Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1. A few late notes from Notre Dame’s women’s basketball regional title game victory in Dayton Monday night . . . . The 25-game Tennessee win streak that the Irish ended marked the second longest in Lady Vol hoop history. The Irish women may have taken some karma from the VCU men’s team that started its NCAA journey two weeks ago in Dayton in the First Four. The Irish dressed in the same Dayton Arena locker room as the VCU team and also ate dinner at the same Olive Garden restaurant.

2. The Irish softball team’s home-opening defeat of Northern Illinois last week extended Notre Dame’s active home winning streak to 21 games, the fifth-best streak in the nation before it ended Tuesday in a loss to Western Michigan . . . the Irish had won their last home game of the 2009 season and went 19-0 in 2010 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

3. US Lacrosse has selected team physicians and athletic trainers foreach of the four teams in the U.S. National Teams Program – and one of those is Notre Dame associate athletics trainer and physical therapist Mandy Merritt, who will serve as trainer for the U.S. Men’s Under-19 team. Individuals were selected following a national recruitment and review process led by the US Lacrosse Sports Science & Safety Committee. Each team will be covered by a primary care physician, a sports orthopedic surgeon and an athletic training staff. Merritt has extensive experience with men’s lacrosse, spending time as both a student and employed athletic trainer with the University of Delaware men’s lacrosse program, working with Towson’s University men’s lacrosse program, and also serving as the co-director (2002-2009) of athletic training services for one of the largest lacrosse team-camps in the country, Battle of the Hotbeds. She earned her doctorate degree in physical therapy at the University of Delaware and later passed the exam to become a sports certified specialist. Merritt is currently the athletic trainer for the men’s lacrosse program at Notre Dame and also oversees women’s swimming and diving. She is an active member of the BIG EAST Conference, involved in policymaking for standards of care for men’s lacrosse.

4. Less than 24 hours after leading Notre Dame to the third NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance inschool history, sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) collected another major honor, earning recognition as a third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, it was announced Tuesday. Diggins, who copped honorable mention All-America status from the AP and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) as a freshman in 2009-10, is the fourth Fighting Irish women’s basketball player to be named to one of the AP’s three five-player squads, which are selected annually by the 39-member national media panel that votes weekly in the AP Top 25 poll. This year’s balloting was conducted before the start of the NCAA Championship. Jacqueline Batteast (2005 third team) was the last Notre Dame player to earn a place on one of the three AP All-America teams, following in the footsteps of Ruth Riley (1999 third team; 2000 and 2001 first team) and Niele Ivey (2001 third team). Riley is the only other Notre Dame sophomore to make an AP All-America squad.

5. Jeremy Rae (Fort Erie, Ontario/Lakeshore Catholic) and Kevin Schipper (Leo, Ind./Bishop Dwenger) of the Notre Dame men’s track and field team swept the BIG EAST Men’s Outdoor Track & Field weekly awards, as announced by the league Tuesday afternoon. Rae was named the BIG EAST Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week, while Schipper received the BIG EAST Men’s Field Athlete of the Week. Rae earned the honor after clocking the best collegiate time in the nation to date in the 1,500-meter run in 3:44.09 at the Stanford Invitational during last weekend’s competition. The sophomore was the first collegiate competitor to cross the line, following only Nike athlete David Torrence. Rae’s time is a personal best and is .32 seconds ahead of UTEP’s Elkana Rotich for the best collegiate time in the country this season. Schipper was named the BIG EAST Men’s Field Athlete of the Week after claiming the pole vault crown at the Arizona State Invitational during his competition last Friday. The 2011 BIG EAST indoor pole vault champion cleared 5.20m, which is currently the best height in the league this season and fourth-best performance in the nation.

6. University of Notre Dame men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark has announced dates for the program’s 2011 summer camps. A variety of camps will take place during the month of July. Residential Centres: “Advanced Camp” – Middle School: July 5-July 9, 2011 Boys (6-8th Grade), “Advanced Camp” – High School: July 5-July 9, 2011 Boys (9-12th Grade), “Elite Camp” – College Prep: July 10-July 14, 2011 Boys (10-12th Grade); Developmental Day Camps : Boys (1st-8th grades) & Girls (1st-5th grades) , Day Camp I: July 18-21, 2011 (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) , Day Camp II: July 25-28, 2011 (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) All five of Notre Dame’s 2011 recruits attended the summer camp program at Notre Dame and 20 players on the 2010 roster were former campers. This year saw four Notre Dame players get drafted to Major League Soccer (MLS), three of which were former campers. Several former campers also have gone to play in other top programs across the country. The summer camps provide a great opportunity to be trained by the Notre Dame staff, meet Fighting Irish players and get a feel for the magnificent Notre Dame campus. The “Advanced” middle school and “Advanced” high school camps for boys entering 6th – 12th grades are designed to train advanced players in a challenging and fun environment. Players will receive quality and individualized instruction from high-level coaches.

7. Notre Dame plated all three of its runs in the sixth inning on four straight hits and the Irish bullpen did the rest en route to a nip-and-tuck, 3-2, baseball victory over Central Michigan on Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame improved to 10-12-1 overall, while the Chippewas dropped to 9-16. Sophomore RHP Adam Norton evened his record at 2-2 on the season with 7.0 strong innings of work. He limited Central Michigan to just a pair of earned runs, a two-run home run in the top of the seventh, on nine hits. Norton struck out a career-high seven and did not issue a walk. Bryce Morrow was charged with the loss for the Chippewas. The right-handed hurler dropped to 0-3 on the campaign. Morrow allowed three earned runs, all in the Irish sixth inning, on six hits. He struck out three and walked one. Freshman RHP Dan Slania definitely earned his third save of the season. The Irish took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning. Sam Russell tripled down the right field line to open the frame and put thegame tying run just 90 feet from home with no outs. Slania then walked Jordan Dean to put the go-ahead runner on base, but shut the door the rest of the way. Slania struck out both Tom Howard and Nate Theunissen, who stroked a two-run home run earlier in the game. Dean moved into scoring position on Theunissen’s punch out when the ball bounced away from sophomore C Joe Hudson, but Slania eventually got Eric Wrozek to ground out to end the game. Fifth-year senior RF Herman Petzold collected three of Notre Dame’s seven hits in the game. Petzold went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and walk. Freshman 1B Trey Mancini went 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI single. Freshman CF Eric Jagielo and senior LF Matt Grosso each went 1-for-3. Jagielo had a double and run scored, while Grosso had a run scored and RBI single. Norton baffled Central Michigan over the first 6.2 innings before running into a little trouble in the seventh. With two outs,Norton allowed a single and Theunissen followed with a towering two-run home run to cut the Irish lead to 3-2. Norton ultimately worked into the seventhinning for the second straight start.

8. The nation’s fifth-longest home winning streak was snapped Tuesday at Melissa Cook Stadium when the Notre Dame softball team fell to visiting Western Michigan, 3-2. The Irish, who had won 21 straight home games dating back to 2009, are now 17-7 overall heading into Thursday’s meeting at 5:00 p.m. (ET) against in-state rival Purdue. The Broncos (5-18) were out-hit by Notre Dame, 9-4, but scored three runs in the first two innings to break a 10-game skid to the Irish while posting their first road win in the series since 1999. Tara Buchanan’s first-inning, two-run homer off of Jody Valdivia (5-4) proved to be the difference in the contest. Buchanan’s bomb produced two of three runs on Valdivia in the opening 1.2 innings, as the Irish starter allowed a trio of earned scores with a pair of strikeouts. Valdivia was replaced in the second after surrendering a two-out RBI-single to Lexi Jager, and Brittany O’Donnell fanned four batters over the next 2.1 frames. Laura Winter combined with O’Donnell to leave the Broncos scoreless with a four-strikeout effort in 3.0 innings. Winter added four of Notre Dame’s 10 punchouts, as 23 of her 27 offerings were strikes. Kayla Houston (3-8) wentwire-to-wire from the circle for Western Michigan and gave up two earned runs. Both Alexa Maldonado and Heather Johnson were 3-for-4. Johnson’s two-run dinger in the third was the only knock to produce tally marks for Notre Dame on the day. The Irish left three runners on base in the frame. Even more, 10 ducksremained floating on the pond during the contest, including multiples in the second (2), fifth (2) and sixth (2) innings. Western Michigan overcame a pair of fielding errors and caught Maldonado stealing for just the second time in 11 attempts.

9. The Notre Dame softball team has added a non-conference contest to its 2011 spring schedule, as announced Tuesday by the Irish coaching staff. Notre Dame will face IPFW on April 19 at 4:00 p.m. (ET). Live video, audio and stats will be available for the home game at Melissa Cook Stadium.

10. Irish men’s basketball guard Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) was named to the Associated Press All-America second team. It marks the first AP All-America honor for the senior guard and the fourth consecutive year that a Notre Dame player has earned AP All-America accolades. Hansbrough, the BIG EAST Player of the Year, becomes the 10th different player to be named an Associated Press and honored to one of the three teams. The AP first team was comprised of Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Nolan Smith (Duke), Jarred Sullinger (Ohio State), Kemba Walker (Connecticut) andJaJuan Johnson (Purdue). Joining Hansbrough on the second team was Marcus Morris (Kansas), Derrick Williams (Arizona), Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) and Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State) Marshon Brooks of Providence College was the third BIG EAST player named to one of the three AP All-America teams as he was a third-team honoree. Also named to third team were Jordan Hamilton (Texas), Kenneth Faried (Morehead State), Jacob Pullen (Kansas State) and Tu Holloway (Xavier). Hansbrough finished this season as Notre Dame’s leading scorer with an 18.4 scoring average. In addition to averaging 3.9 rebounds per game, he led the Irish in assists (145) and steals (41). Despite only playing two seasons in an Irish uniform after transferring in June of 2008 from Mississippi State,Hansbrough scored 1044 points at Notre Dame and started all 69 career gameswith the Irish. He closed out his career at Notre Dame with a 15.1 career scoring average.

Monday, March 29, 2011 – Part II

1. The wait was certainly worth it for Notre Dame. Skylar Diggins scored 24 points and second-seeded Fighting Irish made up for 28 years of beatings at the hands of Tennessee, upsetting the top-seeded Lady Vols 73-59 Monday night in Dayton to earn a spot in the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four. The Fighting Irish (30-7) came in 0-20 all-time against the Lady Vols. But the operative number on this night was 3-0 — Notre Dame’s record in regional championship games. The Irish are headed to the Final Four for the first time since 2001, when they won the national championship. Natalie Novosel added 17 points and Becca Bruszewski — who didn’t practice Sunday and was listed as questionable to even play with a knee injury — had 13 for the Fighting Irish. Brittany Mallory chipped in with 10. Notre Dame advanced to the play the winner of Tuesday’s game between top-ranked Connecticut (35-1) and second-seeded Duke (32-3). Taber Spani and Shekinna Stricklen had 13 points for the Lady Vols (34-3). Glory Johnson added 12.

“I’m so excited, I’m out of breath,” said Diggins, selected as the regional’s most outstanding player. It was a watershed win after years of losing — sometimes close, usually not so close — to mighty Tennessee. The day before the game, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and her players were clearly upset to be reminded about their long drought against the Lady Vols. It was also another disappointing end for the Lady Vols, who are accustomed to muscling their way into the national title picture under coach Pat Summitt. Freshman Meighan Simmons, their leading scorer at 13.8 points a game, was saddled with foul trouble and was scoreless until the waning minutes, finishing with two points. Senior Angie Bjorklund, the program’s all-time 3-point shooter and this season’s fourth-leading scorer at 11 points a game, didn’t score in the semifinal win over Ohio State and had only had one point against Notre Dame. Trouble seemed to be brewing for the Lady Vols all week. The players had a team meeting after a narrow win in the second round. Then Summitt had to reach back for a fiery halftime speech to inspire the team to overcome Ohio State in the regional semifinals.

Tennessee, down five at the half, picked up two quick baskets by Stricklen only to have the Fighting Irish score on five oftheir next six possessions. Diggins was the culprit almost every time, hitting two 3s and a long jumper and also assisting on Bruszewski’s short shot and also on Novosel’s spinning reverse layup. That swelled the lead to 41-32 — and suddenly that sea of orange filling up much of the University of Dayton Arena began to get nervous. With Spani twice hitting 3s, the Lady Vols remained in contact, but Diggins came up with big plays time and time again. She drove the lane through heavy traffic and flipped in a lefty layup with 11:16 left to keep Notre Dame in charge, 49-41.

The lead never dropped below six points again. During one physical exchange, Tennessee’s Kelley Cain was fouled by Bruszewski, but Cain was called for a technical. That seemed to fire up the Fighting Irish.After Natalie Novosel hit both technical shots, and Cain hit only one of herfree throws, the Irish pulled away. First Diggins drilled a high arching 3 from the right wing. After a Tennessee miss, the Lady Vols pressed fullcourt andNotre Dame threw a long inbounds pass to Novosel, who drove the length of the court and then fed Devereaux Peters for a bucket. Mallory then picked up a steal and Peters slipped behind the Tennessee defense to score again, muscling in a shot off an alley-oop pass from Diggins — for a 60-48 lead.

The teams came in with almost identical numbers — averaging around 79 points a game and allowing around 55. They were evenly matched in most regards. Each team also had seven players averaging at least 7 points a game. But the all-time series was anything but even. Since their first meeting in 1983, Tennessee had dominated, including three wins in the NCAA tournament. The last time the two teams had met, in the 2008 NCAA tournament, Tennessee had won 74-64 in Oklahoma City in the regional semis. But not this time.

2. Notre Dame collected 12 hits, its most since Feb. 19, and second-most on the year, but were unable to deliver with runners in scoring position as UIC upended the Irish, 5-3, at Frank Eck Stadium Monday night. Notre Dame dropped to 9-12-1 on the year, while the Flames improved to 10-10 with their seven consecutive victory. The Irish went just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight on the base paths, including six in scoring position. In fact, Notre Dame advanced a runner into scoring position with less than two outs in each of the third, sixth, seventh and eighth inning without producing a run. Freshman LHP Anthony McIver was charged with the loss and dropped to 1-2 on the season. The rookie worked 5.0 innings and was charged with four runs, all earned, on five hits. He walked three and struck out three. UIC starting pitcher Charlie Weinberg picked up the win. He improved to 2-3 on the year. Weinberg did exactly fool the Irish, allowing seven hits in 5.0 innings, but allowed just two earned runs. He struck out two and walked one. Notre Dame had five players with at least two hits for the second straight game. Sophomore 2B Frank DeSico went 2-for-5 with an RBI single. Freshman CF Eric Jagielo went 2-for-3 with a walk, run scored and double. Freshman 1B Trey Mancini went 2-for-4 with a run scored and double, while fifth-year senior RF Herman Petzold went 2-for-3 with a walk and RBI and senior 3B Greg Sherry went 2-for-4.

3. Sean Rogers, a junior attackman on the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team, has been named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week. Fighting Irish sophomore goalie John Kemp was selected to the league’s weekly honor roll. Rogers tallied four goals and three assists over the course of two Irish victories last week. He matched a career-high total with three goals in an 8-7 win over #20 Ohio State. Rogers’ first goal tied the game 1-1, while his second tally gave Notre Dame a 3-2 lead. His final goal proved to be the game winner. Rogers dished out a career-high three assists in addition to scoring a goal in Sunday’s 8-3 victory at Rutgers, which was the BIG EAST opener for the Irish. Kemp made 15 saves and allowed just 10 goals while playing every minute in the two Fighting Irish victories. He had five saves in the victory over Ohio State and followed that up with a 10-save performance against Rutgers. Kemp and the Notre Dame defense stifled a Rutgers offense that entered the game averaging over 10 goals per game. The Irish held the Scarlet Knights to one goal in the final 45:02 of the game and scoreless for the final 23:50. Kemp boasts a 5.83 goals-against averagethis season. Notre Dame’s 5.83 team goals-against average leads the nation.

Monday, March 28, 2011

1. Notre Dame sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson stopped 37 of 38 shots on the night and got all the offense he needed on goals by StephenJohns and Billy Maday as the Fighting Irish hockey team downed New Hampshire, 2-1, Sunday night in front of 5,906 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The win gives Notre Dame the NCAA Northeast Regional championship and a trip to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn., on April 7. Johnson, who was selected to the all-region team and was named the regional’s most valuable player, was the key for the Irish as he held the Wildcats off the scoreboard early in the game and them withstood their third-period comeback attempt. The Verona, Wis., native finished the weekend with 69 saves and a pair of wins. The lone New Hampshire goal came with 6:23 left in the game and was scored by Mike Sislo. The victory improves ninth-ranked Notre Dame to 25-13-5 overall — while 11th-ranked New Hampshire finishes the year with a 22-11-6 mark. The Irish will face Minnesota-Duluth in one semifinal game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul at 5 p.m. EDT, on Thursday, April 7, on ESPN2. This will be Notre Dame’s second trip to the Frozen Four, as the Irish played in the 2008 edition, advancing to the finals where they lost to Boston College in the title game. Michigan will face North Dakota in the other semifinal game.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled to death,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “For this group to accomplish what they have this year with as many young players is incredible. It’s an exciting opportunity for all of us and we are looking forward to it.” New Hampshire dominated the first seven minutes of the game, outshooting Notre Dame by an 8-1 margin. Following a television timeout at the 7:11 mark of the period, the Irish got their second shot of the period and it found the back of the Wildcat net. Johns got Notre Dame on the scoreboard first, scoring on the second Irish shot of the night at 7:26 as he hammered a shot from the center point past UNH netminder Matt DiGirolamo’s stick hand. The Wildcats outshot the Irish, 13-7, in the first period. The Irish gained an edge in the play in the second period but could not get the puck past DiGirolamountil there were just five seconds left in the period. With time running down, the Irish dumped the puck into the New Hampshire zone where Riley Sheahan took control. He worked his way down to the goal line before centering a pass in front. The puck found Maday at the bottom of the left circle where he got off a backhander that beat the Wildcat goaltender over his blocker and under the crossbar at 19:55 to give the Irish a 2-0 lead. The goal wasMaday’s second of the weekend and 10th of the season. For the second period in a row, Johnson kept New Hampshire off the scoreboard, stopping all 16 shots he faced. He robbed Sislo who was all alone in front with 5:45 left in the second, rejecting a shot off his blocker. He then turned in a pair of big glove saves off the stick of Kevin Goumas in the waning moments of the middle period. “Mike’s (Johnson) biggest challenge is that he wants to do well so bad that he ends up thinking it too much,” said Jackson. “I keep reminding him of all the goalie drills we do, that it’s more about just getting into the game and stopping the puck. You don’t think, you just play. Tonight, he just played.”

New Hampshire broke up Johnson’s shutout bid at 13:37 of the third period on a goal by Sislo from right in front to make it a 2-1 game. From there the Irish held off the Wildcats, including a penalty kill in the final four minutes. Johnson was quick to credit his teammates for his success in the win. “They did a great job, the forwards and defense in front of me,” explained Johnson. “They got sticks in passing lanes and did a good job of deflecting pucks and blockingshots. I have to credit them. They were unbelievable tonight with the back pressure that allowed the defense to stay on the blue line and not allow them (UNH) into our zone as easily. They played a great game in front of me and we couldn’t have won without their hard work.” On the night, Notre Dame was outshot by New Hampshire, 38-36. DiGirolamo finished with 34 saves in the Wildcat goal. The win improved the Irish to 6-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. Four Notre Dame players were selected to the all-Northeast Regional Team. Johnson was selected as the all-tourney goaltender with Johns on defense. Maday and Anders Lee were selected as forwards on the squad. New Hampshire defenseman Blake Kessel and forward Mike Sislo rounded out the team with Johnson being named MVP of the tournament.

With back-to-back one-goal wins in the Northeast Regional this weekend, the Irish are now 10-5 on the season in one-goal games. Notre Dame’s 25 wins this season are the fifth-highest total in the program’s 43-year history. Notre Dame has played one other time in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. That came on Oct. 7, 2000, when the Irish faced Minnesota in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Gophers defeated Notre Dame, 7-3, in that game.

2. The Notre Dame women’s rowing team earned three race victories against Indiana, Purdue and Eastern Michigan on Sunday at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis. The Irish varsity four “A” boat got the day started with a 13 second win over the Hoosiers. The crew of coxswain Christina Dines, Kiersten DeHaven, Joanna Poinsatte, Sarah McShane and Ching-Ting Hwang coasted to the victory after crossing at 7:56.0. Indiana crossed next at 8:09.6 and were followed by the Notre Dame “B” boat of coxswain Jacqueline Gilhooly, Teresa Rubinger, Elizabeth Linnemanstons, Courtney Gaberino and Anna VanEgmond at 8:14.8. Purdue and Eastern Michigan rounded out the varsity four field, crossing in 8:34.7 and 9:18.5, respectively. In second varsity eight action, the Hoosiers held on for the victory after finishing in 7:32.0. The Irish crew of coxswain Rachael Louie, Teresa Blumenstein, Paige Aiello, Kelsey Murphy,Katie Suyo, Kelsey Haddad, Erin McConnell, Megan Keegan and Morgan Kelley finished second in 7:37.9, while Purdue placed third at 8:08.8. The second varsity eight “B” (third varsity eight) race saw the Irish turn in another wide margin of victory as the boat of coxswain Danni Schneider, Sarah Thompson, Meghan Salomon, Nicole Michels, Kathryn Monahan, Brianna Krafcik,Stephanie Boggs, Valerie Brencher and Paige White finished 18 second ahead of second place in 7:24.0. Purdue crossed in second at 7:42.6 with Eastern Michigan finishing third in 7:55.8. The closest race of the day came in varsity eight action as Indiana’s boat claimed the victory by one second over the Irish, crossing at 6:28.0. Notre Dame’s boat of coxswain Abby Meyers, Katherine Linnemanstons, Genevieve Malone, Carol Ann Michel, Olivia Kacsits, Molly Bruggeman, Emily Crosby, Stephanie O’Neill and Stephanie Gretsch just missed that mark, finishing at 6:29.0. Purdue and Eastern Michigan rounded out thefour-boat field, crossing at 6:46.9 and 7:25.0, respectively. In novice eight competition, Indiana led the whole way, claiming the win at 7:22.0. Notre Dame’s boat of Jackie Corey, Kelsey Schneider, Ingrid Woelfel, Julia Lynch,Anne Marie Blieszner, Teresa Rubinger, Anna VanEgmond and Elizabeth Linnemanstons finished second at 7:39.6. Purdue placed third at 7:42.5. Second varsity four action saw the Irish send two boats to the water, with the crew of coxswain Jacqueline Gilhooly, Nicole Michels, Kathryn Monahan, Valerie Brencher and Paige White winning in 7:37.4. Indiana claimed second at 7:45.0 and wasfollowed across the line by the Notre Dame “B” boat of coxswain Danni Schneider, Meghan Salomon, Alyce Kanabrocki, Analisa LaMair-Orosco and Brianna Krafcik at 7:48.9. The Irish next return to the water in three weeks when they head to the Gold River Challenge on April 16-17 in Sacramento, Calif.

3. The 25th-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team picked up two victories Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish defeated 50th-ranked USF 6-1, followed by a 7-0 win over Dayton. Against South Florida, the second doubles tandem of Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) and Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) picked up the first win for the Irish on the day as the duo downedRomain Deridder and Yannick Yoshizawa, 8-3.At the top of the doubles lineup, Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) and Spencer Talmadge (Hillsborough, Calif./Junipero Serra) clinched the doubles point over Jamal Adderley and Lucas Jovita in an 8-3 decision. The third doubles pair of Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and Greg Andrews (Richland, Mich./Gull Lake) made for a perfect doubles record in the match as the duo handled Wael Kilani and Federico Sabogal, 8-4. With the doubles point in hand, the Irish entered the singles portion of the match with confidence as sophomore Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine-Crest) downed Sebastian Hagn in consecutive 6-0 sets at No. 6 singles. Andrews defeated Federico Sabogal in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1 to improve Notre Dame’s score to 3-0. The 73rd-ranked Lucas Jovita handed the Irish their only loss of the match as No.58 Watt fell 6-2, 7-6 (8-6). Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) clinched the match for the Irish as the senior defeated Yannick Yoshizawa in a two-set match, 7-5, 6-3. Stahl improved his winning streak to five consecutive matches to make his overall record this dual season 12-6. With the match in hand, Havens defeated Wael Kilani, 6-4, 7-5 to move his dual season record to 5-10. Fitzgerald closed out the match and downed Juan Carlos Acuna Gerard in a three-set match, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (10-1), to conclude the match with a 6-1 score.

Against Dayton, Matt Johnson (Portage, Mich./Portage Central) and Ryan Bandy (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier) teamed up at No. 2 doubles and downed Alex Crum and Robert Salcedo in an 8-1 decision, while Stahl and David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) defeated Benton Benalcazar and Andrew Hanley 8-0 to clinch the match. Seniors Sean Tan (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood) and Bryan Kelly (North Oaks, Minn./Mounds Parks Academy) handled Sean Bandy and Sam Pecyna 8-1 to conclude the doubles portion of the match. Moving into singles play Davis defeated Crum in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1 at fourth singles and was followedclosely by Moros who posted a 6-1, 6-0 score versus Benalcazar at the No. 2position. Michael Moore (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) clinched the match for the Irish at the No. 5 position as the senior downed Dayton’s Bandy in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0. Andrews started at the top of the line up and defeated Hanley with ease as the freshman won in consecutive 6-0 sets, while Talmadge defeated Phillip Dresden 6-2, 6-0. Anderson concluded the match with a win over Pecyna in a two-set match, 6-1, 6-2. The Irish return to action Saturday as they take on Ball State in Muncie, Ind., before returning to the Eck to play host to Southern Methodist University Sunday.

4. Twenty-four hours after one Notre Dame team (hockey) advanced to the national Final Four, a second Irish squad attempts that feat tonight. For the first time in a decade, and the third in program history, #7 Notre Dame plays for a trip to the Final Four, as the second-seeded Fighting Irish women’s basketball team meets #1 seed (and fourth-ranked) Tennessee in the NCAA Dayton Regional final at 7 p.m. (ET) live on ESPNHD from the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. Notre Dame (29-7) advanced to the regional title game with a convincing 78-53 win over #20 (and sixth-seeded) Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish ended the first half on a 21-4 run, successfully avenging last year’s overtime loss to OU in the Sweet 16. Senior guard Brittany Mallory scored a season-high 20 points, canning 6-of-10 three-pointers, and senior forward Devereaux Peters had a double-double (17 points/13 rebounds) to pace Notre Dame to the win. Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time in NCAA regional finals, earning wins over George Washington (1997) and Vanderbilt (2001). The Fighting Irish are 17-2 (.895) all-time in NCAA Championship play when holding their opponent to 60 points or fewer. The Fighting Irish are 6-7 against ranked opponents this season, with those seven losses (the only defeats for Notre Dame to date) coming by an average of just 7.6 points per game, and only one by more than 11 points. Four of those setbacks came to the nation’s top two squads (76-65 at #2 Baylor on Dec. 1;79-76 vs. #2 Connecticut on Jan. 8; 78-57 at #2 Connecticut on Feb. 19; 73-64 at #1 Connecticut on March 8), with the first UConn contest being one of four in which Notre Dame led or had a chance to tie in the final 30 seconds of regulation (also 86-83 double-OT loss to #15 UCLA, a 81-76 loss at #9 Kentucky and a 70-69 loss at #11 DePaul). The Fighting Irish rank among the top 15 in the country in eight statistical categories, according to March 23 NCAA statistics report. Notre Dame ranks third in the nation in steals (now 13.0), fourth in field goal percentage (.480), sixth in scoring margin (+22.1), ninth in assists (17.6) and rebound margin (+9.0), 11th in scoring offense (77.5) and 15th in turnover margin (+4.83) and three-point defense (.269). These rankings are ironic for a Fighting Irish team that has just one player ranking higher than 50th in any category.

5. Tickets to the 2011 NCAA Frozen Four for hockey figure to be hot items because the event is always sold out. Given the small institutional allotments, Notre Dame will not have a public ticket sale. More information is available at http://www.ncaa.com/info/icehockey-men/d1/tickets

6. Jeff Jackson knows NCAA hockey. The Irish head hockey coach has seen his teams make the NCAA Tournament in 10 of his 12 seasons as a Division I head coach (four with Notre Dame and six with Lake Superior State). During that time, his teams own a record of 19-8 (.703) in the NCAA Tournament. That includes a 13-5 record at Lake State and a 6-3 record at Notre Dame. Jackson also has seen his teams make it to the Frozen Four five times (1992, 1993, 1994 at LSSU and 2008 and 2011 at Notre Dame), winning twice at Lake Superior. His record in the Frozen Four is 6-2 overall.

