Jan. 18, 2002
Following its longest hiatus of the BIG EAST Conference season, Notre Dame returns to the hardwood Saturday when it visits Providence for a 2 p.m. (EST) tipoff at Alumni Hall. It’s the middle stop on a three-game road swing for the Irish (9-6, 3-1 BIG EAST), who will move on to play No. 1 Connecticut Monday at 3 p.m. at the Hartford Civic Center.
Saturday’s game will mark the second time in two weeks that Notre Dame and Providence have played. Back on Jan. 5, the Irish claimed a 72-66 win over the Friars at the Joyce Center, jumping out to a 19-point lead in the first half and fighting off a late PC rally to preserve the victory. The game also served as a “coming-out” party for the Irish freshman class, which accounted for 55 points and shot better than 59 percent from the field. Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast had a career-high 26 points and freshman center Teresa Borton added a career-best 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting for Notre Dame.
Providence (8-9, 2-4) rebounded well from its loss to the Irish two weeks ago, coming up with an impressive win at home over Villanova just four days later. However, the Friars have lost their last two games since then, falling 81-52 at Syracuse on Jan. 12 and tumbling by a 69-49 count at No. 25 Boston College on Wednesday night.
Despite its recent struggles, PC has received production from a variety of different sources. Center Dani Trippany scored 18 points and forward Jessica Simmonds added 10 points at Syracuse, while guard Michal Epstein tallied a team-high 12 points earlier this week at Boston College.
Trippany continues to set the statistical pace for the Friars, averaging team bests of 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Simmonds is hot on her heels in both categories, logging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per outing. Guard Chrissy Vozab has carded team highs of 43 assists and 22 three-point field goals, although her minutes have been limited of late due to a stress fracture in her foot.
Jim Jabir is in his sixth season at PC with a record of 57-96, and an overall mark of 216-217 in 16 seasons as a college coach, which includes stops at Marquette (six years), Siena (three years) and Buffalo State (one year). He is 1-14 in his career against Notre Dame, and 0-8 since he came to Providence.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame looks to write a new chapter in its rapidly-developing history as the Irish defend their first NCAA championship in 2001-02. Seven monogram winners, including two starters, return from last season’s title-winning squad, giving head coach Muffet McGraw a broad foundation from which to build this year. In addition, the Irish welcome six talented freshmen to the fold, a group heralded as perhaps the finest recruiting class in school history and ranked as high as third by several national publications.
McGraw is in her 20th season as a college coach (15th at Notre Dame) with a 419-163 (.720) overall record and 331-123 (.729) mark while under the shadow of the Golden Dome. She has led the Irish to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances and eight overall – Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen four times, the Final Four twice and won the 2001 NCAA title, all in the last five seasons under McGraw’s guidance. She was a near-unanimous choice as national coach of the year in 2000-01, winning top honors from the Atlanta Tipoff Club (Naismith Award), Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and Sports Illustrated for Women. She also was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year, marking the third different conference to recognize McGraw as its top skipper since she took the reins at Notre Dame in 1987.
Both of Notre Dame’s returning starters were honored by the BIG EAST coaches in their preseason balloting. Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney (5.7 ppg., 5.0 rpg.) was a second team preseason all-conference pick and brings explosive quickness and versatility to the Irish lineup, along with veteran leadership. As Notre Dame’s only captain, she is being called upon to assume a greater mantle of responsibility in ’01-02. After starting the first six games for the Irish, she moved into a reserve role for the next four games, picking up her first double-double of the year with season highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds against Western Michigan. She returned to the starting lineup beginning with the DePaul game and is shooting 54.5 percent in conference play. Junior guard Alicia Ratay (14.0 ppg., 5.4 rpg., .446 3FG%) was a first team preseason all-BIG EAST choice and is one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award after setting an NCAA record for three-point percentage (.547) by a sophomore last season. On Dec. 6 at Purdue, she became the 19th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. She ranks eighth in the BIG EAST in scoring after carding 22 points against Villanova, her second 20-point outing in the last four games.
