Recently-departed Notre Dame All-America point guard Megan Duffy will make her professional debut Tuesday night when her Minnesota Lynx open their 2006 WNBA season by playing host to the Connecticut Sun at 9 p.m. (ET) at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

Women's Basketball Set To Face Boston College In NCAA Tournament Opener Sunday

March 15, 2006

Complete Notes (PDF)

2006 NCAA Albuquerque Region – First Round
#9 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-11 / 8-8 BIG EAST) vs.
#8 seed Boston College Eagles (19-11 / 6-8 ACC)

DATE: March 19, 2006
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: West Lafayette, Ind.
Mackey Arena (14,123)
SERIES: Notre Dame leads 10-4
LAST MTG: 2/15/05 (ND 54-47)
NCAA: First meeting
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490/1580 AM
Sean Stires, p-b-p
TV: ESPN2 (live)
Dave Barnett, p-b-p
Brenda VanLengen, color
Wendi Nix, sideline
TICKETS: (800) 497-7678


  • Notre Dame has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th consecutive season and 13th time in school history. However, the Irish will be facing Boston College for the first time in the postseason.
  • Notre Dame has won 10 consecutive NCAA first-round games, coinciding exactly with its membership in the BIG EAST Conference (1995-96 to present).

Following a stirring late-season charge that featured wins in four of the final five games, Notre Dame (18-11) will play in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th consecutive year when it takes on Boston College Sunday at 7 p.m. (ET) at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. The Irish are the No. 9 seed in the Albuquerque Region, while BC has been seeded eighth for the contest, which will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

Notre Dame last took the floor on March 5, falling to No. 7 Connecticut, 71-60 in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at the Hartford Civic Center. The Irish trimmed a 21-point deficit to 11 points in the second half, but couldn’t catch the eventual league champion Huskies.

Senior guard Megan Duffy scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed a team-best six rebounds, while senior forward Courtney LaVere had 15 points of 7-of-11 shooting for the Irish.


  • Notre Dame is not ranked.
  • Boston College received votes in the final Associated Press poll of the season.

Web Sites

  • Notre Dame:
  • Boston College:
  • ACC:

Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 13 NCAA Tournaments (including a current streak of 11 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the previous nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.

In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 593-265 (.691).

Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw

  • Saint Joseph’s ’77
  • 19th season at Notre Dame
  • 429-166 (.721) at Notre Dame.
  • 517-207 (.714) in 24 years as head coach.


  • 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
  • Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
  • Four-time conference Coach of the Year
  • BIG EAST Conference (2001)
  • Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
  • North Star Conference (1988)
  • East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)

A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
One of the more famous movie quotes of the past 20 years came from a simple Alabama man named Forrest Gump, who recalled his mother’s advice that “life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.”

In some ways, that philosophy would be appropriate when it comes to describing the 2005-06 season for Notre Dame. On the one hand, there is the Irish squad that bolted to a 9-1 record, has defeated three Top 25 teams this season (USC, Utah and DePaul), was ranked in every AP and ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll for the first two months of the season (peaking at No. 10), and won the Gray Division championship at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas.

At the same time, there’s the darker side to Notre Dame’s season, the face that appeared early in the BIG EAST Conference campaign and led to eight losses in 13 games, including the program’s first two three-game losing streak in eight years.

However, it now appears the Irish are returning to their earlier form, having ended the season by winning four of its final five games. Notre Dame also has discovered a rejuvenated offensive attack of late, averaging 70.0 ppg. with a .450 field goal percentage (.400 from three-point range) in its last five outings.

One of the critical elements for the Irish to be successful this season has been offensive balance. On 22 occasions (including 10 of the past 11 games), Notre Dame has had at least three players scoring in double figures (going 16-6), and eight separate players have cracked double digits at least four times this year. Additionally, six different players have led the team in scoring at some point.

The Irish also have the benefit of strong leadership in senior All-America point guard and two-year team captain Megan Duffy. The 5-foot-7 Dayton, Ohio, native spent last summer as a co-captain and starter on the United States World University Games Team that rolled to the gold medal with a 7-0 record. Duffy directed an American offense that averaged 97.4 points per game and set a USA World University Games record with a scoring margin of +43.1 ppg.

Back stateside, Duffy continues to make improvements in her game each night out and has been a strong all-around contributor and leader for Notre Dame once again this year. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 15.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.03 steals per game, with a 1.68 assist/turnover ratio, ranking among the top 10 in the BIG EAST in all four categories. In addition, she leads the league and ranks 11th in the nation in foul shooting (.888). She also has led the team in scoring 16 times and in assists 19 times this year.

Among her many honors this year, Duffy is the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner, a first-team Academic All-American (second in the program’s history and eighth in BIG EAST annals), a unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST pick, one of 11 nominees for the Nancy Lieberman Award (top point guard in the nation) and a candidate for the Naismith Trophy and John R. Wooden Women’s Award. She has scored in double figures in her last 14 games, the longest such streak by a Notre Dame player in five seasons.

Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader has shown tremendous promise in her first season with the Irish. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. She also earned a spot on the Dec. 5 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the first freshman to appear on that list this season. Schrader is second on the team in scoring (9.9 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (5.4 rpg.), and has scored in double figures seven times in the past 11 games. She also has notched her first two career 20-point games down the stretch this year, tallying a season-high 24 points at Syracuse on Jan. 31, and adding a game-high 20 points against Pittsburgh on Feb. 28.

Sophomore guard Charel Allen and senior forward Courtney LaVere also have shown signs of being dependable options for the Irish. LaVere ranks third on the team in scoring (9.1 ppg.), with Allen fourth (8.7 ppg.), while Allen is third in rebounding (4.4 rpg.) and LaVere is fourth (4.2 rpg.). In addition, LaVere is tops in both field goal percentage (.515) and blocks (1.69 bpg.), placing fourth in the BIG EAST in the latter category. LaVere was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Feb. 6, and both players have come alive in recent games. Allen is on a run of eight double-figure scoring games in her last 11 outings, highlighted by a 16-point effort in the regular-season finale vs. Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, LaVere is averaging 10.8 ppg., 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per night with a .560 field goal percentage returning to the starting lineup 12 games ago (Jan. 24 at Rutgers).

Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish

  • Notre Dame’s departure from the Jan. 30 Associated Press poll snapped a string of 30 consecutive appearances for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 139 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.
  • With its No. 10 AP ranking on Dec. 5, the Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the media balloting at some point in seven of the past 10 years (including three of the past four seasons). Notre Dame has spent a total of 73 weeks in the AP top 10 during the program’s 29-year history and owns a 110-21 (.840) record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
  • The Irish have won 57 of their last 61 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004), with the other coming back on Dec. 31 vs. No. 1 Tennessee.
  • The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are a bit over their six-year average, allowing opponents to score 63.3 ppg.
  • The Irish are 3-6 against ranked teams this season and have posted 40 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 10/10 DePaul, 78-75 on Jan. 17 at the Joyce Center. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 12-4 (.750) at home against Top 25 competition (2-2 this year).
  • Drawing 5,632 fans to their Feb. 28 Senior Night game vs. Pittsburgh, the Irish now have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 78 of their last 80 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
  • The capacity crowd of 11,418 for the Dec. 31 home game vs. top-ranked Tennessee was the third sellout in program history and the 19-day advance sellout was the quickest in the 29-year history of Irish women’s basketball. As of March 13, Notre Dame ranks 11th in the country in average home attendance with 6,601 fans per game.
  • Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, was cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
  • With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50. McGraw reached another milestone on Nov. 29 vs. Iona with her 700th career game as a head coach.

A Quick Look At Boston College
In its first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Boston College has gone through its share of highs and lows. The Eagles, who have risen through the ranks to become a major player on the women’s basketball scene in recent years, enter this weekend’s NCAA Tournament with a 19-11 record and a 6-8 mark in their inaugural ACC campaign.

Hidden in that record is a 12-2 start for BC that was highlighted by a win over Stanford and a five-point overtime loss to Big Ten Conference champion Ohio State. However, with the start of ACC play, the Eagles dropped four in a row, starting a roller-coaster ride that led to seven consecutive wins, but a season-ending five-game losing streak.

Boston College has been off since March 2, when the Eagles dropped a 57-54 decision to Virginia in the opening round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. Senior forward Brooke Queenan, a second-team all-ACC selection, tallied 11 points and eight rebounds, while senior guard/forward Aja Parham collected 10 points and six rebounds for BC.

Queenan leads the Eagles in scoring (14.6 ppg.) and rebounding (8.0 rpg.) this season, coupled with a sharp .496 field goal percentage. Junior sharpshooting guard Kindyll Dorsey is second on the team in scoring (11.3 ppg.) and owns a team-best .387 three-point percentage (65 treys). Parham averages 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with a .529 field goal ratio, while junior forward Kathrin Ress is logging 9.1 ppg. with a team-high .590 shooting mark.

Head coach Cathy Inglese is winding down her 13th season at Boston College, sporting a 237-150 (.612) record in Chestnut Hill. She has been coaching at the college level for 20 seasons and currently sports a career record of 357-224 (.614). Inglese is 3-10 in her coaching career against Notre Dame.

Head coach Cathy Inglese is winding down her 13th season at Boston College, sporting a 237-150 (.612) record in Chestnut Hill. She has been coaching at the college level for 20 seasons and currently sports a career record of 357-224 (.614). Inglese is 3-10 in her coaching career against Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame-Boston College Series As members of the BIG EAST Conference from 1995-96 to 2004-05, Notre Dame and Boston College developed one of the more intense rivalries in college basketball. With both squads regularly competing for the conference title, not to mention deep runs in the NCAA Tournament, the annual matchups between the Irish and Eagles were spirited, if not thrilling in nature. Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 10-4, although Sunday’s game will mark the first time the two sides have met in postseason play (BIG EAST or NCAA Tournament).

