Dec. 5, 2002
AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II
(#9 AP/#9 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0)
vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (5-0)
The Date and Time: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002, at Noon MST (2 p.m. in South Bend).
The Site: Wells Fargo Arena (14,088) in Tempe, Ariz.
The TV Plans: Fox Sports Net national telecast with Barry Tompkins (play-by-play), Tammy Blackburn (analysis) and Dennis Kirkpatrick (producer). The game will air live in South Bend on Fox Sports Chicago.
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires handling the play-by-play. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics website at www.und.com.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Arizona State (www.thesundevils.com).
NOTRE DAME MAKES RARE VISIT TO VALLEY OF THE SUN TO BATTLE ARIZONA STATE
For only the third time in school history, but the second time in as many seasons, No. 9 Notre Dame will travel to the state of Arizona to face Arizona State Saturday at noon (MST) in AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II. The Irish are winless in two previous trips to the Valley of the Sun, losing to ASU in 1983 and dropping a last-second decision at Arizona last season.
Notre Dame remained unbeaten on the young 2002-03 season with a rugged 74-68 win at Valparaiso Wednesday night. Senior guard Alicia Ratay led four Irish players in double figures with a game-high 21 points, including eight-of-10 free throws. Junior guard Le’Tania Severe also stood out at the free throw line, making a career-high 11-of-14 foul shots and finishing with a season-best 15 points.
As a team, the Irish shot 50 percent from the floor, the third consecutive game in which they have reached that mark. Notre Dame also made 30 of 40 free throws in the contest, the most charities by an Irish club since the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament vs. George Washington.
Notre Dame led virtually the entire game against Valparaiso, using a 10-2 run midway through the first half to widen the gap. However, the Crusaders doggedly stayed with the Irish all night long, closing to within one point in the opening moments of the second half. Notre Dame countered with a 14-1 run over the next five minutes and the Irish held off a late Valparaiso charge for the win.
Arizona State is 5-0 this season after a 74-70 upset of No. 14 Georgia Monday night. The Sun Devils are led by freshman Jill Noe, who scored 20 points against the Bulldogs and is averaging 13 ppg. Head coach Charli Turner-Thorne is in her seventh year at ASU with a 95-86 (.525) record at the school.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame’s latest ascension to college basketball’s summit already is underway, thanks in large part to the nine returning monogram winners and three starters back from last season’s 20-10 club. Of the nine veterans back in the fold, only two are seniors, providing head coach Muffet McGraw with a rich blend of stability and experience upon which to build her next title contender.
McGraw now is in her 16th season at Notre Dame with a 345-127 (.731) record that includes 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament bids, four trips to the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four berths and the 2001 national championship. Along the way, she has groomed seven All-Americans, 17 all-conference selections (including 10 first-team picks), seven players who have gone on to play professional basketball in the United States, and three USA Basketball National Team players (who have won a total of six medals). In addition, she has developed a knack for training outstanding coaches, with 15 of her former players and/or assistants currently coaching at the high school or college level, including five collegiate head coaches. She also has been a master recruiter, attracting seven consecutive top 20 classes, including this year’s freshman class, which was ranked eighth in the nation by Blue Star Basketball.
Two of Notre Dame’s three returning starters already have received numerous preseason accolades. Senior guard Alicia Ratay (14.0 ppg., 4.0 rpg., .591 FG%) is a two-time Associated Press All-American and she is a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection this year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has seen her name sprinkled liberally througout the Notre Dame record book, including marks for scoring (9th, 1,417 points), three-point field goal percentage (1st, .478) and free throw percentage (1st, .868). In the latter two categories, Ratay’s shooting numbers would be good enough to place her among the top 10 in NCAA history, and her three-point ratio would be the best in NCAA history. After scoring a team-high 17 points at USC, Ratay poured in a season-high 21 points, connecting on 8-of-10 free throws at Valparaiso. She has made 12 of her last 18 shots from the field, posting 6-of-9 performances in her last two games.
In addition, Ratay joined sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (15.3 ppg., team-high 8.0 rpg., one double-double) on the list of 30 candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s outstanding player. Batteast is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year after turning in one of the finest rookie seasons in school history. Like Ratay, she also was a preseason first-team all-conference choice this year. Batteast nearly posted a triple-double in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over Cleveland State, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. She did notch her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds at USC.
