March 4, 2010
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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the heels of its tie for fourth place in the rugged BIG EAST Conference, the No. 6/7 Notre Dame women’s basketball team picked up a handful of individual honors on Thursday, as the league office announced this year’s all-conference and all-freshman teams, as well as several specialty awards.
Fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) was named a first-team all-BIG EAST pick for the second consecutive season, while senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind.) and freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) were second-team all-conference choices, with Barlow nabbing that distinction for the second year in a row. In addition, Diggins was a unanimous selection for this year’s BIG EAST All-Freshman Team.
The 16 BIG EAST head coaches voted for this year’s honors, but were not allowed to vote for their own players. The complete rundown of all-conference teams, as well as the choices for the BIG EAST’s Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth-Man Award and Sportsmanship Award, can be found on the conference’s official web site, www.bigeast.org. The official announcements of the Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be made at a press conference on Friday (March 5) at 5 p.m. (ET) from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., the site of this year’s BIG EAST Championship.
“It is so special to see all three of these players rewarded for their hard work and dedication this season,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “Each of them has made significant contributions to our success so far, and it’s especially gratifying when you consider these awards are voted on by the other coaches around the conference. These three also are tremendous ambassadors for not only our program, but the University as a whole, and we are extremely proud to have them representing Notre Dame with class and distinction every single day.”
This marks the second time in three seasons, but just the fourth time in program history, that Notre Dame has fielded three all-conference selections in the same year. In 2008, Charel Allen was a first-team pick, while Schrader and Barlow were honorable mention choices. In 2001, current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey and Ruth Riley were first-team selections, while Alicia Ratay copped third-team status and Kelley Siemon was an honorable mention pick. In 1999, Riley garnered first-team laurels, Sheila McMillen earned second-team honors, and Ivey was voted to the All-BIG EAST Third Team.
What’s more, Schrader and Barlow join a select group of seven Notre Dame players who have earned three all-BIG EAST plaques in their careers. The others in this elite club are: Riley (first team from 1999-2001), Ivey (third team in 1999, second team in 2000, first team in 2001), Ratay (third team in 2001, first team in 2002, honorable mention in 2003), Jacqueline Batteast (second team in 2002-03, first team in 2004-05) and Megan Duffy (honorable mention in 2004, first team in 2005-06).
One of the most versatile players in school history, senior guard/tri-captain (and three-time all-BIG EAST honoree) Ashley Barlow ranks among the top 10 in nine career categories at Notre Dame.
Diggins stamped her own place in the Notre Dame history books as only the fourth Irish freshman to receive all-conference honors as a rookie, and the first since Batteast (a fellow Washington High School alum) earned second-team all-BIG EAST accolades in 2002. The other Notre Dame freshmen to cop all-league honors did so prior to the program’s membership in the BIG EAST — Sandy Botham was a second-team all-North Star Conference honoree in 1985, while Beth Morgan nabbed first-team all-Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) plaudits in 1994.
Schrader becomes the seventh Notre Dame player to be chosen as a two-time first-team all-BIG EAST selection, joining Morgan (1996-97), Katryna Gaither (1996-97), Riley (1999-2001), Batteast (2004-05), Duffy (2005-06) and Allen (2007-08) in that select sorority. This also represents the seventh consecutive year, and 13th time in Notre Dame’s 15-year BIG EAST membership (1995-96 to present), that the Irish have had at least one player garner first-team all-conference status. In fact, in McGraw’s 23 seasons as head coach at Notre Dame, covering three conference affiliations (BIG EAST, Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League, and North Star), the Irish have had at least one first-team all-conference selection an astounding 20 times (all but 1993, 1998 and 2003).
A State Farm Wade Trophy candidate and three-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll pick this season, Schrader has started 27 games for Notre Dame, leading the Irish in rebounding (6.9 rpg.) and ranking third in both scoring (11.2 ppg.) and field goal percentage (career-high .555). She also ranks among the conference leaders in scoring (28th), rebounding (17th) and field goal percentage (3rd). In league play, she ranked 28th in the BIG EAST in scoring (10.9 ppg.), 16th in rebounding (6.6 rpg.) and third in field goal percentage (.566).
What’s more, Schrader has registered five double-doubles this season, three against ranked opponents, and now holds Notre Dame’s career record for double-doubles by a guard with 16. In addition, she stands among the top 10 in school history for rebounds (7th – 787), field goals made (10th – 566), field goal attempts (9th – 1,192), minutes per game (8th – 28.3) and games started (tied/4th – 118), while her streak of 73 consecutive starts from January 2008-February 2010 was sixth-longest in school history before she missed two games with a sprained ankle (the only missed contests in her 122-game career). Schrader also stands 14th in the Irish record books with 1,360 career points.
A midseason candidate for both the Naismith Trophy and John R. Wooden Award, as well as a two-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll choice this season, Barlow has started all 29 games, ranking second on the team and 26th in the BIG EAST in scoring (11.4 ppg.), while also standing second in the conference in steals (2.48 spg.) and third on the team in rebounding (career-high 5.4 rpg.). In addition, she’s among the BIG EAST leaders in free throw percentage (7th – .814) and three-point percentage (8th – career-high .371). During conference play, she finished among the league’s pacesetters in scoring (30th – 10.8 ppg.), free throw percentage (2nd – .900), steals (tied/2nd – 2.56 spg.) and three-point percentage (14th – .347).
Guard Skylar Diggins was not only a unanimous choice for this year’s BIG EAST All-Freshman Team, but she also became the first Notre Dame rookie since 2002 to earn all-conference honors with her second-team citation.
Barlow and Schrader are tied for second on the team with 18 double-figure scoring games this season. Barlow joins Allen as the only players in school history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their careers, and Barlow also has recorded her fourth consecutive 60-steal season with a career-high 72 thefts thus far, becoming only the third player in program history to have at least 60 steals in all four seasons at Notre Dame — the others in that group are Ivey (1997-98 to 2000-01) and Coquese Washington (1989-90 to 1992-93). In addition, Barlow ranks among the top 10 in nine other statistical categories, and she’s poised to break into the top 10 on the Notre Dame career scoring list, currently standing 11th with 1,437 points (two back of McMillen for 10th place).
Diggins’ appearance on the conference’s rookie squad gives the Irish a total of eight BIG EAST All-Freshman selections in the past four seasons, more than any other school in the conference (Connecticut is the closest pursuer with six all-freshman honorees in this four-year span).
A four-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week and preseason Naismith Trophy candidate, Diggins has started 24 games for the Irish this season, averaging a team-high 13.5 points per game with a team-best 19 double-digit scoring games, while ranking second in assists (3.0 apg.) and steals (2.2 spg.), and third in three-point percentage (.349) and free throw percentage (.763). Diggins also stands among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (14th), steals (6th) and free throw percentage (15th). In conference play, she tied for 10th in the BIG EAST in scoring (team-high 13.9 ppg.), while tying for fourth in steals (2.25 spg.) and placing 15th in three-point percentage (.347).
Notre Dame (25-4, 12-4) will return to the hardwood on Saturday at noon (ET) in the second round of the BIG EAST Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The fifth-seeded Irish have earned a first-round bye for the tournament and will take on either No. 12 seeded Pittsburgh or 13th-seeded Louisville in that second-round game, which will be televised live on the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Networks package (including Comcast SportsNet Chicago, ESPN Full Court pay-per-view and ESPN360), as well as on-line at www.bigeast.tv. The game also can be heard on the radio all across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), as well as worldwide on the Internet at the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com), with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.
— ND —