Joining Ratay in the backcourt is sophomore Le’Tania Severe (6.7 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 4.9 apg.), who was hampered by injuries last season, appearing in just 22 games. However, she has confidently taken a larger role in the Irish offense this season, scoring a career-high 17 points against USC and matching her career best with eight assists against Western Michigan. She also ranks eighth in the BIG EAST Conference in assists. In addition, Severe has posted a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio in her last three games. Also spending time at the point has been sophomore Jeneka Joyce (4.3 ppg., 1.8 rpg.), who has started six times for the Irish this season. Joyce has made 13 three-point field goals, one of three Notre Dame players to have at least 10 treys this year. Junior Karen Swanson (1.2 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) and Jill Krause (0.3 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) provide McGraw with additional flexibility in her point guard rotation. Both players scored two points against Seton Hall, with Krause notching the first points of her career against the Pirates. Additionally, freshmen Allison Bustamante (4.0 ppg., 1.9 rpg.) and Kelsey Wicks (4.4 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) provide the Irish with solid ballhandling and perimeter shooting depth. Bustamante scored a career-high 11 points, making all four field goals and two three-pointers against Seton Hall, while Wicks posted a career-best 10 rebounds against the Pirates.
A pair of freshmen (and former Parade All-Americans) are making an immediate impact on the Notre Dame front line, as forward Jacqueline Batteast (15.0 ppg., 8.6 rpg.) and center Teresa Borton (6.8 ppg., 4.7 rpg.) started the first six games for the Irish. Batteast was named the 2001-02 preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and her combination of speed, athleticism and perimeter shooting ability already make her a valuable weapon in the Irish arsenal. Already a four-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week, Batteast is one of only two players to rank in the top five in the BIG EAST in scoring (5th), rebounding (2nd), blocks (4th, 1.53) and double-doubles (2nd, 7), picking up her seventh double-dip at Miami with 12 points and 13 rebounds. She also poured in a career-high 26 points Jan. 5 against Providence. Meanwhile, at 6-3, Borton is a smooth and versatile post player with excellent mobility and a solid defensive presence. She has provided strong production off the bench in her last five games, averaging 10.5 ppg. while shooting 82.1 percent (23-28) from the field, including .864 (19-22) in conference games. She tied a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-of-7 from the field (15 points) on Jan. 9 against Seton Hall.
Junior Amanda Barksdale (4.6 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 3.3 bpg.) was one of the nation’s top shot blockers last season and has recovered nicely after missing Notre Dame’s first four games with a stress reaction in her right leg. She notched seven blocks against USC and tied a school record with eight blocks against Marquette – both outings are tops in the BIG EAST this season and the Marquette performance ties for the fifth-best showing in the nation this season. However, Barksdale does not yet appear in the overall conference or NCAA rankings because she has not played in enough games to qualify. Still, her 2.0 bpg. ratio in BIG EAST play is good for second in the league. Meanwhile, freshman Katy Flecky (3.9 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) was a two-time Miss Colorado Basketball and offers the Irish an physical presence in the post. She scored seven points in the win over Seton Hall on Jan. 9.
Villanova guard Mimi Riley hit a turnaround jumper from the baseline with four-tenths of a second left, giving the Wildcats a 60-59 BIG EAST Conference victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 12 at The Pavilion in Villanova, Pa. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Irish, who also dropped their first conference game of the season.
Junior guard Alicia Ratay scored a game-high 22 points and bagged a game-best seven rebounds for Notre Dame, which shot 46.9 percent from the field (22-49) and held a +14 rebounding edge (34-20) over the smaller Wildcats. Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast added 14 points for the Irish before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Trish Juhline, making her first appearance in two months following surgery for a broken foot, led four Villanova players in double figures with 19 points. Riley and Katie Davis each tallied 12 points and Courtney Mix chipped in with 11 points to help the Wildcats end a six-game losing streak to the Irish and claim their fourth series win over Notre Dame. In fact, all four VU wins have come on the Villanova campus, with the last coming nearly four years ago on Jan. 28, 1998.
Notre Dame (9-6, 3-1 BIG EAST) made the first move in the game, jumping out to a 7-2 lead on a layup by junior center Amanda Barksdale at the 17:17 mark. Villanova responded by scoring seven of the next eight points, but the Irish came right back and built a trio of four-point leads, including a 15-11 edge on a Batteast layup midway through the period.