Notre Dame and BC first met on Dec. 30, 1983, when the Irish paid a visit to Chestnut Hill for the Nike Christmas Classic. The Eagles won that initial game, 59-55, before the series went dormant for the next 11 seasons. It wouldn’t resume until Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in time for the 1995-96 campaign.

The Irish won the first three conference games between the teams before Boston College picked up a pair of victories in 1998 to even the series at three games apiece. However, beginning with the second half of the 1998-99 season, Notre Dame has won seven of the past eight games in the series, with five of those victories coming at the Joyce Center. The Eagles continued to maintain the upper hand in Chestnut Hill, earning their most recent win on Jan. 29, 2003, with a 76-48 rout at Conte Forum.

Sunday’s game will be the first between the Irish and Boston College since the Eagles left the BIG EAST to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) last summer.

Other Notre Dame-Boston CollegeSeries Tidbits

  • Notre Dame is a perfect 7-0 against Boston College in the state of Indiana, with all seven prior matchups coming in South Bend at the Joyce Center.
  • The Irish have never faced an ACC school in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Only five times in 14 previous meetings has Boston College scored more than 60 points in a game against Notre Dame (four coming at Conte Forum). Conversely, the Irish have topped the 60-point mark 10 times against BC, including four of their seven visits to Chestnut Hill.
  • Sunday’s Notre Dame-Boston College contest will mark just the second time in the past 13 series games that neither one of the teams is ranked at tipoff. The 1997-98 matchup (a 78-76 BC win on Feb. 12) was the only other time in the past 10 seasons (’96-97 to present) that neither the Irish nor the Eagles appeared in the top 25 of one of the major national polls prior to the game.
  • Notre Dame senior guard Megan Duffy and Boston College head coach Cathy Inglese had a chance to get to know one another this past summer as members of the USA World University Games Team. Inglese was an assistant coach, while Duffy was the starting point guard and a co-captain for Team USA, which went 7-0 and earned the gold medal in Izmir, Turkey.

The Last Time Notre Dame And Boston College Met Megan Duffy had all 14 of her points in the second half as fifth-ranked Notre Dame overcame a 15-point deficit to beat No. 25 Boston College 54-47 on Feb. 15, 2005 at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Jacqueline Batteast scored 15 points for the Irish, who dropped the Eagles (16-7, 7-5) to 0-6 in 2004-05 against ranked opponents. Clare Droesch paced BC with 10 points.

Duffy’s two free throws gave the Irish a 44-43 lead with 2:22 to go. After a BC turnover, Charel Allen’s baseline drive pushed Notre Dame’s edge to three points.

The Eagles closed to 46-45 on Lisa Macchia’s layup with 1:08 to go, but Teresa Borton’s offensive rebound and layup off a desperation three-point attempt by Duffy made it 48-45 with 33 seconds left. Duffy then hit four free throws and Breona Gray added two in the final 24 seconds to secure the victory.

The Irish took a 42-41 lead on Allen’s putback with 4:03 left, but BC regained the edge on Kathrin Ress’ foul-line jumper 13 seconds later. It was the Eagles’ first basket in 9:01.

After Notre Dame sliced an 11-point halftime deficit to six, BC opened a 39-28 lead on Aja Parham’s baseline jumper with 13:51 left. But the Irish scored 12 of the next 14 points, cutting it to 41-40 on Batteast’s putback with 5:23 left.

The Eagles held the Irish to their lowest scoring half of the season, leading 26-11 with 1:57 left in the period before taking a 26-15 edge at the break. BC held Notre Dame to 21.7-percent shooting from in the half (5-of-23), mainly double-teaming leading scorer Batteast nearly every time she touched the ball in the low post to disrupt the offensive rhythm.

BC dropped its fourth game in five outings since leading scorer Jessalyn Deveny was lost for the season with a ruptured right Achilles’ tendon.

Other Tidbits On The West Lafayette Pod

  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Ohio State head coach Jim Foster have developed a strong friendship that dates back more than 25 years. McGraw served as an assistant coach on Foster’s staff at her alma mater, Saint Joseph’s (Pa.), from 1980-82 and still calls him her mentor in the coaching profession. Foster also is the godfather to the McGraw’s 15-year-old son, Murphy.
  • Notre Dame has two California natives – senior forward Courtney LaVere and junior forward Crystal Erwin – who have either played with or against nearly every member of the UCLA roster at some point during their high school/AAU days in southern California. One could also add Irish sophomore guard Tulyah Gaines to that list, as she grew up in Burbank, Calif., and attended John Burroughs High School before moving to Las Vegas prior to her senior year of high school.
  • Notre Dame senior guard Megan Duffy could get another chance to square off with one of her best friends in Ohio State junior guard Brandie Hoskins. Duffy and Hoskins were teammates at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio, helping that team soar to No. 1 in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings in 2001-02 before Duffy was sidelined with a knee injury. Although the pair chose to attend different colleges, they still talk regularly by phone.
  • Duffy actually is quite familiar with almost the entire Ohio State squad, having played either with or against virtually every Buckeye player during her high school career. Among her more notable opponents were OSU junior center Jessica Davenport (Columbus, Ohio/Independence HS) and sophomore guard Marscilla Packer (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington HS). In fact, Davenport and Hoskins joined Duffy as teammates on last summer’s USA World University Games Team that won the gold medal in Izmir, Turkey.
  • Duffy is not the only native of the Buckeye State on the Notre Dame roster this season. Sophomore guard Amanda Tsipis was a four-year letterwinner at Perry High School in Perry, Ohio, finishing as the second-leading scorer in that school’s history. Third-year Notre Dame assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis (Amanda’s uncle) also is an Ohio product, having grown up in Cleveland.
  • Bowling Green freshman guard Lindsey Goldsberry is the daughter of Frank Goldsberry, who coached Duffy and Hoskins (among many others) at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton.

