Sunday, January 31, 2010

1. Some teams just like playing with their backs to the wall. For Notre Dame that might just be what the doctor ordered on Saturday night at the Joyce Center as the Irish hockey team scored three unanswered goals through the first period and held off the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks late rally for a 3-2 win in front of a sold-out Joyce Center crowd of 2,857. After coming out flat on Friday night in a 5-3 loss to the Mavericks, Notre Dame came out buzzing early in the game, getting goals from Calle Ridderwall, Nick Larson and Sean Lorenz to build a 3-0 lead by the 8:25 mark of the second period. From there, they turned things over to freshman goaltender Mike Johnson who turned away 32 of 34 shots on the night, giving up third-period goals to Terry Broadhurst and Rich Purslow (extra attacker goal) for the 3-2 win. After dropping to a tie for seventh in the CCHA with Friday’s loss, the Irish jumped into a tie for fourth place with the victory on Saturday. The loss dropped Nebraska-Omaha from sixth to a tie for eighth as fourth place and ninth place in the conference are now separated by just two points. Notre Dame is now 12-11-7 for the year and 8-8-6-2 in the CCHA, good for 32 points to tie the Irish with Lake Superior State for fourth place. Just one point behind with 31 in sixth place is Michigan and Alaska while Nebraska-Omaha and Ohio State are tied for eighth with 30 points. The Lakers, Wolverines and Buckeyes all have two games in hand on the Irish, Nanooks and Mavericks. Nebraska-Omaha is 13-12-5 overall and 9-11-2-1 in conference play.

Notre Dame’s win also was highlighted by the team’s first-ever “Give Them The Jersey Off Their Backs,” promotion as the Irish auctioned off special commemorative jerseys that were worn in both games of the Nebraska-Omaha series with the proceeds from the auction going to the Wounded Warriors Project. The online auction netted $16,604.60 for 28 jerseys. The Irish also had several benefactors who offered matching donations, including former Irish hockey standout and All-American Greg Meredith. Those contributions added $25,000 to the $41,604.60 total that will go to the Wounded Warrior Project that provides programs and services designed to ease the burdens of these heroes and their families, aid in the recovery process, and smooth the transition back to civilian life. Senior alternate captain, Kevin Deeth, who spearheaded the auction had the highest selling jersey as his was auctioned off for $1,575.00.

The Irish return to action Feb. 5-6 when they travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., for a pair of games against the Western Michigan Broncos. Game time both nights is 7:35 p.m. Notre Dame plays five of its last six games of the regular season on the road.

2. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team opened its exhibition season on Saturday afternoon at rain-soaked Disney World of Sports versus the U.S. National Elite Team at the Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event. The Irish fell behind 12-1 in the first 20 minutes of the game and trailed 14-3 at halftime on the way to a 23-7 loss. Notre Dame was led offensively by Shaylyn Blaney, Gina Scioscia and Ansley Stewart with two goals each — while freshman Betsy Mastropieri added a single goal. Maggie Tamasitis had one assist in the game.

Former Irish standout Jillian Byers ’09 (3g, 3a) led Team USA in the victory. After trailing 14-3 to start the second half, the Irish rallied early in the second half, scoring four of the first five goals to cut the lead to 15-7. Freshman goalkeeper Ellie Hilling made 10 saves in goal for Notre Dame. The Irish returned to action today against the U.S. Developmental Team at Disney World of Sports.

3. Sam Young and Eric Olsen both started on the offensive line and Kyle McCarthy made four tackles (two solo, two assists) off the bench to help their North team win the Senior Bowl college all-star game 31-13 yesterday in Mobile, Ala. Two Brian Kelly-coached quarterbacks helped the North win – Cincinnati’s Tony Pike (five of 12 passing for 45 yards) and Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour (five of 10 for 97). LeFevour ran for one touchdown and threw 32 yards for another TD to Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard, another Kelly pupil. Gilyard was the game MVP with five catches for 103 yards.

4. Mike Rosario scored 24 points and Hamady Ndiaye blocked two shots by Luke Harangody in the final minute as Rutgers ended a nine-game men’s basketball losing streak with a 74-73 victory over Notre Dame Saturday. James Beatty hit three free throws in the final 31.1 seconds as the Scarlet Knights (10-11, 1-8) became the last Big East team to win a game in the conference this season. Harangody had 19 points to lead Notre Dame (15-7, 4-5). Ben Hansbrough added 18, including two three-pointers in the final three seconds and Tim Abromaitis had 17 as the Irish lost for the fourth time in five games.

5. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw winced when Ashley Barlow launched from beyond the arc in the final minute and the third-ranked Irish trailed Syracuse by a basket. But Barlow, who had missed her previous four three-point attempts, was true from the right wing with 34.2 seconds left and Notre Dame escaped with a 74-73 victory Saturday at Syracuse. The Irish finished two of 12 in the period from beyond the arc against the fired-up Orange zone, which was victimized for eight threes in the first half. “That three was so big. We ran a play for her to get it and we executed well, screened well,” McGraw said. “Despite my screaming the entire half to stop shooting the three, she just kept her poise and made it.” Juanita Ward’s three-point play had given the Orange a 73-71 lead with a minute left, but Barlow got open on the wing and saved Notre Dame (19-1, 6-1 BIG EAST), which has beaten Syracuse (16-5, 3-5) 22 times in 23 meetings. “We just had to stay with it. We didn’t hold our heads down,” said Barlow, who tied her season high with 19 points. “We knew that we had to get a couple of rebounds at the end of the game. We knew we had to make a stop.” The Orange’s aggressive defense limited Notre Dame to 25 percent shooting (seven of 28) in the second half and they repeatedly drove the ball inside, outscoring the Irish 22-6 in the paint in the period (38-20 overall). “Defensively, we couldn’t guard the ball,” McGraw said. “They got to the line 37 times. We did a poor job of containing the ball. We did a poor job on the boards. We just really didn’t play our game, and yet despite all the foul trouble and ice-cold shooting in the second half, we managed to hold onto the win.” Syracuse also outrebounded Notre Dame 49-34, but was undone by 25 turnovers and 14 missed free throws. “We didn’t let them get us rattled,” said Irish freshman guard Skylar Diggins, who matched her season high with 21 points. “We knew what we had to do to get calmed down. Their defensive pressure really picked up. They really got after it, had a lot of energy in the second half. We held it together.” The Irish survived despite squandering a 16-point lead in the opening minutes of the game. Syracuse began the second half with a 21-5 spurt to erase a 14-point halftime deficit and make it a game as the Irish went cold, hitting just four of their first 18 shots of the period. Notre Dame won its 10th consecutive game in the series and improved to 23-2 all-time against Syracuse (11-1 on the road, 11-game road win streak). Notre Dame canned a season-high 10 three-pointers, the most for the Fighting Irish in a single game since March 3, 2002, when they also made 10 treys in an 84-79 loss to Syracuse in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Piscataway, N.J.

6. Senior diver Natalie Stitt set a University and Rolfs Aquatic Center record Saturday off the three-meter board with a score of 376.20, leading the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team to a pair of dual meet wins to wrap up the Shamrock Invitational. Stitt, the defending BIG EAST champion in the one- and three-meter events, bettered Heather Mattingly’s school record (351.15) set on Jan. 26, 2001. Furthermore, she bumped ahead of the pool record (333.82) established by Meghan Perry-Eaton on Jan. 12, 2002. Stitt’s performance was flanked by four more wins by the Irish (2-5), who picked up dual meet victories over Denver (275-94) and Iowa (260-110). No. 21 Missouri dealt Notre Dame a 190-180 setback. Iowa defeated Denver, 225-143, while Missouri downed Iowa (269-101) and Denver (276-93). Notre Dame also received NCAA B-cut swims from Samantha Maxwell (100 breast) and Kim Holden (200 back). The additional Irish wins were posted by Megan Farrell (400 IM), Maxwell (100 breast), Holden (200 back) and the 400 free relay squad. Notre Dame now looks ahead to the 2010 BIG EAST Championships hosted by Pittsburgh. The defending champions take part in the league’s diving action Feb. 12-14, with the swimming portion held Feb. 17-20 at Trees Pool. Notre Dame seeks its 14th consecutive BIG EAST title to extend the league’s longest streak by any team any sport.

7. The 30th-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team dropped a heartbreaking decision to #35 Tulsa, 4-3, Saturday in the first round of the ITA Indoor Kickoff weekend. Participating at the Ohio State regional in Columbus, Ohio, the Irish raced to an early 3-1 lead behind solid play at doubles as well as first and fifth singles. The Irish got on the board first in the match, tallying the doubles point for the third time in four matches this season. Victories at second and third doubles propelled the Irish to an early lead against Tulsa. After junior Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and sophomore Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) were defeated at first doubles, 8-4, junior Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Hill Christian School) and sophomore Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) knotted the doubles score by knocking off Alastair Barnes and Marko Ballok, 8-4. Junior David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) and junior Dan Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) clinched the point for the Irish at third singles with an 8-5 victory over Rusty Turpin and Grant Ive. Notre Dame increased its lead to 2-0 over the Golden Hurricane when freshman Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest School) made short work of Tulsa’s Ive, 6-2, 6-0, at fifth singles. Moros, ranked 74th nationally, improved to 3-1 on the season. Watt gave Notre Dame a 3-1 lead by winning at first singles, defeating Philip Stephens. After dropping the first set to Stephens, 6-1, Watt rallied to win the second set, 6-3, before cruising to a 6-2 victory in the third set. With the outcome of the match hanging in the balance and players from both teams cheering on, Stahl and Barnes played a three-set thriller. Stahl won the first set 6-3 before the see-saw affair began in the second set. Barnes claimed the second set, 7-6 (7-5), forcing a decisive third set. With Barnes leading 5-4, he served for the match and closed out Stahl and the Irish, allowing Tulsa to advance to the regional championship. With the loss, the Irish moved to the consolation match against 51st-ranked New Mexico this morning. The Lobos were defeated by third-ranked Ohio State, 7-0, earlier Saturday.

8. The Irish track and field squads wrapped up competition on a high note at the Indiana Invitational Sunday, earning 17 top-five finishes, including four first-place showings at the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse in Bloomington. The Irish took the top spot in the men’s 4×800-meter relay, while Eric Quick narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships and won the men’s long jump. Notre Dame also garnered first-place accolades from Joanna Schultz in the women’s 400-meter invitational and Nevada Sorenson in the women’s 60-meter hurdles. The Irish return to the Loftus Sports Center next weekend when they host the Meyo Invitational Friday at Saturday.

9. The sixth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team advanced to the final match of the ITA Kickoff Weekend with a 6-1 win over No. 46 DePaul Saturday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish faced No. 17 North Carolina today with the winner advancing to the ITA National Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis., Feb. 12-15. Notre Dame took the early 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point. The 12th-ranked duo of Kristy Frilling and Kali Krisik knocked off No. 9 Anna Redesci and Selma Salkovic, 8-2, at No. 1 doubles, but Cosmina Ciobanu and Chrissie McGaffigan fell to Katarina Milinkovic and Gia McKnight, 8-3, at second doubles to even the match. Colleen Rielley and Shannon Mathews held off a rally by Sandra Zmak and Kirsten Gambrell to take the No. 3 doubles contest 8-5 and clinch the point for the Irish. No. 30 Frilling put the Irish up 2-0 with her 6-0, 6-2 win over Redesci at No. 1 singles. Notre Dame moved ahead 3-0 when DePaul’s Gambrell was forced to retire her match at No. 6 singles against Colleen Rielley. McGaffigan clinched the win for the Irish after topping Katarina Milinkovic, 6-4, 6-0, at third singles. Krisik downed Zmak, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 4 singles, and Ciobanu edged McKnight, 7-5, 6-4, to give Notre Dame a 6-0 lead. Salkovic defeated Mathews, 7-6, 7-5, at No. 2 singles to avoid the sweep. In earlier action, No. 17 North Carolina defeated No. 33 Boise State, 7-0. The Tar Heels won all three doubles matches, before sweeping the singles contests for the win.

10. Christopher Johnson and Joseph Raycroft led the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team to a clean sweep of the breaststroke events Saturday to close the Shamrock Invitational at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Johnson went 57.34 in the 100-yard version while Raycroft logged a 2:05.36 in the extended race, as Notre Dame (5-6) picked up a 245-124 win over visiting Denver in dual meet action. Iowa (197-171) and Missouri (197-173) each defeated the Irish on Senior Day. Iowa defeated Denver (236-125) and Missouri (184.5-183.5) to leave the invite with a trio of wins. Missouri defeated Denver, 235-134. The Hawkeyes’ 400 and 800 free relays recorded NCAA B-cuts. Notre Dame now looks ahead to the 2010 BIG EAST Championships hosted by Pittsburgh. The defending champions take part in the league’s diving action Feb. 12-14, with the swimming portion held Feb. 17-20 at Trees Pool.

11. It was a successful first day in the Windy City Saturday for the Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams, as both teams picked up sweeps during action at the Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Ill. The men improve to 18-0, while the women run their mark to 17-0. The Irish men’s team went 8-0 on the day, remaining undefeated on the season. The Irish scored wins over Detroit Mercy and Stanford in the morning session, before finishing the sweep with victories #10 Duke, #4 Princeton, Lawrence, Northwestern, arch-rival #3 Ohio State and UC San Diego. The tightest round of the day was with the third-ranked Buckeyes, but the Irish picked up a strong 8-1 mark at sabre to remain undefeated. The Irish men were led by perfect marks from junior foilist Zach Schirtz (Rochester, N.Y.), freshman foilist Grant Hodges (Salina, Kan.) and junior sabreist Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.), while senior epeesit Kelly Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) went 16-0 to lead the women.

The Irish women’s team also completed a sweep of the day’s action. Notre Dame started off strong by scoring over 20 victories in wins over Fairleigh Dickinson, Stanford and UC San Diego. Things then got a little more interesting, when following a 17-10 win over Duke, Notre Dame needed overtime to beat Princeton, 15-12. The foil came up big in overtime, when after tying the weapon 12-12, Reese, Sarkisova and Malynn all scored overtime wins to capture the victory for the Irish. Notre Dame capped the day with wins over North Carolina and Johns Hopkins. Both teams are in the midst of record-setting regular-season win streaks. The men’s team has now won 62 straight matches, which is the fourth-longest streak in school history. They have a ways to go to continue moving up the list, but next in their sights is a 90-match streak from 2000-2004. The women’s streak improves to 41 straight victories, which is tied for the third-longest such run in program history. A victory in their first match on day two of the NU Duals will tie them for the second-longest streak (1986-88), while they continue to make a run at the longest streak, a 75-match run from 1993-1996.

12. Official dedication ceremonies for Purcell Pavilion take place Thursday when the Irish men’s basketball team plays host to Cincinnati.

13. Stay tuned on Wednesday for college football’s National Signing Day – as the Daily Dish will be embedded with the Irish football coaching staff and will bring you immediate reaction and confirmation as letters of intent arrive on the scene. Also watch und.com for complete coverage of the events of the day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

1. Notre Dame has been picked to finish second in the inaugural season of the BIG EAST Conference men’s lacrosse league. The conference’s head coaches casted the votes and were not permitted to vote for their own teams. Syracuse was tabbed to win the league with six first-place votes, while Notre Dame received one first-place nod. Rounding out the order of finish was Georgetown, Villanova, Rutgers, St. John’s and Providence. Men’s lacrosse is the 24th sport sponsored by the BIG EAST and is the 11th men’s sport. The seven teams will play a six-game single round-robin regular-season schedule.

Four Notre Dame student-athletes were named to the 2010 All-BIG EAST Preseason Team. Senior Scott Rodgers was the lone goalie selected to the 15-man squad. Fellow seniors Sam Barnes (D), Neal Hicks (A) and Grant Krebs (M) also were chosen for the all-conference team.

Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.), a preseason first-team All-American according Inside Lacrosse, is coming off a campaign in which he ranked first among all NCAA Division I goalies in goals-against average (6.14) and save percentage (.663). He earned third-team All-America honors last season. Rodgers, a two-time team captain, was named the 2009 Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) Player of the Year. Barnes (Branford, Conn.) was an anchor on the Irish defense that led the nation with a program-record 6.19 goals-against average during the 2009 campaign. He started every contest and notched one assist and 28 ground balls en route to earning honorable mention All-America honors. Barnes has been tabbed as a preseason second-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) had a breakout season in 2009 as he led Notre Dame with 43 points on 25 goals and 18 assists. All of those figures were career-best marks for the attackman. Hicks, a team captain, notched a point in every game last season and netted a goal in all but three contests. He received second-team all-GWLL honors in 2009. Krebs (Annapolis, Md.), a preseason second-team All-American according to Inside Lacrosse, deposited 29 goals and assisted on nine others last season. His 38 points were the most by an Irish midfielder and helped him earn a first-team all-GWLL citation. Krebs will carry team-best streaks for points (32) and goals (28) into the 2010 campaign.

Notre Dame is ranked 10th in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. The Fighting Irish open the 2010 campaign at Duke on Saturday, Feb. 20. Notre Dame went 15-1 last season and earned the #7 overall seed for the NCAA Championships.

2. Look for Notre Dame Blue-Gold football tickets to go on sale Tuesday, March 16. Once again there will be a Saturday morning brunch with Irish football players, as well as sales of seats in the Notre Dame Stadium press box. Proceeds from the game benefit the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley and its scholarship fund. The Blue-Gold game is set for Saturday, April 24 – and that’ll be a busy weekend with the Irish baseball and softball teams playing at home, the BIG EAST tennis championships happening on campus, to go with the formal dedication of the new Irish soccer facility.

3. As national signing day approaches, SI.com (the Sports Illustrated site) lists the top 15 recruiting classes of all-time – and number one on the list is Notre Dame’s class from 1946. That group over the next four years never lost a football game (1946-49) and included ’49 Heisman Trophy winner Leon Hart and classmates and first-team All-Americans Emil Sitko at running back and Jim Martin at tackle.

4. Notre Dame women’s lacrosse coach Tracy Coyne has announced the 2010 women’s lacrosse team captains for the upcoming spring season that gets underway this weekend at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where the Irish face the U.S. National Team and Developmental Team in a pair of preseason games. Seniors Rachel Guerrera (Wantagh, N.Y.), Gina Scioscia (Summit, N.J.) and Maggie Zentgraf (Charlottesville, Va.) will be joined by junior Shaylyn Blaney (Stony Brook, N.Y.) as the team’s four captains as selected by their teammates.

Guerrera, a two-time monogram winner, opens the 2010 campaign as a starter on defense for the third consecutive season. A tough, tenacious defender, she was a second team IWLCA West/Midwest all-region selection a year ago and will be in the running for all-BIG EAST and All-American honors this year. As a junior, Guerrera was fifth on the team with 33 ground balls and third in caused turnovers in helping the Irish to a 16-5 season, Notre Dame’s first BIG EAST championship and a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals. Off the field, she was selected to the IWLCA academic honor roll with a 3.49 grade-point average with a double major in American Studies and Film, Television and Theatre.

Scioscia, a three-time monogram winner, enters her senior season as the team’s top returning scorer after she finished second in scoring a year ago with career highs in goals (53), a school record for assists (43) and 96 points. Those totals earned her second team all-American honors and second team all-BIG EAST recognition for the first time in her career. The 53 goals were the sixth-best total in the program’s history while the 96 points was the third highest in the program’s history. Her totals were fifth in the NCAA in points and sixth in assists for the year. Scioscia is Notre Dame’s all-time assist leader with 82 assists while ranking ninth in goals (77) and sixth in points (159).

Zentgraf is a two-time monogram winner who is a well-respected team leader on and off the field. The senior brings versatility to the Irish lineup as she has seen action at both midfield and attack during her career. She is a key member of the team’s draw control unit and has that whatever-it-takes attitude that every team needs. As a junior, Zentgraf appeared in all 21 games, scoring six goals with one assist for seven points. She had 15 draw controls, six ground balls and three caused turnovers.

Blaney rounds out the group of captains and is the lone junior in the group. A two-time monogram winner, she was a first team all-BIG EAST selection and a second team IWLCA/US Lacrosse All-American following at midfield following her sophomore campaign. An all-around midfielder who is strong at both ends of the field, Blaney was fourth on the team in goals (44) and points (470 in 2009. She tied for seventh on the team in ground balls (31), was second in draw controls (46) and fifth with 16 caused turnovers. Blaney, a sophomore midfielder, was a second team IWLCA/US Lacrosse All-American for the first time in her career. A first team all-BIG EAST selection, she was fourth on the Irish in goals (44) and points (47). After just two seasons with the Irish, she is already among the top 10 at Notre Dame in several categories – goals (eighth – 87), points (10th – 99) and draw controls (ninth -88).

5. Keith Law of ESPN.com and ESPN Scouts, Inc. recently released his top 100 Major League Baseball prospects heading into the 2010 season. He also included a list of 10 more prospects that just missed the final cut, including former Irish center fielder A.J. Pollock – 2009 MLB first round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to Law, Pollock, amongst others, earned serious consideration but didn’t make the cut for one reason or another and included brief notes on why he wasn’t in the top 100 and a thought or two on his future. “He could very well jump into the middle of the list next year. He’s an athletic college kid who plays in the middle of the field and handles the bat well. Arizona pushed several of its draftees aggressively in their first summers, and Pollock, like Matt Davidson and Bobby Borchering, didn’t have great results. I’ve said this elsewhere, but I could see Arizona adding four or five guys to next year’s master list.” The rankings are limited to players who still have rookie eligibility; that means they have yet to exceed 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors and have not yet spent 45 days on the active roster of a major league club, excluding call-ups during the roster expansion period after Sept. 1. Only players who have signed professional contracts are eligible.

6. Nebraska-Omaha snapped a 2-1 Notre Dame lead with four unanswered goals on the way to a 5-3 hockey win over the Irish on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 3,007 at the Joyce Center. The Irish scored all three goals on the power play with Ben Ryan, Kyle Palmieri and Brett Blatchford all lighting the lamp on eight tries with the man advantage. The loss dropped Notre Dame into a seventh-place tie with Ohio State as the Irish fell to 11-11-7 overall and 7-8-6-2 in the CCHA, for 29 points. That puts them one behind Nebraska-Omaha as the Mavericks improve to 13-11-5 on the year and 9-10-2-1 for 30 points in conference play. The UNO win snapped a six-game Irish winning streak versus the visiting Mavericks. The loss also dropped the Irish to 6-7-3 at the Joyce Center, just a year after going 13-3-2 on home ice. Tonight, the Irish players will be “giving the shirts off their backs,” following the game. Since last Friday, the commemorative jersey that Notre Dame will wear in just the two games of the series have been available for bidding in an auction with the proceeds going to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. Fans can bid on the jerseys at und.com/auctions until 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Following the game, fans in attendance that have the winning bids will receive their jerseys on the ice.

7. Freshman Bill Bass won the 200 individual medley Friday evening at the Rolfs Aquatic Center in a season-best 1:50.70 to give Notre Dame its lone win in men’s swimming and diving action against three visiting teams. Notre Dame leads Denver (77-33) but trails Iowa (66-43) and Missouri (59-51) through the opening session of the Shamrock Invitational. Day two of the invite began this morning.

8. Amywren Miller registered an NCAA B-cut performance in the 50 free with a 23.01 to earn one of three Notre Dame wins Friday to open the Shamrock Invitational at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Miller was joined in the win column by Natalie Stitt (1-meter diving) and the 200 free relay tandem. In fact, Miller also anchored the relay squad that was led by Amy Prestinario, Lauren Scott and Kellyn Kuhlke. The Irish pace the four-team field in the non-conference swimming and diving event which is being scored as separate dual meets between each squad. Notre Dame leads Denver (89-21), Iowa (71-39) and Missouri (70-40) heading into the Saturday morning session.

Friday, January 29, 2010

1. The Denver Broncos promoted linebacker coach and former Irish graduate assistant coach Don “Wink” Martindale to defensive coordinator yesterday. Martindale replaces Mike Nolan, who parted ways with the Broncos Jan. 18 because of philosophical differences with head coach Josh McDaniels. Nolan was named the defensive coordinator in Miami last week. Denver’s defense was ranked No. 7 in the NFL under Nolan. However, the unit tired toward the end of the season as Denver finished 2-8 and out of the playoffs after a 6-0 start. Martindale, 46, came to Denver after serving as the Oakland Raiders’ linebackers coach since 2004. He was an Irish graduate assistant coach in 1994-95.

2. Starting this year, the Paul Hornung Award will honor the nation’s most versatile college football player. The Louisville Sports Commission announced Wednesday the creation of the new award, named after the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame. Hornung played quarterback, defensive back and kicked for the Fighting Irish. During his Heisman-winning senior season he led Notre Dame in passing, rushing, scoring, kickoff and punt returns, punting, field goals and points after touchdowns. He went on to a Hall of Fame career as a running back with the Green Bay Packers. The winner will be picked by a selection committee of 12-16 former players and media members, including former New York Giants quarterback and current CBS analyst Phil Simms.

3. The Feb. 1 edition of Sporting News has this to say about Notre Dame’s Golden Tate: “The Bengals are scouting WRs Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State) and Golden Tate (Notre Dame) heavily, with the hope one will fall into their lap at No. 21. Both have the speed, athleticism and playmaking ability to stretch the defense and get the offense into the red zone quickly.”

4. Also from Sporting News, the magazine rates the BCS coaching changes for 2010 based on “who is most likely to win immediately” and lists USC #1, Cincinnati #2, Notre Dame #3, Kansas #4, Louisville #5, South Florida #6, Texas Tech #7, Tennessee #8 and Virginia #9. Of Brian Kelly and the Irish, the publication wrires, “Questions about the quarterback – Can a banged up Dayne Crist replace Jimmy Clausen? – will mark the Irish’s offseason. Questions about the defense – Can they stop anyone? – will loom until midseason. The program will have to trust Kelly – and his .744 winning percentage as a head coach – to be successful in 2010.”

5. Also in Sporting News, there’s a list of the 10 best college basketball transfers and Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough makes the second team of five players, with this notation: “The Irish expected him to make shots, but he has made a potent offense more lethal with his playmaking skills.”