The Wildcats (9-5, 3-1) turned things around with a 12-4 run over the next five minutes, taking their largest lead of the game (23-19) on a three-pointer by Juhline with 5:29 to go before halftime. However, as quickly as the hosts moved in front, Notre Dame erased the deficit behind the play of Ratay, who scored 10 of the last 12 points for the Irish, including 6-of-6 free throws, to form a 31-25 halftime lead for the visitors.
Notre Dame appeared ready to blow the game open at the start of the second half, going on a 7-2 run out of the locker room and taking a 38-27 lead on an old-fashioned three-point play by senior forward Ericka Haney with 17:18 to play. The Irish lead was still in double digits (44-34) just over three minutes later when Villanova reeled off nine unanswered points to get within one at the 9:29 mark.
Again, Notre Dame answered the challenge, going on an 11-2 surge behind eight consecutive points from Batteast, and grabbing a 55-45 lead on a three-pointer by the four-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week with 6:46 remaining. However, the Wildcats clawed back yet again, scoring the next eight points to get within a basket at the four-minute mark. Layups by Haney and freshman center Teresa Borton rebuilt a 59-53 lead for the Irish with 1:50 to go. As it turned out, those would be the final points of the day for the visitors.
Following a Villanova timeout, the Wildcats cut the deficit in half when Mix turned in a three-point play after drawing the fifth foul on Batteast. Notre Dame turned the ball over on its next possession and Riley pulled the hosts within 59-58 with 25 seconds to go. Villanova needed to foul twice to put the Irish into the bonus, eventually sending freshman guard Kelsey Wicks to the line with 20 seconds left. However, the Gillette, Wyo., native, who came into the game hitting 75 percent of her free throws, missed the front end of the one-and-one, setting up the final sequence of events.
The Wildcats initially turned to Mix for the final shot, but her runner in the lane with six seconds left caromed off the rim and after a scramble under the basket, the ball squirted out of bounds and went over to Villanova with 2.6 seconds to play. After a Wildcat timeout, Riley took the inbounds pass on the right block, fumbled the ball momentarily, then blindly tossed in the game-winner over her right shoulder to hand the Irish their second buzzer-beating loss of the year.
THE NOTRE DAME-PROVIDENCE SERIES
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Providence, 9-0, in a rivalry that began only after the Irish joined the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 1995-96 season. Notre Dame is 4-0 against the Friars at Alumni Hall and is averaging nearly 88 points per game against PC.
This will be the second meeting in two weeks for Notre Dame and Providence. In their first encounter on Jan. 5, the Irish jumped out to a 19-point lead late in the first half, then had to fight off a furious Friar rally down the stretch to claim a 72-66 victory. Notre Dame was led by a trio of freshmen – forward Jacqueline Batteast (26 points), center Teresa Borton (20) and guard Kelsey Wicks (9) – who all notched career highs, accounted for 55 points and shot a combined 59.3 percent (19-32) from the field in the victory. Ryann Kilgore came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points and Michal Epstein added 13 points for Providence.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-PROVIDENCE SERIES TIDBITS
- Providence is one of five BIG EAST Conference opponents against whom Notre Dame is unbeaten (9-0). The others are Pittsburgh (10-0), St. John’s (10-0), Virginia Tech (3-0) and West Virginia (8-0).
- Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points six times in nine previous meetings with Providence. Conversely, the Friars have broken the 70-point mark just three times against the Irish and have scored more than 60 points only once in their last six games against Notre Dame (a 72-66 loss in their last meeting on Jan. 5).
- The six-point margin (72-66) in the last game between the Irish and PC was the closest in the nine-game series between the two schools. It also represented the second-lowest scoring output by Notre Dame in the series.
- The Irish have averaged 93.5 points per game in four previous visits to Alumni Hall and have won all four games by an average margin of 22.8 ppg.
- Notre Dame is the only visiting school to have a unblemished all-time record (4-0) at Providence’s Alumni Hall with a minimum of three games played. The Irish also are one of four teams to boast a winning record on the Friars’ home court – the other success stories are Massachusetts (3-2), Miami (6-3) and Rutgers (6-1).
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- he Irish would pick up their eighth win in the last 10 games since opening the season at 2-4.
- Notre Dame would claim its 10th consecutive win over Providence, making the Friars the fourth opponent against whom the Irish are undefeated in at least 10 career games.
