March 15, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third consecutive year (and the third time in school history), three Notre Dame women's basketball players have earned all-region status in the same season and now are in position to contend for places on the 2012 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team, it was announced Thursday afternoon by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The Fighting Irish are one of only three programs in the country (along with Baylor and St. John's) to field three all-region honorees this season, and Notre Dame is the only school in the land to have three all-region selections each of the last three years.
Junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) earned her third all-region citation in as many seasons, while senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and fifth-year senior forward/tri-captain Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) both garnered all-region honors for the second time in their respective careers. The trio is among the 52 all-region selections, and three of the 12 honorees from the WBCA's Region I, which includes players from schools in the BIG EAST, Atlantic 10, America East and Northeast conferences, as well as the Ivy Group and Patriot League. All told, 12 Fighting Irish players have collected all-region laurels a total of 23 times in the program's 35-year history.
Diggins' selection is particularly noteworthy, as she becomes just the third Notre Dame player to collect three all-region citations in her career, joining Ruth Riley (1999-2001) and Jacqueline Batteast (2002, 2004-05) in that elite sorority. All three of those players also made the 10-member State Farm Coaches All-America Team at some point during their careers, with Riley making the 2001 squad, Batteast doing likewise in 2005 and Diggins the most recent Fighting Irish All-America choice in 2011.
Thursday's announcement is the latest in a recent spate of awards for all three Fighting Irish players, each of whom was tabbed for first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors earlier this month. Diggins -- who also was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year and is a finalist for both the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award -- was a unanimous choice (her third consecutive all-league award and second unanimous honor), while Novosel and Peters were first-team all-BIG EAST selections for the second year in a row. What's more, Peters was chosen as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, becoming just the fourth player in conference history to earn that award twice, along with Rutgers' Essence Carson (2006-08), Riley (1999-2001) and Connecticut's Nykesha Sales (1997-98).
From this year's list of 52 all-region nominees, a group of 40 will be chosen by the State Farm Coaches' All-America Team selection committee to remain in the running for spots on the 2012 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team. The slate of 40 finalists -- who can be selected from any of the WBCA's eight regions -- will be announced Monday (March 19), with this year's State Farm Coaches' All-America Team set to be unveiled at 1:05 p.m. MT (3:05 p.m. ET) on March 31 in Denver during events surrounding the NCAA Women's Final Four.
The 30 finalists not chosen for the 10-member State Farm Coaches' All-America Team will be designated as State Farm Coaches' All-America Honorable Mentions, a status earned by 11 Fighting Irish players, all in the past two decades -- Karen Robinson (1991), Katryna Gaither (1996, 1997), Beth Morgan (1996, 1997), Riley (1999, 2000), Batteast (2002, 2004), Megan Duffy (2005, 2006), Charel Allen (2007), Diggins (2010), Lindsay Schrader (2010), Novosel (2011) and Peters (2011).
Ranked No. 4 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, Notre Dame (30-3, 15-1 BIG EAST) has earned the No. 1 seed in the Raleigh Region for the 2012 NCAA Championship, and will tip off tournament play at approximately 2:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday against Big South Conference champion Liberty at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 through its "whiparound coverage" (viewers in Indiana and the Chicagoland area, as well as western Virginia, will see the game in its entirety, while the rest of the country will rotate through all four games in that time slot). Viewers can also see the game in its entirety through ESPN3/WatchESPN and the ESPN Full Court package.
Tickets for this weekend's NCAA Championship games at Purcell Pavilion (California and Iowa meet in Sunday's other first-round game at 12:10 p.m. ET, with the first-round winners meeting Tuesday night) are currently on sale through the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356; und.com/tickets).
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.