Irish In The NCAA Tournament
Notre Dame is set to make its 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and 11th in a row, when it takes the court Sunday night against Boston College. The Irish have a .667 winning percentage (22-11) in NCAA Tournament play, which ranks eighth all-time (minimum of 20 games played).

In addition, Notre Dame’s current streak of 11 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances ranks ninth in the record books.

Here are some other facts about the Irish in the “Big Dance” (see page 6 sidebar for Notre Dame’s year-by-year NCAA Tournament results):

  • Every one of Notre Dame’s NCAA Tournament appearances has come under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw.
  • The Irish have won their NCAA Tournament first-round game in each of the past 10 seasons, corresponding exactly with both their current NCAA Tournament appearance streak, as well as their membership in the BIG EAST Conference (1995-96 to present).
  • Notre Dame is one of nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are: Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).
  • Notre Dame is one of nine schools to make multiple appearances at the NCAA Final Four and win at least one national championship. The others are: Connecticut (eight trips, five titles), Louisiana Tech (10 trips, two titles), Old Dominion (three trips, one title), Purdue (three trips, one title), USC (three trips, two titles), Stanford (six trips, two titles), Tennessee (16 trips, six titles) and Texas (three trips, one title).

Sowing The Seeds
Notre Dame has been seeded ninth for the second time in 13 NCAA Tournament appearances. The only other time the Irish acquired a No. 9 seed was 1998, and they promptly defeated both eighth-seeded Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State), 78-64, and No. 1 seed Texas Tech, 74-59, on the Lady Raiders’ home court at the Lubbock (Texas) Municipal Coliseum, to advance to the Sweet 16. Notre Dame then returned to Lubbock the following week and dropped a 70-65 decision to fourth-seeded Purdue in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

The Irish have played 16 NCAA Tournament
as a lower seed and have posted an 8-8 record. Notre Dame also has twice advanced to the Sweet 16 as a ninth seed or lower. In addition to the afore-mentioned 1998 run, the Irish turned the trick in 2003 as a No. 11 seed, ousting sixth-seeded Arizona (59-47) and No. 3 seed Kansas State (59-53) in Manhattan, Kan.

Against The NCAA Field
Notre Dame has played 13 of its 29 games this season against teams that were invited to the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Irish registered a 4-9 (.308) record vs. the rest of this year’s NCAA Tournament field. Here’s a rundown of Notre Dame’s performance against the teams that advanced to the 2006 NCAA Tournament:

Team (Seed) Region Record
Connecticut (2) Bridgeport 0-2
DePaul (4) San Antonio 1-1
Louisville (9) Cleveland 0-1
Purdue (4) Cleveland 0-1
Rutgers (3) Cleveland 0-1
St. John’s (7) Albuquerque 0-1
USC (8) Bridgeport 1-0
South Florida (9) Bridgeport 1-1
Tennessee (2) Cleveland 0-1
Utah (5) Albuquerque 1-0

The Not-So-Friendly Confines
The Irish will be playing at Mackey Arena for the eighth time and are 0-7 all-time in the facility (all seven losses vs. Purdue).

Back Home Again In Indiana
Notre Dame has played seven NCAA Tournament games in the state of Indiana (all on its home floor at the Joyce Center), going 6-1 (.857) in those contests. In fact, the Irish lost their first NCAA Tournament game at home in 1994 (81-76 vs. Minnesota) and have since won their last six tournament games in the Hoosier State. Most recently in 2004, Notre Dame defeated Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State), 69-65 in overtime, and Middle Tennessee, 59-46, at the Joyce Center to advance to the Sweet 16.

Ladies Night
Notre Dame is one of just three schools in the country (along with North Carolina and Stanford) to qualify for 2005-06 NCAA postseason competition in all seven fall/winter sports the Irish sponsor (soccer, volleyball, cross country, basketball, indoor track & field, swimming & diving and fencing).

A BIG EAST Bonanza
Notre Dame is one of seven BIG EAST Conference schools that earned invitations to the 2006 NCAA Tournament, joining a club that includes five-time national champion Connecticut, as well as St. John’s (making its first appearance since 1988) and first-time participant South Florida.