- The Irish would move to 49-6 (.891) vs. BIG EAST opponents over the last three-plus seasons.
- Notre Dame would jump to 42-16 (.724) on the road against BIG EAST foes.
- The Irish would improve their overall record to 97-18 (.843) since the start of the ’98-99 season.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Jan. 18)
Notre Dame has no major injuries to report.
NOTRE DAME TRAVEL PLANS
The Irish will depart for Providence via commercial airline on Friday at 1:40 p.m. (EST), arriving at approximately 7 p.m. While in Providence, Notre Dame will stay at the Providence Marriott (401-272-2400). Following their game with the Friars on Saturday afternoon, the Irish will travel on a chartered bus for Hartford, Conn., arriving in town around 7 p.m. Notre Dame will headquarter at the Hartford Hilton (860-728-5151). After Monday’s game with Connecticut, the Irish will return home later that evening on a chartered airplane, arriving back in South Bend at approximately 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.
FIVE OF A KIND
Notre Dame owns an undefeated series record against 12 opponents in its history (with a minimum of three games played), including seven foes on this year’s schedule. The Irish have already preserved their unblemished marks against non-conference rivals Valparaiso (15-0) and Western Michigan (7-0), and are looking to do the same against five BIG EAST opponents. In addition to Saturday’s foe, Providence (9-0), Notre Dame has never lost to Pittsburgh (10-0), St. John’s (10-0), Virginia Tech (3-0) or West Virginia (8-0).
REMINDER – VIRGINIA TECH GAME TIME HAS CHANGED
Following its two-game sojourn to New England this weekend, Notre Dame returns home Jan. 26 to face No. 20/21 Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. (EST) at the Joyce Center. Some early schedules and tickets incorrectly listed the tipoff time one hour later. The game also will be televised as part of the BIG EAST Conference television package, airing live on Fox Sports Chicago, Madison Square Garden Network and Fox 21/27 (WPXR 38) in Roanoke, Va.
THE BEASTS OF THE BIG EAST
Notre Dame is 92-16 (.852) in regular-season competition against the rest of BIG EAST Conference, owning the best conference winning percentage of any current member of the BIG EAST since joining the circuit for the 1995-96 campaign. The Irish also have won 48 of their last 54 regular-season conference games, and claimed a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 104-22 (.825) against league opponents – when factoring in these 18 postseason tilts, the Irish are 51-3 (.944) at home, 41-16 (.719) on the road and 12-6 (.667) at neutral sites all-time against BIG EAST foes.
Notre Dame fans have gotten a preview of things to come over the next four seasons in the last three games. The Irish freshman class has accounted for 40 points and 16.3 rebounds, and is shooting 54.9 percent (45-82) from the field in wins over Providence and Seton Hall and a last-second loss at Villanova.
The latest surge began on Jan. 5 in Notre Dame’s 72-66 win over Providence. The Irish freshman class, namely forward Jacqueline Batteast, center Teresa Borton and guard Kelsey Wicks, combined for 55 points in the victory, with all three posting career-high point totals – Batteast had 26 points, while Borton tossed in 20 markers and Wicks added nine points. The trio also scored 44 of Notre Dame’s first 46 points (including 41 in a row at one stretch), and single-handedly sparked a 22-2 run over a 7:36 span which gave the Irish a 42-23 lead late in the first half.
The run continued Jan. 9 in a 79-45 win over Seton Hall, as all six Irish rookies cracked the scoring column for the first time this season. The sextet teamed up for 46 points and shot 60.7 percent (17-28) from the floor in the victory. Borton and guard Allison Bustamante led the way for the Notre Dame newcomers – Borton tied a BIG EAST Conference rookie record by going 7-7 from the field and scoring 15 points, while Bustamante scored a career-high 11 points and made all four of her field goal attempts (2-2 from three-point land) in just 11 minutes of action.
BIG EAST = BIG NUMBERS
Notre Dame has stormed from the gate in BIG EAST Conference play, racing to a 3-1 start behind some gaudy numbers. The Irish are averaging 69.8 points per game (more than three points better than their 66.6 ppg. season average) and have scored at least 69 points in three of their four league games games after reaching that mark just four times in 11 non-conference tilts. Notre Dame also is shooting a sparkling 51.5 percent (100-194) from the field and 47.2 percent (25-53) in BIG EAST games, exceeding its season averages in those categories as well.
