March 11, 2002
The Date and Time: Friday, March 15, 2002, at 6:06 p.m. EST.
The Site: Thompson-Boling Arena (24,535) in Knoxville, Tenn.
The TV Plans: ESPN Fullcourt live broadcast with talent TBA. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for availability.
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620 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.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics for the New Mexico game may be accessed via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) or Tennessee (www.utladyvols.com) athletics websites.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), New Mexico (www.golobos.com).
NOTRE DAME OPENS NCAA TOURNAMENT PLAY WITH NEW MEXICO
The name on the jersey may be the same, but the cast of characters will be vastly different when Notre Dame begins defense of its national championship Friday at 6:06 p.m. (EST) against New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional at fabled Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. The Irish are seeded seventh in the region, while the Lobos are the No. 10 seed in the Midwest.
Notre Dame (19-9) received an at-large bid to this year’s tournament, qualifying for its ninth NCAA Championship and seventh in a row. The Irish finished second in the BIG EAST Conference this season, compiling wins over nationally-ranked foes Boston College and Virginia Tech, as well as NCAA qualifier Syracuse.
In addition, Notre Dame rebounded well from a 2-4 start, reeling off nine consecutive wins in the final six weeks of the regular season before dropping its last home game to Villanova. The Irish then suffered a close loss to Syracuse in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals, handing Notre Dame its second consecutive loss entering the NCAA Tournament.
New Mexico (22-8) is making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament, having lost its only previous contest to Nebraska in 1998. Like the Irish, the Lobos enter Friday’s game with the sting of a loss in the Mountain West Tournament to BYU fresh in their minds.
UNM is led by junior center Jordan Adams, who averages 14.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, ranking fifth nationally in the latter category. Junior forward Chelsea Grear leads the team with 6.7 rpg.
Don Flanagan is in his seventh season as the head coach at New Mexico. In addition to UNM’s only other NCAA Tournament berth, Flanagan guided the Lobos to the WNIT finals last year, losing a nail-biter to Ohio State in Albuquerque. He has never faced Notre Dame.
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. Six 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 429-167 (.720) overall record and 341-126 (.730) mark while under the shadow of the Golden Dome. She has led the Irish to seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances and nine 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 (6.5 ppg., 4.5 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 against Western Michigan. She returned to the starting lineup beginning with the DePaul game and has started all but one contest since then, scoring a season-high 15 points on Feb. 19 against West Virginia. Junior guard Alicia Ratay (15.7 ppg., 5.5 rpg., .424 3FG%) is a first team all-BIG EAST choice this season and was one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award after setting an NCAA record for three-point percentage (.547) by a sophomore last year. She leads the BIG EAST in scoring for all games, and ranked second in conference games at 16.5 ppg., after scoring 131 points (26.2 ppg.) in her last five games, the second-highest five-game scoring output in school history. Ratay sparkled in the BIG EAST quarterfinals against Syracuse, scoring a game-high 29 points, including 17 in the final 3:38 (and nine in 18 seconds) as the Irish nearly rallied from 19-point second-half deficit to claim the victory. In addition, she was a two-time BIG EAST Player of the Week this season, earning the award for the second time in her career on Feb. 25.
Joining Ratay in the backcourt is sophomore Le’Tania Severe (6.5 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 5.1 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 handing out a career-best nine assists (with only one turnover) on Jan. 29 against Syracuse. She ranks seventh in the BIG EAST Conference in assists and steals (1.96 spg.), and is 13th in assist/turnover ratio (1.29). Severe matched her career high with nine assists March 3 in the BIG EAST quarterfinals against Syracuse. Also spending time at the point has been sophomore Jeneka Joyce (3.6 ppg., 1.6 rpg.), who has started eight times for the Irish this season. Joyce has made 17 three-point field goals, one of five Notre Dame players to have at least 10 treys this year. However, she missed six of the last 11 games with a strained left Achilles’ tendon. Junior Karen Swanson (0.9 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) and Jill Krause (0.4 ppg., 0.3 rpg.) provide McGraw with additional flexibility in her point guard rotation. Swanson and Krause each scored two points against St. John’s, with Krause making the first two free throws of her career. Freshmen Allison Bustamante (4.7 ppg., 1.8 rpg.) and Kelsey Wicks (4.6 ppg., 3.5 rpg.) provide the Irish with solid ballhandling and perimeter shooting depth. Bustamante tossed in a season-high 21 points on Jan. 29 vs. Syracuse, while Wicks posted a career-best 16 points on Jan. 21 at top-ranked Connecticut.