7. Notre Dame (women’s soccer and fencing) is one of only three schools that has won multiple NCAA championships so far in 2010-11, joining Penn State (women’s volleyball and wrestling) and California (men’s swimming and women’s swimming)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

1. For the eighth time in program history and third under the direction of head coach Janusz Bednarski, the University of Notre Dame fencing team has claimed the NCAA National Championship. The Irish held offPenn State to earn the title Sunday at the French Field House in Columbus, Ohio. Freshman Rachel Beck (Tucson, Ariz.), who battled through a tough day Saturday, clinched the championships with a 3-2 overtime victory over Katherine Chou of Harvard in foil. Bednarski, along with his staff of assistant coaches Gia Kvaratskhelia (foil), Marek Stepien (epee) and Ian Farr (sabre), coached the squad to their first title since winning in 2005. The Irish also have claimed the nationalchampionship in 1977, 1978, 1986, 1987, 1994 and 2003. After entering the day with 139 points with 54 bouts remaining for the team, the Irish wasted little to no touches, claiming 35 of those available points to take their team total to 174 points. Penn State could climb no closer than six points, totaling 168 points. St. John’s remained in third, finishing with 155 points. Beck was the bounce-back story of the tournament for the Irish, rebounding from a 3-11 opening day to put together a record of 6-3 Sunday, including running off astring of five straight wins through rounds five and six. With the Irish needing either one more team win or a Penn State loss, Beck posted the winning touch in the overtime period against Chou to clinch the title. Overall, sheended in 17th place with a record of 9-14.

Junior Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) was the second story of Sunday, earning her first NCAA gold medal after defeating Harvard’s Noam Mills in the finals, 8-7. Hurley had reached the semifinals each of her first two seasons with the Irish, losing both times, before finally securing gold this season with an overtime touch. She is the 27th gold medalist in Irish program history. Overall, Hurley finished with a 19-4 pool play record with a +42 indicator. Her 60 round-robin victories in NCAA competition moves her into eighth all-time on the Irish list, one behind both Myriah Brown (’99, foil) and Kerry Watson (’05, epee). Hurley’s gold also marks the first timesince 2008 that the Irish have won multiple weapon titles, when Sarah Borrmann (sabre) and Courtney’s sister, Kelley Hurley (epee), both topped the podium. It also represents the first time in program history that the Irish have won a gold medal in both a men’s and women’s weapon in the same year, as Ariel DeSmet (Troutdale, Ore.) won the men’s foil title on Friday. Senior Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) also improved on her 8-6 record on day one in foil, dropping only two bouts on Sunday to secure a 15-8 record overall and eighth place, good for second-team All-America status. Reese becomes the 20th member of the Irish program to become a four-year All-American, joining fellow seniors Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) and Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) on that prestigious list. Junior Ewa Nelip (Katowice, Poland) climbed up the epee standing in her second day, putting together a record of 6-3 over the final three rounds to end in ninth place with a 12-11 record. She earned third team All-American honors for the top-12 finish and is now a three-time All-American.

In sabre, Hassett earned a berth into the top four for the first time in her career, finishing pool play with a record of 17-6 after a 6-3 final day. She faced off against top seeded Eliza Stone of Princeton in the semifinals, losing 15-14 on the final touch of the bout. After earning second team All-America distinction each of her first three years, Hassett grabbedfirst team honors for the first time in her career and became the 21st fourtime All-American. Sophomore Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.) put together a 4-5 second day to finish in ninth place with a record of 12-11. She becomes an All-American for the first time in her career, earning third team honors for the top-12 result.

Over the course of the first two days of the tournament (Thurs.-Fri.), the men staked the women to a six-point lead after claiming 90 points, dispersed amongst 34 points in foil, 33 in sabre and 23 in epee. DeSmet (Troutdale, Ore.) finished pool play with a record of 18-5, earning him thethree seed in the semifinal bouts. He then went on to put on a remarkable run against Penn State, dismissing David Willette in the semifinals, 15-6, before holding off Miles Chamley-Watson in the finals, 15-13, to claim the individual gold medal. In the process he became the second straight Irish men’s foilist to win gold, as Gerek Meinhardt accomplished that feat at the 2010 Championships, and became the first freshman to do so since Charles Higgs-Coulthard won in 1984. DeSmet became the 26th Irish fencer to win gold at the championships, and fifth overall in foil, joining the likes of Higgs-Coulthard, Meinhardt, Pat Gerard (’77) and Andy Bonk (’79). Reggie Bentley (Little Rock, Ark.) teamed with DeSmet in foil, finishing his two days with a 16-7 record and a +29 indicator to earn a fifth-place finish. The showing earned him second team All-America accolades, while DeSmet earned first team All-American for placing in the top four. Senior Avery Zuck (Portland, Ore.) made his final appearance at the NCAA’s count, earning his best career finish in sabre with his runner-up result against the reigning champion Daryl Homer of St. John’s, 15-14. He qualified for the top four with a pool play record of 18-5, earning the three seed. He then knocked off Penn State’s Aleksander Ochocki of PennState in the semifinals, 15-13. Zuck earned first team All-America status as a result of his top-four finish. Both Zuck and DeSmet appearing in the weapon finals marked the first time in men’s competition that had happened since ’05 whenMichel Sobieraj won the epee title and Patrick Ghattas finished second in sabre.

Nydam appeared in his fourth and final NCAA Championships, piecing together a 15-8 record for a sixth-place finish and second-team All-America distinction. Nydam closed his tournament strong for the Irish, sweeping his final round of competition with wins over Ohio State’s MichaelDouville (5-2) and Rhys Douglas (5-3) as well as Wayne State’s Jakub Gibczynski (5-2). With his second team All-America distinction, Nydam became the 19th four-time All-American in program history, and was later joined by both Hassett and Reese on the women’s side. Sophomore James Kaull (Washington, D.C.) made his second consecutive appearance for the Irish in epee, finishing in 14th place with a record of 12-11. Brent Kelly (Grapevine, Texas), in his second NCAA appearance and first with the Irish after transferring from Columbia, concluded his tournament with a record of 11-12, good for 16th place.

Team Results

Notre Dame 174
Penn State 168
St. John’s 155
Princeton 150
Ohio State 148
Harvard 137

Individual Results
Ariel DeSmet, men’s foil, gold medal (first place), first-team All-American
Courtney Hurley, women’s epee, gold medal (first place), first-team All-American
Avery Zuck, men’s sabre, silver medal (second place), first-team All-American
Eileen Hassett, women’s sabre, bronze medal (tie/third place), first-team All-American
Reggie Bentley, men’s foil, fifth place, second-team All-American
Barron Nydam, sabre, sixth place, second-team All-American
Hayley Reese, women’s foil, eighth place, second-team All-American
Ewa Nelip, women’s epee, ninth place, third-team All-American
Lian Osier, women’s sabre, ninth place, third-team All-American
James Kaull, men’s epee, 14th place
Brent Kelly, men’s epee, 16th place
Rachel Beck, women’s foil, 17th place

2. All season long the Notre Dame hockey team showed a penchant for being able to come from behind and pull out dramatic wins. They did it again Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits to pull out a 4-3 overtime win versus the Merrimack Warriors. Freshman left wing Anders Lee led the way, recording two goals, including the overtime game winner at5:18 of the first overtime to give the Irish the win. Junior Billy Maday and senior Calle Ridderwall added single goals in the win that will send the Irish to the NCAA Northeast Regional Final tonight versus New Hampshire. The Wildcats, the fourth seed in the regional, defeated first-seed Miami, 3-1, in the opening game of the day. Notre Dame and New Hampshire will face off at 8:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised live by ESPNU and ESPN3.com.

Merrimack got goals from Kyle Bigos, Ryan Flanigan and Rhett Bly, as the Warriors would lead 3-1 midway through the second period. Notre Dame outshot Merrimack, 37-35, in the game. Irish goaltender Mike Johnson made 32 saves while the Warriors’ Joe Cannata had 33. The victory improves the ninth-ranked Irish to 24-13-5 on the season while seventh-ranked Merrimack closes its season with a 25-10-4 mark.

“Obviously we are thrilled to be advancing but it certainly was an up-and-down game, a boxing match,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “They took the lead on some mistakes that we made early on but our guys kept on working. I think in the third period we started creating a few more opportunities for ourselves. I was hoping that we could finish the game in regulation because I knew if we took the period break that it would give them the advantage coming back and it did. I credit Merrimack for playing a great game. We are just fortunate that our guys never said never and were able tocome back.”

The Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period scoring once on the power play and once short-handed. Notre Dame would get one back on the power play at 16:27 when Ridderwall ripped a shot from between the hashmarks, beating Merrimack’s Cannata to his stick side. The goal was the 15th of theseason for the senior left wing. Merrimack built the lead to 3-1 at 2:58 of the middle stanza capitalizing on an Irish turnover in front of their own net. An errant pass ended up on the stick of Shawn Bates to the left of Johnson. He fed the puck across the crease to Bly who backhanded a shot over Johnson for his fourth goal of the year. Notre Dame cut the lead to 3-2 at 13:29 when Lee fired a wrist shot over Cannata’s glove hand and into the upper right corner. TheIrish poured it on in the third period out shooting the Warriors by a 17-4 margin and scored the only goal of the period as Maday got the equalizer at5:32. While the Irish ended regulation with the momentum, Merrimack came out flying in the extra stanza putting the pressure on the Notre Dame goal with six shots in the first five minutes. With five minutes gone in the period, Notre Dame still hadn’t gotten a shot on goal and Jackson called a timeout. “I think any coach would have called that timeout. The pressure was on us. If I could have called it earlier I would have,” said Jackson. “I just told our guys to calm down. We were turning pucks over. Merrimack has threelines and anyone of them can score. If it weren’t for Mike Johnson, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. Sometimes you call the timeout to change the momentum and that was one of those times.”

The timeout worked because, 18 seconds later, the Irish were celebrating on the ice with the victory. Off the faceoff, the Irish threw the puck into the Merrimack zone where a Warrior defender picked it up on the left side of the goal and moved out to the right with Lee in pursuit. As the defenseman cut inside at the right post, Lee took a swing at the puck and deflected it past Cannata to give Notre Dame its only lead of the night and the win, 4-3. “I was just going in hard on the forecheck and the defenseman cut up pretty quickly,” said Lee. “I just made a last ditch effort and swung at it and it was in the back of the net.” The overtime win was the second of the postseason for the Irish as they knocked off Lake Superior March 11 in the first game of the second round of the CCHA playoffs on a goal by Jeff Costello. Notre Dame is now unbeaten in its last 21 overtime games (5-0-16) dating back to its most recent overtime loss on March 21, 2008, a 2-1 loss to Miami in the CCHA semifinals. This season, the Irish are 2-0-5 in overtime.

3. Hands with green fingernail polish – Notre Dame’s NCAA tournament tradition – seemed to swipe at every dribble and reach for every pass. Brittany Mallory scored season-high 20 points, and Notre Dame’s defensive pressure forced 24 turnovers and quicklytook its toll in a 78-53 win over Oklahoma on Saturday that sent the Fighting Irish to the women’s basketball regional final. Those green-painted fingers were everywhere. “Maybe they don’t get enough credit for their defense because their offense is so salty,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. Notre Dame (29-7) will play top-seeded Tennessee Monday (7 p.m. ET onESPNHD/ESPN3.com). The Lady Vols (34-2) pulled away from Ohio State in the second half for an 85-75 win – their 25th straight – in the other semifinal. Nicole Griffin scored 18 points for Oklahoma (23-12), which reached the Final Foureach of the last two years. Notre Dame’s go-for-the-ball pressure crumpled the Sooners’ guard-driven offense, which had only eight field goals and 14 turnovers in the decisive first half. It was the third time in the last four years that the Sooners and Fighting Irish met in the NCAA tournament. The first two games dripped with drama and went to overtime. Notre Dame won the firsttime, 79-75 in the second round in 2008. Oklahoma got the rematch, 77-72 last year in a regional semifinal in Kansas City. No overtime needed this time. Notre Dame’s defense ended all the drama right away. “Last year’s game was in the front of my mind the whole 40 minutes,” said Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins, who had 12 assists. Notre Dame had a 47-24 edge in rebounding, limiting the Sooners to two offensive rebounds. “Unfortunately, we didn’t give them much of a fight,” Coale said. “We got absolutely demoralized on the boards.” Natalie Novosel added 15 points, and Devereaux Peters had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Notre Dame, which got the better of a turnover-filled, up-tempo game. Notre Dame opened with a 9-4 run that included three 3s by Mallory, who hadn’t made more than three in any game this season. The senior guard was 0 for 10 from behind the arc in her last three games. She finished with a career-high six 3s. Notre Dame closed the first half with a21-4 run set up by the incessant defensive pressure. Notre Dame had nine steals and forced 14 turnovers in the first half. Notre Dame advances to the thirdNCAA Elite Eight (regional final) in school history, and first since its run to the 2001 NCAA national championship.

4. Senior SS Mick Doyle gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI single and senior RHP Cole Johnson pretty much did the rest as the Irish baseball team shut out Georgetown, 1-0, Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame improved to 9-10-1 overall and 2-0 in the BIG EAST, while the Hoyas dropped to 15-9 and0-2. The Irish have taken each of the first two games in the series and will look for the sweep Sunday afternoon. Johnson improved to 2-4 on the year with his sixth quality start in as many outings in 2011. The right-handed hurlerlimited Georgetown to five hits, four of which were singles, in 8.0 shutoutinnings of work. Johnson struck out six and walked one. Freshman RHP Dan Slania collected his second save of the season with a scoreless and perfect ninth inning. The rookie struck out one of the three batters he faced. Charles Steinman was charged with the loss for Georgetown. The righty allowed one earned run on three hits in 4.0 innings of work. Steinman issued four walks and struck out two.

5. Freshman Frank Dyer swam the 100 free Saturday during the final day of the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minn., the freestyler’s third race in as many days at the national event. Dyer, who one day earlier recorded the program’s highest finish at the NCAAs with a 26th-place showing in the 200 free, tapped in at 44.05 during the preliminary race of the 100 free during the morning session. His effort was good for 40th overall. The BIG EAST Conference champion in the 500 free swam the same event at the NCAAs, along with the 100 and 200 free. Dyer is just the second Notre Dame swimmer – and first freshman – ever to compete in the NCAA Championships.

6. The #3 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team opened BIG EAST play on Sunday afternoon with an 8-3 win overRutgers at the RU Turf Field in Piscataway, N.J. The Fighting Irish are 6-0 this season. Senior attackman Colin Igoe notched three points on two goals and an assist, while senior midfielder David Earl also chipped in two goals for the Fighting Irish. Junior attackman Sean Rogers registered one goal and a career-high three assists. Notre Dame carried a 4-2 lead into the intermission after neither team scored in the second quarter. “Today was probably our best all-around effort of the season,” said Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. “We played well in all areas. We rode well and cleared well and even got a goal off of the ride. Our defense played well and our settled offense was good. It was nice to see that we got eight assists on our eight goals and we had four different attackmen score.” Rutgers held a 30-26 advantage in shots. Irish sophomore John Kemp made 10 saves in goal to up his record to 6-0 this season. His counterpart Joseph Donnelly made seven stops for the Scarlet Knights. The Scarlet Knights, who entered the game averaging 10.14 goals per game this season, scored just one goal in the final 45:02 of Sunday’s contest. The Notre Dame defense kept Rutgers off the scoreboard for the final 23:50 of the game. The Irish defense is surrendering just 5.83 goals per game this season. The Fighting Irish will return to action on Saturday when they play host to #7 Villanova in BIG EAST action. Opening faceoff against the Wildcats is slated for 1:00 p.m. (ET) at Arlotta Stadium.

7. The Notre Dame men’s and women’s track 800-meter runners concluded the Stanford Invitational Saturday at the Cobb Track in Palo Alto, Calif., led by Jack Howard (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) who was the third-place finisher in 1:51.22 in the first section of the 800-meter run. Rebecca Tracy (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) finished in 2:09.32 for second place in the fourth section, followed by Abby Higgins (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) in seventh place in 2:11.49 and Natalie Johnson (Englewood, Colo./Xavier College Prep) ran 2:16.48 for 11thplace. Kelly Curran (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic) finished in second place in 2:12.46 in the sixth section, followed by McKinzie Schulz (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) in fourth place in 2:14.08 Alexa Aragon (Billings, Mt./Billings Senior) finished in fourth place in 2:16.43 in the seventh section and Meg Ryan (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Warde) finished 11th in 2:18.52. Howard was the third-place finisher in 1:51.22 in the first section. Kevin Labus (Indianapolis, Ind./Brebeuf Jesuit) finished in 1:51.60 for second place in the third section. Mitchell Lorenz (Brainerd, Minn./Brainerd) was the second-place finisher in1:52.62 in the fourth section, while Randall Babb (Wheaton, Ill./Warrenville South) finished 10th in 1:54.76. The Irish sprinters, jumpers and throwers concluded the Arizona State Invitational Saturday at the Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. Denes Veres (Ellwood City, Pa./Riverside) claimed the shot putcrown as the senior posted a 17.50m throw. Rudy Atang (Houston, Texas/St. Pius X) bested her previous outdoor shot put record of 15.02m with a mark of 15.69, which earned her a third-place finish.

8. Lindsay McKinnon’s free-position goal with eight seconds remaining in regulation capped a four-goal Hofstra rally in the second half to lead the Pride to a 10-9 come-from-behind women’s lacrosse victory over #17 Notre Dame Sunday at James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. With the loss, Notre Dame falls to 3-5 on the season, while the Pride improve its record to 4-5. The Irish suffered their second heartbreaking loss in as many games and their third one-goal setback of the season. Just one week ago against Cornell (March 20), Notre Dame dropped a 6-5 double overtime decision and earlier in the season fell to Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., 13-12. McKinnon’s game-winning goal was her second score of the game and ninth of the season. In addition to netting two goals, she also added two assists. Stephanie Rice and Jill Maier tallied three goals each to lead the Pride. Shaylyn Blaney led the Irish with three goals and an assist, while teammate Maggie Tamasitis added two goals and three assists. Betsy Mastropieri finished with a goal and an assist in the contest. After a first half in which there four ties and four lead changes, Notre Dame held a one-goal advantage, 6-5, at the intermission. Notre Dame outshot Hofstra 27-17 in the contest, but could only convert on three of its 10 shots in the second half while the Pride made good on five of their eight shot attempts. The Irish also owned a 15-6 advantage in draw controls and won seven of nine in the second half. Hofstra made good on four of their seven free position attempts, while the Irish converted just one of their five attempts. Pride goalkeeper Jackie Pandolf made 11 saves in the contest, while Ellie Hilling had four saves for the Irish in net. The win was Hofstra’s first-ever over the Irish in the four meetings between the two schools. Notre Dame entered the game having won the two previous matchups in Hempstead, N.Y. Looking to end its two-game slide, Notre Dame returns to action when it opens up BIG EAST Conference next weekend at Arlotta Stadium with two games scheduled againstRutgers (Friday at 7 p.m.) and Loyola-Md. (Sunday at 1 p.m.).

9. Notre Dame loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Pablo Vinent struck out freshman CF Eric Jagielo to end the game and give Georgetown a 4-3 victory and salvage the final game of the BIG EAST baseball series Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish captured each of the first two games of the series by a single run, but the Hoyas returned the favor this afternoon. Notre Dame dropped to9-11-1 overall and 2-1 in the BIG EAST, while the Hoyas improved to 16-9 and 1-2. Vinent picked up the victory in relief for Georgetown and improved to 3-1 on the year. The right-handed hurler allowed six hits in 3.2 innings of work, but limited the Irish to just one run. Vinent struck out three and walked one. Notre Dame senior RHP Todd Miller was charged with the loss and dropped to 2-2 on the season. The starter was charged with four runs, all earned, on five hits in 6.1 innings. Miller fanned three and walked one. The Irish did not go quietly in their half of the ninth inning. Sophomore P/DH Adam Norton singled back up the middle with one out. Senior 3B Greg Sherry followed with a sinking line drive to centerfield. Norton went more than half way toward the second base bag, but had to hold up to see if the ball was caught. Georgetown’s centerfielder Justin Leeson did not come up with the catch, but the ball caromed off his glove and a mere couple feet in front of the charging outfielder. Leeson gathered the ball and fired a high throw to second base, but Hoyas second basemen Andy Lentz lounged off the bag to catch the throw and landed on the bag just in time to force Norton. Now two outs and Sherry on first, sophomore 2B Frank DeSico followed with an infield single to move the tying run into scoring position. Vinent than helped the Irish cause with a wild pitch to advance both runners in scoring position. With the tying run only 90 feet away and the winning run at second, senior SS Mick Doyle drew a walk to load the bases for Jagielo, who had doubled in each of his last plate appearances. Jagielo fouled off Vinent’s first offering before taking a pitch outside to even the count 1-1. Jagielofouled off another pitch from Vinent to fall behind in the count 1-2, but again took a ball to event the count at 2-2. Vinent then got Jagielo to swing and miss at a changeup down and inside to end the game.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

1. A goal from Sean Rogers with 33 seconds left was the difference as the third-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team topped #20 Ohio State 8-7 Wednesday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. Rogers, a junior attackman, scored a game-high three goals. Notre Dame (5-0) grabbed a 7-4 lead with 7:22 remaining on a Zach Brenneman goal. Ohio State responded with three straight tallies to knot the game 7-7 with just over a minute left to play. With under a minute showing on the clock, Buckeye goalkeeper Greg Dutton picked off a Brenneman pass, yet Dutton could not keep the ball in the netting of his stick and Rogers grabbed the ball in midair and deposited the decisive goal. “We were very fortunate to get that last goal,” said Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. “We were lucky, but luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Sean (Rogers) was there and he made the play.” Junior midfielder Eric Keppeler had converted a Steve Murphy pass into a goal to put Notre Dame on top 5-2 at halftime. Notre Dame owned the faceoff circle by winning 16 of 19 attempts. Freshman Liam O’Connor went 13-16, while senior Jake Marmul was 3-3. The Fighting Irish held a 34-20 advantage in shots. Sophomore goalie John Kemp made five saves for the Irish to improve his record to 5-0 this season. Dutton had 12 stops for Ohio State. Irving and junior defenseman Jake Brems both had a game-high four ground balls for Notre Dame. Rogers’ three goals matched a career-high total that he achieved twice last season. The junior has a team-high nine goals this season. The Irish return to action Sunday when they open BIG EAST Conference play at Rutgers. Opening faceoff is slated for noon (ET) in Piscataway, N.J.

2. Yesterday’s note on who will televise Notre Dame’s NCAA regional semifinal hockey game live (at 7:30 p.m. EDT against Merrimack) suggested the game was Friday – but it’s actually on Saturday. The game will be shown on Comcast Chicago (channel 101), Comcast SouthBend (channel 3), Time Warner Upstate (in upstate New York), MASN and Comcast SportsNet New England.

3. Mike Golic, former Notre Dame football standout and current co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, will participate in a variety of roles for the 2011 Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp. Golic will not only serve as a coach throughout the camp, but will also act as master of ceremonies at the reception closing the week’s festivities. Notre Dame legends Jerome Bettis (1991-93), Paul Hornung (1954-56) and Joe Theismann (1968-70) agreed in February to appear at this year’s fantasy camp. The other 15 former playersthat confirmed to attend in March included DB Luther Bradley (1973-77), DB Jeff Burris (1990-93), LB Bob Crable (1978-81), RB Nick Eddy (1964-66), DB Clarence Ellis (1969-71), OL Bill Fischer (1945-48), WR Tom Gatewood (1969-71), OL George Goeddeke (1964-66), OL George Kunz (1966-68), OL Ryan Leahy (1992-95), DB Todd Lyght (1987-90), DB Joe Restic (1975-78), LB Frank Stams (1984-88), DB Mike Townsend (1971-73) and DB Shane Walton (1999-2002). Among the more recent additions are 13 players that earned All-America honors for the Irish and nine players that claimed a national championship. The Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp will be directed by Irishhead coach Brian Kelly, as well as his entire Notre Dame coaching staff, current Irish players and plenty of other former Notre Dame legends. They will provide daily hands-on instruction and interaction. They also will share priceless personal experiences from their time under the Golden Dome and in the NFL. Camp dates are Tuesday, May 31, through Saturday, June 4, 2011. Participants will stay at the Fairfield Inn& Suites located across the street from campus and adjacent to the new Eddy Street Commons, and mere steps from the shadow of Notre Dame Stadium.

4. Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl XLV Champion Green Bay Packers, will join former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and current Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as a guest speaker at the 2011 Notre Dame Football Coaches Clinic. Philbin recently completed his eighth year in the NFL, all with the Packers, and fourth season as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator. Named to his current position by Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy on Jan. 15, 2007, Philbin continued a rapid ascent up the professional coaching ladder. He originally joined the Packers on Feb. 10, 2003, as assistant offensive linecoach, then spent 2004 and ’05 as tight ends/assistant offensive line coach,and was promoted to offensive line coach on Jan. 17, 2006. In his four seasons at the offensive helm, Philbin has directed both a productive and sound unit. The team’s 1,703 points from 2007-10 are the most in franchise history over a four-year period. League-wide, the offense has ranked in the top 10 in total yards and total points each year, joining the New England Patriots as the only teams in the NFL to accomplish that feat. The point total is third in the league over that span, trailing only New England (1,944) and New Orleans (1,736). In addition to Philbin, Kelly and Meyer, each member of the Notre Dame coaching staff and a pair of head coaches from two of the top high school programs in Ohio and South Carolina will make presentations. Mickey Wilson, head coach at Myrtle Beach High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Rick Finotti, head coach at Saint Edward High School in Cleveland, Ohio, will serve as guest speakers. This year’s clinic will be held on Notre Dame’s campus March 24-26 and is open to all football coaches interested in receiving an advanced gridiron course taught by some of the top football coaches in the country.

5. Rob Hunt, head football athletic trainer at Oklahoma State University the last five years and also head athletic trainer for all Cowboy athletics programs since 2007, has been named head football athletic trainer at the University of Notre Dame. Hunt, who will work day to day with the Notre Dame football program, brings with him 14 years of experience as an athletic trainer at NCAA institutions. At Oklahoma State, Hunt served as athletic trainer for the football team all five years and in his final four years in Stillwater coordinated all aspects of medical care for the athletic department’s 16 teams and supervised six assistant athletic trainers, eight graduate assistants and two insurance coordinators. Huntspent 10 years in the state of Missouri prior to moving to Oklahoma State. From 2004-06 he worked as head athletic trainer at Southeast Missouri State University (working directly with the football and women’s tennis teams), after serving as an assistant athletic trainer with the University of Missouri football team from 1999-2004. He also worked with Missouri men’s and women’s swimming and men’s and women’s cross country and track and field squads. In his final year with the Tigers, Hunt also served as director of rehabilitation services. A graduate of Ball State University in 1997 with a major in athletic training, Hunt earned his master’s degree in education at the University of Missouri in 1999 and served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer there from 1997-99. In 1996, Hunt worked as an athletic trainer during the preseason with the NFL’s New England Patriots.

6. Notre Dame baseball’s exhibition game with the South Bend Silverhawks has been moved from Coveleski Stadium to Frank Eck Stadium. The annual Silver vs. Gold contest will start at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5. The exhibition game will be free to all fans (no ticket required). Donations for the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation to fight Niemann-Pick Type C will be accepted at the gates of the stadium.

7. Twelve members of the Notre Dame fencing team will participate in this weekend’s NCAA Championships, which begin today in Columbus, Ohio. The four-day event will take place at the Gordon Track Center and will be hosted by Ohio State University. Notre Dame qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the fifth consecutive season, as they will send four fencers to compete in each weapon (two men and two women). The Irish contingent will be in pursuit of the program’s eighth national title. Representing Notre Dame at the championship in women’s epee are Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and Ewa Nelip (Katowice, Poland). Junior Courtney Hurley will be making her third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships. In her first two appearances at the Championships, she has garnered first-team All-America honors with a pair of third-place finishes. Nelip returns to the NCAAs for the third time in her Irish career and first since ’09 after missing last season while competing with the Polish National Team. In her first two appearances, Nelip also has claimed two First Team All-American nods with a pair of third-place finishes. In women’s foil, Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky.) and Rachel Beck (Tucson, Ariz.) will compete for the Irish. Reese, a senior, will be making her fourth trip in as many seasons. Reese earned her best finish at the NCAA Championships in the 2009 season, finishing runner-up, while in 2008 she placed 11th and this past year she finished in fifth place. Beck, a freshman on the Irish roster, will get her first taste of the Championships with this appearance. Senior Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) and sophomore Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.) will represent the Notre Dame women’s sabre squad. Hassett, making her fourth consecutive appearance, turned in back-to-back-to-back second-team All-America performances, finishing fifth, sixth and seventh in2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. In her second year with the Irish, Osierwill be making her first appearance. Notre Dame’s two championship qualifiersin men’s epee include James Kaull (Washington, D.C.) and Brent Kelly (Grapevine, Texas). Kaull, a sophomore, will be making his second championship appearance after finishing as a third-team All-American last year with a 10th-place finish. Kelly will be making his first appearance in his second full season with the Irish after transferring from Columbia. The men’s foil will see two different members take to the strip from last season, as Ariel DeSmet (Troutdale, Ore.) and Reggie Bentley (Little Rock, Ark.) will be the representatives. Both DeSmet, a freshman, and Bentley, a junior, will be making their first career appearance at the NCAA Championships. In men’s sabre, the team of Barron Nydam (Rancho Sante Fe, Calif.) and Avery Zuck (Portland, Ore.) will also be representing Notre Dame for the third consecutive year. Two seasons ago, Zuck earned second-team All-American honors by finishing fifth, while last season he became a first-team All-American after earning a share of third place. Nydam has appeared each of the last three seasons, earning second-team honors in 2008 with his sixth-place finish, and earned third-team honors in each 2009 and 2010 by finishing 10th on each occasion. In both 2008 and 2009, the Fighting Irish placed second at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio and State College, Pa., while last season the Irish finishedthird in Boston, Mass. Notre Dame has won the combined national championship in 1994, 2003 and 2005, with the 2003 and 2005 titles coming under the watch of current head coach Janusz Bednarski. The Fighting Irish claimed the men’s title in 1977, 1978 and 1986. The Notre Dame women also captured the NCAA crown in 1987.

