35 tackles, five interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and blocked one kick during junior season in 2008 . . . named all-county by Orlando Sentinel and first-team all-metro following junior campaign . . . named one of top 10 juniors in Florida and only cornerback listed prior to 2009 season by Gainesville Sun . . . four-year starter in high school who transferred to Apopka before junior year after attending Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando as freshman and sophomore . . . intercepted four passes as freshman starter at Dr. Phillips . . . enrolled at Notre Dame in January 2010 along with classmates Spencer Boyd, Tommy Rees, Tai-ler Jones and Chris Badger . . . played for coach Rick Darlington at Apopka . . . born Jan. 15, 1991 . . . son of Lo Wood Sr. and Diana Biles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Und.com Signing Day 2010

1. If it’s the first Wednesday in February, then it’s national signing day in college football – and that means you need to check out UND.com all day tomorrow for exclusive material you can’t get anywhere else.

First, UND.com will present exclusive interviews – the first they’ve offered since enrolling at Notre Dame – with the five Irish freshmen who enrolled in January. One interviews features the two offensive players – quarterback Tommy Rees and wide receiver Tai’ler Jones. The other features the three defensive players – DBs Lo Wood, Spencer Boyd and Chris Badger.

Then, you’ll hear from upperclassmen Ethan Johnson, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Manti Te’o as they relive what the recruiting process was like for them.

These interviews will dropped into the UND.com signing day coverage throughout the day – and by the end of the day they will be archived for you to watch on-demand.

And don’t forget the Dish will be embedded in the Notre Dame staff room with the Irish coaches. When the FAX machine purrs with an arriving national letter of intent, you’ll be the first to know it’s official.

The day will begin on und.com at 7:00 a.m. EST — as the first National Letter of Intent faxes will start arriving at the football offices. The live video stream will remain active the entire day, providing Irish fans with the best coverage of one of the biggest days in the year for college football.

UND.com Signing Day 2010 — presented by Allstate — will include:

– Official announcement of student-athlete letter-of-intent arrivals
– Incoming player highlights and biography information
– Exclusive interviews with Notre Dame’s five early enrollees
– Recruiting stories/flashbacks with current Irish players
– Appearances by head coach Brian Kelly and members of his coaching staff
– Behind-the-scenes access
– Beginning at 12 noon, a recap of the class assembled to that point in the day with comments from und.com’s All-American analysts — Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic
– Coach Brian Kelly’s 4:00 p.m. EST press conference
– A live phone call interview with recruiting analyst Tom Lemming

The Daily Dish at the Dome – UND.com’s athletics blog, will have a Signing Day Special providing live updates from The Gug for those Irish fans who do not have access to video stream during the day

As always, all content on UND.com is completely free of charge and elements of the day’s activities will be posted for on-demand viewing as time permits during the day.

2. Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team looked tired in its fourth game in eight days. The Irish were clinging to a two-point lead against hard-charging Rutgers, and their coach still wasn’t worried. Muffet McGraw’s team just keeps finding ways to win. Skylar Diggins scored 14 points and keyed a late run to help the third-ranked Irish beat Rutgers 75-63 on Monday night.

“It’s the veterans. At the end of the game I’m so confident in this team,” McGraw said. “In timeouts I don’t have anything to say. They know what they have to do and go out and do it.” The Irish are 5-0 since their loss to top-ranked UConn on Jan. 16, but haven’t played their best basketball. Notre Dame (20-1, 7-1 BIG EAST) trailed by double digits against Louisville and West Virginia, and blew a 16-point lead against Syracuse before rallying for a late victory.

“Champions will find a way to win,” said Melissa Lechlitner, who finished with 12 points against the Scarlet Knights. “That’s what made us so successful so far into the season, digging down and finding a way to get a win.” Becca Bruszewski added 13 to help Notre Dame beat Rutgers for the first time since 2005. Notre Dame was leading 44-36 midway through the second half when Rutgers started to rally, cutting the deficit to 52-50 with five minutes to go.

Leading 57-53, the Irish called a timeout and Ashley Barlow hit a three-pointer to extend the advantage to seven and put the game away. “That was a huge shot,” McGraw said. “I thought her three was really big, so important as it stretched the lead a little bit.” Notre Dame trailed 9-5 before going on a 16-4 run over the next 6 minutes. Lechlitner started the spurt with a layup and Diggins added consecutive baskets. The Irish extended the advantage to 12 on Barlow’s three-pointer before Rutgers started pressing and trimmed the deficit to 31-23 at the half.

Notre Dame registered its 20th victory of the season, marking the program’s 16th 20-win campaign in the past 17 seasons and 20th in the 23-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).

