Nov. 12, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – No. 15/14 Notre Dame will get one last chance to prepare for the 2001-02 season when it squares off with NCAA Division II entity Christian Brothers University in exhibition action Tuesday at 7 p.m. (EST) at the Joyce Center. The Irish also will be looking to continue an impressive run of success in preseason play – they have won their last 10 exhibition games and are 15-1 in preseason tilts since the 1993-94 campaign.
Notre Dame took the floor last Tuesday for the first time since winning the 2001 NCAA Championship and came away with a 76-62 exhibition victory over the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Magazine Legends before a crowd of 6,993 fans at the Joyce Center. Junior guard Alicia Ratay tied for game-high honors with 20 points, while three Irish freshmen narrowly missed posting double-doubles in their first collegiate contests. Center Teresa Borton rang up 10 points and nine rebounds, while forward Jacqueline Batteast added eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds – both players also got the starting nod. Guard Kelsey Wicks came off the bench to score nine points and match Batteast with 10 rebounds for the Irish.
Jannon Roland led the OGBM Legends with 20 points, while former Xavier product Nicole Levandusky chipped in with 17 points. Former Duke All-American Georgia Schweitzer shot just 2-of-13 from the field, finishing with eight points and nine rebounds for OGBM.
Notre Dame struggled in the first half against the Legends, a team which included five current or former WNBA players among its ranks. After taking an early 15-12 lead five minutes into the game, the Irish watched as the Legends went on a 15-6 run and eventually opened up a 40-30 lead with 2:35 left in the first half. However, Wicks and Ratay buried three-point field goals to highlight a 10-0 run at the end of the half and pull Notre Dame even at the break.
After trading baskets on the first three possessions of the second half, the Irish used a 19-9 surge to grab a 66-54 lead with just under seven minutes to play. The Legends made one last charge, pulling within six (68-62) on Tomeka Patterson’s bucket with 2:12 left. But, Borton and Batteast hit layups to spark an 8-0 game-ending run which gave the victory to Notre Dame.
SCOUTING THE IRISH
Notre Dame will look to write a new chapter in its rapidly-developing history as the Irish prepare to defend their first NCAA championship in 2001-02. Seven monogram winners, including two starters, return from last season’s title-winning squad, giving head coach Muffet McGraw a broad foundation from which to build this year. In addition, the Irish welcome six talented freshmen to the fold, a group heralded as perhaps the finest recruiting class in school history and ranked as high as third by several national publications.
McGraw enters her 15th year at Notre Dame with a 322-117 (.733) record and has led the Irish to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances and eight overall. 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 have already been honored by the BIG EAST coaches in their preseason balloting. Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney (11.0 ppg., 5.7 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 will be called upon to assume a greater mantle of responsibility in ’01-02. Junior guard Alicia Ratay (12.9 ppg., 5.1 rpg.) was a first team preseason all-BIG EAST choice and is one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award after setting an NCAA record for three-point percentage (.547) last season. She got off to a solid start last Tuesday against the OGBM Legends, hitting for a game-high 20 points, including four three-point field goals.
Joining Ratay in the backcourt will be sophomore Le’Tania Severe (1.9 ppg.), who was hampered by injuries last season, appearing in just 22 games, but has confidently taken control of the Irish offense in preseason workouts and will look to make great strides this season. Juniors Monique Hernandez (2.6 ppg.) and walk-on Karen Swanson, along with sophomore Jeneka Joyce (5.2 ppg.) will give McGraw tremendous flexibility in her guard rotation. Additionally, freshmen Allison Bustamante, Jill Krause and Kelsey Wicks provide the Irish with solid ballhandling and perimeter shooting depth Wicks came off the bench to score nine points and grab a game-high 10 rebounds last Tuesday against the OGBM Legends.
A pair of freshmen (and former Parade All-Americans) are poised to make an immediate impact on the Notre Dame front line, as forward Jacqueline Batteast and center Teresa Borton both got the starting nod against the OGBM Legends and will start against Christian Brothers. Batteast was named the 2001-02 preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and her combination of speed, athleticism and perimeter shooting ability already make her a valuable weapon in the Irish arsenal. At 6-3, Borton is a smooth and versatile post player with excellent mobility and a solid defensive presence. She nearly logged a double-double in her first outing, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds against the OGBM Legends. Junior Amanda Barksdale (1.4 ppg., 1.7 bpg.) was one of the nation’s top shot blockers last season, while freshman Katy Flecky was a two-time Miss Colorado Basketball and offers the Irish an extremely physical presence in the post.
SCOUTING CHRISTIAN BROTHERS
Christian Brothers University is located in Memphis, Tenn., and is a member of NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference. The Lady Buccaneers will be playing their second exhibition game of the 2001-02 season after falling to Memphis, 68-50, last Friday night on the UM campus. Sarah Condra tossed in a team-high 14 points and Amonica Wiggins recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds for Christian Brothers against its crosstown rival.
The Lady Buccaneers finished 10-16 last season, placing fourth in the nine-team GSC West Division. Crystal Howard led CBU in scoring and rebounding in 2000-01, averaging 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. However, the ’01-02 preseason all-GSC pick did not play in the Lady Buccaneers’ exhibition opener against Memphis. Condra averaged 11.5 ppg., and connected on a team-best 69 three-point field goals a year ago. In addition, Christian Brothers had two players named to the 2001-02 GSC Top Newcomers’ List – freshman wing Ashley Smith, who tallied seven points, four steals and three assists at Memphis, and junior point guard Tamara Twinn, who, like Howard, did not play vs. UM.
Christian Brothers was picked to finish fifth in the GSC West, according to a preseason poll of the league’s coaches. The Lady Buccaneers are piloted by fourth-year head coach Todd Schaefer.