A pair of freshmen (and former Parade All-Americans) are making an immediate impact on the Notre Dame front line, as forward Jacqueline Batteast (14.2 ppg., 8.2 rpg.) and center Teresa Borton (6.0 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) started the first six games for the Irish. Batteast was the only freshman to earn WBCA/Kodak Honorable Mention All-America laurels, and she was a unanimous choice as the 2001-02 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. Also selected to the all-BIG EAST second team, Batteast`s combination of speed, athleticism and perimeter shooting ability make her a valuable weapon in the Irish arsenal. A six-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week, Batteast ranks in the top 10 in the BIG EAST in scoring (10th), rebounding (2nd), blocks (3rd, 1.46) and double-doubles (2nd, 11), and she has claimed game-high rebounding honors 11 times and top scoring laurels 10 times. Batteast returned to action at the BIG EAST Championship, playing 13 minutes against Syracuse after missing the last four regular-season games with a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in her right knee, an injury she suffered on Feb. 13 against St. John’s. Meanwhile, at 6-3, Borton is a smooth and versatile post player with excellent mobility and a solid defensive presence. She shot a team-high .558 from the field in BIG EAST games and notched a pair of double-doubles, most recently on Feb. 5 at Pittsburgh with 10 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Junior Amanda Barksdale (3.8 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 3.1 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 set a school record with 11 blocks on Feb. 10 against Boston College, matching the third-highest total in the nation this season. Barksdale leads the BIG EAST in blocked shots and stands fourth in the most recent NCAA rankings, and with her performance against BC, she passed Katryna Gaither for second place on Notre Dame’s career blocks list (now with 166 blocks). Meanwhile, freshman Katy Flecky (5.0 ppg., 3.4 rpg.) was a two-time Miss Colorado Basketball and offers the Irish an physical presence in the post. She scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds on Feb. 23 at Georgetown, paving the way for her selection as BIG EAST Rookie of the Week two days later. Flecky then added 12 points in the BIG EAST quarterfinals against Syracuse. She is averaging 8.4 ppg. since replacing the injured Batteast in the lineup five games ago.
IRISH IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Notre Dame earned an at-large bid into its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament and ninth overall — all in the last 11 seasons under the watch of current head coach Muffet McGraw. The Irish have compiled a 16-7 (.696) record in eight previous NCAA appearances, highlighted by a Final Four berth in 1997 and the 2001 NCAA championship. Notre Dame also reached the regional semifinals in 2000 and 1998.
RECAPPING SYRACUSE (BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTERFINAL)
Junior guard Alicia Ratay scored a game-high 29 points and led a furious Notre Dame comeback in the second half, but it was not enough as the second-seeded Irish were upset by No. 7 seed (and eventual NCAA qualifier) Syracuse, 84-79, in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship March 3 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.
Ratay tied her career high by canning seven three-point field goals on 14 attempts. It was her fifth consecutive 20-point game and gave her 131 points (26.2 ppg.) in the last five Notre Dame contests, the second-highest five-game scoring explosion in school history. Freshman forward Katy Flecky added 12 points and sophomore guard Le’Tania Severe tied her career high with nine assists for the Irish, who held a +11 rebounding edge (44-33) and matched their season best with 20 assists.
Jaime James led three Syracuse players in double figures with 23 points. Leaf Newman added 19 points and Julie McBride contributed 18 points and nine assists for the Orangewomen, who won despite fielding just six players in the game.
After falling behind by a 9-5 count early on, Syracuse scored eight straight points to take the lead for good midway through the first half. The Orangewomen built their lead to 38-31 by halftime, holding Notre Dame to 32.4 percent shooting in the first period. SU continued its surge in the second half, opening up a 53-34 lead when Newman cashed in a transition layup with 14:32 to play.
From there, the Irish made the first of two late-game rallies, cutting the deficit to 63-56 on a layup by Severe at the 6:38 mark. However, an 11-2 Syracuse run wiped out much of Notre Dame’s comeback, putting the Irish in a 76-60 hole with only 3:52 remaining.
That’s when Ratay erupted, scoring 17 of the final 19 Notre Dame points, including nine in a span of just 18 seconds as the Irish whittled the margin to 81-79 with 18 seconds to go. Forced to foul, Notre Dame sent James to the line with :16 left, and the Syracuse guard coolly dropped in both charities. After making five consecutive shots, including four three-point field goals, Ratay finally misfired on a triple with six seconds remaining, and James knocked down one more free throw to seal the victory.
THE NOTRE DAME-NEW MEXICO SERIES
Friday’s NCAA Midwest Regional opener will represent the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and New Mexico on the hardwood.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-NEW MEXICO SERIES TIDBITS
- New Mexico is the third first-time opponent for Notre Dame this season, and the second new face from the Mountain West Conference. Back on Nov. 21, the Irish dropped a narrow 72-66 decision at 16th-ranked Colorado State, which would go on to win the MWC regular season title and be selected to the NCAA tournament, one of four Mountain West teams in this year’s field of 64.
- Notre Dame and New Mexico both rank in the top 10 in the country in attendance this season, according to the latest unofficial figures compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office. The Lobos are fifth in the country (9,229 fans per game), while the Irish rank seventh nationally with a school-record average of 7,825 fans per contest.
- Two of the nation’s top shot blockers will be on display Friday night when Notre Dame’s 6-3 junior center Amanda Barksdale squares off with New Mexico’s 6-3 junior center Jordan Adams. Barksdale ranks fourth in the nation at 3.08 bpg., while Adams is hot on her heels at 3.03 bpg.
- Each team has one Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/Kodak All-America Team finalist in their ranks. Notre Dame freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast was the only rookie among the 48 finalists, earning a spot on the six-player District I team (and the honorable mention All-America status that goes along with it). Meanwhile, Adams was one of the six finalists chosen from District VII.
- The eyes of Texas will certainly be on Friday`s matchup, as seven Lone Star State residents dot the Notre Dame and New Mexico rosters. The Lobos have six Texas natives in their fold, while Barksdale is the only Irish player from Texas, growing up in Friendswood (a Houston suburb) and graduating from Clear Brook High School.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- The Irish would record their 20th win of the season, marking the ninth consecutive year they have reached the 20-win plateau.
- Notre Dame would advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season and stretch their NCAA Tournament winning streak to seven games.
- The Irish would pick up their 18th win in the last 23 games since opening the season at 2-4.