3. With the opening day for the 2010 Notre Dame baseball season a little more than two weeks away (Feb. 19 vs. Mississippi Valley State), UND.com wants to help stoke the fires of Fighting Irish baseball fans everywhere with the third annual edition of the Notre Dame Baseball Fan Guide. This handy web page offers a “one-stop shopping experience” for the Irish baseball enthusiast, with links to rosters, schedules and statistics for every one of Notre Dame’s opponents during the upcoming season. In addition, links are provided to each of the weekly national polls, as well as national scoreboard sites. What’s more, fans can click on links to follow the Irish through a myriad of national media outlets, as well as check on Notre Dame’s national RPI rating and where Notre Dame players stand in the race for national awards and honors. And, for the budding baseball fan, convenient links to the NCAA records and rules books, as well as basic statistical guide, are provided. With this feature, fans are sure to have the fingers on the pulse of Notre Dame baseball throughout the coming season. To access the Notre Dame Baseball Fan Guide, click on the sidebar on the right side of the baseball page at UND.com. The Irish will throw out the first pitch on their 2010 season Tuesday, Feb. 16, with their traditional Opening Night dinner inside the Purcell Pavilion. Irish head football coach Brian Kelly and former Notre Dame pitcher and basketball standout Ron Reed will serve as the keynote speakers for this year’s event.

4. If you’re headed to the Notre Dame men’s basketball game Thursday night, be sure you come in Gate 9 to see the new Rosenthal Atrium – with lots more theming in place for the Purcell Pavilion dedication that night.

5. Both Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate received first-team All-America recognition from The Kickoff – and Brian Kelly was the coach of the year for his work at Cincinnati.

6. Of the 22 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools that changed football coaches this past year, 10 of them had Notre Dame connections:

1. Akron – former Irish assistant Rob Ianello took over
2. Buffalo – former Cincinnati coordinator (under Brian Kelly) Jeff Quinn became the new head coach
3. Central Michigan – Dan Enos became head coach after Butch Jones went to Cincinnati to take over when Kelly came to South Bend
4. Cincinnati – Jones became head coach after Kelly took over at Notre Dame
5. East Carolina – Ruffin McNeill became head coach after former Irish player and assistant Skip Holtz left for USF
6. Kentucky – former Irish assistant Joker Phillips became the new head coach
7. Louisville – former Irish assistant Charlie Strong became the new head coach
8. Notre Dame – Kelly became the new head coach
9. South Florida – Holtz became the new head coach
10. UNLV – Bobby Hauck became the new head coach after former Irish assistant Mike Sanford was not renewed


Monday, February 1, 2010

1. The Honolulu Advertiser selected Irish linebacker Manti Te’o as its defensive player of the decade (players from state of Hawaii). Te’o is the only USA Today prep defensive player of the year to come from the state.

2. The sixth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team saw its three-match win streak come to an end Sunday with a 5-2 setback at the hands of No. 17 North Carolina at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame falls to 3-1 on the season, while North Carolina improves to 5-0. With the win, the Tar Heels advanced to the 15-team field at the National Team Indoor Championships.

The Tar Heels earned the doubles point after winning two of three matches. The 12th-ranked duo of Kristy Frilling and Kali Krisik knocked off the sixth-ranked Sanaz Marand and Sophie Grabinski, 8-4, at No. 1 doubles after rallying from a 0-2 deficit. Cosmina Ciobanu and Chrissie McGaffigan battled No. 22 Shinann Featherston and Katrina Tsang, but fell 8-6. Shannon Mathews and Colleen Rielley jumped out to a 5-3 lead, but couldn’t hold back the strong Tar Heel team of No. 28 Haley Hemm and Jocelyn Ffriend, who won the match 8-6 to clinch the point for North Carolina. Grabinski put the Tar Heels up 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Ciobanu at No. 5 singles. Featherston topped Rielley, 6-1, 6-3, at No. 6 to give North Carolina a 3-0 lead. No. 33 Frilling gave the Irish their first point of the day and continued her four-match win streak with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Katrina Tsang at No. 1 singles. The Tar Heels answered quickly and clinched the win with No. 25 Marand’s 6-2, 6-1 win over Mathews at second singles.

The final two matches of the day went to tiebreaker sets as Krisik battled Zoe de Bruycker to a 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (11-9) win, giving the Irish their second point. Despite a hard-fought tiebreaker, McGaffigan fell to Jelena Durisic 6-4, 6-7, 0-1 at No. 3. Up next for the Irish is a 3:00 p.m. (CT) Friday matchup with Kansas at Lawrence.