6. Although #3 Notre Dame didn’t solve its problem of starting slow, it looked a lot better in the first half against Providence than in its past three games. The Fighting Irish (18-1, 5-1 BIG EAST), who had fallen behind by double digits in their previous three women’s basketball games, trailed for just 13 seconds after Providence scored the first basket and broke the game open with a 13-2 run midway through the first half en route to an 84-59 victory Wednesday night. “I thought we were a little sloppy. I didn’t think we had quite the intensity maybe that we needed to start the game,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “But overall, offensively, I thought we did some good things.” Lindsay Schrader scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, Natalie Novosel had 12 and Becca Bruszewski, Skylar Diggins and Ashley Barlow had 10 points each. “I don’t know what’s the deal,” Schrader said. “Our team doesn’t really kick it into second gear until the second half, that’s me included. I don’t know.” Notre Dame’s backups outscored Providence’s 31-13. “We’re wearing people down in the second half because of the depth we have,” McGraw said. Providence coach Phil Seymore said the Irish are a joy to watch except for when on the opposing bench. “They do a wonderful job of passing. They all have a lot of intangibles individually with that team. They’re very skilled, shoot the ball really well. I think that’s what makes them a very good basketball team,” he said. “It’s not like they have enormous height or anything like that. They really are one unit. They really play together.” The Irish led 35-22 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 5-0 burst to take an 18-point lead. “They did a lot of different things to disrupt the way we play,” Seymore said. “They threw a lot of different things at us that threw our rhythm off. We never had a chance to settle in.” Schrader narrowly missed becoming the first Fighting Irish player in six years to record three consecutive double-doubles, a feat last pulled off by Jacqueline Batteast in the 2004 NCAA Championship (vs. Missouri State, Middle Tennessee and Penn State). Senior center Erica Williamson nabbed three rebounds, putting her 10 away from becoming the third active Fighting Irish player with 500 career rebounds (Connecticut is the only BIG EAST school with three active 500-rebound players).

7. The sixth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team will take to the courts at the Eck Tennis Pavilion for the first time this season when they host Boise State, DePaul and North Carolina as part of the ITA Kickoff Weekend. No. 33 Boise State and No. 17 North Carolina will face off in the weekend’s first match at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by Notre Dame and No. 46 DePaul at 3 p.m. Saturday’s winners will face off on Sunday with the team winning both its matches advancing to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis., Feb. 12-15. The losers of Saturday’s contests will also play a consolation match on Sunday. The Irish are 2-0 this season after convincing wins at Iowa and Wisconsin. Notre Dame topped the Hawkeyes, 6-1, before sweeping the Badgers, 7-0.

8. Season tickets for Notre Dame’s 2010 men’s and women’s lacrosse home schedules are currently on sale through the Notre Dame ticket office. Season passes are $15 for youth (21 and under) and seniors (55 and older) and $20 for adults. A fan pack that includes four season passes is available for $50. Season passes include tickets to all men and women’s lacrosse games played at the new Arlotta Stadium. The women’s lacrosse team will open their home slate versus Duquesne on Feb. 27, while the men’s team will begin home play on Feb. 28 against Penn State. Both contests will take place inside the Loftus Sports Center. Tickets will be required starting on March 16 with the men’s game against Denver in Arlotta Stadium. In the event of inclement weather, games held inside the Lofuts Sports Center will not be ticketed. Season passes feature tickets to all games played at Arlotta Stadium, including the men’s games against, Denver, Ohio State, Rutgers, Providence and Syracuse. The women’s games against Vanderbilt, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse and Cincinnati are included in the season pass. Both Fighting Irish squads are ranked in the preseason top 10 nationally. The men posted an undefeated regular season one year ago and are entering their first season of BIG EAST Conference play. The Irish women will look to defend their 2009 BIG EAST title.

9. Single-game tickets for Notre Dame’s upcoming hockey game versus Michigan (Feb. 27) will go on sale Monday, Feb. 1 at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are available at the new Murnane Family Ticket Office located at the South Side of the Joyce Center at Gate 9 inside the Rosenthal Atrium, by calling the ticket office at 574-631-7356 or on-line at und.com. The Notre Dame ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Michigan game on Saturday, Feb. 27 will start at 7:05 p.m. and been declared a “White Out” night as all fans are encouraged to wear white to the home finale versus the Wolverines. That game is also Senior Night for the graduating class of 2010 and a commemorative poster courtesy of Papa Vinos will be given out that night. There is limited availability for this game and order limits may apply. Available tickets for the Michigan game range in price from $6.00 to $14.00. For more ticket information on the Michigan game or any Irish hockey home game, contact the Notre Dame ticket office at 574-631-7356.

10. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher each scored 17 points to help #3 Villanova get off to the best start in history–a season after advancing to the NCAA Final Four–with a 90-72 win over Notre Dame on Wednesday night. The Wildcats are 19-1 for the first time and are the only Big East team unbeaten in conference play (8-0). Led by Reynolds, Fisher, Antonio Pena and Co., Villanova has won 10 straight games and is in the mix for the top spot next week in The AP poll. Reynolds and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody were each expected to state their cases for Big East player of the year. Harangody delivered on his end for the Irish (15-6, 4-4) with 21 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes. Harangody played hard until the end and kept alive Notre Dame’s early bid for its first win over a top-10 team on the road since 2001. Reynolds’ final numbers weren’t overly impressive until a big spurt at the end. He scored nine straight points during Villanova’s 11-0 run over the final four minutes that put this one away. Reynolds’ first three of the game put the Wildcats up 84-67, then he swiped the ball away from the Irish and accelerated uncontested to the other end for a fastbreak layup that gave the Wildcats the push they needed to go ahead by 20-plus. For 30 minutes, this was a shot-for-shot game that kept the Irish within single digits. Tim Abromaitis scored 16 points for Notre Dame. The Irish coughed up valuable points with a 19-for-30 night from the free-throw line.

11. Notre Dame fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill.) is one of seven players who have been added to the 2009-10 State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List, it was announced Thursday by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Schrader and her fellow mid-season additions earned their spots on this year’s Wade Watch List by virtue of their on-court performances to date during the ’09-’10 campaign, and they expand the player pool for this season’s national player-of-the-year award to 32, as selected by the State Farm Wade Trophy Committee. Schrader, a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection and three-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll choice this year, becomes the fifth Notre Dame player named to the Wade Watch List in the past seven seasons, and the first since Charel Allen in 2007-08.

12. Check out the Senior Bowl at 4:00 p.m. EST tomorrow on the NFL Network — and look for former Irish players Sam Young, Kyle McCarthy and Eric Olsen. Among those watching the Senior Bowl workouts this week has been new Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

13. Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick spoke in Fort Wayne, Ind., yesterday and had this to say about Notre Dame’s new football coach, Brian Kelly, according to the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette: “He’s extraordinarily strategic. Everything he does, and I mean everything, relates to winning. The smallest decision about the locker room or the players’ lounge or the schedule, all ties back to that goal. That level of strategic thought, I think is critical of a college head coach.” Here are more Swarbrick comments:

On the state of Notre Dame athletics: “I’m especially proud of the thing that for us means the most. We are competitively successful, but we won the national championship in academics. We were first in the country in graduation success rate. Our football program was tied for first. To be a top 20 Directors’ Cup school, that is to say we compete well in a lot of sports, and No. 1 in the academic measure of success, I couldn’t feel better about that.”

On the football program and coach Brian Kelly: “We are very optimistic. One of the things I was focused on in the search (for the next football coach) was really making sure that we were bringing in somebody who had a full program. Who understood all the elements of winning football. Brian has proven that. Nineteen years as a head coach, remarkable at his age, 18 winning seasons. We’ve made a number of changes in strength and conditioning, athlete nutrition, scheduling…All the little things that combine to help make a difference.”

On Notre Dame’s football coaching staff: “When you are in the process of hiring a head coach, one of the things you discuss is staff. How he intends to form the staff and whether he has ideas about specific people. All along, I had an idea of where we were headed and participated in the interviews we had with everybody. Couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a very cohesive staff. What they share in common is an extraordinary interest in being at Notre Dame. To have a head coach at Grand Valley State (defensive backs coach Chuck Martin) come and be an assistant coach, and to have some other guys, who were in great positions, come …Part of it is their relationships with Brian, but part of it is, many of them have longed for an opportunity to coach at Notre Dame. And that is what you want.

On Notre Dame’s football recruiting during the coaching transition: “I’m very pleased. People focus on the one or two that you lost. If we wind up, at the end of the day, losing two or three that’s great. We don’t want to lose anybody, but in a transition, we are getting some kids we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. On balance, I’m very, very pleased. One of the things we wanted to do was get this staff on the ground and running as quickly as we could. I think we are reaping the rewards of that strategy.”

On the addition of a training table for the football team to eat dinner at Monday through Friday: “Nutrition is really important. It is one of those ‘Delta items,’ as they say, the difference maker. If you don’t do it, that’s when you realize how important it is. We think it will help a lot. It is part of a larger effort to focus on athlete performance in all of our sports. The football training table is the first pilot program. We will do another one, probably launch it in another month or so, for some other sports.”

On the 2011 and 2012 football schedules, and the speculation of an off-site game between Notre Dame and Maryland in Washington D.C. in 2011: “We are close. There has been a lot of speculation about one of the off-site games, but we are close on that one. The other pieces of the schedule are falling in line.”

14. Media reports indicate two more former Irish assistant coaches from 2009 have been hired – Corwin Brown as defensive backs coach by the NFL New England Patriots and Bernie Parmalee as tight ends coach by the NFL Kansas City Chiefs (where he will re-unite with Charlie Weis). Brown played for the Patriots from 1993-96.

15. Former Notre Dame fencer Mariel Zagunis will be honored Feb. 24 at halftime of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh men’s basketball game in recognition of the sabre gold medal she won at the 2009 World Championships in October in Turkey.

16. ESPN.com has published a review of the college football signees from four years ago – and includes Notre Dame four-year offensive tackle starter Sam Young as a member of its All-2006 Team.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1. The University of Notre Dame is ranked 17th overall – and had eight of its Irish sports programs ranked in the top 15 — in STACK magazine’s third annual survey of the colleges and universities with the best combination of academic and athletic excellence. Published in the magazine’s holiday issue, the STACK Elite 50 College Rankings survey the country’s 50 leading college sports programs based on academics, athletic opportunity and overall performance. The survey also includes specific rankings for 21 sports.

The survey’s methodology included overall academic rankings based upon 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” survey, athlete graduation rates (the current NCAA Academic Progress Rate figures), national sport-specific rankings (from ’07, ’08 and ’09, based on recognized polls), win-loss records over the last three seasons — and the STACK factor (strength of athletic community in terms of support and prowess through the 21 sports rated).

The top 20 universities are: Stanford, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, USC, Michigan, UCLA, Duke, California, Texas A&M, Virginia, Arizona State, Florida State, Ohio State, Georgia, Penn State, Notre Dame, Maryland, Washington and Connecticut. The STACK assessment of the Notre Dame program said, “Notre Dame’s ‘Four Horsemen’ for the 21st Century: hockey (#2), women’s soccer (#2), men’s soccer (#3) and lacrosse (#3).”

STACK provides information and entertainment to high school athletes through its magazine, a Web site and other media.

Eight Notre Dame varsity sports programs rank among the top 15 in the country within their respective sports in the STACK survey. The Irish hockey and women’s soccer programs ranked number two overall in competition with other programs around the country. Men’s soccer and men’s lacrosse both finished third, women’s tennis was ninth, men’s cross country was 10th – and men’s basketball and men’s tennis both stood 15th.

Here are the various tables in which Notre Dame rates mention (individual sports charts included only the top 15 schools):

Top 20 universities overall (with total points listed) — 1. Stanford 100, 2. Florida 84.17, 3. North Carolina 83.17, 4. Texas 72.61, 5. USC 65.08, 6. Michigan 62.06, 7. UCLA 58.67, 8. Duke 54.9, 9. California 46.11, 10. Texas A&M 45.98, 11. Virginia 40.95, 12. (tie) Arizona State and Florida State 34.67, 14. Ohio State 34.05, 15. Georgia 31.41, 16. Penn State 30.65, 17. Notre Dame 28.52, 18. Maryland 24.12, 19. Washington 23.49, 20. Connecticut 21.99.

Women’s Soccer – 1. North Carolina, 2. Notre Dame, 3. UCLA, 4. Stanford, 5. USC, 6. Florida State, 7. Florida, 8. Texas A&M, 9. Texas, 10. Virginia, 11. Portland, 12. Duke, 13. Penn State, 14. Oklahoma State, 15. California.

Hockey – 1. Michigan, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Boston University, 4. Miami (Ohio), 5. Boston College, 6. Princeton, 7. Denver, 8. New Hampshire, 9. Minnesota, 10. Yale, 11. Cornell, 12. Michigan State, 13. North Dakota, 14. Colorado College, 15. Vermont.

Men’s Soccer – 1. Wake Forest, 2. Maryland, 3. Notre Dame, 4. Northwestern, 5. Indiana, 6. California, 7. Duke, 8. UNC-Greensboro, 9. Connecticut, 10. Virginia, 11. Harvard, 12. Michigan, 13. Brown, 14. UCLA, 15. Creighton.

Men’s Lacrosse – 1. Duke, 2. Virginia, 3. Notre Dame, 4. Cornell, 5. North Carolina, 6. Johns Hopkins, 7. Princeton, 8. Syracuse, 9. Navy, 10. Maryland, 11. Brown, 12. Colgate, 13. Georgetown, 14. Loyola, 15. Ohio State.

Women’s Tennis – 1. Stanford, 2. California, 3. Florida, 4. Duke, 5. USC, 6. Northwestern, 7. UCLA, 8. Georgia, 9. Notre Dame, 10. Michigan, 10. Georgia, 11. North Carolina, 12. Georgia Tech, 13. Baylor, 14. Miami (Fla.), 15. Vanderbilt.

Men’s Cross Country – 1. Stanford, 2. Wisconsin, 3. Oregon, 4. Virginia, 5. Iona, 6. Georgetown, 7. Colorado, 8. Oklahoma State, 9. William & Mary, 10. Notre Dame, 11. BYU, 12. Minnesota, 13. Washington, 14. Texas, 15. Alabama.

Men’s Tennis – 1. USC, 2. Virginia, 3. Ohio State, 4. UCLA, 5. Georgia, 6. Florida, 7. Texas, 8. North Carolina, 9. Stanford, 10. Michigan, 11. Florida State, 12. Duke, 13. Wake Forest, 14. Illinois, 15. Notre Dame.

Men’s Basketball – 1. North Carolina, 2. UCLA, 3. Kansas, 4. Duke, 5. Memphis, 6. Texas, 7. Michigan State, 8. Pittsburgh, 9. Davidson, 10. Florida, 11. Stanford, 12. Louisville, 13. Wisconsin, 14. Georgetown, 15. Notre Dame.

2. This spring the University of Notre Dame will be hosting the sixth ND Relay for Life, “Fightin’ Irish – Fightin’ Cancer” on campus to benefit the American Cancer Society. The Relay is unique as it is one of only two University events that include all of campus – students, faculty, staff and family members.

Date: Friday, April 16 beginning at 6:00 p.m. through Saturday, April 17 until 9:00 a.m.

Location: Notre Dame Stadium

Ceremony Schedule:
Opening Ceremony – 6:30 p.m., Friday
The fun starts at the very beginning! All aspects of the University come together to embrace Relay for Life and make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Luminaria Ceremony – 9:00 p.m., Friday
It is during the Luminaria Ceremony that the true meaning of Relay for Life hits home. Participants take a lap in silence to reflect on the people whose names are inscribed on the glowing tributes. This ceremony is a powerful testimonial as to why we Relay.

Closing Ceremony – 8:00 a.m., Saturday
The closing ceremony celebrates the accomplishments, success, camaraderie and efforts of the committee, team captains and participants. Awards are presented at this time to winning teams and individuals who have raised the most money. The grand total of money raised from the Relay will also be announced. All individuals are invited to participate in the final lap.

Team Information
Who is a Team? Staff, Faculty, Students, Clubs, Halls, Teams and their families. What is a Team? A team usually consists of eight-20 members. A member from each team is asked to be on the track at all times. Teams can decide the length of time each member will be on the track and how often. Team Fundraising: Each team member is asked to solicit pledges or participate in fundraising projects.

Honorary Chair
This year, we will also recognize Rich O’Leary, a 38-year employee of the University who worked in the Athletic Department as the Men’s Lacrosse Coach and as the Director of Intramurals and Club Sports. Last July at age 62, Rich lost his battle with cancer.

Register your team via the website at www.relayforlife.org/ndin


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1. Notre Dame junior forward Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) has been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the second time during the 2009-10 campaign. He averaged 28.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as the Irish split a pair of contests with fifth-ranked Syracuse and DePaul at Purcell Pavilion. Abromaitis was big for the Irish on ESPN’s Big Monday (Jan.18) against the Orange, putting up 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, including five of 11 from three-point range. He also added three assists and two rebounds in the contest.

The forward followed that up by leading the Irish with 30 points in a 87-77 win over rival DePaul on Saturday (Jan. 23) in the 100th meeting between the two schools. Abromaitis connected on nine-of-16 shooting from the field, including five of nine from beyond the three-point line, while adding three assists and six rebounds. For his efforts, he was given the Wendell Smith Award, given annually to the most-valuable player in the Notre Dame vs. DePaul game. In league games only, Abromaitis ranks seventh in the BIG EAST in scoring at 18.4 points per game. His 22 three-pointers in conference contests rank behind only 24 by Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell.

2. For the third time this season and the second time in three 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 Monday by the conference office. Diggins becomes just the fourth Fighting Irish rookie ever to earn three BIG EAST Freshman of the Week citations in a single season, joining Ruth Riley (three in 1997-98), Alicia Ratay (six in 1999-2000) and fellow Washington High School alum Jacqueline Batteast (six in 2001-02).

In addition, fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill.) notched her own triple, making her third appearance on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll this season after both she and Diggins helped the Irish to a pair of comeback victories in BIG EAST play last week, including their fifth win over a ranked opponent this year.

3. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association announced Monday that two Notre Dame hockey players have been selected players of the week for their play during the Lake Superior State series Jan. 22-23. Senior defenseman Kyle Lawson (Sr., New Hudson, Mich.) was named the CCHA defensive player of the week for the second consecutive week and the third time this season — while freshman goaltender Mike Johnson (Verona, Wis.) was the league’s goaltender of the week for the first time in his career. Both players were instrumental in Notre Dame’s 6-1 win over Lake Superior on Friday night and the 1-1 overtime tie on Saturday as the Irish limited the Lakers to just two goals on the weekend.

Lawson, the CCHA’s top defensive, defenseman in 2008-09, showed why this weekend as he recorded a pair of assists, six blocked shots and was +4 for the two-game series. In Friday’s 6-1 win, Lawson assisted on two of Calle Ridderwall’s (Stockholm, Sweden) three goals in his natural hat trick in the second period, had two shots on goal and two blocked shots. He also was on the ice for all five Notre Dame even-strength goals, giving him a +5 for the game. Johnson continued his impressive freshman season for Notre Dame as he stopped 71-of-73 (.973) Lake Superior State shots in 125 minutes of playing time while giving up just two goals on the weekend. In the 6-1 win on Friday night, Johnson gave up the first goal of the game at 2:01 of the first period and then slammed the door on the Lakers, stopping 26-of-27 shots on the win. On Saturday night, Johnson had a career-high 45 saves in the game as the two teams battled to a 1-1 tie in 65 minutes. In the shootout, he gave up the only goal of the extra time as the Lakers took a 1-0 win for the extra point in the standings.

4. Among those New York Jets assistant coaches whose contracts have expired and will not be renewed is assistant quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who was a graduate assistant coach at Notre Dame in 2001-02. John’s father Gene is the athletics director at Boston College.

5. Randy Hart, Notre Dame defensive line coach in 2009, has joined fellow former Irish assistant Brian Polian on the Stanford football staff.

6. The spring sports seasons are not yet in full bloom, so you may not have noticed that Notre Dame currently has six teams ranked in the national top 10: men’s fencing is #2, women’s fencing #2, women’s basketball #4, women’s tennis #6, women’s lacrosse #9 and men’s lacrosse #10.

7. Ever wake up in the middle of the night imagining you are running out of the Notre Dame Stadium tunnel with the University of Notre Dame football team? Then the 2010 Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp is for you. Held June 7-10, 2010, the Notre Dame Fantasy Camp will be run by new Irish head coach Brian Kelly and his assistant coaches and support staff, along with current Fighting Irish players and numerous former Notre Dame greats. That group will provide daily hands-on instruction and interaction with camp participants. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Notre Dame Monogram Club. You can register at http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/2010-fantasy-camp.html or direct questions to Chad Klunder, Director of Football Operations, Phone: 574-631-8643 — Email: cklunder@nd.edu .

8. As Notre Dame athletic teams kick into high gear for 2010, we take a last look at the past decade for Irish sports. Here’s a compilation of what each squad accomplished during the decade (winter seasons for 1999-2000 are used for sports that stretch over parts of two calendar years). You can decide which programs you think achieved at the highest levels:

* Notre Dame Men’s Sports (in alphabetical order)

— 2002 College World Series participant
— Seven NCAA appearances, including 18 wins in NCAA play
— Four BIG EAST regular-season titles in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006
— Five straight BIG EAST Tournament titles from 2002-2006
— 421-192-4 record (.685), including 51-12 in 2004 and 50-18 in 2002

— Five NCAA appearances, including five wins in NCAA play
— Four NIT appearances, including eight wins in NIT play, one championship game appearance in 2000 and one other semifinal appearance in 2009
— BIG EAST West Division title in 2001, overall BIG EAST regular-season runner-up in 2008
— 210-115 overall record (.646), including 25-8 in 2007-08 and 24-7 in 2006-07

Cross Country
— Eight NCAA appearances, including third in 2005, sixth in 2001 and ninth in 2000
— Three BIG EAST titles in 2001, 2004 and 2005

— Two NCAA titles in 2003 and 2005 (combined with women), plus three runner-up finishes and three third-place finishes
— Three Midwest Fencing Conference titles and seven runner-up finishes
— 239-16 overall record (.937), including 33-0 in 2009, 25-0 in 2001, 23-0 in 2003, 18-0 in 2002

— Three BCS appearances in 2000 (Fiesta Bowl), 2005 (Fiesta Bowl), and 2006 (Sugar Bowl).
— Gator Bowl appearance in 2002, Insight Bowl in 2004, Hawaii Bowl win in 2008
— 70-52 overall record (.573), including 10-3 in 2002 and 2005, 9-3 in 2006

— Three NCAA appearances, including 34th in 2004
— Three straight BIG EAST titles from 2004-06 and three other runner-up finishes

— Four NCAA appearances, including 2008 NCAA title game and four wins in NCAA play
— Two CCHA regular-season titles in 2007 and 2009
— Two CCHA Tournament titles in 207 and 2009
— 187-164-50 (.528) overall record, including 32-7-3 in 2006-07 and 31-6-3 in 2008-09

Indoor Track
— Seven NCAA appearances, including 21st in 2002
— Two BIG EAST titles in 2003 and 2007

— Six NCAA appearances, including four wins in NCAA play
— Seven Great Western Lacrosse League regular-season titles
— Two GWLL Tournament titles (only two years event was held)
— 102-41 overall record (.713), including 15-1 in 2009, 14-2 in 2001, 14-3 ion 2008

Outdoor Track
— Seven NCAA appearances, including 21st in 2001
— Six BIG EAST titles in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009

— Nine straight NCAA appearances from 2001-09, including nine wins in NCAA play
— BIG EAST regular-season title in 2004
— Two BIG EAST Blue Division titles in 2007-08
— One BIG EAST Tournament titles in 2003 and two other runner-up finishes
— 124-61-28 overall record (.648), including 16-3-4 in 2003, 13-3-3 in 2004, 15-6-2 in 2006

— One NCAA appearance in 2008 (41st)
— Four BIG EAST titles in 2005-06 and 2008-09
— 79-42 overall record (.652), including 10-2 in 2005 and 2006 and 11-3 in 2002 and 2007

— Nine NCAA appearances, including six wins in NCAA play
— Five BIG EAST titles in 2002, 2004-05, 2007-08 and four other runner-up finishes
— 170-90 overall record (.653), including 26-4 in 2007, 23-7 in 2002

* Notre Dame Women’s Sports (in alphabetical order)

— NCAA title in 2001
— Ten straight NCAA appearances, including 17 wins in NCAA play
— Tie for BIG EAST regular-season title in 2001
— 239-85 overall record (.738), including 34-2 in 2000-01

Cross Country
— Seven NCAA appearances, including third in 2002
— Three BIG EAST titles in 2002, 2003 and 2005

— Two NCAA titles in 2003 and 2005 (combined with men), plus three runner-up finishes and three third-place finishes
— Five Midwest Fencing Conference titles and five runner-up finishes
— 242-21 overall record (.920), including 26-0 in 2004, 29-1 in 2006

— Four NCAA appearances, including 46th in both 2008 and 2009
— Three BIG EAST titles in 2003-04 and 2008 and two other runner-up finishes

Indoor Track
— Six NCAA appearances, including 21st in 2004
— Two BIG EAST titles in 2002 and 2006 and four runner-up finishes

— Five NCAA appearances, including national semifinals in 2006, and four wins in NCAA play
— BIG EAST Tournament champion in 2009
— Four BIG EAST regular-season runner-up finishes
— 105-66 overall record (.614), including 15-4 in 2006, 16-5 in 2009, 13-5 in 2002

Outdoor Track
— Seven NCAA appearances, including 24th in 2009
— One BIG EAST title in 2007 and four other runner-up finishes

— Four NCAA appearances (two by varsity eight boat only), including ninth in 2006
— Six straight BIG EAST titles from 2004-09 and three other runner-up finishes

— NCAA title in 2004
— Ten straight NCAA appearances, including two runner-up, three other national semifinal appearances and 32 wins in NCAA play
— Nine BIG EAST regular-season titles
— Six BIG EAST Tournament titles
— 211-30-8 overall record (.862), including 26-1 in 2008, 25-1-1 in 2006 and 2004 and 23-1-1 in 2000

— Ten straight NCAA appearances, including 17 wins in NCAA play
— Six straight BIG EAST regular-season titles from 2000-05
— Five BIG EAST Tournament titles in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009
— 432-172-1 overall record (714), including 54-7 in 2001

— Nine NCAA appearances, including 18th in 2000 and 19th in 2002 (actually 10 — but no points were scored in 2008)
— Record 10 straight BIG EAST titles
— 76-20-1 overall record (.788), including 10-0 in 2000 and 2002, 10-1 in 2001, 9-1-1 in 2003, 8-1 in 2007

— Ten straight NCAA appearances, including national semifinals in 2009 and 18 wins in NCAA play
— Six BIG EAST titles in 2001, 2003, 2005-06, 2008-09 and four other runner-up finishes
— 210-77 overall record (.731), including 27-2 in 2006, 28-4 in 2007, 28-5 in 2009

— Eight NCAA appearances (seven straight from 2000-06), including five wins in NCAA play
— Seven BIG EAST regular-season titles, six straight from 2000-05, then 2009
— Five BIG EAST Tournament titles in 2000-02, 2004-05
— 217-90 overall record (.706), including 30-4 in 2005

If our math is correct, all of that success equates to a combined record of 3,334-1,334-92 (.710) for the decade, 181 NCAA appearances, 40 regular-season conference championships and 88 conference tournament championships (including cross country, golf, fencing, tennis, swimming and track and field that do not have regular-season conference competition).

