Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1. Since the 2003 season, traveling to Evanston, Ill., has not been fun for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team. Since winning the first two games of the series with Northwestern, the Irish have dropped nine straight games to the Wildcats, including six straight at Lakeside Field in Evanston. On Tuesday night, it was more of the same as Notre Dame fell behind early and could never get back in the game as the Irish dropped a 15-5 decision at Northwestern. Since winning the first-ever meeting at Evanston, Ill, Notre Dame has now lost six straight at Northwestern.

Notre Dame was led offensively by senior attack Gina Scioscia who scored twice and added an assist for a three-point game. Shaylyn Blaney, Kate Newall and Betsy Mastropieri added single goals for the Irish in the game. The win improved top-ranked Northwestern to 8-0 on the season, while Notre Dame falls to 5-3 for the year. The loss was the first of the season for the Irish on the road, as they fall to 3-1 away from home. Averaging over 17 goals per game, the Wildcats wasted little time as they scored six straight goals in a span of 19:33 to build a 6-0 lead. Northwestern out shot Notre Dame by a 29-21 margin in the game. Notre Dame’s Ellie Hilling made six saves for the Irish. Notre Dame continues its three-game road trip Saturday (April 3) when the Irish travel to Georgetown for a 1:00 p.m. game against the Hoyas. They then travel to Baltimore, Md., on Monday, April 5 for a noon contest with Loyola (Md.).

2. Loyola-Chicago sandwiched a two-run fifth inning between outputs of three runs in both the third and sixth frames to hand #24 Notre Dame an 8-0 non-conference softball defeat Tuesday at Loyola Softball Park in Chicago. Notre Dame fell to 24-6. while the Ramblers improved to 7-12 overall. Pitcher Jody Valdivia (18-3) suffered her first loss since February, snapping a 17-game winning streak from the circle. Her last defeat came against #1 Washington in the season’s opening week. Valdivia struck out eight and gave up five earned runs in 5.0 innings. Brittany O’Donnell pitched in the sixth and final inning, giving up three earned runs on one hit. Sadie Pitzenberger doubled to right-center in the first to extend her school-record hitting streak to 25 games. Katie Fleury also had a hit and Alexa Maldonado tacked on a team-high two singles. Notre Dame was out-hit, 8-4.

3. For the second time in the last three weeks, Notre Dame swept the BIG EAST Conference’s weekly softball awards, announced by the league Monday. Junior Sadie Pitzenberger became the second repeat winner for the Player of the Week distinction and third-year starter Jody Valdivia earned her third Pitcher of the Week award this season (the only league hurler to earn the award multiple times). Notre Dame won every game last week by at least four runs, winning five by nine or more.

Pitzenberger set a Notre Dame record by extending her hitting streak to 24 games. Her two triples on the week gave her six this season, which ties her for second in the nation. The outfielder added to her statistical totals with four doubles, 12 runs, 11 RBI and a stolen base while going 14-for-26 (.538) at the plate. Six of her 14 hits went for extra bases and she now has a team-high 13 multi-hit games this season. The final game of the week against Seton Hall (March 28) saw Pitzenberger go 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI.

Valdivia went 5-0 with three shutouts (two solo, one combined), including her first career no-hitter during Notre Dame’s BIG EAST opener at Seton Hall (March 27). The junior has now won 17 straight games, 35 of her last 37 starts, and is 12-0 in her last 12 BIG EAST decisions with her last loss coming to Providence in 2008. She struck out 32 batters in 26.0 innings with 20 of them coming in two starts against the Pirates.

4. After receiving votes for the bulk of the 2010 softball season, Notre Dame is now ranked 24th in the latest NFCA Top 25 Poll, released Tuesday by the organization. The Irish were last ranked (25th) in the final 2009 regular season, the first time the program ended a season in the top 25 since 2002. Notre Dame was the only team to join the poll this week, making its debut at #24. The Irish replaced last week’s #25 Baylor, who dropped out of the rankings but still received votes.

5. Notre Dame fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill.) and freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.) have earned women’s basketball honorable mention All-America accolades from the Associated Press, the national wire service announced Tuesday.

It’s the first All-America honor for each player, with this marking the sixth time in program history (and first since 2005) that the Fighting Irish have fielded multiple All-America selections in the same season. All told, Notre Dame has had 10 players earned AP All-America status a total of 17 times in the past 15 seasons (including at least one player at all five floor positions), with Charel Allen being the most recent selection in 2008.

Tuesday’s announcement represents the second time in less than a week that Schrader and Diggins have copped national award recognition. On March 25, both players were among a group of 40 finalists for the 10-player State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, which will be unveiled April 3 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, during the open practice sessions for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. The 30 players who are not selected for the final State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team will be designated as honorable mention All-Americans, duplicating the AP awards earned by Schrader and Diggins on Tuesday.

The AP All-America Teams (three squads of five players each, plus 31 honorable mention choices) were voted upon by a 40-member national media panel that also cast weekly ballots for the AP Top 25 poll. Voting for the All-America teams took place prior to this year’s NCAA Championship.

6. Irish forward Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) has been named to the Associated Press All-America third team for men’s basketball. Harangody earns AP All-America accolades for the third straight year, after garnering second-team honors following his sophomore and junior seasons. The senior captain becomes Notre Dame’s first three-time AP All-American since Kevin O’Shea from 1948-50 and was one of five BIG EAST players to earn a spot on one of the three teams.

Harangody led Notre Dame in scoring and rebounding for the third straight season as he averaged 21.8 points and 9.1 rebounds. He finished his career with 2.476 points and 1,222 rebounds and ranks as the second-most productive player in the 105-year history of the Irish basketball program in each of those two categories.

7. The Irish softball win over Eastern Michigan (first of a doubleheader) back on March 23 marked the 350th for head coach Deanna Gumpf at Notre Dame.

8. If you take a peek into a Notre Dame spring football practice, you may be rather amazed at the pace. It’s a mile-a-minute approach – with most practice segments lasting five minutes and played out full speed. With a whole new cast of coaches involved and new approaches on both sides of the ball, there’s constant instruction being provided. The Irish now have 45-minute meetings prior to practice, then are on the field in the 3:15-5:15 p.m. timeframe, compared to Notre Dame’s 5-7 p.m. practices in recent seasons. Quarterback Dayne Crist isn’t involved in full contact, but he’s actively involved in every other aspect of drills coming off his knee surgery last fall.

9. If you’re wondering about the interest level for Irish football in 2010, take a look at the April edition of The Kickoff. It provides a list of what it believes are the 77 top regular-season non-conference games for 2010. Notre Dane, of course, has an advantage since all 12 of its games qualify as non-league. Still, all of the first six Notre Dame games in 2010 made the list – and nine of the 77 overall are Notre Dame games.

10. The next Notre Dame Monogram Club Letter Jacket Ceremony will be held tonight in the Monogram Room of the Joyce Center. All first-time monogram winners from the 2009 Irish fall sport seasons will be introduced and recognized. Making welcoming remarks will be Monogram Club president Joe Restic. Other comments will be offered by Pat Garrity, a two-time Academic All-American at Notre Dame, former BIG EAST men’s basketball player of the year and a 10-year NBA veteran (he’s now in graduate school at Duke). The monograms will be presented by Tricia Bellia, chair of Notre Dame’s Faculty Board on Athletics.

11. After finishing tied for second at the Florida Atlantic University Spring Break Championship in Delray Beach, Fla., this past weekend, senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) was named the BIG EAST men’s Golfer of the Week it was announced by the conference on Tuesday evening. It marks Fortner’s second consecutive BIG EAST Golfer of the Week honor.

In the opening round of the FAU Spring Break Championship, Fortner shot a career-low round of 64 (-7) at the Gleneagles Country Club, etching his name in the Irish record books. His seven-under-par score tied for the lowest single-round under-par score in program history, which was previously set by Mark Baldwin during the 2004-05 season. The 64 strokes used to complete his opening 18 holes placed Fortner second all-time for lowest single-round stroke total, trailing only Baldwin – who needed just 63 shots to finish his seven-under-par round.

12. Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind.) will prove that you can go home again, as she returns to her hometown of Indianapolis this week to participate in the three-point competition at the 22nd annual State Farm College Slam Dunk and Three-Point Championships.

The event, which is being produced by Intersport, a Chicago-based media group, will begin at 7 p.m. (EDT) Thursday at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, located adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of this year’s NCAA Men’s Final Four. The competition will be televised by ESPN on a tape-delayed basis at 9 p.m. (ET) Thursday, with additional broadcasts slated throughout the upcoming weekend on the ESPN family of networks.

Tickets for the live event (which also includes admission to the NCAA’s Bracket Town fan area located within the Indiana Convention Center) are $25 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-11), and may be purchased through Meijer grocery stores and at the Convention Center box office. Doors to the Convention Center will open at 5 p.m. (ET) Thursday, with the full competition (three-point and slam dunk) scheduled from approximately 7-9:30 p.m. (ET).

Barlow will be the seventh Notre Dame basketball player, as well as the fourth Fighting Irish woman selected for this event, and the first since Megan Duffy and Chris Quinn both took part in the 2006 competition, ironically also in Indianapolis at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. Quinn posted the best-ever finish by a Notre Dame sharpshooter that year, finishing second to Marquette’s Steve Novak, while Duffy matched the best performance by a Fighting Irish woman in the event, reaching the semifinal round to duplicate the effort by Sheila McMillen in 1999. Current assistant men’s basketball coach Martin Ingelsby (2001), David Graves (2002) and Alicia Ratay (2003) also have represented Notre Dame in the three-point shootout, although none advanced beyond the semifinal round. This year’s three-point competition will feature eight of the top college senior sharpshooters in the country. The other players joining Barlow in the 2010 event are Taylor Lilley (Oregon), Merideth Marsh (Vanderbilt), Maggie McCloskey (Loyola-Chicago), Kelly McManmon (St. John’s), Brigid Mulroy (Detroit Mercy), Bianca Smith (Colorado) and Yvonne Turner (Nebraska). The winners from the men’s and women’s three-point shootouts then will face off in a “Battle of the Champions” challenge match to determine an overall three-point champion.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

1. Eleven of Notre Dame’s 12 competing fencers earned All-America honors. And the Irish walked away with one gold medal and three bronze medals. But that translated only to an overall third-place finish for Notre Dame in the combined men’s and women’s fencing national championships that ended today in Cambridge, Mass.

After four days of intense fencing at Harvard’s Gordon Track Center, the Irish finished third at the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships. From Notre Dame’s perspective, day four was highlighted by the gold medal winning performance of sophomore foilist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.). Meinhardt defeated David Willette of Penn State, 15-9, to win Notre Dame’s first individual men’s foil title since Charles Higgs-Coulthard did so in 1984. Meinhardt’s foil teammate Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) and junior sabreist Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) also had strong days as each claimed a bronze medal.

“It was great to win this year after coming so close last year,” said Meinhardt. “But at the same time, it obviously would have been better to win the team championship because of the hard work our team put in all year. The majority of the other fencers who didn’t compete this weekend flew out here on their own or made the 14-hour drive, so it would have been nice to win with that kind of support behind us. But we will be back at it, working hard towards next year very soon.”

The Irish finished in third place with 180 points. Penn State claimed its second consecutive title with 191 wins, while St. John’s finished second with 182 points. All told, the Irish had 11 All-Americans and four medalists in Meinhardt, Castellani, Zuck and sophomore Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), who took home a women’s epee bronze on Friday. It was just the third time since women’s sabre was added to the championship event that Notre Dame had 11 All-Americans, having also done so in 2003 and 2008. Meinhardt’s gold was the first for the program since Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) each won gold in 2008. Overall, it was Notre Dame’s 25th individual weapon championship.

Meinhardt finished round-robin play in third with 17 wins. In the semifinal bout, he downed Miles Chamley-Watson of Penn State, 15-11. The rivals traded touches in a back-and-forth bout until the score reached 9-9. Then Meinhardt took control by landing the next four touches, making it 13-9, and eventually earning a place in the men’s foil championship bout for the second consecutive year. In the championship, Meinhardt faced Willette, who pulled out to a 5-3 lead. But Meinhardt countered and eventually claimed leads of 9-8 and 10-9. With the title in reach, Meinhardt went on an impressive tear as he landed the next five touches to win the national title.

“After last season, I really wanted to focus and not let down at any point,” said Meinhardt. “I knew when it was getting close near the end that I had to pull away and not get in a situation like last season when it was 14-14.”

The individual championship capped off an impressive run for Meinhardt that included gold-medal finishes at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships and the NCAA Midwest Regional.

Meinhardt’s foil counterpart Castellani turned in an inspiring day in which he finished round robin play with 16 wins, a total equaled by two other fencers but Castellani’s impressive +40 indicator allowed him to advance to the medal round, where he faced Willette in the semifinals. Willette earned a 15-11 win to advance to the championship, leaving Castellani with the bronze and first-team All-America honors. In two seasons with the Irish, Castellani has now earned first and second team All-America status.

With 19 wins, Zuck finished men’s sabre round-robin play in third place and advanced to a semifinal bout versus Daryl Homer of St. John’s. Homer earned a 15-10 win en route to the 2010 men’s sabre national championship, as he also defeated teammate Daniel Bak in the finals. Zuck, who finished fifth in 2009, earned his first NCAA Championship medal and his second All-America honor. Junior Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) finished 10th in the men’s sabre field with 13 wins to take third-team All-America honors. It was the third time in three chances that Nydam finished his year as an All-American, having earned second-team status in 2008 and 2009.

In his first trip to the NCAA Championship, freshman James Kaull (Washington, D.C.) turned in an All-America performance as he finished in 10th to earn third-team honors. All told, Kaull recorded 12 wins and a +10 indicator. Kaull’s epee counterpart Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) also notched 12 wins and finished 12th based on his indicator to earn the first All-America honor of his career.

2. Nyeshia Stevenson made a three-pointer from the corner with 4.4 seconds left in overtime and third-seeded Oklahoma knocked off second-seeded Notre Dame 77-72 in overtime Sunday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., to reach the NCAA Women’s Basketball regional final for the second year in a row. Stevenson had 21 points and Abi Olajuwon added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Sooners (26-10), who lost to Notre Dame in overtime in the second round in 2008.

Oklahoma missed a chance to win at the end of regulation, as Danielle Robinson slipped 30 feet from the basket. But in overtime, Stevenson calmly drilled a three (one of five in the game for her) that proved to be the winner. Notre Dame then chucked a baseball pass about 75 feet, but Stevenson snagged it and knocked down two free throws to seal the win.

Melissa Lechlitner had 22 points (10 of 14 in field goals) to lead Notre Dame (29-6), which lost its fourth straight regional semifinal dating back to 2001. Lindsay Schrader had 19 points (eight of 16 from the floor) and eight rebounds. Ashley Barlow had 13 points. Skylar Diggins had 10 points (including a huge three-pointer that bounced around and in to tie the game at 66 with less than a minute left in regulation), six rebounds, four assists and seven steals. The Irish hit 15 of 17 free throws and were outrebounded 39-30.

3. The Notre Dame men’s golf team finished in 12th place (out of 16 teams) following final-round action today at the FAU Spring Break Championship played at Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla. The Irish posted a final day sixteen-over par 300. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) moved into a tie for second place among the 93 individuals who competed in the field after posting a final round 70 (-1).

Fortner made easy work of the third and final round, registering 14 pars to go along with two birdies, both on the front nine, and a lone bogey on hole eight. For the weekend Fortner recorded a four-under par 209, which ties his lowest tournament mark of the 2009-10 campaign that came at the rain shortened Mason Rudolph Championship. The two sub-par rounds recorded by Fortner also marks the first time he has accomplished that since last year’s BIG EAST Championship, when he finished six-under par and tied for second place.

Sophomore Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill.) ended in second place amongst the Irish rotation after the final day of action. He was able to finish up his tournament with a third-round 76 that was aided by him carding two birdies on the round, including his third consecutive for the tournament on hole 11. He was hurt by a triple bogey on the par-four 16th. His three day total of 224 (+11) placed him into a tie for 45th place overall.

Senior Carl Santos-Ocampo (Naples, Fla.) ended his tournament third amongst the six Irish competitors participating after concluding the three days at 226 (+13). After registering 74’s in each of the first two rounds, Santos-Ocampo played his final 18 holes at 78 (+7). He posted one birdie but was plagued by three double bogeys on the round. He concluded the event in a tie for 57th. Sophomore Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) put together a final round 75 (+4) to end his tournament. He notched 10 pars on the round to go along with three birdies but also was victimized by two double bogeys including one on the final hole of his tournament. Walker wrapped up the weekend with a 226 (+13), good for a 57th-place tie along with Santos-Ocampo.

Sophomore Tom Usher (Bradford, England) was the final score used by the Irish on the closing day of competition, as he posted an eight-over par 79. He wrapped up the weekend in a tie for 71st place after recording a 230 (+17) over the three days. Senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C.) rounded out the Irish five after struggling in round three. He finished his final round with an 11-over par 82 to push his three-day total to 231 (+18), good for a share of 75th place. He was able to post a two-over par on the back nine, including a birdie on the 13th hole, but could not find his shot on the front side as he finished in 44 (+9) after carding five bogeys and two double bogeys to go with two pars.

Notre Dame will return to action April 18 at the BIG EAST Championship being played at the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla.

4. The Notre Dame women’s golf team finished in 11th place (out of a 17-team field) after firing a final round 317 (+29) today at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational played at The University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas. Senior Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) led the way for the Irish after concluding the tournament with a final round five-over par 77, earning a share of 26th in the 90-member playing field.

Brophy was able to string together 12 pars in her final round of golf, along with posting one birdie that came on her final hole of the tournament. She rounded out her three rounds at 13-over par, 229. The 26th-place result is her best to date on the spring campaign, besting her 39th-place finish at the Central District Invitational.

Sophomore Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) moved into second for the Irish rotation after posting her best round at the three-day event. After notching a pair of 77s on the first two days she bested that by one stroke today, carding a four-over par 76. Huffer played each of the front and back nines at a two-over par clip and recorded one birdie on each side. Overall she ended her tournament with a 230 (+14) and a tie for 29th.

Junior So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea) struggled to find a rhythm on her final round, shooting a 10-over par 82 on the closing 18 holes. On the day, Park registered seven bogeys along with two double bogeys. She was able to end her round on a positive note, however, as she posted a birdie two on the eighth hole, her lone birdie of the day. Park concluded the tournament in a tie for 43rd with a three-day 234 (+18) total.

Junior Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y.) posted the final score for the Irish team score as she matched Park’s 10-over par 82. After fighting her game on the back nine and posting a seven-over 43, she rebounded on the front nine with six pars and only three bogeys. Conway finished in a tie for 73rd with a total score of 242 (+26). Senior Kristin Wetzel (Middletown, N.Y.) finished the tournament in a tie for 80th after posting a three-day total of 245 (+29). She recorded a final round 13-over par 85 to finish out her weekend. Wetzel did record a birdie on the par-four seventh hole but also posted two triple bogeys on the round.

The Irish will return to the links April 10 at the Sun Trust Lady Gator played at the Mark Bostick Golf Club in Gainesville, Fla., in the team’s final tune-up before the BIG EAST Championship.

5. The third-ranked Irish women’s tennis team won its third straight match and 15th on the season with a 6-1 victory over Wichita State Sunday at the Sheldon Coleman Tennis Complex. Notre Dame improved to 15-2 on the season, while the Shockers fell to 5-10. The Irish took an early 1-0 lead after sweeping the doubles point. The fourth-ranked duo of Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan.) extended its win streak to 13 matches with an 8-3 victory over #22 Stephanie Dalmacio and Delia Damaschin at first doubles. Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) and Cosmina Ciobanu (Brea, Calif.) topped Lenore Lazaroiu and Lutfiana Budiharto, 8-4, at #2 doubles, while Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) and Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) downed Iasmine Carpen and Florentina Hanisch, 8-1, at third doubles to complete the sweep.

Number-14 Frilling won her 14th match of the season with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Dalmacio at #1 singles. Number-99 McGaffigan improved to 12-5 with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Lazaroiu at third singles, Rafael topped Hanisch, 6-1, 6-1, at #5 singles to notch her seventh win of the season.

Ciobanu recorded her 11th straight victory with a 6-3, 6-1 besting of Damaschin at fourth singles, while Krisik cruised past Lily Wakin, 6-0, 6-0 at #6 singles. The Irish wrap up their seven-match road swing next weekend when they head to Texas to take on Baylor and Texas A&M.

6. Notre Dame swept its three-game BIG EAST Conference opening series against Seton Hall with a 13-3 win Sunday at Ivy Hill Park in South Orange, N.J. The Irish had 16 hits including doubles by Sadie Pitzenberger, Brianna Jorgensborg and Alexa Maldonado. Pitzenberger was 3-for-4 with three hits and three RBI to help Notre Dame improve to 24-5 overall and 3-0 in the BIG EAST.

Notre Dame was tied with Seton Hall (5-14, 0-3) after one complete inning, 2-2, and went on to post two runs in the fourth, five in the fifth and four in the seventh. Katie Fleury had three hits, two RBI and stole two bases. Dani Miller and two hits and Jorgensborg scored twice. Maldonado was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI.

Striking out 11 in the winning effort was Jody Valdivia (18-2), who won her 17th straight from the circle. Ashley Forsyth (3-5) gave up nine hits and five earned runs. Katie Stilwell gave up three runs and Hannah Hill surrendered four runs in the final 2.0 innings. The Irish put their 11-game winning streak on the line at 5:00 p.m. (ET) Tuesday at Loyola-Chicago.

7. The Notre Dame rowing team won six of seven races on Sunday morning at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind., as the Irish faced Indiana, Purdue, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan. It marked the second straight day of competition for head coach Martin Stone’s squad following yesterday’s three-way regatta with Michigan State and Michigan. Notre Dame won the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, novice eight, second novice eight and novice four races.

The Irish posted a win in the varsity four race for the second straight day. On Sunday, the crew of coxswain Rachel Louie (Westfield, N.J.), Joanna Poinsatte (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Paige White (Boise, Idaho), Hannah Jackson (Moscow, Idaho) and Kathryn Monahan (Evanston, Ill.) finished just under 16 seconds ahead of second-place Buffalo. Notre Dame posted a time of 8:06.7, while Buffalo finished in 8:22.6. Indiana took third in 8:33.6, followed by Purdue (8:55.6) and Eastern Michigan (9:13.7).

Notre Dame’s varsity eight crew of coxswain Sarah Keithley (Austin, Texas), Morgan Kelley (Windermere, Fla.,), Casey Robinson (Alexandria, Va.), Katherine Linnemanstons (Mequon, Wis.), Brittney Kelly (Wexford, Pa.), Carol Ann Michel (Princeton, N.J.), Genevieve Malone (Dayton, Ohio), Stephanie O’Neill (Vienna, Va.) and Stephanie Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill) edged out Indiana in the five-boat race as the Irish crossed the finish line in 7:06.0. Indiana finished with a time of 7:07.6, followed by Purdue (7:09.8), Buffalo (7:16.0) and Eastern Michigan (7:45.1).

The Irish second varsity eight crew of coxswain Jacqueline Gilhooly (Palos Heights, Ill.), Megan Keegan (Marietta, Ohio), Braegan Padley (Boise, Idaho), Valerie Brencher (Lumberton, N.J.), Katie Suyo (Yardley, Pa.), Emily Backer (Cannelton, Ind.), Erin McConnell (Simsbury, Conn.), Emily Crosby (Middleton, N.J.) and Christina Buckley (Huntington, N.Y.) also edged out a win in their race. Notre Dame’s time of 7:20.7 was less than a second better than Buffalo’s second-place time of 7:21.4. Indiana took third in the race with a time of 7:21.4, followed by Indiana (7:32.2), Purdue (7:49.4) and Eastern Michigan (8:02.3).

Notre Dame’s novice eight boat of coxswain Abby Meyers (Dayton, Ohio), Sarah Thompson (Los Angeles, Calif.), Meghan Vertovec (LaGrange Park, Ill.), Maura Newell (Seattle, Wash.), Kelsey Haddad (Berwyn, Pa.), Paige Aiello (Rochester Hills, Mich.), Analisa LaMair-Orosco (Silver City, N.M.), Alyce Kanabrocki (Chicago, Ill.) and Kelsey Murphy (Winthrop, Maine) turned in one of the day’s most impressive performances by posting nearly a 20-second victory in its race. The Irish finished with a time of 7:49.9, followed by Indiana (8:05.5), Buffalo (8:07.2), Purdue (8:15.0) and Eastern Michigan (9:33.9).

Notre Dame’s second novice eight crew of coxswain Lauren Peartree (Rochester, N.Y.), Sylvianne Velasquez (San Antonio, Texas), Teresa Blumenstein (Westmont, N.J.), Sarah McShane (South Bend, Ind.), Camille Sharrow (China, Mich.), Kimberly Dunbar (Clarence, N.Y.), Jennifer Lee (Holmdel, N.J.), Caitlin Connelly (St. Paul, Minn.) and Catherine Herrmann (Eagan, Minn.) was equally impressive in its nearly 30-second win over Purdue. The Irish posted a time of 8:02.8, while the Boilermakers crossed the finish line in 8:32.0.

Notre Dame registered first- and third-place finishes in the novice four race. The Irish B crew of coxswain Kerry Casey (Brewster, N.Y.), Sylvianne Velasquez (San Antonio, Texas), Teresa Blumenstein (Westmont, N.J.), Kimberly Dunbar (Clarence, N.Y.) and Camille Sharrow (China, Mich.) had the best time of the four boats as they crossed the finish line in 9:00.5. Buffalo was second in 9:07.9, followed by the Notre Dame A boat of coxswain Danni Schneider (Mound, Minn.), Jennifer Lee (Holmdel, N.J.), Sarah McShane (South Bend, Ind.), Catherine Hermann (Eagan, Minn.) and Caitlin Connelly (St. Paul, Minn.) took third in 9:18.8, while Purdue was fourth in 10:21.4.

Notre Dame’s second varsity four crew of coxswain Alicia Elliott (Ambler, Pa.), Brianna Krafcik (Aurora, Ohio), Meghan Salomon (Cincinnati, Ohio), Ching-Ting Hwang (Chesterfield, Mo.) and Andrea Archer (Redding, Conn.) was the only Irish crew not to finish first as they took second in their race with a time of 8:41.5. Buffalo won the race in 8:34.5, while Purdue was third (8:50.4) and Indiana was fourth in 9:06.4.

The Irish return to action in two weeks when they travel to Los Angeles, Calif., to face UCLA and USC on April 10.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

1. After three days of fencing at the 2010 NCAA Championships, the national title remains up for grabs as St. John’s, Penn State and Notre Dame are separated by just four points. Saturday saw the men take to the strips and St. John’s held onto its lead, finishing with 152 points. Penn State is in second with 150 points and Notre Dame is in third with 148, setting the stage for a dramatic final day of action from Harvard’s Gordon Track Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Today, Notre Dame was led by the junior men’s sabre tandem of Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) and Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.), who combined for a team-best 22 wins on the day. Zuck, who is currently in third place, turned in 12 wins, just one off the day’s highest sabre total of 13 which was turned in by Daryl Homer of St. John’s and Daniel Bak of Penn State. Nydam earned 10 wins on the day and is in fifth place due to his +17 indicator. Nydam finished the day on an eight-bout winning streak.

Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) and Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) also had strong days for the Irish as the sophomore duo combined for 20 wins, the second-highest foil total by teammates. Meinhardt notched 11 wins and is currently in third place, and Castellani is in fifth by virtue of his nine wins and +20 indicator.

The Irish added 15 wins in men’s epee as freshman James Kaull (Washinton, D.C.) notched eight wins and junior Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) added seven wins. Kaull is currently in eighth with a +4 indicator and one of his biggest wins came in overtime when he downed Nicholas Vomero of St. John’s. Kaull earned the win by holding priority and not allowing Vomero to land a touch in the extra time. Schoolcraft currently sits in 14th. Making his second appearance in as many years at the championship event, Schoolcraft proved resilient by posting a 3-1 record in his bouts that ended in 5-4 scores.

Notre Dame will have plenty of chances to close the gap in search of the program’s eighth national title on Sunday. In epee, the Irish have bouts left against Ohio State, Sacred Heart, Air Force, UNC, Stanford and Brandeis. In foil, Notre Dame will face opposition from title contenders Penn State and St. John’s as well as UNC, Air Force, Yale and Brown. Then, in sabre, Zuck and Nydam will have the opportunity to vault the Irish up the leader board as they face Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Vassar and then close out their day against St. John’s.

Head coach Janusz Bednarski, who is seeking his third national title with the Irish, is no stranger to comebacks to win the national title. In 2005, he led the Irish from a 24-point deficit to claim the championship.

Following the completion of the round robin rounds, the top four finishers in each men’s weapon will fence simultaneous semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine the champion and the losers being awarded a tie for third place. An institution’s place in the championship will be based on points earned by each individual win.

On Friday afternoon, the final women’s fencing bouts took place and sophomore Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) claimed a bronze medal and the Irish had five All-America finishes.

In women’s sabre both Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) and Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) earned second-team All-America honors. Borrmann just missed the opportunity to fence for a medal, as her 17 wins put her in fifth place (Dagmara Wozniak of St. John’s finished in fourth place with 18 wins). With the fifth-place showing, Borrmann earned All-America status for the second time in three seasons, having won the championship as a freshman in 2008. One of her biggest wins of the day came against Wozniak. Borrmann trailed Wozniak 4-2, but rattled off the next three touches to claim the come-from-behind win in round-robin action. Hassett recorded another steady performance at the NCAA championships, notching 16 wins and a +18 indicator to finish seventh. It marked her third consecutive second-team All-America showing, having finished fifth in 2008 and sixth in 2009.

In epee, sophomore Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) won Notre Dame’s lone medal of the day by finishing tied for third with Anastasia Ferdman of Penn State, marking the second consecutive year Hurley claimed a bronze medal at the NCAA Championships. After round-robin play, Hurley was in third with 19 wins and a +32 indicator, allowing her to advance to one of the women’s epee semifinal bouts where she fell to eventual champion Margherita Guzzi 15-11. Hurley had been leading 6-3 at the end of the first period. Guzzi then tied it up at 7-7 and the competitors traded touches until it was 11-11 at the end of the second period. But then Guzzi pulled away to advance to the championship bout where she downed Noam Mills of Harvard 15-10. In pool play, Hurley had impressive wins over Mills in sudden death 3-2 and over Guzzi 5-2.

Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) capped off her illustrious Irish career with her third All-America finish in four seasons as she earned second-team honors by finishing sixth. She recorded 17 wins and had a +30 indicator. Hurley’s previous All-America honors came when she finished second overall as a freshman and claimed the championship as a sophomore.

Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) was Notre Dame’s fifth All-American. She notched a 16-7 record in two days of round robin play and a +38 indicator. It was also her third All-America honor of the past three years, having achieved third-team honors as a freshman and finishing second overall last season.

2. The Irish track and field squads started the outdoor season strong Friday while competing on the first day of events at the Arizona State and Stanford Invitationals.

Notre Dame saw four top-five finishes at the Stanford meet in Palo Alto, Calif, while John Belcher qualified for the finals of the men’s hammer throw at the Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.

The Irish continued competition at both meets Saturday.

Arizona State Invitational Results

Men’s Hammer: John Belcher advanced to the finals, finishing 10th with a mark of 56.88m (186-07). The Sun Devils’ Jason Lewis was the top thrower at 66.15m (217-00).

Stanford Invitational Highlights

Men’s 1500m Section 2: Johnathan Shawel finished third with a time of 3:47.54, while Daniel Clark was eighth in 3:50.84. Princeton’s Trevor Van Ackeren ran the top time of 3:46.86.

Men’s 1500m Section 3: Jeremy Rae finished fourth in 3:47.85, followed by Jordan Carlson in fifth at 3:48.25. J.P. Mallette clocked in at 3:51.07 to finish eighth. Oklahoma State’s Johnathan Stublaski won the heat in 3:46.56.

Women’s 1500m Section 4: Rebecca Tracy finished third in 4:26.18 just behind Seattle Pacific’s Jane Larson in first at 4:23.05 and SMU’s Mary Alenbratt in second at 4:25.90.

3. Sophomore Megan Sullivan scored four goals, tying her total season output, and the #11/8 Irish fended off #19 Louisville, 11-9, in the BIG EAST women’s lacrosse opener for both teams at Arlotta Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. Notre Dame improved to 5-3 on the season and 1-0 in conference play, while the Cardinals fell to 4-3 overall and 0-1 in the BIG EAST. Sullivan led the Irish with a career-high four goals. Maggie Tamasitis added two goals and three assists, while Kaitlin Keena and Shaylyn Blaney notched one goal and one assist each. Gina Scioscia, Maggie Zentgraf and Ansley Stewart scored one goal apiece, and Jackie Doherty chipped in an assist for the Irish. Ellie Hilling recorded a season-high 12 saves in goal for the Irish. Louisville outshot the Irish 30-25. Notre Dame hits the road Tuesday for a 7:00 p.m. (ET) matchup with Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

4. The Fighting Irish women’s golf team remains in 10th place following the second round of competition today at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas. Senior Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) and junior So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea), who each fired second round 78s (+6), continue to pace the Irish individually with a two-day 152 (+8) total. UCLA remains in the lead of the 17-team field following day two of competition after finishing with a two-over par, 290, good for a two-day total of 585 (+9). Sarah Zwartynski of Texas A&M is tied with Stephanie Kono of UCLA in the individual field, both sitting at two-under par after 36 holes with a 142.

5. Senior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) collected a career-high four hits and tossed a pair of scoreless innings from the mound and senior walk-on Bill Warrender (Collegeville, Pa.) went 3-for-4 in his first career start, but the Bulls scored four unanswered runs in their final four at bats to come from behind and take game one of today’s doubleheader, 6-3 in Tampa.

Mills has now hit safely in 17 of his 19 games this season; Warrender, on the other hand, had just five at bats in his career (14 appearances) entering the game, but his dynamic first start means it will likely not be his last. Sophomore Steve Sabatino (Lockport, Ill.) was saddled with the loss for Notre Dame, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 6.0+ innings. The southpaw has now worked at least 5.0 innings in four straight starts and eight of his 10 career starts. Sabatino (1-3) punched out four and walked just two, but both proved costly, they each came with two outs and led to a total of four USF runs. No other player had multiple hits for Notre Dame, which recorded 10 hits in its final 25 at bats, but senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) extended his on-base streak to 34 games after being plunked in the first, and freshman Frank Desico (Cleveland, Ohio) and senior Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark, Calif.) each drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

In the second game, USF won 10-5, with Eric Maust taking the loss (0-2) and Ryan Richter contributing 3.1 innings of shutout baseball with four strikeouts. Mills had two hits, and Connolly had three to lead the Irish (8-15, 0-3).

Meanwhile, junior right-hander Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) notched his fourth straight quality start and Connolly reached base safely (via base hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch) for the 33rd consecutive game, but it was all overshadowed by the right arm of USF starter Randy Fontanez, who tossed a no-hitter to lead the Bulls to a 4-0 victory over the Irish Friday night at Red McEwen Field in Tampa. Fontanez punched out a career-high 12 in the third no-hitter in USF history and the first since Mark Reed hurled a perfect game on May 9, 1992 against Charlotte. It was also the first career complete-game shutout for Fontanez (1-4), who allowed just two walks on the night and threw 119 pitches. The Bulls had been 0-5 in Fontanez’s starts this season and still are scoring just 3.17 runs per game in his starts. The Irish (8-13, 0-1) refused to go down easy in the ninth inning, forcing 21 pitches from the junior before the 27th out. Mills walked with one down in the inning, and one out later, Connolly reached by way of catcher’s interference for the second time in the game to put two runners on. Head coach Dave Schrage then sent Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.), the top Irish hitter at .414, to the plate to try to solve Fontanez, but the senior went down swinging to end the ballgame and preserve the clean slate for Fontanez. Connolly and Mills were the only Irish players to reach base in the game, with Connolly trotting to first three times (he also walked in the first inning and reached via catcher’s interference in the fourth). Dupra (2-2) worked 6.0 innings, yielding a pair of earned runs (three total) on nine hits. He struck out four and walked just one, but went to a three-ball count nine times and tossed 122 pitches. Over his last four outings, Dupra’s ERA is 2.73; it is the best four-start stretch of his career in terms of ERA (he had not registered more than two consecutive quality starts entering this season).

6. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team took an early lead and never looked back as they defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, 5-2, today at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center in Evanston, Ill. With the win, Notre Dame improved to 10-8 on the season, while Northwestern falls to 8-6. Notre Dame took an early 1-0 lead after taking two of three matches to win the doubles point. David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.) and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md.) fell to Alex Sanborn and Spencer Wolf, 8-6, at third doubles, but Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland) and Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn.) topped Mark Schanerman and Joshua Graves, 8-6, at #2 doubles to even the match. Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.) clinched the point for the Irish after battling Tobias Reitz and Andrew McCarthy to a 9-8 (8-6) tiebreak win at #1 doubles.

Number-86 Havens put the Irish up 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-4 win over McCarthy at second singles. Sidarth Balaji handed Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo.) his first dual-match loss of the season with a 6-2, 7-5 defeat at #4. Stahl gave Notre Dame a 3-1 advantage as he earned his ninth win of the season with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Wolf at third singles. Number-115 Graves edged #27 Watt, 6-3, 6-3, at first singles to pull the Wildcats within one. Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla.) clinched the win for the Irish with his fifth straight victory, a 6-3, 7-5 win over Schanerman at sixth singles. Anderson topped Sanborn, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, at #5 singles to complete Notre Dame’s 5-2 win. The Irish will wrap up their nine-match road swing next weekend when they travel to Texas for matches against SMU and Texas A&M.

7. Returning to the waters for the first time in two weeks, the Notre Dame rowing team faced two of the nation’s top teams as the Irish traveled to Laingsburg, Mich., to face #7 Michigan State and #9 Michigan today. Notre Dame’s varsity four crew provided the day’s lone victory, while the Spartans won three races and the Wolverines claimed two wins in the six races.

The Irish crew of coxswain Rachel Louie (Westfield, N.J.), Stephanie Boggs (Lumberton, N.J.), Kathryn Monahan (Evanston, Ill.), Paige White (Boise, Idaho) and Joanna Poinsatte (Chattanooga, Tenn.) was impressive in posting a time of 7:35.1 and outdistancing Michigan State (7:42.8) and Michigan (7:50.4).

The Spartans won the varsity eight race in 6:29.6, while Michigan took second in 6:33.7. Notre Dame’s varsity eight crew consists of coxswain Sarah Keithley (Austin, Texas), Morgan Kelley (Windermere, Fla.,), Casey Robinson (Alexandria, Va.), Katherine Linnemanstons (Mequon, Wis.), Brittney Kelly (Wexford, Pa.), Carol Ann Michel (Princeton, N.J.), Genevieve Malone (Dayton, Ohio), Stephanie O’Neill (Vienna, Va.) and Stephanie Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill.).

Michigan State also won the second varsity eight race in 6:44.0, followed by Michigan (6:49.1). Notre Dame’s second varsity eight boat of coxswain Jacqueline Gilhooly (Palos Heights, Ill.), Megan Keegan (Marietta, Ohio), Braegan Padley (Boise, Idaho), Valerie Brencher (Lumberton, N.J.), Katie Suyo (Yardley, Pa.), Emily Backer (Cannelton, Ind.), Erin McConnell (Simsbury, Conn.), Emily Crosby (Middleton, N.J.) and Christina Buckley (Huntington, N.Y.) was just under six seconds behind Michigan as the Irish finished in 6:54.9.

Notre Dame’s second varsity four crew of coxswain Alicia Elliott (Ambler, Pa.), Brianna Krafcik (Aurora, Ohio), Meghan Salomon (Cincinnati, Ohio), Ching-Ting Hwang (Chesterfield, Mo.) and Andrea Archer (Redding, Conn.) finished second to Michigan State (7:44.6) as the Irish crossed the finish line in 8:02.5.

In a tightly-contested novice eight, just 3.49 seconds separated the three boats. Michigan was victorious in the race in 7:04.31, while Michigan State took second in 7:06.6. Notre Dame’s boat of coxswain Abby Meyers (Dayton, Ohio), Sarah Thompson (Los Angeles, Calif.), Meghan Vertovec (LaGrange Park, Ill.), Maura Newell (Seattle, Wash.), Kelsey Haddad (Berwyn, Pa.), Paige Aiello (Rochester Hills, Mich.), Analisa LaMair-Orosco (Silver City, N.M.), Alyce Kanabrocki (Chicago, Ill.) and Kelsey Murphy (Winthrop, Maine) finished third in 7:07.8.

Notre Dame also took third in the second novice eight race as the crew of coxswain Lauren Peartree (Rochester, N.Y.), Sylvianne Velasquez (San Antonio, Texas), Teresa Blumenstein (Westmont, N.J.), Sarah McShane (South Bend, Ind.), Camille Sharrow (China, Mich.), Kimberly Dunbar (Clarence, N.Y.), Jennifer Lee (Holmdel, N.J.), Caitlin Connelly (St. Paul, Minn.) and Catherine Herrmann (Eagan, Minn.) posted a time of 7:35.3. Michigan won the race in 7:22.2, followed by Michigan State in 7:26.6.

Notre Dame returns to action Sunday as the Irish square off against Indiana, Purdue, Eastern Michigan and Buffalo at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind.

8. The #8 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team suffered a 10-8 setback to Rutgers on Saturday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium on the Irish campus. The contest was the first-ever BIG EAST Conference game for both programs. The Fighting Irish were paced by two-goal efforts from midfielders Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y.), Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md.) and David Earl (Simsbury, Conn.). Notre Dame senior All-America goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) left the game with an injury with 3:32 left in the first half and did not return. He made six saves. Senior Brendan Moore (Charlotte, N.C.) played the remainder of the first half and made two saves, while not allowing a goal. Freshman John Kemp (Potomac, Md.) played the entire second half between the pipes and made eight saves while surrendering five goals. That was the first action of the season for Kemp. Rutgers out-shot Notre Dame 36-25. Notre Dame will face Villanova next at 1:00 p.m. (ET) Saturday (April 3) in Villanova, Pa.

9. After weather conditions forced the match indoors, the third-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team cruised to a 7-0 victory over TCU today in Wichita, Kan. With the win, the Irish improved to 14-2 on the season, while TCU fell to 2-12.

The Irish took the 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point. The fourth-ranked duo of Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan.) improved to a perfect 12-0 on the season and topped Nina Munch-Soegaard and Maria Babanova, 8-4, at #1 singles, while Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) and Cosmina Ciobanu (Brea, Calif.) defeated Idunn Hertzberg and Katariina Tuohimaa, 8-3, at second doubles. TCU forfeited the #3 doubles match, giving Notre Dame the sweep.

Number-14 Frilling improved to 13-3 on the season as she downed #89 Munch-Soegaard, 6-1, 6-2, at #1 singles. Number-108 Mathews knocked off #100 Tuohimaa, 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-4), at second singles to notch her 10th win of the season, while #99 Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) defeated Hertzberg, 6-2, 6-2, at #3 to improve to 11-5.

Ciobanu won her 10th straight match, topping Babanova 6-3, 6-1, at #4, and Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) bested Gaby Mastromarino, 6-3, 6-1, at #5 singles to earn her sixth win of the season. TCU forfeited the #6 singles match. The Irish will take on Wichita State at 1:00 p.m. (ET) Sunday at the Sheldon Coleman Tennis Complex.

10. Jody Valdivia recorded her first career no-hitter and Sadie Pitzenberger set a school record by extending her hitting streak to 23 games today at Ivy Hill Field, allowing Notre Dame to sweep Seton Hall in both teams’ BIG EAST Conference opening doubleheader in South Orange, N.J. Notre Dame won the first game in five innings, 12-0, and took the second in six innings, 11-1. Valdivia (17-2) faced one over the minimum, walking one while striking out nine in the win. She shelved Notre Dame’s first no-hitter since 2008, becoming the 16th Irish player to throw a no-hitter. It was the first five-inning no-hitter since Heather Booth’s against Rutgers in 2006.

Valdivia also won a 16th straight decision with her 10th shutout of the campaign. The victory was the 11th straight BIG EAST win for the righty, who went 10-0 through the 2009 league slate. Her last conference loss came against Providence on April 26, 2008. Pitzenberger waited until her third at-bat in the opener to set the record and finished 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBI in game one. She added two hits and two runs in the second game. The effort broke teammate Dani Miller’s 21-game school-record hitting streak set in 2009. Notre Dame (23-5 overall, 2-0 BIG EAST) finishes the three-game series with Seton Hall (5-13, 0-2) at 11:00 a.m. (ET) Sunday. The Irish will put their 10-game winning streak on the line, the second double-digit win streak of the season.

11. The Notre Dame men’s golf team dropped into a tie for eighth place following second round action today at the FAU Spring Break Championship at Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., after registering a 297 (+13) on the day. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) sits in a tie for fifth after carding a second round 75, taking his overall score to 139 (-3) after 36 holes. Fortner got off to a slow start on his opening nine holes of action, posting five pars to go along with four bogeys, good for a four-over par 39. He recovered on the back nine, recording a pair of birdies including a four on the par-five 18th hole to close out his round and take him out in 36 (even par) on the back side.

12. There’s a large contingent of Notre Dame administrators putting on the NCAA Midwest Hockey Regional in Fort Wayne, Ind., this weekend. Notre Dame associate athletics director Tom Nevala is a member of the NCAA Division I Hockey Committee, while Irish assistant athletics director Tony Yelovich is the tournament manager. Hockey trainer Kevin Ricks is on duty, as are Irish hockey staffers Dave Gilbert and Nick Siergiej – plus team doctors Rich Jacobs and Bob Clemency. The media relations operation for the regional is being run by Tim Connor, Mike Bertsch, John Heisler, Dan Colleran, Alan George and a bevy of student assistants.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

1. A two-game slugging clip of 1.056 – including seven home runs, three triples and two doubles – propelled the Notre Dame softball team to a doubleheader sweep over visiting Toledo Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. The Irish won the first game in five innings, 11-0, and overcame a 3-0 deficit in the nightcap for an 8-4 victory. Sadie Pitzenberger tied a school record by extending her current hitting streak to 21 games, matching the mark set last season by then-freshman Dani Miller.

The Irish scored a combined 13 runs in the fourth inning of each game, posting a seven-spot in game with six more runs in the fourth stanza of the latter affair. In fact, game two featured three fourth-inning home runs, a feat accomplished just four times in school history (each of the four have come in the last three seasons).

Notre Dame (21-5) is off to its best start through 26 games since 2001, when Liz Miller guided the Irish to a 23-3 mark. It is the best start in nine seasons for head coach Deanna Gumpf, who earned her 350th win at Notre Dame with a triumph over Eastern Michigan (March 24) in the home opener. The Irish have won eight straight and 20 of their last 21 contests heading into the BIG EAST Conference opening weekend at Seton Hall (March 27-28).

2. For the fourth time in school history, and the first since 2005, two Notre Dame women’s basketball players have been named finalists for the State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, it was announced Thursday by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) and fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) are among a group of 40 players from around the country who remain in contention for a place on the prestigious 10-member State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, with the Fighting Irish being one of only six programs in the country (along with Connecticut, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee and Xavier) to have multiple finalists this year.

3. Sophomore libero Frenchy Silva has been named an alternate for the 2010 United States Women’s National A2 Volleyball team, as announced recently by USA Volleyball. Silva totaled a team-high 323 digs in 2009 and paced the Irish with a 3.40 digs/set clip. She had 3.93 digs/set in BIG EAST Conference play. Silva finished three matches with over 20 digs, maxing out with 23 at Xavier on Sept. 4.

4. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team has been living dangerously through the first six games of the 2010 season. Close games, overtime games, come-from-behind games have been the norm in the early going. On Wednesday afternoon it came back to bite the Irish as Vanderbilt gave them a taste of their own medicine as they rallied from a four-goal, second-half deficit to defeat Notre Dame, 10-9 at Arlotta Stadium.

Hannah Clark’s goal with 4:14 left in the game gave Vanderbilt its only lead of the day as the Commodores rallied from an 8-4 deficit with less than 28 minutes left in the game for the victory.

Junior Kailene Abt led the Irish with three goals while Gina Scioscia and Ansley Stewart scored two each for Notre Dame. Shaylyn Blaney and Maggie Sullivan had one each for the Irish who led 7-4 at halftime.

5. Notre Dame’s first three batters of the game opened with hits to plate two runs, but UIC starter Tim Suminski settled down and blanked the Irish over the next 6.0 innings to lead the Flames to a 10-5 victory Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium.

Suminski tossed 6.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits. The southpaw struck out three and walked only one. Suminski, who improved to 1-0, consistently kept Notre Dame off-balance with a solid change up.

UIC and Suminski benefitted from a trio of critical Notre Dame errors that helped the Flames register six unearned runs. In fact, all four runs in the UIC four-run fourth inning were unearned.

Freshman right-hander Patrick Veerkamp (0-2) was charged with the loss. He was charged with five runs, only three earned, in 2.1 innings of work. Veerkamp walked two and struck out one. Sophomore Dustin Ispas made his first appearance for the Irish this season following offseason surgery. He allowed just one hit in 1.1 innings, but walked three and committed an error that played a role in four unearned runs.

Junior lefty Joe Spizzirri, sophomore sidewinder Will Hudgins, freshman right Adam Norton and sophomore southpaw Joe Spano combined to surrender just one run on five hits over the final 5.1 innings of the contest. Spizzirri tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, while Hudgins and Spano each worked 1.0 scoreless frame. Norton struck out a pair in 2.0 innings. He did allowed an earned run on three hits.

Senior leftfielder David Mills went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a two-run home run, his first of the year. Senior centerfielder Ryne Intlekofer went 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. Senior designated hitter Ryan Connolly went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Junior shortstop Mick Doyle added two hits, including his first home run of the season, while freshman second baseman Frank Desico went 2-for-3.

Notre Dame drops to 8-12 on the season, while UIC improves to 3-13. Notre Dame opens BIG EAST action this weekend with a three-game series at USF. First pitch of Friday’s series opener is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Red McEwen Field. Junior right-handed hurler Brian Dupra will get the start for the Irish.

6. Spring football begins tomorrow for Notre Dame. And you can hear coach Brian Kelly talk about the latest news involving Irish football when heÃÆ’Ã € ‘ ¯ ¿ ½s a guest on the Jack Swarbrick Radio Show on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

1. It was a busy day in athletics at Notre Dame – as the Irish women’s basketball team won an NCAA second-round contest in its final game of the year at Purcell Pavilion, new football coach Brian Kelly spoke at Century Center, Irish football held its pro day and both the Irish baseball and softball teams emerged victorious at home.

2. Skylar Diggins flashed a smile as she went in for a fastbreak layup for the opening basket against Vermont, as if she knew what was coming. After making just one basket from the field in Notre Dame’s first-round NCAA tournament game, Diggins had a season-high 31 points, seven steals, and six assists to lead second-seeded Notre Dame to an 84-66 victory over 10th-seeded Vermont on Tuesday night in the second round.

Diggins set the tone for the Irish (29-5) and their pressing defense as they finished with 19 steals and forced the Catamounts (27-7) into a season-high 25 turnovers. The first was in the opening seconds, when Lindsay Schrader stole the ball from Alissa Sheftic and Diggins scored the first basket.

Diggins also helped slow down Vermont’s two high scoring guards as May Kotsopoulos finished with 12 points and Courtnay Pilypaitis had 11, but also turned the ball over 10 times. The game was a big turnaround for Diggins, who was just 1-of-4 shooting for seven points in Notre Dame’s 87-58 victory over Cleveland State in the opening round.

Schrader had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Melissa Lechlitner added 12 points as Notre Dame advanced to the Kansas City Regional semifinal to play #3 seed Oklahoma, in the eighth Irish trip to the round of 16 in the last 14 years.

Notre Dame got off to a slow start, making 5-of-11 shots with four turnovers in the first 8:24, falling behind 20-10 as the Catamounts hit nine of their first 13 shots with just two turnovers. But then Brittany Mallory had two quick steals, Devereaux Peters blocked a shot by Kostopoulos and the momentum quickly changed. Diggins hit a basket inside, then quickly added a 3-pointer. The Irish tied the score at 23 on a three-point play by Schrader as the Irish forced six turnovers in five minutes.

Notre Dame continued on a 19-5 run, going ahead 29-25 when Diggins stole the ball from Pilypaitis, who fell down trying to get the ball back as Diggins went in for an easy layup. The Irish finally extended the lead to 42-30 when Lechlitner hit a 3 with 26 seconds left in the half. Vermont closed to 42-13 at intermission on a late 3. The Irish ended the half on a 32-13 run and Vermont could never mount a serious challenge in the second half. The Irish are a victory away from the third 30-win season in school history. The other two times were in 2001 when they won the national championship with a 34-2 record and in 1997 when they went to the Final Four.

Heading into tonight’s NCAA second-round game, it’s worth noting that Muffet McGraw’s Notre Dame teams had won at least one NCAA game in 13 of the last 15 seasons (including 2010). With the Irish win tonight against Vermont, it’s the eighth time in those 15 years they’ve won two or more games and advanced to a regional. The Irish are 27-13 in NCAA play over those 15 seasons.

3. Notre Dame junior defenseman Ian Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich.) has signed an Amateur Tryout Contract with the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues. The announcement was made Monday night by Blues’ president John Davidson. Cole will report to St. Louis’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen. The 21-year old defenseman was a first round pick, 18th overall by St. Louis in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the highest any Notre Dame player has ever been selected in the draft. In his final season for the Irish, the 6-1, 220-pound defenseman played in 30 games, scoring three goals with 16 assists for 19 points. His point total tied him for fifth on the team in scoring while he tied for second among Notre Dame blueliners. His 16 assists tied him for third in that category. His goal totals included one power-play goal and one game winner. He was called for 22 penalties resulting in 55 minutes. In three seasons at Notre Dame, Cole played in 111 games, scoring 17 goals with 48 assists for 65 career points. He had eight power-play goals and five game winners over his three seasons. He finished with 153 minutes in penalties.