- Notre Dame would register its second NCAA Tournament win over a Mountain West Conference opponent in as many seasons. Last year, the Irish dispatched Utah, 69-54, in a Midwest Regional semifinal contest at the Pepsi Center in Denver. And, as is the case with Friday’s inaugural tilt against New Mexico, last year’s game marked the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Utah.
- The Irish would improve their overall record to 107-21 (.836) since the start of the ’98-99 season.
IRISH INJURY REPORT (as of March 11)
Freshman F Jacqueline Batteast partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in right knee vs. SJU
(limited minutes vs. Syracuse)
NOTRE DAME TRAVEL PLANS
The Irish will depart South Bend at 8:15 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, traveling via commercial airline to Knoxville and arriving at approximately 12:05 p.m. (EST). While there, Notre Dame will headquarter at the Radisson Hotel, located at 401 Summit Hill Drive in Knoxville — the phone number is (865) 522-2600. With the exception of Thursday’s practice session (12-1 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena), all Irish practices and shootarounds are closed to the media.
Media members should contact Notre Dame Assistant SID Chris Masters at the team hotel or via cell phone (219-514-9513) with any inquiries related to Irish women’s basketball. As a reminder, no members of the Notre Dame travel party (student-athletes, coaches and administrators) may be contacted by the media outside of regularly-scheduled interview sessions without prior permission from Masters.
MIDWEST IS BEST FOR THE IRISH
Notre Dame has been placed in the Midwest Region for the fifth time in its NCAA Tournament history. In four previous Midwest Region appearances, the Irish have posted a 7-3 record, reaching the regional semifinals in 1998, and winning the Midwest Regional title in Denver last year en route to their first NCAA championship. In fact, since dropping two of its first three Midwest Region games, Notre Dame has won six of its last seven regional tilts out of the Midwest bracket.
GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
The Irish have done a good job of starting their NCAA Tournament experience in the right way, winning their first round game in each of the last six seasons. During that time, Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen four times, moving to the Final Four twice and winning the 2001 NCAA title.
OPENING NCAA PLAY AWAY FROM HOME
For the first time since 1999, Notre Dame will not begin the NCAA Tournament at the friendly confines of the Joyce Center. The last time they started NCAA play on the road, the Irish downed St. Mary’s (Calif.), 61-57 in the first round of the West Regional at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. However, Notre Dame was eliminated by the host school, LSU, in round two, falling by a 74-64 count.
HOOP DREAMS FOR TWO
For the second consecutive season, and just the second time in school history, Notre Dame is sending both its women`s and men`s basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament. The Irish men are the No. 8 seed in the South Region and will face ninth-seeded Charlotte Thursday at 7:40 p.m. (EST) in Greenville, S.C. The winner of that contest will advance to a Saturday afternoon matchup against the survivor of the tussle between top-seeded Duke and No. 16 seed Winthrop.
BIG EAST FLEXES ITS MUSCLE AGAIN
Notre Dame was one of five BIG EAST Conference teams selected for the 2002 NCAA Tournament, matching the conference record set last season. Connecticut, Boston College, Villanova and Syracuse also qualified for this year’s tourney, with UConn owning the top seed in the Mideast Region. The BIG EAST has won the last two NCAA championships (Connecticut – 2000, Notre Dame – 2001) and is the only league to have two different teams win the title in consecutive seasons, but also have two different pairs of teams qualify for the Final Four in back-to-back years?– Rutgers joined UConn in the 2000 Final Four, and the Huskies returned a year later to face the Irish in the national semifinals.
IRISH OPPONENTS QUALIFY FOR THE SECOND SEASON
Notre Dame played a difficult 2001-02 schedule, one which was ranked in the top 40 in the country all year long. Highlighting that fact, a total of 12 Irish opponents qualified for postseason play — six in the NCAA Tournament (Boston College, Colorado State, Connecticut, Purdue, Syracuse and Villanova) and six in the WNIT (DePaul, Miami, Michigan, Rice, Valparaiso and Virginia Tech). Notre Dame went 2-6 against the NCAA qualifiers (wins over BC and Syracuse), and posted a 4-2 mark against the WNIT group (wins over DePaul, Miami, Valparaiso and Virginia Tech).
BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA
The 2001 NCAA championship game marked a first in tournament history — an all-Indiana final as Notre Dame edged Purdue, 68-66 for the title. This season, the Irish and Boilermakers are back in the NCAA Tournament, joined by upstart Indiana, which claimed the Big Ten Conference Tournament title as a No. 5 seed to earn their first NCAA bid since 1995.
MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH
Notre Dame has had its share of close calls this season, with five of its nine losses coming by six points or less and all but one of them coming away from home. In each of those setbacks, the Irish either had the lead or had a chance to take the lead in the final minute of play before coming up short. And, two of those losses (Arizona and the first Villanova contest) came on buzzer-beating shots.
In addition, eight of the nine Irish defeats came to teams which were ranked in the top 50 in the final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) issued before the NCAA Tournament. Lastly, three losses (Colorado State, Arizona and the second Villanova tilt) came when a regular starter was out with an injury, while a fourth defeat (Syracuse) came when a regular was severely limited while recovering from an injury.
BATTEAST EARNS WBCA/KODAK HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICA LAURELS
Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast added another award to her growing resume on March 8 when she was selected as one of 48 finalists for the 2002 Division I Kodak Women’s All-America Basketball Team. As a finalist, Batteast automatically earns honorable mention All-America status and could be one of the 12 players selected to the Kodak All-America Team when it is announced March 28 in conjunction with the WBCA Convention and the Women`s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.