8. Basketball Times named Notre Dame’s Mike Brey as its national coach of the year in men’s college basketball and selected Irish guard Ben Hansbrough as a third-team All-American.

9. For the first time in program history, three Notre Dame women’s basketball players — sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington), junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) — have been selected among the 40 finalists for the State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, it was announced Wednesday afternoon by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The Fighting Irish are one of only two programs in the country (along with Stanford) to have threeplayers chosen as finalists this season, with Notre Dame having fielded fiveState Farm Coaches’ All-America Team finalists in the past two seasons. The group of 40 finalists was selected by the State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team selection committee from a slate of 52 all-region honorees across of the WBCA’s eight regions. These players remain in the running for spots on the 10-member State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team that will be unveiled at 9 a.m. (ET) April 2 in Indianapolis during events surrounding the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Notre Dame has had two players earn a place on the prestigious squad — Ruth Riley (2001) and Jacqueline Batteast (2005).

10. The Fighting Irish women’s basketball team ranks among the top 15 in the country in eight statistical categories, according to Wednesday’s NCAA statistics report. Notre Dame ranks third in the nation in steals (13.0), fourth in field goal percentage(.480), sixth in scoring margin (+22.0), ninth in assists (17.4) and reboundmargin (+8.6), 11th in scoring offense (77.5) and 15th in turnover margin (+4.97) and three-point defense (.272). These rankings are ironic for a Fighting Irish team that has just one player ranking higher than 50th in any category.

11. Saturday’s NCAA women’s basketball game will mark the fifth time Notre Dame and Oklahoma have met on the hardwood, and the fourth time in the past four years. The teams have split the previous four matchups, all of which took place at neutral sites (like this weekend’s encounter), as well as their prior two games in the NCAA Championship, both of which went to overtime (Notre Dame won 79-75 in 2008 second round; Oklahoma won 77-72 in 2010 regional semifinal). The last time Notre Dame and Oklahoma met Nyeshia Stevenson hit 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 on March 28, 2010, in an NCAA Kansas City Regional semifinal at the Sprint Center inKansas City, Mo. Stevenson had 21 points and Abi Olajuwon added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Sooners, who lost to Notre Dame in overtime in the second round in 2008. Oklahoma muffed a chance to win at the end of regulation, asDanielle Robinson slipped 30 feet from the basket. But in OT, Stevenson calmly drilled a three from the corner that proved to be the winner. Notre Dame then chucked a long baseball pass, but Stevenson snagged it and knocked down twofree throws to seal the win. Melissa Lechlitner had 22 points and Lindsay Schrader had 19 to lead Notre Dame, which lost its fourth straight regional semifinal dating back to 2001. The first four games in the series have been decided by 10 points or fewer, with two going to overtime, and a third decided by three points.

12. Heading into their NCAA matchup Saturday, Notre Dame and Merrimack have met five times in the all-time hockey series with the last meeting coming on Nov. 26, 1991. The Warriors lead the series, 3-2-0. The first time the two teams met was on Dec. 18, 1969 in the championship game of the Merrimack Tournament in Billerica,Mass. Notre Dame won that tournament with a 5-1 victory. During the 1988-89season, the teams played three times with the Warriors winning twice at NotreDame’s Joyce Center, 3-1 and 4-3, on Nov. 23 and 25 and then at North Andover on Jan. 7, 1989, 6-0. The final meeting was on Nov. 26, 1991, at Merrimack with the Irish taking a 2-1 decision.

13. The last time Merrimack was in the NCAA Hockey Tournament was 1988. That year, the Warriors defeated Northeastern in the first round and then were eliminated by Lake Superior State in the second. Current Irish head coach Jeff Jackson was an assistant on that Lakers team that was on its way to the first of three NCAA Championships.

14. Only five members of the 2010-11 Notre Dame hockey team have seen action in an NCAA Tournament.

15. T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee enter the NCAA Hockey Tournament with 22 goals each this season. This marks the first time that Notre Dame has had two 20-goal scorers in 20 years.

16. For the past eight weeks, the Notre Dame hockey team has been in good company with the Notre Dame men’s and women’s basketball teams. All three programs are ranked in the top 10 in the nation in their respective polls, making Notre Dame the only school in the country with a top 10 program in all three sports. The Irish hockey team is ranked ninth in both the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com polls. With a 27-7 overall record, the Irish men’s basketball team entered the week ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today rankings. The Notre Dame women’s team is 28-7 and ranked ninth in the Associated Press poll and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today rankings. The week of Jan. 31, 2010 marked the first time since Dec. 9, 2002, that both basketball programs were ranked in the top 10 at the same time. Notre Dame is the only Division I school in the country to have its men’s and women’s basketball programs and its hockey program in the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

1. The 77th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl between the Miami and Notre Dame generated $24.6 million in total economic activity during the last week of 2010, according to a surveyconducted by Texas Perspectives, Inc., that was released last week. The City of El Paso, El Paso County and Sun Metro realized just under $400,000 in tax revenue during the last week of December, 2010. The revenues generated from the Hyundai Sun Bowl have allowed for the creation of approximately 393 new jobs in the community according to the study. A record 54,021 attended the 2010 edition of the Hyundai Sun Bowl and it is estimated also that a record 16,000 out-of-town visitors descended upon the Sun City during bowl week.

2. Today’s projected Notre Dame softball home opener against Eastern Michigan has been cancelled due to weather.

3. Former Irish football safety Tom Zbikowski is now working at the Kronk Boxing Gym in Detroit withHall of Fame trainer Emanual Steward in advance of his fight Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J., on the undercard of the Yuri Gamboa-Jorge Solis fight. Zbikowski earned a victory earlier this month by defeating Richard Bryant when the fight was stopped at 1:45 of the first round of a scheduled four-round bout.

4. The 25th-ranked Notre Dame women’s golf team notched a first-place finish Tuesday at the John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate in Stockbridge, Ga. The Irish registered a three-round total of 888 (+24) to earn the honor. Junior Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo./Littleton) was the team leader and second-place finisher in the tournament as she carded a 54-hole total of 211 (-5). Huffer’s second-place notch marked her top-finish this season, as well as her career-best 54-holetotal (211). The junior’s previous top score was a 217, which was during the 2008 LSU Classic. Maryland finished runner-up to the Irish and recorded a 905 (+41), followed by East Tennessee State in third place (906/+42). Both teams improved from a tie in fourth place after the first day of play. Kristina Nhim (Cypress, Calif./Cypress) improved from a 17th-place tie after the first day to a tie for ninth place. The freshman carded a third-round score of 73 for a total of 223 (+7), which is her second-best performance this season. On October 24, 2010 Nhim recorded a 220 three-round total that is her career best. Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading) finished tied for 16th place and logged a 54-hole total of 226 (+10) to improve her previous season best of 230 (+14) by four strokes. So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea/Bradenton Preparatory Academy) rounded out the Irish score with a 25th-place tie. Park stayed consistent as she recorded her second-straight 75 (+3) round. The senior concluded the tournament with a 229 (+13) score. Competing individually, Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz./Xavier Prep) logged a 241 (+25) and a tie for 55th in the two-day event. The Irish return to action Friday, April 1, at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga.

5. Junior libero Frenchy Silva was named to the United States Women’s National A2 Team, it was announced Tuesday by USA Volleyball. The honor came on the heels of last month’s impressive two-day tryout for Silva at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Silva was an alternate for the same team in 2010. “This is a tremendous honor for Frenchy and a testament to her great work ethic,” Notre Dame head coach Debbie Brown said. “After being selected as an alternate last year, she was so determined to make it this year. Her skills are very solid but what’s most impressive is her ability to make others around her better. I know Frenchy will make the most out of this great opportunity.” Silva anchored the Irish during her junior campaign with a team-high 398 digs for a 3.75 digs/set average. She broke a sweat in 106 of Notre Dame’s 111 sets played.

6. Notre Dame men’s soccer alumni should mark their calendars for the upcoming alumni weekend/team banquet. Festivities will be held April 15-16. Events get underway on Friday, April 15, with the 2003 Fighting Irish squad taking on the current team. That game will take place at 6:00 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium. On Saturday, the mixed alumni match is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Alumni Stadium.

7. The USA Today NFL Draft 2011 issue lists Kyle Rudolph as the #27 pick to Atlanta in the first round. It also projects Chris Stewart in the seventh round to Denver and Ian Williams in the seventh round to Dallas. Here’s where Irish players are ranked by position: Armando Allen #31 among RBs, Robert Hughes #8 among FBs, Rudolph #1 among TEs, Stewart #15 among OGs, Dan Wenger #14 among centers, Williams #20 among DTs, Brian Smith #18 among MLBs and Darrin Walls #25 among CBs.

8. In the graduation rate study of NCAA men’s basketball qualifiers released last week by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, in using the NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR), Notre Dame ranked as one of seven schools in the 68-team field with a 100 percent score. The others were Belmont, Villanova, Wofford, Illinois, BYU and Utah State. On the women’s side, Notre Dame joined 22 other schools with 100 scores.

9. Former Notre Dame swimmer Ry Beville (he’s a ’97 Notre Dame graduate) is in Japan, working in the earthquake zone as an interpreter and logistics coordinator. He’s based in Ichinoseki (Miyagi) where he’s attached to an aid team that ferries supplies to evacuation centers in Kessenuma and Rikuzen-takata, two particularly hard-hit towns. The latter, in fact, has been completely wiped away. More than half of the town’s population is missing. The entire local swim team and coach are a part of those numbers.

10. Here’s who will televise Notre Dame’s NCAA regional semifinal hockey game live at 7:30 p.m. EDT Friday against Merrimack: Comcast Chicago (channel 101), Comcast South Bend (channel 3), Time Warner Upstate (in upstate New York), MASN and Comcast SportsNet New England.

Monday, March 21, 2011

1. By the time the Irish men’s basketball team took the floor at the United Center Sunday night, the San Antonio Regional already had taken on a decidedly Virginia flair – with Richmond qualifying Saturday and VCU in the opener last night pasting favored #3 seed Purdue.

It had been a long few days – as the Irish didn’t find out until very early Saturday morning what time tip-off would be tonight and many in the Irish contingent didn’t hear the word until they woke up Saturday. The Notre Dame players broke up the day with a half-hour shooting session at the United Center about two Sunday afternoon, but otherwise they spent most of their time around the hotel in downtown Chicago.

If routine meant anything, the Irish were in the same locker room, on the same bench and their fans were in the same sections as in Notre Dame’s win Friday over Akron.

Scott Martin suffered an early injury and left the game before it was three minutes old but was back seven minutes in and with the Irish down 14-9 after the Seminoles scored seven in a row. At the 12:33 timeout, Florida State had hit six of its first nine shots while the Irish were only four for 13. The ‘Noles were red-hot – hitting nine of their first 15 shots compared to only seven of 22 for Notre Dame, so it was 23-15 Florida State at the 7:36 mark. The ‘Noles banged in five of their first eight three-point tries. That went to six of 10 and a 28-16 Seminole edge at 5:55. At the half it was 34-23 Florida State in a bruising, physical 30 minutes that featured lights-out shooting by theFloridians who hit 67 fewer threes than Notre Dame as a team in the regularseason. The Irish box score at half hardly looked familiar – with TimAbromaitis three of nine shooting, Ben Hansbrough one of five, Scott Martinzero for three and Carleton Scott one out of five. Florida State managed only two more total field goals than the Irish in the opening half – but its halftime margin came thanks to six more threes than Notre Dame managed (with the Irish one of 10 from three-point distance).

But the second half didn’t start much better, as Florida State went up 43-26 after Scott’s fourth foul and then pushed it to 20 at 47-27. At that juncture the five Seminole starters were a combined 15 for 28 from the floor, and the margin jumped to 52-29 at the 11:59 media timeout — with the Irish making only 11 of 38 shot attempts so far. From there Notre Dame scored 11 straight to cut it to 52-40 at the 8:27 stop. But, with the Irish in the double bonus, the Seminoles salted it away mostly at the free-throw line. Hansbrough’s career ended when he fouled out at the 3:19 mark with 18 points. Abromaitis had 21 but only six in the first half.

2. Notre Dame and Cornell traveled to Maryland to face each other in what became a defensive battle on Sunday afternoon as the Big Red handed the Irish a 6-5 loss in double overtime in a women’s lacrosse game played at St. Paul’s School in Lutherville, Md. Cornell’s Jessi Steinberg capped her three-goal afternoon when she beat Irish goalkeeper Ellie Hilling just 18 seconds into the second overtime stanza. Steinberg’s goal capped what turned into a defensive struggle all afternoon as the Irish scored four times in the first half, holding the Big Red off the scoreboard and Cornell returned the favor in the second, blanking the Irish while scoring four of its own. In the first overtime, the teams traded goals before Notre Dame surrendered the game winner in the sudden death extra stanza. Senior Kailene Abt led the Irish with two goals while Kaitlyn Brosco, Shaylyn Blaney and Kaitlin Keena had single goals. Cornell got single goals from Katie Kirk, Kelly Lang and Olivia Knotts to compliment Steinberg’s hat trick. The loss drops Notre Dame to 3-4 on the season while Cornell improves to 3-3 overall. The Irish are next in action on Sunday when they travel to Hempstead, N.Y., to face the Hofstra Pride in a noon game at Shuart Stadium.

3. After a tough final round of play on Sunday, the 27th-ranked Notre Dame men’s golf team finished in 12th place (out of 15 teams) at the 32nd annual Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Ga. The Irish final round saw them post a 22-over par, 310. Individually, Tom Usher (Bradford, England) led the Irish at the tournament, finishing tied for 20th at two-over par (218). Usher battled through the tough round to piece together the top Irish score of the day, carding a three-over par 75. He made the turn at one over after birdies on the seventh and eighth holes to recover his round after three straight bogeys on holes two through four. On the back side, Usher recorded seven pars to go along with a pair of bogeys. The finish gives Usher his fifth top-25 tournament result on the season.

4. Notre Dame and Gonzaga played to a 3-3 tie after 12 innings on the final day of the 2011 Irish Baseball Classic from Wolff Stadium Sunday afternoon in San Antonio. The game was called due curfew as both the Irish and Bulldogs needed to catch flights. Notre Dame returns home from their spring break trip with a 7-10-1 record, while Gonzaga is now 10-7-1. The Irish had a golden chance to win the game in the bottom of the 12th inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, fifth-year senior Herman Petzold ripped a 1-2 offering from Gonzaga reliever Billy Moon right back up the middle. In complete self-defense, the southpaw pulled his glove up to his face and somehow managed to snag the liner to end the game. Irish senior RHP Todd Miller did not factor in the decision, but tossed another gem. He limited Gonzaga to a pair of earned runs of seven hits in 7.0 innings of work. Miller struck out five and walked two. Notre Dame took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning, but the Bulldogs rallied off junior RHP Will Hudgins. The closer walked Acker to open the frame. After Edman executed a sacrifice bunt to move Acker into scoring position, Hudgins struck out Stanford and was one strike away from securing the victory and his second save of the season, but Moon laced a 1-2 offering into right center field to tie the score, 3-3. Freshman LHP Anthony McIver, freshman RHP Sean Fitzgerald, Hudgins and freshman Dan Slania limited Gonzaga to one earned run on five hits in 5.0 innings out of the bullpen. The quartet fanned three and walked two. Sophomore 2B Frank DeSico paced the Irish attack with three hits. Freshman OF Eric Jagielo went 2-for-5 with an RBI double. Sophomore 3B Adam Norton went 1-for-3 with two RBI. Senior DH Matt Grosso also chipped in with a pair of hits. Notre Dame returns to South Bend and hosts Oakland at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday in the 2011 Eck Stadium opener.

5. The Notre Dame hockey team returns to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons and the fifth time in the program’s history as the Irish will travel to Manchester, N.H., to compete in the Northeast Regional, March 26-27, at theVerizon Wireless Center, the home of the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. The Irish, seeded third in the regional, will face second-seed, Merrimack from Hockey East in the second game on Saturday, March 26 at 7:35 p.m. The Warriors are making their second appearance in the NCAA’s and first since 1988. Theylost Saturday night in the Hockey East title game to Boston College. The game will be televised by ESPN Syndication HD and on ESPN3.com and shown on tapedelay on ESPNU at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Joining Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional are No. 1 seed Miami and No. 4 seed, New Hampshire, the host school. The RedHawks and the Wildcats will play in the opening game at Verizon Wireless Center at 4:30 p.m. on March 26. The Northeast Regional championship game will be played at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 27 and will be televised on ESPNU HD/ESPN3.com. The winner will advance to the NCAA FrozenFour in St. Paul, Minn., on April 7-9.

Notre Dame is making its fourth appearance since 2007 and fifth overall in the 43-year history of the program. The Irish did not make the tournament last season and their last appearance came in 2008-09 when they were a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional and were upset by Bemidji State, 5-1, in the opening game at Grand Rapids. In 2007-08, Notre Dame was the last at-large team to make the tournament and advanced to the Frozen Four where they lost in the national championship game to Boston College, 4-1, after defeating Michigan, 5-4, in the semifinals. Notre Dame advanced out of the West Regional at Colorado Springs, Colo., as a No. 4 seed with a 7-3 win over top-seeded NewHampshire and then won the regional with a 3-1 win over Michigan State. In 2006-07, the Irish were the tournament’s top seed and defeated Alabama-Huntsville, 3-2, in double overtime in the opening game before falling to Michigan State in the Midwest Regional by a 2-1 score. In 2003-04, NotreDame made its first-ever appearance, playing in Grand Rapids where they dropped an opening round game to Minnesota, 5-2. The Irish go into the tournament ranked eighth in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com pollswith a 23-13-5 record this season. They are coming off a pair of losses in the CCHA Tournament this weekend, losing to Miami, 6-2 in the semifinals and Michigan, 4-2, in the third-place game. Merrimack enters the tournament with a 25-9-4 overall record and was fourth in the Hockey East regular season with a 16-8-3 mark. The Warriors knocked off Maine with a pair of wins in the quarterfinals and then defeated New Hampshire in the semifinals of the Hockey East Tournament. They lost to Boston College in the championship game, 5-3. Merrimack began the week ranked seventh in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine and USCHO.com polls.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1. Notre Dame’s Brittany Mallory had no points and one assist in Saturday’s 67-54 first-round NCAA women’s basketball tournament win over Utah in Salt Lake City. What won’t show in the stats was her defensive effort in cooling off the hot-shooting Iwalani Rodrigues. Offensively, Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel scored 20 pointsapiece to lead the second-seeded Irish past 15th-seeded Utah. The Irish (27-7) face Temple (24-8) in a second-round game at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. MT) Monday on ESPN2. Utah led late in the first half and was within five points with 8minutes remaining, but the Irish went on a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach. Rodrigues would lead Utah with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting but didn’t score another field goal after her string of eight straight points pulled Utah within 43-41. Notre Dame went on a 6-0 run after that, fueled by back-to-back scores by Diggins and Novosel. Then Notre Dame’s 6-2 forward Devereaux Peters came up big down the stretch and finished with four blocks. Janita Badon had three steals for Utah but struggled offensively, hitting only 4 of 21 shots. Utah (18-17) had the most losses of any team in the NCAA field, but entered Saturday’s game on a roll, having won four games in five days to claim the Mountain West Conference tourney title. The young Utes had hoped to pull off another shocker. But they couldn’t get their shots to fall Saturday. Utah shot just 32.7 percent and committed 18 turnovers. Four Notre Dame players scored in double figures, with Bruszewski adding 13 and Peters 12. Notre Dame has won its first-round game in the NCAA Championship in 14 of its last 16 appearances (1996-present).

2. The weekend didn’t go as Notre Dame had hoped when they returned to Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA Tournament for the first time since winning the playoff championship in March of 2009. Instead, the Irish were handed a pair of losses, first by Miami, 6-2, in the CCHA semifinals on Friday night and then by Michigan, 4-2, in the third-place game on Saturday. Saturday’s loss was not for a lack of effort as Notre Dame peppered Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick with 44 shots but was only able to get goals from Riley Sheahan and T.J. Tynan on the afternoon. Four different Wolverines scored in the win as Louie Caporusso, Carl Hagelin, Jeff Rohrkemper and Luke Glendening contributed to the scoresheet in the victory. The loss drops the eighth-ranked Irish to 23-13-5 overall while fourth-ranked Michigan improves to 26-10-4 for the year. The Irish play in the NCAA Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. – as the #3 seed vs. #2 seed Merrimack. The other game features #1 Miami and #4 New Hampshire. The Notre Dame-Merrimack game is at7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday.

3. The 17th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team ended its spring break trip on a high note, claiming a 5-2 win over 18th-ranked Tennessee on Saturday at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts in Tampa, Fla. The Irish finish the trip with a 1-2 record and are now 9-7 overall. The Irish took the 1-0 lead on the Volunteers, capturing the doubles point for the second time on the trip. After trailing 4-1 at No. 1 doubles, the 33rd-ranked team of Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) went on to win seven of the next eight games to defeat Tennessee’s duo of Natalie Pluskota and Millie Nichols, ranked 59th, 8-5. Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) and Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) then closed out the doublespoint for the Irish, taking down Rosalia Alda and Maria Sorbello at No. 2 doubles in a back-and-forth match, 8-6. The win brings an end to the tandem’s three-match losing streak. Tennessee captured the match at No. 3 doubles, as Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) fell to Jennifer Meredith and Kata Szekely, 9-7. Frilling, ranked third nationally, returned to her usual spot atop the Irish singles lineup and wasted little time making a statement. The junior downed #42 Pluskota in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0, to improve her dual record to a perfect 13-0. She has now knocked off four consecutive ranked opponents and is 14-2 overall against ranked foes this season. At No. 2 singles, Mathews, ranked 38th, brought an end to her three-match losing streak as she took down Alda, 6-4, 6-4. The win moves her record to 12-1 at the No. 2 position and 12-3 overall on the season. McGaffigan clinched the match for the Irish, returning to the No. 5 position. After dropping the first set, the sophomore recovered to take each of the final two sets against Sorbello to claim the match, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Rafael battled #36Brynn Boren to three sets at No. 3 singles, but was unable to hold off her opponent, falling 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. At No. 4 singles, #107 Kellner returned to her winning ways after dropping her last match, defeating Szekely in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (13-11). She has won 10 of her last 11 dual matches and is now 5-0 at the No. 4 position. The final match of the day saw Sabacinski drop adecision to Nichols at No. 6 singles, 7-5, 6-1. Notre Dame returns to action on Thursday (March 24) when the team heads out to take on 20th-ranked Georgia Tech at the Bill Moore Tennis Center in Atlanta, Ga.

4. Notre Dame got another superb pitching performance from senior RHP Cole Johnson, but it was not enough to overcome three errors that allowed three critical unearned runs as Gonzaga knocked off the Irish, 4-1, at the Irish Baseball Classic at Wolff Stadium Saturday afternoon in San Antonio. Notre Dame is now 7-10 and has dropped three consecutive games. The Bulldogs have won four straight and improved to 9-7. Johnson, now 1-4 on the year, was charged with the loss. The right-handed hurler registered his fifth quality start in as many outings and lowered his season ERA to 2.57. Johnson limited Gonzaga to a pair of runs, one earned, on fourhits in 7.0 innings of work. He struck out seven and walked just one. Johnson, who was the starting pitcher in the 19-2 rout of Purdue on Feb. 19, has garnered a total of six runs of support over his last four starts. Marco Gonzales (2-2) fired a complete game, six-hitter. He allowed one earned run and retired 10 of the last 11 Irish batters. Gonzales struck out seven and issued one walk. Clayton Eslick of Gonzaga was the only player in the game with more than one hit. He went 2-for-4. The Bulldogs managed just five hits, while the Irish registered six. Freshman RHP Dan Slania allowed one hit and no earnedruns (two unearned) in 2.0 innings of work. He struck out one.

5. The 27th-ranked Notre Dame men’s golf team earned a share of seventh place after the second round of the Schenkel Invitational on Saturday at Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Ga. The squad carded a one-under par, 287, to run their two-day total to 578 (+2). Niall Platt (Santa Barbara, Calif.) continues to lead the Irish individually after the first 36 holes, holding a share of 10th place overall at three under par (141). Auburn continues to be the team to beat after the second round, leading second place Florida by six strokes with a two-round score of 554 (-22). The Gators’ Bank Vongvanij remains atop the individual leaderboard at 10-under par (134) after 36 holes. For the Irish, Platt’s second round concluded at even par (72), put together by 10 pars, four birdies and four bogeys. The freshman strung together three consecutive birdies on holes five through seven on the front side, but faltered a bit down the stretch, playing at two-over par in the remaining 11 holes.

6. Senior Samantha Maxwell penned the final chapter of her astounding Notre Dame career Saturday during the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Texas’ Jamail Swimming Center in Austin, Texas. Maxwell logged a top 40 finish in the 200 breast (2:12.97) while making her fourth NCAA appearance in as many seasons. Maxwell, the school record-holder in the 100 and 200 breast events, was the 2010 BIGEAST Conference Swimmer of the Year and earned a trio of All-American honorsthroughout her career. The promising future of sophomore Kim Holden continued to blossom during her first appearance at the NCAAs, as she went 1:55.76 in the 200 back during the day’s preliminary session.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

1. Notre Dame administrators head to the United Center late this morning for a noon NCAA transition meeting, as all four remaining team representatives gather to receive prospective details for playing in San Antonio next weekend in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships regional round. The Irish are the first team to practice today, allotted 90 minutes on the United Center floor. After that, the Irish players and head coach Mike Brey spend 45 minutes meeting with the media. Then it’s a long wait for the 8:40 p.m. CDT tip Sunday, and a very late projected arrival back on campus Monday morning.

2. Miami ruined Notre Dame’s return to the CCHA Championship at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Friday evening as the third-seeded RedHawks blitzed the Irish for four first-period goals on the way to a 6-2 win in the first semifinal game. The win sends Miami to the championship game on Saturday evening versus Western Michigan, while Notre Dame will play in the third-place game at 3:35 p.m. against Michigan. Senior Carter Camper scored two first-period goals and assisted on a third as the RedHawks scored four times in an 8:40 span to take a 4-0 lead by the 13:32 mark. Bryon Paulazzo and Alden Hirschfeld added single goals in the first period as Miami out shot the Irish, 14-2. Andy Miele, the nation’s leading scorer, scored the final two goals for Miami. Billy Maday, on the power play, and Calle Ridderwall scored for Notre Dame. T.J. Tynan assisted on both goals, giving him 51 points on the season (21 goals, 30 assists) to become the first Irish player with 50 or more points since Curtis Janicke had 50 in 1991-92. The loss drops eighth-ranked Notre Dame to 23-12-5 on the year ,while sixth-ranked Miami is now 22-9-6 on the season. “Obviously that was a great performance by Miami,” said head coach Jeff Jackson. “They put us on our heels right from the beginning and we didn’t recover. I thought our team responded a little in the second period, but when they scored the fifth goal, I thought that was pretty much it. It was obviously a disappointment. It’s a learning process for this group and hopefully we will be better tomorrow.”