Joining Ratay in the Irish backcourt is junior guard Le’Tania Severe (13.0 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 3.3 apg., team-best .667 FG%), who quickly has developed into one of the top point guards in the BIG EAST. Last season, the speedy Severe capably filled the large shoes left by the graduation of All-American Niele Ivey, setting career highs in virtually every statistical category. Severe has evolved into a scoring threat for the Irish this year, scoring in double figures in all three games after cracking double digits only seven times in her first two years at Notre Dame. She canned all three of her three-point attempts vs. Cleveland State and scored a season-high 15 points at Valparaiso, knocking down a career-best 11-of-14 free throws. Severe is backstopped by freshman Megan Duffy (1.0 ppg., 2.3 apg.), a crafty lefthander with a commanding floor presence and a smooth outside jumper. Duffy averaged 14 points and 5.8 assists per game as a senior at Dayton’s Chaminade-Julienne High School before tearing the ACL in her right knee midway through the campaign.
At the other guard position, sophomore Kelsey Wicks (2.7 ppg., 2.0 rpg.) offers a unique mix of outside shooting ability and toughness in the paint. The 6-2 native of Gillette, Wyo., connected at a 33-percent clip from the three-point line as a freshman, and she showed no fear in playing some of the nation’s elite teams, scoring in double figures on the road at Connecticut and Tennessee.
Senior walk-on Karen Swanson (5.0 ppg., 1.0 apg.), junior Jeneka Joyce and sophomore Jill Krause (0.0 ppg., 1.0 spg.) also will be counted on for support at the guard positions. Swanson tied her career high with five points vs. Cleveland State. Meanwhile, Joyce is sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a myriad of leg injuries suffered during her career.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton (12.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg., .615 FG%) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (team-high 16.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg., .571 FG%) have teamed up with Batteast to produce a formidable front line for Notre Dame this season. The 6-3 Borton turned in a solid performance in Notre Dame’s season opener, hitting her first six shots and finishing with 18 points. She also collected a game-high eight rebounds against Valparaiso. At the same time, Flecky is widely considered to be the most improved player on the Notre Dame roster, after logging 10 points per game during her team’s tour of Europe last May. She already has displayed her improvement this season, tallying a career-high 22 points and game-best eight rebounds vs. Cleveland State and adding 13 points at both USC and Valparaiso. Those three double-figure games matched her total from all of last season.
Freshman forward Courtney LaVere (7.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) also is seeing significant playing time on the blocks for the Irish this season. LaVere was a consensus prep All-American as a senior at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif., averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, all while shooting 57 percent from the field. The potential the 6-3 LaVere brings to the table was noticed by one national media outlet prior to the season, as the website Women’s College Hoops.com named the Irish rookie one of its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact.” LaVere wasted little time in living up to that billing, coming off the bench to card 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Irish won their season opener over Cleveland State. It was the highest scoring output by a Notre Dame freshman in her debut since Ratay’s 18-point night vs. Toledo in 1999.
SERIES HISTORY VS. ARIZONA STATE
Notre Dame has faced Arizona State just once before in its 26-year history. Back on Jan. 23, 1983, the Sun Devils posted an 82-57 win over the Irish at the ASU Activity Center (now known as Wells Fargo Arena) in Tempe. Laura Dougherty scored 17 points and Trena Keys came off the bench to log 10 points for Notre Dame, which shot 39.7 percent from the field and was outscored 26-11 at the free throw line. Cassandra Lander (24 points, 12 rebounds) and Kym Hampton (20 points, 12 rebounds) both notched double-doubles for Arizona State.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
Little by little, Arizona State head coach Charli Turner-Thorne quietly has been building a women’s basketball power in the Southwest. After seven consecutive losing seasons from 1994-2000, the Sun Devils have won 20 games and reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two years, advancing to the second round after winning the inaugural Pacific-10 Conference Tournament last season. However, the odds didn’t appear to be in ASU’s favor heading into the 2002-03 campaign, as the Sun Devils lost their top three scorers and two leading rebounders to graduation. Arizona State took a pair of additional hits earlier this year when its top returning scorer and rebounder, junior guard/forward Betsy Boardman, and its tallest player, 6-4 sophomore forward Alexis Tate, went down with season-ending knee injuries.
Despite a mountain of adversity standing in their way, the Sun Devils have not only survived, but thrived this season, racing to a 5-0 record. ASU’s most impressive win came in its most recent game on Monday night, when the Sun Devils upset No. 14 Georgia, 74-70, at Wells Fargo Arena. Freshman guard Jill Noe scored 20 points and plucked seven rebounds for ASU, which shot only 39.6 percent from the field, but countered that with a 28-for-37 (.757) effort at the free throw line.