Batteast is the fifth Notre Dame player, and the first Irish freshman to garner honorable mention All-America laurels. Karen Robinson (1991), Beth Morgan (1996 & 1997), Katryna Gaither (1996 & 1997) and Ruth Riley (1999, 2000 & 2001) are the other Notre Dame cagers who received honorable mention accolades, with Riley the only Irish player to earn All-America status. In addition, Batteast is the second BIG EAST Conference rookie to be tabbed as an honorable mention All-America pick, joining Connecticut forward Rebecca Lobo (1992) in that elite sorority.
Batteast is the only freshman in the nation to be named a Kodak All-America finalist and is one of five BIG EAST players in the group, joining UConn’s Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi, as well as Boston College guard Brianne Stepherson. Members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in each of the eight WBCA geographical districts voted for the team, with the top six vote-getters in each district advancing to the national ballot. Susan Moran of St. Joseph’s (Pa.) joined the afore-mentioned quintet on the Kodak District I All-America squad.
BATTEAST, RATAY HONORED AT BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP AWARDS BANQUET
A pair of Notre Dame women’s basketball players were honored at the 2002 BIG EAST Conference Championship awards banquet, held March 1 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, N.J.
Freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast was a unanimous pick as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, and also was a unanimous BIG EAST All-Rookie team choice and was the only freshman to be named an all-conference selection, appearing on the second team.
It’s the second time in three seasons an Irish freshman has been tapped for the league’s top rookie honor — junior guard Alicia Ratay took home the hardware in 2000. Batteast becomes the first Notre Dame freshman to garner all-BIG EAST recognition in her first year under the Golden Dome. In addition, she is just the seventh conference rookie to earn all-BIG EAST honors, and the first since Rutgers’ Tasha Pointer did so in 1997-98.
Batteast is one of three players to rank in the top 10 in the conference in points (14.2 ppg.), rebounds (8.2 rpg.), field goal percentage (.405) and blocks (1.46 bpg.). She also ranks second in the loop with 11 double-doubles and has earned game-high scoring honors 10 times.
In addition, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST choice, the second time in as many years she has been picked for all-conference honors. Last season, Ratay was a third-team all-BIG EAST choice en route to setting an NCAA sophomore record by hitting 54.7 percent of her three-point attempts.
This year, Ratay leads the conference in scoring (15.7 ppg.) and leads the league with an .886 free throw percentage. She has scored in double figures in 23 games this season and comes into the NCAA Tournament having averaged 26.2 ppg. (131 points) in her last five outings, the second-highest five-game scoring output in school history. She also is a two-time BIG EAST Player of the Week, the first weekly league honors of her career.
This year’s all-conference honors for Batteast and Ratay represent the fourth consecutive season, and the sixth time in seven years that at least two Irish players have been chosen to the all-BIG EAST squad.
TWO OF A KIND
Notre Dame turned a unique trick this season when women`s basketball forward Jacqueline Batteast and men`s basketball guard Chris Thomas both were named the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Year. It marks the first time in conference history that one school has walked off with both top freshman honors.
AND MILESTONES TO GO BEFORE WE SLEEP
Two Notre Dame veterans have a chance to reach career milestones during the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney is just 20 points away from becoming the 20th member of the Irish 1,000-Point Club. When she takes the floor Friday night against New Mexico, Haney also will be playing in her 128th game at Notre Dame, moving her into a tie for fifth place with Katryna Gaither (1993-97) and Mollie Peirick (1994-98) on the Irish career games played list. All-America guard Niele Ivey (1996-2001) holds the record with 132 games played, a mark Haney could break if Notre Dame advances to its second consecutive NCAA Final Four.
Meanwhile, junior guard Alicia Ratay is one rebound away from 500 career boards, which would make her the 13th player in Notre Dame history to log 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. In addition, with three more assists, Ratay will be only the fifth Irish player ever to compile 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career.
FIVE TO REMEMBER
In her last five games, junior guard Alicia Ratay has put together one of the most dominating scoring performances in school history. The Lake Zurich, Ill., product has tallied 131 points during that time, averaging 26.2 points per game while topping the 20-point mark in each contest. She peaked with 31 points on Feb. 19 against West Virginia, but also owns 29- and 25-point nights against Syracuse and Rutgers, respectively.
Ratay`s five-game run is the second-highest scoring surge in school history — early in the 1996-97 season, Katryna Gaither amassed 136 points in five games (27.2 ppg.). In addition, Gaither holds the six-game scoring record at Notre Dame (both lists are as follows):
RATAY FEELING CHARITABLE
Junior guard Alicia Ratay leads the BIG EAST Conference and ranks 14th in the country with an .886 free throw percentage. She has been especially strong of late, hitting her last 25 free throws dating back to the West Virginia game on Feb. 19. It’s the third time this season Ratay has put together a streak of at least 20 consecutive made free throws — she hit 23 in a row from Jan. 9-Feb. 2, and canned 22 straight from Nov. 21-Dec. 31.
Notre Dame can reach an important landmark with a victory over New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night. It would be the 20th win of the season for the Irish, marking the ninth consecutive year in which Notre Dame has posted 20-or-more wins. It also would be the 13th 20-win season for the Irish in the 15-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw.
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:
THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS
Over the years, Notre Dame has been well-known for its defensive intensity. Last season, the Irish led the nation in field goal percentage defense (.336), ranked fourth in scoring defense (55.8 ppg.) and 16th in rebound margin (+6.3)
Now, it appears this year’s club is set to continue this recent trend. As of March 4, Notre Dame ranks fifth in the country in field goal percentage defense (.345), 12th in scoring defense (57.1) and stands 13th in rebound margin (+7.9).