Included in that total are two combined NCAA titles in fencing in 2003 and 2005, an NCAA women’s basketball title in 2001, an NCAA women’s soccer title in 2004, an NCAA College World Series appearance in baseball in 2002, an NCAA Frozen Four appearance in hockey in 2008, an NCAA “Final Four” appearance in women’s lacrosse in 2006, plus five other NCAA College Cup appearances in women’s soccer.

8. The Baltimore Ravens have hired former Notre Dame assistant coach Dean Pees as their new linebackers coach, head coach John Harbaugh announced this morning. Pees enters his seventh year coaching in the NFL after serving the past six seasons with the New England Patriots as their defensive coordinator (2006-09) and linebackers coach (2004-05). A 37-year coaching veteran, Pees was the head coach at Kent State from 1998-2003 and spent 15 other seasons as a defensive coordinator on the collegiate level. Notre Dame’s secondary coach in 1994, Pees also coached with former Irish defensive coordinator and current Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison at the Naval Academy, where Mattison was the defensive line coach from 1987-88.

9. Fundraising efforts held in conjunction with two University of Notre Dame home basketball games have resulted in more than $250,000 in donations that will go toward relief efforts in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation on Jan. 12. Through the generosity of fans and alumni, as well as contributions from the University and the Notre Dame Monogram Club, the money was raised at the men’s and women’s basketball games that were played Jan. 23 and 24, respectively, at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame donated full gate receipts and net concession revenue from both games to the relief effort. In addition, a collection organized by the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council raised more than $25,000 from fans and alumni who contributed during the games. The Monogram Club added a $10,000 matching gift to the student total. Money raised will benefit short-term needs and long-term rebuilding efforts in Haiti and will be distributed to the Notre Dame Haiti Program, which works to eradicate the debilitating mosquito-borne disease lymphatic filariasis; the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has served in Haiti since 1944 and was heavily affected by the earthquake; and Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.


Monday, January 25, 2010

1. Who knows what postseason NCAA competition will hold for Notre Dame’s fencing teams later this spring? But it’s hard to argue with having both your men’s and women’s teams defeat the #1 teams in the country on the very first weekend of regular-season competition. The Irish fencing teams did just that yesterday and turned in another flawless performance as the men and women combined to post an 8-0 record at the St. John’s Challenge in Taffner Field House. Included in those eight wins were two triumphs over defending national champion Penn State. The men downed the top-ranked Nittany Lions 16-11. After jumping out to a 2-1 lead in the match, the men never trailed. The second-ranked Notre Dame men’s squad also notched wins over eighth-ranked St. John’s (16-11), seventh-ranked Harvard (19-8) and sixth-ranked Columbia (23-4) to push their season record to 10-0. The Notre Dame women’s squad defeated the top-ranked squad from Penn State in much more dramatic fashion. After trailing 2-0, the Irish tied the match at 2-2. The teams then traded runs, with Notre Dame pulling ahead by a 6-2 margin, only to see Penn State come back with wins in four of the next five bouts to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 7-6. The teams then traded blows until Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) gave the Irish a 13-11 lead with her third sabre win of the match. Again, Penn State rallied to tie the match at 13 wins apiece setting the stage for a dramatic final bout that saw junior foilist Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) beat Olga Ostatnigrosh 5-2 to earn the 14-13 win for the Irish. The second-ranked women also earned wins over St. John’s (14-13), third-ranked Harvard (17-10), and fourth-ranked Columbia (18-9) to push their season record to 10-0.

The Irish fencing teams opened their 2010 season in style at the New York University Invitational Saturday at the Jerome S. Coles Sports Center, winning all 12 matches they participated in including a sweep of rival Ohio State to cap off the performance. The Irish were led by sophomore epeeist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), who turned in a perfect 15-0 mark on the day. The second-ranked men earned wins over ninth-ranked Yale (17-10), sixth-ranked Columbia (20-7), Stevens Tech (22-5), eighth-ranked St. John’s (18-9), NYU (20-7) and third-ranked Ohio State (16-11). The women, who are also ranked second, earned wins over tenth-ranked Yale (17-10), fourth-ranked Columbia (15-12), fifth-ranked Northwestern (17-10), St. John’s (17-10), NYU (23-4) and sixth-ranked Ohio State (14-13). The women’s win over Columbia was particularly impressive as they came back from a 0-5 deficit.

2. If her Irish take an early lead this week in games against Providence or Syracuse, Muffet McGraw may not know what to do. That’s after yet another impressive come-from-behind performance yesterday – this one against an 18-1 West Virginia team that had won 16 straight and after the Mountaineers led by 11 points at halftime and by 13 in the second half. As it turned out, #16 West Virginia could contain fourth-ranked Notre Dame and Lindsay Schrader only for a half. After being held without a shot in the first half, Schrader went six for eight from the floor in the second half and scored eight of her 16 points during a decisive run as the Fighting Irish rallied for a 74-66 victory yesterday. That come-from-behind effort came five days after the Irish wiped out a 12-point deficit to win at Louisville. “In the second half, Schrader just took over,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. “She got physical with us. Every time we got physical we got a foul called. She took over. I think she was the key.” McGraw said the Irish usually turn to Schrader when they need a key basket. “Everybody on our team knows when we’re not scoring we’re going to try to find Lindsay,” McGraw said. “Not to the exclusion of anybody else, but that’s going to be a look we want because she has so many mismatches. They had guards trying to guard her down there and we needed to take advantage of that.” The Irish trailed 44-31 after Madina Ali scored the opening basket of the second half, and trailed 49-39 when Vanessa House hit a three for the Mountaineers (18-2, 5-1 BIG EAST). But the Irish responded with a 16-3 run led by Schrader, who repeatedly scored baskets inside. Natalie Novosel capped it with a baseline runner that gave the Irish a 55-52 lead. The Irish put the game away with a 10-1 burst late to take a 74-63 lead. Skylar Diggins added 15 points for the Irish, Melissa Lechlitner had 12 and Ashley Barlow had 10 points and a career-high seven assists. The Irish (17-1, 4-1) turned the ball over only three times in the second half after having 14 turnovers in the first half. The Fighting Irish improved to 5-1 against ranked opponents while the Mountaineers fell to 1-2 against ranked teams. The loss also ended a 16-game winning streak for West Virginia, the second longest in school history.

For the second consecutive season, the Fighting Irish have registered five wins over ranked opponents, their highest total since the 2004-05 season, when they had seven Top 25 victories. Senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner celebrated her 22nd birthday on Sunday by scoring in double figures for the sixth time in the past seven games. Notre Dame welcomed its second sellout crowd of the season (also Vanderbilt on Dec. 31) and eighth in the program’s history, with 9,149 fans in attendance at Purcell Pavilion. All the proceeds (gate receipts and net concessions revenue) from Sunday’s game, as well as Saturday’s home men’s basketball contest vs. DePaul, are being donated by the Notre Dame athletics department to assist in the relief and rebuilding efforts associated with the earthquake in Haiti earlier this month; in addition, members of the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) circulated through the crowd at both home games this weekend, collecting donations for the cause — the total donation amount from the basketball games and SAAC collections (expected to be in excess of $100,000) should be determined this week.

3. After having a fairly easy night on Friday night in Notre Dame’s 6-1 win over Lake Superior State with 26 saves, freshman goaltender Mike Johnson came up big on Saturday night, stopping a career-high 45 shots as the Irish battled the Lakers to a 1-1 tie at Taffy Abel Arena. Lake Superior picked up the extra point in the standings by winning the shootout, 1-0, in three rounds. Freshman left wing Nick Larson got the lone Irish goal, tying the game at 11:22 of the third period, just 23 seconds after the Lakers’ Zach Trotman scored Lake Superior’s only goal of the night. In the shootout, Lake Superior’s Domenic Monardo got the lone goal, beating Johnson through his pads on the Lakers’ first shot. Goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson stopped Notre Dame’s Ben Ryan, Calle Ridderwall and Ryan Thang on their shootout chances for the shootout win. The tie gives Notre Dame an 11-10-7 overall record while the Irish get one point in the CCHA standings and are now 7-7-6-2, good for 29 points and all alone in sixth place, just one point behind fifth-place Alaska. Lake Superior goes to 14-9-5 overall and the Lakers are now 9-8-3-2 in conference play, good for 32 points in the standings and they remain in fourth place in the CCHA playoff race.

The tie extends the Notre Dame unbeaten streak versus Lake Superior State to 12 games (9-0-3) since December of 2005. The Irish return to action on Friday, Jan. 29, when they play host to Nebraska-Omaha for the start of a two-game series at the Joyce Center. Face off is set for 8:05 p.m. With the tie, Notre Dame is now 1-0-7 in overtime games this season. The seven ties are the most for the Irish in a season since the 2000-01 campaign. Notre Dame is now 3-4 in the shootout this year. Defenseman Brett Blatchford saw his team and career-high eight-game point and assist streak (0-11-11) snapped in Saturday’s contest. His streak began on Dec. 13 versus Michigan.

4. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team split a pair of home matches on an eventful Sunday inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion. In its first match, Notre Dame dropped a 7-4 decision to second-ranked Virginia, but the Notre Dame rebounded to post a 7-0 win over IUPUI in the nightcap. Junior David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) and Sophomore Sam Keeton (Kansas City, Mo./The Pembroke Hill School) led the way for the Irish, as each player recorded two singles wins and Anderson chipped in with a doubles win as well. After one weekend of play, the Irish now stand at 2-1 on the season.

5. Notre Dame doesn’t have a direct connection to the Super Bowl in terms of active players (only the seventh time in 44 games Notre Dame has not had at least one player on one of the active rosters). But former Irish cornerback Terrail Lambert is part of the Colts’ practice squad – while former Irish all-star and all-pro kicker John Carney assists with the SaintsÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½ kicking game.

6. When Irish coach Muffet McGraw entered Purcell Pavilion yesterday just prior to the start of the Notre Dame-West Virginia game, fans held up placards that read “600” — denoting McGraw’s 600th career victory Tuesday night at Louisville. McGraw became the 19th NCAA Division I coach to record 600 career wins, and tied former Saint Peter’s coach Mike Granelli for 10th on the list of fastest D-I coaches to 600 victories (both McGraw and Granelli hit the mark in game #839); McGraw now has a career record of 601-239 (.715) in her 28th season as a collegiate coach, including a 513-198 (.721) record in 23 years at Notre Dame.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

1. Tim Abromaitis scored 30 points, Luke Harangody added 24 and Ben Hansbrough had 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to pace Notre Dame to an 87-77 win over DePaul today at Purcell Pavilion in the 100th meeting between the two schools. The Fighting Irish (15-5, 4-3 Big East), who ended a two-game losing streak, started the game with a 7-0 run, and the Blue Demons never got closer than five. DePaul used a 7-2 run to close to 77-71 with 69 seconds left on a three-pointer by Mike Stovall. But Harangody scored on an alley-oop pass from Abromaitis with 59 seconds left, then added two free throws with 49 seconds left to put the game way. Notre Dame didn’t commit its first turnover until Hansbrough had the ball stolen with 10:32 left in the game. The Irish finished with a season-low two turnovers (compared to 22 assists). Will Walker led DePaul (8-11, 1-6) with a career-high 35 points on 15-of-30 shooting.

2. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team earned a dramatic 4-3 win over William & Mary Friday night in their 2010 season opener. Notre Dame took a 3-0 lead but the Tribe battled back to make it 3-3 before sophomore Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland) secured the win with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory at #3 singles. With the overall match and Fitzgerald’s third set with Jamie Whiteford both tied at 3-3, Fitzgerald broke, held and broke serve for the win. “Certainly some of our guys played with some jitters which you would expect in a first match and William & Mary came in here prepared having already played six matches so I think they were ready to go,” said Irish head coach Bobby Bayliss. “I feel like we had to pull out all the stops to win but hopefully being in such a tough match will make us better for the next match,” Bayliss added. Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla.) earned Notre Dame’s first singles win as he made quick work of Adrian Vodislav at #5 singles 6-0, 6-1. With the win in his dual season debut, 74th-ranked Moros gave the Irish a 2-0 lead as Notre Dame had already claimed the doubles point. Then, 93rd-ranked Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) put the Irish up 3-0 with a straight sets win at #2 singles. After falling behind 3-2 in the first set, Havens downed Anton Andersson 6-3, 6-3. The Irish earned the doubles point with victories at the #1 and #2 positions. After falling behind 5-4, the tandem of Havens and Fitzgerald took down William & Mary’s Vidal and Vodislav 8-5 for Notre Dame’s first doubles point. Then Watt and junior captain Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) completed a center court comeback to give Notre Dame the doubles point. Watt and Davis had fallen behind the Tribe’s pairing of Juneau and Ilja Orre, 6-5, but the Irish duo broke, held and then broke serve again to clinch the doubles point.

3. The Irish women scored 126.50 points to win the Notre Dame Invitational Saturday in indoor track and field action at the Loftus Sports Center. Notre Dame topped Louisville with 108 points, followed by Michigan State in third with 102.50. The Irish men finished second with 113.50 points, behind the Spartans with 126. Louisville finished third with 100.50 points in the men’s competition. Competing in their first scored meet of the season, the Irish added a second NCAA provisional qualifying mark. as Joanna Schultz won the women’s 400 meters with a time of 53.82. The Notre Dame men were a force in the pole vault as well — with Kevin and Matt Schipper finishing first and second, respectively. Notre Dame took home the top honors in a number of events, including the men’s shot put, the women’s 500 meters and the women’s triple jump. Athletes were awarded points based on finish, with first place taking seven points, second earning five, third place receiving four, fourth place earning three points, fifth place receiving two points and sixth place taking one point. Each school’s top two athletes were allowed to earn points in each event. Notre Dame will continue competition next weekend at the Indiana Invitational. Here are details of events won by the Irish:

— Women’s Triple Jump: Jasmine Williams was the top jumper with a mark of 11.37m (37-3 3/4).
— Men’s Pole Vault: Kevin Schipper was the top vaulter with a mark of 5.05m (16-6 3/4), followed by Matt Schipper in second at 5.05m (16-6 3/4).
— Men’s Shot Put: Denes Veres won the event with a toss of 17.00m (55-9 1/4), followed by Andrew Hills in third at 16.30m (53-5 3/4).
— Women’s 60m Hurdles: Nevada Sorenson set a BIG EAST qualifying standard with a first-place time of 8.56, followed by Kali Watkins, also setting a BIG EAST mark, in third at 8.74.
— Women’s 400m: Joanna Schultz took the top spot with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 53.82.
— Women’s 500m: Samantha Williams won the event with a time of 1.14.94, followed by Natalie Johnson in second at 1:15.31. Williams and Johnson qualified for the BIG EAST Championships.
— Women’s 800m: Kelly Langhans took the top spot with a time of 2:11.34, followed by Allison Schroeder finished third at 2:13.78. Langhans and Schroeder recorded BIG EAST qualifying marks.
— Men’s 800m: Jack Howard won the event with a time of 1:50.57, followed by Michigan State’s Stephen Humes (1:15.10) and Joe Banyai (1:52.46) finished second and third, respectively. Blake Choplin finished fourth in 1:52.61, Kevin Labus finished fifth in 1:52.93, Cameron Eckert was sixth in 1:53.25, Mitch Lorenz was seventh in 1:53.48 and Trent Sayers finished eighth with a time of 1:54.56. Howard, Choplin, Labus, Eckert, Lorenz and Sayers all met BIG EAST qualifying marks.
— Women’s 1000m: Molly Sullivan qualified for the BIG EAST Championships with a first-place time of 2:52.42. Abby Higgins set a BIG EAST qualifying standard in third at 2:53.90.
— Men’s 1000m: Johnathan Shawel finished first with a BIG EAST qualifying time of 2:25.05, followed by Daniel Clark in second, also qualifying for the conference meet, at 2:27.10.
— Women’s 3000m: Lindsey Ferguson won the event with a time of 9:39.85, followed by Jessica Rydberg in second at 9:59.68 and Beth Tacl in third at 10:01.20. Erica Watson was fourth in 10:06.11.
— Women’s Mile: Marissa Treece ran the fastest time in the BIG EAST Conference this season to win the event at 4:50.69. Rebecca Tracy was third in 4:54.99.
— Women’s 4x400m Relay: Notre Dame A won the event with a time of 3:55.11.

4. Calle Ridderwall recorded his second hat trick of the season, getting three goals in the second period, while Ryan Thang, Ben Ryan and Patrick Gaul scored single goals to help Notre Dame defeat Lake Superior State 6-1 Friday night at Taffy Abel Arena. The six-goal offensive explosion for the Irish was a season high and the five second-period goals marked a season-best for one period. Ridderwall, who recorded a hat trick on Nov. 28 versus Bowling Green, becomes the first Irish player to get two hat tricks in a season since Tim Kuehl did it in 1987-88. Freshman goaltender Mike Johnson stopped 24 of 25 shots to record the win. The victory improves the Irish to 11-10-6 overall and 7-7-5-2 in the CCHA, good for 28 points. The victory also extended Notre Dame’s unbeaten streak versus Lake Superior to 11 games (9-0-2) since December of 2005. The Lakers are now 14-9-4 on the year and 9-8-2-1 in conference play for 30 points, just two ahead of the Irish in fourth place.

5. The BIG EAST Conference gives a men’s basketball award for most improved player – and it’s hard to believe there’s a more deserving candidate than Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis. Coming into this season, Abromaitis had scored all of 20 career points. All those came in 12 game appearances in 2007-08 as a freshman – he didn’t play at all last season as a sophomore. Today he scored 30 points in one afternoon against DePaul and is now averaging 16.7 points a game. Coming into today’s action, he ranked 11th in the BIG EAST in scoring. On top of what he’s done on the court, Abromaitis boasts a 3.7 GPA and will graduate in just three years of study.

6. The sixth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team started the 2010 dual-match season off on a high note today, cruising past Iowa 6-1. Notre Dame swept the doubles matches to claim a 1-0 lead. Twelth-rated Kristy Frilling and Kali Krisik topped Sonja Molnar and Lynne Poggensee-Wei, 8-1, at #1 doubles, while Cosmina Ciobanu and Chrissie McGaffigan defeated Merel Beelen and Zuzi Chmelarova, 8-7, at second doubles. Shannon Mathews and Colleen Rielley downed Jessica Young and Kelcie Klockenga, 8-5, at #3 doubles to complete the sweep. Thirtieth-ranked Frilling handed #65 Molnar a 6-0, 6-3 loss at #1 singles. Mathews battled Poggensee-Wei to a third-set tiebreaker, winning the match 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (10-5). McGaffigan took down Chmelarova, 6-2, 6-1, at #3 singles, while Krisik toppled Merel Beelen, 6-4, 6-1 at #4. Ciobanu defeated Klockenga, 6-1, 6-2, at #5 singles. Notre Dame’s only loss of the day came at #6 singles as Iowa’s Alexis Dorr edged Kristen Rafael, 7-6, 5-7, 1-0 (10-4). The 1-0 Irish will head to Wisconsin for a noon (CT) matchup on Sunday.


Friday, January 22, 2010

1. Former Notre Dame standout and Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Bertrand Berry announced his retirement Thursday night on a weekly radio show he co-hosts in Phoenix. Berry played 12 seasons in the NFL, including the last six with the Cardinals. Berry finished his career with 65 sacks, including six this season in a part-time role. Berry, 34, signed with the Cardinals in 2004 and made the Pro Bowl in his first season, finishing the year with 14 1/2 sacks. His next two seasons were cut short by injuries, but Berry played in 29 games over the past two seasons. He had 40 sacks with the Cardinals, ranking him sixth on the franchise’s all-time list. Berry entered the league with the Colts in 1997, a third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame. He spent three seasons with the Colts but was cut and spent the 2000 season out of football. He returned the next year with Denver and emerged as an elite pass rusher.

2. The University of Notre Dame will donate the full gate receipts, as well as the net concession revenue, from both the men’s and women’s home basketball games this weekend to benefit relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti. The men play DePaul Saturday (Jan. 23) at 2 p.m. (ET), and the women take on West Virginia Sunday (Jan. 24) at 1 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Both games are expected to sell out. In addition, the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) is organizing a fund drive to be held in conjunction with both games to encourage fans and alumni to make their own personal contributions to aid the relief efforts. During the first half of both games, more than 100 Notre Dame student-athletes wearing monogram jackets will pass buckets through the crowd. The council’s hope is that spectators will each donate at least $1, which would raise $11,000 for the relief effort. Money raised will be directed toward the Notre Dame Haiti Program, the Congregation of Holy Cross and Catholic Relief Services. Consisting of leaders from all 26 Irish athletic teams, cheerleaders and managers, SAAC discusses critical issues that affect the experiences of student-athletes, initiates new programming ideas, participates in community service projects and acts as the student-athlete group liaison to athletic administration. Information about Notre Dame’s response to the Haiti earthquake is available on the Web at http://haitidisaster.nd.edu/.

3. Four-time Pro Bowl selection Bryant Young, a mainstay on the defensive line for the San Francisco 49ers, was one of four assistant coaches officially hired by San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre on Thursday. The coaches were to be formally introduced today. Young, who played 14 years in the NFL, was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1990s, which culminated in 1999 with his earning the Comeback Player of the Year award. He coached at Notre Dame last year.

4. Bruce Feldman on espn.com makes a case for Brian Kelly as the best new college football coaching hire, as opposed to two of his espn.com colleagues who considered Skip Holtz at USF and Mike London at Virginia. Here’s what Feldman wrote: “I like both of these hires, especially the Holtz hire, but I’m not going with either because I love Notre Dame’s hiring of Brian Kelly. The guy has been a winner everywhere he’s been and he knows all about putting together a staff, running the day-to-day operation of a college program and developing talent. He is also fantastic at handling the media (check out my interview with him here), which is a huge key at a place like ND — it can diffuse some of the tension that can build or better yet, hover around a program, and you’d better believe that can impact how a team performs. Many times we, especially in the media, get too caught up in systems, stats and who is “a four-star” recruit and who is not, and so we forget about the intangibles like leadership and understanding and instincts. Those are all qualities you can’t measure unless you simply factor them into the bottom line of wins and losses. Kelly’s track record at every program he has run indicates he “gets” it. His explanation last week about how he learns about the pulse of a program was telling: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4816079&name=feldman_bruce>

You talk. You listen. I went around and talked to as many players as I could before I went on the road. You talk to the managers and those people who don’t have any self-interest in what’s going on.

Also, when Kelly talks about things like “self-inflicted wounds” and spending time on the “internal operations,” those aren’t so much code words for developing talent as they are for enhancing team chemistry and allowing people to be at their best on game days. I’m not saying the Irish will play for a national title or even crack the top 10 in 2010, but they will get better. And I think they will keep getting better under him. I suspect it’ll be a long time before Notre Dame is staying home for bowl season again.”

5. What were the most noteworthy achievements involving University of Notre Dame athletics in 2009? If you ask visitors to und.com, you’ll find that they are as impressed with Notre Dame student-athlete accomplishments in the classroom as they are with those on the playing fields. At least that’s the result of on-line voting based on a list of 24 Irish athletic achievements from the 2009 calendar year. From late December through mid-January, visitors to und.com had a chance to vote for their five moments – and here are the events (in order) that made the final top 10 list:

1. Notre Dame leads the nation (again) in graduation rates – Irish finish with 99 Graduation Success Rate figure, best among 120 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

2. Golden Tate wins Biletnikoff Award as top college football receiver in the country – He is unanimous first-team All-American, finishes with 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns in 2009, totals 1,915 all-purpose yards, and equals or surpasses eight school records this year, including most catches and receiving yards in a season, tied for most TD catches in a season, most receiving yards in a career, most 100-yard receiving games in a season and career, most receiving yards per game in a season and tied for most consecutive games with a TD reception.

3. Notre Dame women’s soccer returns to ’09 NCAA College Cup – Irish rebound from 3-3 start to go 18-0-1 over one stretch and make it to Women’s College Cup for the fourth straight year.

4. Notre Dame hockey squad wins 31 regular-season games – Irish rank second in the nation and claim their second CCHA regular-season and postseason titles in three years, with Ian Cole earning first-team All-America honors.

5. Brian Kelly is named 29th head football coach at Notre Dame – He brings 19-season record of 171-57-2 after stints at Cincinnati, Central Michigan and Grand Valley State, including two BCS berths in ’08 and ’09.

6. Irish women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw wins her 500th game at Notre Dame — Thanks to the 84-79 win vs. #23 San Diego State Nov. 26 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, she joins Mike DeCicco, Yves Auriol and Jake Kline as the only coaches in any sport to win 500 games at Notre Dame during the University’s 122-year athletics history.

7. Irish dominate BIG EAST (and other leagues), winning 2009 titles in 12 sports – Notre Dame takes home trophies in hockey (CCHA regular season and postseason tournament), men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, men’s lacrosse (Great Western Lacrosse League regular season and postseason tournament), women’s lacrosse (postseason tournament), rowing, softball (postseason tournament), women’s tennis, men’s outdoor track and field, men’s soccer (BIG EAST division regular season), women’s soccer (regular season and postseason tournament) and volleyball (regular season)

8. Jimmy Clausen becomes Notre Dame’s most efficient passer ever – Irish junior ranks second nationally in passing efficiency, throws for 3,722 yards with 28 TDs and only four interceptions in 2009 and sets a school record by passing for at least 300 yards in seven games. Clausen leaves Notre Dame ranked first or second in 32 passing categories, including tops in career completion percentage, completions per game for a career and tied for first in lowest interception percentage over a career.

