May 15, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Former Notre Dame All-Americans Skylar Diggins ('13), Kayla McBride ('14) and Devereaux Peters ('11) have made the opening day roster for their respective Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) teams and will represent the Fighting Irish when the league opens its 18th season this weekend.
McBride, a first-round draft pick (third overall) by the San Antonio Stars last month, will make her professional debut at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when San Antonio opens its 2014 regular season slate against the Atlanta Dream at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. McBride saw significant action in both of San Antonio's exhibition games earlier this month, averaging 10.0 points in 19.0 minutes per contest.
On Saturday, Diggins will begin her second WNBA campaign when the Tulsa Shock tip off the regular season at 8 p.m. (ET) against McBride and the Stars at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Diggins was a WNBA All-Rookie Team selection last year, averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in her initial pro season. She already has shown signs of raising her game to another level in 2014, averaging 26.0 points, 4.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game with a .563 field goal percentage during Tulsa's three exhibition games (all victories).
Meanwhile, Peters will have a delayed start to her third season with the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, following preseason arthroscopic knee surgery that will keep her sidelined until early June. Peters has averaged 4.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in her first two WNBA seasons, helping Minnesota to the league title in 2013, following a spot in the WNBA Finals during her rookie season of 2012.
The Lynx open the 2014 season at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday against the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., before returning home on Sunday to raise their WNBA championship banner at the Target Center in Minneapolis prior to facing the Connecticut Sun at 5 p.m. (ET).
This season marks the ninth time in 14 years that Notre Dame will have multiple alums on WNBA opening day rosters. Once McBride officially takes the floor, the Fighting Irish will have had 12 alums suit up for WNBA teams in a regular season game (two others were drafted but did not make opening day rosters), a list that includes current associate coach and 1997 graduate Beth Cunningham (with the Washington Mystics in 2000) and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator and 2000 graduate Niele Ivey (who played for the Indiana Fever, Detroit Shock and Phoenix Mercury from 2001-05).
That sorority will grow by one in 2015, when Natalie Achonwa ('14) returns to action following successful surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee suffered on March 31 in Notre Dame's 88-69 win over Baylor in the NCAA Elite Eight. Achonwa was selected in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the 2014 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever, but due to her injury, she is not listed on the team's opening day roster, although the Fever still hold her rights as she continues her rehabilitation in both Indianapolis and South Bend.
A fifth Fighting Irish alum -- 13-year WNBA veteran and current WNBA Players Association first vice president Ruth Riley ('01) -- currently is a free agent after suiting up last season for the Atlanta Dream which reached the 2013 WNBA Finals (the third different team Riley helped to the league title series, following WNBA crowns with the Detroit (now Tulsa) Shock in 2003 and 2006 and a Finals berth with San Antonio in 2008).
Local Notre Dame fans will have a handful of opportunities to see these former Fighting Irish greats in person during the 2014 WNBA season. Diggins and her Tulsa squad will visit the Chicago Sky on June 22 (1 p.m. ET at Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont, Ill.) and will play the Indiana Fever three days later on June 25 (7 p.m. ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis).
McBride also will play in the area twice this season, leading San Antonio into Indiana on July 5 (5 p.m. ET) and at Chicago in the regular-season finale on Aug. 17 (6 p.m. ET).
Peters and her Minnesota teammates will travel to her hometown of Chicago on Memorial Day, May 26, for a 3:30 p.m. (ET) game against the Sky, and will visit Indianapolis on Aug. 5, facing the Fever in a 7 p.m. (ET) contest.
The Notre Dame women's basketball office is coordinating bus trips for several of the games featuring Diggins, McBride and Peters in Chicago and Indianapolis -- call (574) 631-5420 for more information.
The Fighting Irish women's basketball alums also will make eight national television appearances (all on ESPN2) during the upcoming season, according to the broadcast schedule released by the league. Those games are as follows (all times Eastern):
Additional games may be televised through local or regional broadcast packages around the country. Furthermore, the vast majority of games not scheduled for ESPN2 broadcasts (or played opposite games airing on that network) will be streamed through the WNBA LiveAccess platform on the official WNBA web site (WNBA.com), with fans charged a one-time $14.99 membership fee to view all webcasts (live and on replay) during the 2014 season. Consult the league web site, team web sites (tulsashock.net, lynxbasketball.com, sastars.com) or local media for times and availability.
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 @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director