4. Notre Dame raced out to an 8-0 lead after two innings and never looked back en route to an 11-5 baseball rout of in-state rival Ball State Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish improved to 8-11 on the year, while the Cardinals drop to 6-14. Notre Dame, which was shut out in two of its last three games, exploded out of the gates with two runs in the first and six more in the second inning. In fact, the Irish added one in the third and two more in the fourth inning to take an 11-3 lead. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Ryan Richter and senior right-handed pitcher Billy Boockford did the rest. Richter improved to 1-0 on the season with a solid effort out of the Irish bullpen. The southpaw allowed three earned runs on six hits in 4.1 innings of work. Richter fanned four and walked just one. Boockford followed with two scoreless and hitless innings of relief. He walked one and struck out one. Senior centerfielder Ryne Intlekofer, senior designated hitter Ryan Connolly, junior shortstop Mick Doyle and freshman second baseman Frank Desico all registered multi-hit games. Doyle paced the Irish 12-hit attack with three hits, including a double and triple. He went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Intlekofer went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. Connolly went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored. Desico drove in two and went 2-for-4 on the night.

5. Nine runs in each of Notre Dame’s two contests during a Tuesday home doubleheader with Eastern Michigan provided enough offense for the Irish to sweep the twinbill by respective scores of 9-0 and 9-3. It was the team’s first home appearance after starting the season with a 22-game road swing. Notre Dame improved its overall record to 19-5 while Eastern Michigan fell to 6-13. The Irish are now 20-2 all-time in season openers, and stay at home for a doubleheader at 4 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday (March 24) at Melissa Cook Stadium. Christine Lux and Kristina Wright were each good for one home run and one double on the day, as half of Notre Dame’s 22 hits went for extra bases (11 doubles, four home runs, one triple). Dani Miller and Heather Johnson contributed four RBI apiece, with Johnson’s entire load coming in the first game. Jody Valdivia (14-2) tacked on her 13th straight win from the circle in game one. She needed 5.0 innings to toss the four-hit shutout.

6. After advancing to its fourth consecutive NCAA Women’s College Cup, and fifth in the past six seasons, the Notre Dame women’s soccer team returns to the pitch at 6 p.m. (ET) Wednesday for a match against the Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) at old Alumni Field (the home of Notre Dame soccer from 1990-2008). There will be no admission charged for Wednesday night’s contest, which is the first of five spring matches for the Fighting Irish, four of which will be played on the Notre Dame campus. Wednesday’s match may have added significance for Notre Dame fans, as former Fighting Irish greats Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) and Michele Weissenhofer (’10) are expected to suit up for Chicago, and both could possibly start on the Red Stars’ back line.

7. The Irish football pro day Tuesday at the Loftus Center featured scouts from 26 NFL teams watching the Notre Dame players go through their paces, doing everything from running 40-yard dashes, to agility drills with cones, to other position-specific drills. Golden Tate wore a pair of bright gold shoes that matched his first name. Throwing passes to Tate was former Georgia Tech quarterback Damarius Bilbo. Lots of other current and former Irish players sat in the bleachers and observed – from Jimmy Clausen to Manti Te’o.

8. Brian Kelly spoke to a sold-out audience at the College Football Hall of Fame event today at Century Center in downtown South Bend. He described himself as the “caretaker of the program” at Notre Dame. “We will live up to the standards at Notre Dame and we will live up to them immediately,” said Kelly. He also emphasized his interest in being accessible and being part of the community. Said Kelly, “We have challenges, but we are going to go into every game we play expecting to win. The young men we have, boy, do they want to win.” Kelly talked about the importance of fundamentals, in particular stopping the run and closing out games (he noted his Cincinnati teams were 39-1 when leading going into the fourth period). He said, “The idea is to put your best playmakers in position to make plays.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

A little more than a month ago, Notre Dame fans were anticipating the likelihood that Irish senior Luke Harangody would become the top scorer and rebounder in BIG EAST men’s basketball history – and maybe even become Notre Dame’s all-time greatest scorer. Injury kept those things from coming to fruition (in the process spawning one of the more intriguing late-season periods in memory). Nonetheless, Harangody remains one of the most productive four-year athletes in Irish history. In the absence of any Irish sporting events today, the Dish pays tribute to one of Notre Dame’s all-time greats:

                   The names went whizzing by — one or two at a time, week by week, game by game, day by day.
                   That’s all part of the Luke Harangody legacy that continued to add building blocks, with the final structure now having had its finishing touches applied.
                   Adrian Dantley one week.
                   Patrick Ewing the next week.
                   Chris Mullin a few games later.
                   As the University of Notre Dame’s senior power forward wound down his amazing four-year ride with the Irish, the names he passed game after game rank among the Who’s Who of the NCAA and BIG EAST Conference career record books.
                   Actually, the die was cast last June when the burly 6-8 Schererville, Ind., product decided to pass up the 2009 NBA Draft and return for his fourth and final season in South Bend.
                   Truth be told, most everyone in the BIG EAST who had a realistic chance of passing “go” and heading to the NBA did so – other than Harangody and Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds. That ensured that Harangody would have a chance to end his career as one of the all-time greatest combination scorers and rebounders in the history of Notre Dame, the BIG EAST and the NCAA.
                   He’d been doing that since day one, scoring points and grabbing rebounds in bunches. Not a particularly highly-rated player nationally coming out of high school in northwest Indiana (he was a two-time Indiana all-state pick), Harangody proved to be a machine on the court – ringing up statistics like a pinball machine. Irish coach Mike Brey just kept popping quarters into the slot. Harangody averaged 15 points in his first five games as an Irish rookie and never looked back.
                   In fact, Notre Dame’s head coach continually reminded media and fans throughout Harangody’s senior year that they should appreciate what they were seeing from his energetic big man. Brey figured Harangody’s amazingly consistent production over such a long period of time so spoiled Irish fans that they won’t fully appreciate him until he’s gone next winter.
                   In the meantime, Harangody left his statistical rivals in the dust.
                   After averaging 21.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 2009-10, he ended his career with 2,476 points and 1,222 rebounds. That sort of productivity doesn’t happen every day.
                   Harangody finished his career in the neighborhood of names like Elgin Baylor (2,500 points at Seattle), Bill Bradley (2,502 at Princeton) and Johnny Dawkins (2,537 at Duke).
                   His scoring/rebounding double put him in the same sentence with a gaudy list of college players with those sorts of combination totals.
                   There’s David Robinson – 2,669 points and 1,314 rebounds at Navy.
                   Elvin Hayes – 2,884 points and 1,602 rebounds at Houston.
                   Larry Bird – 2,850 points and 1,247 rebounds at Indiana State.
                   Oscar Robertson – 2,973 points and 1,338 rebounds at Cincinnati.
                   The hit names just kept on coming.
                   Only eight players in NCAA history can say they’ve topped both those Harangody totals – La Salle’s Lionel Simmons (3,217 and 1,429), Robertson (2,973 and 1,338), Hayes (2,884 and 1,602), Robinson (2,669 and 1,314), La Salle’s Michael Brooks (2,628 and 1,372), Wake Forest’s Dickie Hemric (2,587 and 1,802), Louisiana-Monroe’s Calvin Natt (2,581 and 1,285) and Baylor (2,500 and 1,559).
                   In BIG EAST games only, Harangody had 1,329 points and 662 rebounds – and he was on schedule to finish as the BIG EAST career leader in both categories until his February bone bruise kept him out of five games entirely and limited his production in the five he played after returning.
                   He passed names like Mullin (St. John’s) and Kerry Kittles (Villanova) in the scoring category. He couldn’t quite catch Syracuse’s Lawrence Moten, the BIG EAST’s best-ever career scorer in league play with 1,405 points (Harangody ended up third behind Moten and Boston College’s Troy Bell).
                   He passed Michael Smith (Providence) and Danya Abrams (Boston College) in the rebound category, finishing second behind Derrick Coleman (Syracuse) who had 701.
                   Some of the best combo scorers/rebounders in BIG EAST statistical history have been names like John Wallace (Syracuse), Zendon Hamilton (St. John’s) and Abrams. Ask around the BIG EAST office and the name that comes to mind there is Coleman.
                   Hall of Fame Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has been a head coach in the BIG EAST since 1976 – and when he and his team stopped through South Bend in January he called Harangody “as good an offensive big guy as I’ve seen in this league.” That’s a strong statement – and this about a player who, early on at Notre Dame, wasn’t convinced he was good enough to play in the BIG EAST. And don’t forget that Boeheim coached Coleman.
                   Remarkably, Harangody goes about his business of running up numbers maybe a bit differently than your typical 6-8 brute.
                   He may not out-jump you. He may not over-power you. But his sheer hustle and flair for the game make him insatiable on the court. He plays a cerebral game in which he measures his defenders and figures out how to beat them.
                   He’s got a sweet little jump hook that’s almost a push shot and seems to be something he can execute from anywhere near the rim. Taller, rangier defenders around the lane? No matter. Harangody can take his game outside — he wasn’t shy at all about banging in 15-foot jump shots and even three-pointers.
                   Go back to the 2007-08 season, Harangody’s sophomore campaign, in a late-season battle at 13th-ranked Louisville with the league lead on the line. The 17th-rated Irish didn’t win (the final was 90-85), but they cut into a 19-point Cardinal lead thanks to 40 points by Harangody, including the first three three-pointers of his career within a 69-second span in the final two minutes. And, by the way, in addition to hitting 16 of 28 shots that night, Harangody notched a dozen rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots (while playing only 32 minutes). He’s the only Irish player to ever score 40 points in a BIG EAST game – and his effort that night probably cemented his BIG EAST Player of the Year trophy.
                   How long and how well did Harangody hang around BIG EAST gymnasiums? He finished with 64 career double-doubles and no other current player in the league has anywhere near half that many.
                   Think about that. That’s more than an entire season’s worth of scoring and rebounding games in double figures compared to what any other current BIG EAST player has accomplished.
                   No BIG EAST player has ever averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per conference game in a career. Harangody had a solid chance to accomplish that (he ended up at 19.2 and 9.5) until his injury. The only three BIG EAST players who had better averages than Harangody in both categories were Notre Dame’s Troy Murphy (21.3 and 9.89), St. John’s Walter Berry (19.8 and 9.69) and Georgetown’s Mike Sweetney (19.6 and 9.6).
                   And, so, Harangody continued to motor past name after name in the record books.
                   One week LaPhonso Ellis (1,076 career rebounds).
                   The next week Lew Alcindor (2,325 career points) and Jerry West (2,309 career points).
                   Austin Carr’s Notre Dame record of 2,560 career points remained barely intact.
                   If you’re an Irish fan – or even just a fan of college basketball – we hope you took time to savor what Harangody brought to the office every day.
                   You may not see anyone like him come by this way again any time soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

1. Becca Bruszewski scored 14 points, Ashley Barlow added 13 and Notre Dame overcame a 31-point performance by Cleveland State’s Kailey Klein, including 21 in the first half, to beat the Vikings 86-58 today in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament at Purcell Pavilion on the Notre Dame campus. Stephanie Crosley scored a layup for Cleveland State (19-14) for the game’s first basket and added another shot inside with 73 seconds left in the first half. In between, Klein scored all of the Vikings’ other points in the half. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Fighting Irish (28-5) cruised to the victory after losing to Minnesota at home in the opening round of last year’s NCAA tournament. Notre Dame will host Vermont (27-6) in the second round at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday at Purcell Pavilion.

2. The Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams both remained atop their respective editions of the United States Fencing Coaches Association’s (USFCA) final polls of the 2010 season. The teams now head to Boston, Mass., for the 2010 NCAA Championships, which will be contested at the Gordon Track Center on March 25-28.

The men and women earned #1 overall rankings in the second poll of the 2010 season, which was released on Feb. 17. Prior to that, Penn State was ranked first on both the men’s and women’s sides.

After posting a 68-0 record and combining for the first undefeated regular season in 19 years, the Irish men and women captured the Midwest Fencing Conference Championship for the first time since 2002. Then at the NCAA Midwest Regional, Irish women’s sabreist Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.), women’s epeeist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and men’s foilist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) won gold medals to automatically qualify for the 2010 NCAA Championships.

All told, the Irish qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the upcoming championship. The trio of automatic qualifiers will be joined at the championships by men’s foilist Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas), men’s epeeists James Kaull (Washington, D.C.) and Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) as well as men’s sabreists Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) and Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.). Joining Hassett and C. Hurley in the women’s field will be epeeist Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), foilists Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) and Darsie Malynn (Grapevine, Texas) and sabreist Sarah Borrmann. At least one of the Irish fencing teams has now held sole possession of the top spot in nine of the past 10 seasons (2001-06, 2008-10). Furthermore, the Notre Dame women now have been ranked number one in six of the past seven years (all but ’07).

3. The University of Notre Dame will serve as the host school at the 2010 NCAA Hockey Midwest Regional that will be played on Saturday-Sunday, March 27-28, at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Midwest Regional will be a battle of Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) teams with the Miami RedHawks and the Michigan Wolverines coming in as #1 and #3 seeds. The other two schools will represent College Hockey America (CHA) as the #2 Bemidji State Beavers and the #4 Alabama-Huntsville Chargers will also be in action in Fort Wayne. On Saturday Miami will face Alabama-Huntsville at 4:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised on ESPNU. The 7:30 p.m. game will feature Bemidji State facing Michigan. That game can be seen at ESPN360.com or on ESPNU on tape delay (3/27 – 11:30 p.m.). The regional championship game will be played on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.

Tickets for the Midwest Regional are available in all-session and single-game packages and can be purchased at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum Ticket Office, at all Ticketmaster Outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000. For groups of 20 or more call 260-480-3710 or send an email to groupsales@memorialcoliseum.com.

All-Session packages (two games on March 27, championship game on March 28)

  • Adult All-Session: $87.00 (200 Lower Bowl); $77.00 (Upper Level)
  • Youth 12-and-Under All-Session: $77.00 or $67.00
  • College Student All-Session: $82.00 or $72.00
  • Groups 20+ All-Session: $74.00 or $64.00

Single-Game Tickets

  • Adult: $46.00 (200 Lower Bowl); $36.00 (Upper Level)
  • Youth 12-and-Under: $41.00 or $30.00
  • College Student: $44.00 or $34.00

4. Notre Dame loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, trailing 3-0, but Michigan State starter Tony Bucciferro got a fly out and strikeout to end the Irish threat and lock down a complete game, three-hit shutout of the Irish Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. Notre Dame drops to 7-11 on the season, while the Spartans improve to 12-4. Bucciferro was in total control all afternoon. He silenced Notre Dame on just a pair of hits and only two base runners heading into the final frame. The Irish advanced just one base runner into scoring position over the first eight innings and it came in the second. Bucciferro struck out only four heading into the ninth, but induced 15 ground ball outs. In fact, he retired 25 of the first 27 Notre Dame batters he faced.

Despite that dominance, the Irish had a chance to equalize in the bottom of the ninth inning. After Bucciferro got freshman third baseman Adam Norton to ground out to open the ninth (his 16th and final ground ball out of the game), freshman second baseman Frank Desico reached on a walk, Bucciferro’s first of the afternoon, and senior centerfielder Ryne Intlekofer followed with a double. Bucciferro then plunked senior left fielder Ryan Connolly to load the bases. The right-handed hurler promptly fell behind in the count, 2-0, but senior designated hitter Matt Grosso flew out on Bucciferro’s 2-0 pitch for the second out of the inning. Bucciferro then fanned junior shortstop Mick Doyle on three straight pitches to end the game. Notre Dame senior Eric Maust took the hard-luck loss and drops to 0-1 on the campaign. He allowed just two earned runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings. Maust struck out three and walked one. Senior southpaw David Mills tossed 3.0 scoreless innings of relief to help give the Irish a chance. He yielded two hits and fanned two. Intlekofer had two of Notre Dame’s three hits on the day.

The Irish return to action on Tuesday night against Ball State. First pitch with the Cardinals is scheduled for 5:05 pm at Frank Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and led 4-2 after six, but Michigan State plated four in the top of the seventh and one more in the ninth inning to register a 7-4 victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish loaded the bases three separate times in the game, but failed to get a run scoring hit in all three situations. In fact, Notre Dame stranded 15 in the loss, including 12 in scoring position. In the opener, the Spartans benefitted from five Irish errors and seven unearned runs en route to a 13-0 victory.

5. Amywren Miller and Samantha Maxwell wrapped up the 2010 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships for the Notre Dame women’s program Saturday at Purdue’s Boilermaker Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, Ind. Both student-athletes took part in the morning preliminaries but did not advance to the finals. Maxwell went 2:14.17 in the 200 breast, the 36th-best performance in the event. Miller touched the wall in 49.44 to finish 25th in the 100 free.

Maxwell and Miller, who each earned respective All-American honors earlier this week in the 100 breast and 50 free, teamed to total 14 points for Notre Dame. The Irish finished 38th as 47 teams scored points at the three-day event. Florida (382) won the team title, edging Stanford (379.5) while defending champion California (363) placed third.

Maxwell earned an All-American accolade in the 100 breast for the second straight year after finishing 14th overall Friday evening. Maxwell went 1:01.09 in the finals after going through the prelims in 1:00.69. The performances put her in position to take home an Honorable Mention All-America accolade, after earning All-American status as a sophomore.

ESPN2 will air a 90-minute show with highlights of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on April 6 (Tuesday).

6. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team’s run at the 2010 Blue Gray Tennic Classic came to an end at the hands of the 16th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon at the Lagoon Park Tennis Center in Montgomery, Ala. After claiming the doubles point, Texas Tech earned wins at first, second and third singles to advance to the championship match of the annual tournament. With the win, Texas Tech improves to 15-1 on the year, while Notre Dame moves to 9-8. Notre Dame, in the midst of a nine-match road swing, returns to the courts next weekend at Northwestern.

7. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team is starting to get the hang of playing in overtime. For the second time on their West coast-to-East coast road trip, the Irish rallied in regulation to tie the game and then won it in overtime. Saturday afternoon’s game at Boston University went to sudden death as the Irish prevailed, 7-6, in a hard-fought game at BU’s Nickerson Field. Senior attack standout Gina Scioscia scored the game winner with 38 seconds left in the second six-minute overtime as she beat Terrier goalkeeper Rachel Klein with a free-position shot just second after she was hammered by BU’s Kate Cipoletti, earning the BU defender her second yellow card of the game. The game proved to be the second longest in Notre Dame history as it went a total of 71:22. The longest game was played on April 13, 2003 when the Irish lost to Stanford in a game that lasted 72 minutes. Shaylyn Blaney and Maggie Tamasitis each scored twice in the win over the Terriers with Kailene Abt, Jenny Granger and Scioscia scored for the Irish. The win improved the 15th-ranked Irish to 4-1 on the year, while 11th-ranked Boston University goes to 4-3 overall. The Irish now return home for a pair of games at Arlotta Stadium. On Wednesday they face 14th-ranked Vanderbilt in a 2:30 p.m. game. On Saturday Notre Dame opens BIG EAST play with a home game against Louisville at 3:00 p.m.

8. A David Earl (Simsbury, Conn.) goal with 1:41 remaining in the first overtime session gave the #9 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team a 7-6 victory over Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. Earl and fellow junior midfielder Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y.) both notched hat tricks for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame (5-2) trailed 6-4 entering the fourth quarter, yet the Fighting Irish defense held the Buckeyes scoreless throughout the final period and in overtime. Brenneman sliced the deficit to one (6-5) with his third goal of the day at the 8:49 mark of the fourth quarter. Brenneman has a team-best four hat tricks this season. Earl knotted the game with 3:20 left in regulation. Notre Dame outshot Ohio State 27-23. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) made 10 saves in the victory, while counterpart Ryan Brant also had 10 stops. The six goals were the fewest allowed by the Notre Dame defense this season. Saturday was Notre Dame’s second overtime contest of the season. The Irish fell at Drexel, 7-6, in overtime March 9. The Fighting Irish will open BIG EAST Conference play next Saturday against Rutgers at Arlotta Stadium. Game time is slated for noon (ET).

9. The University of Notre Dame will conduct its Pro Day Tuesday at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex and Loftus Sports Center. There will be 14 former Notre Dame football players participating. From the 2009 team James Aldridge, Sergio Brown, Paul Duncan, Kyle McCarthy, Raeshon McNeil, Eric Olsen, Robby Parris, Morrice Richardson, Scott Smith, Toryan Smith, Golden Tate and Sam Young are tentatively scheduled to work out. From the 2008 team, David Grimes and Asaph Schwapp are also scheduled to work out. Beginning at noon, players will be tested in the 40-yard dash, pro agility, three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle. The position-specific drills should begin at approximately 1:00 p.m. EST and should be completed by 2:30 p.m.

Friday, March 19, 2010

1. Notre Dame men’s tennis player Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo.) has been named BIG EAST men’s tennis Player of the Week, it was announced by the conference Wednesday afternoon. The sophomore has posted a 9-0 record to date on the duel season, including going 2-0 this past week.

Keeton secured the accolade by posting a pair of three-set victories over USF and then 19th-ranked Florida State. The victory against USF came at four singles, his first appearance on the season at that spot, against Romain Deridder 6-7 (1-7), 6-1, 6-2. He then followed that performance by capturing the match-clinching point against the Seminoles and Andres Bucaro at five singles 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. After losing the first three points of the match, Keeton’s victory over Bucaro completed the Irish’s comeback over Florida State.

2. Notre Dame scored seven runs in the fourth inning of Thursday’s non-conference softball matchup against Western Michigan to cruise to a 13-4 victory at Fran Ebert Field in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Irish (17-5) won their fourth straight and recorded 17 hits in the six-inning affair, including a grand slam by Christine Lux. Lux had a game-high five RBI and Kristina Wright led all players with a four-for-four day at the dish, also adding two runs and three RBI. Five Notre Dame players (Sadie Pitzenberger, Heather Johnson, Lux, Wright and Alexa Maldonado) had at least two hits. Katie Fleury had two RBI on one hit and was one of four players to score twice.

3. The 38th-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team was victorious Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., in the opening round of the 2010 Blue Gray Tennis Classic, knocking off Middle Tennessee State 4-2. The Irish record improves to 8-7.

Notre Dame jumped out to the 1-0 lead after securing the doubles point to begin the contest. Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla.) was the first to close out a singles point for the Irish, as the freshman won in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 at sixth singles to move the margin to 2-0. From a 2-2 tie, the Irish recaptured the lead after David Anderson was able to hold off Shaun Waters at four singles 6-3, 6-4. Anderson’s record at the fourth spot improved to 5-1 and he stands at 9-4 overall on the duel slate. Notre Dame locked up the victory with the fourth point coming from Daniel Stahl at third singles. After winning the first set 6-1, Middle Tennessee State’s Richard Cowden rebounded to grab the second set by the same score of 6-1. Stahl would bounce right back, however, winning the decisive third set 6-0.

Notre Dame returned to action today against No. 26 Fresno State in second-round action. The Bulldogs advanced on after a 4-0 victory over No. 71 Boise State and entered the contest with an 11-5 record overall and a four-match winning streak.

4. Notre Dame junior Amywren Miller set a school record in the 50 free and finished eighth overall Thursday evening on the first day of the 2010 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, Ind. Miller went 22.30 from the far lane to win her preliminary race before going 22.49 in the finals to earn the first All-American accolade of her career. Miller, who is making her third NCAA appearance, was seeded 20th coming into the meet. Liv Jenson of California was first overall in the final heat with a 22.04. Carrie Nixon is the only other Irish All-American in the 50 free (1999, 2000 and 2002).

5. Notre Dame hockey senior captain Ryan Thang (Edina, Minn.) has signed an Amateur Tryout Contract with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Milwaukee Admirals for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. He began his professional career Thursday night, when the Admirals faced the Texas Stars in Cedar Park, Texas. Thang, who served as an alternate captain as a junior, finished his final year with the Irish ranked second on the team in scoring with nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points. He had six power-play goals, one short-handed tally and one game winner on the year. He picked up 22 penalties for 55 minutes and was -3 on the season.

Selected in the third round, 81st overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Thang finished his Notre Dame career ranked 34th on the all-time points list with 115 career points as he scored 57 goals and added 58 assists in 159 career games. Along the way, the 22-year old left wing had 27 power-play goals, five short-handed markers and 14 game winners while being +35 for his career. Thang finished his Irish career ranked first all-time in game winners, fifth in games played, fifth in power-play goals and tied for 10th in short-handed goals. He is just one of 30 players in the history of the Notre Dame hockey program to score 50 or more goals and 50 or more assists in his Irish hockey career. His top season came as a freshman in 2006-07 when he scored 20 goals with 21 assists for 41 points with 10 power-play goals and six game winners. He was named the team’s rookie of the year and was selected to the CCHA all-rookie team while being a finalist for CCHA rookie of the year.

Thang will graduate in May with a degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business. He becomes the fourth Notre Dame senior to sign a pro contract since the end of the season, joining defensemen Brett Blatchford (Chicago Wolves – AHL) and Kyle Lawson (Carolina Hurricanes – NHL, playing in Albany of the AHL) and forward Dan Kissel (Bakersfield Condors – ECHL).

6. Carleton Scott’s three-pointer rattled out in the closing seconds, and 11th-seeded Old Dominion delivered the first upset of the NCAA tournament when it stunned sixth-seeded Notre Dame 51-50 Thursday in the South Regional in New Orleans.

The Fighting Irish rushed the ball up the court as the clock wound down, but Scott’s attempt to tie the game didn’t fall and Luke Harangody’s putback at the buzzer wasn’t enough. Frank Hassell scored 15 to lead Old Dominion (27-8), which had not won an NCAA tournament game since beating Villanova in triple overtime in 1995 as a No. 14 seed. Harangody was held to four points for the Irish (23-12), all in the final minute, while Ben Hansbrough scored 17.

Notre Dame built a nine-point lead in the first half and still led 30-22 early in the second before the Monarchs used a 9-0 run to take the lead. It was close the rest of the way. Hassell’s three-point play with 5:51 remaining tied it at 43, and neither team scored for the next three minutes. Old Dominion’s Darius James traded three-pointers with Scott, and Gerald Lee put Old Dominion ahead with a shot from the perimeter. After Harangody missed inside, Lee made a free throw to make it 49-46 with 56.2 seconds left. Tory Jackson missed a potential tying three, but James missed the front end of a one and one from the foul line for Old Dominion. Harangody finally scored his first points with 12.6 seconds left to make it 49-48, but Keyon Carter made both free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining.

In a game that was all about defense, the outcome fittingly came down to a missed shot. Notre Dame led 15-6 early on, a margin that felt bigger because of the game’s slow pace, but Old Dominion rallied quickly. Kent Bazemore scored while drawing a foul, and although he missed the free throw, the Monarchs came up with the ball. Hassell then scored inside while drawing Harangody’s second foul with 9:38 to play. He completed the three-point play and scored again moments later to cut the lead to two.

The Irish led by nine again at 26-17 after Hansbrough’s three-pointer from the left wing. He finished the first half with 10 points, and Notre Dame led 28-22. Notre Dame entered the game having won six of its last seven with a more deliberate offense installed after Harangody hurt his knee. The 6-foot-8 senior went down Feb. 11 and missed five games, and had been coming off the bench. The Irish run is over now, though, and Old Dominion is headed to the second round to face Baylor. When the buzzer sounded, the Old Dominion fans began chanting “C-A-A” – a reference to the Colonial Athletic Association, where the Monarchs play.

7. New Michigan athletics director David Brandon announced Thursday that the Michigan-Notre Dame football game on Sept. 10, 2011, will be the first night game ever played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

8. Here’s why it was tough for the Irish men’s basketball team Thursday against Old Dominion: — Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis hit a free throw with 7:01 left in the first half to put the Irish up 21-15. But Notre Dame never shot another free throw the rest of the game — Carleton’s Scott’s bucket at the 19:51 mark of the second half gave the Irish a 30-22 lead. But Notre Dame then went 6:05 without a point, until another Scott hoop made it 32-31 Irish at the 13:46 mark. — A Tory Jackson tip-in at 7:48 gave Notre Dame a 43-40 lead. The Irish then went 5:59 with a point, until a Scott three-pointer tied it at 46 at the 1:49 juncture.