9. Notre Dame fencing teams end up as NCAA runner-up for second straight season – Gerek Meinhardt (foil runner-up), Ewa Nelip, Courtney Hurley and Hayley Reese (foil runner-up) all earn first-team All-America honors as Irish finish fourth or higher at NCAA meet for 16th straight season. It’s coach Janusz Bednarski’s fifth top-three finish in three years, as both the men (33-0) and women (30-2) finish regular season ranked number one.

10. Irish women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum is named national coach of the year by Soccer America – After eight regional and eight other conference citations, he finally wins his first national award.

Thanks for your participation – and stay tuned to und.com for more upcoming chances to look back at the past decade in Notre Dame athletics.

6. As we head down the road into 2010 and a new decade in Notre Dame athletics, let’s pause for a moment to take a look back. Who are the best male and female athletes to put on an Irish uniform at some point in the last decade, between 2000 and 2009? Consider the possibilities:

Notre Dame Male Athlete of the Decade

David Brown (Hockey, 2003-07)
Earned All-America honors in 2007 as Irish finished 32-7-4 overall . . . CCHA Player and Goaltender of the Year in 2007 . . . finalist for 2007 Hobey Baker Award as top player in the country . . . set Notre Dame season marks for wins (30), goals-against average (1.58), save percentage (.931) and shutouts (six) in 2006-07 . . . finished as Notre Dame career leader in goals-against average (2.32), save percentage (.916), shutouts (12) and was second all-time in wins at 55.

Michael Bulfin (Swimming and Diving, 2005-09)
All-American in 2008 . . . first member of Irish squad to advance to multiple NCAA Championships (2006 and 2008) and tallied the first team points ever for Notre Dame at the national meet . . . 28th in one-meter event at 2008 NCAA Championships, 16th in three-meter diving . . . Notre Dame record holder off one- and three-meter boards . . . helped Irish to BIG EAST titles in 2006, 2008 and 2009 . . . BIG EAST runner-up at both one and three-meter boards in 2009.

Jimmy Clausen (Football, 2007-09)
Finished third nationally in passing efficiency in 2009 with an all-time Notre Dame record 161.42 rating while completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,722 yards and 28 TDs with only four interceptions . . . set a Notre Dame record by passing for at least 300 yards in seven games, and his four fourth-quarter comebacks for victories were most ever in a season by an Irish signal-caller . . . finished his career ranked first or second in 32 passing categories – including tops in career completion percentage (.626), completions per game (19.8) and lowest interception percentage (.024) . . . career numbers featured 695 completions on 1,110 attempts for 8,148 yards, 60 TDs and 27 interceptions . . . third-team All-America pick in ’09.

Ozren Debic (Fencing, 2000-03)
Four-time All-American in foil . . . remains third-best fencer in Notre Dame history in terms of win percentage at .952 on 157-8 record . . . was 42-3 in 2000, 30-2 in 2002, 42-2 in 2001 and 43-1 in 2003 . . . add to that his 73-19 record in four years of NCAA competition while helping Notre Dame to ’03 NCAA title . . . his 73 NCAA wins are second most in Irish fencing history.

Luke Harangody (Basketball, 2006-10)
On pace to become Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer and second-leading career rebounder . . . will easily become the greatest scorer and rebounder in history of BIG EAST Conference . . . two-time first-team All-American in 2008 and 2009 . . . BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year in 2008 . . . currently averaging 24.7 points and 9.8 rebounds and ranks second in the nation in scoring.

Aaron Heilman (Baseball, 1998-2001)
When he left Notre Dame he qualified as school’s 14th four-time All-American . . . only 14th player in college baseball history to win 40 or more games and strike out at least 400 hitters . . . 43-7 in his Irish career with 2.49 ERA and 425 strikeouts . . . led nation in ERA as freshman in ’98 at 1.61 . . . first-team Al-American in both 2000 and 2001 . . . set BIG EAST records for conference play with his 23-4 record and 199 strikeouts . . . set Notre Dame career records for wins, innings and strikeouts.

Ryan Hoff (Lacrosse, 2006-09)
Two-time All-America honoree . . . finished Notre Dame career second in program history with 134 goals . . . just second Irish player ever to notch back-to-back 40-goal seasons (40 in 2007, 41 in 2008) . . . led team in goals scored for three straight seasons (2007-09) . . . helped Notre Dame to four straight NCAA Tournament berths (2006-09) and a trip to the quarterfinals in 2008.

Cole Isban (Golf, 2003-07)
Broke school record for single-season stroke average (72.71) in 2007 and tied 54-hole school scoring record that same season . . . three-time all-league pick tied for fifth at 2007 BIG EAST Conference Championship . . . owns a share of the Irish career stroke average record (73.76), while his 19 team-leading tournament efforts also set a school standard . . . registered 16 career top-10 finishes, along with nine top-five outings and a career-best tie for first place at the 2005 Shoal Creek Intercollegiate . . . helped Irish to three BIG EAST titles (2004-06) and three NCAA regional berths (2004-06).

Joey Kemp (Lacrosse, 2005-08)
Three-time All-America honoree (first team 2008; honorable mention 2006 and 2007) . . . won Kelly Award for Outstanding Goalie in NCAA Division I (2008) . . . Great Western Lacrosse League Player of the Year (2007) . . . NCAA Division I save percentage leader (2005) . . . first among all Notre Dame goalies for career wins with 40 . . . helped Notre Dame to three straight NCAA Tournament berths (2006-08), including a trip to the quarterfinals in 2008

Joseph Lapira (Soccer, 2004-07)
2006 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Winner . . . two-time first-team All-American (2006 and 2007) . . . 2006 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year . . . led nation in goals (22) and points (50) in 2006 . . . led team in goals and points three straight seasons (2005-07) . . . helped Notre Dame to four NCAA Tournament bids, including quarterfinal berths in 2006 and 2007

Troy Murphy (Basketball, 1998-2001)
Two-time consensus All-American . . . two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year, one of only five players in league history to accomplish that . . . finished fifth on Notre Dame career scoring list with 2,011 points and sixth in rebounding at 924 . . . led BIG EAST in scoring in league games in both ’00 and ’01 . . . BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in ’99.

Jordan Pearce (Hockey, 2005-09)
Finished his Notre Dame career with best numbers in Irish history in terms of goaltender winning percentage (.679 on 59-26-7), goals-against average (1.98), save percentage (.918) and shutouts (12, tied with David Brown) . . . finished senior season in 2008-09 with 30-6-3 record and 1.68 goals-against average (second in the nation) plus record .9312 save percentage . . . two-time Academic All-American helped Irish to NCAA Frozen Four national championship game in 2008 . . . led nation in wins (30) and shutouts (eight) as senior . . . MVP of CCHA Tournament that Irish won in 2009 . . . 2009 CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Brady Quinn (Football, 2003-06)
Won Maxwell Award in 2006 as outstanding player in country and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (as top senior quarterback), took third in Heisman Trophy race (finished fourth in ’05) and was finalist for the O’Brien Award and the Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year Award for second straight year . . . set 36 career, single-season, single-game and miscellaneous records in his career . . . finished as Notre Dame career and single-season leader in passing yards (3,919 in ’05; 11,762 in career), pass completions (292 in ’05; 929 in career) and TD passes (37 in ’06; 95 in career) . . . ranked third in country in ’06 with those 37 TD passes and also ranked third in ’05 with 32 TD passes.

Ryan Sachire (Tennis, 1997-2000)
Only Notre Dame player ever to win 30-plus singles matches in all four of his collegiate seasons . . . one of only two to earn four invitations to the NCAA Singles Championship . . . one of three Notre Dame players ever to be three-year All-American . . . finished in national top 40 in singles four times and on five occasions appeared at career-high of #2 in ITA national singles rankings . . . posted 138-43 record in singles, placing him second on Notre Dame’s all-time wins list, and 73-32 mark in doubles . . . swept ITA’s major awards for seniors in 2000, being tabbed National Senior Player of Year and winning John Van Nostrand Memorial Award . . . among notable career rankings are second in combined singles and doubles victories (211) and combined singles and doubles dual-match victories (141), third in wins at #1 singles and doubles dual-match victories (64), and fifth in singles dual-match wins (77) . . . helped Irish compile four consecutive finishes in the national top 35, four NCAA tournament bids and 1999 BIG EAST Conference championship . . . twice tabbed conference tournament MVP and was ITA Midwest Region Player of the Year in 1998 and 2000 after being the region’s top rookie in ’97.

Jeff Samardzija (Football/Baseball, 2003-06)
One of Notre Dame’s best-ever multi-sport athletes . . . consensus first-team All-American was one of three finalists for 2006 Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver nationally . . . runner-up for the ’05 NCAA title in TD receptions with 15 . . . finished number one on Notre Dame career pass reception chart with 179 . . . season total of 78 receptions in ’06 broke the season mark of 77 he tied in ’05 (Tom Gatewood caught 77 in ’70) . . . led Irish baseball team in 2005 with 8-1 record and 56 strikeouts, then was 8-2 with 61 strikeouts in 2006 . . . first-team all-BIG EAST in 2006.

Ryan Shay (Cross Country/Track and Field, 1997-2002)
2001 NCAA 10,000-Meter Champion . . . nine-time All-American . . . two-time Academic All-American . . . 2003 USA Marathon champion . . . most decorated athlete in history of Notre Dame track and field with his two cross country All-America certificates to go with two in indoor track and five in outdoor track and field . . . runner-up in 2002 NCAA 10,000 meters . . . nine-time BIG EAST champion, including one title in cross country . . . had seven top-10 NCAA finishes . . . set Notre Dame records in indoor 5,000, and outdoor 5,000 and 10,000.

Michal Sobieraj (Fencing, 2002-05)
Four-time All-American in epee . . . finished second, third and first in final three NCAA efforts, helping Irish to 2003 and 2005 NCAA titles . . . won NCAA individual title in epee as senior in 2005 . . . finished 68-24 in his career in NCAA competition . . . set Irish record with 64 single-season wins in 2005 and finished with best Notre Dame career win percentage in epee at .936 with 176-12 overall mark.

Steve Stanley (Baseball, 1999-2002)
Consensus All-American as senior centerfielder in 2002 and also earned first-team honors in ’01. . . BIG EAST Player of Year in 2001 and 2002 (first player to win it twice) . . . helped Irish to NCAA College World Series in 2002 . . . finished his career third in college baseball history in hits (385) and second in starts (256) . . . set Notre Dame records for runs, stolen bases, at-bats . . . set BIG EAST career record with 154 hits . . . BIG EAST Tournament MVP in 2002 . . . hit .400 in 2001 and .439 in 2002.

Golden Tate (Football, 2007-09)
Unanimous All-American in 2009 and winner of Biletnikoff Award as top receiver in the nation . . . enjoyed the best season in history by an Irish pass-catcher in 2009 with 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 receiving TDs – then added two rushing TDs, a punt return for a score and totaled 1,915 all-purpose yards (second most in Irish history in a single season) . . . equaled or surpassed eight school records in 2009, including most catches and receiving yards in a season, tied for most touchdown catches in a season, most receiving yards in a career, most 100-yard receiving games in a season and career, most receiving yards per game in a season and tied for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception . . . ranked in the top nine nationally among receivers in 10 different statistical categories in ’09, and no wide receiver had more games with at least 100 receiving yards in 2009 than Tate’s nine . . . scored at least one touchdown in each of the final 11 contests for Notre Dame in ’09 . . . concluded his career as the most prolific receiver in Notre Dame history, with 2,707 receiving yards on 157 receptions with 26 touchdowns . . . ranks second in career touchdown receptions and is tied for third in career receptions.

Luke Watson (Cross Country/Track and Field, 1998-2003)
Eight-time All-American in cross country and track and field . . . six-time BIG EAST champion . . . ran Notre Dame’s first sub-four-minute mile in January 2003 at 3:57.83, the fastest indoor mile in the country that year . . . two-time Academic All-American won two cross country All-America honors, four in indoor track and two outdoors . . . led 2003 Irish teams to BIG EAST track titles both indoors and outdoors . . . left Notre Dame as Irish record-holder in indoor and outdoor mile, 3,000 steeplechase, indoor 3,000, outdoor 5,000 and as part of distance medley relay.

Notre Dame Female Athlete of the Decade

Andrea Ament (Fencing, 2002-05)
Four-time All-American who finisher second, third, second and seventh in NCAA individual foil competition in her four seasons with Irish . . . her NCAA runner-up finishes in 2002 as freshman and 2004 as junior came behind her Notre Dame teammate Alicja Kryczalo . . . ended up 78-14 in NCAA bouts, including 22-1 mark in 2002 . . . overall career mark of 164-15 (.916) included 53-3 mark (.946) as senior in 2005 . . . helped Irish to NCAA team titles in 2003 and 2005.

Lauren Brewster (Volleyball, 2002-05)
Two-time All-American (2005 second team, 2004 third team) . . . one of only five Division I players to be an AVCA All-American and CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2005 . . . 2003 NCAA blocking champion . . . tabbed BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year in 2005 after being the conference tournament MVP in 2004 . . . first team all-BIG EAST pick in final three seasons (unanimous in 2004 and 2005) to become the first player from any school since 1997 to be a three-time selection on that team.

Lauren Buck (Rowing, 2006-09)
2009 team captain was member of main Irish boat for final three years of her career . . . helped team capture BIG EAST titles from 2005-09, including helping her varsity eight boat win gold in the ’07 and ’08 conference grand finals . . . competed in ’07 NCAA Championships, helping her boat qualify for Petite Finals and 12th-place overall finish . . . 2009 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winner . . . posted 3.875 cumulative grade-point average while enrolled in a joint degree program within the College of Science and MBA Program . . . will graduate in May 2010 with bachelor’s degree in biological science and an MBA.

Jillian Byers (Lacrosse, 2006-09)
First team All-American for 2009 season and was selected first team all-region in each of her four years . . . finalist for Tewaaraton Trophy and candidate for Honda Sports Award in 2009 . . . set Notre Dame single-season record for goals (83) and draw controls (55) in a season while recording career highs in assists (28), points (111), ground balls (34) and caused turnovers (26) . . . her 83 goals ranked second in nation in 2009 and her 111 points were third best in country . . . four-time unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection . . . BIG EAST co-attack player of the year in 2009 as she led conference in goals and was second in points . . . Notre Dame’s all-time leader in goals (262), points (336) and draw controls (154) . . . BIG EAST’s all-time leader in goals for a single season (31 in 2009) and career goals with 78 . . . ranks sixth all-time in NCAA history in goals with 262 and 10th in career points with 336.

Katie Carroll (Swimming and Diving, 2003-07)
Seven-time All-American helped Irish win four BIG EAST Conference titles . . . set league record with 28 all-BIG EAST citations (12 individual, 16 relay) . . . won eight BIG EAST individual titles with seven relay victories at the league meet … 2004 BIG EAST Championships Most Outstanding Swimmer … ended career with seven school records, with four of those individual bests still topping the charts.

Michelle Dasso (Tennis, 1997-2001)
Most decorated Irish women’s tennis player ever, based on her four All-America honors, two in singles (1999, 2001) and two in doubles (also 1999, 2001) . . . ITA National Senior Player of the Year in 2001 . . . left Notre Dame with career records for singles wins (140), doubles wins (109) and combined victories (249) . . . finished 91-16 in career dual matches, 78-25 in career doubles dual matches . . . in 1999 ranked 13th in singles and was #8 seed in NCAA bracket – and was rated #10 in doubles and reached NCAA quarterfinals with Jennifer Hall . . . then in 2001 was ranked #5 in singles, was #4 NCAA seed and reached NCAA semifinals – and in doubles with Becky Varnum was ranked #9.

Kerri Hanks (Soccer, 2005-08)
Four-time All-American and two-time recipient of Hermann Trophy (2006 and 2008) . . . first two-time national-player-of-year honoree in any sport in 122-year history of Notre Dame athletics . . . only NCAA Division I player in 2008 to rank among top five in nation in total goals (fifth with 20), assists (third with 15) and points (second with 55) . . . only player in country to finish with at least 20 goals and 15 assists . . . 2008 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year for second time in three years . . . during her four-year career at Notre Dame, Irish posted a 92-10-3 (.890) record, won three BIG EAST titles (2005, 2006, 2008) and advanced to NCAA College Cup three times (2006-08), including national championship match twice (2006 and 2008) . . . in 2008 helped Notre Dame reel off school-record 26 consecutive victories to open campaign . . . holder (or co-holder) of an astounding 67 records in Notre Dame, BIG EAST Conference or NCAA record books . . . only Division I women’s player ever to amass at least 73 goals and 73 assists in her career, finishing with 84 goals and 73 assists in her career . . . won 2008 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.

Molly Huddle (Cross Country/Track and Field, 2002-07)
Ten-time All-American, three times in cross country (2002-03-05), seven times in track . . . track honors came in 2003 in 3,000 and 5,000 meters outdoors; in 2004 in 3,000 outdoors and 5,000 both indoors and outdoors; in 2006 (placed second) and 2007 (third) in 5,000 . . . seven-time individual BIG EAST champion . . . holds Notre Dame record for All-America honors by any athlete in any sport . . . two-time BIG EAST Outdoor Outstanding Performer . . . left Notre Dame holder of Irish records in indoor 3,000 and 5,000 and outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 and BIG EAST record-holder in 10,000 . . . placed sixth individually in 2002 in best NCAA cross country performance.

Tameisha King (Track and Field, 2000-03)
Four-time All-American and two-time BIG EAST champion (long jump outdoors and 60-meter hurdles indoors in 2003) . . . finished career with Notre Dame indoor and outdoor records in long jump and also ran on 4×100 relay (10th in 2003 NCAA outdoor meet) . . . earned All-America honors three times outdoors and once indoors and finished in top 10 at NCAA Championships on five occasions . . . in NCAA long jump finished ninth in 2000, seventh in 2002 and third in 2003 outdoors – and 13th in 2002 and sixth in 203 indoors.

Alicja Kryczalo (Fencing, 2002-05)
Three-time individual NCAA champion, claiming the women’s foil title in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and then finishing as NCAA runner-up as senior in 2005 . . . one of only two Irish fencers to win multiple NCAA individual titles … only Notre Dame fencer to appear in four NCAA championship bouts . . . boasts Notre Dame best 84-8 record in NCAA competition . . . . helped Notre Dame to NCAA titles in 2003 and 2005 . . . finished 161-12 in her career – including 39-2 in 2002 as rookie.

Anne Makinen (Soccer, 1997-2000)
Won 2000 Hermann Trophy as national player of year . . . led 2000 Notre Dame team in points (43), goals (14), assists (15) and game-winning goals (6) . . . helped 2000 Irish hold #1 national ranking for much of season and finish with record of 23-1-1, reaching NCAA semifinals . . . won 2000 Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Collegiate Player of Year Award and collected first-team All-America honors . . . finalist for Hermann Trophy in all four seasons . . . 13th player in Division I history to reach 50 goals and 50 assists in her career (65G-56A, 186 points) . . . fifth in Notre Dame history for points, fourth in goals and fifth in assists . . . 43 points (15G-13A) in 27 career postseason games, including 20 points (6G-8A) in 16 career NCAA games . . . helped Irish compile 88-9-4 record (.891) from 1997-2000 . . . only second BIG EAST player ever named first team all-BIG EAST four times.

Jarrah Myers (Softball, 1999-2002)
Two-time All-American . . . named 2002 BIG EAST/ Aeropostale Scholar-Athlete of the Year for all women’s sports in the conference . . . named the 2002 Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for softball . . . ranked first all-time at Notre Dame in home runs (36), RBI (174) and putouts (1,337) . . . named 2002 BIG EAST Player of the Year . . . during senior season led BIG EAST Conference in six statistical categories, including batting average (.462), home runs (at the time a league record – 8), runs scored (23), RBI (23), on-base percentage (.559) and slugging percentage (.962) . . . became the fourth Irish softball player to earn the 2002 Byron V. Kanaley Award (the top honor earned by a student-athlete at Notre Dame) . . . BIG EAST Rookie of the Year in 1999.

Noriko Nakazaki (Golf, 2003-07)
Concluded her stellar Notre Dame career with a program-record stroke average of 75.80 . . . 74.71 stroke average from 2006-07 campaign stands as the program’s second-best single-season mark . . . only four-time all-BIG EAST women’s golfer in Notre Dame history and the only student-athlete in program history to compete in three NCAA Tournaments.

Amanda Polk (Rowing, 2005-08)
Four-time All-American for Irish, including first-team honors in 2006, 2007 and 2008 . . . helped Irish finish ninth in NCAA Championships in 2006 and 12th in 2007 . . . helped varsity eight boat finish seventh in 2006 and 12th in 2007 . . . helped Notre Dame win four straight BIG EAST titles, with varsity eight boat claiming gold medals each of her last three seasons . . . named to United States Under-23 team that won 2008 gold medal in world championships.

Ruth Riley (Basketball, 1997-2001)
Finished with career totals of 2,072 points and 1,007 rebounds . . . 2001 consensus national player of the year . . . two-time first-team All-American in 2000, 2001 . . . two-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American . . . 2001 CoSIDA Academic All-America Team Member of the Year . . . 2001 NCAA Top VIII Award winner … Most Outstanding Player of the 2001 NCAA Women’s Final Four after leading Notre Dame to its first national championship (sank game-winning free throws with 5.8 seconds left in title game vs. Purdue) . . . Notre Dame career leader in seven categories, including rebounds, blocked shots and field goal percentage . . . won gold medal with 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, becoming one of seven women’s basketball players in history ever to win an NCAA, WNBA and Olympic championship in their careers.

Kelcy Tefft (Tennis, 2005-09)
Two-time All-American in NCAA doubles . . . BIG EAST Player of the Year in 2009 . . . ITA National Senior Player of the Year in 2009 . . . part of two #1-ranked doubles teams . . . member of winningest senior class in women’s tennis history . . . led the Irish to the NCAA semifinals for first time in school history . . . combined with Brook Buck in 2008 to reach NCAA doubles semifinals.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

1. The San Francisco 49ers announced Monday that they have named former Notre Dame football assistant coach Kurt Schottenheimer their special teams coordinator. Schottenheimer, 60, brings over 30 years of coaching experience to the 49ers, including 22 seasons in the NFL. He spent his first eight seasons in the league as a special teams coach, holding that position first with the Cleveland Browns (1987-88) and then with the Kansas City Chiefs (1989-94). Schottenheimer’s units regularly ranked among the league’s top 10 annually in various major special teams statistical categories. Following his productive run leading the Chiefs special teams, he went on to coach Kansas City’s defensive backs (1995-98), before being promoted to defensive coordinator (1999-2000). Schottenheimer spent three more seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, serving one year with the Washington Redskins (2001) and two seasons with the Detroit Lions (2002-03). He most recently served as the secondary coach in Green Bay from 2006-08. It marked Schottenheimer’s second stint with the Packers, having coached defensive backs for the team in 2004, before spending one year as the secondary coach for the St. Louis Rams (2005). Before entering the NFL, Schottenheimer worked 10 seasons as a college coach: William Patterson College (1974 – defensive coordinator), Michigan State (1978-82 – linebackers/defensive backs), Tulane (1983 – defensive), Louisiana State (1984-85) and Notre Dame (1986 in Lou Holtz’s first season with the Irish).

2. This probably wouldn’t rank very highly for Irish football fans, but Mark Schlabach of espn.com rated the “Bush Push” scoring run by Matt Leinart in USC’s 2005 win over Notre Dame as the fourth best play of the decade of the 2000s. The only ones ranking higher were (1.) Vince Young’s TD run to defeat USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, (2.) the Boise State “Statue of Liberty” run that beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and (3.) Michael Crabtree’s late TD catch to stun #1 Texas in 2008.

3. Espn.com ran another list of top 10 games of the decade, this one by Pat Forde, and he put the 2005 Notre Dame-USC game sixth on his list, calling it (Charlie) “Weis’ finest hour as coach of the Fighting Irish.”

4. Former Irish assistant football coach Bill Sheridan is the new inside linebackers coach of the Miami Dolphins. Sheridan was the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in 2009. He coached the Irish safeties and special teams in 2001 in Bob Davie’s final season as head coach.

5. The official NFL list of players who have opted for early entry into the 2010 Draft includes a record 53 names. Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen is one of only three quarterbacks (others are Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead, while Golden Tate is one of nine wide receivers.

6. An All-Time Ohio High School Football Team was announced earlier this month – and not only is it an amazingly impressive list of familiar names but it also includes a serious Notre Dame flair. The first-team offense includes current Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati Elder), while the first-team defense includes defensive linemen Alan Page (Canton Central Catholic) and Ross Browner (Warren Western Reserve). The second team includes offensive lineman Jack Cannon (Columbus Aquinas) and linebacker Jim Lynch (Lima Central Catholic). Even the honorable mention chart reads like a “Who’s Who” of Notre Dame standouts — including Bob Crable, Marc Edwards, Hiawatha Francisco, Ralph Guglielmi, Tony Hunter, Joe Johnson, Rip Miller, Brady Quinn, Frank Stams and Harry Stuhldreher. Four Horseman Stuhldreher (originally from Massillon) made only honorable mention because he played his senior season in Pennsylvania. Another Four Horseman, Don Miller, was from Defiance but didn’t make the list at all because he barely played in high school.

7. The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams are each ranked second in the first USFCA Coaches’ poll of the season. This is the first of three polls the USFCA will release during the NCAA fencing season, with the final poll to appear in March after the NCAA Regional Qualifiers. In both the men’s and women’s polls, the Irish are ranked behind 2009 NCAA Champion Penn State. Ohio State rounds out the top-three on the men’s side, while Harvard is ranked third on the women’s side. Last season, the Notre Dame men’s team debuted tied for first while the Irish women were ranked second in the first USFCA poll. By the final poll of the 2009 season, both the men and women claimed the outright top spot in their respective polls before finishing second at the NCAA Championships at Penn State.

8. Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain Michele Weissenhofer was chosen in the fourth round of the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer Draft, which was held last week in Philadelphia in conjunction with the annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) convention. Weissenhofer was the fourth selection in the fourth round (33rd overall pick) by the Chicago Red Stars, who play their home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., just a half-hour east of Weissenhofer’s hometown of Naperville. Weissenhofer is the seventh Notre Dame women’s soccer player to be selected in the WPS Draft in its two-year history, following a contingent of six Fighting Irish players that were chosen in 2009. Four other Notre Dame alums joined WPS clubs during various allocation processes, including two-time Olympic gold medalist Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98), who was assigned to the Chicago Red Stars via a dispersal of U.S. National Team players, but will make her league debut this summer after missing the 2009 campaign while on maternity leave.

9. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw worried how her team would react after the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish were blown out by top-ranked Connecticut on Saturday. Fifteen minutes into Tuesday night’s game against Louisville, McGraw had her answer. And it wasn’t good. Notre Dame trailed by 12 and didn’t exactly appear to be in a rush to make up the deficit. “We definitely looked hung over,” McGraw said. The Irish found the cure in the second half, upping their intensity on both ends of the floor to wear down the Cardinals for a 78-60 victory. Skylar Diggins scored 20 points to lead four Notre Dame players in double figures as the Irish pulled away over the final 20 minutes to give McGraw her 600th career victory. “I think our confidence was a little down after the (UConn) game,” said Lindsay Schrader, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. “I definitely think this will help. We just have to go into games with a chip on our shoulder and tell ourselves we are good.” Ashley Barlow added 18 points and Melissa Lechlitner chipped in 14 for the Irish (16-1, 3-1 BIG EAST), who forced Louisville into 20 turnovers and held the Cardinals without a field goal for more than eight minutes in the second half. The Cardinals entered the game averaging 23 turnovers a game, worst in the BIG EAST. Things appeared to be getting better early against the Irish. Louisville played arguably its best 15 minutes of the season to open a 33-21 lead. Yet the Irish steadied themselves with a 16-4 run to end the half to tie the game at 37 at the break, as Louisville’s offense broke down. The Cardinals briefly led by five in the second half before running out of gas while the Irish came to life behind Diggins, who scored 15 points in the second half. While the Irish surged, the Cardinals stalled. Gwen Rucker hit a layup to give Louisville a 46-43 lead with 16:50 to go, but the Cardinals wouldn’t score again until a three-point play with 8:14 remaining. By then Notre Dame had reeled off 13 straight points and the undermanned Cardinals couldn’t keep pace. The Irish had no such problems. Executing crisply in the halfcourt, Notre Dame found easy baskets for Schrader, Diggins and Lechlitner. The lead ballooned to 20 in the final minutes, allowing McGraw to celebrate her milestone win. She is the 19th women’s coach to reach the 600-victory plateau and the 10th-fastest to hit the mark. She has collected 512 of those wins with the Irish. The first 88 victories of her career came while she coached Lehigh.

10. UND.com unveiled Irish Mobile on Tuesday, the official iPhone application of Notre Dame athletics. Irish Mobile offers iPhone owners easy access to up-to-the-minute news, scores, schedules, rosters and streaming audio and video for the 2009-2010 school year. Irish Mobile is $4.99 per year and can be downloaded from the iTunes store or from the App Store on your iPhone. The application provides iPhone owners an interface that gives them immediate mobile access to essential information from UND.com, the official athletic web site of Notre Dame athletics. Fans no longer have to wait until they have access to a computer or Internet connection to keep up with their favorite Notre Dame sport. Now they can take it with them! The initial launch of Irish Mobile will include access to the following features: HEADLINES–Breaking news, by sport, available exclusively from UND.com; SCORES–Updated score, schedule and venue information for each contest, and results from past events; SCHEDULES–Complete schedules for each sport by date, time, location and opponent. Includes home and away team rosters and bio information for each athlete; AUDIO/VIDEO–Select on-demand audio and video clips, as well as streaming audio for select live events. Future versions of Irish Mobile may include access to: Subscription access to premium audio and video content through your iPhone. Subscribe to Fighting Irish All-Access and experience premium multimedia when you’re away from your computer. Live play-by-play through GameTracker. The Irish Mobile iPhone application is only compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch and requires iPhone OS 2.0 or later. The application can be downloaded at the iTunes application store.

11. The Notre Dame hockey team will literally be giving “The Shirts Off Their Backs,” immediately following the Jan. 30 game with Nebraska-Omaha at the Joyce Center. The Fighting Irish will play that weekend series in specially designed jerseys that honor Hockey Helpers and the Wounded Warrior Project. The jerseys will only be worn for the two-game series with the Mavericks and will then be auctioned off to the highest bidders to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. The bidding is scheduled to begin on Friday, Jan. 22, at noon and will run through Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9:30 p.m. EST. Fans can bid on any or all 28 players jerseys at the Notre Dame website — und.com/auctions. Bids on each jersey will start at $125 with all proceeds going to benefit Hockey Helpers and the Wounded Warriors Project. Fans must be registered to bid on these special jerseys by setting up an auction profile (user name/password/billing information) in advance. To register a new profile, link to . Each jersey will be autographed by the player wearing it, and also one additional player (NCAA rules stipulate a minimum of two signatures per jersey) of the bidder’s choice. The winning bidder has the option to have the jersey autographed by the entire team if they wish.

12. Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft on espn.com has Jimmy Clausen going ninth to the Buffalo Bills and Golden Tate 29th to the New York Jets.

13. Ivan Maisel of espn.com rates the college football coaches of the decade and puts Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly seventh based on accomplishments at three schools – Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Writes Maisel, “Kelly climbed the ladder throughout the decade. In four seasons at Grand Valley State, he won two Division II national championships, played for a third and finished 48-6. In three seasons at Central Michigan, he rebuilt the Chippewas into a MAC champion. And in three seasons at Cincinnati, he built the Bearcats, a newcomer in the Big East, into a two-time league champion. Kelly’s record at the three schools: 102-28 (.785). Now he has reached the highest-profile job in the game. If Kelly remakes Notre Dame as he did his past three schools, he’ll finish the next decade even higher on this list.” The six coaches ahead of him (Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Mack Brown and Jim Tressel) combined to win eight of the 10 BCS national championships this decade.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1. Notre Dame Academic All-America nominees for basketball are Tim Abromaitis, Erica Williamson and Melissa Lechlitner. Abromaitis, with his 3.7 GPA and 15.4 scoring average, would appear to have a great shot at becoming the seventh Irish men’s player to win first-team honors (after Bob Arnzen, Kelly Tripucka, Rich Branning, John Paxson, Pat Garrity and Chris Quinn). Previous women’s first-team honorees are Ruth Riley and Megan Duffy.

2. Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen remains #4 on Mel Kiper’s latest “Big Board” for the 2010 NFL Draft.

3. Notre Dame’s women’s basketball loss to #1 Connecticut Saturday dropped the Irish only from #3 to #4 in the latest AP poll.

4. Here are dates for the 80th annual Bengal Bouts:
— Preliminaries – 1:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, Feb. 13, in Joyce Center Fieldhouse
— Quarterfinals – 6:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 16, in Joyce Center Fieldhouse
— Semifinals – 7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 23, in Joyce Center Fieldhouse
— Finals – 7:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, Feb. 27, in Purcell Pavilion
Tickets go on sale soon through the Notre Dame ticket office.

5. Wesley Johnson scored 22 points and Andy Rautins added 21 on five-of-nine shooting from three-point range to lead #5 Syracuse to an 84-71 victory over Notre Dame on Monday night, the Orange’s third Big East road win in six days. After shooting 54 percent in the first half, the Orange (18-1, 5-1) shot 44 percent in the second half. But the Orange were 20 of 25 from the free-throw line in the second half as they held on. The Irish (14-5, 3-3) used an 8-1 run to close to 55-53 on two free throws by Tory Jackson after Rautins was called for an intentional foul for throwing an elbow. The Orange went on a 6-0 run to go up 65-56. The Irish cut the lead to 67-62 when Tim Abromaitis, who scored 26 points, hit his second straight three-pointer. But Syracuse put the game away with a 17-7 run. Luke Harangody led the Irish with 29 points and 14 rebounds.

6. Twenty-six NBA scouts attended the Notre Dame-Syracuse men’s basketball game Monday at Purcell Pavilion (representing 25 NBA teams). Among those in attendance was former Irish All-American and current Chicago Bulls executive John Paxson.

7. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association announced Monday that two Notre Dame hockey players have been selected players of the week for their play during the Michigan State series on Jan. 15-16. Senior defenseman Kyle Lawson (Sr., New Hudson, Mich.) was named the CCHA defensive player of the week for the second time this season — while freshman left wing Nick Larson (Apple Valley, Minn.) is the league’s rookie of the week.

Lawson, the CCHA’s top defensive defenseman in 2008-09, went on the offensive against the Spartans as he assisted on five of Notre Dame’s nine goals on the weekend while being +3 for the two games and blocking three shots as the Irish came-from-behind twice in 5-2 and 4-4 overtime ties.

Larson recorded the best weekend of his young Irish career, getting two goals and two assists against Michigan State, including a career-best three-point game (2g, 1a) in the 5-2 win Jan. 15 at the Joyce Center. In two games, Larson had six shots on goal and was +2 for the weekend.

8. The Notre Dame softball program will be holding a one-day hitting clinic Jan. 31 (Sunday) at the Eck Indoor Facility, located adjacent to the Frank Eck Baseball Stadium, from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. EST. In addition, a clinic for pitchers and catchers will take place at the Loftus Center on the campus of the University of Notre Dame from noon-2:00 p.m. EST. Contact assistant coach Kris Ganeff (ganeff.2@nd.edu) for more information.

9. Notre Dame men’s swimming head coach Tim Welsh was interviewed today on the live CatholicTV talk show “This is the Day”. The episode of “This is the Day” streamed live on CatholicTV.com at 10:30 a.m. (ET). The same episode will also air live on CatholicTV channels and associated Catholic stations throughout the United States and Canada. The show will be available on the CatholicTV.com archives starting the tonight. Welsh discussed his recently released book “Coach Them Well: Fostering Faith and Developing Character in Athletes.” Other contributors to the book include Dale Brown, David Cutcliffe and Kelly Herrmann. “Coach Them Well” contains the reflections of these college coaches on the ministry of coaching. Each reflection contains the faith story of each coach as well as the insight gained through more than 100 years of combined coaching experience.

10. Check out CBS College Sports tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST to see Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team play live at Louisville.

11. The University of Notre Dame Athletic Department introduced a training table program for the Irish football squad beginning last night at the Guglielmino Athletic Center, athletics director Jack Swarbrick announced today. The football training table is the first of two pilot programs – the second of which will begin later this semester. The pilot program for football initially involves dinner Monday through Friday. Athletic department sports nutritionist Erika Whitman has helped develop menus and will be in attendance to help student-athletes make good choices. Training table options and locations are being studied for other Irish sports programs. This marks the first of a series of initiatives in the area of sports performance, led by Irish associate athletics director Mike Karwoski. Last July, Karwoski assumed a new role within athletics that focuses on the development and implementation of a comprehensive athlete performance program for Notre Dame student-athletes. The athlete performance program has direct oversight of the areas of strength and conditioning, athletic training, sports medicine, sports nutrition, sports psychology and equipment — with the goal of assisting all athletic teams to achieve maximum athletic success.


Monday, January 18, 2010

1. Yancy Gates got his own miss and put it back in with 2.4 seconds to go Saturday, giving Cincinnati a 60-58 victory over Notre Dame. There were 11 lead changes and six ties in the second half, the final one when Ben Hansbrough hit a pull-up jumper that made it 58-all with 22.6 seconds to go. After a timeout, Cincinnati got the ball to Deonta Vaughn, who drove and passed to Gates for the deciding shot. Notre Dame (14-4, 3-2) was led by Tim Abromaitis’ 16 points. Luke Harangody had 14 points on five-of-20 shooting. Harangody has scored in double figures in all 18 games this season and has recorded eight double-doubles, while Tim Abromaitis has notched 10-plus points in all but two contests (Idaho State and Connecticut). Harangody currently is second nationally with a 24.3 scoring average and is 25th in rebounding (9.6). Ben Hansbrough is second nationally in assist-to-turnover ration (3.91), while backcourt mate Tory Jackson is third at 3.58. Abromaitis is fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.495). As a team in the national statistics, Notre Dame ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.69), sixth in assists (18.2), 11th in field goal percentage (.491), 18th in scoring offense (80.8), sixth in assists (18.1), 10th in field goal percentage (.491) and 13th in turnovers (10.7). Notre Dame has won 64 of its last 68 home games and is 26-3 in its last 29 BIG EAST regular-season home contests.

2. Connecticut got off to a near-perfect start, showing there is a chasm between it and the rest of women’s basketball. Tina Charles scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the top-ranked Huskies rout #3 Notre Dame 70-46 on Saturday night for its 56th straight victory. UConn scored 24 of the game’s first 28 points to take control, delivering an early knockout. Maya Moore added 20 points for the Huskies, who have the second-longest winning streak in women’s basketball history. They’re 14 short of the NCAA and school record set from 2001-03. UConn (17-0, 5-0 Big East) has been at its best against top-10 teams during the streak, winning those 10 games by nearly 27 points a game. “The gap is huge,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think that they are on a mission to prove that gap is wider and wider with every game. They’ve had their way with the top 10. Even Stanford. They are the best team in the country, no question about it.” Connecticut has won every game during its streak by double digits. Devereaux Peters scored 12 to lead the Irish (15-1, 2-1), who had been off to the second-best start in school history. Notre Dame started 23-0 en route to the 2001 national title. The Irish wore their alternate green road jerseys for a little extra luck, but they needed a lot more to beat UConn. Before the sellout crowd could settle into its seats, the Huskies were up 17-2 as four different players scored. By the time Notre Dame scored consecutive baskets for the first time with 2:53 left in the half, the Irish trailed 36-14. UConn led 42-19 at the break with Charles scoring 17 points. Notre Dame, which came into the game averaging 82.4 points, got no closer than 20 in the second half. The Irish shot only 27 percent (18 for 67) from the field for the game, including going three for 19 from behind the arc. The Huskies and Irish were two of four unbeaten teams left in Division I basketball heading into Saturday. Wisconsin-Green Bay (16-0) won earlier in the day, while Nebraska (15-0) played at Baylor on Sunday. McGraw failed in her first attempt to become the 19th coach in Division I basketball to win 600 games. The Irish will get at least one more chance at UConn when the teams close out the regular season March 1. They could also meet in the Big East and NCAA tournaments. ESPN brought its “College Gameday” show to Storrs, broadcasting at the site of a women’s basketball game for the first time. More than 3,000 fans showed up Saturday morning to partake in the festivities. Notre Dame saw its 15-game winning streak snapped, ending the third-longest string in school history (tied with a similar run in 1990-91) and the second-longest streak to start a season in program annals (the 2000-01 club was the last to have success strings of a longer length, opening 23-0). Junior forward Devereaux Peters became the seventh different leading scorer for Notre Dame this season, and the seventh different scoring leader in the past nine games. Peters tallied a season-high 12 points (her best output since Nov, 16, 2008, when she also scored 12 at #24/22 LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic) and tied her season best with eight rebounds.

3. Over the years, a trip to Munn Arena has never been fun for the Notre Dame hockey team as Michigan State has dominated the Irish at its on-campus home. On Saturday night, for the first 35 minutes it looked like more of the same as the Spartans jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Nick Sucharski, Daultan Leveille and Matt Grassi. From there, Notre Dame took over, paced by team captain Ryan Thang’s two power-play goals, a power-play goal from Calle Ridderwall and an even-strength marker from Ben Ryan to take a 4-3 lead with just over 15 minutes left in the game. The Spartans would get a late power-play goal of their own from Derek Grant with 2:21 left in the game to tie it 4-4 and send it to overtime where the score would remain tied. In the CCHA shootout, Michigan State picked up the extra point in the standings with a 1-0 win on a goal by Andrew Rowe. The overtime tie gives Notre Dame a 10-10-6 overall record and moves the Irish to 6-7-5-2 in the CCHA, good for 25 points in the standings. Michigan State goes to 15-7-4 on the year and 10-4-4-1 in conference play, good for 35 points. The tie also extended the Irish unbeaten streak to eight (5-0-3) versus the Spartans dating back to the 2007-08 campaign. Since Notre Dame returned to the CCHA in 1992-93, the Spartans are 20-3-3 versus the Irish at Munn Arena with the Irish being 1-0-2 in their last three trips to East Lansing. The Irish gained four points in the standings on the weekend and will look to continue their recent strong play when they visit Lake Superior on Jan. 22-23 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Thang scored two goals, including the game winner, freshman left wing Nick Larson scored a pair and Dan Kissel added a short-handed goal as Notre Dame rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second period to hand Michigan State a 5-2 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 3,007 at the Joyce Center on Friday night. The Irish peppered Michigan State goaltenders Drew Palmisano and Bobby Jarosz with 46 shots in the game, including 19 in the first period with Palmisano stopping all 19. Notre Dame chased the Spartan starter after 48:57 as he gave up five goals while making 34 saves. Notre Dame’s Mike Johnson stopped 24-of-26 on the night in the win for the Irish. Notre Dame’s five-goal outburst was a season high — and the second of the season for the Irish as they also scored a 5-2 win over Colgate in the Shillelagh Tournament on Jan. 2. Brett Blatchford extended his personal scoring streak to a career-best six games with two assists on the night. In his streak he has eight assists for eight points. Defenseman Ian Cole now has a career-high five-game point streak with two goals and three assists for five points in his run. Thang’s game-winning goal was the 14th of his Notre Dame career and snapped a four-way tie for first on the all-time game-winning goal list. He is now the career leader in that department.

4. Notre Dame won six events – including the final relay – during Friday evening’s matchup against visiting Michigan State at the Rolfs Aquatic Center, but the Spartans were able to escape with a 179-121 win in men’s swimming and diving action. John Lytle (200 individual medley, 50 free), Bill Bass (200 free), Wesley Mullins (200 fly) and Michael Sullivan (500 free) each posted individual victories for the Irish, as the 400 free relay tandem of Joshua Nosal, Bass, Thomas Van Volkenburg and Andrew Hoffman finished first in the dual meet’s final race.

Despite sweeping the 1- and 3-meter diving events on top of a pair of Lytle individual wins, the Notre Dame men dropped a highly competitive 166-134 decision to #16 Louisville Saturday at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Wesley Villaflor (1-meter) and Nathan Geary (3-meter) were each victorious off the boards, while Lytle touched the wall first in the 200 and 100 free. Petar Petrovic added a win in the 200 back. Notre Dame’s dual meet record evened to 4-4 overall and 1-1 against BIG EAST opponents. The Irish will next be in action Jan. 29-30 when the team hosts the Shamrock Invitational.

5. Notre Dame and Louisville exchanged blows event after event Saturday afternoon at the Rolfs Aquatic Center, but the 14th-ranked Cardinals won the final event of the day to take down the home team by a 154-146 margin in women’s swimming and diving. Notre Dame (0-4) nearly earned the senior day win while falling to its BIG EAST rival in front of a packed house. Natalie Stitt won the 1- and 3-meter diving events while Amywren Miller (50 free) and Samantha Maxwell (100 breast) recorded NCAA B-cut performances. In all, Notre Dame won nine of the 16 events, with both Maxwell and Miller having a hand in three wins. Kim Holden finished among the head of the pack in each of her four respective events. “It was a competitive meet which came down to the last relay, just like last week against Northwestern,” Irish head coach Brian Barnes said. “These are the types of meets we need to win. I know we could have won this meet today, but there are certainly a few areas in which we could have been better to get the victory. I see a lot of people on the upside of their season, so it’s encouraging to compete at a high level with a top-15 program like Louisville. This team is showing some fight, and we’ll have to continue to see what we’re made of when championship time comes around.”

6. The Irish track and field squads opened 2010 with the Notre Dame Indoor Opener Friday evening at the Loftus Sports Center. Butler, DePaul, Loyola and the women’s team from Western Michigan joined the Irish for their first competition of 2010. Notre Dame set 34 BIG EAST qualifying standards and watched as former Irish All-American Mary Saxer, competing unattached, tied her own Loftus Sports Center record with a 4.15m (13-7 1/4) pole vault mark. Sophomore Kevin Schipper became the first Irish athlete to set an NCAA provisional qualifying mark this season, doing so with a 5.20m (17-0 3/4) vault. The Irish return to the Loftus Sports Center next weekend to host the Notre Dame Invitational.

7. Former Notre Dame football player and coach Greg Blache has announced his retirement from the NFL. Blache coached 22 years in the NFL, the last six with the Washington Redskins and the last two as the ‘Skins defensive coordinator.

8. Look for former Irish football assistant coach Peter Vaas (1990-91 and 2005-06), now offensive coordinator on Mike Haywood’s staff at Miami (Ohio), to move to South Florida and join Skip Holtz’s staff.

9. Check out the Midwest flavor among the nine assistant coaches (plus strength and conditioning coordinator Paul Longo) hired by Irish football coach Brian Kelly: — Ohio – four of them were born in that state, two attended college in that state, seven coached in that state
— Michigan – two were born there, three attended college there, seven coached there
— Illinois – one was born there, one attended college there, five coached there
— Iowa – two attended college there, two coached there
— Indiana – two coached there
— Kansas – two coached there

10. Some interesting tidbits from former Irish football coach Lou Holtz, from yesterday’s version of the Orlando Sentinel:

On life habits: “I don’t drink water, haven’t drank water in 40 years. It has no taste, and if it does, it’s not good for you. I don’t exercise. I only have so many breaths left. If there’s going to be heavy breathing, it’s going to be in my wife’s bedroom. I just have an enthusiasm for life. I’m going to have fun. I think it’s contagious.”

On how the coaching profession has changed: “You didn’t feel threatened by everybody. Most I ever made was $135,000. It wasn’t about money. You just enjoyed what you were doing and you had a security about what you were doing. You didn’t have the Internet and everybody getting fired and offensive. On Friday night after we put the team down, we’d go have drinks with the media. … It’s changed, and it hasn’t changed for the better.”

On showboating players: “Guys are getting beat 34-0 and they make a tackle and get up and pound their chest. Hey, son, you’re getting beat 34-0. I don’t mind you pounding your chest when you do something great, as long as when you miss a tackle you’re going to say ‘Hey, that was me. I screwed up.’ “

On player-to-coach interaction in light of player mistreatment involving former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and former USF coach Jim Leavitt, who were both fired: “There’s no reason to grab a player or do anything. I grabbed a facemask on a player because I wanted to make sure I had his undivided attention. He had done something to a player that wasn’t reflective of the game we teach … I probably shouldn’t have done that. Things were different, society is different, but the game is still sacrifice and togetherness.”

On the USF job that went to son Skip Holtz: “If they called me, I’d consider going back. You’re in a BCS conference, you’re in the state of Florida where you have so many great athletes, and you’re in a school in South Florida, you live in Tampa, and you play in Raymond James Stadium. What more do you want?

On being “very proud” of Skip Holtz, the former East Carolina coach: “He’s done a marvelous job and he’s done it the right way. He just told me yesterday he had 40 or some athletes make over a 3.0 (grade-point) average. They set records in attendance last three years in a row . . . won the (Conference USA) back-to-back.”

11. The Notre Dame baseball program’s ninth annual Opening Night Dinner will be held in the newly renovated Purcell Pavilion on Tuesday, Feb. 16 – with Irish head football coach Brian Kelly and former Notre Dame and MLB pitcher Ron Reed (’65) serving as keynote speakers at the popular event. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets early to ensure their spot at the special night, which provides attendees the opportunity to visit with members of the Notre Dame baseball team. With the event being held inside the arena for the first time, two separate ticket opportunities, reserved floor seating and general admission arena seating, will be made available. The price for floor seating will be $60 ($40 for students, youth and seniors) and includes a Notre Dame baseball 2010 season ticket (a $50 value, covering 25 regular-season games), autographed 8×10 photographs of each speaker and several other advance promotional items. The table will also include an Irish player. A special “fan pack” price of $140 also is available, providing admission and the other dinner benefits for two adults and two youth. The price for general admission (in the stands) will be $45 ($25 for students, youth and seniors) and includes all the same benefits of the floor ticket. One can also purchase a general admission “fan pack” for $100. Tickets will go on sale on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 9:00 a.m. through the Notre Dame Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased online 24 hours a day at www.und.com/tickets. They can also be purchased weekdays from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (ET) by phone at (574) 631-7356 or in person at the new Gate 9 Ticket Office in Purcell Pavilion. Service charges apply.


Friday, January 15, 2010

1. Notre Dame women’s lacrosse assistant coach Kateri Linville has been selected as one of three assistant coaches for the Canadian Under-19 team that will compete for the 2011 World Cup in Hannover, Germany in August of 2011.

2. Former Irish football player and assistant coach Skip Holtz is the new head coach at South Florida. Holtz played at Notre Dame in 1986 and was an Irish assistant coach in 1990-93. As a head coach he was 34-23 at Connecticut (1994-98) and 38-27 at East Carolina (2005-09). Among the assistants on Holtz’s East Carolina staff has been former Notre Dame linebacker Tom “Rock” Roggeman who graduated in ’85 and went on to be an Irish graduate assistant under both Gerry Faust and Lou Holtz.

3. The newest assistant coach at Florida State is former Notre Dame linebacker Greg Hudson, who on Jan. 6 was named the Seminoles’ assistant head coach for defense and linebackers coach. Hudson had been Skip Holtz’s defensive coordinator at East Carolina the last five years. Hudson played for the Irish in 1986-87 and was a Notre Dame graduate assistant coach in 1993.

4. Former Irish guard Chris Quinn was traded Jan. 5 from the NBA Miami Heat to the New Jersey Nets for a 2012 second-round draft choice. Quinn had not played at all for the Heat due to a hamstring injury but so far has played briefly in three games with the Nets (scoring five combined points in 29 minutes).

5. Former Irish offensive lineman Tim Grunhard led his Kansas City Bishop Miege High School team to the Kansas Class 4A state title in November, thanks to a 28-6 title game win over Topeka Hayden in a game played in Salina, Kan. Grunhard’s team finished the season 12-2 after rolling up 488 total yards in the championship contest. The title came in Grunhard’s fourth season as head coach.

6. Sporting News draft expert Russ Lande in that publication’s Jan. 18 edition lists Jimmy Clausen as the #3 prospect at quarterback (behind Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Cincinnati’s Tony Pike) and Golden Tate #3 among receivers (behind Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant and Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard).

7. Also in Sporting News, Marquette’s Lazar Hayward picked Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody as the hardest opponent to defend.