3. The Notre Dame men’s tennis team swept doubles play and used singles wins from Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.), Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) and David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.) to cruise past the Lobos of New Mexico by a score of 4-1 on Sunday morning. The Irish rebounded from a tough opening-round 4-3 loss to Tulsa at the Indoor Qualifiers to close out the 2010 ITA Kick-off weekend with a win, improving their record to 3-2 on the year.

The 30th-ranked Irish set the tone early, as all three doubles teams claimed wins over 51st-ranked New Mexico. At third doubles, freshman Spencer Talmadge (Hillsborough, Calif.) and Anderson defeated Joe Wood and Conor Berg by a score of 8-5 to stake the Irish to a 1-0 lead. Then at No. 1 doubles, junior captain Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) teamed with Watt to clinch the doubles point with an 8-6 win over Phil Anderson and Carl Ho. Havens and sophomore Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland) completed the Irish sweep with an 8-6 win at No. 2 doubles over Ben Dunbar and Jadon Phillips.

The Lobos tied the match at 1-1 when Phil Anderson defeated Michael Moore (Glenview, Ill.) 6-0, 6-1 at No. 4 singles. But the tie was short-lived as 93rd-ranked Havens reclaimed the Notre Dame lead for good with a 6-4, 6-2 win at his customary No. 2 singles spot. Anderson gave the Irish a 3-1 lead when he downed Wood in straight sets 6-0, 6-4 at No. 4 singles to improve to 3-0 in 2010 dual season singles play. A resilient Watt then clinched the win for the Irish at No. 1 singles with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Carl Ho. After winning the closely contested first set, 18th-ranked Watt fell behind 1-2 in the second set but rallied to win the next five games to seal the Notre Dame win.

With the overall match decided and the regional final between Tulsa and Ohio State still to be played, Blas Moros’ (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Samuel Keeton’s (Kansas City, Mo.) matches at No. 3 and No. 6 singles were not completed. Keeton had been leading 4-2 in the third set of his match when Watt clinched the win.

The Irish are back on the road next weekend as they travel to Durham, N.C., to take on the 18th-ranked Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, Feb. 7 in a noon showdown.

4. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team closed out its weekend in Florida with a strong overall effort as the Irish dropped a 15-11 decision to the U.S. National Developmental Team at Disney World of Sports in the Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event. Facing many of the top young players in the nation, the Irish had nine different players get on the scoresheet led by senior Gina Scioscia with three goals and sophomore Maggie Tamasitis who had two goals and one assist for her three-point game. Freshman midfielder Jenny Granger also had three points while setting up three goals for the Irish.

Joining Scioscia and Tamasitis in the goal-scoring department were Kailene Abt, Shaylyn Blaney, Kate Newall, Ansley Stewart, Megan Sullivan and Maggie Zentgraf with one goal each. The Irish scored the opening goal of the game for their only lead and trailed by one at halftime, 8-7. Notre Dame then scored the first goal of the second half to tie the game at 8-8 but that was as close as the Irish would get in the contest, falling 15-11. Freshman goaltender Ellie Hilling made seven stops in the game for Tracy Coyne’s squad. ?Despite the two losses on the weekend to the top U.S. national teams, Coyne was able to take many positives from the weekend. “In general, I thought our team came down here with a great attitude about facing the top players in the country,” said Coyne after Sunday’s game. “I was very happy with the way we responded after a tough day on Saturday (a 23-7 loss to the U.S. National Elite Team) and did some things well today. We had some great ball movement at times offensively and scored 11 goals. Defensively, we had some good stands and forced turnovers. We just need to put more of both together and be more consistent. We now know what we need to work on to get ready for our season opener in three weeks.”

Notre Dame is currently ranked ninth in the Lacrosse preseason poll and will open the regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 23, when the Irish travel to Hofstra for a 3:30 p.m. game.

5. Notre Dame associate hockey coach Andy Slaggert has been named the winner of the American Hockey Coaches Association’s Terry Flanagan Award for 2010. The announcement was made by the AHCA officers and governors this past weekend. Slaggert, now in his 17th season with the Irish as a coach is one of seven major award winners and will receive the Flanagan Award at the AHCA Convention held in Naples, Fla., from April 29-May 2, 2010. The Terry Flanagan Award is named in honor of the former New Hampshire player and Bowling Green assistant coach and honors an assistant coach’s career body of work.