The BIG EAST tied the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for the most bids received to this year’s NCAA Tournament. The record for the highest number of teams from one conference invited to a single NCAA Tournament is eight, first set by the Southeastern Conference in 1999, and repeated twice since then (SEC in 2002; BIG EAST in 2004).

The BIG EAST also has four teams participating in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), meaning a conference-record 11 schools have advanced to postseason play in 2005-06 (the old record was nine in 2004).

In fact, of the 12 teams who participated in this year’s BIG EAST Championship, 11 of them earned either an NCAA or WNIT berth. The only team left out was West Virginia, which made national headlines with a Cinderella run to the title game of the conference tournament before dropping a narrow 50-44 decision to Connecticut. The Mountaineers failed to qualify for the postseason only because they wound up with a losing record (15-16).

Don’t Mess With Tradition
The Irish have developed two traditions that should be quite evident at this weekend’s NCAA Tournament.

  • Green nails – this tradition started for Notre Dame at the 1997 NCAA Tournament. The Irish chose to wear green nail polish on their fingers prior to their second-round St. Patrick’s Day game at Texas, which Notre Dame won, 86-83. The Irish ended up going all the way to the NCAA Final Four that season and the green nail polish was here to stay.
  • Irish jig – although not reserved simply for NCAA Tournament play, this unique pre-game ritual has become one of the widely-recognized traditions of Notre Dame women’s basketball. Just prior to the introduction of starting lineups, the Irish players will circle up in the lane with a basketball at their feet. As the Notre Dame pep band plays, the team will perform the Irish Jig (a popular step with Notre Dame fans, especially the student body) with the ball bouncing around in the midst of their dance. This tradition is believed to have started during the 1999-2000 season, but picked up steam during Notre Dame’s 2000-01 national championship run and has been part of the Irish pre-game ritual ever since.

The Greenhouse Effect
Notre Dame has won three of four games this season while sporting its seldom-used green alternate uniforms. Prior to their Feb. 22 game at West Virginia, the Irish had not worn their green duds since March 27, 2004, when they dropped a 55-49 decision to No. 5/7 Penn State in the NCAA East Regional semifinals (Sweet 16) at the Hartford Civic Center.

Notre Dame is 8-5 (.615) all-time when playing in the greens, but only 4-4 in postseason play (BIG EAST and NCAA Tournament).

Bonus Basketball
The Irish have played a school-record four overtime games this season, breaking the old mark of three held by the 1995-96 club. Notre Dame also has established a new BIG EAST record for OT games in regular-season conference play, surpassing the three overtime games played by three teams (most recently in 1990-91 by Boston College and St. John’s).

Prior to this season, the Irish had played only two BIG EAST regular-season OT games, winning both (88-79 vs. Seton Hall in 1996; 78-74 at Rutgers in 2000).

When The Game Is On The Lines
The Irish have posted a .699 free throw percentage (93-of-133) in the final two minutes and overtime of games this season, including a combined 25-of-29 (.862) effort in their last four games.

Leading the way are junior forward Crystal Erwin, who made her only two late-game free throws of the year with 41 seconds left in regulation Jan. 28 vs. South Florida, and senior guard Megan Duffy, who has made 48 of 50 foul shots (.960) in crunch time.

Everyone Gets Into The Act,br> The Irish have had at least three players score in double figures in 10 of their last 11 games and have pulled off that feat 22 times in 29 games this season. Notre Dame is 16-6 when it gets that kind of offensive balance, including a 7-2 record when at least four players reach double digits. The Irish have even had two games this season (wins over Utah and South Florida) where five players topped the 10-point mark.

Double-Digit Duffy
Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy has scored in double figures in the past 14 games, the longest streak by an Irish player in a single season since 2000-01, when Ruth Riley had 22 consecutive double-digit scoring games during Notre Dame’s NCAA championship season. More recently, Jacqueline Batteast had a 16-game streak that spanned between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 season.

The school record for consecutive double-figure scoring games in one season is 31, established by Katryna Gaither in 1996-97, Notre Dame’s first NCAA Final Four season.

Rising To The Challenge
Following its Feb. 19 loss to #8/6 Connecticut, Notre Dame found itself with a 14-10 record (5-8 in the BIG EAST Conference) and virtually in a must-win situation for the rest of the regular season if they hoped to have any chance for an NCAA Tournament berth (not to mention a .500 record in league play).

However, the Irish came through with flying colors, winning their final three regular-season contests, including two on the road, and then pulled out a 73-66 win over South Florida in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship before falling to Connecticut in the quarterfinals. In that five-game run to end the season, the Irish averaged 70.0 ppg., shot .450 from the floor (.400 from three-point range) and posted a 1.19 assist/turnover ratio.

One Play Can Make A Season
Baseball historians may recall the Chicago Cubs’ famed double-play combination from the turn of the 20th century, known simply as “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” For Notre Dame women’s basketball fans, they now have their own magical connection – “LaVere to Schrader to Gaines” – and it’s no exaggeration to say this combination saved the 2005-06 season for the Irish.