8. VERSUS will be carrying 10 regular-season and six playoff games from the NBA Development League. Included in the agenda are two Fort Wayne Mad Ants games – Jan. 16 at Sioux Falls and Jan. 23 at Iowa. The Fort Wayne roster includes former Irish players Ryan Ayers (7.3 points, 2.9 rebounds per game), Kyle McAlarney (11.3 points, 3.1 assists) and Rob Kurz (17.9 points, 10.3 rebounds).

9. Notre Dame’s Bright Dike, Justin Morrow and Michael Thomas were selected in Thursday’s Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft. Dike went to the Columbus Crew in the first round (12th overall selection), while the San Jose Earthquakes took both Thomas (19th overall selection) and Morrow (28th overall selection) in the second round.

Dike (Edmond, Okla.), a forward, was named the 2009 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year. The fifth-year senior played in all 23 matches during the 2009 campaign and led the Fighting Irish with 11 goals and 26 points. Dike was a two-time all-BIG EAST first-team selection and a two-time All-Great Lakes Region honoree. For his career, he played in 86 matches and notched 66 points on 27 goals and 12 assists.

Thomas (Olathe, Kan.), a central midfielder, earned first-team all-BIG EAST accolades this season after being a second-team pick in 2008. He also is a two-time All-Great Lakes Region selection. Thomas started every game this past season and notched a team-high six assists along with scoring six goals. The two-time team captain started 81 of the 83 career matches in which he played with the Fighting Irish and tallied 51 points on 19 goals and 13 assists. Thomas was named a third-team Academic All-American in December.

Morrow (Cleveland, Ohio) made the switch from midfield to left back this season. He started every match in 2009 and tallied five points on two goals and one assist en route to copping a second-team all-BIG EAST citation. Morrow, a team captain during his senior season, earned a start in 64 of the 89 career games he played at Notre Dame and registered 21 points on seven goals and seven assists.

The three MLS SuperDraft picks ties for the most in Notre Dame history. The Irish also had three players picked during the 2005 draft (Jack Stewart, Kevin Goldthwaite, Chris Sawyer). Notre Dame has had 14 MLS SuperDraft picks during the nine-year tenure of head coach Bobby Clark.

10. Keith Embray has been named Manager of Student Welfare and Development at the University of Notre Dame. Keith comes to Notre Dame from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he served as the program coordinator for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program since 2005 and as an adjunct professor of sociology since 2006. Embray is a graduate of the University of Utah where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in sociology. He also recently completed degree requirements for an MBA from Westminster College in December of 2009. A two-time all-conference and all-academic selection as a defensive linemen in the Western Athletic Conference. Embray served as team captain in his senior season and was voted the team’s defensive MVP that same year. He went on to play seven years of professional football in the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League and National Football League. The last three years of his career were spent as a defensive end with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Between time in the CFL and AFL, Embray served as a tutor for Upward Bound at the University of Utah and as a substitute teacher in the Salt Lake City school district. Embray also spent the spring of 2001 at Vanderbilt University, where he served as a life skills advisor in the athletics department. After retiring in 2002, due to an injury, he returned to Salt Lake City where he worked for three years as an on-air personality with two local radio and television stations, including time spent as a sideline reporter for both collegiate and professional sports. Embray will provide assistance in the total development of Notre Dame’s student-athletes. The office of Student-Athlete Welfare and Development fosters the cultivation of skills that prepare student-athletes for life beyond college and athletics, as well as providing resources to succeed academically, athletically and personally at Notre Dame. The Student-Athlete Welfare and Development staff also works closely with the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) to discuss issues that contribute to a student-athlete’s overall experience. Embray fills the position vacated by Harold Swanagan when Swanagan joined the Notre Dame men’s basketball staff last summer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1. The final three pieces to University of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly’s coaching staff have been hired, Kelly announced last night. Kerry Cooks will coach Notre Dame’s outside linebackers, Tim Hinton will serve as running backs coach and Ed Warinner will coach the offensive line. Tony Alford has switched to wide receivers coach.

Cooks joins the Irish from the University of Wisconsin where he served as the Badgers’ defensive backs coach for the past four seasons. At Wisconsin, he helped develop 10 all-Big Ten Conference honorees, including three first-team selections. He helped lead the Badgers to a 38-14 record since 2006, with Wisconsin finishing the season ranked in the top 25 three times. A former all-Big Ten safety at Iowa, Cooks has coached at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level the last seven years, following his National Football League career. A native Texan, Cooks has served as a primary recruiter in that state for Wisconsin and will be Notre Dame’s lead recruiter in Texas moving forward.

“I’ve known Kerry Cooks for a while and actually tried to hire him at Central Michigan, but an opportunity arose for him at Minnesota that he couldn’t pass up,” Kelly said. “I’ve watched his progress from afar over the years and when the Notre Dame job happened for me he was one of the first guys I thought of to add to our coaching staff. Kerry brings a wealth of experience from his time in the Big Ten and especially at Wisconsin. His background as a player at Iowa and in the NFL will make him a tremendous asset to our players. Kerry is also a great recruiter with connections to the state of Texas. He will serve as our lead recruiter down there as we look to focus more on areas like Texas that have an abundance of talented players.”

Hinton has been a football coach for 29 years, including 15 seasons at the collegiate level. He was an assistant the last six years at Cincinnati and served as the Bearcats’ running backs coach in five of those seasons. This past season, Hinton’s top two running backs combined to average 6.4 yards per carry and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. His running backs did not lose a fumble nor did they allow a sack in 2009. Hinton, who worked 14 years as a high school head coach in Ohio, served as the Bearcats’ recruiting coordinator last year and has recruited Ohio and Florida in the past.

“Tim Hinton is a veteran football coach who brings not only coaching experience at all levels to our coaching staff, but also the ability to build great relationships with players,” Kelly said. “He is a tireless recruiter and is well respected in our profession. Tim’s expertise in the running game and pass protections combined with his experience in my offensive system make him a perfect fit for our running backs. He developed both young and veteran players for us at Cincinnati, and I look forward to seeing what he’ll be able to do with us at Notre Dame.

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten to know Tony Alford well while traveling with him on the recruiting trail,” Kelly said. “I can tell that he is a terrific teacher and coach, so that is why I’ve asked him to become our wide receivers coach. This move will not only help Tony but also benefit the program. For Tony, this is a great professional development opportunity and gives him a chance to really increase his coaching acumen. For the team, this takes a great coach and puts him at a position where he will have multiple players on the field at one time in our offense. I have complete confidence in Tony’s ability to coach our wide receivers and plan to see a similar impact with them as he had with the running backs last year.”

Warinner has 26 years of coaching experience and in 13 of the last 18 seasons he has coached the offensive lines at Army, Air Force, Kansas and Illinois. He has directed offenses that led the nation in rushing (Air Force, 2002), were tops in Big Ten Conference rushing (Illinois, 2006) and ranked second in the nation in scoring (Kansas, 2007). Warinner comes to Notre Dame after serving as the offensive coordinator since 2007 at Kansas. With the Jayhawks, he helped them post the three highest yards-per-game averages and the three most prolific passing seasons in school history.

“Many members of our coaching staff are guys with whom I have personal history from either coaching with or coaching against them,” Kelly said. “Ed Warinner wasn’t one of those guys, but during our interview it became clear to me that he would fit perfectly into the coaching staff I have assembled. His ability to fit in well with the rest of the coaches and the offensive coaching versatility he presents are what I liked most about him. The first thing I noticed was that his personality will blend nicely with everyone else on the staff. He’s a ‘we’ guy, not an ‘I’ guy. Secondly, he had great success at Kansas as an offensive coordinator and has a great understanding of what we’ll try to do offensively. The fact that he also taught the option offense at Army and Air Force complements the rest of our coaching staff and will only make us better and more diverse. I’m anxious to see him work with our offensive linemen.”

Additional roles, such as recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator, will be determined and announced by Kelly at a later date.

2. Lindsay Schrader had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Skylar Diggins scored 14 points, and Notre Dame finally put away pesky South Florida with a run late in the second half to win 81-64 Tuesday night. South Florida (9-7, 0-3 Big East) stayed in the game by shooting 50 percent until going cold with 7:30 minutes left, when they went just 1-of-7 from the floor. Natalie Novosel ignited the decisive 19-3 run for the Irish (15-0, 2-0 Big East) with a 3-pointer with 6:02 left. The Irish dominated the boards, outrebounding the Bulls 47-13, and forced 20 turnovers leading to 30 points. The Bulls lost for the fifth time in seven games, but led by Sequoyah Griffin’s 16 points gave the Irish a tough challenge until the end. It wasn’t the type of outing the Irish were hoping for heading into their game Saturday against top-ranked Connecticut on Saturday.

3. Jay Bilas on espn.com selected Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody as his midseason first-team All-America center, with these comments: “Some may believe that Harangody has not won at the same level of the other first-teamers, but it is not his doing. At times a volume shooter, Harangody has continued to be impossible to shut down and as productive a player as there is in the nation. Barring something strange befalling him, Harangody will lead the Big East in scoring and rebounding for the third straight season. As conference play begins, Harangody is averaging 25 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2 assists, while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the line. Harangody can step away, he can face you up and drive, and despite the best interior defenders and detailed scouting reports, nobody in the Big East can shut the big redhead down. Harangody will leave Notre Dame as the most productive big man ever in South Bend, and only Austin Carr will be in his category as an achiever on the stat sheet.” Bilas’ other first-team picks were Kentucky’s John Walls and Duke’s Jon Scheyer at guard, plus Texas’ Damion James and Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson at forward.

4. Classes began at Notre Dame yesterday – and there were five mid-year enrollees who will be playing football for the Irish beginning this spring – safety Chris Badger from Provo, Utah; cornerback Spencer Boyd from Cape Coral, Fla.; cornerback Lo Wood from Apopka, Fla.; receiver Tai-ler Jones from Gainesville, Ga., and quarterback Tommy Rees from Lake Forest, Ill. Also back in school is quarterback Nate Montana, who previously attended Notre Dame but played football last fall at Pasadena City (Calif.) College.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1. Two former members of the strength and conditioning staff at the University of Cincinnati and one former assistant coach with the Bearcats have been added to the University of Notre Dame strength and conditioning staff, Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced this afternoon.

Paul Longo becomes Notre Dame’s director of football strength and conditioning while Jacob Flint and Lorenzo Guess will serve as assistant directors of strength and conditioning.

Longo has 23 years of experience with NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools and has worked at Wisconsin, Iowa, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He just completed his third season at Cincinnati and has worked alongside Kelly since 2004. Longo’s teams have been well conditioned and have been one of the top closing teams in the nation. Since 2005, Longo’s and Kelly’s teams are 42-1 when leading after three quarters and 39-2 when taking a lead into halftime. Longo has helped produce more than 50 NFL draft picks in his career, including a combined eight picks the last two years at Cincinnati – as many as the Bearcats had produced in the previous five years combined.

“Paul Longo has been an integral part of the success we’ve experienced over the last six seasons,” Kelly said. “He has done an incredible job of not only developing our players and getting them ready to play championship football in our program, but also helping prepare them for the NFL. Paul joins our offensive and defensive coordinators as leaders of this program. He cuts across the traditional strength and conditioning coach mold because he builds relationships with all players and coaches and serves as a leader, not just in the weight room, but throughout the program. Paul is a critical addition to our program because, arguably, no coach will have more contact with our players throughout the whole year than our strength and conditioning coach. Based on his track record and what I have personally witnessed, I can’t wait to see how he’ll make our team better moving forward.”

Flint had been a member of Cincinnati’s strength and conditioning staff since 2007, helping the Bearcats to a 33-6 record during that time. He played for Kelly at Central Michigan as a walk-on and eventually earned a scholarship. In his free time, Flint competes in the 85-kilogram weight class at USA weightlifting events and is ranked 25th nationally.

Guess coached the Cincinnati tight ends in 2009 after previously serving on strength and conditioning staffs from 2005-09 at South Florida, Alcorn State, Kentucky State, Cincinnati and Tiffin. Guess played both football and basketball at Michigan State, earning four letters with the football team and receiving two letters from the basketball team.

“Jake Flint and Lorenzo Guess are great additions to our team because they complement Paul well in the weight room and throughout our program,” Kelly said. “Jake and Lorenzo are both young guys who played college football recently and will help serve as strong leaders in our strength and conditioning program. Jake played for me at Central Michigan, and he has been on a steady rise in this profession since our days in Mount Pleasant. Lorenzo has expertise in the weight room as well as the experience of being an assistant coach at this level, as he worked with our tight ends last year. I’m really excited to see our strength and conditioning staff get to work with our guys.”

The remaining three assistant coaches should be announced in the near future.

2. The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Central Scouting Service has ranked Notre Dame freshman hockey center Riley Sheahan (St. Catharine’s, Ont.) fifth among all North American skaters in its mid-term rankings for the 2009-10 season. He is joined in the rankings by four other players who have signed national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame in the fall of 2010 or 2011. The group of five is made up of three defensemen and two forwards.

Besides Sheahan, the group includes defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.), ranked 28th; defenseman Kevin Lind (Homer Glen, Ill.) at 32nd; defenseman Jarred Tinordi (Millersville, Md.) at 42nd and forward Bryan Rust (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) who is ranked 76th. Johns, Tinordi and Rust currently play for the U.S. National Team Development Program while Lind plays for the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League (USHL).

NHL Central Scouting provides scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to all NHL teams. The mid-season rankings features the top 210 skaters and 32 goaltenders in North America. CSS also prepares a list of the top 100 skaters and seven goaltenders from Europe. The lists are then updated in May for the NHL Entry Draft on June 25-26, in Los Angeles, Calif.

Sheahan (6-2, 200) is ranked tops among all collegiate players and all non-major junior players and fifth overall behind Canadian major junior players Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Cam Fowler and Brett Connolly. In 23 games to date for the Irish,, Sheahan, a left-handed center is fifth on the team in scoring with five goals and nine assists for 14 points. He sees action in all situations at Notre Dame, centering one of the team’s top lines, killing penalties and playing on the power play.

Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee, who covers the U.S.-based prospects had this to say about Sheahan: “He’s a pretty exciting player because for his age he’s equally as smart in all three zones. He’s an asset offensively, he’s an asset defensively and in the neutral zone he’s clever. Good positionally, understands the game. Big guy who uses his size well, poised, good hands. If he’s guilty of anything he doesn’t shoot the puck enough, but that’s because he’s a center man.”

Following Sheahan on the list is Johns who is a 6-3, 215-pound right-handed defenseman who is in his second season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. A big, rugged defenseman with good size and reach, Johns brings a physical element to the game. In 2008-09 with the Under-17 team, he served as an alternate captain on the team that won the bronze medal at the 2009 Under-17 World Challenge in Port Alberni, B.C. This season, he’s played in 35 games and has three goals and seven assists for 10 points with 32 penalty minutes.

Defenseman Kevin Lind is a 6-3, 198-pound left-shot defenseman who is currently in his second season of playing for the Chicago Steel. In 27 games this season, Lind has six goals and four assists for 10 points, is +3 on the year and has 37 penalty minutes, as Chicago is 13-15-4 on the season. Earlier this year, Lind was a teammate of fellow incoming freshmen Jeff Costello (Milwaukee, Wis.) and David Gerths (Ankeny, Ia.) on the gold-medal winning U.S. Junior Select Team that won the World Jr. A Challenge in Summerside, P.E.I., Nov. 1-8. He was originally ranked ninth by Central Scouting in their preliminary rankings of USHL players.

Following Lind on the list is defenseman Jarred Tinordi who is now in his second season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development program. Tinordi is a 6-5, 202-pound left-shot physical, defenseman who plays a shutdown style but can also jump into the play and create offense with and without the puck. He’s played in 35 games this season and has three goals and seven assists for 10 points with 46 penalty minutes. He is the son of former NHL defenseman Mark Tinordi who played 12 seasons with Minnesota, Dallas and Washington.

Rounding out the group of Irish players is Rust. A 5-11, 191-pound right-handed center, he is in his second year with the national program. The brother of current Michigan player and USA National Team Development alum, Matt Rust, Bryan has had a break out season with the USA Under-18 team as he has 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points in 35 games to date. He has one power-play goal, two short-handed tallies and three game winners so far this year.

3. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team has been ranked ninth in Lacrosse magazine’s preseason poll for the upcoming 2010 spring season. The Lacrosse staff compiled the rankings in all divisions after consultations with coaches throughout the country. They will appear in the January issue of the magazine with expanded college previews in the February issue. During the 2010 regular season, Notre Dame will face eight teams that are ranked in the Lacrosse poll led by five-time defending national champion Northwestern, as the Wildcats are ranked #1 to start the new campaign. Also on the Notre Dame schedule this season are #6 Georgetown, #7 Syracuse, #11 Vanderbilt, #12 Dartmouth, #13 Boston University, #15 Loyola (Md.) and #16 Ohio State. The Irish are coming off a season that saw them finish 16-5 overall while going 5-2 in the BIG EAST regular season and finish third. In the BIG EAST Tournament, they would knock off Syracuse in the semifinals before capturing Notre Dame’s first women’s lacrosse BIG EAST crown with a win over Georgetown. Four BIG EAST teams enter the preseason ranked in the top 20 — Georgetown, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Loyola (Md.).

4. Fighting Irish women’s soccer player Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy) has been invited to the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team Camp, it was announced by U.S. Soccer and head coach Bill Irwin. Joining Fowlkes on the 24-player roster is former Irish defender Elise Weber ’09. The week-long camp opens Jan. 13 and will be held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The week will include two games against the senior South Korean Women’s National Team, which is training in Southern California for three weeks. Irwin’s team will face the Koreans on Saturday, Jan. 16, and on Monday, Jan. 18, with both games scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. (PST) at the Home Depot Center. Players called into the U-23s in 2010 must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1987. Fowlkes has been listed as a defender on Irwin’s roster, but her call into the national camp comes on the heels of having a breakout year helping to lead the Irish offense after moving to the forward line three weeks into the season (a position she initially started at in her college career, before moving to holding midfielder and central defender last season and earlier in 2009). She finished the season tied for second on the team with 24 points on 10 goals (including three game winners) and four assists – all career high marks. She also played in all 26 games for the Irish, including 25 starts. Weber, who currently plays for the St. Louis Athletica of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league, played for the Irish in 2007 and 2008 after spending her first two seasons at Wisconsin. She started all 53 games during her two years at Notre Dame, notching four goals and 10 assists (18 points). Weber was an all-BIG EAST honorable mention choice as a senior and she also was an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second-team selection in 2008. She was drafted 21st overall by the Athletica in the Inaugural WPS Draft. Fowlkes is one of 11 college juniors invited to the first camp of 2010, while Weber is one of four WPS players on the roster. Additionally, Fowlkes is one of two current BIG EAST athletes invited to camp, as Marquette’s sophomore goalkeeper Natalie Kulla will also be in attendance.

5. The United States Basketball Writers Association (USWBA) has named Irish men’s basketball tri-captain Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) as its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week after the senior forward averaged 30.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in Notre Dame’s wins over USF (74-73) and West Virginia (70-68). The USBWA’s weekly honor is presented by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and will be handed out each Tuesday through Feb. 23 this season. As the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week this week for the first time this season and the fifth time in his career, Harangody was nominated for the weekly award, which was chosen by a representative of the USBWA board of directors from a list of Division I conference players of the week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

1. Notre Dame guard Tory Jackson expected West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler to take the last shot for the win and made sure he got a hand in his face. “My hand was so close to him he could smell what I ate,” Jackson said. Butler, who hit a winning three at the buzzer against Marquette Dec. 29, couldn’t do it again against the Fighting Irish. His shot at the buzzer rolled around the rim and out and Notre Dame, which led by 22 early in the second half, held on for a 70-68 victory over the eighth-ranked Mountaineers Saturday night at Purcell Pavilion. “He has made shots like that before. It almost went in,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. The Irish (14-3, 3-1 Big East) were 14 of 20 on free throws in the final 11:20, while West Virginia was two of four for the game. It was the second straight game where the Irish pulled out a win in the closing seconds. Luke Harangody, who led the Irish with 24 points against West Virginia, hit the winning free throw with 1.9 seconds left against South Florida on Tuesday after the Irish squandered a 13-point second-half lead. “I think we have a pretty mentally tough group, a poised group,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “Both nights, Tuesday night and tonight, you could panic a little bit and wonder.” The Mountaineers (12-2, 3-1) got back in it by hitting nine of 19 three-pointers in the second half, closing to 67-66 on a shot from behind the arc by Dalton Pepper with 4:50 left. But Harangody muscled his way in down low to score inside to give the Irish a three-point lead. After Pepper missed a three, Jackson hit a free throw with 3:25 left to make it 70-66. After Jackson missed a pair of three-pointers, Joe Mazzulla banked in a shot inside to cut the lead to two, but the Mountaineers couldn’t hit the last shot. Tim Abromaitis added 17 points for the Irish, who didn’t have a basket from the floor in the last four minutes. Tyrone Nash added 13 points on five-of-five shooting, all in the first half. Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers with 17 points on eight-of-11 shooting. Butler was four of 20, three of 12 from three-point range, and finished with 13 points. Devin Ebanks, who averages 13.3 points a game, played just three minutes in the second half. The Fighting Irish dominated early, hitting their first nine shots to open a 25-4 lead on an outside jumper by Harangody. The Mountaineers went two for 16 from the floor during that span, including none for six from three-point range. The Mountaineers used runs of 11-0 and 10-2 in the second half to get back in the game. It was West Virginia’s second loss in nine days in Indiana. Purdue beat the Mountaineers 77-62 on New Year’s Day. The Irish posted their first win over a top-10 team since defeating Louisville, 90-57, on Feb. 12, 2009. Notre Dame shot 75 percent (18 of 24) in the first half against West Virginia, its best ever shooting percentage in a half in the Mike Brey era. The Irish hit six of seven three-point attempts in the first half against the Mountaineers, good enough for 80 percent and the best three-point shooting percentage in a half under Brey. Notre Dame’s 17 first-half assists were the most ever in any half of a BIG EAST game in Irish history. With 24 points against West Virginia, Harangody took over sole possession of second place on Notre Dame’s all-time scoring list with 2,247 points for his career. Austin Carr holds the record with 2,560 career points. Harangody made his 100th career start against the Mountaineers, becoming just the eighth Irish player to accomplish that feat. Senior guard Ben Hansbrough set a career high with nine rebounds and tied his career high with 10 assists. Nash tied a career high with 13 points against the Mountaineers.

2. Notre Dame’s starters were sitting on the bench counting the number of turnovers Villanova was committing. “We heard they had 29, then we were like, `Thirty, that’s 30, 31!”‘ Irish point guard Melissa Lechlitner said. “We were definitely excited because coach kept saying, `They’re not going to turn it over, they’re not going to make dumb plays.’ So for us to force them into turnovers and travels and everything, I think that’s really a credit to our defense.” The third-ranked Irish (14-0, 1-0 BIG EAST) forced the Wildcats (10-4, 0-2) into a season-high 34 turnovers in beating Villanova 81-46 Saturday at Purcell Pavilion, the largest margin of victory in the 26-game series between the schools. The Wildcats entered the game second in the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 12.6. They had 17 in the first half–one shy of their previous season high. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw was pleased her team, which in the past has struggled against Villanova’s methodical style in the past, was able to control the tempo. “This is a game I don’t look forward to because their style of play and they take such good care of the ball and they move so well. It’s a difficult game for us,” McGraw said. “I thought our pressure today in the man-to-man was unbelievable.” The Irish turned the ball over nine times, matching the season low set against Purdue the previous game. Skylar Diggins led the Irish with 18 points on seven-of-nine shooting and was key in leading the Irish defensively. She was among seven Irish players with at least two steals. Melissa Lechlitner added 11 points. The Irish used a 19-4 run to end the first half and open a 43-22 lead at intermission. That was one point shy of the most points surrendered in a half this season by the Wildcats, who were giving up an average of 48 points a game. The Irish added a 23-3 run in the second half to go ahead 75-38. The Fighting Irish held the Wildcats to their lowest series point total since Jan. 24, 2004, when Notre Dame pulled out a memorable 38-36 win at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame registered its sixth 35-point win over the season, extending its school record in that category. For the third time in five games, every Fighting Irish player in uniform got into the scoring column (12 vs. Charlotte on Dec. 20; 13 at UCF on Dec. 29). Notre Dame now has had a different leading scorer in six of the past seven games, with only junior guard Brittany Mallory repeating with top scoring honors in that time (Valparaiso and UCF). The Fighting Irish earned their 100th BIG EAST win at Purcell Pavilion, improving to 100-17 (.855) all-time in BIG EAST play at the arena. Saturday’s crowd of 8,917 was the seventh crowd of 8,000+ fans in eight home games this season (including a sellout Dec. 31 vs. Vanderbilt).

3. Third-period goals by Ferris State’s Blair Riley and Cody Chupp snapped a 2-2 tie to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 win over Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon at a sold-out Joyce Center. The win gave Ferris State a weekend sweep of the Irish and moved the Bulldogs into a tie for first place in the CCHA with Miami. Notre Dame defensemen Kyle Lawson and Ian Cole each scored first-period power-play goals to give the Irish a 2-1 lead after the opening period. The loss dropped Notre Dame to 9-10-5 on the season and 5-7-4-2 in the CCHA, good for 21 points and a three-way tie for seventh place with Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha. Ferris State is now unbeaten in its last 12 CCHA games (10-0-2) and improved to 16-4-2 overall and 10-2-2-2 in the conference, good for 34 points and a share of the CCHA lead with Miami. The Bulldogs and RedHawks tangle next weekend at Big Rapids, Mich., in a two-game series. On the night, Ferris State outshot Notre Dame by a 33-29 margin. Notre Dame’s Tom O’Brien, making just his second start of the season, had a career-high 29 saves in the contest. Notre Dame returns to action with a home-and-home series on Jan. 15-16 versus the Michigan State Spartans. On Fri., Jan. 15, the two teams will meet in an 8:05 p.m. EST game at the Joyce Center that will be televised by CBS College Sports. On Sat., Jan. 16, the Irish and Spartans will tangle at Munn Arena in East Lansing, Mich., in a 7:05 game. The back-to-back losses to Ferris State marked just the second time this season and the 10th time in the Jeff Jackson era (2005-present) that the Irish have been swept in a series. Miami did it in December at Oxford, Ohio. It happened five times in his first year, twice in 2007-08, once last year and twice this season. The sellout crowd of 2,767 on Sunday was the 10th sellout crowd in 14 home games this season. Since Dec. 13, 2008, Notre Dame has had 19 sellout crowds in its last 23 games. Ryan Thang now has 51 goals and 49 assists for his 100 career points. He joins fellow senior Kevin Deeth who has 35 goals and 75 assists for 110 points to rank 37th all-time as the two Notre Dame players to reach 100 points this season.

