May 19, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the sixth consecutive year, Notre Dame will have a presence on Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) opening day rosters, as three former Irish women’s basketball standouts will be in uniform with the league tips off its 10th anniversary season this weekend. Beginning with the 2001 season, when four Notre Dame players were selected in the WNBA Draft, at least three Irish cagers have played in the league every season.
The latest former Notre Dame women’s basketball great to suit up in the professional ranks will be recently-departed point guard Megan Duffy, who was selected in the third round of this year’s WNBA Draft (31st overall pick) by the Minnesota Lynx and has made that club’s final roster. The 2006 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner, as well as a two-time honorable mention All-American, Duffy saw action in both of Minnesota’s preseason games (one scrimmage, one exhibition), averaging 9.0 minutes, 1.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
Former Notre Dame All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast also will be back for a second season in the WNBA, and her first with the Detroit Shock, who acquired her in a draft-day trade with Minnesota. Batteast played in eight games as a rookie in 2005, averaging 0.6 rebounds and 0.4 assists per contest. Since coming to Detroit last month, she appeared in all three of the Shock’s preseason games, averaging 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per night.
Perhaps the most recognizable Notre Dame alum in the WNBA this year will once again be Detroit’s All-Star center Ruth Riley. The consensus National Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the Irish in their 2001 national championship season, Riley is set to begin her sixth WNBA season this weekend. She has averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in her first five pro years, the past three in Detroit, which acquired her as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 WNBA Dispersal Draft after her original club, the Miami Sol, disbanded. Riley played an integral role in Detroit’s 2003 WNBA title, winning Most Valuable Player honors in the Finals after scoring a career-high 27 points in the decisive third-game win over Los Angeles. Last year, she was named a WNBA All-Star for the first time in her professional career.
With Riley and Batteast on the roster, Detroit will open its 2006 season Saturday at 7 p.m. (ET) against the Indiana Fever at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Duffy will make her professional debut when Minnesota tips off its season Tuesday at 9 p.m. (ET) against the Connecticut Sun at the Target Center in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Ironically, all three Notre Dame players will converge one night later on Wednesday, May 24, when Minnesota visits Detroit for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) game at The Palace of Auburn Hills (televised regionally by Comcast Local).
A total of 27 WNBA games involving Notre Dame alums will be televised this season (four nationally on either ABC or ESPN2). In addition, several of these games can be seen on the Internet at the official WNBA web site through the WNBA Broadband Sports Pass, which is free to the general public.
The complete broadcast schedule of WNBA games this season involving Notre Dame alums is as follows (all times Eastern):
May 23 (Tues.) — Connecticut at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
May 24 (Wed.) — Minnesota at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (Comcast Local)
May 27 (Sat.) — Detroit at Connecticut, 4 p.m. (ABC)
June 1 (Thurs.) — New York at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (Comcast Local/MSG)
June 4 (Sun.) — Detroit at Chicago, 7 p.m. (WCIU-Chicago)
June 11 (Sun.) — Houston at Minnesota, 6 p.m. (FSN North/FSN Southwest)
June 16 (Fri.) — Indiana at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Detroit/NBA TV)
June 17 (Sat.) — Houston at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Detroit)
June 18 (Sun.) — Phoenix at Minnesota, 6 p.m. (FSN North)
June 24 (Sat.) — New York at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (FSN North/MSG/NBA TV)
June 29 (Thurs.) — Detroit at Indiana, 7 p.m. (FSN Midwest)
July 6 (Thurs.) — Phoenix at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Detroit/NBA TV)
July 9 (Sun.) — Detroit at Houston, 6 p.m. (FSN Southwest/NBA TV)
July 16 (Sun.) — Los Angeles at Minnesota, 6 p.m. (FSN North)
July 26 (Wed.) — Sacramento at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Detroit/NBA TV)
July 27 (Thurs.) — Charlotte at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (FSN North/NBA TV)
July 28 (Fri.) — Minnesota at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. (WTTW-Chicago/NBA TV)
July 30 (Sun.) — Minnesota at New York, 4 p.m. (MSG/NBA TV)
Aug. 1 (Tues.) — Indiana at Detroit, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Aug. 3 (Thurs.) — Detroit at New York, 7:30 p.m. (MSG/NBA TV)
Aug. 4 (Fri.) — Detroit at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. (WCIU-Chicago/NBA TV)
Aug. 6 (Sat.) — New York at Detroit, 6 p.m. (MSG)
Aug. 6 (Sat.) — San Antonio at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (FSN North/NBA TV)
Aug. 8 (Tues.) — Seattle at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (Comcast Local)
Aug. 8 (Tues.) — Minnesota at Phoenix, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Aug. 10 (Thurs.) — Chicago at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Detroit/NBA TV)
Aug. 13 (Sun.) — Minnesota at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m. (Prime Networks)
— ND —