9. Purcell Pavilion is set for NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship action. The four participating teams all come to the arena for open practices and media conferences Saturday. Notre Dame’s media availability is between 1:20-1:50 p.m. – and the Irish are on the floor from 2:10-3:10 p.m. Ticket sales have been brisk this week, with Notre Dame boasting one of the better pre-sales prior to the bracket being announced.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


1:20 p.m.
It’s a tough scene in the Irish locker room, as a late-season run that has so much promise comes crashing down in the course of a few minutes. And the college careers of guys like Harangody and Jackson, that seemingly began not so long ago, come to a close. Mike Brey has no qualms – it was a matter of knocking down a couple more shots in the second half and the Irish have some solid looks that just won’t go in trying to chase Old Dominion out of its 3-2 zone.

The Irish are slated to return home on their charter flight at 9:30 p.m. local time today, arriving in South Bend at 1:00 a.m. Friday.

1:15 p.m.
Hansbrough leads the Irish with 17, followed by 14 from Scott. But Notre Dame hits only 10 of 32 shots in the second half and finished at .356 (21 of 59) against mostly zone from Old Dominion. The Irish win the battle on the boards 38-31 (10 from Scott), but connect on only six of 26 three-pointers. Hassell leads ODU with 15 points and nine boards, as the Monarchs shoot .526 after the break (10 of 19). Notre Dame ends up with one more field goal in the game (21-20), but the Irish never shoot a free throw in the second half.

It’s a tough end for veterans Jackson (two of 11 from the field) and Harangody (two of nine from the floor), who combine for only nine points.

1:12 p.m.
Lee’s jumper makes it 48-46, then Harangody misses a short shot in the lane. Lee’s free throw at :56.2 pushes it to 49-46. Hansbrough commits a foul after a Jackson miss at :29.6. ODU misses the free throw and the Irish signal a final full timeout with the ball (and the shot clock off) at :25.2. The Monarchs follow with a 30-scond timeout of their own. Harangody’s first points on a put-back at :12.6 make it 49-48 for ODU, and the Monarchs call a timeout. The Irish foul quickly at :09.6, and Keyon Carter hits, then hits again. Notre Dame calls its final timeout, down 51-48 with the ball. Scott’s three rims out, Harangody’s tip goes in at the buzzer and the Irish fall by one.

1:05 p.m.
The Monarchs miss the free throw and miss a chance for the lead and commit a foul on the rebound. Abromaitis misses a three — and ODU hits one of its own for a 46-43 edge. Scott responds from the corner with a three of its own to tie it at 46 with 1:47 left and the Irish call a quick timeout.

1:00 p.m.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Hassell ties it at 43 at the 5:51 mark. At the final media timeout at 3:03 it’s still tied but the Monarchs are going to the free-throw line.

12:55 p.m.
Nash commits his third foul — and at the 7:36 media break the Irish remain on top 43-40 after a Jackson tip-in of his own miss.

12:45 p.m.
Halfway through second half Hansbrough’s three makes it 39-35 for Notre Dame.

12:37 p.m.
Old Dominion completes the comeback to take a 31-30 lead on a jumper at the shot-clock buzzer. Scott gets lead back for Irish after a steal. The Irish are up at 36-33 with the ball at the 11:19 media break.

12:05 p.m.
After a speedy first half (only eight combined fouls and only five combined free throws taken) it’s 28-22 Irish. The Irish have shot 11 of 27 (.407) from the field compared to 10 of 29 (.345) for Old Dominion. The Irish have seven turnovers, to three for ODU. Notre Dame leads 21-14 on the boards. Hansbrough has 10 points, Abromaitis and Scott seven each (Scott has six boards). Harangody plays seven minutes off the bench and has two rebounds. Frank Hassell leads ODU with seven points. Monarch leading scorer for the season, 6-11 Gerald Lee (14.6 points), has only two points and no rebounds. From a 6-5 lead at 14:50, the Monarchs didn’t score again until 9:47.

12:00 p.m.
At the final media break at 1:15 it’s 26-19 Irish after an Old Dominion foul on its offensive end. The Monarchs have hit only nine of 27 shots so far. The Irish lead 21-14 in rebounds.

11:50 p.m.
ODU tries a zone, but Hansbrough’s three over it makes it 26-17 Irish and forces the Monarchs to call time at 4:32.

11:35 a.m.
Luke Harangody makes his first appearance coming out of the timeout. By the second media timeout at 11:57 it’s 12-6 Irish off a Ben Hansbrough three and a Scott rebound dunk. Old Dominion is three of 11 from the floor to this juncture.

11:30 a.m.
At the first media break at 15:48, it’s 5-4 Irish on a Carleton Scott fast-break dunk and a Tim Abromaitis bucket.

11:25 p.m.
And here we go. Attendance for this one is scattered at best, with plenty of room even in lower sections. The Irish have the first possession and Tyrone Nash draws a foul on the opening Irish offensive attempt (hits one).

11:00 a.m.
There’s a coaching connection between the Irish and Old Dominion. Old Dominion associate coach Jim Corrigan (former player at Duke and an ’80 grad) is a nephew of former Irish athletics director Gene Corrigan and cousin of current Irish men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan.

11:45 a.m.
Tory Jackson’s three makes it 15-6 halfway through the first half. After ODU cuts it to 15-13, Scott’s three makes it 18-13 under the eight-minute mark. At the 7:01 media break Abromaitis makes a hoop and draws a foul. 20-13 Irish.

10:45 a.m.
Also in attendance today is former Irish baseball coach Paul Mainieri (now head coach at LSU) and his son Nick (a former member of Charlie Weis’ staff who is now in grad school at the University of New Orleans). Mainieri’s Tigers (ranked #3 at 14-2) open SEC play in Baton Rouge tomorrow against Arkansas.

10:30 a.m.
The Notre Dame story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune this morning revolved around Notre Dame’s new style of play and Luke Harangody’s off-the-bench role.

Former Notre Dame star Donald Royal, a New Orleans product, will be in attendance at the Irish game today.

Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., headed to New Orleans this morning for today’s game.

10:15 a.m.
The Irish take the floor to stretch. By NCAA rules, they can’t begin using basketballs until 57 minutes prior to tip.

8:00 a.m.
It’s a very early morning for the Irish – and the fans, for that matter – with tipoff of the Notre Dame-Old Dominion game slated for 11:25 a.m. local time. Beignets and powdered had to be delivered at the crack of dawn today, with the Irish players slated for an 8:30 a.m. breakfast.

There’s some question about how many people will be in attendance at the first session today – none of the sessions here in New Orleans are sold out.

The weather is beautiful here today – bright, sunny and 65 degrees.

Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas are assigned by CBS to do all six games from New Orleans.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of the official NCAA meeting Wednesday was when it came time to offer the 20-minute game-day shoot-around times. Because Notre Dame and Old Dominion were guaranteed the floor an hour before tip today, the shoot-around options were particularly early. In fact, Notre Dame’s option was to come at 8 a.m. local time (Mike Brey declined – in fact, he kiddingly asked if the Irish could get an earlier slot). Only three of eight teams opted to take their times – one of those being Baylor (the Bears came to shoot at 9 a.m. in advance of their projected 2:00 p.m. tip).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


10:00 a.m.
Several Notre Dame administrators head over to the New Orleans Arena for media relations site surveys, while the Irish players have an 11:15 a.m. breakfast at the hotel. The team heads to New Orleans Arena at 12:15 p.m. for mandatory NCAA media availability (15 minutes at the podium for Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson, then 15 more for Mike Brey) and an open practice early in the afternoon – then switches to an alternate practice site for its more serious preparation for Old Dominion.

1:00 p.m.
CBS prepares a Luke Harangody feature, interviewing Harangody, Tory Jackson, Tim Andree and Mike Brey. Before the locker room is opened to the media, the Irish players stay loose by playing hangman on the grease board.

1:30 p.m.
Mike Brey visits with UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway as the Irish begin their practice. Brey and Hathaway were together at DeMatha High School in Washington, D.C., way back when.

The Irish are assigned to the visiting NBA locker room at New Orleans Arena.

Irish senior men’s basketball manager Pat Rogers will have a reunion this weekend when his brother Doug, a freshman student manager at Wisconsin, joins the Badger women’s basketball team assigned to NCAA women’s games at Notre Dame.

3:00 p.m.
Head coach Mike Brey, Irish ticket staffers, media relations staff and other administrators join their counterparts from the seven other schools playing in New Orleans for the NCAA’s official pregame meeting at the arena.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans — though with the NFL Saints’ Super Bowl win, followed by Mardi Gras, residents and visitors here haven’t exactly needed another excuse to throw a party.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1. Notre Dame’s women’s basketball players – most garbed in some sort of green in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day – watched the NCAA selection show Monday night from Club Naimoli atop Purcell Pavilion, and they liked what they saw. For the 15th consecutive season, and the 17th time in school history, Notre Dame has earned a berth in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. The Fighting Irish are the No. 2 seed in the Kansas City Region and will play 15th-seeded Cleveland State (the Horizon League tournament champion) Sunday at approximately 2:30 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion.

The game will be televised by ESPN as part of that network’s “whiparound coverage,” while viewers in the South Bend market, as well as those watching on the Internet at ESPN360.com, will see the game in its entirety. However, the majority of ESPN viewers nationwide will be shuttled between all four games in that time slot, including the Notre Dame-Cleveland State contest.

Seventh-seeded Wisconsin and No. 10 seed Vermont will square off in Sunday’s other first-round Kansas City Region game at Purcell Pavilion (noon ET tipoff on ESPN2), with the two first-round winners advancing to a March 23 second-round contest at 7 p.m. (ET), with that game to be televised on ESPN2.

Single-game tickets for either of Sunday’s first-round matchups or Tuesday’s second-round game in South Bend can be purchased now ($16 adults/$11 youth college age and under) through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site (www.UND.com/tickets). Those single-game tickets also went on sale Tuesday through the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, either by visiting the ticket windows on the first floor of the new Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (accessible via Gate 9) or by calling (574) 631-7356. In addition, ticket packages for all three games at Purcell Pavilion are now available ($32 adults/$22 youth college age and under) and can be purchased either on-line or through the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office — processing fees and service charges may apply.

2. For the first time in school history, three Notre Dame women’s basketball players have earned all-region status in the same season and are in position to contend for places on the 2010 State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, it was announced Tuesday afternoon by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The Fighting Irish are one of only three programs in the country (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to field three all-region honorees this season.

Senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind.), freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.) and fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill.) — each of whom earned all-region honors for the first time in their respective careers — are among the 52 all-region selections, and three of the 12 honorees from the WBCA’s Region I, which includes players from schools in the BIG EAST, Atlantic 10, America East and Northeast conferences, as well as the Ivy Group and Patriot League. They also are the first Fighting Irish players to garner all-region accolades since 2007, when Charel Allen received the honor.

3. Irish forward Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) continues to earn post-season recognition for his work during the 2009-10 campaign. Tuesday, the senior co-captain was named a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award; a second-team All-American by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA); a third team All-American by The Sporting News and first team All-District 5 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

4. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish fencing team qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the upcoming NCAA Championship it was announced by the NCAA National Men’s and Women’s Fencing Committee on Tuesday afternoon. Harvard University will host the championships at the Gordon Track Center, March 25-28, in Boston, Mass. The Irish will be in pursuit of the program’s eighth national title.

After posting a 68-0 record and combining for the first undefeated regular season in 19 years, the Irish men and women captured the Midwest Fencing Conference Championship for the first time since 2002. This past weekend at the NCAA Midwest Regional, Irish women’s sabreist Eileen Hassett (Beavertone, Ore.), women’s epeeist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and men’s foilist Gerek Meinhardt (San Fransisco, Calif.) won gold medals to automatically qualify for the 2010 NCAA Championships.

That trio will be joined at the 2010 NCAA Championships by men’s foilist Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas), men’s epeeists James Kaull (Washinton, D.C.) and Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) as well as sabreists Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) and Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) on the men’s side. Joining Hassett and C. Hurley in the women’s field will be epeeist Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), foilists Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) and Darsie Malynn (Grapevine, Texas) and sabreist Sarah Borrmann. Though it is a young group of fencers, led by only one senior in Kelley Hurley, the Irish contingent has combined for 16 NCAA Championship appearances and six medalist finishes. The 2010 contingent will be led by 2008 women’s sabre champion and Borrmann and 2008 women’s epee champion Kelley Hurley.

2010 marks the eighth time the Irish have qualified 12 fencers for NCAAs. Notre Dame also sent 12 fencers to the championship from 2000-03 as well as in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Harvard, Penn State, Princeton and St. John’s also qualified 12 fencers for championship play, as did the Nittany Lions of Penn State.

5. The University of Notre Dame football team will return to the practice field Friday, March 26, for the start of 15 spring practices. The team will practice every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (with the exception of Easter weekend) until the 81st Annual Blue-Gold Spring Football Game on Saturday, April 24.

The Irish will practice at 3:15 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and at 9:00 am on Saturdays (except the Blue-Gold Game). Included within the spring practices is the 2010 Notre Dame Football Coaches Clinic, set for Friday and Saturday, April 16 and 17. Participants in the coaches clinic will watch the 2010 Fighting Irish practice both days as well as take part in a number of other activities.

2010 Spring Football Practice Dates: Fri., March 26 Sat., March 27 Mon., March 29 Wed., March 31 Wed., April 7 Fri., April 9 Sat., April 10 Mon., April 12 Wed., April 14 Fri., April 16 – Notre Dame Football Coaches Clinic Sat., April 17 – Notre Dame Football Coaches Clinic Mon., April 19 Wed., April 21 Fri., April 23 Sat., April 24 – 2010 Blue-Gold Spring Football Game

6. The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team opened Arlotta Stadium in fine fashion with a 14-7 win over Denver on Tuesday afternoon. The ninth-ranked Fighting Irish used hat tricks from Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y.), Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md.) and Sean Rogers (New Hyde Park, N.Y.) to secure the victory in the first regular-season game played in their new facility.

Notre Dame (4-2) had a total of seven goal scorers against the Pioneers. Senior attackman Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga./Lovett School) netted two goals, while Colin Igoe (Columbus, Ohio/Worthington Kilbourne), Steve Murphy (Shirley, N.Y./William Floyd) and David Earl (Simsbury, Conn./Westminster School) all had one tally. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y./MacArthur) made 12 saves to earn his fourth win of the season.

The Fighting Irish return to the field this Saturday (March 20) against Ohio State. Game time is slated for 1:00 p.m. (ET) at Arlotta Stadium.

7. Fighting Irish men’s golfer Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) was named men’s BIG EAST Golfer of the Week as announced by the conference office on Tuesday afternoon. Fortner earned the honor on the heels of capturing medalist honors at the inaugural Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Ore., on March 12. It marks Fortner’s first career BIG EAST Player of the Week honor.

Fortner, a senior, was in third place entering the final round of play at the Bandon Dunes Championship. He then fired a final round 73 to take the championship with an eight-over par score of 150. With both his rounds counting towards Notre Dame’s team score, Fortner led Notre Dame to its second win of the year, having previously captured the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic on Oct. 6. It marks the first time since 2004-05 that the Irish have won two tournaments in a season, as they won the Nokia Sugar Bowl Invitational and the BIG EAST Championship that year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


3:00 p.m.
The Irish men’s players attend their morning classes, head to Purcell Pavilion for practice, grab a quick sandwich, then head by bus to the airport to catch their 870-mile flight to New Orleans. The Notre Dame travel party, including the Irish band and cheerleaders, heads out on a Delta charter that departs a few minutes after 3:00 in South Bend – slated for arrival in New Orleans at 4:05 p.m. CDT.

4:00 p.m.
The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport in Orlando, Fla., publishes its annual analysis of graduation rates for the 65 teams in the NCAA bracket – using the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rates. Notre Dame is one of only six schools in the field with a 100 GSR score – with the Irish joined by BYU, Marquette, Utah State, Wake Forest and Wofford. The study includes four combined classes worth of graduation numbers, based on freshmen that entered from 1999 through 2002 (six years permitted to graduate). Meanwhile, the study of the women’s NCAA field produced 19 schools with 100 GSR scores, including Notre Dame. Notre Dame was the only school to post perfect scores on both the men’s and women’s sides.

6:45 p.m.
The Notre Dame squad heads by bus to Commander’s Palace for dinner, with arrangements for that event made by Mike Read, a Notre Dame grad, long-time New Orleans resident and long-time Sugar Bowl representative. Another familiar name from the Sugar Bowl, Jim Landis, is one of the Irish team hosts. Trainer Skip Meyer passes out leftover green, gold and purple Mardi Gras beads at dinner to put the Irish travel party in the spirit.

Joining the Irish for the week is BIG EAST associate commissioner for basketball Dan Gavitt. Also assigned to the New Orleans games as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee representative is Connecticut athletics director Jeff Hathaway.

Monday, March 15, 2010

1. Sophomore fencer Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) beat fellow Irish teammate Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) to win the men’s foil gold medal at the NCAA Midwest Fencing Regional Sunday afternoon inside the Sports and Aquatic Center on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. With the gold, Meinhardt earns automatic qualification into the 2010 NCAA Championship field, which will be hosted by Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on March 25-28.

Joining Castellani as silver medalists at the event were epeeist Greg Schoolcraft and Avery Zuck in sabre, giving the Irish four of the nine medalist finishes of the afternoon. The Irish also saw freshman epeeist James Kaull (Washington, D.C.) finish seventh, while sophomore Keith Feldman (Stony Brook, N.Y.) and junior Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in sabre. Looking to claim the maximum six men’s bids to the upcoming NCAA Championship, the Irish will officially find out tomorrow who will be representing them at Harvard.

2. Notre Dame hockey seniors Brett Blatchford (Temperance, Mich.) and Dan Kissel (Crestwood, Ill.) began their professional hockey careers this past weekend. Blatchford signed an Amateur Tryout (ATO) contract with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Chicago Wolves while Kissel signed on with the East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL) Bakersfield Condors. Blatchford saw his first pro action on Saturday with the Wolves in their 2-1 shootout win versus Houston. Kissel has played in three games for Bakersfield, as the Condors had a three-game series with Las Vegas. He scored in his first pro game, a 5-4 loss, versus the Wranglers. Both players were four-year regulars for the Irish with Blatchford being a member of the Notre Dame defense, while Kissel patrolled the left wing during his career.

This season, Blatchford scored a career-high four goals and added 15 assists to tie for fifth on the team in scoring with 19 points. Two of his goals came on the power play and one was short-handed. His point totals tied him with Ian Cole for second among Irish blue liners in scoring. For his career, the 23-year old defenseman played in 153 career games and scored six goals with 67 assists for 73 points and was +11. He was called for 37 penalties that resulted in 101 penalty minutes. His best season came in 2008-09 when he had a career-high 25 assists with no goals for 25 points. Blatchford will graduate from Notre Dame in May with degrees in psychology and sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.

Kissel closed his Notre Dame career this season, playing in all 38 games and scored four goals with four assists for eight points. He had one power-play tally and a short-handed goal among his four markers. In his four seasons, the 23-year old left wing played in 140 career games and scored 25 goals with 32 assists for 57 points while being +22 in those contests. He had five power-play goals, three short-handed goals and eight game winners during his career. The speedy forward was called for 32 penalties for 64 minutes. Kissel’s best season came in 2007-08 when he had career highs in goals (9), assists (14) and points (23). He was the winner of the team’s most improved player award that year. Kissel will graduate from Notre Dame this May with a degree in Political Science.

The duo joins senior defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) to give Notre Dame three players who have began pro careers since the Irish season came to an end March 6 at Ohio State. Lawson signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes March 8 and began his pro career with the AHL’s Albany River Rats last weekend.

3. Mike Brey suggested yesterday that Notre Dame’s recent men’s basketball run may be unprecedented – in terms of going from off the radar after Luke Harangody was hurt Feb. 11, all the way to a #6 NCAA seed a month later.

4. The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine includes a full-color two-page spread that shows Notre Dame students at the Notre Dame-Connecticut men’s basketball game March 3. Half the photo shows a way-more-than-life-size cutout of Tory Jackson’s head – and the rest of the shot shows students holding another student dressed like a hot dog with mustard. The cutline on the photo says, “Dog Pound.” The shot was taken by University photographer Matt Cashore.

5. In the digital version of Sporting News Today, in its analysis of the NCAA South Region, the “Top Story Line” is identified as, “Can Notre Dame become even better than it’s been?” Under “Best Potential Team Matchup,” it’s #6 Notre Dame vs. #3 Baylor in the second round.

6. In the print edition of Sporting News (March 15 issue), there’s a full-page shot of Golden Tate under the heading “How Are These Guys?” The spread includes a mini-feature, a scouting report – and a quote from Tim Brown: “He has something I didn’t have – he’s more likely to take somebody on and run over somebody. That was never part of my game.”

7. The Scout.com Recruiting Yearbook rates Note Dame’s 2010 football recruiting class #19 and says Brian Kelly “spent the last several years making a mockery of recruiting rankings at Cincinnati, rolling up a 34-6 record despite never signing a class rated higher than 51st nationally.”

8. USA Today 2010 NFL Draft has Jimmy Clausen as one of four covers subjects – and the magazine begins with a feature story titled, “The Case for Clausen: Why Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, not Ndamukong Suh, should go No. 1.” The magazine’s mock draft has Clausen going #6 to Seattle, and Golden Tate #25 to Baltimore. OT Sam Young is projected in the fifth round to Cleveland, while Eric Olsen is rated the #6 center and Kyle McCarthy the #26 safety (both are projected as free agents). Six other mock drafts by various experts had Clausen going #4, #4, #6, #1, #6 and #9 — and Tate #21, #25, #29, #43, #35 and #36.

9. The Irish men’s basketball team will head to New Orleans tomorrow afternoon. The Irish women’s basketball team will watch the NCAA selection show tonight in Club Naimoli atop Purcell Pavilion on campus.

10. Today’s final regular-season AP men’s basketball poll listed Notre Dame 28th in terms of votes received.

11. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody is a third-team All-American according to Sporting News. Also, Harangody is one of 26 players on the national ballot mailed today for the John R. Wooden Award by the Los Angeles Athletic Club

Sunday, March 14, 2010 – Part II

1. The Irish men’s basketball squad tonight watched the NCAA pairings announcement from Club Naimoli above Purcell Pavilion. Coach Mike Brey first did a CBS Sports live shot at 5:45 p.m. (just before the selection show began), fielding questions for five minutes from Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony and Seth Davis. Brey said the Irish were in a “nice groove” with their new offensive system. At 7:45 p.m., Brey and Irish players Luke Harangody, Tory Jackson and Ben Hansbrough took part in a media teleconference in the Joyce Center basketball auditorium.

2. Pacific first baseman Brian Martin came through with a clutch two-strike, two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth inning to give the Tigers a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame in the championship game of the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic this afternoon at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. Pacific starter Jake Hummel (2-0) silenced the Irish most of the afternoon. After allowing two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, the righty kept Notre Dame off the scoreboard through the eighth inning. Hummel did allow six hits, all singles, but punched out six along the way (a career- high). He actually retired the final nine batters he faced following Norton ¹s leadoff single in the sixth inning. Robbie Richardson came on in the ninth inning and did allow a two-out, pinch hit single to junior Matt Scioscia, but got senior Matt Grosso to pop out to end the game. The save was his first of the season. Sophomore Joe Spano (0-1) was charged with the loss. The southpaw allowed one earned run on one hit in 2.2 innings of work. Spano walked one and fanned a pair. Irish senior right fielder David Mills went two for three with a walk and run scored, while freshman shortstop Adam Norton went two for four with an RBI.

3. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to knock off #19 Florida State, 4-3, at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center this afternoon in Tallahassee, Fla. After dropping the doubles point and the first two singles matches, Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla.) got the Irish on the board and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md.) quickly cut the Seminole lead to one. David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.) then tied the match at 3-3 and Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo.) earned the decisive win at #5 singles to clinch the Irish victory. With the win, Notre Dame improves to 7-7 on the year, while Florida State falls to 8-3. For the Irish, it marked their best win over a ranked opponent since defeating then ninth-ranked Illinois, 4-3, on March 29, 2009. It also marked Notre Dame’s eighth match this season that has been decided by one point. The Irish play next in the 2010 Blue Gray National Classic. Play at the annual event begins March 18 in Montgomery, Ala.

4. The Fighting Irish women’s golf team shot a 300 today on the final day of play at the LSU Tiger/Wave Classic to finish in 13th in an impressive 23-team field at the English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans, La. Senior Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) fired an even-par 72 on the final day of play to lead the Irish. With her final-round 72, Brophy finished tied for 41st (+14/230). Her final day of play included a birdie and bogey to go along with 16 pars. All told, she was one of nine golfers in the 124-player field to record an eagle over the three days of play. Sophomore Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) turned in a four-over par 76 in her final round of play to finish at eight-over par 224. She had two birdies but was hurt by six bogeys to go with 10 pars. With the tie for 15th, Huffer recorded her seventh consecutive top-15 finish out of seven events of the 2009-10 season. Junior Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y.) and senior Kristin Wetzel (Middletown, N.Y.) matched Huffer’s 76 to round out Notre Dame’s scoring. Conway’s up-and-down day included consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th, 11 pars, four bogeys and a double. Wetzel had a birdie, 13 pars, three bogeys and a double. Conway finished tied for 58th and Wetzel tied for 74th. Wetzel notched a total of 34 pars over the three days of play, the fifth highest total in the field.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

1. Saturday’s return trip home for the Irish men’s hoops delegation from the BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Championships in New York didn’t exactly go according to form. The Irish left their Manhattan hotel at 9:00 a.m. and were actually loaded on their charter flight for a 10:00 a.m. departure from Teterboro, N.J. But high winds and rain (up to 70-mile-per-hour winds that knocked out power throughout the Northeast states) prevented the Notre Dame group from taking off. Instead they chartered two buses that arrived in South Bend in the neighborhood of 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

2. The Irish will know in a few hours but here are the latest projections for the Notre Dame men in the NCAA bracket:
— From Sporting News – Irish a #9 seed
— From ESPN.com Bracketology – Irish a #8 seed in Jacksonville vs. #9 San Diego State
— From CBSSports.com – Irish a #10 in Milwaukee vs. #7 Florida State
— From SI.com – Irish a #8 in Milwaukee vs. #9 Clemson

3. Separated by over 100 miles in Indiana, Notre Dame and Purdue faced off under the California sun at Mayfair Park in Lakeside, Calif., to wrap up the Long Beach Invite this morning. Jody Valdivia (12-2) picked up her 11th straight win, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning en route to the 3-0 non-conference softball victory. She finished with the shutout win after striking out nine Boilermakers in the complete-game effort. Seven of Valdivia’s strikeouts came in the first three innings as only four Purdue (8-11) players reached base. Notre Dame (16-5) finished its spring break swing on the West Coast with an 8-1 record. Heather Johnson went three for three with three RBI and one run, including her sixth home run of the season. Katie Fleury had two hits and scored one run. Sadie Pitzenberger continued her hot streak from the leadoff spot, doubling to center to start the first. Singles by Fleury and Johnson brought her home to put Notre Dame ahead, 1-0. After a Fleury single in the fifth, Johnson belted a home run to left-center to score two more. Jenna Alexander singled for Purdue in the seventh. Notre Dame heads to Western Michigan on Thursday for one game beginning at 5 p.m. (ET).