With the losses of Boardman and Tate, a trio of freshmen have stepped in to fill the void for Arizona State. Noe leads ASU in scoring (13.0 ppg.), ranks second in three-point percentage (.462) and third in both rebounds (5.2 rpg.) and assists (2.6 apg.). Freshman forward Kristin Kovesdy is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 ppg., thanks mainly to her team-best .731 field goal percentage (19-26). Amy Denson, another rookie forward, is right behind Kovesdy at 11.3 ppg., along with a team-high 6.6 rpg.
Two veterans have helped the freshmen to succeed in the early going. Sophomore guard Carrie Buckner is carding 10.2 ppg. with 2.4 steals per game, while sophomore guard Kylan Loney has been a threat from long range, averaging 9.4 ppg. with a team-best .588 three-point percentage (10-17). Loney also is tied for the team lead with 20 assists this year.
Turner-Thorne is in her seventh season at Arizona State with a 95-86 (.525) record at the school. She previously spent three years as the head coach at Northern Arizona and has a career coaching record of 135-126 (.517). This will be her first-ever meeting with Notre Dame as a head coach, although she did face the Irish in 1991 when she was an assistant at Santa Clara < the=”” broncos=”” defeated=”” notre=”” dame,=”” 81-65=”” en=”” route=”” to=”” the=”” nwit=”” championship.=””>
BEEN A LONG TIME
The last time Notre Dame and Arizona State faced one another, Ronald Reagan was midway through his first term as U.S. president, MTV had just been launched and the computer world was abuzz as a new corporation named Apple got off the ground. In addition, current Irish head coach Muffet McGraw was in the middle of her first season as a college skipper, guiding Lehigh to a 14-9 record while earning East Coast Conference Coach of the Year honors. On the other bench, present-day Arizona State head coach Charli Turner-Thorne was only a junior at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, Calif.
However, this may be the most telling fact about the length of time between games in the ND-ASU series: the oldest player on the Notre Dame roster (senior guard Alicia Ratay) was only 20 months old the last time the Irish and Sun Devils matched up, and five Notre Dame players (Jacqueline Batteast, Megan Duffy, Jill Krause, Courtney LaVere and Kelsey Wicks) hadn’t even been born yet!
Strangely, at nearly 20 years, this still won’t be the longest hiatus between series games in Irish history. That distinction will come in two weeks on Dec. 21, when Notre Dame plays IUPU-Fort Wayne for the first time since Jan. 24, 1979 < a=”” span=”” of=”” 23=”” years,=”” 10=”” months=”” and=”” 27=”” days.=””>
NOTRE DAME-ARIZONA STATE CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame director of athletics Kevin White held the same post at Arizona State from 1996-2000. While in Tempe, White oversaw an ASU athletics program that won three NCAA titles and posted NCAA runner-up finishes twice. The Sun Devils also rose to 11th in the 1999-2000 Sears Directors’ Cup rankings under White’s guidance.
- Arizona State director of athletics Gene Smith is a 1977 graduate of Notre Dame, where he was a three-year monogram winner as a defensive end in football. He also was a member of the Irish squad that won the 1973 national championship. Upon graduation, Smith remained at Notre Dame from 1977-81, serving as an assistant football coach and helping guide the Irish to the ’77 national title.
- Notre Dame associate athletics director Jim Phillips was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Arizona State from 1990-97, spending the first two years as a graduate assistant. He later served as an athletic development officer at ASU in 1997-98, assisting with the annual giving program as well as its $35 million capital campaign for facilities. Phillips earned his master’s degree in administration from Arizona State in 1992.
NOTRE DAME VERSUS THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE
The Irish have a limited history against the Pacific-10 Conference, posting an 11-13 (.458) record against the league all-time. Notre Dame has played six of the 10 Pac-10 member schools, holding winning series records against Arizona (2-1), USC (4-1) and Washington (1-0). The Irish have never faced California, Oregon, Oregon State or Washington State.
Saturday’s game is the second in as many weeks for Notre Dame at a Pac-10 institution. Back on Nov. 29, the Irish rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to oust USC, 69-57, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Senior guard Alicia Ratay scored a team-high 17 points to pace five Irish players in double figures. Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast added her first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of Dec. 5)
Junior G Jeneka Joyce leg injuries, out indefinitely
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING
The Irish are in the midst of a four-game road trip through three time zones, their longest in-season junket since a similar four-game stretch Dec. 19, 1998-Jan. 2, 1999. Notre Dame went 3-1 on that extended road swing, winning at South Florida and Michigan State, dropping a BIG EAST Conference contest at Boston College, before bouncing back to topple Georgetown in Washington, D.C. So far this season, the Irish are 2-0 on their whirlwind tour, having picked up victories at USC and Valparaiso.