PINE TIME PLAYERS
One of the positives for Notre Dame this season has been its depth and the exceptional production it has received from its reserve unit this season. The Irish bench has scored 599 points (21.4 ppg.) this year, accounting for 32.3 percent of Notre Dame’s offensive output this season. In fact, the Irish have won the “Battle of the Benches” 18 times this season, going 14-4 when their reserves outscore the opposition.
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 42.6 rebounds per game through 28 games in 2001-02, owning a +7.9 edge on the glass, which ranks second in the BIG EAST Conference and 13th in the nation as of March 4.
Leading the charge on the boards for Notre Dame have been a pair of freshmen — forward Jacqueline Batteast is setting the pace at 8.2 rebounds per game (second in the BIG EAST), while center Teresa Borton is third on the team with 4.9 caroms per contest. Additionally, the Irish have been potent on the offensive glass, collecting 14.5 offensive rebounds per game. Batteast and Borton also are setting the pace in that category — Batteast has 65 offensive boards (2.71 orpg.), ranking seventh in the BIG EAST, while Borton has corralled 74 offensive caroms in four more games (2.64) — more than half of her overall rebounding total — to place her eighth in the conference.
IT’S BATTEAST, TO SAY THE LEAST
Although her college career is only 24 games old, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast already is showing much of the potential which led the BIG EAST Conference coaches to unanimously vote her as the league’s Rookie of the Year. The South Bend, Ind., resident is a six-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week selection and ranks in the top 10 in the conference in scoring (10th, 14.2 ppg.), rebounding (2nd, 8.2 rpg.), blocked shots (3rd, 1.46 bpg.) and double-doubles (2nd, 11). She also has garnered game-high rebounding honors 11 times and top scoring laurels 10 times. In addition to her rookie-of-the-year honors, Batteast was a second-team all-BIG EAST pick, a unanimous BIG EAST All-Rookie Team choice, and is the only freshman to earn WBCA/Kodak Honorable Mention All-America status this season.
Batteast missed the last four regular-season games while she recovered from a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, an injury she suffered Feb. 13 against St. John’s. She saw limited action in Notre Dame’s BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal loss to Syracuse, but she is expected to be near full strength for Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener with New Mexico.
RATAY GETS DIVERSIFIED
With defenses keying to stop her this season, junior guard Alicia Ratay has modified her game to feature more penetration and fewer three-point shots. The nation’s top perimeter specialist from a year ago still makes the trey a powerful part of her arsenal, but this season, she has shown an ability to adapt to what a defense gives her.
Ratay leads the BIG EAST Conference in scoring at 15.7 points per game. She also leads the conference and ranks 14th in the nation in free throw percentage (.886), and she stands second in the league and 16th in the country with a .424 three-point percentage. In addition, it seems BIG EAST play agreed with the Lake Zurich, Ill., native, who wound up first in the loop in free throw percentage (.882), second in scoring (16.8 ppg.), and 18th in rebounding (5.9 rpg.).
Never was Ratay’s new style been on better display than in the last five games. She has averaged 26.2 ppg. and is shooting 51.3 percent (40-78) from the field, ringing up 25 points at Rutgers, a season-high 31 points against West Virginia, 24 points at Georgetown, 22 points vs. Villanova and 29 points vs. Syracuse. Additionally, the bulk of her heroics have come in the second half — she scored 16 in the final period at Rutgers, followed by 20 second-half markers against West Virginia, Georgetown and Syracuse. In fact, in her last five games, she is averaging 16.8 points in the second half alone.
The Syracuse game also displayed Ratay’s penchant for taking over a game. She scored 17 points in the final 3:38, including nine in a span of 18 seconds in the final half-minute while trying to single-handedly deliver a victory for the Irish. She wound up hitting seven three-point field goals in the game, the second time this season (and third in her career) that she has dialed a “lucky seven” from beyond the arc.
In her career, Ratay is making nearly half of her long-distance attempts, hitting at a 48.6 percent clip (210-432) in her career — that’s good enough to set a new NCAA record for career three-point percentage, passing the current mark of .467 held by Erin Maher of Harvard. She already ranks third on Notre Dame’s career three-point field goals made lists and fourth on the school’s three-point attempts chart, and her career percentage is more than 60 points higher than her nearest challenger (Kari Hutchinson, .424, 1994-98).
Additionally, Ratay has been one of Notre Dame’s most durable players, starting 95 of a possible 96 games the Irish have played during her tenure under the Golden Dome. The only time she didn’t start was Feb. 24, 2001 — Senior Night — when she yielded her starting assignment to graduating senior Imani Dunbar. Nevertheless, Ratay is on pace to challenge the school record for career starts, a mark currently held by Ruth Riley, who got the call 124 times in her brilliant career from 1997-2001.
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 BIG EAST Conference and ranks fourth nationally with 3.08 blocks per game. In addition, her 74 blocks this season rank fifth in school history.
The Friendswood, Texas, native has swatted at least four shots in 10 games this season, including a school-record 11 blocks on Feb. 10 against No. 16/18 Boston College. Barksdale also rejected eight shots against Marquette and seven against USC, giving her the top three single-game performances in the BIG EAST this year. In addition, her BC outing ties for the third-best in the nation, and the Marquette showing is tied for ninth in the country in 2001-02.
One of only five players in school history to reach the century mark in career rejections, Barksdale is averaging 1.91 blocks per game (166 total) in her 87-game career, which is second in Irish history behind only Riley, who averaged 2.82 bpg. in her storied career from 1997-2001.