3. The 27th-ranked Notre Dame men’s golf team finds itself tied for sixth after the opening round of the Schenkel Invitational, played Friday at the Forest Heights Country Club in Statesboro, Ga. The team put together a three-over par round of 291. Freshman NiallPlatt’s (Santa Barbara, Calif.) three-under par (69) paced the Irish on the day and tied him for third on the individual leaderboard. Auburn leads the teamleaderboard after the first day, putting together an impressive nine-under par, 279. Florida’s Bank Vongvanij leads individually after 18 holes carding a six-under par, 66. For the Irish, Platt enjoyed a bogey-free day that saw him post three birdies, including two on the back nine. He took advantage of the par-fives, birdying both the 540-yard 12th hole and the 564-yard 18th to end his round. The 69 marked Platt’s sixth under-par round of the season and is the third time he has broken into the 60s.

4. Senior Samantha Maxwell finished just off the money in the 100 breaststroke Friday at the Lee & Joe Jamail Swimming Center in Austin, Texas, to open the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships for Notre Dame. Maxwell finished 17th in the preliminaries in 1:00.83, fractions of a second from qualifying for the evening’s final race. Joining Maxwell to steer the Irish for a 41st-place tie among the team standings was sophomore Kimberly Holden. Holden placed 46th in the 100 fly (54.13) while taking 25th in the 100 back (53.54), an event in which she claimed the BIG EAST Conference title one month prior.

5. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team wrapped up its first full day of activity in Salt Lake CityFriday, as the No. 2 seed Fighting Irish prepare for today’s NCAA Championship opener against 15th-seeded Utah at the Huntsman Center on the scenic Utah campus in the Beehive State’s capital city. After arriving in Salt Lake City Thursdayafternoon, the Notre Dame travel party quickly took notice of the nearby snow-capped Wasatch Mountains which have provided some of the more breathtaking views the Fighting Irish players, coaches and staff have seen in quite sometime. The team would venture into the foothills of the Wasatch Range for itsfirst dinner of the trip, a stop at a Utah institution known as “Ruth’s Diner”. The restaurant has been featured on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and it certainly lived up to its reputation, with comfort food of all types, from meatloaf and pot roast, todelicious raspberry and strawberry cobbler for dessert. After practice Friday and the NCAA media sessions, the Fighting Irish had just enough time to come back to the hotel and get cleaned up before they set out on anenjoyable evening adventure, starting with a guided tour of the Zions Bank Basketball Center, the state-of-the-art training facility for the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Graciously led by the team’s director of basketball operations, Richard Smith, and with visits from general manager Kevin O’Connor and assistant coach Scott Layden (the son of former longtime Jazz head coach Frank Layden and great-great-cousin of legendary former Notre Dame football player, coach and athletic director Elmer Layden), Notre Dame had the chance to see the Jazz locker room, practice courts, sports medicine facility, player lounge and theater-style video room. From there, it was off to a team dinner at one of the group’s favorite road haunts, Buca di Beppo. However, the highlight of the day came on the final stop, as the Fighting Irish headed to the FastKart Indoor Speedway in the south side of Salt Lake City for some high-level competition (and requisite trash-talking) on the go-kart track.

6. No. 4 Washington smacked five home runs – including two by Niki Williams – to hand Notre Dame a 7-4 non-conference softball defeat Friday at Anderson Family Field during day three of the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The Huskies scored five unanswered runs for the win, which came just a few hours after the Irish handed New Mexico a 5-0 loss to open the day. Notre Dame (16-5) finishes up the four-day event this morning versus No. 5 Michigan at 9:00 a.m. (PT).

Friday, March 18, 2011

1. It was some time before basketballs were allowed on the United Center court, and Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough at about 11:20 a.m. local time already was on the court by himself, stretching and moving in advance of the NCAA second-round game for the Irish today.

Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick is sitting in the stands today with NotreDame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.

Mike Brey’s parents are here at the United Center, as is wife Tish and son Kyle.

There was no shortage of interest in tickets for these games – with three Irish players, Jack Cooley, Alex Dragicevich and Tom Kopko, all from the Chicago area.

Host of these games at the United Center is the Big Ten Conference – and commissioner Jim Delany is in attendance today. Delany shared a handshake and remarks with Mike Brey three minutes before tipoff.

Hanging with the Irish assistant coaches around the team bench before the game was longtime Chicago Bulls executive vice president for business operations andmarketing chief Steve Schanwald.

As you might expect, on the day after St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish cheerleaders are outfitted in green.

In the stands today are former Irish hoops standout David Graves and former football star Pat Terrell.

Notre Dame had the shortest trip of any team to an NCAA site (96 miles).

Scott Martin picked up his second foul at 17:16 and Eric Atkins replaced him. At the first media timeout the game was tied at six, with Tim Abromaitis notching all the Irish points on a three-pointer and three free throws after he was fouled on an attempted three.

Hansbrough’s three followed a Cooley layup, an Atkins three and a Hansbrough jumper — and Akron was forced to call time with the Irish up 16-6 and on a 10-point run at 12:53 of the first half. Akron seven-footer Zeke Marshall missed six straight shots and left the game.

The 5:57 media timeout featured a 28-20 Irish advantage, with Ty Nash headed to the free-throw line after being fouled by Marshall. The Irish are 10 for 21 from the field, compared to eight for 24 for Akron. The Zips cut the lead to four at 34-30 at 1:35 and the Irish with the ball called a 30-second stop. Akron has hit four three-point goals and Notre Dame five. The half ended at that same34-30 score. Both teams had four first-half turnovers. Akron held a 21-19 edge on the boards (six for Scott). The Zips shot 36.4 percent from the field, the Irish 39.3. Marshall was one for nine for Akron; Nash and Scott a combined two for 10 for Notre Dame. Hansbrough led all scorers at the break with 11 points and three assists. Akron’s Brett McKnight and Brett McClanahan both had seven. Atkins and Cooley combined for 10 points (four of five shooting) off the bench for the Irish. Notre Dame’s largest first-half leads were 19-8 and 21-10.

The Irish score the first five points of the second half and Akron calls a timeout at 17:14 at 39-30.

By the time the second half starts the seating at the United Center has filled in nicely, with the only large blocks empty in the upper 300 sections behind the baskets.

The Irish score the first nine points of the second half. Martin has three buckets in the first six minutes. Seven minutes into the second half the Zips have threes by six different players. At the 7:25 media break the Irish lead 55-45. And then it’s 59-47 at the final media timeout at 3:10.

The Irish finish it out at the free-throw line and advance 69-56. Notre Dame ends up 20 of 26 at the line, Akron three of six. Notre Dame shots 52.6 from thefield in the second half, to 35.5 for Akron. Reserve Quincy Digs ends up theonly double-figure scorer for Akron with 11. Hansbrough finishes with 15, Abromaitis 14 and Martin 11. Notre Dame outrebounds Akron 22-11 after the break for an overall 41-32 edge. Both teams end up with seven three-pointers. Notre Dame three times had 14-point leads n the second half – its largest of the afternoon.

Among postgame visitors to the Irish locker room was former Irish All-American and current Chicago Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.

2. A pair of fourth-inning home runs vaulted No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette out of a 1-0 hole en route to a 5-1 non-conference win over the Notre Dame softball team Thursday at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif. Notre Dame’s second straight loss at the Judi Garman Classic dropped its overall record to 15-4 and 6-6 all-time on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish lost their 1-0 lead as the Ragin’ Cajuns (22-3) relied on nine hits and two multi-run innings for the win. Ashley Brignac (10-1) tossed 7.0 innings and surrendered one earned run on six hits with seven strikeouts. Shouldering the loss for Notre Dame was Jody Valdivia (5-3) after 3.2 innings or work which resulted in five hits and three earned runs.

3. The 21st-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team fell to No. 14 Kentucky in a 6-1 decision Thursday at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky. Senior Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) downed 47th-ranked Alex Musialek in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

4. Notre Dame rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra-innings, but Iowaanswered with a run in the top of the 10th inning on a safety squeeze to hold off the Irish, 4-3, in the first game of the 2011 Irish Baseball Classic atWolff Stadium Thursday in San Antonio. Notre Dame dropped to 7-8, while the Hawkeyes improved to 6-8. With the game all square, 3-3, in the top of the 10th inning and one out, Mike McQuillan doubled down the left field line off freshman RHP Dan Slania. Junior closer RHP Will Hudgins relieved Slania, but surrendered a base hit to Zach McCool that left runners on the corners and one out. Andrew Ewing proceeded to execute the safety squeeze on a 1-0 offering from Hudgins to plate McQuillan and give the Hawkeyes a 4-3 lead. Kevin Lee retired the Irish in order in the bottom of the 10th to secure the victory. The Iowa closer improved to 2-0 on the year. He allowed two hits in 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. Lee struck out two and did not walk a batter. He did, though, blow a save opportunity and cost Hawkeyes starter Jarred Hippen a possible victory. Slania was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-1 on the season. He allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits in 1.1 innings of work. Freshman DH Trey Mancini and fifth-year senior Herman Petzold each went 2-for-4 for the Irish. Petzold drove in a run. Freshman 1B Eric Jagielo and sophomore C Joe Hudsoneach went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

5. The Notre Dame men’s soccer team fell to the Mexico Under-17 National Team, 2-1, on Thursday night in front of 2,324 fans at Alumni Stadium. Junior midfielder Michael Rose (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) netted the lone goal for the Irish. “It was a very close game,” said Irish head coach Bobby Clark. “The shots were even and the saves were fairly close. Of course we are a little bit disappointedbecause this is the first time in six years we have lost to Mexico. There isalways disappointment when you lose.” Similar to last year’s match with the Mexico Under-20 team, it didn’t take long for Notre Dame to jump on theboard, scoring in the 11th minute of play. Brendan King (Naperville, Ill./Edison Academic Center (Fla.)) set up the goal as Richard Sanchez saved a shot into open space, where Rose awaited an easy tap in. Mexico knotted thematch up ten minutes later as Daniel Casillas ripped a shot from just insidethe end line that moved past goalkeeper Will Walsh (Morristown, N.J./Delbarton) and deflected off of Irish defenseman Michael Knapp (Arlington, Texas/Jesuit), who had come back to help on the play. Mexico then claimed the lead for good as Eduardo Fierro gathered in a cross from Pablo Tostado at the six-yard box, beating Walsh to the right side of the net.

6. The 17th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team dropped its second straight match of the spring break trip, falling to No. 4 Duke, 7-0, on Thursday at the USF Varsity Tennis Courts in Tampa, Fla. The Irish, now in the midst of a three-match losing streak, hold a record of 8-7 on the year. The Irish threw out a bit of a different lineup against Duke in both singles and doubles. At No. 2 doubles, the Irish duo of Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.),teaming up for the first time on the dual season, got the lone win in doubles play for the Irish, holding off Nadine Fahoum and Hanna Mar, 8-5.

7. Notre Dame dropped a 11-2 baseball decision today against Iowa – while the Irish defeated New Mexico 5-0 in softball.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1. And a happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

2. After taking a bus to Chicago yesterday afternoon, the Irish men’s basketball team headed out this morning to practice at DePaul, then dropped by the United Center for its assigned open practice and required media session. Here are a handful of notes and quotes on the Irish visit to the Windy City:

— The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee site rep is SMU athletics director Steve Orsini, who played football at Notre Dame in the late 1970s.Other NCAA committee members with Notre Dame ties are current Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith (he both played and coached football for the Irish) andcurrent Xavier athletics director Mike Bobinski (he was a Notre Dame baseball pitcher and later became the Irish athletics ticket manager and assistant business manager). Orsini’s men’s basketball coach at SMU happens to be former Irish coach Matt Doherty.

— The Irish coaches were in their United Center locker room watching the finish of the Morehead State-Louisville game – and watching one of Morehead State’s assistant coaches, former Irish guard Joseph Price.

— The Irish at the United Center were assigned to the NBA visiting team locker room.

— The on-site CBS/Turner Sports producer is Craig Silver, who also produced Notre Dame’s Sun Bowl football win over Miami.

— Representing the BIG EAST Conference in Chicago is associate commissioner Dan Gavitt.

— The report from the Akron camp is that former Irish (and Akron) football coach Gerry Faust as so concerned about showing favoritism to either team that he decided not to come to Chicago to watch.

— Mike Brey remembers watching his son Kyle play football for Buffalo in the final game ever at Akron’s Rubber Bowl – while sitting with Faust and current Akron basketball coach Keith Dambrot.

— The Notre Dame band will play the National Anthem before tomorrow’s early session.

— The senior director of event operations at the United Center is Rob Staverman, whose father Larry was an assistant coach for the Irish with former head coach Johnny Dee.

— Handling media relations for the Purdue basketball team is Cory Walton, a South Bend native who used to work summers in the Notre Dame media relations office.

— Tournament organizers offered 20-minute shooting segments beginning at 8 a.m. Friday to the participating teams (Notre Dame had the option of coming at 8:20 a.m.) and there were no takers among the eight teams.

— Assisting with administration of the games at the United Center is Lindsay Schrader, a Big Ten Conference intern and former Irish basketball player.

3. Notre Dame’s basketball coach Mike Brey, the 2011 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, has been named one offour finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year, it was announced Wednesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Brey, along with Steve Fischer of San Diego State, Dave Rose of BYU and Thad Matta of Ohio State comprise the final ballot for the prestigious award that is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiatebasketball coach. The announcement of the winner will be made in early April. Each of the four finalists would be a first-time recipient of the award. The selection of the final four was determined by the Atlanta Tipoff’s Club National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on coaching performances this season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. HA&W is the largestindependent accounting firm in Georgia and one of the top 50 firms in the United States.

4. Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), a senior on the Notre Dame men’s tennis team, has been selected as the BIG EAST Player of the Week on the men’s side for the week of March 15, it was announced by the conference Wednesday. Stahl helped (then) No. 25 Notre Dame upset (then) No. 6 Illinois 5-2 on March 8. The victory allowed the Irish to climb from No. 25 to No. 21 in the Campbell/ITA rankings, while the Illini fell from No. 6 to No. 9. The senior defeated 65th-ranked Abe Souza 6-4, 6-1, which was his second-straight win over a ranked opponents and thehighest-rated opponent the senior has defeated since 55th-ranked Clint Bowles of Florida State on March 14, 2010. Stahl currently carries a 10-6 record at the No. 3 position this season.

5. Notre Dame senior Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy), who helped lead the Fighting Irish women’s soccer team to the third national championship in program history in 2010, has been awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Fowlkes was one of 29 female student-athletes that competed in a fall sport honored with the $7,500 scholarship. Fowlkes is the fifth Fighting Irish women’s soccer player to be awarded the postgraduate scholarship and the 49th Notre Dame student-athlete overall since 1966. She joins Jen Renola (1997), Jenny Streiffer (2000), Vanessa Pruzinsky (2004) and Brittany Bock (2009) as the other former NotreDame women’s soccer honorees. The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships, 87 for men and 87 for women, annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition. The one-time grants of $7,500 each are awarded for fall sports, winter sports and springsports. Each sports season (fall, winter and spring), there are 29 scholarships available for men and 29 scholarships available for women. The scholarships are one-time, non-renewable grants. Fowlkes was a co-captain on this year’s national championship unit and helped lead the Fighting Irish to a 21-2-2 mark as Notre Dame became the lowest seed (No. 4) ever to win the national title. Playing as both a central defender and a forward, Fowlkes ranked fourth on the team in goals (4) and points (13) and third in assists (5) this past season, while also serving as a major cog for a Fighting Irish defense that finished with a 0.51 goals-against average and 15 shutouts. Fowlkes was a two-time NationalSoccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America selection in her career (third team in 2009 and second team in 2010), in addition to twice garnering Capital One Academic All-America honors (second team in 2009 and first team in 2010). She is one of only 13 student-athletes in Notre Dame athletics history (and the third Fighting Irish women’s soccer player) to couple athletic and academic All-America status in the same season on two different occasions. A first-round draft pick (No. 5 overall) by the Philadelphia Independence in the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) College Draft, Fowlkes is completing work on her bachelor’s degree in science-business from Notre Dame’s College of Science. She currently maintains a 3.619 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) and is a three-year member of the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team (2008-10), in addition to having been a finalist forthis year’s Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award (given annually to the nation’s top senior who blends academic and athletic excellence with distinction in the community). Fowlkes has been a leader in service to others throughout her college career, participating with Habitat for Humanity and Christmas in April, as well as the LifeWorks Dream Teams. She also has made visits to various pediatric cancer units in the South Bend area, as well as taking part in soccer clinics for young children, and she has helped the Notre Dame women’s soccer program (and the athletics department) achieve 100-percent participation from all student-athletes.

6. Freshman Laura Winter limited No. 9 Oklahoma to one run as the Notre Dame softball team upended the Sooners, 2-1, Wednesday at Anderson Family Field to open the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The Irish ended the day with a five-inning, 10-0 loss to host Cal State Fullerton. The win over Oklahoma was the first for Notre Dame over a top 10 opponent since2009, as that victory was also against (then) ninth-ranked Oklahoma during the same tournament. Notre Dame won that contest by a single run, 4-3.

7. For the second consecutive year (and the second time in school history), three Notre Dame women’s basketball players have earned all-region status in the same season and now are in position to contend for places on the 2011 State Farm Coaches’ All-America Team, it was announced Wednesday afternoon by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The Fighting Irish are one of only three programs in the country (along with Baylor and Stanford) to field three all-region honorees this season, and Notre Dame is the only school in the land to have three all-region selections each of the last two years. Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) earned her second all-region citation in as many seasons, while junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington,Ky./Lexington Catholic) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) both garnered all-region honors for the first time in their respective careers. The trio is 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. All told, 12 Fighting Irish players have collected all-region laurels a total of 20 times in the program’s 34-year history.

8. The top-ranked Notre Dame 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. Ohio State University will host the championships at the French Field House and St. John Arena, March 24-27, in Columbus, Ohio. The Irish enter in pursuit of the program’s eighth national title. After posting a combined 58-1 record on the regular season, the Irish men and women captured the 2011 Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championship for the second consecutive season. In the process, each weapon team brought home gold for the Irish, marking the first time in the MFC’s 13-year history that one school has won each of the six weapons. This past weekend at the NCAA Midwest Regional, Irish women’s sabreist Eileen Hassett, women’s foilist Rachel Beck, men’s foilist Ariel DeSmet andmen’s sabreist Avery Zuck won gold medals to automatically qualify for the 2011 NCAA Championships. That quartet will be joined at the NCAA Championship bymen’s epeeists James Kaull and Brent Kelly, men’s foilist Reggie Bentley, men’s sabreist Barron Nydam, women’s epeeists Courtney Hurley and Ewa Nelip, women’s foilist Hayley Reese and women’s sabreist Lian Osier. Although without the services of last year’s men’s foil national champion Gerek Meinhardt, the Irish still bring plenty of overall experience to this year’s championship. The 12 Irish fencers traveling to Ohio State have combined for 16 NCAA Championship appearances. The 2011 contingent will be led by the two-time third-place women’s epee finisher, Hurley, and on the men’s side, Zuck will lead the charge after placing third at last year’s championship. 2011 marks the ninth time the Irish have qualified 12 fencers for NCAAs. Notre Dame also sent 12 fencers to thechampionship from 2000-03 as well as in 2006 and 2008-10. Only two other teams join Notre Dame in sending the full compliment of fencers to the NCAAs, as host Ohio State and Princeton qualified the full 12. The Irish will be seeking their eighth NCAA Championship in program history, and their first since 2005. In2008 and 2009, Notre Dame finished second to rival Ohio State, while last season the Irish placed third behind Penn State and St. John’s. Notre Dame has won the combined national championship in 1994, 2003 and 2005. The Irish claimed the men’s title in 1977, 1978 and 1986 and the women captured the crown in 1987. The format for the NCAAs sees fencers compete in a round-robin format of five-touch bouts. After the round-robin portion, the top four fencers fence semifinal 15-touch bouts, with the winners fencing to determine first and second places, and the losers being awarded a tie for third place. Absoluteties for the seeding will be broken as follows: for positions one through three, by a coin toss; for position four, by a fence-off. An institution’s place finish in the championships will be based on points earned by the individual. A team will be awarded one point for each victory by its student-athletes for the duration of the championship.

9. Making her fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships in as many seasons, senior Samantha Maxwell will lead the Notre Dame women’s swimming team into the fray at thenational meet this week. Hosted by the University of Texas at the Lee & Joe Jamail Swimming Center, the three-day meet in Austin, Texas, spans from March 17-19. Maxwell, who has earned three All-American honors in years past while swimming the 100 and 200 breast, will be joined at the NCAA Championships by sophomore Kim Holden. Maxwell is seeded 25th in the 100 breast (1:00.53) and 28th in the 200 breast (2:11.06), while holding school records in each of those events. The2010 BIG EAST Conference Swimmer of the Year is the seventh four-time NCAA qualifier in program history. Holden, the school record holder in both the 100 back and 200 back, is seeded 20th and 29th in those respective events. She will also swim the 100 fly after recording an NCAA B-cut time of 53.83 earlier this season. Since the inception of the women’s program at Notre Dame, 23 individuals representing the Irish have earned All-American honors at the NCAAs. At least one Irish swimmer has garnered All-American recognition in every season from 1996-2007. Carrie Nixon leads the pack as a 12-time honoree from 1999-2002. She posted the highest finish of any Irish swimmer to compete in the NCAAs by placing fourth in the 50 free in 2000.

10. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team got back on the winning track on Tuesday afternoon at ArlottaStadium, scoring nine goals in the second half to break open a close game and defeat Boston University by a 14-5 margin. Kailene Abt and Maggie Tamasitis paced the Irish attack with three goals and one assist in the game. Senior midfielderKaitlin Keena added two goals while Shaylyn Blaney, Jenny Granger, Ansley Stewart, Kaitlyn Brosco, Megan Sullivan and Jackie Doherty added one goal each. Five different players – Molly Swain,, Danielle Etrasco, Erica Baumgartner, Kristen Mogavero and Catie Tilton – scored for the Terriers. After struggling in a 13-8 loss to Ohio State on March 10, Notre Dame put together a strong,all-around game in defeating Boston University. The Irish offense dominated the game, peppering goalkeeper Christina Sheridan with 40 shots in the game while holding the Terrier attack to just 16 on the afternoon. The win, the first for the Irish at home this season improved 14th-ranked Notre Dame to 3-3 overall while Boston University is also now 3-3 on the season.

11. The University of Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course has been chosen as one of the top five courses in the state of Indiana, according to Golfweek Magazine. Last year, the course entered the countdown as the seventh-best Indiana-based course.

12. The Notre Dame women’s golf team concluded the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational Tuesday by carding a three-round total of 904 (+25) for a third-place finish at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Senior So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea/Bradenton Prep Academy) led the Irish with a 54-hole total of 225 (+9) and a tie for seventh place. Freshman Kristina Nhim (Cypress, Calif./Cypress) finished in a 12th-place tie as she rounded out the tournament with a 78 (+6). Nhim registered a three-round total of 227 (+11). Freshman Nicole Zhang (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) tied for 14th place and recorded an 81 (+9) in her final round of the tournament for a two-day score of 228 (+12).

13. Notre Dame sophomores Ryan Foley (Glen Ridge, N.J./Delbarton) and John Kemp (Potomac, Md./Georgetown Prep) have been named to the BIG EAST men’s lacrosse weekly honor roll for their efforts in Saturday’s 10-9 win at No. 14 Denver. Foley, an attackman, scored a career-high three goals against the Pioneers. Foley’s first goal sliced Denver’s 2-0 advantage in half, while his second score gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game (4-3) midway through the second quarter. The sophomore completed his hat trick in the third quarter to put the Irish up 7-5. Foley has five goals this season. Kemp made 13 saves, which were one off of his career-high total, to improve his record to 4-0 this season. The Denver offense entered the game averaging 13.75 goals per game, yet Kemp and the Irish defense limited them to just nine scores. The sophomore goalie also picked up a season-high three ground balls. Kemp boasts a 6.25 goals-against average and a .638 save percentage this season.

14. Led by an early point in doubles, the 21st-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team earned a 5-2exhibition victory Tuesday over the USTA Junior National Team at the EverettTennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla. Senior Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) won his fourth-straight singles match as he defeated Hunter Harrington in athree-set match (6-1, 1-6, 6-2). The four-match winning streak is Stahl’s second this season.

15. Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.), a freshman on the Notre Dame women’s tennis team, has been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on the women’s side for the week of March 7, it was announced by the conference Tuesday. The recognition for Kellner marks the first time she has been awarded the honor and is the third time an Irish player has been named Player of the Week this season, with Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) claiming the recognition twice before. The Smithtown, N.Y., native finished the week with a record of 2-0 in singles play, while continuing her climb up the Irish rotation. She competed in her first career match at No. 3 singlesagainst Indiana, registering a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Charlotte Martin in that match. Two days later she returned to her normal No. 4 position to claim her second win of the season over a ranked foe, knocking off Baylor’s 70th-ranked Karolina Filipiak, 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (11-9).

16. Three members of the 2010-11 Notre Dame hockey team were selected as winners of major postseason awards by the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Thursday night at the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. The awards show precedes Friday’s semifinal action at Joe Louis Arena. Freshman center T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) was named as the conference’s rookie of the year while head coach Jeff Jackson won the CCHA coach of the year award for the third time in his 12 seasons in the conference and second time with the Irish. Junior defenseman Sean Lorenz (Littleton, Colo.) was named the league’s top defensive defenseman. Tynan becomes the second Notre Dame player to win the CCHA’s rookie of the year award, joining defenseman Mark Eaton who won the award following the 1997-98 season. Tynan is Notre Dame’s leading scorer this season with 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points and leads all freshmen scorers in both the CCHA and on the national level. Jackson, now in his sixth season at Notre Dame, was selected as CCHA coach of the year over Michigan’s Red Berenson and Western Michigan’s Jeff Blashill. This is Jackson’s third CCHA coach of the year award as he won it for the 2006-07 season with the Irish and in1990-91 while with the Lake Superior State Lakers. Lorenz becomes the second Notre Dame defenseman to win the CCHA’s Best Defensive Defenseman Award, joining Kyle Lawson ’10, who won the award following the 2008-09 season. Lorenz was one of two upperclassmen on the Irish defense alongwith captain Joe Lavin and helped guide a young Irish defense that played asmany as three freshmen defenders in any game.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1. For the 16th consecutive season, and the 18th time in school history, Notre Dame has earned a berth in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. The Fighting Irish are the #2 seed in the Dayton Region and will play 15th-seeded Utah (the Mountain West Conference tournament champion) at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. MT) Saturday at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The game will be televised by ESPN2 as part of that network’s “whiparound coverage,” while viewers in the South Bend market, as well as those watching on the Internet at ESPN3.com, will see the game in its entirety. However, the majority of ESPN2 viewers nationwide will be shuttled between all four games in thattime slot, including the Notre Dame-Utah contest. Seventh-seeded Arizona State and No. 10 seed Temple will square off in Saturday’s other first-round Dayton Region game in Salt Lake City (4:05 p.m. ET/2:05 p.m. MT tipoff on ESPN2), with the two first-round winners advancing to a March 21 second-round contest at9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. MT), with that game to be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Notre Dame is 27-16 (.628) all-time in 17 previous NCAA Championshipappearances (all under McGraw), having won 13 of its past 15 NCAA first-round games, and advancing to the Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) eight times in the past 14 seasons. In addition, Notre Dame’s current streak of 16 consecutiveNCAA tournament berths is the sixth-longest in the nation, while its .628 winning percentage is 12th-best in tournament history. The Fighting Irish also have made two NCAA Final Four appearances and won the national championship in 2001.

Notre Dame is seeded second for the third time in its NCAA Championship history, and the second consecutive season. In 2000, the Fighting Irish were the No. 2 seed in the Mideast Region, defeating 15th-seeded San Diego, 87-61, and seventh-seeded George Washington, 95-60, at Purcell Pavilion, before being eliminated in the regional semifinals by third-seeded Texas Tech, 69-65, in Memphis. Last year, Notre Dame downed 15th-seeded Cleveland State, 86-58, and No. 10seed Vermont, 84-66, at Purcell Pavilion, before bowing out of the tournament in the regional semifinals to Oklahoma, 77-72 in overtime in Kansas City. The Fighting Irish will be playing a true road game in the NCAA Championship for the eighth time in program history, but the first since March 25, 2003, when Notre Dame upended Kansas State, 59-53 in an East Region second-round game at Manhattan, Kan. The Fighting Irish are 3-4 (.429) all-time when playing on the road in the NCAA Championship.

Utah (18-16, 7-9 MWC) is making its 17th NCAA Championship appearance, and first since 2009. After tying for fourth in the Mountain West Conference standings this season, the Utes reeled off four wins in five days at the conference tournament in Las Vegas, winning at UNLV (55-44), then defeating Air Force (70-55), top-seeded BYU (50-49) and No. 2 seed TCU (52-47 in overtime) to claim the MWC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

The Fighting Irish will be facing Utah for the third time on Saturday, and the second time in NCAA Championship play, with Notre Dame holding a 2-0 series lead on the Utes (both prior games were played at neutral sites). The teams last played on Dec. 18, 2005, at the Duel in the Desert tournament in Las Vegas, with the Fighting Irish posting a 68-55 victory to win the Gray Division tournament title. In their first-ever meeting, Notre Dame defeated Utah, 69-54, in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals at Denver’s Pepsi Center on March 24, 2001.