Last season, Notre Dame struggled early on to find the winning formula on the road, dropping its first five games away from the Joyce Center before defeating Miami on Jan. 2. It took the Irish a lot less time to earn a road win this season, as Notre Dame claimed its road opener, 69-57 at USC. The Irish then added their second victory away from home Wednesday night with a 74-68 conquest of Valparaiso. It took Notre Dame two months and eight games to earn two road wins last season. With the victory over Valparaiso, the Irish have won eight of their last 10 regular-season road games, including the last six in a row. The only blemishes on that record came last January with a last-second loss at Villanova and a setback at eventual national champion Connecticut.
NOTRE DAME’S FAB FIVE
The Irish have posted a pair of impressive early-season wins, thanks in large measure to the play of their starters. All five members of Notre Dame’s current lineup < three=”” of=”” whom=”” are=”” sophomores=””>< are=”” averaging=”” in=”” double=”” figures,=”” led=”” by=”” sophomore=”” forward=””>Katy Flecky, who is logging 16.0 points per game (more than three times her season scoring average last year). Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast is second at 15.3 ppg., followed by last year’s scoring leader, senior guard Alicia Ratay (14.0 ppg.). Junior guard Le’Tania Severe (13.0 ppg.) and sophomore center Teresa Borton (12.3 ppg.) round out this stellar starting cast. As if that weren’t enough, all five Irish starters are shooting better than 50 percent from the field, paced by Severe’s superb .667 ratio (12-18).
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES
Notre Dame has shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of its first three games. The last time the Irish did that was March 6-19, 2001, when they lost the BIG EAST Championship game at Connecticut (50.9 pecent), but rebounded to defeat Alcorn State (54.5 percent) and Michigan (51.5 percent) in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
THE ROARING TWENTIES
Senior guard Alicia Ratay scored a game-high 21 points in Notre Dame’s 74-68 win at Valparaiso Wednesday night. It was the 20th time in her career she has topped the 20-point mark, which is good for seventh in the Irish career record book. Ratay also notched the 76th double-figure scoring game of her career, tying Niele Ivey (1996-2001) for sixth place in school history.
THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
Notre Dame made a living at the free throw line in its win at Valparaiso Wednesday night. The Irish connected on 30-of-40 free throws in the contest, including 23-of-31 in the second half, en route to the 74-68 victory. The 30 charities made were the most by Notre Dame since March 19, 2000, when it hit a school-record 33 free throws in an NCAA Tournament win over George Washington. The 46 free throw attempts were the most by the Irish since it tried 46 freebies vs. Connecticut on Jan. 15, 2001 < notre=”” dame=”” made=”” 26=”” free=”” throws=”” that=”” afternoon=”” en=”” route=”” to=”” its=”” first-ever=”” win=”” over=”” the=”” huskies.=””>
Individually, junior guard Le’Tania Severe set a new career high by making 11-of-14 free throws against Valparaiso. Her 14 free throw attempts tied for the fifth-highest total in school history, and they were the most since Meaghan Leahy went 12-for-14 at the stripe against Fordham on Nov. 27, 2000.
Senior guard Alicia Ratay reached another milestone Wednesday night, becoming the 10th player in school history to start 100 career games. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native has started 100 of 101 games for Notre Dame, yielding her starting spot to Imani Dunbar for Senior Night in 2001 (vs. Georgetown). Ratay’s 100 starts tie her with Margaret Nowlin for ninth on the Notre Dame career games started list. Sandy Botham (101), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (102) and Mary Gavin (105) are next on the list for Ratay, who should pass that trio before the end of the calendar year. Ruth Riley holds the school record with 124 career starting assignments.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Notre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in each of its first three games, including five double-digit scorers in its first two outings. That marks the first time the Irish have had four players in double figures for three consecutive games since the first three contests of the 2001 NCAA Tournament vs. Alcorn State (five), Michigan (four) and Utah (four).
DEPAUL TIME CHANGE ADVISORY
The Dec. 11 game between Notre Dame and DePaul will tip off at 7 p.m. CST (8 p.m. in South Bend), not one half hour later as some earlier schedules have noted. The game will be televised live back to South Bend on WHME-TV (Channel 46), with Bob Nagle calling the play-by-play.