A SEVERE DEVELOPMENT FOR THE IRISH
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 27 games this season, Severe is fourth on the team with 6.5 points per game and leads the squad with 5.1 assists per game, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST Conference in the latter category. She also is seventh in the league in steals (1.96 spg.) and stands 13th in assist/turnover ratio (1.29). 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, earning game-high assist honors in 19 games and dealing at least five assists 16 times, including a career-high nine handouts in both games against Syracuse. She also has proven to be a scoring threat when necessary, reaching double figures seven times this season, including a career-high 17 points against USC.
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, which, like this year’s club, was coming off a trip to the NCAA Final Four. Through 28 games this season, that comparison seems to be holding true in several ways.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
With six freshmen making up half of this year’s roster, Notre Dame has certainly gone through some growing pains. However, the Irish rookies are getting a great deal of college experience this season, as evidenced by their production through 28 games of the 2001-02 campaign. Notre Dame’s freshmen have accounted for 46.7 percent of the points (866 of 1854), 46.6 percent of the rebounds (556 of 1192) and 40.9 percent of the minutes (2288 of 5600) recorded by the Irish this season. Additionally, Notre Dame started at least two freshmen in eight games this year, and five of the six Irish rookies are averaging at least 11 minutes per contest.
Notre Dame placed second in the final 2002 BIG EAST Conference regular-season standings, marking the sixth time in their seven-year conference membership that the Irish have finished either first or second in the year-end league tables.
PROTECTING THE PILL
With six freshmen on the 2001-02 roster, Notre Dame could be excused if its turnover numbers look a bit high. However, on Jan. 26 against No. 16/17 Virginia Tech, the Irish put together one of the finest exhibitions of ball control in the 25-year history of the program, setting a school record by committing just seven turnovers in the 64-57 victory. That was two giveaways fewer than the previous standard, which had been set twice before (most recently on Feb. 3, 2001 at Boston College).
TINKERING WITH THE LINEUP
Notre Dame fielded an unorthodox starting lineup for its Feb. 2 win at Seton Hall after curfew violations resulted in four of the five everyday starters losing their game-opening assignments. Instead, the Irish began the contest with three freshmen — guards Allison Bustamante and Kelsey Wicks, and forward Katy Flecky — for the first time in more than two decades. Back on Jan. 2, 1982, Notre Dame started rookies Ruth Kaiser, Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates for the third time that season, and the freshman trio helped spark the Irish to a 60-53 win over Missouri in Kansas City.
In addition, Wicks and Flecky, along with junior guard Karen Swanson, cracked the starting lineup for the first time in their careers. Coupled with Bustamante, who was making her second career start in the Seton Hall game, four of the five Notre Dame starters had exactly one collegiate start between them.
BACK FROM THE BRINK
Notre Dame put together its best comeback of the season Feb. 2 at Seton Hall, erasing a pair of 10-point first-half deficits (20-10 and 21-11) to defeat the Pirates, 65-60. It was the biggest rally for the Irish since they climbed out of a 12-point hole (19-7) in the first half to claim a 68-66 win over Purdue in the 2001 NCAA championship game at the Saavis Center in St. Louis.
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 101-2 (.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). The Irish already have added to this total 14 times during the 2001-02 season — Valparaiso (35 points), Army (57), USC (49), Western Michigan (48), Marquette (33), DePaul (50), Seton Hall (45), Providence (41), Virginia Tech (57), Syracuse (46), Pittsburgh (56), Boston College (44), St. John’s (31) and Rutgers (52).
… 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 81-3 (.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 has contributed two wins to that growing record this year, ringing up a season-high 89 points on Nov. 26 vs. Army and tacking up 86 points Feb. 23 at Georgetown.
IRISH LOG HISTORICAL DEFENSIVE EFFORT
Notre Dame’s 66-31 victory over St. John’s on Feb. 13 marked a record defensive performance for Notre Dame. It was the fewest points allowed by the Irish since Jan. 21, 1982, in an 84-27 win at Valparaiso. For some historical context, the captain of that 1981-82 Notre Dame squad was none other than current Irish associate athletics director Missy Conboy. The BIG EAST Conference record for fewest points in a game is 27, set by Villanova against Connecticut on Dec. 2, 1997.
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.
A STREAK FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS
Notre Dame saw its 51-game home court winning streak come to an end Feb. 26 with a 48-45 loss to Villanova at the Joyce Center. It was the 10th-longest home winning streak in NCAA history and the third-longest string by a current BIG EAST Conference member — Rutgers had a 53-game spree from 1984-89, while Connecticut holds the conference record with a 54-game home winning streak from 1995-99.
NOTRE DAME REGISTERS 500TH ALL-TIME VICTORY
Notre Dame became the 50th team in NCAA history, and the fourth BIG EAST Conference school to post 500 career wins when it claimed a 68-56 triumph at Pittsburgh on Feb. 5. The Irish currently have an all-time record of 505-225 (.692) in their 25th season of intercollegiate competition. The other BIG EAST schools with 500 victories to their credit are Rutgers (578), Connecticut (550) and Villanova (519) — all win totals are as of March 15.
IRISH CHART 100TH REGULAR-SEASON BIG EAST WIN
Notre Dame reached another milestone Feb. 16 at Rutgers, recording its 100th regular-season BIG EAST Conference victory. The Irish needed only 117 games to attain that landmark victory, turning the trick faster than any school in conference history. In its seven-year affiliation with the BIG EAST, Notre Dame has averaged better than 14 wins per season, has never posted less than 12 wins, or finished lower than third place in the final conference standings.