The Fighting Irish went into Saturday night’s hockey game with Ferris State looking to continue the momentum they had started a week earlier in winning the 2010 Shillelagh Tournament in Chicago. The Bulldogs had other ideas as five players had two or more points and goaltender Pat Nagle turned aside 18 of 20 Irish shots in a 5-2 win at a sold-out Joyce Center. Kevin Deeth and Ian Cole scored Notre Dame’s two goals on the night. The five goals given up by Mike Johnson and the Irish were the most that both have given up in a game this season.

4. The first dual meet of 2010 ended in defeat for the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team Saturday at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. The Irish (4-2) fell to visiting Northwestern 158.5-139.5. Top Irish performers were John Lytle (won 50 and 200 freestyle races and helped 400 free relay to victory) and Petar Petrovic (won 100 and 200 backstroke events) “We were pleased with a few today, including the fact that we were significantly faster on this date this year than we were on this date last year, and that is right after coming off of our training trip,” Irish head coach Tim Welsh said. “This is a good sign for the future, and it carried over in what you could see in spirit and competitiveness. Congratulations to Northwestern, they won the events they needed to when they needed them, particularly in the three-meter diving and the 100 freestyle. I thought that was the turning point of the meet. We know where we have to go to work. We want to be faster next week, the week after, and the week after that.” Notre Dame faces Michigan State Friday (Jan. 15) at 5:00 p.m. (EST).

5. For the second straight time season, the outcome of the dual-meet rivalry between the Notre Dame and Northwestern women’s swimming and diving teams came down to the final race. No. 23 Northwestern was able to prevail once again, winning the 400 free relay to secure a 153-147 win over the Irish (1-2) Saturday at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Notre Dame was led by Natalie Stitt (she won both the one- and three-meter diving events), Samantha Maxwell (she won the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and helped win the 200 medley relay), Amywren Miller (she won the 50 freestyle and helped win the 200 medley relay) and Kim Holden (she won the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly and helped the 200 medley relay to victory). “Having this meet right after our training trip is a good indication of how hard we have worked in the past 15 days,” Irish head coach Brian Barnes said. “We were in Hawaii not more than 36 hours ago and caught the red-eye back home. But we all knew what we were facing. Our legs weren’t too fresh. The standout performances were in diving, where we won both events. Samantha Maxwell is starting to look real strong and she’s coming around very nicely. She is a great competitor and someone you want on your relays at the end of the year. Amywren Miller had a great meet, especially on that last (400 free) relay, pulling home an awesome split in the anchor position.” In one week, the Irish will welcome BIG EAST rival Louisville for a home meet Jan. 16. Action begins at 1:30 p.m. (EST).

6. Here’s what Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress had to say in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Sid Hartman’s column) about former Irish center John Sullivan, who in 2009 started for the first season for the Vikes in replacing 11-year starter Matt Birk (who signed with Baltimore in the offseason): “He loves football. He spends time at it, it’s important to him, he’s got a great relationship with the quarterback, he’s got a great relationship in that offensive meeting room. You can’t put a premium on that, it’s like getting a coach’s kid. Any time you get a coach’s kid, it’s a little bit more important to him because he’s seen it come through the door all the time, this guy is a gym rat. He loves everything about the game; you’ve got to throw him out of here at night.”

7. An early college football top 25 for 2010 from Mark Schlabach of espn.com lists Alabama #1 – and includes four teams on the 2010 Notre Dame slate: #15 Pittsburgh, #20 USC (that was before the departure of Pete Carroll), #24 Stanford and #25 Navy. Meanwhile Stewart Mandel of si.com in what he termed an “early 2010 BCS forecast” put Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl against Texas (also Alabama-Ohio State in BCS title game, Oregon-Boise State in Rose, Nebraska-Iowa in Fiesta and Pittsburgh-Virginia Tech in Orange)

8. Three start times for Irish home hockey games have changed due to television. Here’s when the games will be played: 8:05 p.m. EST on Jan. 15 vs. Michigan State
8:05 p.m. EST on Jan. 29 vs. Nebraska-Omaha
8:05 p.m. EST on Jan. 30 vs. Nebraska-Omaha

9. Former Notre Dame assistant coach Joker Phillips, who last week became head coach at his alma mater, Kentucky, becomes the 14th ethnic minority to head up a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision program for the 2010 season. Others in that category with Irish ties are former Note Dame assistants Charlie Strong, now head coach at Louisville, and Michael Haywood, heading into his second season as head coach at Miami (Ohio).

10. For the second time this season, Notre Dame freshman guard Skylar Diggins has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced today by the conference office. In addition, senior guard/tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner was tapped for the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after both players helped the #3 Fighting Irish pick up a pair of wins last week and keep Notre Dame as one of only five unbeaten teams in the country.

11. One of the new assistant football coaches at Buffalo (under former Brian Kelly Cincinnati Bearcat assistant Jeff Quinn) is former Irish assistant coach Jappy Oliver.

12. The College Football Achievement Awards has named Golden Tate of Notre Dame winner of its 2009 Wide Receiver Trophy (shared with Missouri’s Danario Alexander). The CFPA provide “the most scientifically rigorous conferements in college football,” with its selections based on “objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.” Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett was selected the national performer of the year – with Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen one of eight selected to the elite level (next level) among the national performers. Clausen also was one of 13 elite level quarterbacks, and Michael Floyd one of 19 elite receivers.

13. Three first-year eligible players — former Notre Dame standout and ’87 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith — are among the 15 modern-era finalists named Friday and who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall’s Selection Committee meets in South Florida on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. Joining the three first-year eligible players are 11 other modern-era players and a longtime head coach. The 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees announced in August 2009 (former Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau and former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little), will be the only candidates considered for Hall of Fame election when the 44-member Selection Committee meets. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent. The official Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years active follow: Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins Don Coryell – Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers Roger Craig – Running Back – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles Russ Grimm – Guard – 1981-1991 Washington Redskins Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys Rickey Jackson – Linebacker – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks Dick LeBeau* – Cornerback – 1959-1972 Detroit Lions Floyd Little* – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos John Randle – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens Emmitt Smith – Running Back – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals

Carter, Dawson, Dent, Grimm, Kennedy, Randle, Reed, and Sharpe have all been finalists in previous years. Although they were eligible in previous years, this is the first time Coryell, Craig, Haley, Jackson, Little, and LeBeau have been finalists. From this year’s list, five players – Dawson, Grimm, Kennedy, LeBeau, and Little – spent their entire NFL career with just one team. LeBeau and Little were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee at their August 2009 meeting. The Seniors Committee reviews the qualifications of those players whose careers took place more than 25 years ago. The remaining 15 modern-era finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall’s 44-member Selection Committee from a list of 131 preliminary nominees that earlier was reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists. To be eligible for election, modern-era players and coaches must be retired at least five years (prior to 2007 coaches were eligible immediately after retiring). Since Coryell retired prior to the 2007 change in coach’s eligibility, he has been eligible the longest of the modern-era nominees, 23 years. Grimm has been eligible 14 years, while Craig has been eligible 12 years. Jackson has been eligible for 10 years, Dent eight years, Haley six years, Reed, Dawson and Kennedy five years, Carter three years, Randle and Sharpe two years. Brown, Rice and Smith are in their first year of eligibility. Senior nominees LeBeau and Little have been eligible 33 years and 30 years respectively. The Selection Committee will meet in South Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, to elect the Hall of Fame Class of 2010. The election results will be announced at 5 p.m. EST during a one-hour NFL Network special, live from the Broward County Convention Center. At the 2010 selection meeting, the selectors will thoroughly discuss the careers of each finalist. Although there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s current ground rules stipulate that between four and seven new members will be selected each year. No more than five modern-era nominees can be elected in a given year and a class of six or seven can only be achieved if one or both senior nominees are elected. Representatives of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche will tabulate all votes during the meeting.

14. Stats compiled over the weekend by former Irish football players in NFL wild-card playoff action included: Bertrand Berry, Arizona – 2 solo tackles (both sacks)
Ryan Grant, Green Bay – 11 rushes for 65 yards; 2 catches for 18 yards
Tom Zbikowski, Baltimore – 1 solo tackle; 1 kickoff return for 30 yards
Chinedum Ndukwe, Cincinnati – team-leading 10 tackles (7 solo), 2 TFL
Victor Abiamiri, Philadelphia – 2 solo tackles

15. With Pete Carroll moving to the NFL, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly now ranks sixth among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision coaches with his .747 winning percentage (behind only Florida’s Urban Meyer, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Georgia’s Mark Richt, TCU’s Gary Patterson and Penn State’s Joe Paterno).

January 7, 2010

1. With the official end of the college football season following Alabama’s win over Texas last night, here’s where Notre Dame finished in final NCAA statistics (top 20 rankings):

Team Rankings –
— 4th in passing efficiency at 160.16 rating points (behind Florida, Cincinnati and BYU)
— 5th in passing offense at 323.5 yards per game (behind Houston, Texas Tech, Hawaii and Troy)
— 8th in total offense at 451.75 yards per game
— 20th in punt returns at 12.89 yards each

Individual Rankings –
Jimmy Clausen
— 3rd in passing efficiency at 161.42 rating points (behind Florida’s Tim Tebow and Boise State’s Kellen Moore)
— 8th in total offense at 302.25 yards per game
Golden Tate
— 3rd in receiving yards per game at 124.67 (behind Missouri’s Danario Alexander and Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes)
— 8th in receptions per game at 7.75
— 15th in scoring at 9.0 points per game
— 16th in all-purpose running at 159.58 yards per game
Nick Tausch
— 14th in field goals at 1.56 per game

2. Notre Dame ended up in 2009 playing two teams that finished in the final Associated Press top 25 poll – Pittsburgh 15th at 10-3 and USC 22nd at 9-4. In terms of votes received, the Irish also played Navy (28th), Stanford (29th) and Connecticut (35th). The Irish lost all five of those games.

In 2010, the Irish will face three teams that finished in the final AP poll – Pittsburgh, USC and Utah (18th at 10-3).

3. Notre Dame’s appearance against Hawai’i a year in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl helped create a 3.03 ESPN rating. A year later, the Nevada-SMU matchup drew a 1.97, a drop of 35 percent.

4. The final toughest schedule rankings from the NCAA list Notre Dame 49th at 71-63 (. 525). National champ Alabama was second at 93-54 (.632), while runner-up Texas was 14th at 90-65 (.580).

Among Irish opponents in ’09, Michigan State was 21st (.569 at 74-56), Pittsburgh 27th (.560 at 70-55), Connecticut 28th (.559 at 71-56), Washington 37th (.547 at 75-62), USC 54th (.524 at 76-69), Washington State 55th (.518 at 70-65), Boston College 62nd (.511 at 66-63), Purdue 71st (.503 at 66-65), Navy 75th (.500 at 70-70), Michigan 83rd (.487 at 58-61), Stanford 85th (.482 at 69-74) and Nevada 98th (.450 at 63-77).

5. Here are postseason bowl results for Irish ’09 opponents (4-4):

Nevada L 45-10 to SMU in Hawai’i Bowl
Michigan State L 41-31 to Texas Tech in Alamo Bowl
USC W 24-13 over Boston College in Emerald Bowl
Boston College L 24-13 to USC in Emerald Bowl
Navy W 35-13 over Missouri in Texas Bowl
Pittsburgh W 19-17 over North Carolina in Meineke Car Care Bowl
Connecticut W 20-7 over South Carolina in PapaJohns.com Bowl
Stanford L 31-27 to Oklahoma in Sun Bowl

With Nevada and Connecticut going off the 2010 schedule and Utah (a 37-27 Poinsettia Bowl winner over California) coming on the slate, Notre Dame 2010 opponents finished 4-3 in ’09 bowl action.

6. Here’s where Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate finished their Notre Dame careers in terms of top 20 NCAA active career leaders through the end of the 2009 season:

Jimmy Clausen
15th in passing attempts at 1,110
13th in pass completions at 695
17th in passing yards at 8,148
16th in passing touchdowns at 60
13th in passing attempts per game at 31.7
11th in pass completions per game at 19.9
13th in passing yards per game at 232.8
18th in pass completion percentage at .626
19th in total offense TDs responsible for at 65
19th in total offense plays per game at 36.7

Golden Tate
16th in receiving yards at 2,707
9th in receiving touchdowns at 26
11th in receiving yards per game at 73.2
5th in receiving yards per catch at 17.2

7. Meanwhile, Michael Floyd finished 2009 third in career receiving yards per game at 84.1 among active NCAA leaders – and since both players ahead of him (Kansas’ Dezmon Briscoe at 87.6 and Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant at 86.6) are juniors who have declared for the NFL Draft, Floyd will enter his junior campaign in 2010 as the active NCAA career leader in that category. He’s also 13th on the active career list for receptions per game at 5.1 (six players above him are listed as seniors).

8. Notre Dame finished 14th in attendance in 2009 at 80,795 fans per game. The Irish were one of 19 programs that filled their facility to 100 percent capacity or better in ’09. In terms of cumulative attendance, Notre Dame was 11th at 565,565 fans for the year (seven home games).

9. The Kansas City Chiefs officially announced Charlie Weis as their new offensive coordinator at noon today and introduced him at an afternoon press conference.

10. Former Irish running back Darius Walker has launched Houston-based A’Dunte’ & Associates, a marketing and consulting firm that will offer everything from marketing and promotions to consulting and public speaking. Walker left the Irish football program a year early and played two years with the NFL Houston Texans and one (2009) with the Denver Broncos. He returned to Notre Dame and graduated in May 2009.

January 7, 2010

1. University of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly has filled two key leadership positions on his coaching staff as Bob Diaco (pronounced de-AH-ko) has been hired as defensive coordinator and Charley Molnar has been hired as offensive coordinator, Kelly announced today.

Both Diaco and Molnar were on Kelly’s coaching staff at Cincinnati in 2009. Diaco was the Bearcats’ defensive coordinator and coached the inside linebackers while Molnar served as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. With the Irish, Diaco will also work with the inside linebackers and Molnar will coach the quarterbacks.

“I’m thrilled to officially announce that Bob Diaco and Charley Molnar have joined me at Notre Dame and will serve in two leadership positions on my coaching staff. I expect a lot from my coordinators. Because they will direct the position coaches and our players, the coordinators need to be effective leaders, clear communicators and self-starters. Bob and Charley possess these traits and I look forward to having them help me lead the Irish,” said Kelly.

Diaco has 14 years of coaching experience at schools in the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, BIG EAST and Mid-American Conferences. A former all-Big Ten linebacker at Iowa under legendary head coach Hayden Fry, Diaco spent the 2009 season as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati after coaching linebackers for three years at Virginia under Al Groh, one of the top defensive coaches in the country. In his first season with the Bearcats, Diaco’s defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in sacks and tackles for loss and Cincinnati’s rushing defense allowed only 3.6 yards per carry.

“Bob Diaco is a bright and energetic coach who is truly one of the rising stars in this profession and I’m glad he’ll serve as my defensive coordinator. He willingly entered a difficult situation last year when I asked him to join me at Cincinnati and guide a defense that had to replace 10 starters. Bob implemented an entirely new defense and was a major factor in us winning every game during the regular season. He has played for and learned under some fine defensive coaches and will be a great teacher for our guys. Bob will challenge our players and assistants in a positive way on a daily basis and I look forward to the impact he’ll have on our defense,” said Kelly.

Molnar has spent his entire 26-year coaching career on the offensive side of the ball at the collegiate level, including 10 seasons as an offensive coordinator and 16 years coaching quarterbacks. He has coached the last four seasons beside Kelly at Cincinnati and Central Michigan and helped develop record-breaking quarterbacks and wide receivers at both schools. Molnar has won 44 games since 2006 and he’s been part of an offensive staff that has averaged 272.6 passing yards and 32.4 points per game in that span. He has also helped produce players who received All-America, freshman All-America and all-conference honors for the Bearcats and Chippewas.

“I’m excited to have Charley Molnar as my offensive coordinator because he possesses familiarity with my offensive system as well as knowledge from having served as an offensive coordinator earlier in his career. Charley and I have coached together the last four years and I have complete confidence in him to lead the offensive staff and players. I have seen how he has developed both quarterbacks and wide receivers and tailored a passing attack around the strengths of an offense. Charley has spent much of his career coaching quarterbacks and that experience combined with the knowledge he gained as my passing game coordinator the last three years will only benefit the Irish,” said Kelly.

The final three assistant coaching positions at Notre Dame will be announced at a later date.

2. Former Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis apparently is headed for Kansas City. He has agreed to become the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, according to ESPN’s team and league sources. Weis could be named to the position within the next 24 to 48 hours, the sources said late Wednesday night. “Until a deal is done, I really can’t say anything,” Weis said from his home near South Bend, Ind. “It’s not to be disrespectful of you or the Chiefs. I just think it’s really, really important for me, especially with the prospect of there being a relationship there, to make sure I handle this properly.” Weis will be reunited with head coach Todd Haley, with whom he shared an office when both were young assistants with the New York Jets. Weis also will be reunited with Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who was Patriots vice president of player personnel when Weis was the offensive coordinator for three Super Bowl championships before going to coach at Notre Dame. The Bears had also been in the mix to hire Weis as offensive coordinator but the Chiefs won out. Haley ran the offense in his first year with the Chiefs after dismissing offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Haley had expressed a desire to find a coordinator so he could better manage his head-coaching responsibilities. “Charlie’s a guy I have a great amount of respect for as a coach,” Haley said Wednesday at his final news conference of the season. “He’s a coach that system-wise, I would say we’re as close as you can be. Charlie’s a guy I consider a friend and I’ve talked to throughout the year, no different from some of the other guys I lean on for things and advice. I really believe we were able to lay a foundation for the Kansas City Chiefs. We were able to set expectations for our players of what’s expected of them both schematically and offseason, in season and practice — the way we’re going to do things as a team on a consistent basis. I believe that foundation was laid. It was a very difficult year, a year we were able to make progress, as evidenced by the way the season wound down.” The Chiefs are expected to be busy in the offseason trying to fill gaping needs, including defensive back, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive line and tight end. They pick fifth in April’s draft. They could have picked third, but instead ended Haley’s rookie year on a rousing high by beating Denver 44-24 in the season finale last Sunday.

3. New Irish football coach Brian Kelly had to enjoy the result of the GMAC Bowl Wednesday night in Mobile, Ala. Kelly’s former team, Central Michigan, defeated Troy 44-41 in double overtime, as Chippewa quarterback Dan LeFevour completed 33 of 55 passes for 395 yards. In the process, LeFevour moved into second place on the NCAA FBS all-time list for career total yards with 15,853 (only Hawaii’s Tim Chang had more at 16,910). Kelly recruited LeFevour to Central Michigan and coached him in his freshman season in 2006.

4. The funeral Mass for former Chicago-Sun-Timescolumnist Bill Gleason had a definite Notre Dame flavor to it Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Church in Elmhurst, Ill. The celebrant of the Mass was former Irish basketball standout Father John Smyth (he captained the Irish in ’56-’57) — and also in attendance was ’53 Heisman Trophy winner John Lattner. The back cover of the program for the Mass contained, not surprisingly, four Chicago White Sox logos.

5. Notre Dame freshman forward Kyle Palmieri (Montvale, N.J.) and the United States World Junior Hockey team survived a late, third-period Canadian comeback to win in overtime 6-5 to capture the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship at the Credit Union Centre (Saskatoon, Sask.) Tuesday. In the extra period, the United States captured its second gold medal in World Junior Championship play when defenseman John Carlson whipped a shot from the left face-circle past Canada’s Martin Jones just 4:31 into overtime to set off a wild, on-ice celebration for the United States. The last time the U.S. won the gold medal was in 2004. With the win, Palmieri becomes the first Notre Dame player to capture a gold medal in World Junior Championship play and is the 13th Irish player all-time to play for the U.S. Junior National Team. He is the third Irish player to win a medal — as Ben Simon was a member of the silver-medal winning team in 1997 and Kyle Lawson (Sr., New Hudson, Mich.) captained the 2007 team to the bronze medal. The 5-11, 195-pound right wing contributed to the U.S. win Tuesday when he set up Chris Krieder’s goal at 13:56 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. In the seven games played by the United States in this year’s tournament, Palmieri finished third on the team in scoring with one goal and eight assists for nine points with four penalty minutes. He finished second on the team in assists and third in points while his +8 rating tied him for third on the squad. The United States finished the tournament with a 6-1-0 record and avenged its lone loss — a 5-4 shootout loss to Canada in the preliminary round — on New Years’ Eve. The U.S. advanced to the title game with wins over Finland in the quarterfinals and Sweden in the semifinal round. Palmieri will return to Notre Dame and be available for this weekend’s series versus Ferris State at the Joyce Center.

6. The Notre Dame softball team, last year’s BIG EAST Conference Tournament champion, was tabbed third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll released Tuesday by the league. The Irish received two first-place votes for 125 total points. Four squads received first-place votes and topped 110 points in the poll. The Irish, who return 13 players with five newcomers in 2010, posted their 21st winning season in as many years with a 43-17 record in 2009. It was the 11th 40-win campaign in program history and fifth under head coach Deanna Gumpf. Notre Dame also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year and was ranked 25th in the final regular season NFCA Top 25 poll. The ranking was the first since 2004 and the first to end the season since 2002.

7. Sophomore epeeist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) took home the women’s epee gold medal at a Junior World Cup (JWC) event that concluded Tuesday in Budapest, Hungary — marking her fourth JWC gold medal finish since Nov. 1, 2009. After pool play, Hurley was seeded 10th overall in the final table of 64. In her first elimination bout, Hurley edged Marta Ferrari of Italy 15-14. Then, in the round of 32, Hurley defeated Marta Vogt of Italy, 15-6. In the third round, Hurley knocked off Amalia Tataran of Romania by 15-7 margin. In the quarterfinals, Hurley earned a narrow 15-14 win over third-seeded Dorina Budai of Hungary for a place in the semifinals where she downed Italy’s Brenda Briasco, 15-8. In the championship bout, Hurley won the gold with a 15-10 win over Johanna Bergdahl of Sweden. Hurley’s gold medal in Hungary builds upon an impressive string of Junior World Cup finishes. She recently took home Junior World Cup gold medals on Nov. 1 in Montreal, Canada, Nov. 22 in Helsinki, Finland and Nov. 28, 2009, in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany. Hurley is currently ranked #2 in the world according to the most recent release of the FIE women’s junior epee rankings. Since competing in her first junior tournament in 2003, Hurley has turned in 15 top-five finishes at various Junior World Cup events, including seven gold medal triumphs. Four additional Irish fencers participated at the JWC in Budapest including freshman Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.), who finished 18th in women’s sabre. In men’s sabre, Notre Dame freshman Jason Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.) finished 31st. In men’s foil, sophomore Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) finished 44th, while junior Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) finished 51st in women’s foil. The Irish fencing team opens the 2010 NCAA schedule at the New York University Duals Jan. 23.

8. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) released its first rankings for 2010 Tuesday, with the Fighting Irish men’s tennis team placing 30th. The ITA also released its first round of singles rankings, which, led by sophomore Casey Watt at #18, include an impressive four members of the Notre Dame roster. Joining Watt in the rankings are freshman Blas Moros (#74) and juniors Stephen Havens (#93) and Daniel Stahl (#95). After a dominating fall season that included a run to the ITA Midwest Regional finals and an 11-2 overall singles record, Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.) vaulted from 90th in the Sept. 4, 2009, rankings to 18th in the most recent rankings. He is the ninth Irish player to achieve an ITA top-20 singles ranking since 1992, joining a group of players that includes his former teammate Brett Helgeson and current associate head coach Ryan Sachire.

9. The Irish women’s tennis team earned a sixth-place ranking in the first Campbell/ITA national poll of the season Wednesday. Sophomore Kristy Frilling took the 30th spot in the singles rankings, and teamed with senior Kali Krisik as the 12th-ranked doubles duo. Duke earned the top team spot, followed by Northwestern, California, Georgia and Baylor. The Notre Dame women are coming off one of the best seasons in program history. The Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament team semifinals, finishing with a 28-5 record and a fifth-place ranking in the final ITA poll.

10. Your first look at the Irish football squad under new coach Brian Kelly will come April 24 in the Blue-Gold Game. That will be a busy weekend on campus – also including the following home events:

  • Thursday/Sunday: BIG EAST Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships
  • Friday: Baseball vs. Cincinnati (6:05 p.m.)
  • Saturday: Softball vs. Villanova (DH/noon), Baseball vs. Cincinnati (1:05 p.m.)
  • Sunday: Softball vs. Villanova (11:00 a.m.); Baseball vs. Cincinnati (1:05 p.m.)

11. Notre Dame men’s lacrosse has announced its captains for the 2010 season. Seniors Mike Creighton (D/LSM), Neal Hicks (A) and Kelly McKenna (M) are first-time captains, while Scott Rodgers (G), a fifth-year senior, will be serving as a team captain for the second straight season. Creighton (Malvern, Pa.) helped the Fighting Irish defense lead the nation with a program-record 6.19 goals-against average last season. He played in all 16 games in ’09 and along with bolstering the Irish defense, he tallied three points on one goal and two assists. Creighton also picked up a career-high 34 ground balls. Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) had a breakout season in 2009 as he led Notre Dame with 43 points on 25 goals and 18 assists. All of those figures were career-best marks for the attackman, who earned second-team All-Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) accolades. Hicks notched a point in every game last season and netted a goal in all but three contests. McKenna (Penfield, N.Y.) played in all 16 games one season ago and tallied career-high figures in points (7) and assists (4), while his three goals matched a career-best mark. He also picked up 11 ground balls. Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) is coming off a stellar campaign in which he ranked first among all NCAA Division I goalies in goals-against average (6.14) and save percentage (.663) en route to earning third-team All-America honors. He also was named the GWLL Player of the Year. Notre Dame is ranked 10th in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. The Fighting Irish open the 2010 campaign at Duke on Saturday, Feb. 20.