Senior guard Alicia Ratay is on the threshold of several career milestones in 2002-03. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native reached her first landmark Wednesday night, becoming the fifth player in school history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career. She also is the second Irish player in three seasons to turn that trick, following Kelley Siemon, who completed the hat trick when she scored her 1,000th point in Notre Dame’s NCAA championship game win over Purdue in 2001. The others in this elite group are Beth Morgan (1993-97), current Irish assistant coach Letitia Bowen (1991-95) and Trena Keys (1982-86). Ratay currently has 1,417 points, 521 rebounds and 201 assists.
Ratay also is 36 three-point field goals away from breaking the Notre Dame career record of 249, currently held by Sheila McMillen (1995-99). Ratay has averaged more than 70 treys per season during her first three years at Notre Dame.
Two other milestones also are within Ratay’s reach. She ranks ninth on the Irish all-time scoring list with 1,417 points, but she needs only 172 counters to move into the top five on that chart, catching Keys (1,589 from 1982-86). In addition, Ratay has been one of the most durable players in school history, appearing in all 101 Irish games in her career and starting all but one (2001 Senior Night vs. Georgetown). She can break the Notre Dame career records for starts and games played with 28 starts and 35 games played this season.
Ratay already holds the Irish career marks for free throw (.868) and three-point field goal (.478) percentages, records which would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history. In addition her three-point percentage would stand as the best in NCAA history if her career ended today. For a complete rundown of Ratay’s place in the Notre Dame record books, please see the charts on page 9 of these notes.
Notre Dame is ranked ninth in the latest Associated Press poll, marking the fourth consecutive week the Irish have appeared in the top 10 this season. The current No. 9 ranking represents the 45th week in which Notre Dame has been ranked in the Top 10 (two weeks in 1996-97, 16 in 1998-99, 15 in 1999-2000, 18 in 2000-01 and four in 2002-03).
Notre Dame was ranked 10th in the preseason AP poll, marking the sixth time in the last seven seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year. It was the third time in the last four years that Notre Dame was ranked in the top 10 of the preseason AP poll < the=”” irish=”” were=”” seventh=”” in=”” the=”” first=”” 1999-2000=”” poll,=”” and=”” placed=”” sixth=”” in=”” the=”” 2000-01=”” preseason=”” poll.=””>
The Irish are ranked ninth in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, marking their highest ascension in that poll since they claimed the top spot after their run to the national championship in 2001. Notre Dame checked at No. 12 in the preseason coaches poll, marking the third time in four seasons that the Irish appeared in the top 12 of that survey < they=”” were=”” ninth=”” in=”” 1999-2000=”” and=”” fifth=”” to=”” open=”” the=”” 2000-01=”” campaign.=”” notre=”” dame=”” is=”” slated=”” to=”” face=”” four=”” teams=”” that=”” are=”” currently=”” ranked=”” in=”” both=”” major=”” polls=”” (no.=”” 3/2=”” connecticut,=”” no.=”” 4/5=”” tennessee,=”” no.=”” 6/6=”” purdue=”” and=”” no.=”” 22/20=”” boston=”” college).=”” in=”” addition,=”” nine=”” other=”” notre=”” dame=”” opponents=”” presently=”” are=”” receiving=”” votes=”” in=”” one=”” or=”” both=”” of=”” the=”” major=”” polls=””>< arizona=”” state,=”” colorado=”” state,=”” depaul,=”” pittsburgh,=”” rutgers,=”” temple,=”” usc,=”” villanova=”” and=”” virginia=”” tech.=””>
RATAY, BATTEAST NAMED TO 2002-03 NAISMITH PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Senior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) have been named preseason candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball.
The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.
For Ratay, this year’s selection to the Naismith Preseason Watch List is her third in as many seasons. The senior guard is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and ranks ninth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,417 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.478) and free throw percentage (.868), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 36 treys to eclipse Sheila McMillen’s total of 249 from 1995-99.
Last season, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection after finishing third in the conference in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She also averaged a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record 88.2 percent of her charities. Ratay started every game for the Irish last season and has played in every Notre Dame game in her career, starting 99 of a possible 100 contests.
Batteast was named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America pick after averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in her rookie season at Notre Dame. The sophomore forward ranked second in the BIG EAST in rebounding and double-doubles (11) and fifth in blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), earning second-team all-conference honors along the way. She also was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a six-time conference Rookie of the Week in 2001-02. Batteast is one of only four sophomores to be named to the 2002-03 Naismith Preseason Watch List.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools to have more than one women’s basketball player named to the Naismith Preseason Watch List, joining Duke, Kansas State, LSU and Tennessee in that select group.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE …
Over the last seven 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 103-2 (.981) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. The only times that notion didn’t come to pass were on Feb. 17, 2001 (Rutgers 54-53), and Feb. 26, 2002 (Villanova 48-45). Notre Dame added a win to that count last Friday with a 69-57 victory at USC.