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 7,825 fans for their 14 home games, almost 1,500 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.
In their final six home games, the Irish welcomed six of the top 13 crowds in school history, led by a season-high 9,676 fans, the third-largest crowd ever, who crammed the Joyce Center on Feb. 10 to watch Notre Dame pick off No. 16/18 Boston College. In addition, the Irish downed No. 16/17 Virginia Tech on Jan. 26 in front of a gathering of 8,878 fans (the fifth-largest crowd ever). Three days later on Jan. 29, Notre Dame defeated Syracuse before an audience of 8,571 spectators, ranking No. 6 on the Irish all-time attendance charts. On Feb. 26, a Senior Night crowd of 7,785 fans (11th all-time) watched Notre Dame take on Villanova. The Irish also downed West Virginia on Feb. 19 before a crowd of 7,709, the 12th-largest attendance ever. Lastly, a gathering of 7,677 fans witnessed a Feb. 13 victory over St. John’s, placing that crowd 13th in school history.
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 341-126 (.730) 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 (458), Rutgers’ Theresa Grentz (434) and Villanova’s Harry Perretta (436).
In addition, McGraw is the sixth coach to work 450 games at a BIG EAST Conference school. Besides the Notre Dame mentor, three of those coaches are still active in the league — Perretta (691), Auriemma (556) and Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina (487). Grentz (584) and Virginia Tech’s Carol Alfano (540) are the other BIG EAST skippers who reached that milestone.
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 12 players on this year’s Notre Dame roster hail from nine different states, including two each from Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Texas, 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 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.
NOTRE DAME AMONG RECENT WINS LEADERS
Notre Dame has won 159 games in the last five-plus seasons, which stands as the fifth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.
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 76 of their last 79 games at the Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak (10th-longest in NCAA history) from 1998-2002.
Notre Dame also has a 56-4 (.933) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova on Feb. 26. Besides the Wildcats, only Connecticut (twice) and Boston College have successfully conquered the Irish on their home floor.
Nevertheless, Notre Dame still owns a five-year, 29-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center — a stretch that includes victories over a trio of sixth-ranked teams (UCLA and Duke in 1998-99 and Purdue in 2000-01), as well as 25th-ranked Illinois in ’98-99. Notre Dame’s last non-conference loss at the Joyce Center came back on Dec. 9, 1996, when 19th-ranked Wisconsin toppled the Irish, 81-69.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, sporting a 239-66 (.784) mark at the venerable facility. Last season, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 for the second year in a row. The 15 victories are a school record for home wins in a season and the first time Notre Dame teams have been undefeated at home during the regular season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 1995-96 season, Muffet McGraw’s squad is 89-5 (.947) at the Joyce Center.
SEASON TICKET SALES REACH ALL-TIME HIGH FOR IRISH
Attendance at Notre Dame women’s basketball games in 2000-01 increased nearly 88 percent compared to the previous season — and indications suggest another significant jump is underway for the 2001-02 campaign. Coming off the 2001 NCAA championship, there have been more than 6,700 season tickets sold to the general public and University faculty and staff for the ’01-’02 women’s basketball season. That’s compared to 2,700 a year ago and 940 in 1999-2000?– a jump of nearly 150 percent over last season, and a whopping 700 percent rise in just two years.
The sale of season tickets for the ’01-02 campaign actually began midway through Notre Dame’s 2001 championship season. All seats are reserved for Irish women’s games for the first time this season — all seating in previous years had been general admission.
The Irish ranked ninth nationally in attendance last year at 6,376 fans per game, compared to 3,392 in 1999-2000. Notre Dame also recorded the first two women’s basketball sellouts in school history, as 11,418 fans packed the Joyce Center for victories over top-ranked Connecticut and Georgetown.
Thirteen of Notre Dame’s 14 home games in 2001-02 have attracted more than 7,000 fans, placing them among the top 20 crowds in school history (see chart on page 6). Leading the way is the gathering of 9,676 fans on Feb. 10 for a win over No. 16/18 Boston College, representing the third-largest crowd in school history. Furthermore, all of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 15-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw. 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.
IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Notre Dame will be appearing on television for the ninth time this season when it faces New Mexico Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are 4-4 on the small screen this season, earning wins over Miami, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall and Rutgers in front of the home viewers.
RATAY FEATURED ON ESPN CLASSIC’S “COLLEGE SPORTSCENTURY”
On March 1, junior guard Alicia Ratay was the subject of a documentary on ESPN Classic as part of the ongoing series “College SportsCentury.” The half-hour program spotlighted the Lake Zurich, Ill., native, who set an NCAA sophomore record last season by hitting on 54.7 percent of her three-point attempts. Ratay is one of four women’s basketball players to be featured in the series — the others are Connecticut guard Sue Bird, Duke forward Alana Beard and Louisiana Tech forward Cheryl Ford — all of whom are competing in the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
CHAMPIONSHIP FEVER GRIPS THE DOME
Perhaps it’s not coincidence that three Notre Dame teams will begin their quest for championship hardware on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. In addition to the Irish men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Notre Dame hockey team has qualified for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Super Six championship this weekend at Detroit’s legendary Joe Louis Arena. The Irish will skate with 12th-ranked Northern Michigan Friday at 4 p.m. (EST) in a quarterfinal contest — with a win, Notre Dame would battle No. 10 Michigan at 2 p.m. Saturday. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday (St. Patrick`s Day) at 3 p.m.
