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Women's Hoops Preps For Illinois

Nov. 25, 1999

TODAY’S GAME — The sixth-ranked Irish women’s basketball team (1-0) makes its first visit to Champaign, Ill., since 1982 when Notre Dame faces 15th-ranked Illinois. The Fighting Illini finished third in the Women’s Preseason NIT and are currently 4-1 on the season.

This afternoon’s contest marks the first game in a week for Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad who opened the 1999-2000 campaign with a 68-52 win over Toledo on the road last Saturday. Notre Dame plays five of its first six games on the road to open the season. Today’s game marks the fifth-ever meeting between the two teams with Illinois holding a 3-1 advantage. The two teams met for the first time since 1982 last season at Notre Dame with the Irish coming away with a 101-92 victory, its first-ever win in the series.

Notre Dame climbed one spot in the Associated Press ranking as the Irish moved to sixth and jumped three positions from ninth to sixth in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Both spots in the polls equal all-time highs for the Irish who last season earned the number-six ranking during the 1998-99 campaign. Notre Dame has now been ranked a school-record 19 consecutive weeks in the top 10 after starting this season in the top 10 for the first time in school history and has spent 22 consecutive ranked in the top 25 since the start of last season.

TOLEDO REVIEW — Freshman Alicia Ratay making her first start in her first collegiate game scored a game-high 18 points and tied two others for game-high rebounding honors with seven as the Irish posted a 68-52 victory in the season opener. All five of Ratay’s field goals were three-pointers as she finished seven-for-eight shooting from that range. Senior Danielle Green came off the bench to score 16 points and grab seven rebounds in 26 minutes of action, while senior Niele Ivey added 13 points and sophomore Ericka Haney, making her first collegiate start, finished with 10 points. Kelley Siemon had six points and was one of the team’s leading rebounders with seven boards. Notre Dame’s defense held the Rockets to 39.6 percent shooting for the contest as Toledo finished just 21-of-53 atttempts overall and one-of-seven from three-point range. The Irish were dominant on the boards with a 46-27 advantage in that category.

POLL WATCHING– Notre Dame is ranked sixth in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. The Irish have been ranked in the top 10 for a school-record 19 consecutive weeks and 22 straight weeks overall in which they have earned a ranking. The school mark for consecutive weeks ranked is 24 which the Irish set from February 5, 1996 thru March 10, 1997.

No. 6/6 Notre Dame (1-0) at
No. 15/15 Illinois (4-1)

Date: Saturday, November 27, 1999
Places: Assembly Hall (16,450), Champaign, Ill.
Time: 2:00 p.m. (CST)
Radio: All Notre Dame games are broadcast on WJVA-AM (1580 in South Bend). Jeremy Gray provides play-by-play for games.

Notre Dame Probable Starting Lineup

1998-99 Statistics

No.  Name               Hometown         Pos.   Ht.  Cl.   PPG  RPG3    Ericka Haney*      Toledo, Ohio     F/G   6-1   So.  10.0  2.050   Kelley Siemon**    Edina, MN         F    6-2   Jr.   6.0  7.000   Ruth Riley**       Macy, IN          C    6-5   Jr.   0.0  2.022   Alicia Ratay       Lake Zurich, IL   G   5-11   Fr.  18.0  7.033   Niele Ivey**       St. Louis, MO     G    5-8   Sr.  13.0  4.0

Off The Bench

11  Karen Swanson       Westlake, OH      G    5-7   Fr.   0.0  1.012  Danielle Green***   Chicago, IL       G    5-8   Sr.  16.0  7.023  Monique Hernandez   Rio Rancho, NM    G    5-9   Fr.   0.0  1.031  Amanda Barksdale    Friendswood, TX   F    6-3   Fr.   0.0  0.032  Julie Henderson***  Ann Arbor, MI    F/C   6-3   Sr.   1.9  2.741  Imani Dunbar**      San Angelo, TX    G    5-7   So.   0.0  4.044  Meaghan Leahy*      Wilbraham, MA     F    6-4   So.   1.0  2.0
* Indicates monograms won

HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW — Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 13th season with the Irish and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to four straight NCAA tournament appearances and six overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Regional championship. In 1998, McGraw’s squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In 12-plus seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 262-110 (.704), and in 17-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 350-151 (.699) ledger. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she spent five seasons at Lehigh where she compiled an 88-41 record for a .683 winning percentage. Last season, McGraw, after guiding the Irish to their sixth consecutive 20-win season, was named finalists for the Naismith Women’s Basketball and Associated Press coach-of-the-year awards.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER MAGAZINE TO FOLLOW IRISH ALL SEASON — Annette John-Hall, a feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer will be following head coach Muffet McGraw, a native of Pottsville, Pa., and the Irish all season long and feature them in the magazine section of that publication. She will file stories throughout the season on McGraw and her squad. Hall has already written two features introducing the team to the readership.

SERIES RECORD VERSUS ILLINOIS — Illinois has won three of the four meetings between the two schools. The Illini were victorious the first three times the teams played each other, but Notre Dame earned its first win in the series last year (101-92) at the Joyce Center. The Irish are 0-2 in games played in Champaign, Ill.

McGRAW GOES UP AGAINST FORMER COACH — It will be a reunion of sorts today when the Irish and Illini meet. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw goes up against her former coach, Theresa Grentz. McGraw, a 1977 graduate of St. Joseph’s (Pa.), played for Grentz two seasons at the Philadelphia school. Grentz coached at St. Joseph’s during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 campaigns before moving to Rutgers for the 1976-77 season. Grentz has coached at the collegiate level for 25 years. This will the second time that McGraw and Grentz have coached against each other. McGraw holds a 1-0 advantage.

NOTRE DAME IN SEASON OPENERS — With its win over Toledo on Saturday, Notre Dame is now 15-8 in 23 season openers. It was the first time since the start of the 1995-96 campaign that the Irish opened up the season on the road (an 82-73 victory over Indiana). The last time Notre Dame dropped a season opener was on November 26, 1994 as the Irish lost a 60-55 overtime decision at Seton Hall.

RILEY NAMED FINALIST FOR NAISMITH PLAYER OF THE YEAR — On everyone’s preseason All-America teams, Ruth Riley, a third-team Associated Press All-America selection in 1999, is one of 10 finalists for the 1999-2000 Naismith Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Award which is presented by the Atlanta Tip-off Club. Riley and the nine other candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading college basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. She is the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to be named a finalist for the awardl, which was first presented in 1983. The nine other finalists include: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut), Edwina Brown (Texas), Tamika Catchings (Tennessee), Tamicha Jackson (Louisiana Tech), Maylana Martin (UCLA), Kelly Miller (Georgia), Lynn Pride (Kansas), Semeka Randall (Tennessee) and Nikki Teasley (North Carolina).

TWO MORE READY TO JOIN 1,000-POINT CLUB — Senior Danielle Green and junior Ruth Riley will likely join 14 former Notre Dame women’s basketball players who have reached the 1,000-point mark in their careers. Riley headed into the 1999-2000 campaign with 882 points and a 14.0 career scoring average. She topped the 500-point mark last season as she scored 514 points for a 16.6 point-per-game scoring average. Green, who was granted a fifth year after sitting out the entire 1996-97 season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, has 784 points. She scored just 30 points in 27 games during her freshman year in 1995-96, but has come back each of the last two seasons to average in double figures. Green scored 306 points for a 10.2 scoring average in 1997-98 and tossed in 432 points for a 14.4 points-per-game average a year ago.