… 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 seven seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 82-3 (.965) 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 added a win to that total in its season opener, routing Cleveland State, 107-65.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Notre Dame has two captains this season < senior=”” guard=””>Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and junior guard Le’Tania Severe (Pembroke Pines, Fla.).They are the 34th and 35th different players to serve as captains for the Irish in the 26-year history of the program (not including the 1986-87 season, when captains were chosen on a game-by-game basis).
IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
The 11 players on this year’s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame 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=”” for=”” the=”” second=”” year=”” in=”” a=”” row,=”” although=”” assistant=”” coaches=”” (and=”” former=”” notre=”” dame=”” players)=””>Coquese Washington and Letitia Bowen both are Michigan natives.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that are a bit uncommon in Irish colors. Freshman guard Megan Duffy has chosen to wear No. 13, becoming only the second Notre Dame player since 1986 to wear those digits. Danielle Green was the last to sport No. 13, doing so during her freshman season (1995-96). Prior to Green, no Irish player had worn that number since Trena Keys (1982-86).
In addition, freshman forward Courtney LaVere is wearing No. 41 this season, a number which has been modeled just once before by an Irish player. Imani Dunbar had that jersey number throughout her Notre Dame career from 1997-2001.
NOTRE DAME HAS REASON TO BE THANKFUL AFTER FALL SEASONS
Irish teams turned in exceptional performances during the 2002 fall sports season. All six of Notre Dame’s fall sports (football, volleyball, men’s/women’s soccer, men’s/women’s cross country) qualified for postseason play, headlined by a third-place finish for the women’s cross country squad at the NCAA Championships and a NCAA quarterfinal finish for the women’s soccer team. In fact, Notre Dame was the only school in the nation to have all six of those fall sports qualify for the postseason.
NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 162 games over the last six-plus seasons, which stands as the fifth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
NOTRE DAME PICKED FOR SHARE OF BIG EAST TITLE IN PRESEASON POLL
For the first time in its eight-year affiliation with the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame was picked to finish first in the preseason coaches’ poll that was released Oct. 24 at BIG EAST Media Day. The Irish shared top billing with defending national champion Connecticut, with each team earning seven first-place votes and 161 total points in the balloting. Boston College (143 points), Villanova (128 points) and Virginia Tech (110 points) round out the top five.
Individually, Notre Dame was the only school to place two players on the preseason all-BIG EAST first team. Senior guard Alicia Ratay earned Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors for the second time in her career last season, and was a first-team all-conference selection. She is the top returning scorer for the Irish, averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in ’01-02. She also led the BIG EAST and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record .882 from the charity stripe. Ratay also has been named one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award, her third selection in as many seasons.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast also was recognized by the conference coaches after being named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association National Freshman of the Year. The South Bend native averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, and was a unanimous selection as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. She also registered 11 double-doubles (second in the conference) and was a second-team all-league selection, the only freshman to make an all-BIG EAST squad in ’01-02. In addition, Batteast was a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America selection last year and like Ratay, she has been chosen as one of 30 preseason candidates for the Naismith Player of the Year award.
RATAY NAMED CANDIDATE FOR SENIOR C.L.A.S.S. AWARD
Senior guard Alicia Ratay has been selected as one of 30 candidates for the second annual Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s senior Player of the Year by the Senior CLASS Organizing Committee. Ratay is one of three BIG EAST Conference student-athletes on the list of Senior CLASS Award “Players to Watch,” joining Villanova’s Trish Juhline and Brianne Stepherson of Boston College. Connecticut guard Sue Bird received the inaugural award last year.
Ratay is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection last season. She ranks ninth in school history with 1,417 points and is among the top perimeter shooters in the country, connecting at a school-record .478 clip from behind the three-point line in her career. She also has made a school-record 86.8 percent of her free throws at Notre Dame, and both her free throw and three-point percentages would rank among the top 10 in NCAA history.
Ratay also is an exemplary student, owning a 3.46 cumulative grade-point average while pursuing a double major in psychology and education. She has been named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team each of the last three years, and she has garnered Dean’s List honors three times.