Slaggert has been involved with Notre Dame hockey program for 20 years, playing three seasons from 1986-89, and then spending 17 seasons as an assistant and associate coach since 1993. The hard-working coach is the program’s link to the past as he has had the distinction of having played for the first two coaches of Notre Dame’s modern era — Lefty Smith and Ric Schafer — and then served as an assistant to Schafer, Dave Poulin and current head coach Jeff Jackson. A tireless worker with a keen eye for talent, Slaggert coordinates the program’s highly successful recruiting plan that includes on-and-off campus recruiting and the observation and evaluation of prospective student-athletes. Known as one of college hockey’s top recruiters, he was promoted in 2008 to associate coach. The veteran coach was honored following the 2008-09 season when he received the program’s Distinguished Alumni Award that is presented each year to an alumnus of the program to acknowledge their accomplishments and the example they set for others as an alumnus of the Notre Dame hockey program.

During Slaggert’s 17 seasons as an assistant, he has been involved in the recruiting of 27 players who were selected in the National Hockey League Draft including five players in 2007, two in 2008 and one in June of 2009. That group includes two players who became the first Irish players ever selected in the first round of the draft — current junior Ian Cole, who was selected by St. Louis with the 18th pick overall in 2007 and freshman Kyle Palmieri, who was selected 26th last June by the Anaheim Ducks. Cole was joined by fellow defenseman Teddy Ruth, forwards Ryan Thang and Ben Ryan and goaltender Brad Phillips in the 2007 Draft. The 2008 draft brought defenseman Sean Lorenz and incoming freshman Nick Larson with Palmieri the lone selection in 2009. They give Notre Dame 10 NHL draft choices on the roster.

Slaggert also has been highly involved with coaching on the national level since 1997. During the summer of 2004, he reached his highest level, when he was named head coach of the U.S. Under-17 select team that went on to finish second at the Five Nations Tournament in Halle, Germany. The previous year (2003), he got his first taste of coaching with USA?Hockey at the international level when he served as an assistant coach on the U.S. Under-18 Select team that captured the gold medal at the Under-18 World Cup held in the Czech Republic. During the summers of 2002-05, the native of Saginaw, Mich., served as head coach at the United States Select 15 tournament held at St. Cloud State. Since 1997, Slaggert has been involved in coaching Michigan Select teams. During the summer of 2000, he coached the Michigan Select 15 Junior Olympic Festival Team. In 1998, he served as a head coach at the Michigan State Select 16 Festival helping evaluate players who were competing for a chance to play in the national tournament. In June, he served as the head coach for the Michigan Select 16 Team that skated to the bronze medal at the National Select 16 Festival in Ann Arbor, Mich. In the summer of 1997, Slaggert served as an assistant coach for Team Michigan at the United States Select 15 Festival. From 1997 to 2004 he served as a head coach and evaluator at the Michigan State Bantam Camp in Big Rapids, Mich.

The 40-year-old Slaggert received his bachelor of arts degree from Notre Dame in 1989. He then went on to earn his master’s degree in physical education from Ohio University in 1991. A right wing for the Irish from 1986-89, Slaggert totaled seven goals and six assists over 55 games during his three-year Notre Dame career. Slaggert’s first venture into coaching came in 1989 with the Amerisport International European Hockey Tour and he returned to Notre Dame in 1992. Slaggert and his wife, Tara, were married in the summer of 1996. The couple resides in South Bend with their sons Graham (10), Landon (7) and Carter (5).

6. The Fighting Irish fencing teams continued to roll on day two of the Northwestern Duals, as the men posted a 4-0 mark Sunday and the women turned in a 7-0 record to close out the two-day event. The men are now 22-0 on the season while the women push their record to 24-0 on the year. Head coach Janusz Bednarksi and his coaching staff not only continued to build momentum by guiding the squad to an 11-0 record on the day, but playing somewhat locally allowed the coaches to showcase the depth of the Irish program as 19 different men’s fencers and 20 women’s fencers had a hand in Sunday’s conquests. Though some new faces contributed to the Irish successes this past weekend, it was veteran epeeist Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) who once again led the team as she posted a 16-0 record. It marked her second straight 16-0 performance (32-0 on the weekend), moving her career mark to 186-23. Hurley, the 2008 NCAA champion, is now fourth on the all-time career wins list for female epeeists at Notre Dame.

The second-ranked men downed Johns Hopkins (21-6), Cleveland State (23-4), Wayne State (20-7) and North Carolina (17-10) on day two of the NWU Duals. Dating back to 2008, the men have not lost a match in their last 66 regular-season contests, which is the fourth longest streak in program history. Notre Dame’s second-ranked women’s team dominated the competition once again, downing the California Institute of Technology (25-2), seventh-ranked Temple (16-11), Lawrence (27-0), Wayne State (19-8), Detroit-Mercy (26-1), Cleveland State (26-1) and sixth-ranked Ohio State (16-11) to close out the 2010 NWU Duals. Dating back to last season, they have now won 48 consecutive regular-season matches, which is the second longest unbeaten stretch in program history.