Trailing 57-55 with 2.4 seconds remaining at Cincinnati on Feb. 25, senior forward Courtney LaVere wound up and hurled a 65-foot baseball pass that dropped perfectly into the hands of leaping freshman guard Lindsay Schrader. While still in mid-air, the Notre Dame rookie deftly delivered a touch pass to sophomore Tulyah Gaines on the right wing, and the speedy point guard drove all the way to the basket for the game-tying layup as the horn sounded in regulation.

Riding a huge wave of momentum, Notre Dame went on to outscore the stunned Bearcats in overtime, 18-9, and keep their hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth on track.

Protecting The Pill
Part of the reason for Notre Dame’s late-season charge has been its ability to take care of the basketball. In their last 10 games, the Irish are averaging a mere 11.9 turnovers per game and have had 15 or fewer turnovers nine times during that stretch. The only blemish was a 16-turnover night vs. #8/6 Connecticut on Feb. 19.

Spine-Chiller Supremes
Former Oakland Raiders cornerback (and noted quote machine) Lester Hayes used to refer to close, exciting games as “spine-chiller supremes.” Lester probably would have used the same phrase to describe Notre Dame’s season to date.

The Irish have played 14 games decided by 10 points or less, going 10-4 in those contests. A school-record four games have gone into overtime, and three of the losses were in doubt heading into the final minute of regulation (two occurring in OT).

Don’t Count Us Out
While Notre Dame has gotten into an unfortunate habit of falling behind by double-digit margins this season, the Irish have also found a way to claw back into the contest with dramatic second-half rallies.

In 15 games this season, Notre Dame has used a significant second-half run to either take control or battle back into contention. Included in that total are four games against Top 25 opponents (USC, Utah, Tennessee and DePaul), with three of those second-half charges leading to Irish wins (all but Tennessee).

In addition, eight times the Irish have been tied or trailed at some point in the final 11 minutes, but on the strength of their second-half run, they rallied to take the win.

A History Lesson
With one steal vs. South Florida on Jan. 28, senior All-America guard Megan Duffy became only the fifth player in school history to record 1,000 points and 200 steals in her career. Duffy has 1,275 points and 220 steals since arriving in South Bend in 2002.

Duffy joins Karen Robinson (1987-91), Krissi Davis (1987-91), Katryna Gaither (1993-97) and Niele Ivey (1996-2001) as the only Irish players in that elite 1,000-point/200-steal club.

What’s more, Duffy has 495 career assists, putting her just five handouts short of pairing with Robinson and Ivey as the only Notre Dame players ever to amass 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in their careers.

Duffy’s Trophy Case Overflowing

  • On March 9, senior guard Megan Duffy was named the recipient of the 2006 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top senior player standing 5-foot-8 or under. Duffy is the second Irish player to earn the honor after Niele Ivey (2001). Notre Dame also becomes one of three schools in the 23-year history of the award to have multiple winners, joining Penn State and Johns Hopkins.
  • On March 14, Duffy was tapped as one of 48 finalists for the Kodak/WBCA All-America Team, marking the second consecutive season she has achieved that status. Duffy is the fifth two-time Kodak/WBCA All-America Team finalist in school history, putting her alongside the likes of Beth Morgan (1996, 1997), Katryna Gaither (1996, 1997), Ruth Riley (1999, 2000, 2001) and Jacqueline Batteast (2002, 2004, 2005). Riley (2001) and Batteast (2005) both went on to make the prestigious 10-member Kodak/WBCA All-America Team.
  • Duffy is a finalist for three major national player-of-the-year awards – the Naismith Trophy, John R. Wooden Women’s Award and the Senior CLASS Award. She also is one of 11 nominees for the seventh annual Nancy Lieberman Award, which is presented to the nation’s top point guard.

All-Conference Accolades

  • Senior guard Megan Duffy was a unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection, joining South Florida’s Jessica Dickson and DePaul’s Khara Smith as unanimous picks on this year’s all-league first team. Duffy is the seventh player in school history to be a two-time first-team all-BIG EAST selection.
  • Duffy also was tapped as the BIG EAST/Aeropostale Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She is the third Notre Dame player in the past six seasons to earn that distinction, following Ruth Riley (2001) and Alicia Ratay (2003).

Duffy Making The Grade Off The Court
Senior guard Megan Duffy became the second Irish women’s basketball player ever to be named a first-team Academic All-American when she was tapped for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® Women’s Basketball University Division First Team, it was announced Feb. 28. Duffy joins Ruth Riley as the program’s two first-team selections – Riley was a two-time pick in 2000 and 2001, garnering Academic All-America® Team Member of the Year status the latter season. Three other Notre Dame female cagers have earned second-team Academic All-America® status – Maggie Lally (1980, 1981), Shari Matvey (1981) and Mary Beth Schueth (1983). In addition, Duffy is the eighth women’s basketball player in BIG EAST Conference history to be accorded first-team Academic All-America® distinction (first since Riley in 2001).