Two freshmen have stepped forward to ignite the Irish attack during conference play – center Teresa Borton and guard Allison Bustamante. Borton is averaging 11.0 ppg. and shooting 86.4 percent (19-22) in league action, while Bustamante is logging 4.8 ppg., shooting 87.5 percent (7-8) from the field and 80 percent (4-5) from beyond the three-point arc against BIG EAST opponents. Borton also set a conference rookie record by going 7-for-7 from the floor on Jan. 9 against Seton Hall, while Bustamante scored a career-high 11 points in 11 minutes against the Pirates.
THE 45-PERCENT SOLUTION
The Irish appear to have found their shooting eye of late, connecting at a 51.6 percent rate from the field (131-254) over their last five games. In its first 10 games, Notre Dame had shot better than 45 percent just once and owned a .409 field goal percentage. However, in their last five contests, the Irish have topped the 45-percent mark each time, including a season-high .580 field goal percentage (29-50) Jan. 9 against Seton Hall. Notre Dame is 5-1 when it shoots over 45 percent from the field and 9-4 when it owns a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
IRISH BREAK OUT LONG-RANGE ARTILLERY AT MIAMI
Notre Dame put together a record-setting performance from the three-point line in its Jan. 2 win at Miami. The Irish connected on 13-of-24 (.542) three-point attempts in the game, setting a school record for the most triples in one game. The old mark was 12 against St. John’s on Feb. 28, 1998 in the first round of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at Piscataway, N.J.
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
Location, location, location – that’s the mantra many real estate agents use, but it’s also a phrase which could easily be applied to Notre Dame this season. Here’s a look at the stark contrast which has developed between Irish fortunes at home and away from the cozy confines of the Joyce Center:
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STANCE
One of the trademarks of Notre Dame’s success this season has been its suffocating defense. In fact, over the course of three consecutive home games in December, the Irish put together three dominating defensive performances which rank among the best in recent memory.
Against Western Michigan, Notre Dame held the Broncos to a season-low 12 points, the fewest first-half markers by an Irish opponent since Georgetown scored 10 points in the 2001 BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals. Then, against Marquette, the Irish held the Golden Eagles to a season-low 33 points and 18.5 percent shooting from the field (10-of-54), marking Notre Dame’s best defensive field goal percentage since it held Butler to a school-record .149 ratio (9-of-61) on Jan. 30, 1984. Finally, against DePaul, the Irish limited the Blue Demons to 3-of-26 (.115) shooting and just 17 points in the first half. Additionally, in both the Marquette and DePaul games, Notre Dame held its Conference USA opponent without a field goal for the first 11 minutes of the contest.
IT’S BATTEAST, TO SAY THE LEAST
Although her college career is only 15 games old, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast already is showing much of the potential which led the BIG EAST Conference coaches to vote her as the league’s preseason Rookie of the Year. The South Bend, Ind., resident is a four-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week selection and is one of only two players to rank in the top five in the conference in scoring (5th, 15.0 ppg.), rebounding (2nd, 8.6 rpg.), blocked shots (4th, 1.53 bpg.) and double-doubles (2nd, 7th). She also is the only BIG EAST rookie to lead her team in both scoring and rebounding.
HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES?
The state of Washington is famous for its apples. But in the eyes of Irish fans, the Evergreen State is becoming known for another export – freshman center Teresa Borton.
The Yakima, Wash., native has been a force in the last five games, coming off the bench to average 10.4 points per game and an .821 field goal percentage (23-28) while sparking Notre Dame to a 4-1 record and three BIG EAST Conference triumphs. In fact, BIG EAST play certainly has agreed with Borton, who ranks third on the team with 11.0 ppg. in league games and is shooting a staggering 86.4 percent (19-22) from the field.
Earlier this month, Borton put together two of the finest games of her young career. She scored a career-high 20 points (9-11 FG) on Jan. 5 against Providence, then tied a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-of-7 from the field and scoring 15 points four days later against Seton Hall.
And, in a interesting twist, Borton’s recent run of success has coincided exactly with her 19th birthday, which she celebrated five games ago on Dec. 31 against DePaul!
