Aug. 1, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On Saturday afternoon, the Notre Dame women's basketball program -- all 13 players (including its four incoming freshmen), plus the coaches and support staff (a total travel party of nearly 40 people) -- will embark on a 10-day European tour from Aug. 3-13 that will take them to England and Spain and see the Fighting Irish play three games against quality European competition during that time.
The Notre Dame travel party also will have the chance to enjoy several of the greatest historical sites in Europe, from Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, to the La Sagrada Familia and Montjuic Hill in Barcelona, and on to the Museo del Prado and Gran Via in Madrid.
"This is a wonderful and unique opportunity for our team to continue to bond and strengthen its chemistry for the coming season, while enjoying some of the world's greatest cities and landmarks along the way," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "We will also have a chance to test ourselves on the court and see how much we've learned through our summer workouts, particularly our incoming freshmen as they get acclimated to our system and the college game in general.
"We are so grateful to our University and our administration, especially (University president) Father (John) Jenkins and (vice president/director of athletics) Jack Swarbrick, for their leadership and support in making this trip possible," McGraw added. "We also can't say enough about the hard work of the people at Anthony Travel, including John Anthony, Yvonne Noell and Leo Jenkins, who have done such a tremendous job at coordinating what should be an amazing adventure and one our players and staff will never forget."
Throughout this memorable 10-day trip, the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com, will provide extensive coverage, from regular video features in cooperation with Fighting Irish Digital Media, to a variety of short features and notebook items, as well as photos and other updates from the team's daily activities in Europe (as often as Internet access and cell phone reception will allow).
What's more, the Notre Dame women's basketball program will be constantly in touch from Europe through various social media outlets. For more information, fans are invited to sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball program on its official Twitter pages (@ndwbb or @ndwbbsid), 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.
Notre Dame will be embarking on its third European tour since 2002, having visited Italy and France during both its initial journey that summer and again in 2009. The Fighting Irish also played a total of seven international exhibitions against various professional and national teams during their previous two tours, going a combined 6-1 in those contests (3-1 in 2002, 3-0 in 2009).
As in the past, UND.com will have full game recaps and statistics from each of Notre Dame's overseas exhibitions during this year's tour, beginning Tuesday (Aug. 6) at 6 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) when the Fighting Irish play Barking Abbey, the 2012-13 runner-up in the English Basketball League, at Barking Abbey Secondary School in Barking, England (located less than 15 miles east of downtown London). The game will be open to the public, although fans wishing to attend should contact the school or consult local media in advance to learn about any potential ticket costs or parking restrictions.
Notre Dame also will play the Netherlands National Team twice during its stay in Spain. The teams first will meet at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) Thursday, Aug. 8, at Pavelo El Moli in Lloret de Mar, about 50 miles northeast of Barcelona. The Fighting Irish will then play the Dutch side again at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) on Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Polideportivo Antonio Magarinos in Madrid. Both of Notre Dame's exhibitions against the Netherlands will be closed to the public.
Notre Dame is expected to return four starters and nine monogram recipients from its 2012-13 squad that posted a 35-2 record and advanced to the NCAA Women's Final Four for the third consecutive year (fifth time in school history). The Fighting Irish, who were ranked No. 2 in the final 2012-13 Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, are entering their first season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) after a successful 18-year run in the BIG EAST Conference, capped by back-to-back BIG EAST regular season titles (third overall) and their first BIG EAST Championship crown in 2013.
Entering the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame will be led by a pair of senior All-Americans in guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) and forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic), along with sophomore guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West), who is the reigning United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year.
The Fighting Irish also welcome a four-player incoming class that has been ranked as high as third in the nation by several national recruiting services. Unlike its previous two European tours, Notre Dame will bring all four of its freshmen on this year's trip after the quartet got a jump on their college studies by successfully completing summer classes at the University, as well as several workouts with their teammates and coaches.