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Win One For The Home Team

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skylardigginsjersey.jpg Sports Illustrated - When Skylar Diggins arrived in South Bend for her official recruiting visit on Halloween weekend in 2008, she was handed a 21-page printout three weeks in the making that detailed how her future would unfold if she committed to Notre Dame. The color-saturated pages carried a title - SKYLAR DIGGINS: FOUR YEARS UNDER THE GOLDEN DOME - that might have been lifted from a theater marquee. In more than two decades with the Irish, coach Muffet McGraw had never collaborated on such a document. But then she had never pursued a player like Diggins, whom she deemed the most important recruit in the history of the program.

The Timeline, which is how everyone refers to the printout now, foretold Diggins's academic and basketball accomplishments, such as when she would receive the Nancy Lieberman Award, recognizing her as the nation's top point guard (March 29, 2012). It also specified the speeches she would make and the community service she would perform, important matters to a high school star who grew up seven miles southwest of Touchdown Jesus. The predictions even included a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED profile of her on Sept. 12, 2011: The Sky Is Unlimited. The final entry, dated May 23, 2013, had Diggins entering training camp after being selected by the WNBA's Indiana Fever.

Although the SI profile comes two months late (and the headline doesn't quite match), many of the projections, like her status as a 2011--12 preseason All-America and winning a gold medal at the World University Games, have come true. "It's pretty eerie," says Diggins's mother, Renee Scott. "I should ask them to make out a life plan for me."

Written by assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis, the Timeline did not predict a title for the Irish in 2011--12, because forward Devereaux Peters and guard Brittany Mallory were not expected to be in South Bend. But both have been granted a fifth season of eligibility after missing a season due to knee injuries, giving Diggins a chance to rewrite her own history. "It would be a huge disappointment if we don't win a national championship this year," she says.

Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Indiana State

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Notre Dame will play host to Indiana State in preseason WNIT Quarterfinal action today at Purcell Pavilion.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Akron

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Notre Dame opens the 2011-12 season tonight with a home contest against Akron.

Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

The Road (Back) to the Final Four

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Twin Plays Big Part of Novosel Success

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ESPN.com - Twins Natalie and Nathan Novosel might well finish their senior seasons sharing a unique bond as champions and All-Americans on the basketball court. The more important bond, the one that made it possible, is one familiar the world over.

It's nice to have someone who knows what you're going through. It's sometimes better to have someone who simply knows you.

And for what it's worth, if you don't have to share a car with that person, that would be swell.

Long before she was the leading scorer for a team that came within one possession of winning a national title last season, Natalie was the frustrated kid who couldn't buy a basket in her own backyard. Nathan, a 6-foot-5 forward for Division III University of Rochester, and older sister Shannon, a former all-conference 6-foot-1 center for the University of Evansville, were always bigger and stronger than Natalie, who even now is the lone sibling checking in shorter than 6 feet. The results in the games of one-on-one-on-one played outside the family home weren't pretty for anyone within earshot.

"I would lose every single game out in the backyard, and I would get so mad at them," Natalie said. "I'd throw the ball, I'd throw a tantrum, cry, swear; it was unbelievable how much of a sore loser I was. They really instilled my competitiveness in me and gave me that drive I have today. They put up with a lot."

The friction between the twins didn't stop when the games ended. Twins might share a special connection, but the sibling relationship between Natalie and Nate growing up was more along the lines of plugging an American cellphone charger into a European outlet. They played the same sport, took many of the same classes and generally couldn't get away from each other from dawn to dusk. Even when a measure of independence presented itself in the form of driver's licenses, they remained at odds, sharing -- to stretch that word to its breaking point -- an aging Ford Explorer.

It wasn't until late in high school that the two started to see eye-to-eye, at least metaphorically. Instead of the family living room serving as some sort of demilitarized zone in their cold war, they found themselves willingly talking to each other for hours on end. When they left for college, the distance that separated them only strengthened the bond.

If this season concludes with Notre Dame's second national championship, there is no doubt the writers of history will begin the story with the day local high school star Skylar Diggins committed to stay home.

And There's a Magic ...

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This Time It's Different

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ESPN.com - We've heard it all before.

Maya Moore was the future of women's basketball. (Quick! What team does she play for now?) So was dunking phenom Candace Parker. Before them were the fiery Diana Taurasi, the lethally explosive Sheryl Swoopes and the glamorous Lisa Leslie -- all of them projected to lead us to the promised land, a place where aging meatheads finally appreciate the beauty of women's sports. But this time, we mean it. Skylar Diggins is changing the game.

