Jan. 7, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
When losses are as irregular for your program as they are for the No. 7/6 Notre Dame women’s basketball team (14-2, 2-1 ACC), they tend to stand out. During its first three years as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Irish lost just one regular season or tournament game in league play, falling at Miami on Jan. 8, 2015. Two years to the day later, the Irish have an opportunity to make amends for that loss as they face No. 14 Miami (13-2, 2-1) at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Watsco (formerly BankUnited) Center in Coral Gables, Florida.
Here are some things to know heading into the nationally-televised contest.
About the Hurricanes
Miami is 13-2 on the season and 2-1 in league play, losing only at No. 19 Kentucky in the season-opener and at home to No. 7 Florida State on Dec. 29. The Hurricanes have picked up ranked wins this year at No. 9 Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and, in their last outing, at No. 23 NC State on Thursday night.
Five Miami players are averaging at least 8.9 points per game, led by preseason all-ACC pick Adrienne Motley at 12.6 and Jessica Thomas at 12.5.
Notre Dame holds an 18-4 edge in the series against Miami including a 7-2 record in the Sunshine State.
Although the Irish and Hurricanes are not permanently matched up for an annual home-and-home ACC series (Notre Dame is paired with Boston College and Georgia Tech for those), the teams have met twice each of the past two years through matchups in the ACC Tournament semifinals. The Irish won both of those Greensboro Coliseum meetings en route to a pair of ACC championships. The teams also met in the postseason on March, 5, 2000, when the Irish beat the Hurricanes, 67-52, in the BIG EAST quarterfinals at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion.
Notre Dame claimed both meetings with Miami last season. The irish beat the Hurricanes, 90-69, at Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 14. Arike Ogunbowale topped Notre Dame with 18 points in that contest. The teams met again in the ACC semifinals on March 5 and Notre Dame claimed an 78-67 victory en route to the league title. Brianna Turner narrowly missed a double-double in Greensboro with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Nice To See You Again
A familiar face to the Irish will be on the Miami bench Sunday in 2016 alumna Michaela Mabrey who is in her first year as the Hurricanes’ coordinator of program and player development. The older sister of Irish sophomore Marina Mabrey, Michaela was a two-year team captain and a prolific shooter, ranking fourth in school history in career 3-pointers (228) and fifth in career 3-point percentage (.396). The elder Mabrey was a part of three Final Four teams, four regular season and tournament conference championships as her teams went 141-9.
Many Mabrey family members have made the trip to Miami and are expected to be in attendance at the game.
14-2 is Nothing New
The 2016-17 Irish stand at 14-2 on the year. This high rate of success is not uncommon. This is the eighth time in the past nine seasons that Notre Dame has started a season 14-2 or better.
Notre Dame started the season at 16-0 in 2013-14. The Irish went 15-1 in 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2015-16. The Irish were also 14-2 in 2008-09 and 2014-15 after 16 games.
The only exception in this nine-year run of starting at least 14-2 was the 2010-11 season when the Irish stood at 13-3 after 16 games.
Back on the Road
After a rare opportunity to defend its home court Thursday (doing so successfully against Wake Forest), Notre Dame finds itself back on the road for Sunday’s game at Miami. The game is part of a stretch in which the Irish will play 10 out of 12 games away from the comforts of Purcell Pavilion.
This stretch began on Dec. 10 when the Irish embarked on the longest true road game string in school history, a six-game romp to DePaul (Dec. 10), Toledo (Dec. 18), Michigan State (Dec. 20), Chattanooga (Dec. 27), NC State (Dec. 29) and Georgia Tech (Jan. 2).
Thankfully, Notre Dame has generally not been fazed when playing on the road. The Irish have compiled a 54-3 (.947) record on the road over the past five seasons. The loss at NC State (Dec. 29) snapped a 15-game road winning streak which is tied for the 12th-longest in NCAA history.
Muffet McGraw Radio Show Presented by Tire Rack To Debut Monday
For the first time, Muffet McGraw will have her own local radio show as the Muffet McGraw Show Presented by TireRack.com debuts Jan. 9 at O’Rourke’s Public House, conveniently located in Eddy Street Commons, across the street from Notre Dame’s campus.
The hour-long show, which begins at 6 p.m., will be hosted by Bob Nagle, now in his 12th year as the radio voice of the Irish women’s basketball team. It will be broadcast live locally on 92.1 Pulse FM and also be available over the internet at WatchND.tv. The shows will also be archived as Notre Dame Athletics Podcasts which are presented by Nissan.
Each episode will also feature interviews with a current student-athlete, a member of the Irish coaching staff and also a feature on a select former player. Fans will have an opportunity to ask questions of coach McGraw and her guests along with winning prizes.
Five shows, all on Monday nights, are planned for the 2016-17 season with the dates being Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 13, Feb. 20 and Feb. 27.
How to Watch/Listen
ESPN2 will broadcast the game nationally with Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli on the call. Former Notre Dame women’s lacrosse player Kerry Callahan is producing the telecast. Games are also available online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Sunday's game is available here.
Bob Nagle returns for his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame's local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The direct link to the radio call is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame's women's basketball and men's golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.