Jan. 25, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) has been chosen as one of the 10 finalists for the 2011-12 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in women's basketball, it was announced Wednesday. The Senior CLASS Award is presented annually to the nation's top senior player based on their dedication and achievement in four areas: Classroom, Character, Community and Competition.
Those 10 finalists were selected by a media committee from a list of 60 candidates, based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete. They have been placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote which began Wednesday and continues through March 18. Fans now can vote on-line daily for Novosel through the Senior CLASS Award web site (www.seniorclassaward.com) and special Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Facebook page, while a special page highlighting Novosel's accomplishments and a link to the on-line voting ballot also will go live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com) in the coming days. Votes from coaches and media will be coupled with fan balloting to determine the recipient of the award, with this year's honoree to be announced April 1-3 during the NCAA Women's Final Four in Denver.
Novosel is the first Fighting Irish women's basketball ever to be chosen as a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist, as well as the second Notre Dame student-athlete this year to be named a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist in his/her respective sport -- back in October, men's soccer defender Greg Klazura also was among 10 finalists in his sport. What's more, Novosel is aiming to become the third Fighting Irish student-athlete to take home this honor, following in the footsteps of hockey goaltender David Brown (2007) and women's soccer forward Kerri Hanks (2008).
Novosel already has picked up numerous awards this year, starting with her selection as a a preseason all-BIG EAST honoree, along with being chosen as a candidate for the State Farm Wade Trophy, John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy (each of which go to the nation's top women's college basketball player). Since the start of the 2011-12 campaign, Novosel has earned most valuable player honors in the Freeport Division of the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas (after sinking the game-winning basket as time expired in a 56-54 championship game victory over No. 7/6 Duke), as well as a spot on the Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team. In addition, she was tapped as the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Dec. 19, one day after scoring a team-high 23 points in Notre Dame's 92-83 win over her hometown school, No. 8/7 Kentucky.
This season, Novosel ranks eighth in the BIG EAST in scoring at 15.4 points per game and stands fifth in the conference with a .820 free throw percentage. She also built a streak of 27 consecutive games scoring in double figures (the second-longest run in school history) before it ended during Monday night's 72-44 victory over No. 7/9 Tennessee at Purcell Pavilion. Still, she has scored in double digits 20 times this season, including six 20-point outings, and led by a career-high 28 points at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game on Nov. 20.
Off the court, Novosel is closely involved with the Notre Dame women's basketball team's groundbreaking community outreach efforts. This year, the newly-formed "Heart of the Irish" program has touched numerous aspects of the greater South Bend community through toy and book drives for area schoolchildren, collecting food and sundries for local food pantries, and already drawing more than $150,000 in donations for the annual Pink Zone initiative to support breast cancer research.
Novosel currently is enrolled in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters, where she is completing work on her bachelor's degree in anthropology.
Winners of 17 consecutive games, No. 2/2 Notre Dame (20-1, 7-0 BIG EAST) returns to the hardwood at noon (ET) Saturday when it travels to Jamaica, N.Y., to take on conference rival St. John's at Carnesecca Arena. The game will be televised as part of the BIG EAST Game of the Week syndicated package, which includes live coverage in the Midwest on Comcast SportsNet Chicago (Channel 37 on most Comcast systems in the South Bend area, DirecTV Channel 665, DISH Network Channel 429).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.