April 15, 2005
The Detroit Shock will open their 2005 preseason against two-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings and the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. (ET) at the University of Notre Dame’s Joyce Center in Notre Dame, Indiana. The home game for Detroit will mark the homecoming of three former Irish basketball stars — Detroit head coach Bill Laimbeer, Detroit center Ruth Riley and Indiana guard Niele Ivey. Riley and Ivey were teammates on Notre Dame’s 2001 NCAA Championship team and Laimbeer led Notre Dame to the 1978 NCAA Final Four in his junior season. Tickets go on sale to the general public on April 4; fans should call the Notre Dame athletics ticket office at (574) 631-7356 or order tickets online at www.und.com.
“It will be great to showcase quality WNBA talent in three non-WNBA cities,” said Laimbeer, 2003 WNBA Coach of the Year. “The fans will be excited to see world class athletes such as 2004 Olympic Gold Medal winners Swin Cash and Ruth Riley and 2003 WNBA Rookie of the Year Cheryl Ford.”
“I am so excited about this opportunity to come back to Notre Dame and play,” said Riley, the 2001 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, 2003 WNBA Finals MVP and 2004 USA Basketball Olympic gold medalist. “Not only did I have an amazing college experience, but the Notre Dame fans and South Bend community have continued to support me in my professional career. Playing back at the Joyce Center, where I have so many fond memories, is going to be a lot of fun for me.”
“We’re so proud of everything Ruth and Niele have been able to accomplish in their lives after graduating Notre Dame,” said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. “They are shining examples of everything that is right with college athletics and women’s basketball in particular. They remain two of the finest players in Notre Dame women’s basketball history and we are excited that both of them will be back playing on the Joyce Center floor for the first time since they helped us win the national championship in 2001. I would encourage everyone to get their tickets early for what promises to be a tremendous women’s basketball event here in South Bend.”
Riley, who is one of just six players ever to win an NCAA, WNBA and Olympic title, and the only player ever to earn Finals MVP honors at both the NCAA and WNBA levels, was the consensus 2001 National Player of the Year after leading the Irish to a 34-2 record and their first national title. She ended her career as the only Notre Dame women’s basketball player ever to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds (2,072 points/1,007 rebounds) and she ranks as the school’s all-time leader in seven statistical categories. In addition, she was a three-time Associated Press All-America selection, including a two-time first-team pick in 2000 and 2001. Riley was a first-round selection (fifth overall) in the 2001 WNBA Draft by the now-defunct Miami Sol, and later was the top overall selection in the 2003 WNBA Dispersal Draft by the Detroit Shock, for whom she now plays.
Ivey was the point guard on Notre Dame’s national title squad and ranks 10th in school history with 1,430 points. She also holds school records for steals (348) and games played (132) and is second in assists (727), while appearing on 16 of the school’s career Top 10 lists. In 2001, she received the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the nation’s top senior player standing 5-foot-8 or under. A third-team AP All-American in 2001 and three-time all-BIG EAST selection, Ivey has played for the Indiana Fever ever since the team selected her in the second round of the 2001 WNBA Draft.
Laimbeer was one of the central figures on Notre Dame’s 1978 Final Four team, helping the Irish post a 23-8 record that included wins over top-ranked and defending national champion Marquette, as well as No. 3 UCLA. Laimbeer then tallied 20 points and nine rebounds in Notre Dame’s 100-77 win over Houston in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the first of three Irish wins in the event before narrow losses to Duke (90-86) and Arkansas (71-69) at the Final Four in St. Louis. Laimbeer was subsequently drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third round of the 1979 NBA Draft and wound up playing 14 professional seasons, the final 12 with the Detroit Pistons, where he was a member of the famed “Bad Boys” squad that won NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. Laimbeer began his professional coaching career with the Detroit Shock midway through the 2002 season and less than a year later, he led that team to the WNBA title, completing a historic “worst-to-first” finish.
— ND —