One day after seeing its 12-game winning streak come to an end, the Notre Dame softball team posted a pair of non-conference victories Saturday at Mayfair Park on the second day of the Long Beach Invitational. Valdivia (11-2) pitched 10.1 innings in the two games and was credited with both wins. She gave up a total of four hits and one earned run with 15 strikeouts. Notre Dame (15-5) defeated UNLV, 4-1, and host Long Beach State, 4-2. Johnson and Pitzenberger each had four hits and a 1.000 slugging pct. on the day for Notre Dame. Pitzenberger also scored three times — with Dani Miller driving home a team-high three runs. With hits in both games, Pitzenberger stretched her current streak to 15 games.

4. Senior diver Natalie Stitt led Notre Dame off the 3-meter board Saturday at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, Ind., to wrap up the NCAA Women’s Zone Diving Championships. Stitt finished sixth overall with 603.10 points. Ohio State’s Bianca Alvarez was first with 732.50 points. In the preliminary round, Heidi Grossman (236.50) and Jenny Chiang (233.55) scored well enough to finish among the top 35 overall. The field consisted of 46 divers.

5. Notre Dame wrapped up the NCAA Men’s Zone Diving Championships with three student-athletes among the top 20 finishers in the 1-meter event Saturday at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. Purdue’s David Colturi (762.30) won the event. Wes Villaflor (614.55) led the Irish and finished 12th overall. Eric Lex (592.05) was 15th and Nathan Geary (536.50) was 18th.

6. The third-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team dropped a 10-8 decision to Fairfield on Saturday afternoon at The Kinkaid School in Houston. Senior attackman Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) paced the Fighting Irish with three goals. Midfielders Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md.) and David Earl (Simbsbury, Conn.) both chipped in two goals and an assist for the Irish. Fairfield (2-2) jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. Notre Dame (3-2) got on the board with five minutes elapsed in the second quarter as Hicks deposited his first goal of the game. Saturday was the second hat trick of the season for Hicks, who has a team-best 23-game point streak. The Stags responded with three straight tallies to take a 7-1 lead with 6:33 left in the first half. Notre Dame’s Max Pfeifer (Crozet, Va.) put a halt to the surge as he netted a man-up goal with 5:34 remaining in the first half. Fairfield led 7-2 at the intermission. The Fighting Irish staged a second-half comeback that fell just short. Notre Dame held a 6-3 scoring advantage in the second half.

The 10 goals scored by Fairfield snapped Notre Dame’s 20-game streak of not surrendering double digits in goals. The Irish out shot the Stags 42-23. Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) made five saves, while Joseph Marra had 17 stops for Fairfield. Senior midfielder Trever Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y./Greenwich) went 14-6 in faceoff attempts for the Fighting Irish. Saturday’s contest was part of the inaugural “Beating Cancer With a Stick Lacrosse Classic.” The event, which was presented by Lacrosse 4 All, helped to raise money for The Children’s Cancer Hospital at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. It was the first NCAA Division I lacrosse game in Houston since 1970, when Johns Hopkins played Navy. The Fighting Irish are back in action when they play host to Denver on Tuesday. Game time is slated for 4:00 p.m. (ET) at Arlotta Stadium.

7. Senior Jack Howard earned his first All-America honor Saturday with a seventh-place finish in the men’s 800-meter final at the NCAA Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships, held at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. Howard clocked in at 1:49.48 to finish seventh. Virginia’s Robby Andrews was the top finisher in 1:48.39, followed by Oregon’s Andrew Wheating in second at 1:48.40 and Penn State’s Ryan Foster in third at 1:48.79. With Howard’s All-America recognition, Notre Dame extended its streak to 20 consecutive years with at least one men’s track All-American. Howard also earned his first BIG EAST title this season and ran the then-fourth fastest time in the nation in the 800 meters at the Meyo Invitational. Howard and the Irish open the outdoor season March 26-27 at the Arizona State and Stanford invitational meets.

8. Sophomore fencer Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and junior fencer Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) turned in gold medal performances at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday afternoon inside the Sports and Aquatic Center on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.. Both fencers earned automatic qualification into the 2010 NCAA Championship field by virtue of finishing first overall in their respective weapons. All told, the Irish women won four medals on the day as Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) earned a silver in sabre and Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) took home the foil bronze.

9. Senior guard Tory Jackson (Saginaw, Mich.) has been named to the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament team, the league announced today. The selection marks the third time in the program’s tenure in the BIG EAST that an Irish player has been selected to the squad. Over the course of the three-game stint from the BIG EAST Championship in Madison Square Garden, Jackson averaged 10.7 points and five assists per contest while playing all 120 minutes for the Irish.

10. The University of Notre Dame women’s basketball program proudly announced on Saturday that it has raised $103,750 as part of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Pink Zone breast cancer initiative during the 2009-10 season. That total not only more than doubled last year’s fund-raising total of more than $45,000, but it also far surpassed Notre Dame’s preseason goal of $55,000 for its 2009-10 Pink Zone campaign — the official Notre Dame Pink Zone web page can be found by CLICKING HERE. Funds raised from this year’s Pink Zone events at Notre Dame will be donated nationally to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund and locally to the Foundation For Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Task Force, which includes the Secret Sisters Society and Young Survivors group.

11. No one said it was going to be easy when the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team hit the road for a Saturday afternoon game versus California at Memorial Stadium. The Cal Bears gave the 11th-ranked Irish all they could handle, taking a first half lead and building it to a 10-7 advantage with just under 14 minutes left in the game. Notre Dame would score the final three goals of regulation to tie the game at 10-10 and send it to overtime. In the two, three-minute extra periods, the Irish would get goals from Maggie Tamasitis, Jenny Granger, Ansley Stewart and Gina Scioscia to take a 14-12 win on the road. Stewart’s game winner came with 1:35 left in the game. For the afternoon, Notre Dame was led by junior midfielders Kailene Abt (2g, 3a) and Shaylyn Blaney (four goals) with Scioscia, Stewart and Tamasitis each scoring twice and Jackie Doherty and Granger getting one goal each. The win improves Notre Dame to 3-1 on the season, while California closed out a four-game home stand with a 1-4 overall record. The Irish have now won all seven games in the all-time series with the Golden Bears. Notre Dame returns to action next weekend when the Irish head east to face the ninth-ranked Boston University Terriers on Saturday at noon at BU’s Nickerson Field.

12. Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia’s last-second hero in the quarterfinals, scored 24 points to lead the seventh-ranked Mountaineers to a 53-51 victory over Notre Dame on Friday night in the Big East men’s basketball tournament semifinals. The Fighting Irish (23-11) had the chance to win it Friday. Tory Jackson missed a three with four seconds left. Notre Dame’s Tyrone Nash came up with the rebound, but Wellington Smith stripped it from him just as the buzzer sounded. Ben Hansbrough had 17 points for the Fighting Irish, who had won six straight. Even though the game was played at Notre Dame’s new slower pace that had led it to its recent winning streak, West Virginia went up 36-36 with 5:22 to play on a free throw by Smith. Tim Abromaitis and Hansbrough then combined for nine points in an 11-2 run that saw the Fighting Irish pull within 48-47 with 2:58 left. Butler then was responsible for the rest of the Mountaineers’ points. He had an assist on Joe Mazzula’s layup with 2:40 left and his bounce pass found Kevin Jones, who was fouled with 1:56 left and made two free throws. Hansbrough scored on a reverse that brought Notre Dame within 52-49 with 1:35 to go. Butler made one of two free throws with 1:02 left and Hansbrough made two foul shots with 47 seconds left to make it 53-51. After a timeout, West Virginia got the ball to Butler but his three-point attempt with 12 seconds left bounced off the rim. Jackson came down and missed his three, Smith made the big strip and West Virginia was in the title game for the second time, having lost to Syracuse in 2005. Luke Harangody had 10 points for Notre Dame, which has lost in all three of its semifinal appearances. Notre Dame averaged 59 points in its two Big East tournament wins, almost 18 points lower than its season average. The Fighting Irish struggled against the Mountaineers’ 1-3-1 zone, finishing at 34.1 percent (15 of 44).

13. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team fell at BIG EAST rival South Florida on Saturday, 4-3, at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts in Tampa, Fla. Notre Dame rallied from a 0-3 deficit to tie the match at 3-3, but fell short as Peter Frank clinched the match with a win at third singles for the Bulls. South Florida took a 1-0 lead by winning the doubles point. At No. 1 doubles, the Irish duo of Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland) lost to USF’s Jamal Adderley and Thomas Estrada, 8-4. Notre Dame then notched a win at No. 3 doubles when David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass.) and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md.) combined to take out Romain Deridder and Frank, 8-2. But USF clinched the doubles point at the No. 2 position as Wael Kilani and Yannick Yoshizawa edged Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and Spencer Talmadge (Hillsborough, Calif.), 8-6. At fifth singles, freshman Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla.) got the Irish on the board with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Mark Oljaca. It marked Moros’ fifth singles win of the dual season. Then Davis cut the Bulls lead to 3-2 with a win at sixth singles. The junior captain defeated Juan Carlos Acuna in a three-set match 2-6, 6-0, 6-4 for his third singles win of the dual season. Samuel Keeton (Kansas City, Mo.) added to his personal unbeaten streak and tied the match at 3-3 with a win at fourth singles. After dropping a close first set he knocked-off Deridder 6-7 (1-7), 6-1, 6-2. Keeton is now 8-0 in dual season singles play this year and the win marked his first of the year at #4 singles. But the Irish comeback fell just short as Frank clinched the win for USF with a tough three-set win at #3 singles over Anderson 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was Anderson’s first start at #3 singles this season. With the loss, 44th-ranked Notre Dame moves to 6-7 on the season, while the Bulls improve to 4-6. Notre Dame was forced to alter its expected singles and doubles lineups when 19th-ranked Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.) was unable to play due to illness.

14. Notre Dame jumped out to a 6-0 lead and cruised home behind junior Brian Dupra’s best start of the season as the Irish advanced to the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic championship game with a 6-3 victory over Gonzaga Saturday afternoon at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. Notre Dame evened its record at 7-7, while the Bulldogs dropped to 6-7. Dupra (2-1) tossed 7.0+ innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits. He struck out a career-high eight and did not issue a walk. In fact, Dupra went to a three-ball count on just three occasions. He did not allow a Gonzaga batter to advance into scoring position until the sixth inning. Dupra, whose previous career-high for strikeouts in a game was six accomplished on four separate occasions, retired 16 of the first 18 Bulldogs of the game, including striking out the side in the fifth inning. He then surrendered a pair of runs, only one of which was earned, in the sixth inning and a third run stood at second base with only one out, but punched out Mark Castellitto and Royce Bolinger to end the Gonzaga threat. Notre Dame did all of its damage in the first and second inning off of Gonzaga starter Reedy Berg. Senior Casey Martin belted a three-run home run in the first to give the Irish a 3-0 lead. Senior David Mills added a two-run double and senior Ryan Connolly added a bunt RBI single to extend the lead to 6-0.

Notre Dame freshman second baseman Frank DeSico went three for four with a run scored and two RBI, but Pacific starting pitcher David Rowse kept the Irish off balance as the Tigers held on for an 8-4 victory Friday afternoon in college baseball action from the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic. Rowse (3-0) scattered eight hits and allowed two earned runs over his 6.0 innings of work en route to the victory. Notre Dame did register 11 hits on the afternoon. In addition to DeSico’s three, senior first baseman Casey Martin went two for five with a double and two runs scored, while freshman shortstop Adam Norton went two for four with a double and run scored.

15. Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan (a former Irish standout) received a hefty payday Friday, getting $397,555 when the NFL handed out money through its performance-based pay system. His compensation was the highest of any player in the NFL. He was one of a dozen players to get more than $300,000 through the system, which splits $109,532,000 among the league’s 32 teams. Each team gets $3,422,875. The amount awarded to each player is determined by a formula the league uses involving a player’s salary cap number and playing time percentage.

Friday, March 12, 2010 – Part II

1. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly is featured in this week’s Sporting News (March Madness preview with Kansas basketball players on the cover). There’s a small photo of him on the table of contents directing readers to page 38.

The headline of the photo-spread is, “You’ve gotta see this.” In an offseason of major change at major programs, Sporting News asked six new coaches to deliver their recruiting pitch from the place they can’t wait to show off. Kelly’s photo spans from pages 38-39 and he’s the only coach to get two pages. The rest just have one.

Each coach is asked to give his new 30-second recruiting pitch and then also talk about why they chose the location they did to pose.

Kelly’s new 30-second recruiting pitch: “I want people to know I believe it can be done here. You have excellence on the field and in the classroom. Regardless of what people talk about, we can win a national championship and do great things. I didn’t take this job because I was going to increase graduation rates. We were good in that. I took this job because we need to win more football games. And we’re going to do that.”

“The first time I saw the ‘Play Like A Champion Today’ sign, I thought . . . ‘There’s a sense here that we may have lost touch with the roots of Notre Dame, which are built in playing tough, physical football.’ That locker room, and that environment, represents what many of us have seen in Notre Dame football as we grew up. That’s the way we want to be again. We need to return to our roots and be that tough, physical football team again.”

2. Yet another NFL Draft preview makes the newsstands, with the Sporting News version appearing today.

The SN Mock Draft has Golden Tate to Cincinnati at #21 and Jimmy Clausen #26 to Arizona. Writer Matt Hayes’ “other version” has Tate in the same slot and Clausen #8 to Oakland. OT Sam Young projects as a seventh-rounder, as does SS Kyle McCarthy. There’s a nice Q&A with Clausen on page 48 of the print edition.

Under the category of 2011 Draft, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd is rated as the 25th-best player.

3. Former Irish basketball assistant Gene Cross has resigned as head coach at Toledo after going 11-53 combined in two seasons.

4. Jennifer Ellenbeck hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth to give San Diego a 2-1 non-conference softball win over Notre Dame today at Mayfair Park in Lakeside, Calif., snapping a 12-game winning streak for the Irish. Notre Dame (13-5) opened the Long Beach Invitational with a 1-0 win against Buffalo in the first game of the day. Notre Dame out-hit San Diego 6-4 while receiving a triple from Alexa Maldonado and a fourth-inning solo home run by Heather Johnson. The Irish left five runners on base against San Diego (5-9) and six more against Buffalo (6-9). Sadie Pitzenberger had three of Notre Dame’s 10 hits on the day, including her third triple of the season. Pitzenberger and Erin Marrone now share for team-high honors with 20 hits through 18 games. Notre Dame faces UNLV at 3:45 p.m. (PT) and Long Beach State at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

5. The Fighting Irish men’s tennis team’s Friday afternoon match versus South Florida was postponed due to rain. The match is now scheduled to take place Saturday at 10:00 a.m.

6. The Fighting Irish men’s golf team battled through adverse weather conditions to claim the inaugural Bandon Dunes Championship on Friday afternoon at the Pacific Dunes course in Bandon, Ore. The Irish shot a 305 in the second and final round to record their second tournament win of the 2009-10 campaign. Due to heavy rains and extreme wind, the event was shortened from 54 to 36 holes of play. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) claimed individual medalist honors for his first career win. After one round of play, Fortner was in third place and then he fired a final round 73 to take the championship with an eight-over par score of 150.

7. Notre Dame’s women’s golf team is 16th after the first round of the LSU Tiger/Wave Classic today in New Orleans, La., after a team 310 score (22 over par). The top Irish individual was Becca Huffer, who was fourth with an even-par 72.

Friday, March 12, 2010

1. A combined 24 members of the Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams will take part in the 2010 NCAA Midwest Fencing Regional this weekend in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern will serve as the host of the two-day event, which will take place at the Sports and Aquatic Center.

The Midwest Regional gets underway tomorrow when the women take to the strips. Then on Sunday, the men will close out the event. The Fighting Irish are attempting to qualify the combined maximum of 12 fencers for the NCAA Championship, which will be hosted by Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on March 25-28.

Each team can qualify up to two men and two women per weapon for the NCAA Championships. The winner of each event at the Midwest Regional will receive and automatic bid to the NCAA Championships and the Midwest region has five bids allocated to it for the NCAA Championships in each of the six events. Fencers are nominated by the NCAA Midwest Committee, and confirmed by the NCAA National Men’s and Women’s Fencing Committee on Tuesday, March 16. Nominations are based on the pre-regional “Fencer Strength Factor” (40 percent) and Regional Placement (60 percent). Each region also nominates two fencers in each event as at-large candidates; the at-large bids go to the two fencers with the highest Fencer Strength Factor.

The competition at the Midwest Regional will feature preliminary pool rounds to reduce the field to 14 fencers, who will enter a double-elimination tournament, with the first twelve places being fenced out. The Notre Dame men and women enter competition as the top-ranked teams in the latest United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) poll. Other teams competing at the Midwest Regional qualifier include host Northwestern, Ohio State, Lawrence, Detroit, Wayne State, and Cleveland State.

2. Some happenings from Notre Dame softball’s West Coast trip included:

— A Wednesday evening stroll through a Santa Monica shopping center found sophomore Alexa Maldonado face to face with actor John Beasley. Beasley stopped to speak with Maldonado after noticing the Notre Dame monogram on her jacket, while Maldonado immediately recognized Beasley as Coach Warren from the movie “Rudy.”

— The team sat one table away from former Irish football player Greg Bell during Thursday’s brunch at Schooner or Later, the famous Long Beach eatery. Bell spoke to the team and gave the girls a pep talk. He is currently involved in helping coordinate after-school programs for the NFL in the Los Angeles area.

3. The Fighting Irish men’s golf team overcame some sideways rain and steady winds between 25-30 miles per hour to shoot an opening round 317 on Thursday to take hold of first place at the Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Ore. The second round was also scheduled to take place on Thursday, but was suspended and pushed to today due to high winds, rain and hail. The Irish hold a seven-stroke lead over second-place Idaho.

After one round of play, sophomore Tom Usher (Bradford, England) battled the high winds to tie for the individual lead by firing a plus-five 76 that was equaled by only David Nuhn of Idaho. Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) claimed sole possession of third after one round, having carded a six-over par 77. Fortner’s classmate Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C.) shot an 80 to tie for 4th, giving the Irish three of the top five finishers after one round of play.

4. Draining the shot clock on nearly every possession and relying on stout defense, Notre Dame is playing its best basketball of the season at the perfect time. Luke Harangody came off the bench and hit three key free throws in the final two minutes, helping the Fighting Irish hold off #16 Pittsburgh 50-45 in the Big East tournament quarterfinals Thursday night for their season-best sixth straight victory. “I thought we really defended the last seven minutes to win the game, because they defended us,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “I thought we were fabulous on that end of the floor.”

Harangody and Tory Jackson each had 12 points in a bruising, defensive struggle. When the dust finally cleared, the Fighting Irish (23-10) had consecutive wins in the Big East tournament for the first time since joining the league for the 1995-96 season.

After reaching the semifinals for the third time, seventh-seeded Notre Dame will play #7-rated West Virginia in the second game tonight at Madison Square Garden.

“Our interior defense and ball-screen defense has been the most consistent since I’ve been here,” said Brey, in his 10th season at Notre Dame. “I guess when your life is on the line, you’re really good at it.” Brad Wanamaker scored 16 points for Pittsburgh (24-8), knocked out in its Big East tournament opener as the #2 seed for the second straight year. Before that, the Panthers reached three finals in a row and seven in a span of eight seasons.

With former President Bill Clinton sitting a few rows back near midcourt, Pittsburgh became the third ranked Big East team with a double bye into the quarterfinals that lost its tournament opener Thursday. “So much for the double byes, huh? I do think there’s some advantage to being able to play a little bit,” Brey said.

Playing without an injured Harangody, the Fighting Irish began their winning streak with a 68-53 victory over then-#12 Pittsburgh on Feb. 24. They pulled this one out despite going nearly nine minutes without a field goal in the second half.

Notre Dame, which has never advanced past the semifinals, led almost the entire way and outscored Pitt 10-6 over the final 6:56. Harangody, who entered the tournament as the nation’s second-leading scorer at 23.3 points per game, missed five games late in the regular season with a badly bruised right knee. Notre Dame lost the first two by a combined three points before putting together three consecutive wins without him. He’s been coming off the bench since his return, and looked healthy Wednesday night while posting 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 68-56 win over Seton Hall.

But the senior forward was inconsistent in 22 minutes against a physical Pittsburgh squad, and he sat out for a long stretch late in the second half, a white towel draped over his knees. “It’s holding up good. I was curious to see how two games in a row would go with my conditioning. I’m still not there yet. But I think every day it’s getting a little better,” Harangody said. “This run we made at the end of the season, it was pretty special. These guys have played great without me. Now to make a run in the Big East tournament is great as well.”

Jackson’s three-pointer put the Irish up 46-40 with 3:26 left, and Harangody re-entered when forward Carleton Scott fouled out with 3:12 remaining. Harangody’s free throw made it 47-43 with 1:52 to go, but Wanamaker hit an acrobatic layup to pull Pittsburgh within two. After Harangody was called for traveling, Wanamaker missed a driving layup and Jermaine Dixon was off on a tough, spinning bank shot.

Harangody grabbed the rebound and sank two free throws with 15.9 seconds left, making it 49-45. Tim Abromaitis blocked Travon Woodall’s attempted layup, and Pitt never scored again.

“Obviously, when I get that turnover, I’m very upset,” Harangody said. “You have to go on to the next play. I didn’t put my head down. I said, `I’m going to make this up to my team.”

5. Notre Dame sophomore Will Hudgins came out of the bullpen and tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief as the Irish rallied for a 10-6 victory over Bradley Thursday afternoon in first day action from the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. Hudgins (1-0) entered in the bottom of the seventh inning with Notre Dame trailing the Braves, 5-4, after Bradley had already plated three in the frame. The sidewinder got consecutive fly balls to end the inning, one of which did give Bradley a 6-4 lead. Hudgins sent down the Braves in order in the eighth, including a pair of strikeouts, and would have done the same in the ninth with the exception of a wild pitch that allowed a base runner to reach after another strikeout. Hudgins struck out four and did not issue a walk. Senior leftfielder Ryan Connolly went two for four with a solo home run and three RBI. Junior designated hitter David Casey went three for four with an RBI and three runs scored, while junior catcher Cameron McConnell went one for three with three RBI. Freshman Adam Norton went two for four with a run scored. Notre Dame answered Bradley’s four-run seventh inning with a six-run explosion of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Notre Dame returns to action today for its second game in the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio. First pitch against Pacific is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

1. If you are wondering how sports headlines come about, understand that sometimes it’s almost by accident. Take Tuesday, for example. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, in New York for a day of events with Notre Dame-connected groups, was visiting with a small group of New York-based sportswriters over coffee that morning at the Barking Dog cafÃÆ’Ã € ‘Ãâ ‚¬  ‘ © on 34th Street. The event was designed as more of a “meet and greet” session for media who don’t make it to South Bend every day. Most of the conversation wasn’t headline news, but Kelly at one point was asked about his thoughts on conference affiliation. Meanwhile, Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick just happened to stop by the session to listen – and he, too, was hit with the question about conferences. What Swarbrick said wasn’t necessarily new or groundbreaking – but it maybe involved more of a national assessment of the conference landscape than had been voiced. In any event, the nature and context of Swarbrick’s remarks immediately prompted the Associated Press to run a short item, followed by a more in-depth feature later in the day – and the New York Times wrote a full-blown piece that ended up the lead sports story at the top of the page in Wednesday’s print edition.

2. With a healthy Luke Harangody back in top form, Notre Dame stopped Seton Hall in its run-and-gun tracks to take another big step toward the NCAA tournament. Harangody had 20 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, and the Fighting Irish shut down Seton Hall’s high-octane offense for a 68-56 victory in the second round of the Big East tournament Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“The microwave was ready to go tonight,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said about the instant offense Harangody provided as a reserve. “It was not anything anybody in this room hasn’t seen.”

Tory Jackson added 13 points and six assists for the Fighting Irish (22-10) in a game with significant NCAA implications. Notre Dame, riding a five-game winning streak at just the right time, plays second-seeded and #16 Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals tonight. The seventh-seeded Irish started their surge with 68-53 victory over then-#12 Pittsburgh on Feb. 24.

Harangody, who entered as the nation’s second-leading scorer at 23.3 points per game, was injured in a 90-87 loss at Seton Hall on Feb. 11. The senior forward missed five games with a badly bruised right knee and the Irish lost the first two by a combined three points before reeling off three straight surprising wins without him. He had five points and two rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench Saturday in Notre Dame’s 63-60 overtime win at Marquette, but looked much more like himself in this one.

“The last couple of days of practice have been great for me, just to get back in the flow. Kind of get my conditioning back up to where it has been,” Harangody said. “I feel right now that I started to get a little bit of swagger I had before the injury, a little more of the confidence. I feel great with the guys out there.”

Harangody ran the floor well for fast-break dunks and scored several easy baskets down low. After entering 3:15 into the game, he finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in 15 first-half minutes as Notre Dame turned an 11-2 deficit into a 28-21 lead at the break.

“I think he is back in his rhythm at a very key time,” Brey said.

With about 4:45 left in the half, Jackson dived toward the sideline by press row and slapped a loose ball to a streaking Harangody, who scored and drew a foul on the play. Fired up by his own hustle, Jackson screamed in delight.

The Irish scored the first seven points of the second half, five by Jackson, and never let up. With 11:37 to go, Ben Hansbrough looked directly at his defender, Jordan Theodore, and said, “C’mon, baby” before driving right by for a layup that gave Notre Dame its largest lead, 44-28.

“It was our tempo,” Brey said.

Led by Harangody, selected to the all-Big East first team for the third consecutive year, Notre Dame’s bench outscored Seton Hall’s reserves 24-3. Seton Hall went two for 16 from three-point range and fell 25 points below its season average of 81.3 per game, which ranked fourth in the Big East.

3. Texas-Pan American relievers Scott Wingo, Hayden Daugherty and Guadalupe Barrera combined to throw 5.0 innings of relief without allowing an earned run as the Broncos pulled away late for a 10-4 victory over the Irish Wednesday night at Edinburg Baseball Stadium in Edinburg, Texas.

Freshman Patrick Veerkamp (0-1), making his Irish debut, was charged with the loss. He surrendered four runs, all earned, on three hits in 2.2 innings of work. He struck out one and walked three. Fellow freshman shortstop Adam Norton paced the Irish offensively with a career-high three hits. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI single. Junior first baseman David Casey and senior right fielder David Mills each went 2-for-4 with RBI singles.

Notre Dame returns to action this afternoon for its opening game in the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. First pitch against Bradley is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. CT.

4. Notre Dame senior defenseman Kyle Lawson (New Hudson, Mich.) has been named an honorable mention selection to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s (CCHA) postseason all-star team for the 2009-10 season. Junior left wing Calle Ridderwall (Stockholm, Sweden) was the only other Notre Dame player to receive votes in voting done by the conference’s coaches.

One of the top defensemen in the CCHA, Lawson finished fourth among conference defensemen in scoring with three goals and 15 assists for 18 points in 28 conference games. All three of his goals came on the power play and one was a game winner. He received one first-place vote and a total of 17 votes overall.
The talented blueliner who is a 2005 NHL selection of the Carolina Hurricanes has been honored by the CCHA in each of his four seasons at Notre Dame. As a freshman, he was selected to the 2007 CCHA all-rookie team. He followed that in 2008 by being named honorable mention all-CCHA before being named second team last season.