2. Ben Hansbrough has been named a second-team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association of America.

3. After leading his team to a bowl game win and bringing in a highly-touted recruiting class in February, head football coach Brian Kelly will work this spring tocapitalize on the program’s recent success to lay the foundation for a bright future. Be there by his side to get a first-hand glimpse into the Notre Dame football program by bidding on the Monogram Club’s 2011 Blue-Gold auction package. The high bidder will have the unique opportunity to spend the Blue-Gold Brunch at Coach Kelly’s table this April to pick his brain about recruiting, the 2011 schedule, current roster, and much more. In addition to the VIP brunch, the winner will receive two pre-game field passes for the Blue-Gold game, gain full sideline access for the duration of the contest, and enjoy a prize pack of Notre Dame apparel and memorabilia. Bidding for the package opened yesterday and will end on Friday, April 1, at 3 p.m., with proceeds from the auction benefiting the Notre Dame Monogram Club. The live auction website is and can be reached by . If you have any questions about this exclusive offer, please contact the Monogram Club office at (574) 631-5450.

4. In the Pro Football Draft Guide 2011, on the overall list of prospects, Kyle Rudolph rates 18th, Ian Williams 170th and Darrin Walls 225th. In the magazine’s mock draft, Rudolph is listed as the third pick in the second round to Buffalo – with Williams in the sixth round to Jacksonville and Walls in the seventh round to Kansas City. Among all tight ends, Rudolph stands first, with Williams 16th among defensive tackles and Walls 26th among cornerbacks.

5. The Notre Dame women’s golf team is in second place (591/+15) of the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational after 36 holes at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course. Senior So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea/Bradenton Prep Academy) is currently in fifth place andregistered a 147 (+2) through the first two rounds. Nicole Zhang (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) is in sixth place. The freshman carded an even-par 72 in the first round, followed by a 75 (+3) in the second round. Kristina Nhim (Cypress, Calif./Cypress) is the third Irish golfer to finish the opening 36 holes in the top 10. The freshman is currently tied for eighth as she carded a 77 (+5) in the initial round and bested her first-round score by five strokes with an even-par 72 in the second round. Rounding out the Irish score was senior captain Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading River) who currently has a two-round score of 153 (+9). Junior Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo./Littleton) is tied for 33rd place and registered a 75 (+2) in the first round and a 79 (+7) in the final round of the day.

6. The only two schools in the country that had both their men’s and women’s basketball teams seeded second or higher in the NCAA brackets were Notre Dame (men #2, women #2) and Duke (men #1, women #2).

7. Which player might emerge as the star of the NCAA women’sbasketball show? That’s the subject ESPN.com dealt with this morning: “Entire tournament: Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame — This is the stage for which Diggins seems to have been designed. She carries herself with both the poise and the unmistakable self-confidence of a player ready for a trip down US-31 from South Bend to Indianapolis and the Final Four. In the Big East tournament, Diggins playedlike that when it mattered most, scoring and creating big basket after big basket in a semifinal against DePaul worthy of the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, and in a championship game against Connecticut that did a better-than-passing imitation of a Final Four game. The numbers don’t always leap off the page as part of a balanced offense for the Fighting Irish, but Diggins does at least a little of everything well enough to be a factor on every part of the court — a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, 3-point range, a tremendous ability to get to the line and ballhawking skills. One more shot in an overtime loss against Oklahoma last season might have sent Notre Dame to the Elite Eight or beyond. Expect Diggins, who didn’t have her best shooting night in that game, to be willing to take that shot this time. And don’t be surprised when she makes it.”

8. Notre Dame’s men’s basketball team has 14 wins this year against teams in the NCAA bracket. Ohio State has 16. The Irish women have 10 against the NCAAwomen’s field.

9. Here’s where the CCHA semifinals and final will be televised this weekend:
— All games on FOX Sports Detroit PLUS (channels attached) and KFXF in Fairbanks
— Semifinals and Mason Cup game on Leafs TV (coverage of 3rd placegame TBD)
— Semifinals and Mason Cup game on Fox College Sports Atlantic (coverage of 3rd place game TBD)
— Miami-Notre Dame semifinal on FOX Sports Ohio in the Cincinnati and Columbus markets (TBD in Cleveland market)
— Mason Cup game on FOX Sports Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland markets)
— Mason Cup game on FOX Sports Arizona

10. The 26th-ranked Notre Dame men’s golf team lost by one shot to Yale at the Notre Dame-Yale Challenge Cup, falling 607-606 on Monday at the Reynold’s Plantation – Great Waters Course in Greensboro, Ga. The Irish started out slowly, posting an opening round score of 305, before recovering in the afternoon round to card a 302. Yale, however, was able to hold off the Irish after putting together consecutive rounds of 303. Paul McNamara III (Palos VerdesEstates, Calif.) led the team overall on the day, finishing with a two-round149 (+5). He opened the day carding the lowest round in the morning session, firing a one-over par 73. In the second round, he carried a one-under par score with him through 11 holes, but fell victim to a double and a triple bogey on his 12th and 13th holes to swing his score to four-over par (76).

Monday, March 14, 2011

1. First period goals by Riley Sheahan, Jeff Costello and Joe Lavin staked the Notre Dame hockey team to a 3-0 lead that it never surrendered on the way to a 4-2 win over Lake Superior State on Sunday evening at the Joyce Center. The win gives the Irish a two to one advantage in the best-of-three second round of the CCHA playoffs and sends them to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Friday for a showdown with the Miami RedHawks in the CCHA semifinals. Freshman Bryan Rust added Notre Dame’s fourth goal of the night to help offset two second-period goals by Fred Cassiani and Colin Campbell that helped keep the Lakers in the game. The win gives the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish a 23-11-5 record for the season and an 8-2-2 record since January 22. Notre Dame is now 6-2 all-time in game threes of CCHA playoff series. Notre Dame now gets ready to face a Miami team that it was 1-1-2 against this season at 4:35 p.m. EDT at Joe Louis Arena on Friday.

2. The Notre Dame softball team started its West Coast swing with a pair of non-conference wins Sunday at Cal Poly. Pitcher Jody Valdivia recorded a 4-1 win from the circle to start the doubleheader at Bob Janssen Field as Laura Winter capped off the day with a 2-0 shutout victory. Dani Miller and Heather Johnson each homered in the opening game and Alexa Maldonado totaled three hits in the doubleheader. After progressing to 14-2 overall, Notre Dame travels down the Pacific Coast Highway to Cal State Fullerton for the Judi Garman Classic (March 16-19).

3. Senior RHP Todd Miller threw 8.0 shutout innings, freshman LF Eric Jagielo broke open a scoreless game with a two-run home run in the ninth inning and Notre Dame blanked Kent State, 2-0, in final day baseball action Sunday from the 2011 Caravelle Resort Classic in Conway, S.C. The Irish, who took two of three at the tournament, improved to 6-7 on the year, while the Flashes dropped to 7-6. Kent State had captured each of its first two games, including a 2-0 victory over the host No. 24 Coastal Carolina on Friday night. Jagielo, who was hitless over his first nine official at bats in the tournament, crushed a 1-1 offering from Golden Flashes reliever KyleMcMillen deep over the right field wall to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead in thetop of the ninth inning. Sophomore RHP Adam Norton tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to register his first save of the season and give the Irish their second shutout in as many days. Notre Dame blanked UAB, 3-0, in its first game of the weekend. Miller improved to 2-1 on the year with the best outing of his career. The right-handed hurler scattered seven hits over his career-long 8.0 innings of work. Miller struck out one and walked one. McMillen took the loss and dropped to 0-2 on the season. Kent State LHP David Starn did not render in the decision, but was almost untouchable for the second straight outing. The southpaw limited Louisville to just three hits and no earned runs over 8.0 innings in his last start. Starn fanned seven and walked one. He even retired the last 13 Cardinals of the game. Starn was even better on Sunday against the Irish. Starn tossed 8.0 shutout innings with a career-best 10 strikeouts and carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no hitter into the eighth. He ultimately retired 28 consecutive batters over his two outings against Louisville and Notre Dame. Starn also tossed 12.0 innings of no hit baseball, but only has a loss and no decision to show for it.

4. Freshman foilist Ariel DeSmet and senior sabreur Avery Zuck each earned gold medals on day two of the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Sunday at the Matthaei Center on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. The gold medals pushed the Irish total to fourafter Eileen Hassett and Rachel Beck won gold in women’s sabre and women’s foil, respectively, on Saturday. All told the Irish finished the two days with a total of 13 medals (out of a possible 18), winning at least two medals ineach of the six weapons contested. DeSmet captured the gold medal in foil with a dominant final pool, posting a perfect 9-0 record with a +31 indicator tohold off teammate Enzo Castellani, who finished with a stronger indicator of+32 but finished 8-1 after a 5-2 loss to DeSmet in head-to-head action. Reggie Bentley closed out a sweep of the medals for the Irish in the weapon, claiming the bronze with a record of 6-3 and a +15 indicator. In sabre, Zuck claimed hisgold after earning silver in each of his last two appearances at the NCAA Midwest Regionals. The senior finished the final pool with a record of 8-1 and a +18 indicator to hold off Irish teammate Barron Nydam for the top spot. Nydam finished with a +21 indicator but a 7-2 record, which earned him the silvermedal. Freshman Kevin Hassett just missed out on the podium, finishing fourth amongst the final 10 with a 5-4 record and a +2 indicator. Alexander Coccia and Jason Choy finished sixth and seventh with records of 4-5 and 3-6, respectively, in final pool play. While the Irish were unable to claim gold in men’s epee, James Kaull and Brent Kelly did claim the silver and bronze. Kaull concluded the final pool with a record of 6-3 and a +15 indicator to finishsecond, while Kelly finished with an identical record but a +12 indicator toplace third. Jacob Osborne finished fifth overall with a record of 5-4 and a +5 indicator in final pool play, while Greg Schoolcraft concluded in 12th place after going 1-5 in qualifying pool play. Each team can qualify up to two men and two women per weapon for the NCAA Championship. The winner of each event at the Midwest Regional will receive an 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 15. 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; theat-large bids go to the two fencers with the highest Fencer Strength Factor.

5. Irish senior men’s basketball guard Scott Martin (Valparaiso, Ind.) was named to the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament, the league announced Saturday night following the conclusion of the tournament’s title game. The selection marks the fourth time in program history that an Irish player hasbeen selected to the squad. In Notre Dame’s two contests, Martin averaged 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds while averaging 38.0 minutes per game as the Irish advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for the second consecutive year and fourth time overall. He scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds in the quarterfinal win (89-51) over Cincinnati that marked the second-highest margin of victory ever in a BIG EAST tournament game and the largest margin of victory for a Notre Dame team in a BIG EAST contest. In the Irish’s semifinal overtime loss (83-77) to Louisville, Martin tallied a career-high 21 points (the first 20-plus point performance of his career), grabbed eight rebounds, dished off three assists and made two steals while playing 44 minutes of the contest. Martin joins former Irish players Chris Thomas (2002), Russell Carter (2007) and Tory Jackson (2010) as the only Notre Dame players to be selected to the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament team since joining the conference in 1995-96. Joining Martin on the 2011 BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament Team were Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut), Preston Knowles (Louisville), Peyton Siva (Louisville) and Rick Jackson (Syracuse).Connecticut’s Kemba Walker was selected as the recipient of the Dave GavittTrophy, which is presented to the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, afterleading the Huskies to the conference crown.

6. Notre Dame’s second-round matchup with Akron in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships will be televised at 1:40 p.m. EDT Friday by TBS – with Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzell providing the commentary. With Notre Dame students on spring break this week, the Irish men’s team will bus to Chicago Wednesday afternoon. Notre Dame’s open practice at the United Center Thursday is set for 1:30-2:10 p.m. CT.

7. The Notre Dame rowing team got its spring season underway Sunday, taking on Alabama and Minnesota in 10 scrimmage pieces at Melton Lake. The format for each of the 10 pieces made for a 1,500m race in length at a running start for the boats. The starting points were varied for each race and the ratings were capped for each piece. Due to the formatting of the races, boatings changed throughout the day to give the Irish a sense of who excelled in different situations. In total, the Irish claimed eight wins out of 10 and came in second on the remaining two pieces.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s hoopsters are headed to Chicago, bringing to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships their best seed in 30 years.

Head coach Mike Brey’s Irish (26-6) are coming off one of the more successful down-the-stretch runs in Notre Dame history. TheIrish have won 12 of their 14 games heading into NCAA play – with those dozen victories including seven wins over teams selected for the 2011 NCAA bracket, and one of those a road win over #1 seed Pittsburgh. Notre Dame’s third-round BIG EAST Tournament win over #25 Cincinnati by 38 points marked the second-largest victory margin in the history of the league championship tournament.

The Irish received a #2 seed, its best since a #2 seed in 1981 when Notre Dame defeated James Madison in a second-round game and then fell 51-50 to BYU in a regional semifinal in Atlanta.

With 26 wins already recorded by Notre Dame, the only Irish men’s basketball team in history to win more often was the 1908-09 team that finished 33-7 in only the fourth season of varsity basketball on campus.

Notre Dame’s men’s basketball team, seeded second in the Southwest Region of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, takes on 15th-seed Akron (23-12 and the Mid-American Conference postseason tournament champion) Friday (March 18) in a second-round game in Chicago, Ill., at the United Center (capacity 20,500), based on NCAA pairings released tonight. If Notre Dame advances, the Irish Sunday would take on the Texas A&M (#7 seed at 24-8)-Florida State (#10 seed at 21-10) winner in a third-round matchup.

The other games played in Chicago also feed into the Southwest Region: sixth-seeded Georgetown (21-10) versus the winner of USC (19-14)/Virginia Commonwealth (23-11) — and third-seeded Purdue (25-7) versus #14 St. Peter’s (20-13). The top four seeds in the Southwest (that NCAA regional will be played the following weekend in San Antonio) are #1 Kansas (32-2), #2 Notre Dame (26-6), #3 Purdue (25-7) and #4 Louisville (25-9).

The Irish previously have made six NCAA appearances in the Brey era:

— In 2010, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round South Region game 51-50 to #11 seed Old Dominion in New Orleans.

— In 2008, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated #12 George Mason 68-50 in a first-round game in Denver, before losing a second-round contest 61-41 to #4 Washington State.

— In 2007, the sixth-seeded Irish dropped a first-round Midwest Region game in Spokane to 11th-seeded Winthrop.

— In 2003, the fifth-seeded Irish defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee in an NCAA first-round game and fourth-seeded Illinois in a second-round matchup (both in Indianapolis) before falling in a West Regional semifinal to top-seeded Arizona in Anaheim, Calif.

— In 2002, the eighth-seeded Irish men defeated Charlotte in the first round in Greenville, S.C., before falling to top-seeded Duke in the second round.

— In 2001, sixth-seeded Notre Dame defeated Xavier in the first round in Kansas City, Mo., before dropping a second-round game to third-seeded Ole Miss.

Notre Dame’s men are making their seventh NCAA visit in the 11-season Mike Brey era and the 31st in school history (30-34 record). The Irish played in the NCAA Final Four 33 seasons ago in 1978 in St. Louis.

The Irish are making their 12th straight postseason appearance (NIT in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009). That’s the best streak in Notre Dame history in that category — besting the next best run of nine straight from 1973 through 1981 (one NIT, then eight straight NCAAs).

Notre Dame receives a very limited allotment of tickets for the NCAAmen’s games in Chicago, and there will be no public sale. Student sale information will be e-mailed to eligible students Sunday night. Tickets to the Chicago games may be available through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or go HERE. Full (three session) ticket packages are $243 each. The $243 price includes one ticket to all three doubleheaders – which is a total of six games. Cost is $225 plus a $15 service charge and a $3 Good of the Game fee. Single-session tickets will be sold only if seats remain available March 17.

Notre Dame has never played an NCAA game at the United Center — but the Irish are 2-1 in that facility. Notre Dame lost to DePaul 61-48 on Dec. 10,1994; defeated DePaul 82-55 on Dec. 1. 2001; and defeated Valparaiso 55-53 on Dec. 30, 2002. The Irish played in Chicago in 1953 at the old Chicago Stadium in their first year ever in the NCAA Championships – defeating Pennsylvania in a regional semifinal and falling to Indiana in the regional final. Notre Dame played an NCAA first-round game in 1963 at McGaw Hall in Evanston, Ill., losing to Bowling Green.

The Irish have played DePaul 16 times at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. — and Notre Dame also fell to Northwestern in a Postseason NIT contest there in 1983. In addition, the Irish played a variety of opponents in 85 games at the old Chicago Stadium, beginning in 1941-42 and the last time against Illinois in 1973.

The NCAA began seeding teams in its 1979 tournament – and in those previous 15 years in which the Irish have participated, here’s how they’ve done at the various levels (11-15 overall, 5-6 under Mike Brey):

1979 – 2-1 as #1 ; 1980 – 0-1 as #4; 1981 – 1-1 as #2 ; 1985 – 1-1 as #7 ; 1986 – 0-1 as #3 ; 1987 – 1-1 as #5; 1988 – 0-1 as #10; 1989 – 1-1 as #9 ; 1990 – 0-1 as #10 ; 2001 – 1-1 as #6 ; 2002 – 1-1 as #8; 2003 – 2-1 as #5 ; 2007 – 0-1 as #6 ; 2008 – 1-1 as #5; 2010 – 0-1 as a #6.

Multiple appearances have been three times each as a #5 (4-3) and a #6 (1-3), twice as a #10 (0-2).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1. There are mixed reviews on the fate of the Irish men’s basketball team as the bracket announcement approaches this evening. As of this morning, the Irish are still a #1 seed on the ESPN web site – projected in Chicago playing #16 Akron (#8 Missouri vs. #9 Gonzaga) – as well as on the Sports Illustrated site, in Chicago playing the Hampton/UALR winner (#8 George Mason vs. #9 Florida State). Meanwhile, the CBS site has San Diego State now a #1 seed, with the Irish #2 and playing in the same overall region as #1 Kansas, projected against #15 Northern Colorado (#7 Washington vs. #10 Tennessee).

2. A career-high three goals from sophomore attackman Ryan Foley helped the third-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team capture a 10-9 win over No. 14 Denver on Saturday night at Barton Lacrosse Stadium in Denver. The win improved the Irish to 4-0 this season. With the scored tied 7-7 midway through the thirdquarter, Notre Dame used three unanswered goals to claim a 10-7 lead by the end of the period. The surge began with a man-up goal from junior attackman Nicholas Beattie off a pass from Edison Parzanese. The Irish went up 9-7 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter on goal from freshman attackman Westy Hopkins off a Quinn Cully pass. Colin Igoe’s second goal of the game put Notre Dame up by three (10-7) with 1:29 left in the quarter. Sean Rogers assisted on the Igoe goal. Rogers, a junior midfielder, registered two goals and two assists in the game. Rogers and Hopkins both have a team-high six goals this season. Notre Dame sophomore goalie John Kemp made 13 saves to move his record to 4-0 this season. The Fighting Irish will return to action when they play host to Ohio State on March 23. Opening faceoff against the Buckeyes is slated for 4 p.m. (ET) at Arlotta Stadium.

3. Junior center Fred Cassiani scored his second goal of the night at 7:40 of the third period to give Lake Superior a 4-3 lead and freshman goaltender Kevin Kapalka made it stand up as the Lakers handed Notre Dame a 4-3 loss in game two of the best-of-three CCHA playoff series on Saturday night. The Lake Superior win evens the series at one game each and sets up a third and deciding game at 7:05 p.m. tonight at the Joyce Center. Cassiani’s goal closed out a Lakers’ rally that saw them bounce back from a 2-0 first-period deficit and a 3-2 Irish lead in the second period. Notre Dame was able to build the 2-0 lead on goals by T.J. Tynan and Nick Larson and Calle Ridderwall broke a 2-2 tie to give the Irish their second lead in the middle stanza. The loss drops the eighth-ranked Irish to 22-11-5 overall while Lake Superior is now 13-16-9 as the teams head into Sunday’s series deciding third game. Irish goalie Mike Johnson finished with 35 saves as his six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) since Jan. 22 came to an end. This is the 18th season that the Irish have participated in the CCHA playoffs. It will be the seventh time that Notre Dame will have to go to a third game in a playoff series and they are 5-2 in those games. The last time occurred in 2008 when the Irish downed Ferris State, two games toone, winning game three by a 2-1 score.

4. Freshman foilist Rachel Beck and senior sabreuse Eileen Hassett turned in gold medal performances at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday afternoon inside the Matthaei Center on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. Both fencers earned automatic qualification into the 2011 NCAA Championship field by virtue of finishing first overall in their respective weapons. All told, the Irish women won six medals on the day as Hayley Reese earned silver in foil, Abigail Nichols earned silver in sabre and Ewa Nelip and Courtney Hurley earned silver and bronze, respectively, in epee. The Midwest Regional concludes today when the men’s portion of the competition is contested. Fencing got underway at 9 a.m. (ET) as the Irish look to secure the maximum 12 individual spots at the 2011 NCAA Championship, which will be hosted by Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, on March 23-27.

5. Senior RHP Brian Dupra tossed 8.0 masterful shutout innings to lead Notre Dame to a 3-0 baseball victory over UAB in the first game of the 2011 Caravelle Resort Classic Saturday morning in Conway, S.C. The Irish improved to 5-6 on the year, while the Blazers dropped to 8-4 and saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end. Dupra improved to 2-1 on the year with his fourth consecutive quality start. The right-handed hurler limited UAB to just three hits, including one infield single. Dupra punched out six and walked an uncharacteristic four. He has been the starting pitcher in each of Notre Dame’s two shutouts in 2011. Ryan Woolley was charged with the loss for the Blazers. Woolley (2-2) was charged with three runs, all earned, on six hits in 7.0 innings. He fanned five and walked three. Freshman Trey Mancini and junior Alex Robinson were the only Irish players with more than one hit. The rookie designated hitter went 2-for-4, while the left fielder went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sophomore catcher Joe Hudson went 1-for-4 with a two-runsingle.

6. Senior RHP Cole Johnson tossed 7.2 solid innings, but Notre Dame was unable to mount anything against Coastal Carolina reliever Jordan Coons and the No. 24 Chanticleers held off the Irish, 4-3, Saturday afternoon from Watson Stadium. Notre Dame, which won its first game of the day, 3-0, over UAB, dropped to 5-7, while Coastal Carolina improved to 10-4. Johnson (1-3) kept the Irish in the game despite ultimately picking up the loss. The righty allowed four runs, all earned, on five hits in 7.2 innings of work. Johnson nearly registered his fourth quality start in as many starts. He struck out a season-high seven and walked a pair. Johnson settled into a nice groove and retired the final eight Chanticleers he faced. Unfortunately, the Irish were not able to muster anything off Coons. The righty blanked Notre Dame over the final four innings of the contest and picked up his first save of the year. Coons limited the Irish to just one hit and struck out six along the way. Notre Dame did manage to get the leadoff batter on base in both the seventh and eighth innings against Coons, but was unable to execute a sacrifice bunt to advance the running into scoring position on either occasion. In fact, the Irish failed to execute three sacrifice bunts on the day. Sophomore 2B Frank DeSico and freshman 1B Trey Mancini paced the Irish attack with two hits apiece. DeSico went 2-for-2 with a walk and sacrifice bunt, while Mancini went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Coastal Carolina starting pitcher Stefan del Pino was credited with the victory and improved to 3-0 on the year. The southpaw scattered six hits over 5.0 innings and allowed three runs, all earned. del Pino walked a pair and did not register a strikeout.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

1. The Irish men’s basketball charter flight left Newark at 12:20 p.m. Saturday – with Notre Dame still showing as a projected number-one seed on all the online versions of Bracketology.

2. Freshman left wing Jeff Costello scored at 4:52 of overtime to give Notre Dame a 3-2 hockey win over Lake Superior State Friday night at a sold-out Joyce Center. The win gives the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three CCHA second-round series versus the Lakers. Game two is set for 7:05 p.m. on Saturday night. Costello’s game-winner came off a rush set up by defenseman Joe Lavin who picked up a loose puck at center ice and raced into the Lake Superior zone. The Notre Dame captain left the puck for Costello who carried it down the left boards to the outside of the leftcircle. With right wing Billy Maday driving on the far post, Costello fired the puck towards the net where it beat Lakers’ goaltender Kevin Kapalka over his right shoulder for the game-winning goal and his 10th of the season. For Costello, the goal capped a career-best three-point night as he helped set up earlier goals by fellow freshmen T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee. The Lakers scored twice in the second period as Chad Nehring and Rick Schofield lit the lamp for Lake Superior State. The win improved the Irish to 22-10-5 overall and 7-1-2 in their last 10 games since Jan. 22. The Lakers fell to 12-16-9 with the loss. Costello would score the first overtime goal in an Irish postseason since Calle Ridderwall, then a freshman, scored in overtime to defeat Michigan in the 2008 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal game. Notre Dame is now unbeaten in its last 20 overtime games (4-0-16) dating back to its last overtime loss on March 21, 2008, a 2-1 loss to Miami in the CCHA semifinals. The overtime win was the first for Notre Dame since Nov. 27, 2009 when the Irish defeated Bowling Green, 2-1.

3. The Notre Dame men’s distance medley relay team earned All-American honors on Friday at the NCAA Indoor National Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Texas. The foursome of junior Johnathan Shawel (Placentia, Calif./Troy), freshman Patrick Feeney (Indianapolis, Ind./New Palestine), graduate student Jack Howard (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) and sophomore Jeremy Rae (Fort Erie, Ontario/Lakeshore Catholic) finished fourth. Shawel led the relay with a 1,200 meter split of2:58.82. Feeney then ran the 400-meter portion in 47.74, followed by 2010 All-American, Howard who ran the 800 in 1:47.79. Rae anchored the relay andfinished in 3:55.82. The squad’s 9:30.16 bested their previous time of 9:31.99 set at the Alex Wilson Invitational to qualify for the NCAAs. With the distance medley relay’s All-American recognition, Notre Dame extended its streak to 21 consecutive seasons with at least one men’s track All-American. Brigham Young finished first in 9:29.28, followed by Indiana in second place (9:29.65) and Minnesota in third place in 9:29.70. The men’s and women’s track and field teams begin the outdoor season March 24 at the Alabama Relays Multi-Event and the Arizona State Invitational and Stanford Invitational on March 25.

4. Heidi Grossman and Jenny Chiang wrapped up the season for the Notre Dame women’s diving team Friday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. Both divers finished among the top 20 at the NCAA ZoneDiving Championships. In the 1-meter event, Chiang posted a 263.40 in the prelims and finished 14th overall with 532.85 points. Grossman went 261.95 in the opening round and followed that with a 17th-place showing by posting 518.70 points overall.

5. The Notre Dame men’s diving team finished the season with a respectable showing at the NCAA Zone Championships Friday at McCorkle Aquatic Center in Columbus, Ohio. Seniors Eric Lex, Wesley Villaflor and Nathan Geary each finished among the top 20 divers off the 3-meter board. Lex (361.95) was sixth after the prelims and 10th-place went to Wesley Villaflor (341.15) in the opening round. Lex would go on to finish ninth with 698.30 points. Villaflor dropped to 18th with 628.45 points and Geary (639.05) wrapped up his day in 15th.

6. ESPN’s version of women’s basketball Bracketology has the Irish projected for Charlottesville as a #3 seed playing #14 Liberty, with #6 Iowa and #11 LSU opposite.

Friday, March 11, 2011 – Part II

Madison Square Garden was abuzz early for the Connecticut-Syracuse opener of the semifinal doubleheader – but other than a close score, cheering was hard to come by in the opening half as both squads shot a paltry 27 perfect from the field over the first 20 minutes. Then both teams heated up to make 51 percent of their shots in the second half – and the Huskies finally prevailed 76-71 in overtime behind Kemba Walker’s 33 points and 12 rebounds. Connecticut now has a chance to become the first team ever to win five straight games in five days in any conference postseason tournament.

Meanwhile, it’s now 9:40 p.m. as a moment of silence is observed in recognition of the tragic events in Japan – followed by the playing of “God Bless America.”

In the house tonight at MSG are former President Bill Clinton along with golfing great Nick Faldo (he’s right behind the Irish bench). Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., is back to see the Irish play a second straight night.

It’s Notre Dame’s fourth time to the semifinals – and a chance to win at that level for the first time. Louisville is only in its sixth BIG EAST event – having won it all in 2009 as the top seed.