Also a two-time Academic All-District V choice (2004, 2005), Duffy currently holds a 3.555 cumulative grade-point average in the College of Arts and Letters, where she is pursuing a double major in psychology and computer applications. She has earned Dean’s List honors in each of the past four semesters, including a 3.917 GPA in the spring 2005 term and a 3.821 GPA in the fall 2005 semester.

One day after Duffy’s honor, men’s basketball senior guard Chris Quinn also garnered first-team Academic All-America® status, making Notre Dame the only school in the country to place both a men’s and women’s player on the elite first team.

Duffy and Quinn are two of six Notre Dame student-athletes to earn Academic All-America® honors in 2005-06. The others include: Erika Bohn (women’s soccer – first team), Annie Schefter (women’s soccer – first team), John Stephens (men’s soccer – second team) and Lauren Brewster (volleyball – second team). Since the program’s inception in 1952, a total of 164 Irish student-athletes have been named Academic All-Americans, the second-highest total in the nation.

Hey Now, You’re An All-Star
Senior guard Megan Duffy is one of 17 NCAA Division I seniors who have been chosen to take part in the WBCA All-Star Challenge on Saturday, April 1 at Matthews Arena on the Northeastern University campus in Boston, site of this year’s NCAA Final Four. Participants whose teams are playing in the Final Four will be recused from the all-star game.

Duffy would be the third departing Notre Dame player to compete in the WBCA All-Star Challenge, joining Alicia Ratay (2003) and Jacqueline Batteast (2005). The game is the nightcap in the “WBCA Night of All-Stars,” which begins at 4:30 p.m. (ET) with the WBCA High School All-America Game. One of the participants in that contest will be incoming Irish freshman guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike HS).

LaVere Earns WBCA Broadcasting Award
Senior forward and co-captain Courtney LaVere has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Robin Roberts/WBCA Broadcasting Scholarship Award, it was announced March 9. The $4,500 honor is presented annually to one women’s college basketball player who intends to pursue graduate work and a career in sports communications/journalism. LaVere is the first Irish player ever to be chosen for the award.

The Ventura, Calif., native maintains a 3.1 cumulative grade-point average in the College of Arts and Letters, where she is pursuing a double major in film, television & theater and computer applications. She was a BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team selection last year and is poised to be a repeat choice this season. In the summer of 2004, LaVere broke into the broadcasting industry with an internship in the sports department at WNDU-TV, the NBC affiliate in South Bend.

LaVere will be honored at the WBCA Awards Luncheon, presented by State Farm and Jostens, at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 2 at the Hynes Convention Center Ballroom in Boston. LaVere’s classmate, All-America guard Megan Duffy, also will be recognized at the luncheon, receiving the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s top senior player standing 5-foot-8 or under. This banquet is part of the 25th annual WBCA National Convention and is held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four, scheduled for April 2 & 4 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.

Game #29 Recap: Connecticut
Barbara Turner scored 19 points and Ketia Swanier added a career-high 11 to lead No. 7 Connecticut to a 71-60 win over Notre Dame on March 5 in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at the Hartford Civic Center.

Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy had 14 of her game-high 20 points in the final 10 minutes of the game as the Irish tried to rally from 21 down.

Willnett Crockett had a team-high 11 boards for UConn (27-4), which finished with a 36-23 advantage on the glass and outscored the 10th-seeded Irish 34-20 in the paint. The Huskies’ 27 defensive rebounds afforded the Irish few second chances and helped UConn get out in transition quickly. Guards Renee Mongtomery and Swanier directed UConn’s uptempo attack with a combined 10 assists as the Huskies shot 58 percent from the floor.

Senior forward Courtney LaVere finished with 15 points and two blocked shots for Notre Dame (18-11).

The Huskies relied on their post game early to take control. Fifteen of their 19 first-half boards were on the defensive end resulted in several breakaway layups.

Turner and Charde Houston muscled their way inside for two layups in a 9-0 UConn run. Turner capped the spurt with an up-and-under around 6-foot-5 sophomore center Melissa D’Amico with 10:38 left in the period for an 18-11 lead.

The Huskies led by as many as 18 in the period and led 38-24 at the break. UConn stretched the lead to 52-31 in the first seven minutes of the second half. The Irish got as close as 11 points three times down the stretch, but couldn’t whittle the gap any further.

Noting The Connecticut Game

  • Notre Dame saw its four-game winning streak snapped, as well as its four-game run of 70+ point games.
  • The Irish are 14-11 all-time in BIG EAST Championship play (0-7 vs. Connecticut, 14-4 vs. the rest of the league).
  • Notre Dame is 2-6 all-time at the Hartford Civic Center, having won its opening game at the facility in each of the past two BIG EAST Championships (West Virginia in 2005, South Florida in 2006).
  • The UConn loss was the third this season for Notre Dame vs. a Top 25 opponent by exactly 11 points (also #24/23 Purdue and #1 Tennessee).
  • Six of Notre Dame’s 11 losses this season have come at the hands of ranked opponents, including each of its last three setbacks.
  • The Irish are 10-6 away from home this season.
  • Notre Dame lost for the first time in four outings this season when wearing its green uniforms.
  • Senior All-America guard Megan Duffy extended her streak of double-figure scoring games to 14 in a row, picking up her eighth 20-point game of the season in the process.
  • Duffy ranks second in the Irish record books with 4,148 minutes played, trailing only Alicia Ratay (4,231 minutes from 1999-2003).
  • Senior forward Courtney LaVere scored in double figures for the eighth time in 10 games (12.1 ppg. in that time); she also had two more blocked shots and is averaging 3.0 blocks in her last seven games.