5. Notre Dame freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.) is one of six players who have been named to the 2010 BIG EAST Conference All-Tournament Team, the league announced Tuesday night following the tourney’s championship game at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.

Diggins is the first Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to earn BIG EAST all-tournament team honors since 2005, when Megan Duffy was tapped for the squad after Notre Dame fell to Connecticut, 67-54 in the semifinals. Diggins also is the first Fighting Irish freshman ever to be named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team, and just the second Notre Dame rookie to earn conference all-tourney honors in any of the program’s three league affiliations (Beth Morgan was a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference [now Horizon League] All-Tournament Team as a freshman in 1994).

In three games at this year’s BIG EAST Championship, Diggins averaged 14.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.7 assists with a .417 field goal percentage (15-of-36) and a stellar .923 free throw percentage (12-for-13). The second-team all-BIG EAST selection and unanimous BIG EAST All-Freshman Team choice opened her first collegiate postseason tournament this past Saturday in the second round against Louisville, scoring eight of Notre Dame’s first 11 points on the way to a 13-point, four-rebound effort in an 89-52 Fighting Irish win.

6. Junior pitcher Jody Valdivia limited Cal State Northridge to one hit – a seventh-inning bloop single – as Notre Dame earned a 3-0 non-conference softball win Wednesday at Matador Diamond in Northridge, Calif. Valdivia (8-2) struck out nine while issuing one walk to chalk her seventh straight win from the circle as the Irish (12-4) extended their winning streak to 11 contests.

7. Fighting Irish men’s tennis player Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) has earned BIG EAST men’s tennis Player of the Week honors it was announced by the conference on Wednesday afternoon. It marks Havens’ first career BIG EAST Player of the Week honor.

Havens earned the accolade on the strength of his performance against then 12th-ranked Illinois on March 2. Though the Irish came up on the wrong side of a 5-2 decision, Havens won his doubles and singles matches versus the Fighting Illini. In doubles action, he teamed with last week’s co-BIG EAST Player of the week honoree Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) at No. 1 doubles. The Irish duo knocked off 49th-ranked Marek Czerwinski and Stephen Hoh, 8-4. Then in singles action, Havens lined up in his customary No. 2 position and made quick work of Johnny Hamui. The Notre Dame junior recorded a 6-0, 6-1 win for his fifth victory of the 2010 dual season.

8. Notre Dame seniors Sam Barnes (D), Grant Krebs (M) and Scott Rodgers (GK) have been named to the 64-man watch list for the 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate lacrosse player.

9. Seniors Joanna Schultz and Jack Howard will represent the Irish track and field squads this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships held at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark.

Schultz will be competing in the NCAA Indoor Championships for the second straight season. Last year, the Holmen, Wis., native earned All-America honors after finishing eighth in the 400-meter dash, the same event she’ll be competing in this season. Schultz won her first BIG EAST indoor title last month after running the 400-meter dash in 53.16, the fourth-fastest time in program history. She is currently ranked 12th nationally.

Howard will be making his first appearance in the NCAA Championships. The Libertyville, Ill., product won the BIG EAST 800-meter indoor title this season and clocked Notre Dame’s sixth-best 800-meter time of 1:48.60 at the Meyo Invitational. Howard is ranked 15th nationally.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1. Notre Dame women’s lacrosse players Shaylyn Blaney (Jr., Stony Brook, N.Y.) and senior Gina Scioscia (Summit, N.J.) are among a group of 52 women’s lacrosse players to be named to the Tewaaraton Trophy “Watch List” for the 2010 season. The award is presented annually to the top male and female collegiate lacrosse players in the nation. The award, the most coveted and prestigious award a varsity lacrosse player can receive is a symbol of excellence in college lacrosse. The Trophy will be presented on June 3, 2010 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

For Blaney, this is the second time that she has been named to the Watch List (2009) while Scioscia has received recognition for the first time in her career. After three games this season, Blaney, who patrols the midfield for the Irish, is tied for the team lead in goals with eight and is third in scoring with eight points. For her career, she is eighth on the all-time goals list with 95 and 10th all-time in points with 107. Blaney came into the 2010 season as a preseason all-BIG EAST selection after being a first team all-BIG EAST choice in 2009. She also was a 2009 IWLCA second team all-American after helping Notre Dame to its first BIG EAST title and a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Scioscia enters the week fourth on the team in scoring after three games with six goals and one assist for seven points. The talented attack standout was a preseason all-BIG EAST selection and the preseason offensive player of the year. For her career, Scioscia has 83 goals and 83 assists for 166 career points. She currently has a 22-game point streak that started last season that has seen her score 55 goals with 41 assists for 96 points. The Summit, N.J., native is coming off a 2009 season that saw her set personal bests with 53 goals and 43 assists for 96 points. A second team all-BIG EAST selection, she took second team IWLCA All-American honors. Scioscia is currently third among active Division I players in assists (83) and 16th in points with 166 while her 22-game point streak ranks 19th among active streaks. Blaney and Scioscia are among eight BIG EAST players named to the Watch List.

2. Here’s the latest on Blue-Gold football ticket information for Notre Dame’s spring football weekend:

TICKET INFORMATION °Blue-Gold Tickets go on sale beginning Tuesday, March 16th at 8:30 a.m. EST ° Tickets may be purchased online at www.und.com/tickets, in person at the Murnane Family Ticket Office Window (Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion), by telephone at (574) 631-7356 or by mailing the ticket form from this brochure to: University of Notre Dame Murnane Ticket Office Joyce Center-Purcell Pavilion Notre Dame, IN 46556

° Press Box, VIP Brunch and Reserved Gold tickets are available for sale ONLY via telephone at (574) 631-7356 or in person at the Murnane Family Ticket Office, located at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion ° General Admission Adult Tickets – $12 each ($15 on game day) ° General Admission Youth Tickets (18 years and under) – $8 each ($10 on game day) ° Group Sales of 20 or more General Admission Tickets (Adults and/or Youth) – $8 each ° In late March, participating area Meijer stores will also sell general admission tickets at a discounted price ° Children 3 and under do not require a ticket for the general admission seating areas

PRESS BOX SEATING ° Enjoy the same view as media covering Irish football; Also included are a game program and press box lunch ° SEATING IS LIMITED – Press Box tickets sell out quickly ° Special Press Box Seating – $100 each ° Purchase limit of 4 total press box tickets ° Due to limited quantities, the purchase of both Press Box and VIP Brunch Tickets is prohibited

VIP BRUNCH INFORMATION ° Included with your brunch ticket is a pre-game meal with the football team, exclusive access to an autograph session with the current team and GENERAL ADMISSION seating at the game ° SEATING IS LIMITED – VIP Brunch tickets sell out quickly ° Due to demand, not all tables will have a current football player ° VIP Brunch Adult Tickets – $60 each ° VIP Brunch Youth Tickets (18 years and under) – $40 each ° Purchase limit of 8 total brunch tickets ° Due to limited quantities, the purchase of both Press Box and VIP Brunch Tickets is prohibited ° Brunch is held in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse (North Dome) ° Doors open at 8:15 a.m. with brunch beginning at 9:00 a.m. ° The Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley will conduct a silent auction of sports memorabilia in conjunction with the VIP Brunch ° The VIP Brunch is sponsored by South Bend Orthopaedic Associates

RESERVED GOLD (Chairback) TICKETS ° All tickets are $30, regardless of age ° SEATING IS LIMITED – Reserved Gold tickets sell out quickly ° Purchase limit is 4 total Reserved Gold tickets

OTHER WEEKEND EVENTS AT NOTRE DAME FRIDAY, APRIL 23rd ° Men’s and Women’s Tennis in BIG EAST Championships – Courtney Tennis Center (Tickets Required) ° Women’s Soccer vs. Mexican National Team – Alumni Stadium, 5:00 p.m. (Tickets Required) ° Baseball vs. Cincinnati – Frank Eck Stadium, 6:05 p.m. (Tickets Required) ° Men’s Soccer vs. Mexican National Team – Alumni Stadium, approximately 7:15 p.m. (Tickets Required)
SATURDAY, APRIL 24th ° Finish on the 50 – a 5K Fun Run sponsored by Alumni Hall to benefit Hannah and Friends – 8:00 a.m. (interested donors can contact Hannah and Friends at 574-273-9824 or info@hannahandfriends.org to sponsor students running in the race) – Race will finish inside Notre Dame Stadium ° Fan Fest opens on Irish Green – 10:00 a.m. ° Stadium Gates open at 11:00 a.m. ° Football Alumni Flag Football Game – 11:30 a.m. (Blue-Gold Game ticket is required to attend) ° Men’s and Women’s Tennis in BIG EAST Championships – Courtney Tennis Center (Tickets Required) ° Softball vs. Villanova – Melissa Cook Stadium, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. (Free with Blue-Gold Game ticket stub) ° Baseball vs. Cincinnati – Frank Eck Stadium, 6:05 p.m. (Free with Blue-Gold Game ticket stub)
SUNDAY, APRIL 25th ° Men’s and Women’s Tennis in BIG EAST Championships – Courtney Tennis Center (Tickets Required) ° Softball vs. Villanova – Melissa Cook Stadium, 11:00 a.m. (Free with Blue-Gold Game ticket stub) ° Baseball vs. Cincinnati – Frank Eck Stadium, 1:05 p.m. (Free with Blue-Gold Game ticket stub)

3. The third-ranked Irish women’s tennis squad topped #59 William and Mary, 5-2, Tuesday at the Villas at Palmas in Humacao, Puerto Rico. With the win, Notre Dame improved to 12-1 on the season, while the Tribe fell to 5-8.

The Irish jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after sweeping the doubles point. Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews cruised past Ragini Acharya and Katie Kargl, 8-1, at #1 doubles, while Kali Krisik and Chrissie McGaffigan downed Anik Cepeda and Carmen Pop, 8-3, at second doubles.Cosmina Ciobanu and Colleen Rielley rolled Marlen Mesgarzadeh and Lauren Sabacinski, 8-1, at #3 to complete the sweep.

Notre Dame won four of its six singles matches against the Tribe. Number 14 Frilling defeated Acharya, 6-4, 6-1 at #1, as #92 Mathews topped Mesgarzadeh, 6-4, 6-3, at second singles. Frilling is now 12-1 on the season, while Mathews improves to 9-4.

Rielley edged Cepeda, 6-3, 6-1 at #6 and is now 7-2 on the season. Ciobanu took the #4 match when Sabacinski was forced to retire due to injury.
Pop defeated #90 McGaffigan, 6-2, 6-3, at #3, and Nina Vulovich downed Kristen Rafael, 6-2, 6-4, at fifth singles to give William and Mary its two points for the day.

The Irish will take on Duke Friday to complete their Puerto Rico trip.

4. Notre Dame junior lacrosse midfielders Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y./East Hampton) and David Earl (Simsbury, Conn./Westminster School) have been honored for their roles in an 11-9 win over No. 10 Loyola on Saturday in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic. Brenneman was selected to the Inside Lacrosse national team of the week, while Earl was named to the BIG EAST weekly honor roll.

Brenneman notched his second hat trick of the season to help #3 Notre Dame knock off its second top-10 opponent of the campaign. The junior also deposited a hat trick in an 11-7 season-opening win over second-ranked Duke. Brenneman was named the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic MVP for the Notre Dame-Loyola tilt. He has a team-high 10 points on seven goals and three assists this season. Earl tallied a career-high, and game-high, four points on three goals and an assist in the win over Loyola. That was his third career hat trick. Earl also picked up six ground balls in the victory. He has four goals and one assist this season.

5. Notre Dame hockey forward Kevin Deeth (Sr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) is one of 12 CCHA hockey players to be named their team’s 2009-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. From this group of players, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) will name its 2010 Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Thursday, March 18, at the 2010 CCHA Awards, presented by RBC Financial Group at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Mich.

A three-time monogram winner for the Irish, Deeth served as one of the team’s alternate captains this season and was a four-year regular at center. In the classroom, Deeth has a 3.586 grade-point average with a major in Marketing in the Mendoza College of Business. This season, he also was one of 18 nominees for the college hockey Humanitarian Award and is a nominee for the CCHA’s Mike and Marian Ilitch Humanitarian Award for his community service work at Notre Dame.

On the ice, Deeth finished the 2009-10 season tied for fifth in team scoring with three goals and 16 assists for 19 points with the 16 assists, tying for second on the team. For the year, he was one of Notre Dame’s top face-off men as he won 55.6% of his face offs.

For his Irish hockey career, Deeth became Notre Dame’s career leader in games played on March 6 at Ohio State when he played in his 164th career game, breaking the mark of 163 set by Mark Van Guilder. The speedy center closed his Irish career ranked 35th on the all-time points list with 35 goals and 79 assists for 114 career points. He was selected to the 2007 CCHA all-rookie team after a notching a career-best 17 goals with 22 assists for 39 points. He finished his career with 14 power-play goals, three short-handed tallies and three game winners.

The faculty representative at each school, in consultation with the head coach, selected the institution’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Each school’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year serves as the school’s nominee for CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Notre Dame has had two CCHA Scholar-Athlete’s of the Year in Jordan Pearce ’09 who won it last season and Cory McLean ’05, who was the 2005 winner.

Nominees must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 through the fall term of the selection year to receive the school’s Scholar-Athlete award. The CCHA award will be selected by the 12 faculty representatives, voting based on a system awarding five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.

6. Junior Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.), recently selected as an ESPN The Magazine first team Academic All-American, was named the 2009-10 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year tonight. The Conference’s Academic Affairs Committee made the selection. The award was presented to Abromaitis on Wednesday evening at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., site of the ’10 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Championship.

Abromaitis will receive a $2,000 scholarship that can be applied to graduate or professional studies. He is the second Irish player to earn the honor. Pat Garrity, who earned BIG EAST player-of-the-year accolades in 2007, was named winner of the award in 2008.

The BIG EAST Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is one of a number of scholarships presented by the BIG EAST Conference during the 2009-10 academic year. In addition, 32 student-athletes (one male and one female from each of the BIG EAST’s 16 member institutions) will receive postgraduate scholarships as the winners of their respective institutions’ Scholar-Athlete Award. The conference also names a BIG EAST Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The winners of the institutional, basketball and football awards are then eligible for the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, which provides an additional postgraduate scholarship to one male and one female student-athlete.

Abromaitis became Notre Dame’s first first-team Academic All-America selection since Chris Quinn in 2006 and is the eighth different Irish player to garner Academic All-America honors on 13 occasions. He also is the program’s seventh first-team Academic All-America honoree.

A junior finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, Abromaitis owns a 3.72 grade-point average. A three-time member of the Dean’s List and member of the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team, he will graduate in May 2010 one full year ahead of his class and will enter Notre Dame’s intensified one-year MBA program following graduation.
Abromaitis, who did not play at during the 2008-09 campaign and in just 12 games during his rookie season in 2007-08, was named to the BIG EAST Honorable Mention Team on Sunday. He ranked as one of the league’s most improved players in ’09-’10. He averaged career best of 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18 conference contests this season and is averaging personal bests of 17.2 and 4.9 rebounds overall. Abromaitis has scored in double figures in all but three games this season and has topped the 20-point mark on eight occasions and netted 30-plus points in two of those contests (a career-high 31 points against Central Florida and a BIG EAST best 30 points against Syracuse).

Abromaitis leads Notre Dame in field-goal percentage (.506), three-point field-goal percentage (.449) and free-throw shooting (.885). He also ranks sixth nationally in three-point field-goal percentage and 17th in free-throw percentage.

7. Texas Pan-American’s Troy Green allowed one run on two hits in 4.2 innings of relief as the Broncos rallied from a 6-3 deficit for a 9-7 victory over Notre Dame Tuesday night in college baseball action from Edinburg Baseball Stadium in Edinburg, Texas.

Green (1-0) came in and yielded a two-run double off of the bat from senior Casey Martin, which gave the Irish a 6-3 advantage, but proceeded to retire the next fire Notre Dame batters before issuing a walk. Green then sent down nine straight over the sixth, seventh and eighth inning. He struck out three and walked one.

Senior David Mills (0-1) was charged with the loss for the Irish. The southpaw surrendered three runs, only one earned, on five hits in 3.0 innings. Mills did fan three and did not walk a batter.

Notre Dame returns to action on Wednesday night for the second game of the series with the Broncos. Freshman Patrick Veerkamp will get the start for the Irish. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT.

8. A goal from Robert Church with 22 seconds remaining in the first overtime period gave #20 Drexel a 7-6 victory over #3 Notre Dame in men’s lacrosse action at Vidas Field in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon. The loss snapped Notre Dame’s 20-game regular-season win streak.

Sophomore midfielder Max Pfeifer (Crozet, Va.) scored a career-high four goals for the Fighting Irish. Senior midfielder Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md./) and junior midfielder David Earl (Simsbury, Conn.) tallied one goal apiece for Notre Dame, while senior attackman Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) had two assists to up his team-best point streak to 21 games.

The Fighting Irish outshot the Dragons 42-30. Notre Dame also dominated the faceoff X as the Irish won 13 of 17 attempts. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) made 12 saves for Notre Dame, while his counterpart Mark Manos had 17 stops. Pfeifer’s four goals were the most for an Irish player since Ryan Hoff tallied six against Ohio State in the title game of last season’s Great Western Lacrosse League Tournament. Today was Notre Dame’s first overtime contest since an 8-7 win over Colgate in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Irish will return to action against Fairfield on Saturday, March 13, in Houston, Texas. The game is slated for a 1:00 p.m. (CT) start at The Kinkaid School.

Monday, March 8, 2010

1. Notre Dame point guard Tory Jackson (Saginaw, Mich.) has received the 2010 BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award in men’s basketball, recognizing the senior for the contributions he has made on the court and the manner with which he has carried himself throughout his career.

While most often noticed for the passion and toughness he takes to the court, Jackson also has found himself among the program’s career leaders in several statistical categories. He currently ranks second on Notre Dame’s career assists list (675) and became the school’s 50th player to reach the 1,000-point plateau (1,194 points). He ranks as one of only two players in school history with better than 1,000 points and 600 assists. He has played in all 132 games of his collegiate career and made 118 starts while averaging 32.9 minutes per game. When he takes to the floor on Wednesday night (March 10) in the second round of the BIG EAST Championship against either Seton Hall or Providence, he will tie the Notre Dame games played record of 133 contests set by Matt Carroll from 1999-03.

Providing the steadying hand though out the season, Jackson also managed to set new career highs in points (25 vs. Seton Hall), three-point field goals (four vs. Seton Hall), assists (15 vs. Syracuse) and even minutes (50 vs. Louisville in double overtime). He has been at his best during the team’s four-game winning streak to cap the season, highlighted by seven assists in a win over Pittsburgh and 22 points against Connecticut on Senior Night (March 3) that included 20 points in the second half.

The 5-11 captain is averaging 9.7 points and 5.4 assists this season. In league games, he finished first in the BIG EAST in assists with 5.6 per game. As a freshman and sophomore, he also led the conference in assists and is one of just two players in BIG EAST history to capture three assist crowns. Jackson’s numbers resonate outside the program records books, as well. Nationally, Jackson has ranked in the top-15 in assist-to-turnover ratio throughout the season, while helping Notre Dame lead the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio as a team. He ranks fifth all-time with 392 career assists in BIG EAST play.

This marks the second time a Notre Dame player has received the BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award, as Jackson joins another Irish point guard, Chris Quinn, who won the award in 2006.

2. Notre Dame and Maryland will face each other on the football field for only the second time in history on Nov. 12, 2011, when the Fighting Irish and Terrapins meet at 91,704-seat FedExField in Landover, Md.

The game will be the third of a series of “off-site” home football games for Notre Dame in which the Irish are taking games that could be played at Notre Dame Stadium and moving them to venues around the country. The first of those was played Oct. 31, 2009, when Notre Dame and Washington State met at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The second will be played Nov. 20, 2010, at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y., between Notre Dame and Army. Notre Dame and Arizona State are slated to meet in 2013 at the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas.

NBC Sports is expected to televise the Notre Dame-Maryland game on a national basis in prime time.

“As we have looked to move one game a season around the country, playing in the Washington, D.C., area seemed a natural for us in terms of institutional fit,” said Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick. “The size of the FedExField facility alone will provide great access to tickets for fans of both Notre Dame and Maryland – and the opportunity to spend a weekend in our nation’s capitol should be a tremendous attraction.”

“It is a privilege for FedExField to host of one of the most storied programs in college football history and match it against a university with a strong and successful local following,” Washington Redskins chief marketing officer Mitch Gershman said. “This game will be an exciting event for our region as all eyes will be on FedExField.”

Notre Dame expects to make tickets available to its contributing alumni and fans through its alumni lottery as it does with all other football games. Notre Dame’s only previous meeting with Maryland came in a 22-0 Irish victory over the 21st-rated Terps on Aug. 31, 2002, at Giants Stadium in the Kickoff Classic. That game marked the first of the Tyrone Willingham era at Notre Dame. Notre Dame previously played once at what was then known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in defeating Navy 30-0 on Nov. 14, 1998.

3. For the second week in a row, a Notre Dame softball player has staked the league’s top weekly honor as senior first baseman Christine Lux was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Monday. Lux set a pair of school records this past weekend at the UC Riverside Aten Construction Tournament while leading the Irish to three wins to improve to 11-4 overall this season. Not only did Lux become Notre Dame’s career home run leader with two bombs at the tournament, she had five hits in three games to extend the team’s winning streak to 10 games (including an upset of No. 14 Ohio State). Lux hit .556 with two home runs and a double with five RBI for a 1.333 slugging pct. Furthermore, Lux’s efforts helped the Irish continue a seven-game jaunt with 10+ hits. The co-captain’s record-breaking 36th home run came against East Tennessee State (March 6), the same game in which she became Notre Dame’s all-time leader in putouts (she had an astounding 18 putouts at first base). She added another home run against UC Riverside (March 7).

4. Tina Charles, Maya Moore and the latest Connecticut Huskies dynasty now has its own place in the record books. Charles scored 16 points and Moore added 11 to help top-ranked Connecticut win an NCAA record 71st straight game — a 59-44 victory over #6 Notre Dame on Monday night in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship in Hartford. UConn surpassed its own mark set from Nov. 9, 2001, to March 11, 2003. Unlike that amazing run, which ended in a loss in the Big East conference tournament semifinals to Villanova, this Huskies team has thoroughly dominated its opponents in every game, winning all of them by double digits. Connecticut (32-0) will face West Virginia Tuesday night with a chance to win its 16th BIG EAST Conference tournament championship.

Even top teams haven’t posed much of a challenge for the Huskies during their remarkable run. With Monday’s win over Notre Dame (27-5), UConn improved to 13-0 against top-10 opponents, winning by an average of 26.2 points. Even second-ranked Stanford lost by 12 when the teams met in late December. UConn has rarely even trailed during its streak. The Huskies have been behind for a total 86 minutes in the 71 games. It’s been even more uncommon for UConn to be down in the second half–only facing a deficit three times after intermission. None of those scares lasted long. There hasn’t been a need for any late-game rallies or last-second shots by the Huskies.

Notre Dame kept it close for a half. UConn only led 25-22 at the break–its lowest scoring output in nearly three years. The Huskies then asserted themselves, led be Kalana Greene. The senior hit just one of eight shots in the first 20 minutes, but scored the first four points of a decisive 13-4 run that gave UConn a 49-35 lead with 9:00 left. Moore’s deep three-pointer capped the spurt. Greene finished the game with 15 points.

Notre Dame, which was led by Skylar Diggins’ 10 points, was only able to close to 10. Connecticut had already beaten Notre Dame twice during the regular season– including a 25-point win in South Bend seven days ago. But the Irish have a history of ending notable winning streaks. Notre Dame stopped Oklahoma’s 47-game winning streak in football in the 1950s, UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in men’s basketball in the 1970s and North Carolina’s 92-game winning streak in women’s soccer in the 1990s.

For 20 minutes it looked as if Notre Dame might have some of that luck. It was a sloppy first half as neither team could put together a sustained run. The Huskies took their biggest lead of the half on Doty’s 3-pointer with 8:37 left that made it 19-14. Notre Dame answered scoring six of the next eight points to close within one. They had plenty of chances to take the lead, but couldn’t get over the hump. Three of the Irish’s five losses this season have come to UConn.

5. Notre Dame freshman hockey goaltender Mike Johnson (Verona, Wis.) is one of six players named to the 2010 CCHA all-rookie team in voting done by the conference’s coaches. The team will be honored in Detroit March 18 at the CCHA Awards Show at the Fox Theatre. Fellow freshman center Riley Sheahan (St. Catharine’s, Ont.) was an honorable mention selection. Six different teams were represented on the team and a total of 15 freshmen in the conference received votes. Joining Johnson on the team were defensemen Torey Krug (Michigan State) and Joe Hartman (Miami) and forwards Andy Taranto (Alaska), Terry Broadhurst (Nebraska-Omaha) and Chris Brown (Michigan). Johnson becomes the 11th Notre Dame player and the first goaltender to take CCHA all-rookie honors. He joins: Billy Maday (2008-09), Kevin Deeth (2006-07), Kyle Lawson (2006-07), Ryan Thang (2006-07), Erik Condra (2005-06), Brett Lebda (2003-04), David Inman (1998-99), Mark Eaton (1997-98), Joe Dusbabek (1996-97) and Jamie Ling (1992-93).

The 21-year old Johnson was 8-11-4 in CCHA games with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage with both marks leading all freshmen goaltenders in the CCHA. Johnson was the CCHA rookie of the week for the week ending Jan. 24 after picking up a win and a tie versus Lake Superior State when he stopped 71-of-73 shots on the weekend. He had one shutout in league play with that coming versus Michigan on Dec. 13 in a 2-0 Notre Dame win. Overall, Johnson appeared in 29 games, making 28 starts and was 10-13-5 overall with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage plus a pair of shutouts. He finished the year ranked 10th among CCHA goaltenders in goals-against average and 11th in save percentage.

Sheahan played in 37 games for the Irish and had six goals with 11 assists for 17 points with three power-play goals and was tied for 11th in the conference among rookie scorers. He also tied freshman teammate Kyle Palmieri (Montvale, N.J.) for the rookie points lead on the Irish with 17 points as Palmieri had nine goals and eight assists for 17 points. Sheahan is currently the top-rated collegiate player by NHL Central Scouting for the NHL Entry Draft this June.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

1. Struggling to put Notre Dame’s 11-day men’s basketball run in perspective? Here’s how the South Bend Tribune’s Tom Noie did it in today’s edition of that publication: “The win capped a 10-day run that defies description. Magical. Improbable. Unbelievable. Pick a word and it likely still cannot adequately describe what Notre Dame did with consecutive victories over Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Connecticut and Marquette, which had won nine of its previous 10 league games.”

2. Notre Dame junior right-handed hurler Brian Dupra allowed just one earned run over 7.0 complete innings as the Irish baseball team upended host Stetson in the final game of the 2010 Bright House Invitational Sunday afternoon. Notre Dame improves to 5-4 on the season, while the Hatters drop to 3-8.