NOTRE DAME TO TAKE ON 10 NCAA TOURNAMENT FOES — Illinois is the first of 10 teams the Irish face in 1999-2000 who participated in the 64-team 1999 NCAA tournament field. The 10 teams on the the Irish slate who made the tournament last year are: Boston College (Feb. 5), Connecticut (Feb. 26), Florida International (Dec. 19), Illinois (Nov. 27), Liberty (Dec. 5 — possible second round opponent at Wachovia Women’s Invitational Tournament), Marquette (Jan. 2), North Carolina (Dec. 4), Purdue (Dec. 8), Rutgers (Feb. 19) and Toledo (Nov. 20).

BIG EAST DEBUTS 16-GAME SLATE — The BIG EAST Conference will begin its 16-game league schedule this season. That’s a change from the 18-game format which had been in existence since the league expanded to 13 games in 1995-96. In 1999-2000, Notre Dame will play Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Miami and St. John’s twice and has single games against West Virginia, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Providence, Villanova, Rutgers and Connecticut.

RATAY NETS 18 IN DEBUT — Freshman guard Alicia Ratay, a first-team Parade High School All-American, scored 18 points in her collegiate debut. It was the most by an Irish rookie in her first college game since Michelle Marciniak scored 16 points in an 86-70 loss to Penn State on November 22, 1991. Ratay’s five field goals were all from three-point range as she hit five-of-eight field goals from beyond the arc.

DOMINATING ON THE BOARDS — Notre Dame averaged 43.9 rebounds a year ago and outrebounded its opponents by 9.9 per game. The Irish continued that trend in the opener last Saturday against Toledo when they outrebounded the Rockets 46-27.

HANEY GETS FIRST START — Sophomore Ericka Haney earned her first career start in the season opener against Toledo and responded with 10 points and two rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

RILEY HELPS USA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CAPTURE SILVER MEDAL — Ruth Riley was one of 12 players selected to the 1999 World University Games Team. She and 1999 graduate Sheila McMillen (now an assistant coach at Western Michigan) were among the 44 players invited to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the five-day tryout. The team, coached by Penn State’s Rene Portland, took home the silver medal after posting a 4-2 mark in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, site of the basketball competition. Riley appeared in all nine games with the USA and started five of those contests and was the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder as she averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, with a .630 field-goal percentage. At a tournament in Madrid Spain prior to the start of the World University Games, the USA Women’s Basketball squad posted a 3-0 mark and captured first-place. During those three games, she averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. This was Riley’s second stint with the USA Women’s basketball program. In the summer of 1998, she was a member of the USA Women’s Basketball Select Team.

SIEMON TOURS WITH BIG EAST TEAM — Junior Kelley Siemon averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in helping the BIG EAST/Nike Women’s Basketball All-Stars to a 4-1 record in a ’99 summer tour of Belgium and Germany. Siemon scored 14 points in the win over Aalst (Division) and had seven points and eight rebounds in a win over the Belgian Junior National Team. The team was coached by Boston College’s Cathy Inglese.

NOTRE DAME UNDEFEATED AGAINST NON-LEAGUE FOES LAST SEASON — Notre Dame finished with a perfect 8-0 mark against non-league foes last season during the regular season as it faced teams from seven different conferences. The Irish played two teams from the Big Ten (Illinois and Michigan State) and then had games against six other conference teams — Pac-10 (UCLA), Midwestern Collegiate (Butler), Atlantic Coast (Duke), West Coast (San Francisco), Mid-American (Toledo) and Conference USA (South Florida).

THERE’S A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK — Coquese Washington, who played for Notre Dame from 1989-93, has joined head coach Muffet McGraw’s coaching staff this season as an assistant coach. She replaces Letitia Bowen who has become the administrative assistant to the women’s basketball program while attending graduate school. Washington, the Notre Dame record holder for steals (307) and steals average (2.7), has played professionally the last three years. During the summers of 1998 and 1999, she has been a member of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) New York Liberty. This past season, her Liberty advanced to the finals of the WNBA Championship. The 5-6 guard, who led the Irish in steals all four seasons she was at Notre Dame, spent the 1996-97 season on the roster of the Portland Power franchise of the now defunct American Basketball League (ABL).