Ty Nash has two layups and Scott Martin two threes and the Irish are up 12-7 at the first media timeout. Notre Dame hits six of its first eight shots. Nash has seven of the first 17 for the Irish and Rick Pitino calls a timeout. Like last night Nash has two early fouls, this time by 12:46. At 10:52 Peyton Siva’s three-point play puts the Cards up 21-20. After an Irish turnover Mike Breycalls timeout and Tim Abromaitis’ hoop on goaltending gets the Irish back on top. By the 7:46 media timeout the Irish lead 28-23 after a steal and score by Ben Hansbrough, a nifty Martin dunk and an Abromaitis jumper. At 6:12 the PA announcer says Tyler Hansbrough (instead of Ben) re-enters the game. Jack Cooley’s rebound slam puts Notre Dame up 38-27 and forces another Cardinal timeout at 3:58. Martin’s late three makes it 46-30. And the Irish finish with a 46-32 halftime edge.

Martin, who averages 9.5 points, has 13 in the first 20 minutes and Abromaitis has 12. The Irish shot 56.7 percent from the field – to 38.2 for Louisville. And even though Hansbrough is one of eight shooting (he did have five assists), he drew some late fouls and nailed five of six free throws to help advance the Notre Dame lead late in the opening half. Meanwhile, Siva leads the Cards with eight points but he also has three fouls. Cooley leads all rebounders with four off the Irish bench.

In the second half the Irish don’t get a hoop until the 15:57 mark after the Cards cut the lead to seven, and later to four at 52-48. At 13:03 the Cards’ Preston Knowles gets his fourth foul and has to sit. Then Siva gets his fourth at the 12:26 stop. Eight of Notre Dame’s first 15 second-half points come on free throws. Then Terrence Jennings is hit with his fourth foul at 9:30 – and Nash makes it seven of eight free throws just in the second half. Louisville pulls back to within seven and, after an Irish turnover, Mike Brey calls timeout.

Kyle Kuric’s three with a little more than four cuts it to 66-64 for the Irish. Then Siva’s fifth foul comes at 3:53 and he departs as the top Card scorer so far with 15. Hansbrough misses two free throws, Louisville has a chance to tie or take the lead but misses a couple of shots and Brey calls another timeout with 3:01, as it’s Irish ball. Knowles has free throws at 2:47 and ties the game. After two Abromaitis free throws Nash fouls out at 2:31. Louisville ties it again, Martin misses a long jumper and Pitino calls a timeout at 2:01 with the ball. Knowles tips in his own miss and the Cards lead 70-68 beforeMartin ties it on a drive to the rim. Knowles and Carleton Scott trade hoops – then the Cards miss and Hansbrough misses late. So the two teams go to overtime for the second time in a month and two days.

Two straight turnovers doom the Irish early in the extra session andLouisville leads by three twice. Knowles misses a long one and the Irish have the ball down 80-77 at 1:08 after calling a timeout – but Hansbrough can’t connect and Louisville finally wins 83-77 past midnight. The Irish have only five second-half field goals (not counting OT) as the Irish and Cards went to overtime for the sixth time in 10 games. Martin ends up with a career-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds.

Friday, March 11, 2011

1. The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team saw its offense go ice cold in the second half as Ohio State held the Irish to just two goals in the final 30 minutes on the way to a 13-8 win Thursday afternoon at the Loftus Center on the Notre Dame campus. Notre Dame jumped out to a 6-5 lead at the half paced by sophomore attack Betsy Mastropieri who lit the lamp a career-best four times in the opening stanza to give the Irish a slim one-goal advantage. Fellow sophomore Jenny Granger added two goals in the game while Ansley Stewart and Maggie Tamasitis scored one goal each. Stewart andTamasitis would each pick up three assists in the game. The Buckeyes rebounded to score nine of 10 goals over one stretch. The loss drops the 11th-ranked Irish to 2-3 on the season while Ohio State improves to 4-3 overall. The two-game homestand continues Tuesday when the Irish play host to the Boston University Terriers. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium, weather permitting.

2. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) announced the top three finalists for six of the major individual awards that will be presented on Thursday at the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. Freshman center T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) has been named as one of three finalists for the league’s Rookie of the Year award along with Lake Superior State goaltender Kevin Kapalka and Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill. Tynan was a unanimous selection to the CCHA all-rookie team as he led the conference and the nation’s freshmen in scoring with 19 goals and 27 assists for 46 points. Sean Lorenz (Jr., Littleton, Colo.) is a finalist for the CCHA’s Best Defensive Defenseman Award along with Michigan’s Merrill and Miami’s Will Weber. Lorenz played in all 36 games for the Irish and had career highs in goals (4), assists (9) and points (13) while being a league-best +26 for the season. Irish head coach Jeff Jackson is one of three finalists for CCHA Coach of the Year honors along with Michigan’s Red Berenson and Western Michigan’s Jeff Blashill. Now in his sixth season guiding behind the Notre Dame bench, Jackson saw the Irish go from 13-17-8 last season to 21-10-5 in 2010-11 while doubling their conference wins (nine in `09-’10 to 18 this season). With 12 freshmen incorporated into the lineup, Notre Dame scored 41 more goals than last season and finished second in the CCHA regular season after a ninth-place finish last season. During the `10-’11 campaign, Jackson recorded his 300th career win and his 200th win in CCHA league games. The CCHA Awards presented by RBC Financial Group kick off CCHA Championship Weekend on Thursday. The banquet, an Academy Awards-style event with music videos and highlights, is held at historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. The event begins with a social hour at 6:30 p.m. The Awards Program starts at 7:30 p.m. Awards tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling the CCHA at (248) 888-0600 or at the door the day of the event.

3. The Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving squad was named a ScholarAll-American Team for the fall of 2010, the College Swimming Coaches of America Association (CSCAA) announced recently. Notre Dame ranked eighth nationally with a team grade-point average of 3.25. The award is presented annually by the CSCAA to college and university swimming and diving teams who have achieved a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. The award is presented to teams achieving the standard in the fall semester and in the semester of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

4. Freshman Frank Dyer has earned an invitation to the 2011 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Dyer is just the second swimmer in program history to advance to the NCAAs, which this season will be held March 24-26 in Minneapolis, Minn. Dyer qualified to swim the 500 free, and will also swim the 100 and 200 freestyle (two events in which he achieved NCAA B-cut performances during the regular season).

5. Seniors Eric Lex and Wesley Villaflor each finished among the top 15 divers during Thursday’s 1-meter action of the NCAA Zone Championships at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. The duo and the rest of the Notre Dame diving squad continue action Friday with the 3-meter portion of the event. Lex was 13th with 294.60 points in the prelims before totaling 595.95 points to finish 12th in the finals. Villaflor (583.40) was 14th and Nathan Geary rounded out the top 20 with a 19th-place showing of 265.20.

6. By totaling 578.85 points off the 3-meter board, Jenny Chiang earned a 12th-place finish for Notre Dame Thursday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio, to start the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. Chiang posted a 275.70 in the prelims before rolling into the finals. Heidi Grossman (244.65) was 22nd overall in the preliminary round. Chiang and Grossman will continue the meet Friday with the 1-meter portion of the competition.

7. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly taped an interview this morning in midtown New York to be used in the VERSUS “Celebrate The Irish” special to be aired on St. Patrick’s Day. Last night after watching the Irish defeat Cincinnati in the BIG EAST Championships, Kelly jumped on the subway and immediately ran into a father of two current Notre Dame students.

8. For the fourth straight season, senior Samantha Maxwell will lead the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team into the NCAA Championships. Maxwell, the 2010 BIG EAST Conference Swimmer of the Year, was invited to swim the 100 and 200 breast at this year’s national meet, which will be held March 17-19 in Austin, Texas. Maxwell, who has earned All-American honors in the 100 and 200 breast, will be joined in Austin by sophomore Kim Holden. As the school record holder in the 100 and 200 back, Holden will be swimming in those events during her first NCAA appearance. She is the two-time defending BIG EAST champion in those respective races.

9. The New York Post headline this morning over the story on the Irish win over Cincinnati read, “NO. 1 WITH A BULLET: Irish rout Cincy; stake claim to NCAA top seed.” Tim Abromaitis was quoted as saying, “I think everybody in the country is watching this tournament, and I think some people will see the score and take another look at us.”

10. Thursday’s match between the Notre Dame men’s soccer team and the Mexico Under-17 national team will begin at 5 p.m. (ET) instead of the originally-scheduled time of 7 p.m. The exhibition match will take place at Notre Dame’s Alumni Stadium. Tickets for the match are on sale for $5 (adults) and $3 (youths 18 and under), with unique Notre Dame vuvuzelas to be given out to the first 1,000 fans in attendance. Tickets can be purchased at the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office (Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion) during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET weekdays), by calling the ticket office at (574) 631-7356, or by going on-line at www.und.com/tickets. Tickets also will be sold at the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on match night (until capacity is reached), although it is recommended that fans purchase tickets in advance to prevent long lines at the ticket windows prior to kickoff.

11. This morning’s version of Bracketology on ESPN.com listed Notre Dame as a #1 seed along with Pittsburgh, Kansas and Ohio State. The Irish were projected to play in Chicago versus UNC-Asheville, with #8 Missouri and #9 Washington also listed. CBS Sports projected Notre Dame as a #1 in the New Orleans region, playing in Chicago versus winner of a play-in game (then potentially versus #8 Florida State or #9 Utah State). FOX Sports also has the Irish a #1 seed (though in Anaheim), playing the first week in Chicago vs. UNC-Asheville (with #8 Tennessee and #9 UCLA also listed).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It’s been a rainy, windy day in New York City. It began with the site of Irish guard Ben Hansbrough leaving the Irish team hotel a little after eight in the morning for his daily personal workout.

It continued when you grabbed a copy of any of the New York newspapers and found them splattered with coverage of the late-game officiating controversy from Wednesday’s St. John’s-Rutgers game.

And it continued earlier in the afternoon with Connecticut’s Kemba Walker personally eliminating the BIG EAST Tournament number-one seed Pittsburgh with a step-back jumper at the buzzer to beat the Panthers in the noon offering at MSG. Not an easy day for top seeds as Big 12 headliner Kansas escaped with a one-point win over Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile the Irish come in with a 3-4 mark in previous quarterfinals – with wins over St. John’s as a #2 seed in 2002, over Syracuse in 2007 as a #4 seed and last year as a #7 seed over Pittsburgh.

Looking for two hot teams? Notre Dame comes in having won 11 of its last 12 (only one loss since Jan. 16). Cincinnati comes in having won six of seven. Both teams already have 25 wins – and this is only a quarterfinal game of this event. Of their dozen combined losses, all came at the hands of teams expected to make the NCAA bracket.

Among those in the audience tonight is Irish head football coach Brian Kelly.

Check out the New York Times web site – former Irish basketball forward Zach Hillesland is filing regularly for the Times on the BIG EAST Tournament.

Notre Dame, playing in its 16th BIG EAST postseason event, and Cincinnati, in its fifth, face off for the first time in this MSG setting.

The evening session is the Midwest portion of the MSG bracket with Notre Dame, Marquette, Louisville and Cincinnati involved.

Ben Hansbrough misses his first two long jumpers but when his three connects it’s 8-3 Irish. Then a Tim Abromaitis trey makes it 11-3 and forces Bearcat coach Mick Cronin to call a timeout at 14:33. Notre Dame hits a hiccup when Ty Nash picks up his secondfoul on a charge at 13:52, so Jack Cooley enters the lineup. Then Eric Atkins appears at 12:55. Midway through the opening half it’s 20-10 Irish. By the eight-minute mark Abromaitis has hit four threes.

At the 7:47 media timeout, Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick participated in a midcourt ceremonywith Oppenheimer Funds executives in honor of Mike Brey’s BIG EAST coach of the year award. Swarbrick was recipient of a $10,000 check for the Notre Dame scholarship fund.

At the 2:42 mark the Irish are seven of 13 from beyond the arc. It’s 40-30 at half for the Irish – and Notre Dame has eight three-point goals compared to six two-pointers.

Then Hansbrough had six points in the first four minutes of the second half – and a Scott Martin jumper forced Cincinnati to take a timeout at the 15:16 juncture with the Irish up 55-39.

At the 14:07 mark officials called security and had a fan under the Cincinnati basket ejected. The Irish were in the bonus by the 13:25 stoppage. The Bearcats had to call for another break at 11:22 after an Eric Atkins lay-in made it 66-43. By 4:31 (another Cincinnati timeout), Notre Dame had built the lead to 79-51. By the 3:57 media timeout Irish rookie Alex Dragicevich replaced Hansbrough who departed with 23 points. And it was all over at that point.

The Irish were so efficient they did not commit a turnover in the second half.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1. Maya Moore’s final BIG EAST championship was the most gratifying of her outstanding career. Moore, who has never lost in the conference tournament, scored 22 points to help No. 1Connecticut beat 10th-ranked Notre Dame 73-64 on Tuesday night in Hartford,Conn., for their fourth straight BIG EAST championship. Even though she earned her second outstanding player award of the BIG EAST tournament, Moore wouldhave cast her vote for freshman Stefanie Dolson, who led the Huskies with 24 points on Tuesday night. Dolson played all 40 minutes and matched her career high for points that she set two days earlier against Georgetown. Her development has been key in UConn’s success this season. UConn (32-1) has won 20 straight games since losing to Stanford on Dec. 30 to snap the Huskies’ record 90-game winning streak. It was the 21st time in the past 23 seasons that they were in the championship game. The Huskies have won 17 BIG EAST championships overall. While UConn has been a frequent visitor to the tournament title game, Notre Dame was making its first trip to the championship since 2001 when the Irish lost to UConn on a buzzer-beater by Sue Bird. The Irish still have yet to win a championship in five tries. Natalie Novosel scored 17 points to lead Notre Dame (26-7) while Skylar Diggins added 14. Leading 41-40 early in the second half, UConn went on an 11-0 run to break open a close game. Notre Dame didn’t go away, going on a 15-6 spurt to close to 58-55 with 5:07 left. Novosel, who had left the game at the end of UConn’s spurt, returned a few minutes later and scored the final seven points of the Irish’s burst. It was the Huskies’ 81st consecutive victory at home and 69th straight conference win. They will open up NCAA tournament play at home in Storrs for the first two rounds. The Irish fell to 0-9 all time against UConn in the BIG EAST tournament. A big bright spot for Notre Dame was the play of freshman Natalie Achonwa, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the title game. Novosel and Diggins made the conference all-tournament team, with Diggins doing so for the second consecutive season, becoming just the fourth Notre Dame player to be a two-time honoree, along with Beth Morgan (1996, 1997), Katryna Gaither (1996, 1997) and Riley (1999, 2000, 2001). Notre Dame now awaits the announcement of the 64-team field for the 2011 NCAA Championship, with the pairings set to be unveiled at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday live on ESPN. Should the Fighting Irish earn an at-large berth to the tournament, it would be their 16th consecutive NCAA bid (coinciding exactlywith their membership in the BIG EAST, which began in 1995-96) and the program’s 18th NCAA Championship selection overall (adding in prior berths in 1992 and 1994).

2. Notre Dame had a major presence at Tuesday evening’s BIG EAST Conference annual awards ceremony atMadison Square Garden as the Irish claimed three of the league’s top four awards. For the third time in five years, Irish head coach Mike Brey was named the Oppenheimer Funds BIG EAST Coach of the Year, senior guard Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) became the fourth Notre Dame player in program history to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, and graduate student Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) was named the BIG EAST Scholar Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Brey was selected for the honor by his other 15 coaching peers in the league, while the head coaches also voted on Hansbrough’s selection as the conference’s top player. The Conference’s Academic Affairs Committee made Abromaitis’ selection as the Scholar Athlete of the Year. This will mark the third time since Notre Dame became a member of the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96 that it has won both coach and player-of-the year accolades in the same season. In 1997, John MacLeod and Pat Garrity were named recipients of the awards, while Brey and Luke Harangody took home the trophies in 2008. Hansbrough becomes the fourth Notre Dame player to earn player-of-the-year honors joining Garrity (1997), two-time recipient Troy Murphy (2000 and 2001) and Harangody (2008). Abromaitis becomes the third player in BIG EAST history to win the men’s basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years. Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor was a two-time recipient in both 2003 and 2004, while Seton Hall’s Arturas Karnishovas was the honoree in both 1993 and 1994.

3. Notre Dame hockey forward Calle Ridderwall (Sr., Stockholm, Sweden) is one of 11 CCHA hockey players to be named their team’s 2010-11 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. From this group of players, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) will name its 2011 Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Thursday, March 17 at the 2011 CCHA Awards, presented by RBC Financial Group at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Mich. A three-time monogram winner for the Irish, Ridderwall served as one of the team’s alternate captains this season and was a four-year regular at left wing. In the classroom, Ridderwall has a 3.413 grade-point average with a major in Finance in the Mendoza College of Business. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, he also is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award that is presented annually to student athletes who excel both on and off the ice and has notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. On the ice, Ridderwall is sixth on the team in scoring with 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points. His 12 goals are third overall with four of the goals coming on the power play and one being a game winner. He is second on the team with 102 shots on goal and he has a +8 plus-minus rating.

4. Led by convincing victories in doubles and at third and sixth singles, the 25th-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team rolled to a convincing 5-2 victory against No. 6 IllinoisTuesday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The win was Notre Dame’s first over a top-10 team since the Irish beat Illinois on March 29, 2009. It was also the highest-rated opponent Notre Dame had defeated since March 7, 2002, when the Irish knocked off the fifth-ranked Illini, 4-3. Notre Dame jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over the Illini as the second doubles tandem of junior Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) and Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) handled Connor Roth and Stephen Hoh in an 8-2 match. Senior captain Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and freshman Greg Andrews (Richland, Mich./Gull Lake) clinched the doubles point shortly after, downing Bruno Abdelnour and Brian Alden, 8-2. The Irish entered the singles portion of the match with confidence as sophomore Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine-Crest) easily defeated Connor Roth in under an hour, 6-0, 6-1 at the No. 6 position to increase Notre Dame’s lead to 2-0. Moros’ victory moved his dual singles record to 7-2. Havens jumped out to a 4-0 lead at second singles before the seniorfell 6-4, 6-1 to Roy Kalmanovich. Senior Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) downed No. 65 Souza in a two-set match (6-4, 6-1) to move the Irish lead to 3-1. Stahl’s victory over Souza was his second-straight win over a ranked opponent and the highest rated opponent he had beaten since Florida State’s 55th-ranked Clint Bowles on March 14, 2010. Andrews dropped a hard-fought match to Hoh at fourth singles. The freshman won the first set, 7-6 (7-4), before falling in consecutive 6-4 sets. Junior Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) clinched the match for the Irish with a win over Abdelnour, 7-6 (7-0), 3-6, 6-3. The three-set match improved Fitzgerald’s singles record to 2-2. No. 64 Watt rounded out the Irish score at first singles as he defeated 62nd-ranked Hamui in a three-set match, 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-2 to complete the match. The Irish return to action March 15 when they travel to Boca Raton, Fla., to battle the U.S. Junior National Team.

5. The Notre Dame men’s soccer team will play host to the Mexico Under-17 national team on March 17 at Alumni Stadium. The exhibition match is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. (ET). This will be the sixth time in the last seven years that the Fighting Irish will face a Mexican National Team. The Irish have yet to lose a match to Mexico. Last season, Notre Dame topped the Mexico U-20 squad, 2-1, in front of 2,737 fans at Alumni Stadium. The first meeting occurred in 2005 and the Irish won that match against the Mexico Under-17 squad, 1-0. Notre Dame produced a 5-0 triumph over the U-17s in 2006. Notre Dame met the U-20s for the first time in 2007 and claimed a 1-0 victory. In 2008, the Irish and the Mexico U-20s played to a scoreless draw. Tickets for the match are on sale for $5 (adults) and $3 (youths 18 and under), with unique Notre Dame vuvuzelas to be given out to the first 1,000 fans in attendance. Tickets can be purchased at the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office (Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion) during normal businesshours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET weekdays), by calling the ticket office at (574) 631-7356, or by going on-line at www.und.com/tickets. Tickets also will be sold at the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on match night (until capacity is reached), although it is recommended that fans purchase tickets in advance to prevent long lines at the ticket windows prior to kickoff.

6. Notre Dame freshman outside hitter Andrea McHugh recently was named a Rising Star by CollegiateVolleyball Update (CVU.com). The off-season honor came three months after McHugh was named the AVCA’s Northeast Region Freshman of Year. McHugh, who was honored as the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Year earlier this season, also earned an all-region honorable mention nod from the AVCA. The dynamic McHugh led Notre Dame in 2010 with 386 kills (3.48/set), 32 aces (0.29/set) and was third with 279 digs (2.51/set). She accounted for 437.5 of Notre Dame’s1,887.5 points this season. McHugh, who was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week five times this season to set a Notre Dame record, was also a first team all-BIG EAST selection (and the only rookie on the first team).

7. Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.), a senior guard on the Notre Dame men’s basketball team, has been selected to the 2011 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District V first team. The all-district teams recognize the nation’s best men’s collegiatebasketball players. The 245 student-athletes, from 24 districts, are now eligible for the State Farm Coaches’ Division I All-America teams to be announced on Saturday, April 2, at 9:30 a.m. (EDT) at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston during the NABC Convention and NCAA Final Four. Joining Hansbrough on the NABC All-District V first team are fellow BIG EAST Conference players Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Marshon Brooks (Providence) and Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh).

8. Sports Illustrated’s web site (SI.com) has selected Mike Brey as its men’s basketball national coach of the year and put Ben Hansbrough on its All-America second team.

9. At the BIG EAST men’s basketball awards presentation Tuesday night in the bowels of Madison Square Garden, commissioner John Marinatto noted that the Empire State Building this week is lit up in BIG EAST colors, Yellow Cabs in the city feature video messages from the BIG EAST all week, and there will be a special Mass Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the BIG EAST and its teams and families. Marinatto suggested the BIG EAST would qualify 21 teams for the NCAA Championships – 11 on the men’s side, 10 on the women’s side. In presenting the scholar-athlete award to Tim Abromaitis, BIG EAST associate commissioner Dan Gavitt noted, “Next year we may have to introduce him as Dr. Abromaitis. If you’re back next year we may have to name the award after you.” Abromaitis is the third repeat winner of the award. Gavitt suggested that Mike Brey being named BIG EAST coach of the year three times in five years in a league like the BIG EAST qualified as “particularly remarkable.” Said Brey, “This is very humbling when you think of the other guys in this league.” Brey complimented Pitt coach Jamie Dixon on being picked first and finishing first: “That’s the ultimate delivery.” Added Brey, “I’m honored to be a BIG EAST guy, though maybe there’s 16 of us who should have our heads examined.” In introducing top player Ben Hansbrough, Gavitt said, “You are not only extremely talented, but we’ve all appreciated what a leader and a competitor he is.” Said Hansbrough, “As soon as I left Mississippi State, I knew exactly what I was looking for and I found it at the University of Notre Dame. This will be a memory I’ll cherish forever.”

10. Mike Brey: Things I Know, Part II

Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey has rubbed shoulders, as both a player and coach, with basketball legends Morgan Wootten and Mike Krzyzewski. Now, after 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he’s built his own resume – and his 2011 Irish team is his best yet.

By John Heisler

What do I do to relax? I’m a workout guy. I’m actually thinking about trying a sprint triathlon or two. I’ll swim, I’ll cross-train, I’ll bike. I’ll run, lift a little bit. That’s the way I stay fresh. I’ve been swimming since August and my mom is so proud of me. My mom tried to make swimmers out of me and my brother, but we snuck out of practice and went to basketball camp. I’m into swimming and biking right now.

There are no TV shows I watch right now. I was a big “Sopranos” guy. And I was a big “Boardwalk Empire” guy on HBO. I’ll watch some HBO specials. I was a history teacher, so history stuff, leadership books, military leaders, that’s the stuff that really interests me. I’m really intrigued right now with different ways of leading, different ways of motivating your group. And right now I’m tired of listening to coaches, football or basketball. I’m interested in politicians, CEOs. One of the best shows I’ve seen lately was Fareed Zakaria – about a month ago he had a special with Christie Whitman, Tony Blair and a couple of other people on leadership.

The book I read right before the season started was “Outliers” (by Malcolm Gladwell). It reaffirmed some things and it made me confident in doing what I do at a high level. I recommended it to (assistant coaches) Rod (Balanis) and Martin (Ingelsby) because they are sons of coaches. It kind of convinces you it’s your destiny and you’re really prepared.

I was there at Duke when Mike (Krzyzewski) physically wore himself out and missed a season. So I think I’ve learned to physically pace myself through a year, through a season, when to shut it down.

Right now it’s hard for me to watch a live BIG EAST game because I’ve watched so much basketball by now. The guys will say so and so are playing tonight, but you get to know systems and styles after this long in the league. The biggest thing is staying fresh for your group so you have energy to teach. I’ve learned that through longevity – to have your energy high.

I got into wearing the mock turtleneck at Delaware because it’s a bus league and it was about comfort. After the second or third year, I thought, we’re gonna play Boston University and then it’s a six-hour ride back to Newark, Delaware. I’m just gonna do this. Now it’s evolved into an identity. There are a couple of assistants in the BIG EAST doing it now. I wear ties to funerals and weddings and when I do I’ll get 20 comments.

John Gordon was my point guard at Delaware. He has a landscaping business in Rehoboth Beach (Delaware). Tony Kornheiser (longtime Washington Post sports columnist and now on PTI on ESPN) has a place in Rehoboth two blocks from me. John does Tony’s yard and last summer Tony found out he had played for me and he told him, “You’ve got to get him in a tie, he looks like some kind of prep school guy.” So sometimes it’s larger than life.

Digger (Phelps) has been a good friend and a mentor. He was a little bit distant from the program when I got here and my goal was to get him and some of our former players to feel good enough about our program that they’d want to come back and reconnect. It was my fourth year and I said to him, “How about coming to a game next week?” – and he said, “Al McGuire told me never to come back.” So I didn’t touch it. But now he’ll come to games again.

The one thing about Digger, when we talk privately and alone, is that he sat in this chair. Nobody else sat in that seat.

I listened to the broadcast of one of our games from a few weeks back and one of the things Jay Bilas says is Mike can really connect with kids because he was a high school teacher. That means a lot to me because that’s the basis of my ability, to communicate.

Be a confidence-giver. That’s a theme I talk to our staff about. I think that’s what I try to do. That comes from coaching and teaching at the high school level and having young people who aren’t sure of themselves. So you have to do that more on a daily basis with a fifteen-, sixteen-, seventeen-year old. And nothing has changed.

The lessons I learned being a classroom high school teacher for five years, I use them every day as a college basketball coach. Giving young people confidence – when you do it, it’s amazing what can be achieved.

I used to watch some video at home but not much any more. It’s the law of diminishing return. I stopped bringing video home because I think it wears you down a little bit. You’re doing so much here so you’ve got to get away.

One thing I learned from Tony Blair is that most leaders don’t take the time or have the energy for strategic thought. You can get so wrapped up in the day to day. That’s what I’ve tried to do, not getting in here at nine in the morning. I may not get in until 11. I’ve been doing my practice plans while I’m swimming — my head’s under water because nobody can talk to me. So at night I’ll read something or watch something different. You’ve got to find a way to decompress because our profession is really susceptible to burnout. You have to pace yourself through a year and through a career.

In those first few minutes after a game ends, as I’m walking to the tunnel, I’m trying to figure out what I’m gonna say and how I can frame it for the next win. It’s been good for this particular team to see my emotion. I chest-bump with (walk-on guard Tom) Kopko. I call `em men, and they see me excited about what we do together because they do it so well. I think through emotion better the longer I coach. They need to see that I’m wired. I hope they’re thinking, “He was excited about how we played together.”

Ben (Hansbrough) is a unique psyche. Guys like him don’t come around much. The only other one I’ve been around like him is Christian Laettner. That’s the ultimate compliment to Ben. The daily drive, the daily competitiveness, the daily pushing his teammates, even pushing them too far at times and ruffling feathers. It makes everyone believe, including his coach. Laettner made coaches believe, too, and this guy is unique that way. My only hope is that our young guys understand what this feels like and smells like because I want this to be a lasting legacy after he leaves.

