March 5, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On the heels of its tie for fourth place in the rugged BIG EAST Conference, the No. 20/17 Notre Dame women's basketball team picked up a handful of individual honors on Thursday, as the league office announced this year's all-conference and all-freshman teams, as well as several specialty awards. Senior guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) was named a first-team all-BIG EAST pick, while junior guard Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind.) was a second-team all-conference choice. The Irish also placed two players on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team for the third consecutive year, with guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and forward Erica Solomon (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day School) making this year's squad.
The 16 BIG EAST head coaches voted for the honors, but were not allowed to vote for their own players. The complete rundown of all-conference teams, as well as the choices for the BIG EAST's Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Sixth-Man Award and Sportsmanship Award, can be found on the conference's official web site, www.bigeast.org.
Schrader is a first-team all-BIG EAST selection for the first time in her career, following up on last year's honorable mention all-conference citation. This marks the sixth consecutive year, and 12th time in Notre Dame's 14-year BIG EAST membership (1995-96 to present), that the Irish have had at least one player garner first-team all-conference status. In fact, in Muffet McGraw's 22 seasons as head coach at Notre Dame, covering three conference affiliations (BIG EAST, Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League, and North Star), the Irish have had at least one first-team all-conference selection an astounding 19 times (all but 1993, 1998 and 2003).
Schrader has started all 28 games for Notre Dame this season and has posted career highs in virtually every statistical category. She currently leads the team in scoring (12.9 ppg.) and rebounding (7.4 rpg.), and ranks among the conference leaders in scoring (21st), rebounding (10th) and field goal percentage (14th, .472). In league play, she ranked 21st in the BIG EAST in scoring (12.8 ppg.) and sixth in rebounding (8.0 rpg.). What's more, she has registered six double-doubles, matching the Notre Dame single-season record for guards set by Danielle Green in 1998-99. Schrader currently ranks 24th in school history with 1,026 points and her 10 career double-doubles are one shy of the all-time Irish record for guards set by current assistant coach Niele Ivey from 1996-2001.
Schrader has notched three double-doubles in her last five games, a run that started with a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds in a Feb. 17 win at South Florida. She also became the first Notre Dame player since February 2001 to record at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in a single game, tallying 19 points and a career-best 15 rebounds in a Jan. 31 win over Cincinnati at the Joyce Center. Furthermore, no Irish player had registered back-to-back double-doubles since December 2004, yet Schrader has pulled off that feat twice this season (Dec. 2 at Eastern Michigan/Dec. 7 vs. No. 17/20 Purdue; Feb. 17 at USF/Feb. 22 at No. 1 Connecticut).
Barlow's second-team all-BIG EAST certificate this year comes on the heels of her placement on the honorable mention all-conference squad last season. The combination of Schrader and Barlow gives Notre Dame multiple players on the top two all-BIG EAST teams for the first time since 2005 (when Jacqueline Batteast and Megan Duffy both collected first-team plaudits), and the eighth time since the Irish came into the conference 14 seasons ago.
Barlow has started 25 of 26 games this season, ranking second on the team and 23rd in the BIG EAST in scoring (12.7 ppg.), while also standing third in the conference in steals (2.54 spg.) and third on the team in rebounding (4.9 rpg.). In addition, she's among the BIG EAST leaders in free throw percentage (ninth, .784) and three-point percentage (15th, 364). During conference play, she finished among the league's pacesetters in scoring (20th, team-high 12.9 ppg.), steals (second, 2.44 spg.) and three-point percentage (seventh, .391).
Barlow and Schrader are tied for the team lead with 20 double-figure scoring games and eight team-high scoring efforts this season. Barlow also has scored a season-high 19 points three times, including twice against ranked opponents (at No. 24/22 LSU on Nov. 16 in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic, and against No. 25 DePaul on Feb. 8 at the Joyce Center). What's more, she is 21st in school history with 1,070 points and has recorded her third consecutive 60-steal season with 66 thefts thus far, becoming only the fourth player in program history to have at least 60 steals three years in a row -- the others in that group are Ivey (1997-98 to 2000-01), Coquese Washington (1989-90 to 1992-93) and Mary Gavin (1985-86 to 1987-88). Barlow also had a career-high eight steals in the Jan. 31 home win over Cincinnati, tying for the second-highest total in school and Joyce Center history.
Notre Dame was the only school to have more than one player on this year's rookie squad. The choices of Novosel and Solomon give the Irish a total of seven BIG EAST All-Freshman selections in the past three seasons, more than any other school in the conference (Connecticut is the closest pursuer with five all-freshman honorees in this three-year span).
Novosel has appeared in all 28 games for the Irish this season, averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. She also is second on the team in field goal percentage (.482) and steals (42), and she ranked 10th in the BIG EAST during conference play with 1.81 steals per game. A two-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week selection (on Dec. 29 and Jan. 12), Novosel has scored in double figures eight times this season, including a season-high 19 points against Rutgers on Jan. 27, as well as 18-point outings at Eastern Michigan on Dec. 2 and at DePaul on Jan. 6.
Like her classmate, Solomon has provided a solid boost for the Irish off the bench, averaging 6.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 28 games this season. She also leads the team and ranks sixth in the BIG EAST (tops among conference freshmen) with 1.36 blocks per game, and she ranked 10th during conference play with 1.25 blocks per game in league contests. Solomon ranks fifth on Notre Dame's single-season blocked shot chart for freshmen with 38 rejections, and she has pulled down a team-high 64 offensive rebounds this year. She has scored in double figures seven times this season, including a personal-best 15 points (on 5-for-5 shooting) on Nov. 23 in just 14 minutes at Boston College, and she grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds on Jan. 24 at Villanova.
Notre Dame (21-7, 10-6) will return to the hardwood on Saturday at noon (ET) in the second round of the BIG EAST Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The fifth-seeded Irish have earned a first-round bye for the tournament and will take on either No. 12 seeded Syracuse or 13th-seeded St. John's in that second-round game, which will be televised live on the BIG EAST Regional Sports Networks package, as well as on-line at www.bigeast.tv. The game also can be heard on the radio all across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), as well as worldwide on the Internet at the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com), with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.