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The performances of the 30 “Players to Watch” will be tracked during the season, and from that pool of players, a group of 10 finalists will be selected by a national committee of sportscasters and sportswriters that cover Division I college basketball. The finalists then will appear on the official ballot which will be voted upon in March by the national media committee and Division I college basketball coaches. The winner will be announced during the Women’s Final Four April 6-8 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
LaVERE NAMED ONE OF NATION’S “TOP 21 FRESHMEN OF IMPACT”
Courtney LaVere was a consensus All-America selection and one of the top 25 prep players in the country following her senior season at Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. One media outlet believes LaVere will continue that success in her initial campaign at Notre Dame. Women’s College Hoops.com chose the 6-3 freshman forward as one its “Top 21 Freshmen of Impact” for the 2002-03 season.
LaVere joins the Irish after averaging 26.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game during her senior season. She finished her high school career with 1,897 points (second in school history), 1,029 rebounds (third in school history) and 303 blocks (first in school history). She also holds school single-game records for points (45) and blocks (9), as well as BHS single-season marks for points (741), scoring average (26.5) and blocks (99). LaVere was named the 1999 California Freshman of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports, and she helped lead Buena to the top spot in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings for much of the 2000-01 season.
NOW THAT’S A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 77 of their last 80 games at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak (10th-longest in NCAA history) from 1998-2002. Notre Dame also has a 55-5 (.917) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale. Besides the Wildcats, Connecticut (three times) and Boston College (once) are the only other BIG EAST schools to successfully conquer the Irish on their home floor.
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Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 240-66 (.784) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame is 90-5 (.947) at the Joyce Center.
JAMMIN’ THE JOYCE
For the second consecutive season, Notre Dame finished among the top 10 in the nation in attendance for 2001-02. The Irish averaged a school-record 7,825 fans for their 14 home games last season, good for eighth in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last season also saw Notre Dame register 13 of the top 20 crowds in school history, including a gathering of 9,676 fans, the third-largest in school annals, for the Feb. 10 win over No. 16 Boston College.
Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 16-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last three seasons.
NOTRE DAME FACING ONE TOUGH SLATE
Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2002-03 is no exception. The Irish will play no less than 14 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including nine NCAA Tournament teams (highlighted by defending national champion Connecticut and Final Four participant Tennessee). In addition, six opponents (Arizona State, Connecticut, Purdue, Temple, Tennessee and Valparaiso) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 17 of the 24 Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 10 squads that posted 20-win campaigns.
IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Notre Dame will get a good deal of face time in 2002-03, playing on television at least seven times, including nationally-televised contests against Arizona State (Dec. 7 on Fox Sports Net), Purdue (Jan. 4 on CBS) and Connecticut (Jan. 20 on ESPN2). In addition, Notre Dame will appear three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Miami (Jan. 11, noon ET) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 25, noon ET) and Virginia Tech (Feb. 9, 2 p.m. ET). All three of those games will be telecast in South Bend on WHME-TV on a tape-delayed basis as part of the league’s TV deal. WHME-TV also will broadcast the Irish game at DePaul (Dec. 11) live from Chicago. In addition to the regular-season package, the BIG EAST tournament semifinals on March 10 will be aired on BIG EAST TV, while the conference championship game on March 11 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
NOTRE DAME ON THE AIRWAVES
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game will air on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and WDND sports director Sean Stires is now in his third season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website (www.und.com) by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a wide variety of Irish events on radio for only $6.95 per month.
THE MUFFET McGRAW SHOW
Muffet McGraw’s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its fifth season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and will air at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays beginning December 14. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).
NOTRE DAME INKS PAIR OF TOP 20 PREP STANDOUTS IN EARLY SIGNING PERIOD
University of Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 14 that two of the nation’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2003. Crystal Erwin, a 6-2 forward from St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and Susie Powers, a 5-11 guard from Highlands Ranch High School in Denver, Colo., will join the Irish for the 2003-04 campaign.
Erwin has averaged 22.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her three-year prep career at St. Paul. She holds the school records for career points (2,084) and rebounds (1,324), as well as single-season points (869) with one year still to play for the Swordsmen. Ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, Erwin was named to the 2002-03 USA Today Preseason Super 25 Team, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s All-America pick, earning third-team honors last season. She also has been named to all-star teams at the adidas Top Ten Camp each of the last two years and she was a member of the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team this past summer. Erwin is the second California native in as many seasons to commit to the Irish, following current Notre Dame freshman Courtney LaVere.