This team, as a whole – they are energizing to be around. It’s the class I love to teach every day. I wish I could go four hours with them. It’s their personalities, their togetherness, their maturity, their intelligence. They’ve got a great vibe about them. As I’ve told them behind closed doors, I’m like a proud dad. Other coaches tell me, “I love your team, I love how they play.” I need our guys to know how proud I am of that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

1. Skylar Diggins was only 10 years old the last time Notre Dame was in the Big East championship game inwomen’s basketball. Growing up in Indiana she vividly recalled it. Now, 10 years later, she’ll get a chance to lead the Irish to their first title as No. 10 Notre Dame will face UConn for the championship tonight. She had 19 points and made several big plays down the stretch to help the Irish beat No. 9 DePaul 71-67 on Monday night in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament in Hartford, Conn. The Irish (26-6) had to survive another slugfest with their Midwestern rival to get there and earn their first win over a top 10 team since 2006. Trailing 65-64 with 1:43 left, Diggins hit a lay-in to give the Irish a one-point lead. After Sam Quigley missed a lay-in, Diggins found Natalie Achonwa for a basket to make it 68-65. Keisha Hampton got DePaul (27-6) within one with 27.6 left. Diggins hit one of two free throws and Hampton turned it over on the next possession. Brittany Mallory hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to seal the win. Hampton scored 31 points for DePaul. Connecticut beat Rutgers 75-51 in the first semifinal. It’s not often that a UConn gamefeels like a warm-up act, but as has often been the case over the last few years the Huskies pretty much had it decided by the half. DePaul and Notre Dame have built quite the rivalry over the past few seasons. Five of the previous seven meetings have been decided by five points or less for the Midwestern schools who are a short two-hour drive apart. The two teams met last Monday and the Blue Demons rallied for a 70-69 victory as Felicia Chester hit a shot with just under six seconds left. That gave them the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The semifinal game was more of the same. Each time one team would make a run, the other responded. There were 11 lead changes in the second half alone. NotreDame erased a six-point halftime deficit and took its own six-point lead, 57-51. DePaul battled back to tie the game at 57 on Hampton’s free throw with 7:25 left. The Irish lost to Connecticut twice during the regular season, including a 79-76 home defeat.

2. Mike Brey: Things I Know, Part I

Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey has rubbed shoulders, as both a player and coach, with basketball legends Morgan Wootten and Mike Krzyzewski. Now, after 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he’s built his own resume – and his 2011 Irish team is his best yet.

By John Heisler

With a father who was an athletic director and a physical education teacher and a mother whowas a former Olympian and a swim coach, the dinner table talk was athletics and sports. You kind of grew up in gyms and around pools. I was a true product of my environment.

When I was growing up I went to a lot of Maryland basketball games. Went to Baltimore Bullet games because my dad had a season-ticket package there. My dad coached junior high basketball and when I was young I was kind of their manager. Sothat was the first thrill for me to sit on the bench with my dad’s eighth-grade team when I was eight, nine, 10 years old.

When I was 13 or 14 years old, coaching and teaching was something I wanted to do. I can remember thinking about that, coaching kids at camp with (DeMatha High School) Coach (Morgan) Wootten when I was 16 years old. It was something that was natural. My dad tried to talk me out of coaching and teaching. Back then my biggest vision was to be a high school coach. A couple of times when I was an assistant with Morgan I tried to get head high school coaching jobs, but I wasn’t certified to teach anything but physical education.

If I’d been hired I might have ended up a 30-year career high school coach. Instead Istayed with Morgan another two years, got the college bug and then the Dukething came about based on what Mike (Krzyzewski) needed. It was the perfectstorm or I’d probably have been a high school coach in Montgomery County for 30 years.

Morgan’s influence on me started when I was 10 and I came to his day camp. So from the age of 10 until I was 15 I was around the DeMatha players every day and they coached me. Morgan was there teaching and coaching and talking about basketball and talking about life. So it was a dream to go to DeMatha. I traveled 20 miles every day to go to school which was kind of unheard of in the `70s – 20 miles around the beltway to go to Hyattsville from Rockville, Md. So I played for him after going to his camp and then I coached with him. It was absolutely the best training.

I remember Morgan’s greatest point was when I was leaving George Washington because GWwanted me to stay as a graduate assistant. Morgan said you should really come over with me if you want to be a college coach, because with all the players we have, everyone’s going to be in here recruiting so you’re going to meet all kinds of people. And he was right on that.

And number two, he said I want you to coach the JV team for a couple of years. You’re going to help me but you need to have your own team. You need to call the timeouts. So when I was 23 years old, for three years I had my own team. And he was really right about that one, too. You’ve got to make those decisions and sit in that seat. That really helped me when I became a head coach eight or nine years later. You had some experience being responsible for the group.

Morgan is one of the truly great educators. He was a communicator. That’s where I got the nuts and bolts. My parents were educators and I was around them every day. With Morgan and Mike, I was really around some great teachers and communicators. It was such great training.

The one phrase he (Mike Krzyzewski) used when I interviewed for the job, he said you’re going to find out in college basketball that you have to compete every single day. That’s probably the biggest thing I learned. The day-to-day intensity and preparation. You have to think about your program and how you can be better and how you can win something even in May and August. That drive was the best thing for me to be around. He had that daily drive and it was about competing every day.

(Former Notre Dame associate athletics director and current Delaware athletics director) Bernard Muir approached me about the NCAA basketball rules committee when he was here. This is my fourth year, I’ll end up being the chair of it and it’s been very interesting. I got in on the back end of the (three-point) line, so I wasn’t involved in that. Now we’ve got the (block-charge) arc coming, so this is going to be a big May meeting.

I end up being a clearinghouse for other coaches. The elbowing rule was put in last year for safety purposes. We played Syracuse on New Year’s Day and Rick Jackson had been called for one of those the game before. Jim Boeheim greets me with, “You’ve got to change that rule,” and I get that a lot and because people want to voice their opinion.

When I’m on the road in the summer, I’ll ask people what they think about the arc. Every game in November and December I asked the officials working what they thought about the arc. I was taking a mental poll. They’d give me a 10-second synopsis. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a good thing. Freedom of movement is the next big thing — let the game flow so we get away from the holding and grabbing.

My dad is a survivor of malignant melanoma. So the Coaches vs. Cancer involvement started back at Delaware. It was in its infancy, but we just decided to do it because you could relate with your family. The Delaware community really embraced it and it became a neat thing there. Then, when we came to Notre Dame, we wanted to stay with it and now it’s become the charity event. I’m amazed at how this community rallies and the money we raise here. If I’m out in public, I’ll get two questions abut the team and then I’ll get two comments about, “Hey coach, I appreciate what you do with Coaches vs. Cancer because of my mom or my dad.” It really hits home with a lot of people.

I feel like we’ve really got some momentum and we’ve really got an identity in the BIG EAST. That’s what we had to accomplish. When I got here in 2000 we had only been in the league five years and even now being in a league 15 years isn’t a long time to develop an identify. Fifteen years is an infancy in terms of developing rivalries and a league feel for your fan base. We’ve created a style of play and an identity. We do what we do — it’s a phrase we use with our team. And when we do that we’re pretty consistent. Other coaches in the league say, “They’re gonna do what they do. That’s what they do.” And I’m really proud of that. We talk abut breaking through and doing even more but you couldn’t do anything until you had an identity.

When I got here we had a 10-year void in terms of going to the NCAA Tournament – but you can’t even talk about that unless you can make some headway in the league you’re in. I felt like we had to become a consistent regular-season team in our league. You had to do that to earn the bid.

We still have a little bit of an independent mentality because that’s who we were for so long and still are in our most visible sport. But I think over the last four years our fan base has to come to identify with all this – “Wow, the BIG EAST, this is the league we play in.”

I am so honored to be the coach at Notre Dame and I am so honored to be in the BIG EAST. I’ve invested 11 years in the BIG EAST, playing in the Garden, relationships with the conference office. I love being a BIG EAST guy as much as I love being a Notre Dame guy – I’m proud of that.

I love the kind of young man who is attracted to our place. That’s why you love coaching at Notre Dame and nothing’s changed from the day they hired me. From day one my goal was to do a good enough job where I could retire here. That’s never really changed. It comes down to the kind of young people you get to work with.

Monday, March 7, 2011

1. Senior Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.), who was not named to any one of the preseason all-BIG EAST men’s basketball teams in October at the BIG EAST Conference’s annual Media Day, unanimously was selected today as a first-team honoree. In addition to Hansbrough, graduate student Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) earned third-team all-conference selection. Both were selected by a vote of the league’s 16 head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own players. The selection of the duo marks the 11th straight year that Notre Dame has placed an individual on the one of the all-conference teams and the sixth consecutive year that an Irish player has been selected for first-team honors. In fact, Notre Dame is the only school to have a player earn first-team accolades each of the last six seasons. Irish players have earned first-team accolades on 14 occasions and all-conference honors on 31 times. Joining Hansbrough on the six-member first team were Kemba Walker of Connecticut, Austin Freeman of Georgetown, Ashton Gibbs of Pittsburgh, Marshon Brooks ofProvidence and Dwight Hardy of St. John’s. Hansbrough was the only unanimousselection to the first team. The second team was comprised of Preston Knowles (Louisville), Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette), Brad Wanamaker (Pittsburgh),Rick Jackson (Syracuse) and Corey Fisher (Villanova). In addition to Abromaitis, the third team consisted of Chris Wright from Georgetown, Jeremy Hazell from Seton Hall, Kris Joseph from Syracuse and Corey Stokes from Villanova.

Hansbrough is the 10th different Irish player to earn first-team honors. Notre Dame’s other first-team honorees have included Pat Garrity (1996-97 and 1997-98), Troy Murphy (1999-2000 and 2000-01), Ryan Humphrey (2001-02), Matt Carroll (2002-03), Chris Quinn (2005-06), Colin Falls (2006-07), Russell Carter (2006-07), Kyle McAlarney (2007-08) and Luke Harangody (2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10). Abromaitis becomes the fourth Notre Dame player to earn third team all-conference honors. Notre Dame’s past third-team honorees have been Pat Garrity (1995-96), Ryan Humphrey (2000-01) and Chris Thomas (2001-02 and 2004-05). Hansbrough is currently averaging 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists for the Irish who currently are 25-5 on the season. The 25 wins are the most in the modern era for a Notre Dame team during the regular season. In leading his team to a 14-4 record in regular-season (matching the best in program history), Hansbrough averaged 20.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 18 BIG EAST regular-season contests. Hansbrough has scored in double figures in all but two games this season, topped the 30-point mark on two occasions and netted 20-plus points on 14 occasions. He enters the BIG EAST tournament having scored 20 or more points in four consecutive outings.

Abromaitis stands second behind Hansbrough in scoring with a 15.2 scoring average and is averaging a career-best 6.2 rebounds. In BIG EAST play, he netted 14.7 points and grabbed 5.4 rebounds. Abromaitis has scored in double figures in all but four contests and netted 20-plus points on 11 occasions. In his 30-point effort on Feb. 28 against Villanova, he tied a Purcell Pavilion record with nine three-pointers. By virtue of having the second-best regular record, Notre Dame earns the No. 2 seed in the upcoming 2011 BIG EAST Men’sBasketball Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters and receives a double bye. The tournament, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City,will run from March 8-12.

2. In the end, No. 8 Notre Dame didn’t need Ben Hansbrough, and Connecticut needed more than Kemba Walker. Hansbrough scored 21 points despite fouling out with over eight minutes left, and Notre Dame held off Walker and the 16th-ranked Huskies 70-67 on Saturday in a men’s basketball game in Storrs, Conn.. Walker scored 34 points but missed a three-point attempt with eight seconds left and UConn trailing 69-67. Donnell Beverly also fumbled away a pass just before time ran out. Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash each had 13 points for the Fighting Irish (25-5, 14-4), which finished a game behind Big East champion Pittsburgh. The Panthers beat Villanova 60-50 Saturday to win the regular-season title. The Irish closed the regular season with four straight wins and have won 11 of 12 overall. UConn (22-9, 9-9), which has lost four of five, will have to play Tuesday in the opening round of the conference tournament. Notre Dame equaled the most conference wins in school history, matching the 2007-08 team. It already had secured a double bye for next week’s tournament. Hansbrough hit his first seven shots before missing a jumper six minutes into the second half. But two minutes later, with Notre Dame up 54-46, he picked up his fourth foul guarding Walker. He came back in with 8:34 left and fouled out 10 seconds later with his team up 60-52, pushing Shabazz Napier with his shoulder while trying to get free on offense. That sent the crowd into a frenzy and UConn scored the next 13, part of a 15-0 run. A steal and layup by Napier gave UConn a 61-60 lead with 5:41 left. The Huskies led 65-60 beforeNotre Dame responded. Tim Abromaitis put the Irish back in front 67-65 and Notre Dame held off UConn the rest of the way. Abromaitis had 11 points for the Irish, who had lost seven straight at Connecticut, where Abromaitis’ fatherstarred. Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun ended the season still looking for his 300th conference win. He is 299-173 in conference play.

3. Laura Winter took Fordham by the horns andwrangled her way to a second straight win from the circle as Notre Dame defeated the Rams, 6-0. It was the third consecutive win for the Irish softball team to wrap up the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee, Fla., and Sunday’s effort improved Notre Dame’s overall record to 12-2. The Irish have one week off before heading to California for a Spring Break extravaganza beginning March 13 with a doubleheader at Cal Poly. Scoring early and often was Notre Dame, as three runs in the opener provided a comfortable cushion for the duration of the contest. Katie Fleury singled to third and Heather Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice to pitcher Chelsea Plimpton (4-7), who threw to second too late to catch a speeding Fleury. Dani Miller connected on an RBI-single and Amy Buntin added an RBI with a sacrifice fly. Alexia Clay rounded out the effort with an RBI-single up the gut. Miller bombed a solo home run in the third to put the Irish ahead by four. A season-long drought at the dish ended in grand fashion for Kristina Wright in the fourth inning. Wright lined a double to left-center to plate Clay and Jackie Bowe, both of whom had singled with one out. Sitting on a 6-0 lead, Winter (5-0) made her exit from the circle after blanking the Rams for 4.0 innings. Winter struck out three and permitted four hits without issuing a walk, giving way for Jody Valdivia to toss 2.0 innings of one-hit ball. Brittany O’Donnell put the finishing touches on the shutout with one strikeout in the seventh. Miller finished 3-for-3 with two RBI and scored twice. Clay totaled two hits. Nicole Callahan recorded two hits for the Rams (8-10).

4. The fourth-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team opened its home slate with an 11-7 win over No. 16 Drexel Sunday afternoon in front of 1,626 fans inside the Loftus Sports Center. It was a men’s lacrosse record crowd for the Loftus Center. Notre Dame (3-0) trailed 6-5 after three quarters, yet the Irish outscored the Dragons 6-1 in the final quarter to secure the victory. David Earl (Sr./M), Westy Hopkins (Fr./A) and Sean Rogers (Jr./A) all netted two goals for the Irish. Earl opened the fourth-quarter scoring just over a minute into the stanza. Rogers netted consecutive goals in a two-minute span to give Notre Dame a two-goal edge (8-6). Junior midfielder Max Pfeifer assisted on both of Rogers’ goals. Senior attackman Colin Igoe made it 9-6 with 7:58 remaining on an assist from Devon Dobson. Drexel (1-3) got back to within two (9-7) on a Robert Church goal with 4:31 left on the clock. A man-up goal from senior attackman Edison Parzanese, off a pass from Nicholas Beattie, pushed the Notre Dame lead back to three (10-7) with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. Junior midfielder Eric Keppeler tallied the game’s final goal with 34 seconds left on the clock. Pfeifer picked up his third assist of the day on the play. Notre Dame outshot Drexel 38-27. Irish sophomore goalie John Kemp made nine saves, while Drexel’s Mark Manos had 15 stops and allowed 10 goals. John Ciavarelli surrendered one goal for Drexel. The Fighting Irish won 13 of 22 faceoff attempts. Notre Dame freshman Liam O’Connor was 10-17 and senior Jake Marmul was 3-5. The Irish return to action on Saturday at Denver. Opening faceoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. (MT).

5. Notre Dame senior women’s lacrosse players Shaylyn Blaney (Stony Brook, N.Y.) and Jackie Doherty (Ellicott City, Md.) are among a group of 48 women’s lacrosse players to be named to the Tewaaraton Trophy “Watch List” for the 2011 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 2, 2011 at the historic Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. For Blaney, this is the third time that she has been named to the Watch List (2009 and 2010) while this is the first time for Doherty in her Notre Dame career.

6. Notre Dame’s Alex Wilson Invitational saw four Loftus Center records fall during the two-day track and field event. Unattached pole vaulter MarkHollis accomplished that on Friday, followed Saturday by 2006 Notre Dame graduate Molly Huddle (Elmira, N.Y.) in the 3,000 meters, Minnesota’s HarunAbda in the Alex Wilson 800 and 2009 graduate Mary Saxer (Lancaster, N.Y.) in the pole vault. Huddle returned to the Meyo Track to compete in the women’s3,000-meter run. The 2006 graduate led the pack through the entire race andfinished with in 8:57.30 for a Loftus record. Huddle improved upon Indiana University’s Collette Liss’ 8:58.47 record, which was set in 2000. Additionally, Saxer pole-vaulted her way to the field-house record as she cleared 4.26m in the pole vault. The previous record was held by Brianna Neumann (2010) of Purdue, who vaulted 4.21m. The Irish men’s distance medley relay travels to College Station, Texas, for the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships, held Friday and Saturday.

7. Notre Dame split its final two baseball games from the 2011 Coca-Cola Classic on the campus of Winthrop University Saturday in Rock Hill, S.C. Sophomore OF Charlie Markson’s two-out RBI single in the10th inning helped the Irish rally past Manhattan, 5-4, in the day’s first game. Notre Dame was not able to earn the sweep and dropped the nightcap to the host Eagles, 7-2. The Irish are now 4-6 on the year. With Manhattan and Notre Dame deadlocked, 4-4, freshman DH Trey Mancini stroked a one-out double to right centerfield in the 10th inning. After senior SS Mick Doyle struck out, Markson lined a 2-2 pitch from Scott McClennan back up the middle to give the Irish a 5-4 lead. Junior RHP Will Hudgins retired the Jaspers 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning to pick up the victory. Hudgins improved to 1-0 on the season. He allowed one earned run on one hit in 2.1 innings of work. Hudgins struck out two and walked one. McClennan was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-1 on the year. He allowed one earned run on two hits in 1.0 inning. Mancini recorded his second career game of at least three hits. He went 3-for-5 with a double, RBI and run scored. Jagielo and fifth-year senior Herman Petzold each had multi-hit games. Jagielo went 2-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI, while Petzold went 2-for-5 with a run scored.

In the nightcap, Matteo D’Angelo (1-2) handcuffed Notre Dame over 7.0 innings of work en route to the victory. He limited the Irish to one earned run on five hits. D’Angelo struck out three and did not issue a free pass. Jagielo provided the only Notre Dame run against the Eagles’ starter. The rookie smacked his first career home run in the top of the seventh inning to bring the Irish within three runs, 4-1. He led off the frame with a towering drive over the right centerfield wall. Senior Matt Scioscia followed with a pinch-hit single, but D’Angelo got a 5-4-3 double play ground out from Mancini. Doylefollowed with a double, but Markson flew out to end the inning. Freshman LHPAnthony McIver was charged with the loss in his first career start and dropped to 0-1. He yielded a pair of earned runs (four overall) on seven hits in 5.0 innings. Fitzgerald allowed two earned runs on three hits in 1.2 innings and fellow freshman Dan Slania allowed his first run of the year. He was taggedwith an earned run on two hits in 1.1 innings. Doyle was the only Irish player with more than one hit. He went 2-for-4 with doubles in each of his last two at-bats.

Notre Dame returns to action next weekend at the Caravelle Resort Classic hosted by Coastal Carolina. The Irish will open the weekend with a doubleheader (Notre Dame’s fourth straight twin bill) at 11 a.m. Saturday against UAB and Coastal Carolina. The Irish will close the weekend with a matchup against Kent State at 11 a.m. Sunday.

8. The top-ranked Notre Dame men’s and women’s fencing teams made history during team competition at the Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships Sunday at the Joyce Center, becoming the first team to win each of the six weapons being contested. For the first time in the MFC’s 13-yearexistence, the Irish outlasted the other 19 teams in each of the six weaponbrackets to claim every gold medal, also giving the Irish the outright title on the men’s and women’s side in back-to-back seasons.

In men’s epee action, the Irish squad entered the bracket seeded second and advanced to the championship bout with wins over Xavier (5-1), Cleveland State (5-0) and Northwestern (5-1). Notre Dame then ran into top-seeded Ohio State in the title bout, posting a clean sweep for a 5-0 decision over the Buckeyes. The Irish also battled Ohio State in each of the other two men’s draws, with the top-seeded Irish foil squad knocking off the Buckeyes 5-2, and the top-ranked sabre squad claiming a 5-4 decision. Foil earned their way into the title fight with decisive wins over Lawrence (5-0), Wayne State (5-1) and Detroit (5-0). The sabre team claimed its spot in the championships after defeating Minnesota (5-1), Lawrence (5-1) and Northwestern (5-1). In the title bout, the Irish fell behind 4-0 to Ohio State before recovering to reel offfive consecutive bout victories to swipe victory from the clutches of defeat.

Women’s action also saw Notre Dame and Ohio State tussle in two of three weapons with the Irish coming out on top in epee (5-2) and sabre (5-3). Theepee team reached the final bout with victories over Detroit (5-0), Oberlin(5-2) and Chicago (5-1) while the sabre unit racked up decisions over Lawrence (5-0), Wayne State (5-1) and Chicago (5-3). The Irish foil team, entering as the draw’s second seeded unit, matched up against Northwestern in the titlebout after advancing past Chicago (5-1), Michigan State (5-2) and Ohio State(5-3) in earlier rounds. The Wildcats held an early 2-1 lead in the championship bout before Notre Dame rebounded to take down each of the nextfour bouts to earn a 5-2 decision.

Both the men’s and women’s teams ended the tournament with the maximum 675 points to help claim the overall team title with 1,350 points. Ohio State concluded the tournament in second with 1,250 points and Northwestern rounded out the top three with 1,190 points. Off to a great start in postseason play following an unbeaten regular season, the Irish continue their quest for a national championship on Saturday as they take part in the NCAA Midwest Regional. The regional will be hosted by Wayne State University in Detroit,Mich.

9. Notre Dame seniors Zach Brenneman (M), David Earl (M) and Kevin Ridgway (D) have been named to the 58-man watch list for the 2011 Tewaaraton Trophy. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate lacrosse player. Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y./East Hampton) was tabbed as the 2011 BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in addition to garnering preseason All-America honors from Inside Lacrosse. He was selected fifth overall by the Long Island Lizards in January’s Major League Lacrosse (MLL) draft. Last season, he copped honorable mention All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) and was the lone Irish player selected to the all-BIG EAST first team. Brenneman, who had team-high totals in goals (29) and points (42) last season, also was named to the 2010 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. Earl (Simsbury, Conn./Westminster School) was named a preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse and he was a unanimous selection to the all-BIG EAST preseasonteam. The Hamilton Nationals selected Earl in the third round of the 2011 MLL draft. In 2010, Earl received honorable mention All-America honors from theUSILA and was a second-team all-BIG EAST pick. He tallied 22 goals, six assists and 49 ground balls during his junior campaign. Ridgway (Kensington, Md./Georgetown Prep) has received preseason accolades including All-America and all-BIG EAST honors. Ridgway joined Earl as a third-round pick of the Hamilton Nationals. Last season, Ridgway helped anchor an Irish defense that ranked second nationally by posting a 7.53 goals-against average. Ridgway copped honorable mention All-America accolades from the USILA and he also was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. Additionally, he was tabbed as asecond-team all-BIG EAST performer. The Tewaaraton Award was formally established in August of 2000 by The University Club of Washington, D.C., and is the pre-eminent lacrosse award, which is awarded annually to the NCAA male and female lacrosse players of the year. Tradition dictates that each year the Tewaaraton Award celebrates one of the six tribal nations of the Iroquois Confederacy: the Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and the Tuscarora. The 11th annual Tewaaraton Award event is set to recognize the Year of the Tuscarora. The 11th annual Tewaaraton Award will be presented June 2, 2011 at the historical Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. Event details andticket information can be found at www.TewaaratonAward.org. This is the second straight season that Notre Dame has placed a program-record three student-athletes on the Tewaaraton Trophy watch list. Sam Barnes, Grant Krebs and Scott Rodgers were on the 2010 list.

10. This St. Patrick’s Day, VERSUS will “Celebrate the Irish” by televising three of the most legendary Notre Dame football games to ever air on NBC Sports: the 1992 Penn State game, since dubbed “The Snow Bowl”; the “Bush Push” game vs. USC in 2005; and the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup against Florida State in 1993. The games, chosen by a “Green-Ribbon” panel of experts, will be shown during the network’s six hours of non-stop coverage beginning Thursday, March 17, at 5 p.m. ET. Throughout the three-game celebration, hosted by Liam McHugh, the network will conduct in-depth interviews with current Head Coach Brian Kelly as well as Notre Dame legends, such as ex-NFL superstar Jerome Bettis. Beginning today, fans can visit NBCSports.com to watch clips and vote for the 10 “Greatest Notre Dame on NBC Moments.” The results will be unveiled during VERSUS’ six hours of “Celebrate the Irish” coverage on St. Patrick’s Day. Additionally, VERSUS will air the 82nd Annual Blue-Gold spring football game on April 16 at 2 p.m. ET, marking the first time that Notre Dame’s traditional spring scrimmage game will be televised nationally. This year’s game possesses extra interest and excitement as Notre Dame returns 17 starters that ended 2010 on a four-game winning streak, including All-America candidates wide receiver Michael Floyd, safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Manti Te’o.

11. It took until 10:50 p.m. Sunday night to find out who their opponent would be for the second round of the CCHA playoffs, but now the Fighting Irish know that they will be playing the Lake Superior State Lakers in the best-of-three second-round hockey series at the Joyce Center. The series begins Friday with a 7:35 p.m. game. Game two on Saturday is set for 7:05 p.m. andSunday’s game, if necessary, will begin at 7:05 p.m. The Irish will face the Lakers after Bowling Green, the 11th-seeded team upset 6th-seed Northern Michigan, 2-1, in double overtime on Sunday night in game three of their series in Marquette, Mich. The Falcons will travel to Michigan next weekend for the second round while the Irish will host the Lakers, who swept Ohio State in two games. Lake Superior finished the season in eighth place in the CCHA with a10-13-5-3 record, good for 38 points in the standings. The Lakers were 12-15-9 on the regular season. They downed Ohio State, 4-0 and 3-2, in their first-round series. Notre Dame and Lake Superior met twice this season in the opening week of CCHA play on Oct. 14-15 with the Irish taking a pair of 4-2wins versus the Lakers. Notre Dame goes into postseason play with a 21-10-5overall record and was 18-7-3-2 in the CCHA, good for 59 points and finished second to Michigan as the Wolverines had 61 points. The Irish are currentlyranked ninth in the nation in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll and 10th in the USCHO.com poll. The remainder of the second round looks like this: No. 1 seed Michigan plays host to No. 11 Bowling Green. The Falcons defeated No. 6 Northern Michigan, two games to one, winning game three on Sunday night in double overtime, 2-1. No. 3 Miami plays host to No. 7 Alaska and No. 4 Western Michigan will play host to No. 5 Ferris State next weekend in Kalamazoo, Mich. Tickets are available for the second round series at the Joyce Center between Notre Dame and Lake Superior State. For ticket information contact the Notre Dame ticket office at 574-631-7356 or purchase tickets online at und.com.

12. When Devereaux Peters is on the court, Notre Dame is a very tough team to beat. Peters had 19 points, nine rebounds, and tied her career highwith six blocks to help the No. 7 Fighting Irish top Louisville 63-53 on Sunday night in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament in Hartford, Conn. The Irish (25-6) will play DePaul on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPNU) in the semifinals. It will be a rematch of last Monday night’s game in which the Blue Demons scored with about 6 seconds left to edge the Irish by one point. That win earned DePaul the No. 2 seed in the tournament. With top-seeded UConn and fourth seed Rutgers advancing it will be only the third time in the past decade that the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals.

Leading 26-24 with 2 minutes left in the first half, Peters keyed a 22-5 spurt over the next 8 minutes to help the Irish take control. Louisville could only get within six the rest of the game. Peters was all over the court for the Irish. She scored 13 points during the game-changing run, including eight straight at one point. With Notre Dame leading 40-29, she had a block on one end of the floor and then a three-point play on the other side. Skylar Diggins followed with a 3-pointer and Peters another layup to give the Irish a 19-point advantage. Louisville hung around for the first 20 minutes despite shooting 38 percent and committing 13 turnovers. The Cardinals finished the game at thesame shooting clip, but made just two of their 18 3-pointers and were outshot 25-7 at the free throw line.

Notre Dame advances to the BIG EAST Championship semifinals for the ninth time in its 16 appearances at the tournament since joining the conference in 1995-96. Notre Dame earned its 25th victory of the season, the second consecutive year and third time in four years the Fighting Irish have posted a 25-win season, as well as the eighth time in school history.