She demands attention. On the court, the 5'9" southpaw pushes the pace, finds the open teammate, gets in people's faces, finishes in the paint, takes the big shot. At the end of March, Notre Dame was just another team chasing Tennessee and Connecticut. One week later, in a three-game stretch during March Madness, Diggins scored 24 points in an upset of Tennessee, 28 to upend top-seeded UConn in the Final Four and then 23 in Notre Dame's loss to Texas A&M in the title game. Along the way, the TV audience for the 2011 NCAA women's tournament increased by 16 percent from the previous year.

Moore and Parker and Taurasi all had great tourney runs too. None of them, however, had Lil Wayne tweeting them best wishes before the biggest game of their career. When Weezy sent this burst into the ether -- "Good lukk to my wife Skylar Diggins and the Fighting Irish" -- before Diggins faced off against UConn, it altered the women's hoops landscape. Diggins' Twitter following swelled from 5,000 before the tournament to nearly 65,000 just after the national title game. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Garnett sang her praises as a player. Lil Wayne performed wearing her jersey. John Wall sent her virtual air kisses.

All of this brings us to another undeniable fact about Skylar Diggins: She is attractive. And she's attractive with a growing profile in a privacy-challenged world. Fair or not, there are superficial reasons for some of the attention she's receiving. That is not lost on Diggins. "People are like, 'Hold on, this is different,'" she says. "'She's getting 40 points, what?' They don't expect me to be like that on the court. I don't know what they expect a hooper to look like, but obviously it wasn't me."

Diggins is now in that middle ground between being a normal 21-year-old college athlete and being a burgeoning superstar. And as part of a generation raised on social media and its power to gift instant fame, she is comfortable with that. Her response to the Weezy shout-out? She thanked him and called him "husband."

Following the Lil Wayne exchange in the spring, a Diggins tweet became a trending topic within hours. Soon after that, Notre Dame called on media consultant Kathleen Hessert for guidance. When asked about the player's appeal, Hessert referenced the book The Attention Economy, which makes the argument that the global economy's new currency is the ability to capture people's increasingly fractured attention. She considers the book her bible, but she pushes the idea a step further. "We've moved from the attention economy to an attraction economy," says Hessert, whose clients include ESPN Plus and Auburn University athletics. "It's no longer enough to get attention. You have to attract people. And social media, combined with a presence like Skylar, attracts people to the sport, to the team, to her personal brand in a way that could never happen before. People who never followed women's basketball are following it because of Skylar."


South Bend Idol

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Ask Us Before You Ask Them

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Daily Dish - 11.2.11

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- Linebacker Manti Te'o was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday ... the Bednarik Award is presented to college football's best defensive player ... Te'o leads the Irish with 82 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks ... he has already set career highs this year in tackles for loss and sacks ... Te'o has recorded at least 10 tackles in six of eight games this year and he leads the Irish in solo tackles, assisted tackles and tackles on running plays ... among all middle or inside linebackers in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Te'o ranks tied for first in solo tackles for loss, tied for first in solo sacks, second in total sacks,second in total tackles for loss, second in tackles for loss per game and third in sacks per game.

- The LSU-Alabama game this weekend has prompted lots of revisiting of previous No. 1 vs. No. 2 college games ... SI.com's Richard Rothschild rated the best previous regular-season collisions based on quality of the game, impact on the season and long-term ramifications - and he put 1946 Notre Dame-Army 10th on his list, 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State sixth and 1993 Notre Dame-Florida State fifth.

- Through eight games, Notre Dame's Tommy Rees has completed 179 passes for an average of 22.375 per game ... if Rees continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games, Rees would finish with 291 completions - one short of Brady Quinn's Notre Dame single-season record of 292 from 2005 ... Rees has played only about the equivalent of one full season, but his career .641 pass completion percentage is the best in Notre Dame history ... he needs one more TD pass to match (1943 Heisman Trophy winner) Angelo Bertelli's career total and four more to catch Joe Theismann at 31.

- Michael Floyd ranks second nationally among active players in career pass receptions and career reception yards ... through eight games he has caught 63 balls - for an average of 7.875 per game ... if he continues that pace and the Irish play 13 games he would finish with 102 catches (which would easily eclipse Golden Tate's Irish single-season record of 93 from 2009) ... Floyd currently has 1,025 receiving yards (128.125 per game) - which would project to 1,665 over 13 games (better than Tate's single-season Notre Dame record of 1,496 from 2009).

- Saturday is the seventh annual National College Football Day, originally created by the Cotton Bowl Classic.

- Anders Lee has been selected as the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month for October ... the 6-3, 227-pound left wing has helped the fourth-ranked Irish get off to a strong 5-2 start this season as he has scored at least one goal in all seven games, with a two-goal effort and a hat trick thrown in for good measure ... after seven contests, Lee leads both the conference and the nation with 10 goals and has added three assists for 13 points.

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Event Calendar

January 7
7:00 PM
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Conte Forum

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January 8
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January 9
4:00 PM
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12:00 PM
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January 10
1:00 PM
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January 11
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January 13
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