NOTRE DAME RECEIVES COMMITMENTS FROM PAIR OF TOP 25 PROSPECTS
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 15 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 2002. Megan Duffy (Dayton, OH/Chaminade-Julienne HS) and Courtney LaVere (Ventura, CA/Buena HS) both committed to the Irish during the early signing period.
Duffy, a 5-7 guard, averaged 17 points per game last season for Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio. She was a 2001 first-team Division I all-state selection and earned honorable mention All-America accolades from Street & Smith’s. Additionally, Student Sports tabbed her as a junior All-America selection. She was rated as high as No. 24 in the country by the All-Star Girls Report (ASGR) and No. 29 by School Sports.
LaVere, a 6-3 forward, tallied 13.8 points and eight rebounds per game last season for Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. She also shot 54 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free throw line for BHS, which was ranked in the top 10 nationally throughout the 2000-01 season by USA Today. In addition, LaVere was an All-America honoree by both USA Today and Street & Smith’s last year, and she already has been selected as a preseason third-team All-American for the ’01-02 campaign by School Sports. Like Duffy, LaVere also was a first-team all-state selection last season. She is a consensus top-15 player according to all of the major recruiting services — No. 10 by the Blue Star Index, No. 13 by School Sports and No. 15 by ASGR.
The additions of Duffy and LaVere have given Notre Dame one of this year’s top 10 recruiting classes, according to at least two major recruiting outlets. The Women’s Basketball Journal, in conjunction with ASGR, has pegged the Irish Class of 2006 at No. 5 in the nation. Meanwhile, the Blue Star Index ranked the latest group of Irish signees eighth in the nation, marking the sixth consecutive year in which Blue Star has placed Notre Dame’s recruiting class among the Top 20 in the country.
IRISH SOLID IN THE CLASSROOM
The Notre Dame women’s basketball program posted a 3.24 grade-point average during the fall 2001 semester, paced by its freshman class which had an impressive 3.2 GPA in its initial semester on campus. All told, nine Irish players charted a 3.0 GPA or better last fall, led by junior guard Karen Swanson, who recorded a 3.733 GPA as she works towards her business degree.
The other eight players to top the 3.0 mark last semester were juniors Alicia Ratay and Monique Hernandez, sophomores Jeneka Joyce and Le’Tania Severe, and freshmen Teresa Borton, Katy Flecky, Jill Krause and Kelsey Wicks.
RATAY NAMED TO VERIZON ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT SECOND TEAM
Junior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich HS) was selected to the Verizon Academic All-District V University Division Second Team, it was announced Feb. 21. She holds a 3.42 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) with a double major in psychology and education.
Ratay is the second Irish women’s basketball student-athlete in as many years to earn district academic recognition. Ruth Riley was a first-team all-district choice in 2001, paving the way for her eventual selection as the Verizon Academic All-America? Women’s Basketball Team Member of the Year, as well as the overall Verizon Academic All-America? Team Member of the Year.
To be nominated for inclusion on the academic all-district squad, student-athletes must have reached sophomore athletic and academic status at her current institution, and must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA. The District V University Division ballot included student-athletes from NCAA Division I institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.
PLANS ANNOUNCED FOR 2002 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL BANQUET
Tickets are now on sale for the annual Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Banquet — scheduled for Monday, April 8, 2002, at the Joyce Center. A reception and autograph session begin at 5:45 p.m. (EST) on the concourse and the dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. on the arena floor.
The event includes video highlights from the 2001-02 season, award presentations — and remarks from University president Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., athletics director Kevin White, head coach Muffet McGraw and senior honorees.
Tickets are $25 each. Checks can be made payable to University of Notre Dame and mailed to Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone reservations are not accepted. Reservation forms are available at all remaining home basketball games and at the Joyce Center second-floor ticket windows. Deadline for reservations is Monday, March 29. For additional information, contact the Notre Dame women’s basketball offices at (574) 631-5420.
KRAUSE FEATURED IN “CONFESSIONS OF A FRESHMAN”
Freshman guard Jill Krause is giving fans an inside look at the 2001-02 Irish women’s basketball team through regular diary entries on the Notre Dame athletic website, www.und.com. Entitled “Confessions of a Freshman,” the Glenview, Ill., native is detailing her journey as a first-year player on the defending NCAA championship squad. Her diary entries may be accessed either from the front page or the women’s basketball page on the Notre Dame website.
HANEY SHINES ON BIG EAST ALL-STAR TEAM
For the second time in as many years, Notre Dame sent a player with the BIG EAST Women’s Basketball All-Star Team, as guard/forward Ericka Haney joined the squad for its six-game swing of Germany last summer. Haney followed in the footsteps of Niele Ivey, who helped lead the BIG EAST All-Stars to a 5-1 record during a junket through Canada in the summer of 2000.
Haney paced the BIG EAST squad, which was led by Syracuse head coach Marianna Freeman, to an unbeaten 6-0 record during its tour, scoring a team-high 18 points in a 103-57 win over Ludwigsburg/Malmsheim in the final game of the trip.
Haney finished with a team-high 13.0 points per game and collected 4.5 rebounds per game during her European vacation. She also scored in double figures in five of the All-Stars’ six wins.
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.
REMINDER — SOUTH BEND AREA CODE CHANGE
The area code for north central Indiana, including South Bend, Elkhart and Mishawaka, has changed from 219 to 574, effective Jan. 15. Please be aware that all University of Notre Dame athletic department phones also have switched over to this new area code. The 219 area code still will be active through June 15, although callers will be reminded of the change to the new 574 area code.