January 5, 2010

1. Three coaches with a combined 43 years of coaching experience with backgrounds in recruiting California, Florida and Chicago have been added to the University of Notre Dame football coaching staff, Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced this afternoon.

Former Indiana State associate head coach Mike Denbrock will coach Notre Dame’s tight ends, former Cincinnati assistant head coach Mike Elston will work with the Irish defensive line and former Grand Valley State head coach Chuck Martin will oversee Notre Dame’s defensive backs.

“I’m excited to welcome Mike Denbrock, Mike Elston and Chuck Martin to the Notre Dame coaching staff,” Kelly said. “Because these guys have worked with me in the past, all three guys understand the importance of player development and we share the same philosophies for making our team better. They each will be valuable recruiters for us as we put together a staff that will be able to cover the country and attract some of the best talent available.”

Denbrock has spent five of the past nine seasons coaching in the Pacific-10 Conference and developing recruiting connections on the West Coast. Sandwiched between his stops at Stanford (2001) and Washington (2005-08), Denbrock coached the offensive tackles and tight ends at Notre Dame (2002-04). While at Notre Dame, Denbrock directly coached seven players eventually drafted into the National Football League. He first met Kelly in 1987 when the two were graduate assistants at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. Kelly later served as the Lakers’ head coach and Denbrock was on his coaching staff from 1992-98, serving as the offensive coordinator from 1992-95.

“Mike Denbrock will coach our tight ends which is a great fit because he played the position in college and has a familiarity with our offense,” Kelly said. “I always believe that anyone who has played the position brings a perspective that is hard to duplicate. Combining that with the knowledge he gained of my offensive system as a coordinator for me in the past will help make him a great coach for us. Where he could really pay dividends for Notre Dame is on the recruiting trail. Mike will be our lead West Coast recruiter and that fits him well considering he has recently spent five years at schools in the Pac-10 developing relationships with high school programs. That is a competitive part of the country when it comes to recruiting and I’m excited to see him represent us out there.”

Elston has been a member of Kelly’s coaching staff the last six seasons and was promoted to assistant head coach at Cincinnati following the 2008 campaign. Elston, who played collegiately at Michigan, has developed a two-time All-American, multiple all-conference players and has coaching experience as a special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator. Last year with the Bearcats, Elston’s defensive line recorded 25.5 sacks alone, more than 63 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, including Notre Dame. He was a top recruiter for Cincinnati in the state of Florida and will continue that role for the Irish.

“Mike Elston has been with me the past six years and has seen how important it is to develop your players,” Kelly said. “He knows the defensive system we plan to implement and will be a tremendous asset to our defensive linemen. Mike was also instrumental in our special teams success at Cincinnati and became one of the top special teams coaches in the country. He was our top recruiter in the state of Florida and Mike will have a prominent role in that state along with Tony Alford. We’ll define the rest of Mike’s recruiting roles at a later time, but he will certainly assist Tony with all of the talent in Florida.”

Martin joins the Irish after serving as head coach at Grand Valley State since 2004. With the Lakers, he won 74 of 81 games (.914) and posted the second-best winning percentage of any active coach – regardless of NCAA division. Martin guided Grand Valley State to the NCAA Division II national championship game three times, winning the title in 2005 and 2006. He was first hired by Kelly at Grand Valley State as the Lakers’ defensive backs coach in 2000 and was later promoted to defensive coordinator. Martin was raised in suburban Chicago and has many recruiting ties throughout Chicago and the Midwest.

“Chuck Martin’s resume as a head coach speaks for itself,” Kelly said. “He has experienced unparalleled success and maximized his player’s ability at Grand Valley State. I expect that to continue at Notre Dame. Chuck started with me as a defensive backs coach, and I was always impressed with his ability to teach the fundamentals and develop defensive backs’ technique. Since Chuck is a native Chicagoan, it only makes sense to have him serve as our lead recruiter in that area. Chicago is one of our base areas that we have to be able to recruit. Chuck knows the high school coaches in Chicago and will be a great fit there as we look to build a solid recruiting base in Chicago and the Midwest.”

The remainder of the Notre Dame coaching staff will be announced at a later date.

2. Melissa Lechlitner has Purdue figured out. One year after setting a career scoring high in a victory over the Boilermakers, she did it again. She scored a career-best 20 points, and #3 Notre Dame held off Purdue 79-75 Monday night to remain unbeaten. Lechlitner, who was averaging 6.2 points per game, made seven of 15 shots, including four three-pointers. Skylar Diggins and Lindsay Schrader each scored 15 points, and Ashley Barlow added 13 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame (13-0), which is off to its best start since winning its first 23 games in 2000-2001. It was the final test for the Fighting Irish before Big East play. “We’re excited to be undefeated in the non-conference portion of our season,” McGraw said. “That was one of our goals, and we’re fortunate.” Purdue could have tied the game in the closing seconds, but Devereaux Peters blocked Samantha Woods’ three-pointer from the right corner, and Notre Dame rebounded. Notre Dame recovered from a rough first half to shoot 48 percent after the break. The Irish had the ball with a 76-73 lead in the final minute. Diggins missed in close as the shot clock wound down, and Purdue gained possession. A Purdue layup with 12.1 seconds left made it a one-point game. The Boilermakers fouled Diggins with 11.8 seconds to play. She made the first free throw and missed the second, but Schrader got the rebound. Schrader made the first free throw, but missed the second to give the Boilermakers a chance. Notre Dame had an uphill climb just to position itself to win. The Boilermakers led 37-28 late in the first half before Notre Dame went on a 8-0 run that included two baskets by Diggins to help trim Purdue’s lead to three points at halftime. A three-pointer by Barlow with 2:38 to play made it 72-67, but Purdue rallied again to set up the frantic final minute. The game provided just the test McGraw felt her team needed. “We’re trying to get ready for the BIG EAST, and we got what we wanted out of this game,” she said. Notre Dame extended its season-opening win streak to 13 games, the second-longest to begin a season and fourth-longest overall run in program history (the last time the Fighting Irish had a longer success string was the start of the 2000-01 season when they won 23 in a row) … Notre Dame earned its fourth consecutive series win over Purdue and fifth in six games, although the Boilermakers still lead the all-time series, 14-9 (the Fighting Irish take a 9-8 edge since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96) … the Fighting Irish are 23-9 on the road in the past two-plus seasons (start of 2007-08 to present) … Notre Dame committed a season-low nine turnovers (previous: 11 vs. South Carolina on Nov. 27 in the Virgin Islands) and its fewest in a game since Feb. 3, 2009 at Pittsburgh (also nine) … for the first time all season, Notre Dame trailed at halftime … the Fighting Irish faced their largest deficit of the season when Purdue moved out to a 23-13 lead with 9:20 left in the first half; it was the first time Notre Dame rallied from a double-digit deficit to win since Feb. 17, 2009, when the Fighting Irish trailed by 14 points (33-19) in the first half at South Florida, but came back to win, 86-79 … Notre Dame tied its season high with eight three-pointers, hitting that mark for the fifth time this year (last vs. Charlotte on Dec. 20).

3. Among those NFL assistant coaches who lost jobs Monday were several former Notre Dame coaches – Giants’ defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan (he coached the Irish safeties and special teams in Bob Davie’s final season in 2001), Redskins’ defensive coordinator Greg Blache (he was a Notre Dame assistant in 1972-75 and 1981-83) and Redskins’ defensive line coach John Palermo (he coached Irish defensive tackles in 1988-89 under Lou Holtz). Meanwhile, former Irish defensive coordinator Rick Minter (1992-93 and 2005-06 at Notre Dame) served as interim head coach at Marshall during his team’s 21-17 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl victory last month over Ohio University.

4. Irish senior forward Luke Harangody has been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after leading averaging 25.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in a week in which Notre Dame opened up BIG EAST play with a 1-1 mark. Harangody earns the honor for the third time this season. In Notre Dame’s 93-78 win over Providence in its BIG EAST opener, Harangody established a new school record with his 57th career double-double as he scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. In an 82-70 loss to Connecticut on the road, he topped the 30-point mark for the 11th time in his career with a 31-point effort, in addition to grabbing nine rebounds. Harangody is averaging 24.3 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 51.1 percent from the field this season in 15 games overall. In Notre Dame’s, two BIG EAST contests, he has averaged 25.0 points and 11.0 rebounds.

5. Two former Notre Dame men’s soccer players have been selected to the College Soccer News Team of the Decade (2000-09). Goalkeeper Chris Sawyer (2001-04) was named to the first team, while forward Joseph Lapira (2004-07) was a second-team pick. Sawyer, a two-time first-team All-American, played in 73 games during his standout collegiate career and posted a 0.66 goals-against average. He was named the BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year in 2003 and 2004. Sawyer was a four-time all-league selection and helped the Fighting Irish capture the 2003 BIG EAST Championship. Sawyer, a native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., was the only goalkeeper selected to the 12-man first team. The second and third teams featured 11 players each. Lapira became Notre Dame’s first-ever recipient of the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C) Hermann Trophy as he took home the national player-of-the-year award in 2006 after leading all NCAA Division I men’s soccer players in goals (22) and total points (50). The Louisiana native copped first-team All-America honors during his junior and senior seasons. Lapira was named the 2006 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and received all-conference accolades three times. For his career, Lapira played in 89 matches and tallied 105 points on 41 goals and 23 assists. His goal and point totals rank fifth in Notre Dame history. Lapira helped guide the Fighting Irish to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship in 2006 and 2007.

6. A familiar face around the Notre Dame athletic scene, longtime Chicago journalist William F. Gleason, died Sunday in Elmhurst, Ill., at the age of 87. Gleason worked for the Southtown Economist, the Chicago American, and the Daily Southtown. He was probably best known during his tenure as a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times and later wrote for 15 years for the South Bend Tribune. He also became nationally known as a regular on “The Sports Writers” shows on both radio and television in years before sports-talk radio became commonplace. An old-school writer, Gleason seldom would be found without a cigar in the vicinity. Any time you received a note from him, it included a line that read, “Enclosed one of my cards” — and the envelope would contain an old baseball card. Gleason was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side and was an ardent White Sox fan.

7. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody is one of 30 midseason candidates for the 2010 John R. Wooden Award that goes to the national men’s college basketball player of the year.

8. Notre Dame freshman forward Kyle Palmieri and the United States World Junior Hockey team will play for the gold medal tonight versus Canada at the World Junior Championships with the opening face off set for 8:00 p.m. (EST) from Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Sask., Canada. The game will be televised live on the NHL Network. For the United States team, this is its third appearance in the gold medal game at the IIHF World Junior Championships (winning the gold medal versus Canada in 2004). The U.S. advanced to the title game Sunday with a 5-2 win over Sweden in one semifinal, while Canada advanced with a 6-1 win over Switzerland. In Sunday’s semifinal game, Palmieri helped get the U.S. offense started when he set up linemate Tyler Johnson’s goal just 1:24 into the game. In the first six games of the tournament, Palmieri has one goal and seven assists for eight points to rank third on the team in scoring while his +8 is tied for second among all players on the U.S. squad. The 5-11, 195-pound right wing picked up four assists in the team’s 12-1 win over Latvia Dec. 29. The United States comes into the championship game with a 5-1-0 record after going 3-1 in the preliminary round — with the lone loss coming against Canada, 5-4 in a shootout Dec. 31. The squad then defeated Finland 6-2 in the quarterfinals Jan. 2, before knocking off Sweden Sunday.

9. West Coast media reports suggest former Irish assistant football coach Brian Polian will become the special teams coach at Stanford. Ironically, Polian will replace D.J. Durkin, a former Notre Dame graduate assistant (2003-04) who is leaving to become linebacker and special teams coach at Florida under another former Irish assistant, Urban Meyer. Other California media reports say Bryant Young, a graduate assistant with the Irish in 2009, will be named defensive line coach at San Jose State. Meanwhile, another former Irish assistant, Joker Phillips (an Irish assistant in 2001), is the new head coach at Kentucky. Phillips had been the Wildcat offensive coordinator under Rich Brooks, who retired yesterday.

10. If you are headed to the men’s or women’s Irish home basketball games on Saturday (women 2:00 p.m. vs. Villanova, men 8:00 p.m. vs. #8 West Virginia), for the first time you can enter Purcell Pavilion at the new south entrance at Gate 9 via the Rosenthal Atrium. Club Naimoli also will be available for the first time to fans who have subscribed.

11. Notre Dame men’s tennis national-letter-of-intent signee Billy Pecor (Scottsdale, Ariz.) finished second in the Boys’ 18 singles competition and women’s tennis signees Britney Sanders (Ontario, Calif.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) teamed up to capture the girls’ 18 doubles title at the USTA Winter National Championships in Phoenix, Ariz. The six-day USTA Winter National Championships began on Dec. 27 and were contested through Jan. 1 and featured nearly 1,000 junior tennis players from across the country. The prestigious event is considered one of the nation’s four junior Level 1 Grand Slam tournaments, along with the Easter Bowl, Clay Courts and the Hard Courts.

12. Former Irish baseball player Matt Nussbaum will be travelling to Vancouver in February for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games along with a small contingent from the National Hockey League Players Association. Associate general counsel for the NHLPA, he will serve as an observer and resource for NHL player members of the Players Association to serve and protect their interests during the Games.

13. At the formal dinner presentation of the 2009 Heisman Trophy to Alabama’s Mark Ingram on Dec. 14 at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel, there were 25 former Heisman Trophy winners on stage — including Notre Dame Heisman winners Tim Brown and John Lattner. Representing the Notre Dame Monogram Club at the event were former Notre Dame football players and monogram winners Tom Galloway (’87), Byron Spruell (’87, MBA ’89) and Ambrose Wooden (’07). Other Notre Dame athletes and monogram winners in attendance were Haley Scott DeMaria (’95) and husband Dr. Jamie DeMaria (’95). Also on the dais was current Notre Dame football/ISP radio play-by-play personality Don Criqui.

14. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly is one of 10 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches nominated for the 2009 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. The finalists are Mack Brown, Texas; Pete Carroll, USC; Kirk Ferentz, Iowa; Al Golden, Temple; Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech; Kelly, then of Cincinnati; Joe Paterno, Penn State; Gary Patterson, TCU; Nick Saban, Alabama; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson. The award will be presented tomorrow in Newport Beach, Calif.

15. Former Notre Dame hockey player Christian Hanson, currently playing for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, has been selected to play for the PlanetUSA All-Stars in the 2010 AHL All-Classic that will be held Jan. 19-20, at the Cumberland County Coliseum in Portland, Me. Hanson is one of 24 players – 13 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders – born outside of Canada to be selected to the PlanetUSA squad. He will participate in the 2010 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Mon., Jan. 18, at 8:00 p.m. and then the AHL All-Star game on Tues., Jan. 20, at 6:00 p.m. AHL fans determined the starting lineups via on-line balloting at theahl.com, while a committee of AHL coaches selected the remainder of the rosters. All 29 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star. With the Marlies, Hanson is currently second in scoring with nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 22 games. Included in his totals are three power-play goals and one short-handed tally (he is +5 for the year). Toronto is currently sixth in the AHL Western Division North Conference with a 15-15-3-2 record, good for 35 points in the standings. Hanson has also seen time in the National Hockey League this year with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he had one assist in six games.

January 4, 2010

1. The Lacrosse magazine preseason rankings list the Notre Dame men 10th and the Irish women ninth. In this, the first season of BIG EAST Conference play in men’s lacrosse, the men’s poll has defending NCAA champ Syracuse #2 and Georgetown #14. The women’s top 20 has Georgetown #6, Syracuse #7 and Loyola #15.

2. The latest edition of Sporting News lists the top 25 college football players for the upcoming draft – and the list includes Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen 12th (and first among quarterbacks) and Golden Tate 18th (and third among receivers, behind only Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant at #4 and Illinois’ Arrelious Benn at #17). . . . If both Clausen and Tate go in the first round, it would be the first time Notre Dame produced multiple first-rounders since 1994 when Bryant Young (#7 overall), Aaron Taylor (#16) and Jeff Burris (#27) all went in the first round.

3. Headed into action tonight, Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have combined for a 24-3 record. The only programs with more combined wins are Kentucky at 27-1 (men 15-0, women 12-1), Ohio State at 26-5 (men 10-4), women 16-1), Miami (Fla.) at 26-3 (men 14-1, women 12-2), Syracuse at 25-2 (men 13-1, women 12-1) and Florida State at 25-4 (men 12-2, women 13-2). Other programs with a combined 24 wins are Duke, Georgia Tech, Baylor and West Virginia.

4. Former Notre Dame football standouts Kris Haines and Joe Montana are two of five individuals who helped shape the tradition of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic and college football history and who will be inducted into the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame during enshrinement ceremonies at 11:00 a.m. April 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The honorees in the eighth Hall of Fame Class include the CBAA’s first Executive Director Wilbur Evans, Notre Dame receiver Haines, Texas wingback Phil Harris, Notre Dame quarterback Montana, and Texas A&M/Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill. A judging committee comprised of media representatives and athletic administrators voted from a list of 52 nominees that included players, coaches, bowl administrators and others who have made special contributions to the Classic. Selection criteria for the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame include the following: Voting is based solely upon an individual’s performance in, or contribution to, the Classic rather than on the person’s overall college or professional career. An individual is eligible five years after their final Classic appearance. Previous Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame inductees from Notre Dame include quarterback Joe Theismann (2003) and head coach Ara Parseghian (2007).

The name Kris Haines warms the hearts of Notre Dame fans all over the world thanks to his miracle catch against Houston in the 1979 Cotton Bowl Classic. Haines and his Irish teammates braved the ice and the cold to rally Notre Dame from a 22-point deficit in the game’s final eight minutes. Down the stretch, Haines grabbed a two-point conversion that brought the Irish within six points of the Cougars with 4:15 left to play. Minutes later, Haines stepped forward again to become Notre Dame’s man of the hour. Irish quarterback Joe Montana connected with his standout receiver on an eight-yard touchdown pass just as time expired. Haines made a diving catch in the corner of the end zone to tie the score at 34-34. The ensuing PAT added an exclamation point to an amazing come-from-behind Irish victory. Notre Dame’s “Comeback Kid” proved he had the stuff legends are made of with two incredible Cotton Bowl performances. In the 1978 Classic, Joe Montana led the Irish to a stunning 38-10 upset of top-ranked Texas, a win that vaulted Notre Dame to the national championship. A year later, facing miserable weather conditions and needing a dose of chicken noodle soup to erase a below-normal body temperature, Montana guided the Irish to another amazing finish. He chipped away at Houston’s 22-point lead in the fourth quarter to pull out a shocking 35-34 victory on the game’s final play.

5. Notre Dame’s hockey team rallied from a 3-1 second-period deficit on Sunday evening to tie sixth-ranked North Dakota, 3-3, in overtime in the title game of the second annual Shillelagh Tournament at the Sears Centre Arena. The Irish then won the tournament title by taking a 2-1 win in five rounds of the shootout after 65 minutes of play. Notre Dame got regulation goals from Ben Ryan, Kevin Deeth and Billy Maday for the tie and then won the shootout on goals by Dan Kissel and Ryan to gain the win. The Fighting Sioux got goals from Chris VandeVelde, Brett Hextall and Brett Bruneteau in 65 minutes of play before Evan Trupp scored in the shootout. The shootout victory gives the Irish their second consecutive Shillelagh Tournament Championship after knocking off Colgate, 5-2, in the opening round of play on Jan. 2. North Dakota advanced to the championship game on the strength of a 3-1 win over Niagara in Saturday’s opening game.

Notre Dame is now 9-8-5 on the season and returns to CCHA action this coming weekend when the Irish host Ferris State on Jan. 9-10 at the Joyce Center. North Dakota is 10-6-4 on the year. The Sioux took an early lead in the shootout as Evan Trupp beat Johnson to make it 1-0 in favor of North Dakota. Calle Ridderwall was stopped by Eidsness before Johnson stopped David Toews. Maday was stopped on Notre Dame’s second scoring chance and Matt Frattin missed for North Dakota. Matt Frattin missed on a scoring bid for the third North Dakota shot. Dan Kissel tied the shootout at 1-1 with his goal on the last Irish chance to send things to overtime. Jason Gregoire, Ryan Thang for ND and Corban Knight, all missed to set up the final shot. Ryan closed the scoring when he snapped a wrist shot from the slot to give the Irish the tournament title. Four Notre Dame players were selected to the all-tournament team, led by Johnson in the Irish goal. Defenseman Brett Blatchford was joined by North Dakota’s Jake Marto. Irish center Kevin Deeth made the team as did Fighting Sioux forward Brett Hextall with Maday chosen to the team and the tournament MVP with three goals on the weekend.

The 20th-ranked Irish hockey squad scored five goals, its highest output of the season, and cruised past Colgate (7-7-4), 5-2, Saturday at the Shillelagh Tournament. The Irish were led by sophomore Billy Maday with two goals. Freshman Riley Sheahan, sophomore Sean Lorenz and junior Calle Ridderwall added one goal each, while seniors Brett Blatchford and Kevin Deeth notched two assists. Freshman Mike Johnson recorded 23 saves in goal for Notre Dame.

6. Connecticut junior center Charles Okwandu, who had never scored more than two points in a game, hit all five of his shots Saturday and finished with 10 points to help #10 UConn beat Notre Dame 82-70. Stanley Robinson scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and Dyson added 20 points, 16 in the second half, and 10 assists for UConn (10-3, 1-1 Big East). Kemba Walker had 11 points and 10 assists, only the second time in school history two players have reached double digits in assists in the same game. Luke Harangody scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Notre Dame (12-3, 1-1), which lost for the first time in four games. Ben Hansbrough, the brother of former North Carolina star forward Tyler, had 14 points and Tyrone Nash added 11 for the Irish, who were playing their first true road game of the season. Notre Dame’s only other games outside South Bend were in the Chicago Invitational Challenge in November. “I feel pretty good about my group, first time on the road,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We came back. We answered some big punches from a good team.” There were 17 lead changes in the game, and UConn didn’t take control until late in the second half. A Harangody jumper midway through the half gave Notre Dame a 54-53 lead. UConn responded with a 13-2 run, but led just 68-62 with 3:48 left when Dyson picked up his fourth foul. Notre Dame’s Tory Jackson missed the front end of a one and one and, after a timeout, the Huskies finished the game by scoring 16 of the final 24 points. Notre Dame jumped out to a 10-4 lead, capitalizing on five early UConn turnovers.

7. Third-ranked Notre Dame got the two things Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw was looking for most against No. 18 Vanderbilt: a challenge and a victory. The Fighting Irish, who hadn’t trailed by more than five points all season, trailed by eight in the first half before pulling out the 74-69 victory on Thursday before a crowd of 9,149, the seventh sellout in the team’s history. It was the closest game for the Irish (12-0) since a 68-67 win at Michigan State on Nov. 19. It looked for a while as though the Irish would beat the Commodores (11-2) pulling away, with the Irish opening a 70-56 lead when Skylar Diggins made a pair of free throws with 3:43 left. A 13-2 run by Vanderbilt cut the lead to 72-69 when Jessica Mooney hit a jumper in the paint with 7 seconds left, but Lindsay Schrader was fouled on the inbounds pass and made a pair of free throws to put the game away as the Irish improved to 4-0 against ranked opponents this season. Schrader finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for her 13th career double-double, a school record for a guard at Notre Dame, although the 6-foot senior plays much more like a post player most games. Diggins added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Irish and Melissa Lechlitner added 14 points. McGraw said she hopes her team isn’t paying attention to the fact the Irish are off to their second-best start ever, have the fourth-longest winning streak in school history or where they are in the rankings. “It’s like a pitcher who’s thrown a no-hitter going into the eighth inning and you look around in the dugout and no one’s asking him any questions. That’s where I want to be,” she said. “I want to get a shield around me so we don’t have to answer the questions of what comes next.” Notre Dame’s 12-game winning streak ties for the fourth-longest in school history (first set by the 1989-90 squad), and it remains the longest since a school-record 23-game run to open the 2000-01 season … the Fighting Irish knock off their fourth ranked opponent this season, while also toppling four ranked non-conference foes for the second year in a row (last year the ranked quartet was LSU, Michigan State, Purdue and Vanderbilt).

8. Jonathan Peoples scored a career-high 23 points and Tim Abromaitis added 22 to lead Notre Dame to a 93-78 victory Dec. 30 over Providence. Peoples and Abromaitis hit five three-pointers each for the Fighting Irish (12-2, 1-0 Big East), who shot 50 percent from three-point range. Notre Dame used a 13-0 run early in the game to go ahead 15-4 and finished the half on a 13-1 run to open a 53-32 lead. The Irish made 56 percent of their shots in the half compared to 32 for the Friars. Providence opened the second half on an 13-1 run, cutting the lead to 54-45 when Sharaud Curry hit a jumper. But Abromaitis hit a three to restore the double-digit lead. Coach Mike Brey won his 200th game in 10 seasons at Notre Dame (200-103), with athletics director Jack Swarbrick presenting the game ball to the Irish head coach after the contest in the locker room. Overall, Brey is 299-155.

9. The Notre Dame baseball team was picked to finish fifth in the 2010 BIG EAST preseason baseball poll as determined by a vote of the league’s 12 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams. The Irish received a total of 84 points. Notre Dame placed junior RHP Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) on the preseason All-BIG EAST squad. Johnson, who earned second-team all-BIG EAST in 2009, went 7-3 with a 4.56 ERA last season. He struck out 64 in 94.2 innings of work and opponents batted just .252 against him. Louisville earned nine of a possible 11 first-place votes to edge second-place USF as the 2010 favorite. The Cardinals had 119 points in the poll, while the Bulls were second with 113 points and three first-place votes. Connecticut was picked third in the preseason poll following the Huskies’ run to the title game of last year’s BIG EAST Championship. St. John’s was tabbed for fourth in the preseason poll. The 2010 baseball season begins Feb. 18 with the early season highlighted by the second annual Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge taking place in Florida. The first weekend of league play is March 26-28 with all 12 schools in action.

10. Former Irish football standout Tim Brown will find out on Thursday if his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is ongoing. Brown was one of 25 modern-era semifinalists announced Nov. 28, and that list this week will be cut to 15. The selections for 2010 will be announced Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl. Brown in December was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Other Notre Dame players on the 131-member preliminary Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot were Mark Bavaro, Joe Theismann and Ricky Watters.