IRISH SIGN TWO — Notre Dame signed two players listed among the top 40 prep players in the country during the early signing period. Jeneka Joyce, a 5-9 shooting guard from Topeka, Kan., and Le’Tania Severe, a 5-9 point guard from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., were rated 26th and 40th, respectively, by Blue Star Basketball.

PRESEASON HONORS FOR RILEY — The name Ruth Riley appears on preseason All-America teams of several publications. Notre Dame also is ranked in the polls of every preseason publication.

  • Street & Smith’s: Ruth Riley – High Honorable, Notre Dame Mention, Notre Dame – 7th Athlon College Basketball: Notre Dame – 8th
  • Basketball News: Notre Dame – 8th
  • Women’s Basketball News Service: Ruth Riley – Second Team, Alicia Ratay – All- Freshman Third Team, Notre Dame – 9th
  • Women’s Basketball Journal: Ruth Riley – Second Team, Notre Dame – 25th


  • Amanda Barksdale played two minutes in the season opener against Toledo.
  • Imani Dunbar provided a spark off the bench against Toledo as she played nine minutes and had career-highs of four rebounds and four assists.
  • Danielle Green came off the bench to score 16 points and grab seven rebounds in season opener.
  • Ericka Haney has 10 points in her first collegiate start in the season opener at Toledo.
  • Julie Henderson had four points and three rebounds in 21 minutes of action against Toledo.
  • Monique Hernandez played three in the season opener at Toledo.
  • Niele Ivey scored 13 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished off three assists and made two steals in season opener against Toledo.
  • Meaghan Leahy played five minutes in the season opener against Toledo and grabbed two rebounds.
  • Alicia Ratay started in her collegiate debut and scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action. It was the most points by an Irish rookie in a season opener since 1991.
  • Karen Swanson is a walk-on freshman who played four minutes in the season opener.
  • Ruth Riley played only 10 minutes in the season opener at Toledo because of foul trouble. She did not score in the game, but had four rebounds. It marked the first time in 64 career games that she failed to score.
  • Amanda Barksdale is a three-year starter who had six points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of action in the season opener against Toledo.

Series Record – Illinois leads 3-1
Home: 1-1, Away: 0-2, Neutral: 0-0

Date       Site                 Score11-16-78   Champaign, IL     L  60-812-28-81    Notre Dame, IN    L  53-882-16-82    Champaign, IL     L  53-8311-24-98   Notre Dame, IN    W 101-92
Series Scoring Total AverageNotre Dame 267 66.7Toledo 344 86.0
Current Win Streak: Notre Dame, 1 game
McGraw vs. Illinois: 1-0ND Biggest Win: 9 (101-92 on 11-24-98)UI Biggest Win: 35 (88-53 on 2-28-81)ND Longest Win Streak: 1 (1998)UI Longest Win Streak: 3 (from 1978-82)

1999-2000 BIG EAST Coaches’ Preseason Poll

   1.  Connecticut (10)   142   2.  Rutgers (3)        135   3.  NOTRE DAME         121   4.  Boston College     112   5.  Georgetown          90    6.  Villanova           86   7.  Miami               79   8.  Syracuse            59   9.  St. John's          46  10.  Pittsburgh          44  11.  Seton Hall          39  12.  Providence          38  13.  West Virginia       23

Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut), Tasha Pointer (Rutgers), Shea Ralph (Connecticut), Ruth Riley (Notre Dame), Shawnetta Stewart (Rutgers)

Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team: Niele Ivey (Notre Dame), Alissa Murphy (Boston College), Katie Smrcka-Duffy (Georgetown), Tammy Sutton-Brown (Rutgers), Tamika Williams (Connecticut)

BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut)

BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year: Kennitra Johnson (Connecticut)