Powers averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game last season for perennial national power Highlands Ranch High School, which won its third consecutive Colorado Class 5A title last season and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the campaign according to the USA Today Super 25 poll. Powers was ranked as high as 12th in the nation by the Greg Swaim Basketball Report, and she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-America selection. She also was Erwin’s teammate on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival West Team in the summer of 2002. In addition to Erwin, Powers will have some familiarity with another Irish player — she played with sophomore forward Katy Flecky at Highlands Ranch in 2000, helping lead the Falcons to the first of their three straight state championships. With the addition of Erwin and Powers, Notre Dame has its seventh consecutive top 20 recruiting class, according to Blue Star Basketball, which rated the newest Irish signees 16th in the nation.
McGRAW INDUCTED INTO SAINT JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
University of Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was one of seven people inducted into the Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) University Athletics Hall of Fame Nov. 16 in Philadelphia. McGraw was a standout point guard for Saint Joseph’s during its first four years of varsity competition, serving as team captain during her final two seasons (1975-76 and 1976-77). She helped lead the Hawks to an 18-3 record as a junior and a third-place finish in the AIAW Eastern Regional Tournament. A year later, she guided SJU to a 23-5 record, a sixth-place finish at the AIAW National Tournament, and a No. 3 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest year-end poll finish in school history. She also set the Saint Joseph’s single-season record for steals with 102 during the 1976-77 campaign.
McGraw graduated from SJU in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She played one season for the California Dreams in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL) before beginning her college coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater from 1980-82. Following five successful seasons at Lehigh (1983-87), McGraw was named the head coach at Notre Dame, a position she has held ever since.
Now in her 16th year with the Irish, McGraw has posted a stellar 345-127 (.731) record, guiding Notre Dame to 13 20-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, seven NCAA Tournament berths, four Sweet Sixteen visits, two Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA title. The 2001 Naismith and AP National Coach of the Year, McGraw also is a member of the SJU Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.
IRISH ASSISTANT COACH FEATURED ON WNBA.COM
When she’s not diligently working with the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, assistant coach Coquese Washington spends the offseason playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). A six-year veteran point guard, Washington guided the Indiana Fever to their first-ever playoff berth this past summer, following her midseason trade from the Houston Comets.
During the course of the 2002-03 college basketball season, WNBA.com will feature regular interviews and chat sessions with Washington. Readers will get an inside look at how she successfully handles the challenges of being a collegiate assistant, while also remaining prepared for the next professional basketball season.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR NOTRE DAME-TENNESSEE GAME AT CONSECO FIELDHOUSE
A potential matchup of Top 10 teams is on the horizon when Notre Dame and Tennessee tangle Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. (EST) at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tickets still remain for this battle of college basketball powers — $14 for lower level seats, and $10 for club level seats. Fans can also register to attend a post-game “Meet ‘N Greet” with Indiana Fever standouts Tamika Catchings (Tennessee ’01) and Niele Ivey (Notre Dame ’01), as well as purchase discounted tickets for the NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets which will follow at 7 p.m. (EST).
For more information on this game, or to buy tickets, call the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office at (317) 917-2500, or visit the Conseco Fieldhouse website at www.ConsecoFieldhouse.com.
IRISH ENJOY SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TRIP TO EUROPE
Last May, the Irish embarked on a 12-day tour of Italy and France, going 3-1 in a four-game series against Italian professional teams. Among the Notre Dame victories was an 82-76 conquest of 14-time Italian First Division champion Pool Comense 1872, which had won its latest league title only two weeks prior to playing the Irish.
Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast and sophomore guard Kelsey Wicks shared team-high scoring honors on the tour, averaging 14.8 points per game during the series. Batteast, the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, also registered two double-doubles and carded 11.3 rebounds per game while in Europe.
Sophomore center Teresa Borton collected team-high rebounding laurels, averaging 12.3 boards per contest. She also posted double-figure rebounding totals in three of four games, finishing with nine caroms in her other outing. Like Batteast, she averaged a double-double, adding 10 points per night.
All told, five Irish players scored in double figures while in Europe < the=”” aforementioned=”” trio,=”” along=”” with=”” junior=”” guard=””>Le’Tania Severe (13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Katy Flecky (10.0 ppg.). As a team, Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points and 51.3 rebounds per game during the trip.
UP NEXT: DEPAUL
Notre Dame wraps up its four-game road trip next Wednesday, Dec. 11 when it visits DePaul for a 7 p.m. (CST) game at the DePaul Athletic Center in Chicago. That contest will be televised live in South Bend on WHME-TV (Channel 46). DePaul is 3-2 this season following a narrow 71-67 loss at Illinois Wednesday night. The Blue Demons will open their home schedule this weekend with the Moran Realty Classic before playing host to the Irish. DePaul leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 13-9, but the Irish won last year’s meeting, 79-50, on New Year’s Eve at the Joyce Center.