Dupra evened his record at 1-1 on the year. He limited a Stetson lineup that entered the contest with a .330 team batting average to just seven singles and one earned run. Dupra struck out five and issued just one free pass. Seniors LHP David Mills and RHP Steven Mazur closed the door in the eighth and ninth inning. Mills worked a perfect eighth inning, including a strikeout and Mazur fanned the first two Stetson hitters of the ninth inning before allowing a single, but induced a ground ball to end the game. Mills picked up his first hold and Mazur registered his first save of the season.

Senior OF Brayden Ashdown and freshman 2B Frank DeSico each had a pair of hits. Ashdown went two for four with a pair of singles and a run scored, while DeSico went two for three with a double and two runs scored. Junior C Cameron McConnell went one for three with a two-run single.

Notre Dame returns to action Tuesday night when it travels to Edinburg, Texas, and Texas-Pan American for a two-game series with the Broncos. First pitch for each contest is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT.

3. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team hoped to christen brand-new Arlotta Stadium with its first-ever regular-season win Sunday afternoon. Kristen Goldberg and Dartmouth College had other ideas as the Big Green handed the Irish their first loss of the season, 12-8. Goldberg led Dartmouth with five goals. Notre Dame was led offensively by junior Kailene Abt (Huntington, N.Y.) who had three goals and an assist. Sophomore Maggie Tamasitis (Boyertown, Pa.) added two goals and an assist, while Ansley Stewart (Jr., Alexandria, Va.), Gina Scioscia (Sr., Summit, N.J.) and Jackie Doherty (Jr., Ellicott City, Md.) added one goal each. The loss dropped the eighth-ranked Irish to 2-1 on the season — while 20th-ranked Dartmouth improved to 2-1 on the young season. The Irish are now off until Saturday, March 13, when they travel to Berkeley, Calif., to face the University of California Golden Bears. Game time is set for noon (PT), 3:00 p.m. in South Bend.

4. Notre Dame had already lost to St. John’s during the regular season. Forward Devereaux Peters said they weren’t going to let it happen again. Peters scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half and Skylar Diggins scored 21, two shy of her career high, as #6 Notre Dame defeated the #16 Red Storm 75-67 in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Championship in Hartford. Notre Dame (27-4) advanced to the tournament semifinals on Monday (6 p.m. ET on ESPNU) to play top-ranked Connecticut. The Irish, seeded fifth in the tournament because all four of its losses were to BIG EAST teams, fell to the Red Storm 76-71 in New York in February.

Notre Dame had trouble with scoring droughts Sunday, but they were nothing the Irish couldn’t overcome. St. John’s (23-6), down seven midway through the first half, went on an 11-0 run over four minutes and outscored the Irish 21-8 to finish the half leading 36-32. The Irish also had what coach Muffet McGraw called 13 “really uncharacteristically bad turnovers,” in the first half, including dribbling into traps and travel calls that resulted from rushed play.

Peters, who reached double figures in scoring for her third consecutive game and fifth of the season, was the primary beneficiary of Notre Dame’s offensive adjustments. She scored 10 of her points in a four-minute stretch midway through the second half, including a basket with 13:36 remaining that gave Notre Dame a 47-45 lead–its first since the nine-minute mark of the first half. The Red Storm held a 63-59 advantage with six minutes to play before Notre Dame went on a 12-0 run. Notre Dame shot 54 percent despite making just one of its six three-point attempts. The Irish also shot over 56 percent in a second-round victory over Louisville on Saturday.

Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the ninth time in its 15 seasons as a conference member (1995-96 to present), but the first since 2005. Notre Dame was playing its 10th ranked opponent of the season, improving to 6-4 against Top 25 foes this season, including a 4-3 record away from home. The six wins over ranked opponents are the most for the Fighting Irish in a single season since 2004-05, when they knocked off seven Top 25 opponents. Notre Dame earned its 27th win of the season, its highest win total in a single year since 2004-05, when the Fighting Irish finished 27-6 for the third-highest single-season victory mark in school history. Monday will be the first time the Fighting Irish play a #1-ranked team three times in the same season (they had a pair of games against top-ranked opponents in both 1996-97 and 2000-01).

5. Notre Dame’s softball team made quick work of UC Riverside Sunday at Amy Harrison Field and scored a 10-0 non-conference win to close the Aten Construction Tournament. The Irish (11-4) swept their three games at the event and extended the team’s winning streak to 10 games. Christine Lux hit her fifth home run of the season and Jody Valdivia (7-2) teamed with Jackie Bowe for the shutout from the circle. Lux, Sadie Pitzenberger and Alexa Maldonado each recorded two of Notre Dame’s 10 hits. Erin Marrone scored three times and was one of eight players to cross the plate on the day. Seven Irish players recorded at least one RBI. Valdivia (7-2) fanned six and gave up two hits in 4.0 innings, with Bowe cleaning up with a scoreless fifth inning. They were backed by a defense that stranded 10 Highlander (6-11) runners on base. Notre Dame travels to CS Northridge Wednesday (March 10) at 1:30 p.m. (PT).

6. Junior Carleton Scott (San Antonio, Texas) has been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after averaging 13.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in Notre Dame’s two men’s basketball wins last week over Connecticut (58-50) and Marquette (63-60 in overtime). Scott, who earns the honor for the first time in his career, registered his first career double-double in the Irish’s regular-season home finale against the Huskies as he finished with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. In Notre Dame’s win against the Golden Eagles in the final regular-season contest, he scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Scott hit the three-pointer with one second remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime as Notre Dame battled back from a being seven points down (50-43) with 1:19 remaining in the contest.

The 6-7, 217-pound forward has played in 30 of the Irish’s 31 contests and been in the starting lineup each of the last five games. He is averaging 4.6 points overall and 4.5 rebounds overall and 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in conference games. Since becoming a starter, he has netted 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds and scored in double figures in three straight games. Scott scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Notre Dame’s win at Georgetown on Feb. 27.

7. The Fighting Irish men’s and women’s fencing teams each earned outright Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championship titles, enabling Notre Dame to claim the overall MFC championship for the first time since 2002 on Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center. Bolstered by gold medal finishes in men’s foil, men’s sabre, women’s epee and women’s sabre, the Irish finished with 660 points to edge perennial MFC rival Ohio State by 15 points, as the Buckeyes finished with 645. Northwestern finished third with 545. In addition to halting Ohio State’s overall conference championship win streak at seven years, Notre Dame claimed the men’s title for the first time since 2002 as well. The Irish women won their first MFC Championship since 2005.

Notre Dame’s first gold medal winning performance of the day was turned in by the women’s sabre squad, which entered the competition seeded second. They blanked their first and second round opponents of Case Western and Detroit by 5-0 scores. In the Semifinals, the Irish kept their clean slate going with a 5-0 win over third-seeded Northwestern to set up a championship showdown with Ohio State. In the final, the Irish fell in an early 2-0 hole but freshman Abigail Nichols (Concord, Mass.) got Notre Dame on the board with a 5-1 win over Falencia Miller. Sarah Borrmann (Beaverton, Ore.) tied the match at 2-2 with a win over Tschomakova of OSU. Then Nichols added her second victory of the match – over Allison Miller – to stake the Irish to a 3-2 lead. Next, Hassett edged F. Miller in a crucial bout to give the Irish a 4-2 lead. After the Buckeyes won one more, Borrmann downed F. Miller, 5-3, to clinch the gold. The Irish men’s sabre team earned Notre Dame’s second gold of the day in front of a raucous crowd inside the Joyce Center, also via a 5-3 win over the Buckeyes. The Irish, seeded first entering the tournament, advanced to the semifinals with 5-0 wins over Bowling Green, Purdue and Wisconsin. In the finals, the Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead, courtesy of Barron Nydam’s (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) 5-2 win over Max Stearns and Avery Zuck’s (Beaverton, Ore.) 5-3 win over Douville. After Ohio State rattled off three wins to take a 3-2 lead, the Irish countered with three straight wins to clinch the gold. Jason Choy (Basking Ridge, N.J.) earned the first of those wins with a 5-3 victory over Douville. Zuck earned the fourth Irish victory, beating Bryan Cheney, 5-4, in a thrilling bout. Choy registered the clinching victory with a 5-2 win over Stearns.

The first-seeded Notre Dame women’s epee team earned the third Irish gold on the day, capturing the title with an impressive 5-1 victory over second-seeded Northwestern. The Irish advanced to the finals with a 5-0 victory over Iowa in the first round, a 5-2 victory over Michigan in the quarterfinals, and a 5-2 victory over Michigan State in the semifinals. In the final, the Irish got off a great start, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. Diane Zielinski (Bernardsville, N.J.) earned the first Irish victory of the final, beating Kayley French, 4-3. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) followed with a 5-2 victory over Joanne Niklinska before her sister, Courtney Hurley, took to the strip to defeat Christa French, 4-3. Kelley Hurley then earned the fourth Irish victory of the match with a 5-3 win over Kayley French. Following a Northwestern win, Courtney Hurley clinched the championship for the Irish by shutting out Niklinska, 5-0.

The Irish men’s foil team earned Notre Dame’s final gold of the day with a 5-2 win over Ohio State. The Irish, who entered the day seeded first, advanced to the finals with 5-0 victories over Case Western, Cleveland State and Michigan. In the finals, the Irish fell behind 1-0 before Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) evened the score with a 5-2 victory over Joe Streb. Following an Ohio State victory, Meinhardt again evened up the match with a 5-2 victory over Ben Parkins. Zach Schirtz (Rochester, N.Y.) then gave the Irish a lead they would never relinquish with an emotional 5-0 win against Colin Sutter. Enzo Castellani (Keller, Texas) kept the momentum going, beating Streb 5-2. Meinhardt then clinched the men’s foil gold, the overall men’s title and the overall team title for the Irish with a 5-2 victory over Sutter.

In men’s epee, the Irish earned a second place finish, falling 5-4 to Ohio State in the finals. The Irish entered the day seeded second and advanced to the semifinals courtesy of 5-2 victories over Iowa and Cleveland State. In the semifinals, the Irish beat third-seeded Michigan, also by a 5-2 score. In the finals, the Irish jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, as James Kaull (Washington D.C.) beat Igor Tolkachev 4-3. The Irish then lost the next two before rattling off three straight wins to take a 4-2 lead. The first win came from Kaull (5-4 over Marco Canevari). Greg Schoolcraft (San Jose, Calif.) followed with a 5-3 win over Tolkachev, before Jacob Osborne (Colleyville, Texas) beat Trever Pedersen 5-0. Needing just one more win to secure the gold, the Irish fell short as Ohio State took the next three bouts to claim men’s epee gold.

The Irish women’s foil team placed third on the day, thanks to a 5-1 victory over Wayne State in the third-place match. The Irish, who entered the day seeded second, advanced to the semifinals with 5-0 wins over Iowa and Purdue. In the semifinals, the Notre Dame fell 5-3 to third-seeded Northwestern. They rebounded to beat Wayne State, thanks in large part to Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) and Darsie Malynn (Grapevine, Texas), who each registered two wins during the match.

Off to a great start in postseason play following an unbeaten regular season, the Irish continue their quest for a national championship on Saturday, March 13 as they take part in the NCAA Midwest Regional. The regional will be hosted by Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Check back with UND.com for a preview of the two-day event as the Irish try to qualify the maximum 12 fencers for the 2010 NCAA Championship.

8. Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) became Notre Dame’s first three-time all-BIG EAST first-team honoree in men’s basketball when he earned a spot on the first team for the third consecutive year. Harangody joins an elite group as one of only 11 players in league history to earn first-team all-conference honors three times. Junior Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) earned a spot on the BIG EAST Honorable Mention Team.

Harangody and Abromaitis were selected by a vote of the league’s 16 head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players. Their selection marks the 10th straight year that Notre Dame has placed an individual on one of the all-conference teams and fifth consecutive season that an Irish player has been selected to the first. In fact, Notre Dame is the only school to have a player named to the first team each of the last five years. Irish players have earned first-team honors on 13 occasions and all-conference honors 28 times.

Harangody, who was the only repeat first-team selection from a year ago, was joined by sophomore Greg Monroe of Georgetown; junior Dominique James of USF; junior Wes Johnson of Syracuse; senior Scottie Reynolds of Villanova, a unanimous selection; and Da’Sean Butler of West Virginia. Named to the second team were sophomore Austin Freeman of Georgetown, senior Lazar Hayward Marquette; sophomore Ashton Gibbs of Pittsburgh; junior Jeremy Hazell of Seton Hall; and senior Andy Rautins of Syracuse.

The third team consisted for senior Jerome Dyson of Connecticut; sophomore Kemba Walker of Connecticut; sophomore Samardo Samuels of Louisville; junior Corey Fisher of Villanova.

In addition to Abromaits, the other two members of the league’s honorable mention team junior Jimmy Butler of Marquette and sophomore Jamine Peterson of Providence.

The last three-time BIG EAST first-team honoree was Troy Bell of Boston College (2001-03). The others are Danya Abrams of Boston College (1995-97); Kerry Kittles of Villanova (1994-96); Lawrence Moten of Syracuse (1993-95); Derrick Coleman of Syracuse (1988-90); Sherman Douglas of Syracuse (1987-89); Chris Mullin of St. John’s (1983-85); and John Pinone of Villanova (1981-85).

Haranogody, who missed five games after suffering a deep bone bruise on his right knee, finished off his career as the only player in league history to average better than 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds during his career. In the 65 BIG EAST contests that he played, Harangody averaged 20.4 points and 10.2 rebounds. Currently averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, Harangody netted 22.5 points and grabbed 9.4 rebounds in 13 BIG EAST contests he played in during the 2009-10 campaign. After become the first player in league history to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding in consecutive seasons, Harangody did not figure into the final conference standings in scoring and rebounding this year because he did not play in 75-percent of the league contests.

Harangody closed out his BIG EAST regular-season career as the conference’s third all-time leading scorer (1,329 points) and second leading rebounder (662 rebounds).

In addition to Harangody, Notre Dame’s first-team selections have included Pat Garrity (1997 and 1998), Troy Murphy (2000 and 2001), Russell Carter (2007), Colin Falls (2007), Chris Quinn (2006), Matt Carroll (2003) and Ryan Humphrey (2002).

Abromaitis ranked as one of the league’s most improved players in ’09-’10. He averaged 18.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 18 conference contests and is averaging 17.2 and 4.9 rebounds overall. Abromaitis, recently named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team, has scored in double figures in all but three games this season.

9. Harris Publications’ Pro Football Draft Guide 2010 lists the top 300 prospects, including five from Notre Dame — #8 Jimmy Clausen, #20 Golden Tate, #196 Sam Young, #270 Eric Olsen and #272 Kyle McCarthy. Clausen is rated the #1 quarterback, Tate the #2 wide receiver, Young the #15 offensive tackle, Olsen 19th among guards and centers and McCarthy the #19 safety. In the mock draft, Clausen goes ninth to Buffalo, Tate 25th to Baltimore and Young in the seventh round to San Francisco.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

1. Notre Dame was the only one among five ranked BIG EAST teams not to get a bye into the conference tournament quarterfinals. The Irish didn’t need it. Erica Williamson led five players in double figures with 16 points and #6 Notre Dame routed Louisville 89-52 Saturday in the tournament’s second round in Hartford.

“It’s nice to get a feel for the gym,” Williamson said. “We weren’t able to have a shoot-around, with the schedule that we had, and the teams playing yesterday. So, it’s great to go out there, feel comfortable in the first half and just work on things in the second.”

Freshman Skylar Diggins had 13 points, Devereaux Peters added 11, and Lindsay Schrader and Becca Bruszewski each had 10. The Irish (26-4) advance to play #16 St. John’s in the quarterfinals on Sunday (noon ET on ESPNU). Notre Dame and St. John’s ended the regular season in a fourth-place tie in the BIG EAST, but the Red Storm earned the #4 seed with a 76-71 win over the Irish last month. Notre Dame also had to play undefeated Connecticut twice, something that hurt its seeding. But Irish coach Muffet McGraw said the extra game might end up helping her team.

“I was really pleased to be able to get out on the floor and get Skylar a run and Devereaux,” she said. “Those guys didn’t play last year, so it was still a little bit new for them. So, it was great to be able to get out, get on the floor and see what it’s going to be like tomorrow.”

The Irish used a 10-0 run to build an early 15-6 lead, and the rout was on. They hit 14 of their first 19 shots, and forced Louisville into 15 first-half turnovers. A 13-0 run gave the Irish a 38-16 lead. Louisville missed its final seven shots of the half, did not score in the last four minutes and trailed 47-21 at halftime. Notre Dame shot 56 percent from the floor, had 46 points in the paint and held Louisville to under 30-percent shooting in the first half. A three-pointer by Brittany Mallory made it 60-28 with 12 minutes left. Williamson put an exclamation point on the game with a three-point shot with 1:35 left, the first three-pointer of the senior center’s career.

Notre Dame advances to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship for the 14th time in its 15 seasons as a conference member (1995-96 to present). Saturday’s 37-point margin of victory and 89 points scored were the most for the Fighting Irish in the BIG EAST Championship since March 4, 2001, when Notre Dame downed Georgetown, 89-33 in the tournament quarterfinals at Storrs, Conn. Notre Dame’s .565 field goal percentage was its second-highest ratio of the season, topped only by a .578 percentage on Dec. 8 vs. IPFW at Purcell Pavilion; Notre Dame shot a season-best .583 (7-of-12) from the three-point line, bettering a .571 ratio (4-for-7) vs. Villanova on Jan. 9 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame’s 27 assists also were the second-highest mark of the season, exceeded only by a 31-assist night vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the season opener on Nov. 15 at Purcell Pavilion

2. Luke Harangody returned from injury, and Notre Dame put a stop to Marquette’s remarkable recent run of overtime victories with a 63-60 win Saturday in Milwaukee. Tim Abromaitis had 18 points and hit enough late free throws to save the game for the Irish (21-10, 10-8 Big East). Notre Dame scored the first five points of overtime to take control of the game, then held off a late Marquette surge. Harangody had five points and two rebounds in 11 minutes after missing five games with a bone bruise on his right knee. Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott hit a three-pointer just before the final horn to send the game into overtime. Lazar Hayward scored 18 points but fouled out in overtime in his final home game for the Golden Eagles (20-10, 11-7), who had won four straight. Jimmy Butler added 16 points and eight rebounds. Scott had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Irish. Notre Dame qualifies as the #7 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament next week at Madison Square Garden and will play at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN against the winner of the #15 Providence/#10 Seton Hall game on Tuesday. If the Irish win on Wednesday, they would play #2 seed Pittsburgh at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.

3. The #2-ranked Fighting Irish women’s tennis team rolled past the 30th-ranked Hoosiers of Indiana University, 7-0, on Friday afternoon inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame only dropped one doubles match on the day and improved to an impressive 11-1 on the season. With the loss, Indiana is now 10-3. The victory for the Irish advanced their winning streak to eight straight and the 7-0 score marked the fourth time this season that they have blanked an opponent.

The Irish hit the road for a spring break trip to Palmas, Puerto Rico where they will take part in tow matches at the Villa. The Irish are scheduled to face the 59th-ranked Tribe of William & Mary on March 9. The trip then concludes with a showdown versus the eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils on March 12.

4. The first day of the Alex Wilson Invitational proved to be an exciting one Friday as a Loftus Sports Center pole vault record was set and 47 athletes and relay teams set NCAA qualifying marks. Mark Hollis, competing unattached, broke the 18-year old men’s pole vault record of 5.50m (18-0 1/2) with a mark of 5.51m (18-01). For the Irish, Eric Quick won the men’s long jump, while Jake Walker provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the men’s 5,000 meters.

The Irish track and field squads wrapped up competition at the Wilson Invitational today, adding four NCAA provisional qualifying marks for Notre Dame. Joanna Schultz, in the 400 meters, Kelly Langhans, in the 800 meters, Jack Howard, in the men’s 800 meters, and Daniel Clark, in the men’s mile, all added their names to Notre Dame’s list of NCAA provisional qualifiers. The Irish used their last home meet of the indoor season to gear up for the NCAA Indoor Championships held March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.

5. The Fighting Irish men’s golf team finished in ninth place at the Border Olympics from the Laredo Country Club, carding a 37-over par 901 at the two-day tournament. The Irish finished the event with a 16-over, 304 in the final round. Individually, the Irish were led by senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.) and sophomore Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill.) who finished in a tie for 35th, carding a pair of nine-over par 225 totals.

After a slow start during the first 36 holes of the tournament, Scodro finished strong in Saturday’s final round, pacing the Irish team with a one-under par 71, while Fortner rounded out his tournament by posting a four-over par 76. Sophomore Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas) concluded his tournament by carding a final round four-over par 76 as well. His three-round 227 (+11) earned him a tie for 41st overall and marked the third tournament of the season where all three of his rounds were counted toward the team score. Sophomore Tom Usher (Bradford, England), who was playing the tournament as an individual entrant, also concluded tied for 41st after carding a three-over par 75 in Saturday’s final round. Usher’s finish marks his best result of the 2010 season, which was previously a tie for 67th at the Battle at the Beach. Junior Jeff Chen (Walnut, Calif.) posted an 81 (+9) on his final 18 holes of play. He concluded the tournament in a tie for 51st with a 229 (+13). Senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C.) rounded out the field for the Fighting Irish. He wrapped up his tournament with a final-round 83 (+12), which did not count toward the team total. Overall, Sandman finished in a tie for 72nd with a 20-over par 236.

The Irish play next at the Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Ore. Play at the two-day event will begin with rounds one and two taking place on Thursday, March 11, and will conclude with the final round of play on Friday, March 12. The tournament is being hosted by Gonzaga University and the field at Bandon Dunes will also include Boise State, British Columbia University, Idaho, Utah Valley State and Weber State.

6. Senior Christine Lux hit her 37th career home run Saturday against East Tennessee State to reset the Notre Dame record, leading the Irish to a 6-1 win over the Lady Bucs at the UC Riverside Aten Construction Tournament. Lux parlayed the effort with 20 putouts at first base during the two-game sweep to become the program’s all-time leader with 1,351. Notre Dame (10-4) defeated No. 14 Ohio State, 12-5, to open action at Amy Harrison Field. The Irish now carry a nine-game winning streak into Sunday’s (March 7) game against host UC Riverside.

7. Notre Dame’s 2010 CCHA playoffs got off to a slow start on Friday night as the Irish dropped a 3-1 decision to Ohio State at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus. Mathieu Picard scored two goals while Zac Dalpe added a late insurance goal as Buckeyes snapped a 1-1 tie with a pair of third-period goals. Sophomore Rich Ryan scored the lone goal for Notre Dame, picking up his first collegiate goal to tie the game at 1-1 in the third period. The loss snapped a four-game CCHA playoff winning streak for the Irish and dropped Notre Dame to 13-16-8 overall while the Buckeyes move to 13-16-6 for the year. The Irish out shot Ohio State, 35-28, in the game with freshman goaltender Mike Johnson making 25 saves in the game while Buckeye junior goaltender Dustin Carlson finished with 34 saves. Then Ohio State put an end to the Irish season on Saturday with an 8-2 win to clinch the series.

8. Notre Dame grabbed early leads against both Harvard and Kansas State in its first two games of the 2010 Bright House Invitational Saturday in Deland, Fla., but were unable to come away with a victory in either contest as the Irish lost to the Crimson, 9-6, and the Wildcats, 5-2. Notre Dame dropped to 4-4 on the season, while Harvard improved to 1-0 and Kansas State improved to 8-2.

Junior Matt Scioscia led the Irish offensively in the doubleheader. The designated hitter went 3-for-7 in the two games with a double and four RBI. Junior Mick Doyle, senior Ryan Connolly, senior David Mills and senior Casey Martin also chipped in three hits. Doyle and Connolly each double twice. Connolly also added a triple.

9. Hat tricks from Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y.) and David Earl (Simsbury, Conn.) spearheaded the offense for #3 Notre Dame in an 11-9 victory over #10 Loyola at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on Saturday afternoon. The contest was played in front of 19,742 fans at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Senior attackman Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) upped his team-best point streak to 21 games by depositing two goals and an assist for the Fighting Irish. Max Pfeifer (Crozet, Va.), Steve Murphy (Shirley, N.Y.) and Colin Igoe (Columbus, Ohio) all scored one goal for Notre Dame.

Igoe, Earl and Andrew Irving (McLean, Va.) each had one assist in the victory. Irving also had a game-high seven ground balls. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) made 11 saves to up his career record to 18-1. The Fighting Irish went up for good as Igoe deposited a goal with 9:26 remaining in the fourth quarter. Earl put the finishing touches on the win and his third career hat trick with 48 seconds left in regulation. The four points were a single-game career-high total for the junior midfielder.

“Our execution was not very good,” said Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. “We were very fortunate that our guys made enough plays to help us win the game. Some days you’re not at your best and you hope you have guys that play as hard as they did and make some good plays. They made some great plays. (Zach) Brenneman did not have his best day, he had three goals, but Zach knows what I’m talking about, but three goals is a great day for anybody.”

The win improved Notre Dame to 3-0 for the third straight season. The Fighting Irish boast a 20-game regular-season win streak. Notre Dame has won the last four meetings against Loyola.

The Notre Dame-Loyola tilt was the third and final game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic on Saturday. Maryland topped Duke, 11-10 in overtime, in the opener, while Princeton defeated Johns Hopkins, 11-10, in the second contest. The Fighting Irish return to action at Drexel on Tuesday, March 9. Game time is slated for 4:00 p.m. (ET).

10. The Fighting Irish men’s and women’s fencing teams dominated day one of the Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships on Saturday at Notre Dame by claiming four of the six individual gold medals that were handed out at the conference championships.

On the women’s Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) continued her unbeaten streak (now at 73 bouts) by winning the gold in women’s epee, while Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) added a women’s foil gold to her already impressive resume. On the men’s side, junior sabreist Barron Nydam (Ranco Sante Fe, Calif.) won his first MFC Championship and then sophomore foilist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) beat out several of his Irish teammates to cap off Notre Dame’s gold medal haul.

All told, the Irish won nine medals (out of a possible 24 due to third place ties in each weapon) including four golds, two silvers and three bronzes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

1. On the heels of its tie for fourth place in the rugged BIG EAST Conference, the #6/7 Notre Dame women’s basketball team picked up a handful of individual honors Thursday, as the league office announced this year’s all-conference and all-freshman teams, as well as several specialty awards.

Fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill.) was named a first-team all-BIG EAST pick for the second consecutive season, while senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind.) and freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.) were second-team all-conference choices, with Barlow nabbing that distinction for the second year in a row. In addition, Diggins was a unanimous selection for this year’s BIG EAST All-Freshman Team.

The 16 BIG EAST head coaches voted for this year’s honors, but were not allowed to vote for their own players. The complete rundown of all-conference teams, as well as the choices for the BIG EAST’s Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth-Man Award and Sportsmanship Award, can be found on the conference’s official web site, www.bigeast.org. The official announcements of the Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be made at a press conference today at 5 p.m. (ET) from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., the site of this year’s BIG EAST Championship.

“It is so special to see all three of these players rewarded for their hard work and dedication this season,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Each of them has made significant contributions to our success so far, and it’s especially gratifying when you consider these awards are voted on by the other coaches around the conference. These three also are tremendous ambassadors for not only our program, but the University as a whole, and we are extremely proud to have them representing Notre Dame with class and distinction every single day.”

2. Juniors Amywren Miller and Samantha Maxwell will represent Notre Dame in the 2010 NCAA Championships set for March 18-20 in West Lafayette, Ind., at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. It will be the third straight appearance for each swimmer on the heels of leading Notre Dame to its 14th straight BIG EAST Conference Championship team title in February.