FOR ALL LONG DISTANCE CALLS, DIAL “22”
On Jan. 2 at Miami, junior guard Alicia Ratay showed why she is still one of the nation’s premier sharpshooters and has earned the nickname “Dead Eye Ratay.” The Lake Zurich, Ill., native canned seven of nine three-point field goal attempts (a sharp .778 percentage) and finished with a season-high 23 points to lead the Irish to a victory in their BIG EAST Conference opener. The seven treys tied Ratay’s career high – she went seven for seven from beyond the arc on Feb. 19, 2000 at Rutgers, a memorable game in which she nailed two threes in the final 25 seconds of regulation to force overtime, where Notre Dame prevailed, 78-74.
Ratay leads the Irish with a .446 three-point percentage (29-65), a mark which would rank second in the BIG EAST and 22nd in the nation, but she has not made enough three-point goals to qualify. Her current ratio does puts her within striking distance of the NCAA record for three-point efficiency by a junior – Cara Frey of Harvard currently holds that mark with a .515 percentage in 1993. All of this comes on the heels of Ratay’s effort last season, when she nailed 54.7 percent of her three-point tries, breaking the NCAA record for long-range efficiency by a sophomore.
In her career, Ratay is making better than half of her long-distance attempts, hitting at a 50.1 percent clip (183-365) in her 83-game college career – that is good enough to set a new NCAA record for career three-point percentage, passing the current standard of .467 held by Erin Maher of Harvard. She already ranks fourth in Notre Dame’s career three-point field goals made and attempted lists, and her career percentage is nearly 80 points higher than her nearest challenger (Kari Hutchinson, .424, 1994-98).
BARKSDALE’S BLOCK PARTY
Junior center Amanda Barksdale has forced opponents to deal with rejection quite often this season. Although she missed Notre Dame’s first four games with a stress reaction in her leg, she still leads the Irish with 3.3 blocks per game (36 rejections). In fact, she would lead the BIG EAST Conference and place fifth nationally in that category, but she has yet to play in enough games to qualify for the conference or NCAA rankings. Nevertheless, she was at her best last month, when she rang up a school-record eight blocks against Marquette on Dec. 22 and added seven rejections against USC on Dec. 9. Those single-game performances rank first and second in the BIG EAST and the Marquette outing is tied for the fifth-best total in the nation this season.
In her career, Barksdale has 128 career blocks, making her only the fifth player in school history to reach the century mark in career rejections. She now needs just five blocks to catch Shari Matvey (133) for third place on Notre Dame’s career blocks list. In addition, she is averaging 1.73 blocks per game in her 74-game career, which is second in Irish history behind only 2001 consensus national player of the year, Ruth Riley, who averaged 2.82 swats per game from 1997-2001.
A SEVERE DEVELOPMENT
Sophomore guard Le’Tania Severe has quickly adapted to her new role as a primary point guard for the Irish, filling the large shoes of All-American Niele Ivey. Through 15 games this season, Severe is fourth on the team with 6.7 points per game and leads the squad with 4.9 assists per game, ranking eighth in the BIG EAST Conference in the latter category. Entering the 2001-02 campaign, her career highs were seven points and two assists and she had played in just 22 games due to injury.
Severe has been adept at distributing the ball to her teammates, leading the team in assists in 11 games and dealing at least five assists eight times, including a career-high eight handouts against Purdue and Western Michigan. She also has proven to be a scoring threat when necessary, pouring in a career-high 17 points against USC and reaching double figures five times this season.
NOTRE DAME AMONG NATIONAL ATTENDANCE LEADERS
Notre Dame is ranked seventh in the nation, according to the latest unofficial attendance figures released Monday by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Department. The Irish have averaged 7,407 fans for their eight home games, more than 1,000 ahead of last season’s figures, when Notre Dame was ranked ninth in the country in attendance with an average of 6,376 fans per game.