13. The 24th-ranked Notre Dame men’s tennis team defeated No. 60 Northwestern, 6-1 Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion in Notre Dame, Ind. Freshman Greg Andrews (Gull Lake, Mich./Pine-Richland) clinched the match with a win at No. 4 singles. The Wildcats began the match with an early 1-0 leadover the Irish, winning at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions. At first doubles, junior Niall Fitzgerald (Wicklow, Ireland/Blackrock College) and sophomore Spencer Talmadge (Hillsborough, Calif./Junipero Serra) were downed by Joshua Graves and Spencer Wolf in an 8-4 decision. Senior captain Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn./Father Ryan) and Andrews teamed up at third doubles. The pair earned an early 4-1 lead over Raleigh Smith and Chris Jackman and continuedtheir strong play to down the Wildcat tandem, 8-4. With the doubles matchessplit, the point came down to second doubles. Senior Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy) and junior Casey Watt(Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) battled Andrew McCarthy and Tobias Reitz, but the pair was unable to grab a win, dropping a 9-7 decision.

Moving into the singles segment, No. 124 Havens handled Northwestern’s Wolf at No. 2. The senior notched 6-2 wins in straight sets, moving his 2011 dual record to 5-7. Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) helped the Irish grab a 2-1 lead as he defeated McCarthy in consecutive 6-4 sets. The seniorconcluded the weekend with a perfect 2-0 record. In addition to his victoryover McCarthy, he downed 80th-ranked Alexis Klegou during Friday’s match versus No. 18 Texas A&M. Blas Moros (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest) tacked onto the Irish lead as the sophomore defeated Raleigh Smith in a two-set match (6-2, 7-5) at fifth singles. Moros improved his 2011 dual season record to 6-2. At No. 4, Andrews clinched the match for the Irish. The freshman continued his solid contribution to the team as he downed Reitz in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2. TheIrish kept battling as Watt won a first-set tiebreak, 7-6 (7-2) and claimed the second set, 6-4 to move the score to 5-1. Senior David Anderson (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) concluded the match in a three-set match. Anderson dropped the first set, 7-6 (7-5), before winning the second and third sets, 7-6 (7-6), 1-0 (10-8). The Irish challenge No. 4 Illinois Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ET) at the Eck Tennis Pavilion in Notre Dame, Ind.

14. The 14th-ranked Notre Dame women’s tennis team dropped a tough match Sunday at the Eck Tennis Pavilion, falling to seventh-ranked Baylor, 4-3. The loss moves the Irish record to 8-5 on the season, and snaps the team’s five-match winning streak. In doubles, Kristen Rafael (Grand Prairie, Texas) and Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) fell to Diana Nakic and Sona Novakova at No. 2 doubles, 8-4, to force the Irish into a must-win situation at the remaining two courts. The 26th-ranked duo of Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) responded, continuing their recent hot streak in defeating Nina Secerbegovic and Jelena Stanivuk, 8-6, at the No. 1 position. The junior pairing has won seven straight doubles matches for theIrish. The final match at No. 3 doubles saw the freshman pairing of JenniferKellner (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Julie Sabacinski (Plantation, Fla.) surrender an early 5-1 advantage against Karolina Filipiak and Taylor Ormond to trail 5-6 before jostling their way into a tiebreak to determine the doubles point. The Irish, however, could not emerge victorious, dropping a hard-fought 9-8 (8-6) decision.

The Bears then quickly jumped on the Irish at the outset of singles competition, claiming the first three points and clinching the match. For the first time on the dual year, 32nd-ranked Mathews lost a decision, succumbing to 51st-ranked Secerbegovic at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-2. The junior had put together an 11-match unbeaten streak to begin the dual season. McGaffigan then fell to #94 Stanivuk at No. 5 singles (6-1, 6-2) to move the contest to match point, followed by #95 Rafael falling to #36 Nakic at No. 3 singles (6-3, 6-4) to clinch the match for the visitors. The Irish did not quit, however, battling back to capture a pair of three-set victories at No. 1 and 4 singles, respectively. Frilling, ranked third, recovered after dropping the first set 2-6 to #11 Novakova to claim the second and third sets, 6-3, 6-3 and get the Irish on the scoreboard. Kellner, ranked 112th, also rallied after dropping the first set (4-6) against #70 Filipiak to claim the second set (6-3) and eventually claim the point with a third set superset victory, 1-0 (11-9). The remaining match, Sabacinski versus Ormond at No. 6 singles, saw Sabacinski claim the victory by default after dropping the opening set to Ormond, 6-3,before the match was conceded. The Irish next return to action March 15 in Tampa, Fla., when they open up a three-match slate against the likes of USF, Duke and Tennessee. The opening match against USF is slated to get underway at 11:00 a.m. (ET)

15. Notre Dame’s #4 ranking in this week’s men’s basketball Associated Press poll is the highest Irish standing since December 1980.

16. The Irish men’s basketball team shows up as a potential #1 seed in the NCAA men’s brackets on several projections. USA Today lists Notre Dame in this morning’s edition as the top seed in the West Region in Anaheim. The FOXSports.com version of Bracketology has Notre Dame playing in Chicago as a #1 seed against #16 UNC-Asheville – with the other projected game involving #8 UCLA and #9 Tennessee. The Sports Illustrated site also has the Irish in Chicago as a #1 playing #16 Bethune Cookman (MEAC) or McNeese State (Southland) – with the projected other game involving #8 Missouri and #9 George Mason. The ESPN.com version has Notre Dame in Chicago as a #2 seed facing #15 UW-Milwaukee – with #7 UCLA and #10 Saint Mary’s squaring off in the other game.

17. Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com predicts Mike Brey will be the national coach of the year – and he makes Ben Hansbrough a second-team All-American, both based on his personal projections for postseason honors.

18. Notre Dame freshmen forwards Anders Lee (Edina, Minn.) and T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) are unanimous selections to the 2011 CCHA all-rookie team in voting done by the conference’s coaches. The team will be honored in Detroit March 17 at the CCHA Awards Show at the Fox Theatre. Fellowrookie and freshman defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.) was an honorable mention selection. Lee and Tynan become the 12th and 13th Notre Dame players to take CCHA all-rookie honors as they join: Mike Johnson (2009-10), 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 20-year old Lee led all freshmen in goal scoring and finished second overall in the CCHA with 21 goals. A unanimous all-rookie selection, he was named the CCHArookie of the month on three different occasions this season and was a three-time CCHA rookie of the week. Lee finished the regular season with 21 goals and 19 assists in 36 games and led Notre Dame and the CCHA with six game-winning goals. He tied for the team lead in power-play markers with six and had 14 games with two or more points. For the year, Lee was second in the CCHA in points by a freshman and second in the nation in thatcategory. He is the 12th freshman in Irish hockey history to score 40 or more points in his rookie season. Tynan joins his freshman teammate and linemate, Anders Lee, as a unanimous choice on the 2011 CCHA all-rookie team. The 19-year old center led all freshmen in the conference, and the entire nation, with 19 goals and 46 points, including 14 multiple-point games. The CCHA rookie of the month for November, Tynan was named CCHA rookie of the week four times during the 2010-11 campaign. He finished the season ranked third in the CCHA in scoring with his 19-27-46 line. The Irish were 15-4-2 in games when his name found the scoresheet in CCHA play this season. His 46 points tie him for the fourth highest total for aNotre Dame freshman. He finished the season with a +22 rating, the third-best mark on the team. Johns took honorable mention on the defensive unit, seeing action in all 36 games, scoring a goal with nine assists for 10 points. At 6-4, 221 pounds, the rugged defenseman brought a physical presence to the Notre Dame defense and made life tough for opposing forwards in the corners and around the net with his hard-hitting style. A second round draft choice of the Chicago Black Hawks in the 2011 was a member of an Irish defense that played three freshmen blue liners every night during the season.

Friday, March 4, 2011

1. Following its tie for second place in this year’s BIG EAST Conference race, the No. 7/8 Notre Dame women’s basketball team was recognized for itsefforts with numerous individual honors on Thursday, as the league office announced this year’s all-conference and all-freshman teams, as well as several specialty awards.

Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) was one of just four unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST selections this season, following up on her second-team all-conference citation last year. Junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) joined Diggins on the All-BIG EAST First Team, marking the first time in the 34-year history of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program that the Fighting Irish have had three players earn first-team all-conference honors in the same season in any of their league memberships(BIG EAST since 1995-96, plus Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League from 1988-95 and North Star Conference from 1983-88). Notre Dame also is just the third school ever to field three first-team all-BIG EAST players in thesame season, something only Providence (1989-90) and Connecticut (2001-02, 2007-08 and 2009-10) have duplicated.

However, the day wasn’t over for both Novosel and Peters, who coppedspecialty awards as well. Novosel was named the BIG EAST Most Improved Player, the third time a Notre Dame has been so honored (but the first since Megan Duffy in 2004), while Peters was chosen as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, the first Fighting Irish player to earn that award since Ruth Riley’sthree-year domination of the honor from 1999-2001.

In addition, freshman forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) added another feather in her cap as one of four unanimous selections for this year’s BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Achonwa’s appearance on the conference’s rookie squad gives the Fighting Irish a total of nine BIG EAST All-Freshman selections in the past five seasons, more than any other school in the conference (Connecticut is the closest pursuer with eight all-freshman honorees in this five-year span).

2. The 81st Annual Bengal Mission Bout Finals will be streamed live on und.com today beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.

3. Former Irish women’s basketball player Dr. Carol Lally Shields (’79) will be inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America ® Hall of Fame asselected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Lally Shields will become the sixth former Notre Dame student-athlete to be inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America ® Hall of Fame. Lally Shields willjoin four other inductees as members of the Class of 2011. Since the Hall ofFame’s inception in 1988, 112 individuals have been selected for the honor. She will be inducted on June 28, 2011, at CoSIDA’s annual workshop in Marco Island, Fla. The other four inductees this year include Wabash College basketball player Peter Metzelaars (’82), track and field star Dr. Randall Pinkett from Rutgers University (’94), women’s volleyball standout Dr. Julie Bremner Romias (’94) of UCLA and NCAA champion diver Dr. Megan Neyer (’86) from the University of Florida.

Lally Shields becomes the first former Notre Dame female student-athlete to be inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America ® Hall of Fame. Theother Irish inductees have been former football players Bob Burger (a 2006 inductee), Robert Thomas (a 1996 inductee), Dave Casper (a 1993 inductee) and Joe Theismann (a 1990 inductee) as well as basketball standout John Paxson (a 2005 inductee). Lally Shields is being inducted as honorary member in ’11. Annually, the Academic All-America ® Hall of Fame and CoSIDA honor a worthy candidate whose collegiate career preceded the program in their particular sport. The eligible candidate’s academic and athletic achievements must meet minimum criteria for selection to the Academic All-America ®.

As a senior in 1979, she became the first woman at Notre Dame to receive the Byron Kanaley Award, which is presented annually to senior student-athletes for excellence in athletics, academics and leadership. It is the highest honor bestowed to a student-athlete at the University. As a junior, she led the Irish in scoring at 10.7 points per game in the first year of the varsity program at Notre Dame and averaged 12.8 points per game during her senior campaign. Lally Shields was the team’s most valuable player in 1978-79 and also was the winner of the ’79 Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete award for excellence in academics and athletics after earning Dean’s List recognition all eight semesters. Lally Shields served as team captain in her senior season and graduated with a 3.91 cumulative grade-point average with a degree in pre-professional studies from the College of Science. Following graduation, she went on to earn her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

A world-renowned ophthalmologist, Lally Shields was presented an honorary doctorate of science degree from Notre Dame in 2005. She currently is an Ocular Oncologist at the Wills Eye Institute, America’s first eye hospital located in Philadelphia, Pa. Throughout her professional career, Lally Shields has been the recipient of numerous awards, including The Retina Research Award of the Retina Society in 2006 that honors and supports an active researcher in the field of retinal disease. The Philadelphia Magazine has recognized Lally Shields as a top doctor in Philadelphia annually since 1994. She was first woman recipient of the Donders Award given annually to an ophthalmologist of international acclaim by the Netherlands Ophthalmological Society. Lally Shields has been a member of the American Medical Association since 1980 and part of the American Academy of Ophthalmology since 1984. She is a member of 18 different associations and boards and has helped organize an annual Easter Egg hunt for more than 500 children since 1995. In 2006, Lally Shields became the first woman to receive the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award presented by the Notre Dame Monogram Club and given to active club members who are distinguished in their profession, demonstrate responsibility to and concern for the community, and display an outstanding dedication to the spirit and ideals of Notre Dame.

4. Notre Dame sophomore fencers James Kaull (Washington, D.C.) and Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash.) have been named to the 2011 U.S. Junior World Team, it was announced Thursday by USA Fencing. Kaull will represent the men’s epee team with Osier fencing for the women’s sabre squad. Incoming freshmanRace Imboden also was named to the men’s foil team. Kaull earned the bid tocompete with the junior epee squad as a result of earning the most points (asof Feb. 19) to his national ranking. His 3,458 points are good for top honors by nearly 100 points. Osier, much like Kaull, earned a spot with the women’s sabre team after topping the points chart in the most recent standings with4,644 points. That total is nearly 700 points greater than second place.

5. Barry King (Dublin, Ireland), a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and a former Irish men’s tennis standout, is set to compete in the first round of the 2011 Davis Cup. King represented Ireland and battled Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the first day of the match today at 10 a.m. (ET) at the David Lloyd Riverview Lawn Tennis Club in Dublin, Ireland. King, who enters the tournament with a singles ranking of 967 is joined on Team Ireland by ConorNiland (No. 133), James McGee (No. 662) and James Cluskey (No. 1,406). The three-day match begins with the two singles matches, which King faces Muller and Niland battles Mike Vermeer. The second day of the match is dedicated to doubles, as Cluskey and King will take on Laurent Bram and Muller. The final day returns to singles with Niland battling Muller and King squaring off against Vermeer. Each match counts as one point.

6. Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field head coach Joe Piane has announced the signing of eight student-athletes to national letters of intent. The signees will be eligible to begin competition at Notre Dame in the fall of 2011. The 2011-12 Notre Dame cross country/track and field signing class are: sprinter/hurdles Jade Barber (Middleburg Heights, Ohio/Midpark), hurdler/sprinter Michelle Rotondo (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City), hurdler/sprinter Kaila Barber (Middleburg, Heights, Ohio/Midpark), cross country and middle distance runner Karen Lesiewicz (Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg), multi-event specialist Fiano Paladino (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery), cross country and middle distance runner Johnny Fuller (Glenwood, Iowa/Glenwood), middle distance runner Kevin Byrne (Millstone, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) and sprinter Chris Geisting (Batesville, Ind./Batesville).

7. Ben Hansbrough: Things I Know

It’s hard to remember the last time a Notre Dame men’s basketball player grabbed his teammates so forcefully by their collars and lifted them to greater heights through the sheer dominance of his personality and his physical, on-court performances. Ben Hansbrough has accomplished just that with his Irish team in 2011.

By John Heisler

Growing up with two older brothers, we did almost everything together. Greg was the oldest, and we were always very competitive around the house in anything wedid. Tyler and I had the opportunity to play on the same high school basketball team, and that’s probably been my favorite team, up there with our Notre Dame team this year. It’s been a blast growing up in our family.

It wasn’t just in sports, it was anything around the house. It was being the first one to get ice cream at Dairy Queen or TCBY. We always wanted to beateach other.

Mississippi State was the first big school that offered me a scholarship. I was a young highschooler whose game was about to elevate to a new level. I jumped on the train and thought that was the best train I could get on back then. My game continued to improve to another level and then another level. And I realized Mississippi State didn’t match what I was about as a player and as a person.

I knew what I really wanted. Something where I could be a part of a team for the rest of my life. When I came to Notre Dame, I felt it. I knew this was what it was all about. I didn’t even visit another school.

When I talk to my brothers, we don’t really talk a lot about basketball. Tyler will call and congratulate me on the season, but we don’t really break down details of the game. Every time we talk, it’s more catching up, seeing how we’re doing. Basketball is such a big part of your life, but when you get around your brothers, basketball seems to fade out.

I went to Detroit for the Final Four. I was really focused on enjoying the moment and watching Tyler win his national championship with Carolina. It was being happy for him and cherishing the moment.

My personal workout has changed a little. I’ve changed up my game shots. I’ve added stuff, taken stuff out. The concept is the dedication of the routine every day. It’s about an hour every day. I’ll change it based on whether we played a game yesterday or three days ago. But the drills I do really are mostly the same.

The year after I transferred, when I was sitting out, I spent a lot of time in the gym by myself, just shooting. The biggest difference this year is how I’ve prepared mentally. I had the work ethic and the physical part of it is one thing. This year it’s about the mental strength I’ve had to prepare and help this team prepare. It’s about focus. That’s the difference.

With our team this year, it’s all about one concept. It’s about everybody believing and buying into the system. If you expect things of yourselves, you can go out there and achieve things. We’ve had a great focus and mindset when it comes to that all year.

I love finding people with the ball. I love other people hitting shots. I love it when other people are playing well. It’s always fun to get other people going.

I don’t care what position I’m playing. I just go out and play. Coach (Mike) Brey has done a great job of molding me from more of a two guard to more of a point guard and teaching me how to run a team. He’s been really good with kind of shaping me as a point guard.

When there’s time, I hang out with friends and listen to music. I like to eat fish, chicken, a lot of things. I like good food. I really enjoy just hanging out with my friends. I watch a lot of NBA. I watch a little college. I don’t watch a lot of other college basketball. I have my NBA team and I’m a fan.

The BIG EAST is fun, but it’s one of those things where we’re just so focused. It’s a feeling of just being really, really focused. When we get done with this ride, we’ll look back on it and think, man, that was fun.

But the ride’s still going on. We can’t say it was fun yet — because it’s not over. We have to continue to stay focused and push ourselves.

I used to very superstitious. But when it’s all said and done, you can’t allow your mind to be so weak that you feel like the way you put on your socks isgoing to change the way you play. Once you start to do that, it becomes allabout how you put on your socks. Then it becomes the way you open your car door or the way you start your car. That can drive you crazy.

I want the only thing that affects my performance to be the way I prepare mentally and physically.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

1. Notre Dame freshman left wing Anders Lee (Edina, Minn.) has been named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s (CCHA) Rookie of the Month for February. This marks the third time this season that Lee has earned rookie of the month honors. During the month of February, Lee tied teammate T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) for the scoring lead among CCHA rookies with seven points while helping the Irish to a 5-1-0 record. Lee scored three goals with fourassists while Tynan had a goal and six assists for his seven points. Among his three goals were two game-winning goals and a power-play marker. The seven-point month, covering six games, gives the 6-3, 218-pound forward 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 points and makes him the 12th freshman in the history of the Notre Dame program to record 40 or more points in a season. Lee’s 21goals make him the first Irish freshmen with 20 or more goals since Ryan Thang scored 20 goals in his rookie year of 2006-07. The 21 goals are the most by a Notre Dame player since Rob Globke, picked up 21 goals in the 2002-03 season.

2. For the third time this season, Notre Dame junior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) has been named to the BIG EAST Conference Women’s Basketball Weekly Honor Roll, the league office announced Monday. Novosel, who previously garnered Honor Roll citations on Nov. 29 and Feb. 7, was one of five players chosen for this week’s honor (also the third of her career), which recognizes outstanding weekly achievements by conferenceplayers who are not chosen as the BIG EAST Player of the Week. In three games last week, Novosel averaged 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as Notre Dame posted two wins in those three outings, two of which came on the road against ranked opponents. Last Tuesday in a 72-60 win at No. 19/18 West Virginia, Novosel poured in a game-high 22 points (her first career 20-point outing in BIG EAST play) on 7-of-13 shooting and a perfect 8-of-8 night at the foul line, while nabbing seven rebounds for good measure. She then scored 11 points and added three steals in last Saturday’s 66-48 Senior Day victory over Cincinnati at Purcell Pavilion. Novosel closed out the week (and the 2010-11 regular season) with a stirring 17-point, seven-rebound performance on Monday in a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul, scoring 11 of her 17 points in the second half and assisting on the apparent game-winning layup by senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) with 28 seconds left. It marked the third time this season Novosel has factored into (either scored or assisted on) a potential game-winning shot in the final 30 seconds against a ranked opponent, having hit go-ahead baskets in the final half-minute against No. 15 UCLA (lost 86-83 in double overtime on Nov. 18 at Purcell Pavilion) and No. 2 Connecticut (lost 79-76 on Jan. 8, also at Purcell Pavilion).

3. Today’s version of NCAA hockey Bracketology on the USCHO.com site has the Irish a #9 national seed playing #7 Merrimack in Bridgeport, Conn. Yale, the number-one seed, is projected to play #16 RIT in the other regional semifinal in Bridgeport. This week’s projections send CCHA entrants Michigan (#4 overall seed) and Miami (#10 seed) both to the St. Louis regional. The other regionals are in Green Bay and Manchester, N.H.

4. The Irish men’s basketball team may be headed toard sme rarified air when it comes to NCAA seeding. The NCAA began seeding teams in 1979 – and Notre Dame’s best in that category have been a #1 seed in 1979 (lost to eventual champion Michigan State in regional final), #2 in 1981 (lost to BYU in regional semifinal) and a #3 in 1986 (lost to Arkansas-Little Rock in first round).

Under Mike Brey, the Irish have been a #5 seed twice (2003 and 2008), a #6 three times (2001, 2007, 2010) and a #8 once (2002). The top Irish finish came in 2003 when the #5 Irish fell to #1 seed Arizona in a regional semifinal. Under Brey, the previous Irish first-second round venues have been Kansas City, Greenville, Indianapolis, Spokane, Denver and New Orleans.

5. So how crazy is life in the BIG EAST? Within a 48-hour span, the Notre Dame men’s basketball team at one point trailed by 11 points against a Seton Hall team that is currently 5-11 in league play (the Irish rebounded to win by a dozen) – and just two nights later the Irish at one point led 19th-ranked Villanova by 32 points.

6. Look for Notre Dame guard Ben Hansbrough on PTI this afternoon onESPN (5:30 p.m. EST).

7. For the fifth time this season, Irish senior men’s basketball guard Ben Hansbrough (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) has been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll as he averaged 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists after leadingNotre Dame to a 2-0 week with wins over Providence and Seton Hall. Against the Friars, a 94-93 victory on the road, Hansbrough netted a career-high 32 points as he connected on 10 of his 13 field goal attempts (including three-for-five from three-point range) in addition to hitting nine-of-11 from the three-throw line. He also dished off four assists in the contest. In Notre Dame’s 60-48 win over Seton Hall, Hansbrough scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished off two assists.

8. Mariel Zagunis, a former sabreuse for the University of Notre Dame fencing team, won the bronze medal this past weekend at the London Sabre World Cup in London, England. The bronze represents her second international medal of the year. Earlier in February, Zagunis captured the gold medal at the Orleans Sabre Grand Prix for her first international medal of the year. The top-ranked women’s sabre fencer in the world, Zagunis advanced directly to the table of 64, defeating Kata Varhelyi of Hungary in her opening match, 15-10. She then advanced into the quarterfinals with wins over Sandra Sassine of Canada (15-11) and Chrystal Nicoll of Great Britain (15-12). The win over Nicoll marked Zagunis’ second international win over her in the month after defeating her en route to the gold medal at the Orleans Grand Prix. Zagunis pushed through to the semifinals after securing a 15-9 win over Ekaterina Diatchenko of Russia, but then fell to Gioia Marzocca of Italy by a score of 15-12. Along with securing the bronze in the individual table, Zagunis, along with her four teammates, helped Team USA to a seventh-place finish in team competition. The five-person squad defeated Mexico in the first round (45-28), before dropping to eventual champion China (45-39) in the quarterfinals. The squad then lost to Ukraine (45-34) in the fifth-place table before defeating Hungary (45-38) for seventh place.

March 1, 2011

1. Ben Hansbrough took the microphone after the game, stood at midcourt and started complimenting all those around him. Almost like the Academy Awards. He acknowledged coach Mike Brey, the wild fans at the Purcell Pavilion and his family sitting in the stands. He was most appreciative of his teammates following his final home men’s basketball game for Notre Dame. That’s because he and the Irish made the night a memorable one with their shooting.

Tim Abromaitis hit a career-high nine 3-pointers and he and Hansbrough scored 30 points each as the eighth-ranked Irish routed No. 19 Villanova 93-72 on Monday night. The victory ensured a double bye in the Big East tournament for Notre Dame and wrapped up a 17-0 season at home, the only Big East team to go unbeaten on its home court this season. Abromaitis’ nine 3-pointers were one shy of the school record set by Kyle McAlarney against North Carolina in 2008. Notre Dame (24-5, 13-4) finished 20 for 32 on 3-pointers. The Irish, shooting 37.7 percent from 3-point range this season, were 11 for 19 in the first half, including 4 of 6 from Hansbrough, to build a 47-27 lead. The Irish led by as many as 25 points in the first half and 32 in the second, sending a spirited home crowd into a frenzy as they made one open 3-pointer after another.

Among those cheering Hansbrough were his family, including brother Tyler, the former North Carolina All-American now with the Indiana Pacers. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly was in a front-row seat. Fisher, the Wildcats’ leading scorer who was coming off a two-point game in a loss to St. John’s, led Villanova (21-9, 9-8) with 22 points, 17 in the second half. Plagued again by cold shooting, Villanova lost for the fifth time in seven games in its late-season slump. The Wildcats missed their first seven 3-point attempts and were 2 for 10 from long range in the first half. The Irish wasted little time in taking control as Carleton Scott started the scoring with a 3-pointer, Abromaitis made two from long range and Hansbrough added another in an opening 14-4 run less than 4 minutes into the game.

The demonstrative Hansbrough finished the opening half with 16 points, pumping his fist at made baskets by his teammates and even smiling after feeding Abromaitis in the corner for another 3. Notre Dame’s previous record for 3-pointers was 19 against South Dakota on Dec. 2, 2008.

2. Felicia Chester was positioned under the basket and suddenly had the ball in her hands with 5 seconds left and her team trailing. And the DePaul senior found a way to get the Blue Devils the win. Chester received Taylor Pikes’ pass and put up a layup and No. 12 DePaul stunned No. 7 Notre Dame 70-69 on Monday in women’s basketball on the DePaul campus in Chicago. The Blue Demons (26-5, 13-3) tied the Irish for second place, their best finish in Big East play. They also earned the No. 2 overall seed in this week’s conference tournament. But Notre Dame (24-6, 13-3) wasn’t quite finished. Skylar Diggins, who had a team-high 18 points, drove the lane for her own game-winning try, only to have the ball strippedaway as time expired. Chester scored 16 points in the second half as DePaulrallied from a nine-point deficit for a lead with 1:57 to play following Keisha Hampton’s layup.

Diggins hit two free throws with 1:49 to go, and Novosel followed with a 3-pointer as Notre Dame pulled to 66-65. Pikes restored a three-point lead with 59 seconds to play, but Diggins’ layup closed the gap to 68-67. Brittany Mallory got a steal and passed to Devereaux Peters for a layup to give Notre Dame a 69-68 lead 28 with seconds left. On the final possession, Chester was knocked down under the basket but got up in time to take Pikes’ pass. DePaul used a tiebreaking 11-2 run as Pikes hit a pair of 3-pointers and Sam Quigley scored for a 20-11 lead with 10:59 left in the first half. Just 3 1/2 minutes later, the Irish had sliced the deficit to 22-19 after Novosel’s steal and layup. The Blue Demons used a late 8-2 run to open a 32-24 lead in the final minute of the half. DePaul outscored Notre Dame 18-11 off turnovers on the way to a 32-26 halftime lead. The Irish turned the tables early in the second half with a 9-2 run. Hampton added 17 points for the Blue Demons while Novosel also had 17 for Notre Dame. The victory snapped DePaul’s two-game losing streak and extended its home winning streak to 19 straight.

The Fighting Irish are seeded third for the BIG EAST Championship, having earned a “double bye” and will open postseason play with a BIG EAST quarterfinal game at 8 p.m. (ET) Sunday (March 6) on ESPNU from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. — Notre Dame will face the winner of the second-round game between No. 6 seed Louisville and the No. 11 seed Providence/No. 14 seed Villanova first-round winner

3. The Notre Dame volleyball coaching staff will hold a coaches clinic March 27 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center. The clinic is free of charge. All area high school, college, club and youth coaches are encouraged to attend. Head coach Debbie Brown and her staff will share their knowledge inregards to the game’s fundamentals, strategies and team dynamics. The three-hour clinic will include on-court demonstrations of drills covering all aspects of the game. Participants much register prior to the clinic. Please contact Alisha Ewing (574.631.3378) for more information.

4. Yet another version of Bracketology today, this one from CBS Sports’ web site, projects the Irish men to Chicago as a #2 seed to play UW-Milwaukee – with #7 Xavier projected against #10 Michigan State in the other game.