Miller qualified for the 50 free (22.47) and ranks 20th nationally in the event. She will also swim the 100 free (49.33) with the 31st-best qualifying mark. Maxwell, who was named the Most Outstanding Female Swimmer at the BIG EAST Championships, is fourth overall in the 100 breast (59.64) and 19th in the 200 breast (2:11.37). At the time of the swim, her 100 breast performance at the league meet was the fastest in the nation.

Miller earned six all-BIG EAST citations this season while finishing first in the 50 free and second in the 100 free. Maxwell earned individual titles in the 100 and 200 breast, sweeping the events for the second straight year. Maxwell earned All-American status in the 100 breast with a sixth-place finish at the 2009 NCAAs and was an Honorable Mention All-America performer in the 200 breast.

3. The duties of Notre Dame football recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator have been assigned and two graduate assistants and two intern positions have been filled, Irish head football coach Brian Kelly announced yesterday.

Defensive backs coach Chuck Martin has added the title of recruiting coordinator, while defensive line coach Mike Elston is the special teams coordinator. Jon Carpenter and Michael Painter have been added as defensive graduate assistants and Scott Booker and Bill Brechin are interns for the offensive coaching staff. Martin joined the Irish coaching staff after guiding Grand Valley State to unprecedented heights as the Lakers’ head coach from 2004-09. He directed the NCAA Division II institution to a 74-7 record during his time, with three appearances in the national championship game, including titles in 2005 and 2006. “Chuck and I have a shared philosophy on how to recruit which stems from our similar coaching background and I know he’ll be a dynamic representative of our program when addressing a group of recruits,” Kelly said.

“Chuck will do a great job coordinating our recruiting efforts because he is very persistent and very organized,” Kelly added. “These traits will help him with high school players and coaches as well as ensure our coaching staff is efficient during the evaluation process. The skills he developed as a head coach will surely help his transition into this role.” “We didn’t have a coach with the title of recruiting coordinator at Grand Valley State, so, in essence, I was the recruiting coordinator,” said Martin. “I think that experience will benefit me in this role as I’m used to managing coaches during a recruiting cycle as well as formulating a recruiting plan.

“We’re going to be looking for the best players in the country and we’ll continue to recruit nationally. Having worked with Coach Kelly in the past, I think I know the type of players he is looking for and the ones that fit his offensive and defensive systems. I’ve used his same philosophy in recruiting in the past so that should help us moving forward. I’m excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to representing Notre Dame in this capacity.”

Elston has coached with Kelly the last six seasons and served as special teams coordinator at Central Michigan in 2006 and at Cincinnati from 2007-09. He coached the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year in each of his three seasons at Cincinnati as Mardy Gilyard claimed the award in 2008 and 2009 as a return specialist and punter Kevin Huber was honored in 2007. Gilyard returned four kickoffs for touchdowns from 2008-09 and Huber was a two-time first-team All-American in 2007 and 2008.

“Mike has been my special teams coordinator for the last four seasons and I have the utmost confidence in him,” Kelly said. “He pays great attention to detail and is quite organized. With Mike directing our special teams, I expect us to have a similar philosophy as our offensive and defensive units this season and that is to be well coached and aggressive.

“As I mentioned when Mike was hired, he was instrumental in our special teams success the past few years and I’m confident that will carry over here. We want to force teams to cover us on all facets of special teams and under Mike’s guidance I am looking forward to seeing our special teams in action this season.” “I love coaching special teams because it allows me to work with all the players from the different position groups on the team and it is such a huge part of the game,” Elston said. “Through kickoff and punt returns, there are many exciting elements of special teams where big plays can occur.

“The most important part of special teams is putting the right personnel on the field. After that, the next important aspect is keeping it simple so our players can play as fast as they would on offense or defense. We’ll also choose aggressive schemes that force teams to defend us on every play. For instance, our punt team forces teams to cover us on fourth down like our offense is still on the field. I can’t wait to get started with our guys this spring.”

Carpenter and Painter join the Irish after working for Kelly at Cincinnati and both will serve as graduate assistants for the defense. Carpenter was a defensive graduate assistant at Cincinnati for two seasons in 2008 and 2009 following four seasons as a member of the Bearcats football team. He was a running back and linebacker at Cincinnati, totaling 72 tackles including two sacks, while playing a key role on special-teams coverage.

Painter served as a staff associate for three seasons at Cincinnati and in 2006 at Central Michigan where he assisted in all facets of football operations. He played football at Mount Union (Ohio) before an injury ended his playing career. Painter transferred to Bowling Green where he graduated in 2006.

Booker and Brechin will serve as interns for the offensive coaching staff. Booker spent the previous five seasons coaching defensive backs at Western Kentucky (2009) and Kent State (2005-08). He played safety at Kent State (1999-2002) and was selected to the Mid-American Conference all-academic tem in 2001. Brechin was a graduate assistant under Martin at Grand Valley State from 2008-09 and played for Martin from 2004-07. Brechin was an all-conference player for three years with the Lakers and helped Grand Valley State to a 40-1 record during his career including two national championships.

Notre Dame’s football team begins spring practice March 26 and finishes at Notre Dame Stadium with the 81st annual Blue-Gold Spring Game presented by Home Run Inn Pizza on April 24 at 1:30 pm.

4. Spring break begins after classes today for Notre Dame students and lasts through next week, so there are no home athletic events next week.

5. Today is the deadline for Bookstore Basketball registration, so that means the start of that world-famous campus event isn’t far away.

6. Lindy’s Pro Football Draft Report, hot off the presses, lists Golden Tate as the #22 overall pick going to Cincinnati – and has Jimmy Clausen as the first pick in the second round to St. Louis. Clausen rates as the #2 quarterback and is listed as the prototype in terms of setup and release. Tate is the #2 receiver and is the prototype under “after the catch.” Sam Young is #15 among offensive tackles and is projected in the fifth round. Eric Olsen is #6 among centers and is projected in the sixth round. Kyle McCarthy is #19 among safeties and is projected in the seventh round.

7. USA Today has published a 2010 NFL Draft guide, with four separate covers – with Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen one of the four cover subjects.

8. Check out today’s edition of the South Bend Tribune for a lengthy interview with Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick on just about every subject relating to the Irish men’s basketball program.

9. Wondering about the seniority of Notre Dame’s current group of head coaches? Here’s how long they’ve been with the Irish:
35 years – Joe Piane (men’s and women’s track and field, men’s cross country)
25 – Tim Welsh (men’s swimming)
23 – Bobby Bayliss (men’s tennis) and Muffet McGraw (women’s basketball)
22 – Kevin Corrigan (men’s lacrosse) and Tim Connelly (women’s cross country)
21 – Jay Louderback (women’s tennis)
19 – Debbie Brown (volleyball)
15 – Caiming Xie (diving)
14 – Tracy Coyne (women’s lacrosse)
12 – Martin Stone (rowing)
11 – Randy Waldrum (women’s soccer)
10 – Mike Brey (men’s basketball)
9 – Bobby Clark (men’s soccer) and Deanne Gumpf (softball)
8 – Janusz Bednarski (fencing)
6 – Jim Kubinski (men’s golf)
5 – Jeff Jackson (hockey)
4 – Dave Schrage (baseball), Susan Holt (women’s golf)
2 – Brian Barnes (women’s swimming)
Meanwhile, football coach Brian Kelly begins his first year at Notre Dame in 2010-11.

10. Notre Dame will be part of a 16-team field in the inaugural Rugby 7’s Collegiate Championship, a USA Sevens’ event, that will be broadcast on NBC Sports on Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6 from 4:30-6 p.m. ET. Universal Sports will provide extended coverage on Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6 from 2-4:30 p.m. ET.

“Rugby Sevens is an exciting, fast-paced sport that is growing in global popularity, participation and interest,” said NBC Sports executive vice president Jon Miller. “USA Sevens is the ideal partner for this event, which features the best collegiate rugby teams in the country.”

“The colleges are the future of rugby in the United States,” said USA Sevens’ CEO Jon Prusmack. “Teaming with NBC Sports takes Rugby Sevens to the next level.”

The Collegiate Championship, a round-robin tournament, begins on Friday, June 4, and concludes with the championship game on Sunday, June 6, at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. It features 16 collegiate teams with historic rugby programs: Arizona State, Arizona, Army, California, Dartmouth, Florida, Harvard, Michigan, Navy, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, San Diego State, Stanford, Tennessee and Utah.

11. Check out the Jack Swarbrick Radio Show tomorrow – when the guest will be NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer discussing the Vancouver Winter Games and other Olympic-related issues.

12. The Notre Dame-Marquette men’s basketball game at 2:00 p.m. EST Saturday will be carried in these markets – WMYS in South Bend, Cox 3-New England in Providence, Time Warner Cable-Wisconsin in Milwaukee, ESPN Full Court, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network in Baltimore/Washington, DC (same-day delay at 6:30 p.m. Saturday) and SNY in New York (tape delay at 1:00 p.m. Sunday).

13. The Fighting Irish women’ soccer team has announced its 2010 spring schedule. Highlights of the five-game spring campaign include a match versus the Chicago Red Stars of the Women’s Professional Soccer league and a matchup with the Mexican National Team. Notre Dame also will officially dedicate Alumni Stadium this spring as well.

The Irish kick off their 2010 spring season when they play host to the Chicago Red Stars on March 24 in a 7:00 p.m. (ET) game at the old Alumni Field. The Red Stars roster could feature two former Irish standouts including Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) and senior Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill.).

Markgraf, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was assigned to the Chicago Red Stars via a dispersal of U.S. National Team players and she will make her league debut this summer after missing the 2009 campaign while on maternity leave. While playing with the Irish, Markgraf started 97 of a possible 101 games as she anchored the Notre Dame defense for four seasons. She earned NSCAA All-American honrs in her final three seasons with the Irish. Weissenhofer was chosen by the Red Stars in the fourth round (33rd overall pick) of the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer Draft as she became the seventh Notre Dame women’s soccer player to be selected in the two-year history of the WPS Draft. Weissenhofer battled injuries throughout portions of her Notre Dame career, but still played in 90 matches, starting 63 times. She amassed 88 points with the Fighting Irish, scoring 30 goals and dishing out 28 assists, highlighted by a freshman season that saw her pile up 18 goals and 17 assists (53 points) and earn National Freshman of the Year honors (Soccer America).

Next up on Notre Dame’s spring slate is a trio of Big Ten opponents. On March 27, the Irish will face Michigan State at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind. at 5:00 p.m. Then, on April 11 the Irish will play host to Purdue at Alumni Field in a 1:00 p.m. match. On April 17, Notre Dame will face Iowa at 1:00 p.m., also at Alumni Field. Both Michigan State and Purdue participated in the 2009 NCAA tournament.

The spring schedule is set to conclude against the Mexican National Team on Friday, April 23 at 5:00 p.m. as part of a doubleheader at Alumni Stadium, as the Irish men are slated to face Mexico’s U-21 team at 7:15 p.m. The matches versus the Mexican National Teams will be part of a series of events leading up to the official Alumni Stadium dedication, which will take place on Saturday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m.

Admission to all of Notre Dame’s home spring matches will be free with the exception of the doubleheader versus Mexico.

Notre Dame is coming off a 21-4-1 campaighn, going unbeaten in 19 consecutive matches en route to a berth in the 2009 NCAA College Cup, where the Fighting Irish dropped a 1-0 decision to eventual national champion North Carolina. Notre Dame is expected to have nine of its 11 starters returning next season, including several national and regional award winners such as forwards Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas) and Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo.), midfielders Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio) and Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas), defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas) and goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn.).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

1. Tory Jackson scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and Notre Dame held Connecticut to 35 percent shooting, beating the Huskies 58-50 on Wednesday night. The Fighting Irish, who trailed by as many as 10 twice in the first half, took control with a 23-6 run that started when Carleton Scott, who scored 12, hit a 3-pointer late in the first half to cut the Huskies’ lead to 20-17. Jackson capped the spree with a 3-pointer midway through the second half that gave Notre Dame a 37-26 lead. The Irish (20-10, 9-8 Big East) clinched at least a .500 conference record as they won their third straight, all without injured leading scorer Luke Harangody, to keep alive their hopes for an NCAA tournament berth. Connecticut (17-13, 7-10) is assured of a sub-.500 finish in the conference.

2. When the ESPN announcers were visiting with Irish coach Mike Brey after practice on Tuesday (and as Luke Harangody stopped by to shake hands), Bob Knight kiddingly told Brey that he should be happy that he (Knight) is no longer coaching in Bloomington, otherwise Harangody would have ended up in a Hoosier uniform.

3. Luke Harangody’s parents, Dave and Peg, stopped to visit with Bob Knight at halftime of the game Wednesday night.

4. Irish coach Mike Brey earned a postgame handshake last night from Digger Phelps while doing his post-game radio interview at courtside.

5. Former Irish basketball player Zach Hillesland, now working with the Notre Dame academic services for student-athletes office, will be blogging next week at the BIG EAST Tournament for the New York Times.

6. Seen 90 minutes before the start of last night’s Notre Dame-Connecticut game, Bob Knight providing some instruction on the court with Irish players Tom Knight and Tim Andree.

7. How much attention has Notre Dame’s recent men’s hoops surge garnered? This morning’s edition of USA Today features a piece on the Irish on page one of the sports section.

8. How good was Tory Jackson in the second half against Connecticut? As late as the 2:08 mark on the clock in the second half, Jackson had scored as many points in the second half alone (18) as the entire Connecticut team. At that point, Jackson’s layup gave the Irish a 50-38 advantage.

9. If you believe in mock brackets, understand first that they change every day at this time of the season. But, after last night’s Irish win over Connecticut both ESPN (Joe Lunardi) and CBS (Jerry Palm) on their web sites had the Irish in the bracket. Ironically, both projected Notre Dame to New Orleans as a #11 seed playing #6 Texas A&M.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1. NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) and the members of the Division I-A Athletics Directors John McLendon Foundation will honor three former Notre Damers at a reception June 23 in Anaheim, Calif., in conjunction with the NACDA Convention. The McLendon Foundation will be honoring minority “firsts” in athletics with the Pioneer Award. The 2010 recipients of this award will include three individuals with Notre Dame connections — Barry Alvarez (former Irish defensive coordinator and current Wisconsin athletics director), first Latino to win the Rose Bowl; Tommy Hawkins (former Irish basketball All-American), first black network analyst with NBC; and Tyrone Willingham (former Irish football head coach), first African-American head coach to take a team to the Rose Bowl.

2. After the outcome was in doubt for much of the night, the Fighting Irish men’s tennis team was edged at #12 Illinois inside the Atkins Tennis Center on Tuesday night 5-2. After Illinois and the Irish traded leads, the match came down to third sets at third and fourth singles, where the Fighting Illini eventually proved victorious. With the loss, the 38th-ranked Irish move to 6-6 on the season, while the Illini evened their record at 5-5. Next, the Irish head to the sunshine state for two matches that will take place at the end of Notre Dame’s spring break. On Friday, March 12, Notre Dame faces BIG EAST rival South Florida in Tampa, Fla. Then, on Sunday, March 14, the Irish will take on 19th-ranked Florida State. The most recent Campbell/ITA rankings were released on Monday and Casey Watt moved up to 19th in singles and Daniel Stahl moved to a career best 72nd. Notre Dame has now faced a ranked opponent in nine of its 12 matches (the Campbell/ITA rankings slot the top 75 teams). Sam Keeton is 7-0 in 2010 dual season singles play. Six of Notre Dame’s 12 matches have been decided by just one point. Notre Dame is 5-1 on the season when claiming the doubles point.

3. Notre Dame cross country and track and field head coach Joe Piane announced Tuesday that six student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers with the Fighting Irish beginning in the fall 2010.

Distance runner Walter Schafer (Centennial, Colo./Cherry Creek) made his commitment to the men’s squad, while distance runners Meghan Ryan (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Warde), McKinzie Schulz (Lisle, Ill./Benet Academy) and Kelly Curran (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic), as well as sprinter Michelle Brown (Tabernacle, N.J./Seneca) and jumper Kelly Burke (Cranford, N.J./Cranford) committed to the Irish women’s squad during the current signing period.
Schafer made his way to the national stage by competing at the Foot Locker Nationals and finishing second in the men’s junior race at the USA Track and Field Cross Country Championships. The Centennial, Colo., native, along with former Irish standouts Molly Huddle and Patrick Smyth, will represent Team USA at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 28 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Ryan comes to Notre Dame after finishing fifth in the mile at the 2009 Nike Outdoor National Championships. A 2009 Foot Locker national cross country finalist, the Fairfield, Conn., product finished second at the 2009 Connecticut state cross country championships, before earning the state 1600-meter crown. She also was the New England runner-up in the 1600 meters.

Schulz has made a name for herself on both the national and international track scenes. The Lisle, Ill., native represented the United States at the 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy, competing in the 2000-meter steeplechase. Schulz won the 2009 Illinois state 800-meter title and was runner-up to current Irish freshman Rebecca Tracy in the 1600-meter event. ?A two-sport standout at Bloomington Central Catholic, Curran won back-to-back individual cross country championships in 2008 and 2009, and finished in the top-five in four different events to lead her team to the Illinois Class A state track championship. The 2009 Illinois Wendy’s High School Heisman Award winner also is a member of Bloomington Central Catholic’s girls’ basketball squad that is currently ranked No. 1 in Illinois Class A.

Brown has been a fixture on the national scene throughout her junior career and broke onto the international landscape after winning the silver medal at the World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy in July 2009. The six-time New Jersey state champion earned All-America status after finishing third at the both the Nike Indoor and Outdoor Nationals and is currently ranked third among U.S. juniors. The Tabernacle, N.J. product holds personal bests of 52.91 in the 400 meters and 24.17 in the 200-meter dash.

Burke will add her name to the list of Irish jumpers when she joins the women’s squad in the fall. The Cranford, N.J. native won the New Jersey Meet of Champions title with a triple jump of 39-5 and was crowned the New Jersey Group 2 Champion after clearing 12-0 in the pole vault.

4. The Notre Dame men’s soccer team has announced its 2010 spring schedule. Among the highlights on the slate are dates with two Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs and a matchup with the Mexico Under-21 National Team. Notre Dame also will officially dedicate Alumni Stadium this spring. Notre Dame will travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Columbus Crew of the MLS on March 10. The Fighting Irish will take on a second MLS squad, the Chicago Fire, on March 20 in Chicago.

The Irish will face Oakland University and the University of Michigan in Detroit on March 27. Notre Dame will play host to Butler University and Valparaiso University on April 10. Notre Dame will have two matches against Indiana University in Fort Wayne on April 17. The Irish will use split-squads during each day’s play. Both Butler and Indiana qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament. Butler was the tournament’s No. 12 seed.

The Fighting Irish will square off with the Mexico U-21 team on Friday, April 23 at Alumni Stadium. Match time is slated for 7:15 p.m. (ET). This will be the fifth time since 2005 that Notre Dame has played a spring game against a Mexican National Team. The Fighting Irish have never faced the U-21 team. The Irish have played both the U-17 and U-20 squads twice.

The match against the Mexico U-21s will be one of many events during the annual alumni/team banquet weekend. The official Alumni Stadium dedication will take place on Saturday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m.

Notre Dame is coming off an 11-8-4 campaign in 2009. The Irish finished 8-3 in BIG EAST play to place second in the Blue Division in addition to finishing as runner-up in the league tournament. Notre Dame earned a berth to its ninth straight NCAA Tournament and fell at Northwestern, 3-1, in the second round. The Irish were ranked 19th in the final Soccer America poll.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

1. Tina Charles had 18 points and eight rebounds to become top-ranked Connecticut’s career leader in both categories in a 76-51 win over #6 Notre Dame on Monday night at Purcell Pavilion, leaving the Huskies one shy of tying their NCAA women’s record for consecutive victories. Connecticut (30-0, 16-0 BIG EAST), which reached 30 wins for the fifth straight season, can match the record of 70 consecutive wins set by the Huskies from 2001-2003 in the BIG EAST tournament quarterfinals on Sunday. It is the eighth time the Huskies have gone unbeaten in a Big East regular season. Every win in the streak has been by double figures.

The loss dropped the Fighting Irish (25-4, 12-4) into a fourth-place tie with #16 St. John’s, but the Irish will be the fifth seed in the tournament because of a loss to the Red Storm. Notre Dame will play a second-round tournament game Saturday at noon (ET) against the winner of the Pittsburgh-Louisville first-round contest. The Notre Dame second-round game will be broadcast live as part of the BIG EAST TV package (clearances TBA), as well as on the official BIG EAST multimedia web site, www.bigeast.tv.

Devereaux Peters matched her career high in leading the Irish with 15 points, and Becca Bruszewski also had 15 as the Irish got 31 points from its bench. New Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly spoke at halftime to the sellout crowd of 9,149, the sixth this season for the Irish and 12th in the 33-year history of the program. He praised the fans for their support of the women’s basketball team. “We’re the Fighting Irish. We’re going to keep fighting. This game isn’t over yet,” he said to loud applause. While Kelly’s word inspired the crowd, he couldn’t help the Irish. The Huskies ended the first half on a 5-0 run, then opened the second half with an 8-2 burst.

Notre Dame simply couldn’t live up to its reputation as streak busters. The women’s basketball team ended a 30-game winning streak by UConn in 2001. The Irish also stopped Oklahoma’s 47-game winning streak in football in 1957, and UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in men’s basketball in 1974. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn’t worried about the history. “I mentioned it to our players this afternoon at shootaround, that these guys in their mind, there’s a reputation of luck of the Irish, that the Irish do great things on their home court against great teams,” he recalled. “But I said, `It’s going to take a little more than the luck of the Irish to beat us tonight.”‘

Notre Dame saw its 14-game home court winning streak snapped, losing for the first time since a 79-71 defeat to Minnesota in the first round of last year’s NCAA Championship (March 22, 2009). The Fighting Irish were playing a top-ranked team for the second time this season, only the third time that’s happened in the program’s 33-year history (also in 1996-97 and 2000-01). UConn was the ninth ranked opponent for Notre Dame, which is now 5-4 against Top 25 teams this season. Connecticut’s .556 field goal percentage not only was an opponent season high, but also marked the first time in 75 games that a Notre Dame opponent had shot better than 50 percent from the field — DePaul was the last to do so, hitting 60 percent of its shots (30 of 50) in an 81-80 win at Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 22, 2008.

Single-session tickets for the 2010 BIG EAST Championship went on sale today at 10 a.m. (ET), with admission for Friday and Saturday’s first/second-round sessions (two games each) at $20 apiece, while Sunday’s quarterfinal sessions (two games each) cost $25 apiece, and Monday’s semifinal session and Tuesday’s championship game tickets are priced at $30 each; all-session passes (15 games) are also still available for $99. For more information, contact the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office during normal business hours (weekdays 9-5) at (574) 631-7356.

2. Irish junior guard Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after leading Notre Dame to its most impressive week of the season as Notre Dame defeated #12 Pittsburgh (68-53) and #11 Georgetown (78-64) in back-to-back contests last week. Hansbrough, who earns the honor for the first time in his career, averaged 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the two games. Rick Jackson of Syracuse garnered player-of-the-week accolades, while Lance Stephenson of Cincinnati was honored as the league’s rookie of the week. Joining Hansbrough on the Honor Roll were Kemba Walker of Connecticut; Edgar Sosa of Louisville, Lazar Hayward of Marquette and Mike Rosario of Rutgers.

In Notre Dame’s win at Purcell Pavilion over the Panthers, Hansbrough played 39 minutes and finished with 15 points (connected on six of 10 shots from the field), grabbed nine rebounds and dished off four assists. He followed that up with a 21-point effort against Georgetown (his third 20-plus point outing of the season and second in the last three games) that included 19 second-half points. Hansbrough opened up the second half by scoring Notre Dame’s first 10 points. He also played 39 minutes in the contest and grabbed three rebounds and dished off three assists. Hansbrough missed just three shots (7-10) and hit three of his five three-point attempts.

3. Notre Dame junior Cameron McConnell was one of 53 catchers to be named to the watch list Monday for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award by The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top division one collegiate catcher. McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) has played in five games this season with four starts behind the plate. The junior is batting .400 (6-for-15) with three runs scored and two RBI. McConnell has yet to commit an error or pass ball this season and has already gunned down two would be base stealers.

McConnell saw action in 54 games in 2009 and started 50. He hit .289 (54-for-187) with three home runs and 37 RBI. McConnell added seven doubles, two triples, 23 runs scored, six walks, four sacrifice flies and six sacrifice bunts. He committed just three errors and four pass balls over the entire season. McConnell also threw out 26 attempted base stealers, which led the BIG EAST, ranked fifth-best in the entire country and was the most by an Irish catcher since 1996. The watch list will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists, whom will be announced May 19, 2010. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 2, 2010, prior to the NCAA Regionals and Major League Baseball Draft. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1, 2010.

4. Senior third baseman Heather Johnson was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week, as announced by the league on Monday. Johnson became the 14th Irish player in 22 seasons to hit at least two home runs in the same game when she did so on Feb. 27 against Virginia, as Notre Dame outscored the competition 40-3 at Virginia’s Cavalier Invite (Feb. 26-27) including three sweeps to improve the Irish overall record to 8-4 this season. Johnson posted a game-high three RBI in game two with the Cavaliers and drove in a team-best seven runs throughout the four-game invite. Johnson hit .583 with seven hits in 12 at bats and her 13 total bases helped her boast a slugging percentage of 1.083. She also stole a base and assisted on four putouts from third base. Johnson had three multi-hit and two multi-RBI efforts on the weekend, including at least one RBI in each game. Notre Dame now looks ahead to a nine-game West Coast swing starting Saturday with the UC Riverside Aten Construction Tournament.

5. If you are wondering how a Notre Dame women’s basketball team that spent a dozen weeks ranked fourth or better in the Associated Press poll ended up the fifth seed in its own conference tournament, you can blame what turned out to be an ultra-competitive group at the top of the BIG EAST. Here’s what the top of the standings look like as of this morning:

Connecticut 16-0 in BIG EAST 30-0 overall
West Virginia 13-3 in BIG EAST 26-4 overall
Georgetown 13-3 in BIG EAST 25-5 overall
St. John’s 12-4 in BIG EAST 24-5 overall
Notre Dame 12-4 in BIG EAST 25-4 overall

Since the league plays an unbalanced schedule, Notre Dame’s toughest assignment proved to be playing Connecticut twice in the regular season, while St. John’s, West Virginia and Georgetown played the Huskies once each.

6. Notre Dame’s Golden Tate definitely helped himself in running a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash over the weekend at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

7. Irish football coach Brian Kelly will speak at the College Football Hall of Fame luncheon series on March 23.

8. Irish men’s basketball coach Mike Brey says there’s a chance forward Luke Harangody may not return this season from a bone bruise to his right knee. Brey said the senior’s knee is improving, but not to the point where he can play. Harangody injured his knee Feb. 11 against Seton Hall. Brey said the Irish are preparing for Wednesday’s game against Connecticut as though Harangody won’t play and he may not play in the regular-season finale against Marquette on Saturday. Brey says there is no structural damage to Harangody’s knee. The Irish are 2-2 without Harangody, but have consecutive wins against Georgetown (#20 ESPN/USA Today, #19 AP) and Pittsburgh (#18 ESPN/USA Today, #17 AP).