A LITTLE COMPARISON SHOPPING
Prior to the 2001-02 season, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw compared her team to the 1997-98 Irish squad. Through 15 games this season, that comparison seems to be holding true in several ways. Here’s a look at some of the similarities between this year’s club and the ’97-98 unit:
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
With six freshmen making up half of this year’s roster, Notre Dame is certainly going through some growing pains. However, the Irish rookies are getting a great deal of college experience this season, as evidenced by their production through 15 games of the 2001-02 campaign. Notre Dame’s freshmen have accounted for 47.7 percent of the points (477 of 999), 47.3 percent of the rebounds (303 of 641) and 39.5 percent of the minutes (1185 of 3000) recorded by the Irish this season. Additionally, Notre Dame started two freshmen (Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton) in its first six games this year, and four of the six Irish rookies are averaging at least 12 minutes per contest.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Despite losing its top two rebounders from last year (Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon), Notre Dame doesn’t appear to have broken stride in the rebounding department this season. The Irish have averaged 42.7 rebounds per game through 15 games in 2001-02, owning a +8.3 edge on the glass, which ranks third in the BIG EAST Conference and 18th in the nation this week.
Leading the charge on the boards for Notre Dame have been a pair of freshmen – forward Jacqueline Batteast is setting the pace at 8.6 rebounds per game (ranking second in the BIG EAST), while center Teresa Borton is fourth with 4.7 caroms per contest. Additionally, the Irish have been potent on the offensive glass, collecting 14.1 offensive rebounds per game. Batteast and Borton also are setting the pace in that category – Batteast has 43 offensive boards (2.87 orpg.), ranking seventh in the BIG EAST, while Borton has corralled 34 offensive caroms (2.27), placing 13th in the conference.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
Over the last five-plus seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 94-1 (.989) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Curiously, the only time that notion didn’t come to pass was last season, when Rutgers handed Notre Dame a 54-53 loss, one of only two setbacks the Irish suffered en route to the 2001 national championship.
The Irish already have added to this total seven times during the 2001-02 season – Valparaiso (35 points), Army (57), USC (49), Western Michigan (48), Marquette (33), DePaul (50) and Seton Hall (45).
… BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SCORE IF YOU WANT TO WIN
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. Over the last five-plus seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 80-3 (.964) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998. Notre Dame contributed another win to that growing record when it rang up 89 points in a win over Army on Nov. 26.
NOTRE DAME MAKING A LIVING BEYOND THE ARC
The season-opening win over Valparaiso produced an offensive anomaly for Notre Dame. The Irish were held without a three-point field goal, breaking a streak of 50 consecutive games in which they had made at least one trey. Prior to that game, the last time Notre Dame had gone dry from beyond the arc was Jan. 26, 2000, at St. John’s.
Notre Dame didn’t waste time in starting up a new three-point streak, canning 84 triples in their last 14 games (6.0 per game), including a school-record 13 treys at Miami on Jan. 2. The Irish have now made at least one three-pointer in 160 of their last 162 games, a streak dating back four seasons.
FRESH FACES IN THE IRISH LINEUP
Notre Dame had a decidedly youthful look in its starting lineup when it opened the season Nov. 18 against Valparaiso, as freshmen Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton got the nod at forward and center, respectively. In doing so, the pair were first rookie tandem in 20 years to start a season opener for the Irish – Ruth Kaiser and Mary Beth Schueth cracked the starting five in a 78-44 win over St. Joseph’s (Ind.) on Dec. 2, 1981. Borton paced the Irish with 14 points and nine rebounds against Valparaiso, while Batteast scored two points and grabbed five boards against the Crusaders.
McGRAW REACHES COACHING MILESTONE AGAINST DEPAUL
Muffet McGraw coached her 450th game at Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve against DePaul. She owns a 331-123 (.729) record in her 15th season with the Irish, making her the winningest coach in school history and fourth on the BIG EAST Conference career wins list behind Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (444), Rutgers’ Theresa Grentz (434) and Villanova’s Harry Perretta (427).
In addition, McGraw is the sixth coach to work 450 games at a BIG EAST Conference school. Three of those coaches are still active in the league – Perretta (677), Auriemma (542) and Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina (473). Grentz (584) and Virginia Tech’s Carol Alfano (540) are the other BIG EAST mentors who reached that milestone.
THE END OF ONE STREAK …
For the first time since the end of the 1997-98 season, Notre Dame was not ranked in either of the major national polls on Dec. 3. The exclusion snapped a 60-week run in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll and a 56-week stretch in the AP rankings. This week, the Irish earned four points in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today poll.
