Sept. 23, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team will face 14 teams which advanced to postseason play last year, including nine NCAA Tournament qualifiers, as part of a demanding 2002-03 schedule which was released Monday afternoon.
The Irish return nine monogram winners and three starters from last season’s club, which posted a 20-10 record and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. With the start of practice less than three weeks away (Oct. 12), Notre Dame already has received significant attention in several preseason publications — the Irish are ranked fifth in the nation by Athlon Sports, seventh by Women’s Basketball Magazine and 12th by Lindy’s.
Highlighting the 2002-03 schedule for the Irish are a pair of nationally-televised games at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame will play host to intrastate rival Purdue Jan. 4 in a 4 p.m. (EST) contest to be broadcast on CBS as the nightcap of the network’s women’s basketball tripleheader. The Irish then will welcome defending NCAA champion Connecticut to town on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 20) for a 2 p.m. (EST) matchup that will air on espn2. The last time Notre Dame tangled with the Huskies at the Joyce Center on Jan. 15, 2001, the Irish registered a landmark 92-76 win over top-ranked UConn, helping to pave the way for Notre Dame’s first national championship.
In addition, the Irish are scheduled to take on six-time NCAA champion and 2002 Final Four participant Tennessee Dec. 28 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It will be the first regular-season meeting between the two schools since 1996, and Notre Dame will be seeking to avenge last year’s loss to the Lady Vols in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Following a pair of exhibition games on Nov. 4 and 19, the Irish will make their 2002-03 debut Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. (EST) against Cleveland State at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame then will embark on a rugged four-game road trip that will feature games at regional rivals Valparaiso (Dec. 4) and DePaul (Dec. 11), as well as a pair of cross-country trips on consecutive weekends to USC (Nov. 29) and Arizona State (Dec. 7). The USC tilt will take place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena the night before the Irish football team battles the Trojans right next door at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Meanwhile, the ASU contest is being billed as AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II. This special doubleheader — which also will feature Purdue vs. Vanderbilt — is a fund-raiser for the Phoenix affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The first Hoops for the Cure Classic in 2000 raised $10,000 for breast cancer research, development and education in the Phoenix area.
Notre Dame will return home Dec. 14 to square off with defending Atlantic-10 Conference tournament champion Temple. The Irish also will face recent NCAA Division I addition Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne Dec. 21 before closing out the homestand Dec. 23 against perennial Mountain West Conference power Colorado State. Following the Tennessee game, Notre Dame heads to Milwaukee for a tussle with longtime rival Marquette on New Year’s Eve.
The Irish will make their first foray into BIG EAST Conference action Jan. 8, when they travel to West Virginia for a meeting with the up-and-coming Mountaineers. Notre Dame’s conference home opener is slated for Jan. 11 when Miami comes to the Joyce Center. In addition to this year’s home game with Connecticut, other highlights of the Irish BIG EAST schedule include a home date with Rutgers on Jan. 18, as well as road contests at Villanova (Jan. 26), Boston College (Jan. 29), Virginia Tech (Feb. 8), Connecticut (Feb. 23) and Syracuse (March 4).
The 2003 BIG EAST Championship will take place March 8-11 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. The BIG EAST title game is scheduled to be televised live on espn2 at 7 p.m. (EST) March 11.
— ND —
2002-03 IRISH SCHEDULE NOTES: Notre Dame will face 14 teams which reached postseason play last season (9 NCAA, 5 WNIT) … of those nine NCAA squads, Connecticut and Tennessee advanced to the Final Four with UConn winning the 2002 national championship … of the five WNIT qualifiers on this year’s schedule, Valparaiso reached the quarterfinals, while Virginia Tech made its way into the semifinals before being eliminated by Houston in overtime … nine opponents appeared in the top 50 of the final 2001-02 WBCA/Summerville RPI ratings … six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conferences … 17 of the 24 opponents had records of .500 or better last season, with 10 posting 20-win seasons … Irish opponents notched a combined record of 422-302 (.583) … Temple is the only first-time opponent on this year’s schedule … Notre Dame will play Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne for the first time since Jan. 24, 1979, marking the longest gap between series games (nearly 24 years) in school history.