Duffy, LaVere Join ND 1,000-Point Club
Senior co-captains Megan Duffy and Courtney LaVere became the 21st and 22nd members of Notre Dame’s 1,000-Point Club earlier this season. Duffy did so at St. John’s on Jan. 4, with LaVere following suit 10 days (and three games) later on Jan. 14 at Louisville.

Duffy currently has 1,275 career points, good for 13th on the Irish career scoring chart. LaVere is 18th all-time with 1,148 points.

The Duffy-LaVere 1,000-point tandem marks just the fifth time in school history have teammates reached the 1,000-point plateau in the same season, with Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon the last to do so in 2000-01.

Duffy and LaVere also have recorded the shortest span between hitting the mark (three games). The previous school record was eight games, the term between Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates scoring their 1,000th points in the 1984-85 season.

Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 517-207 (.714) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (429-166, .721).

Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:

  • She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday was Dec. 5).
  • McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
  • She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.

Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 109-10 (.916) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 37 of their last 41 such contests. Notre Dame has won 12 games this season when it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of their wins over No. 24/21 USC and South Florida).

The Best Offense Is A Good Defenses
During the past 11 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 159-9 (.946) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame is 9-0 in such games this season.

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. During the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) 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.

The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).

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 135 of their last 151 games (.894) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 80-12 (.870) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 57 of their last 61 non-BIG EAST contests (.934) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents – Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 285-77 (.787) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

They’ve Got The Know-How
Notre Dame is one of only two schools in the country that have two or more WNBA veterans on their coaching staffs. Associate head coach Coquese Washington played six seasons (1998-2003) in the league with three different clubs, and also served as the first-ever president of the WNBA Players Association. Meanwhile, assistant coach Angie Potthoff spent the 2000 season as a starter with the Minnesota Lynx after two years in the now-defunct American Basketball League (ABL) with the two-time champion Columbus Quest.

Besides Notre Dame, Virginia Commonwealth is the other school with multiple WNBA veterans on its staff. VCU assistant coach Wendy Palmer-Daniel currently plays for the San Antonio Silver Stars, while the Rams’ head coach is a familiar name to Irish women’s basketball fans – Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who played for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2000 after an All-America career at Notre Dame from 1993-97.

Riley Named One Of’s Top 25 Players Of The Past 25 Years
Former Notre Dame All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley has been selected as one of the top 25 women’s college basketball players of the past 25 years, according to The list of all-time greats was released Jan. 10 in conjunction with the silver anniversary celebration of the inaugural NCAA women’s basketball season in 1981-82.

A native of Macy, Ind., Riley was tapped as one of the legends of the sport in part because of her contributions in the NCAA Tournament, where she led Notre Dame to three NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and the 2001 national championship. In the ’01 NCAA title game vs. Purdue, Riley tallied 28 points (on 9-of-13 shooting), 13 rebounds and seven blocks, not to mention the two game-winning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining which snapped a 66-66 tie. It was an effort that termed as “the third-best all-time championship game performance in NCAA history.” That outing capped a six-game NCAA tourney stretch in which the 6-foot-5 post averaged 23.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while shooting at a .632 clip (48-of-76).

Riley was a two-time first-team Associated Press All-America selection and two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America choice, earning Academic All-America Team Member of the Year honors in 2001. In addition, she was a three-time first team all-BIG EAST selection, earning the league’s Player of the Year award in 2001 and the conference Defensive Player of the Year hardware three consecutive years. The only player in school history to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career (2,072 points/1,007 rebounds), Riley also is the Irish all-time leader in seven statistical categories, including blocked shots (370 – fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 – 11th in NCAA history).

Next Game: NCAA Second Round
Should Notre Dame defeat Boston College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night, the Irish would advance to a second-round contest on Tuesday against either No. 1 seed (and second-ranked) Ohio State or 16th-seeded Oakland (Mich.). The game time and broadcast outlet (ESPN or ESPN2) will be announced at a later date.

The Irish are 1-1 all-time against Ohio State and faced the Buckeyes just last season, winning 66-62 in the championship game of the Preseason WNIT at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has not played OSU in the postseason.

The only prior matchup between the Irish and Oakland took place on Dec. 9, 1987 in South Bend, with Notre Dame posting a 100-51 victory over the Golden Grizzlies. That meeting came early in Muffet McGraw’s first season as the Irish head coach and was her fourth win at Notre Dame – she has since tacked on 425 additional victories, entering this weekend’s action.