… BUT THE CONTINUATION OF ANOTHER
Thanks to Kent State’s loss at home to Rhode Island on Dec. 1, Notre Dame now owns the longest active home winning streak in the nation at 46 games. The Irish have not lost a game at the Joyce Center since Dec. 8, 1998, when Connecticut logged a 106-81 victory. Notre Dame’s home winning streak next will be put to the test Jan. 26 when the Irish play host to No. 20/21 Virginia Tech in a 6 p.m. (EST) contest at the Joyce Center.
RATAY NAMED NAISMITH CANDIDATE FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Notre Dame junior guard Alicia Ratay has been selected as a preseason candidate for the 2001-02 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. It marks the second time in as many seasons that Ratay has been named to the 30-player preseason Naismith watch list.
Ratay averaged 12.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, and set an NCAA record for three-point percentage (54.7 percent) by a sophomore on the way to third-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors – she was the only sophomore to make any of the three all-league squads. Ratay also is a former BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press in 2000. She will be looking to follow in the footsteps of her former teammate, Ruth Riley, who won the 2000-01 Naismith Award, becoming the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to be so recognized.
The Naismith Awards, in their 34th year, are given in honor of the inventor of the game of basketball – Dr. James Naismith. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The Awards, including Men’s and Women’s College Player of the Year, Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year, Male and Female Prep Player of the Year and Men’s and Women’s Official of the Year, are determined by a vote of the Naismith Board of Selectors. In addition, the Board of Selectors, comprised of a select group of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators, honors a Men’s and Women’s Outstanding Contributor to Basketball. The 2001-02 Naismith Award will presented April 5, 2002 in Atlanta.
NOTRE DAME PICKED SECOND IN BIG EAST PRESEASON BALLOTING
Fresh off a share of their first-ever BIG EAST championship last season, the Irish have been picked to finish second in 2001-02 according to a preseason poll of the league’s coaches which was released at BIG EAST Media Day on Oct. 25. Notre Dame claimed two first-place votes and 155 points overall, trailing only Connecticut (11 first-place votes, 167 points). Rutgers, Boston College and Villanova round out the top five, with VU picking up the remaining first-place vote.
Individually, junior guard Alicia Ratay was a first team preseason all-BIG EAST selection after earning third-team honors last year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native set an NCAA record for three-point percentage by a sophomore last season (.547) and is the top returning scorer for the Irish in 2001-02 after charting 12.9 points per game a year ago.
Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney also was recognized by the conference coaches, earning second team preseason all-BIG EAST laurels. She joins Ratay as one of two starters back from last year’s NCAA championship squad and averaged 11 ppg. and 5.7 rpg. during the ’00-01 campaign.
In addition, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast was chosen as the preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. It was one in a series of early-season honors for the South Bend, Ind., product, who also was named a first team freshman All-American by the Women’s Basketball News Service and was tabbed as one of the Top 21 “New Players of Impact” by Women’s College Hoops.com.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
This season, for only the fourth time in school history, Notre Dame has just one captain – senior guard/forward Ericka Haney. She is the first solo captain for the Irish since Sheila McMillen in 1998-99 and the second in head coach Muffet McGraw’s 15-year tenure.
IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
The 13 players on this season’s Notre Dame roster hail from 10 different states, including two each from Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame women’s basketball roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster – Michigan (14) – is not represented on this season’s roster.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that haven’t made an appearance in quite some time. Freshman guard Kelsey Wicks has chosen to wear No. 24, becoming the first Irish player since Andrea Alexander (1990-94) to sport those digits. In addition, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast is wearing No. 21 this season, a number which has not been modeled by an Irish player since All-American Beth Morgan wore the same jersey from 1993-97. Prior to Morgan, the last Notre Dame player to wear No. 21 was current Irish assistant coach Coquese Washington, who had the number from 1989-93.
IRISH CLOSING IN ON 500TH ALL-TIME VICTORY
Notre Dame is on the verge of becoming the 50th team in NCAA history, and the fourth BIG EAST Conference school to post 500 career wins. The Irish currently have an all-time record of 495-222 (.690), putting them just five victories away from the magic mark. However, Notre Dame is in a dogfight with several other schools to see who will be the next to reach the 500-win plateau. Here’s a look at the standings in the race to 500 wins (through games of Jan. 17):