Oct. 26, 2000

NEWARK, N.J. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team has been picked in a preseason vote of the league’s coaches to finish third in the BIG EAST Conference. Defending BIG EAST and NCAA champion Connecticut is the unanimous choice to win the 2000-01 BIG EAST regular season title. Coaches did not place their own teams on their ballots. Rutgers was second, while Boston College was fourth. Connecticut senior guard Shea Ralph is the choice for the 2000-01 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head women’s basketball coaches. Coaches were not permitted to select their own players.

Ralph is joined on the ’00-01 Preseason all-BIG EAST first team by three members of the ’99-’00 all-BIG EAST first team. Notre Dame senior All-American center Ruth Riley, Connecticut senior forward Svetlana Abrosimova and Rutgers guard Tasha Pointer return this season. UConn junior Sue Bird has been selected to the preseason first team after earning second team accolades in ’99-00. Irish senior guard Niele Ivey and sophomore guard Alicia Ratay were voted to the all-BIG EAST second team.

The Irish will play a pair of exhibition games versus all-star teams (Nov. 5 at 7:00 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m.) prior to their season opener at Valparaiso at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 17.

2000-01 BIG EAST Coaches’ Preseason Poll

1. Connecticut (13) 169

2. Rutgers (1) 152

3. Notre Dame 150

4. Boston College 129

T5. Georgetown 100

T5. Virginia Tech 100

7. Villanova 94

8. Pittsburgh 92

9. Miami 88

10. Syracuse 53

11. St. John’s 49

12. Providence 44

13. Seton Hall 39

14. West Virginia 15

2000-01 Preseason Player of the Year: Shea Ralph, Sr., G/F, 6-0, Connecticut (Fayetteville, N.C./Terry Sanford)

2000-01 Preseason Rookie of the Year: Diana Taurasi, Fr., G, 5-11, Connecticut (Chino, Calif./Don Lugo)

Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team

*Svetlana Abrosimova, Connecticut, G/F, Sr., St. Petersburg, Russia

Sue Bird, Connecticut, G, Jr., Syosset, N.Y.

Tasha Pointer, Rutgers, G, Sr., Chicago, Ill.

*Shea Ralph, Connecticut, G, Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.

*Ruth Riley, Notre Dame, C, Sr., Macy, Ind.

Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team

Becky Gottstein, Boston College, F, Jr., Albany, N.Y.

Niele Ivey, Notre Dame, G, Sr., St. Louis, Mo.

Alicia Ratay, Notre Dame, G, So., Lake Zurich, Ill.

Katie Smrcka-Duffy, Georgetown, G, Sr., Sterling, Va.

Tammy Sutton-Brown, Rutgers, C, Sr., Markham, Ontario

* – unanimous selection