Aug. 12, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Four of the University of Notre Dame's varsity sports will be represented at the upcoming World University Games in Shenzhen, China. The festivities, which commence Friday with the opening ceremonies, will see the Irish send at least one representative in both men's and women's basketball, fencing and diving.
Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) will represent the Irish men's basketball team as he was named to the 12-man roster. The team was selected following six days of training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Joining Abromaitis on the roster are: Marcus Denmon (Missouri); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh); Draymond Green (Michigan State); JaMychal Green (Alabama/); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara); Greg Mangano (Yale); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota); Ray McCallum (Detroit Mercy); and Darius Miller (Kentucky).
Claiming a medal in every World University Games since beginning play in 1965, the United States has captured a record 13 gold medals, three silver medals and three bronze medals in the 19 WUGs in which a USA Basketball squad has competed. The U.S. owns a 131-8 record in the event. Most recently, the USA men earned the bronze medal after finishing 6-1 and suffering a one-point loss to Russia in the semifinals in `09.
The tournament is the first taste of international competition for Abromaitis. In the USA squad's exhibition opener against the Chinese professional team New Century, Abromaitis put in three points along with three rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of action to help the U.S. to an 88-61 victory. The USA will open play in the World University Games on Aug. 13 against Mexico at 6 p.m. (all times listed are China Standard Time, which is +12 hours from Eastern Time.)
Three members of the women's basketball team will represent Team USA at the games, as Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind.), Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky.) and Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill.) were all selected to the roster. It marks the first time in the 35-year history of the Notre Dame women's basketball program that three Fighting Irish players have been selected for the same USA Basketball team.
Diggins put together one of the finest sophomore seasons in Notre Dame women's basketball history in 2010-11. The crafty southpaw made a nearly-seamless transition to the point guard position this past season, ranking among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in scoring (15.0 ppg.), assists (team-high 4.8 apg.) and steals (1.9 spg.), posting career highs in all three areas. What's more, her 585 total points and 186 total assists are the second-most ever accrued by a Notre Dame sophomore and her 75 steals are fourth on the Fighting Irish sophomore charts (just eight off the school record), while her 1,226 total minutes were just one shy of Beth Morgan's school record set in 1996-97.
A State Farm Coaches' All-America and third-team Associated Press All-America selection this year, Diggins also ranked second on the team with 32 double-digit scoring games, leading the squad in scoring 14 times and rolling up 10 20-point outings, including the last three NCAA Championship games against Tennessee (24), Connecticut (season-high 28) and Texas A&M (23). She added at least five assists in 22 different games (after having seven five-assist games her entire freshman season), capped by a career-high 12 assists against Oklahoma in the NCAA Dayton Regional semifinal, the most helpers ever for a Fighting Irish player in the NCAA tournament, and most in any game since 2000.
On the international stage, Diggins has earned a gold medal with two USA Basketball teams -- the 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championship and the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships for Women, with both squads led by current Notre Dame associate coach Carol Owens. Diggins also took home a gold medal from the 2007 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. She is one of five members of this year's USA World University Games Team with USA Basketball experience, most notably serving as co-captain for the 2009 U19 World Championship squad (an honor she shared with Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike).
Novosel was easily one of the nation's most improved players in 2010-11, nabbing State Farm Coaches' honorable mention All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST laurels, as well as the BIG EAST's Most Improved Player award, after more than tripling her scoring average from a year ago from 5.0 points to a team-high 15.1 points per game, while scoring in double figures a team-best 33 times, the second-highest single-season total in school history, and nearly doubling her combined total of 17 from her first two years. Novosel also had seven 20-point games (her career high entering the season was 19 points) and posted a team-best .413 three-point percentage, in addition to being second on the squad in steals (tied-1.9 spg.) and third in assists (1.9 apg.).
In 2010-11, Novosel set a new school record with 183 free throws made and 39 games started (tying with Peters and senior forward/co-captain Becca Bruszewski), while her 232 free throw attempts were second-most in school history.
Peters also enjoyed her finest season at Notre Dame in 2010-11, having fully recovered from a pair of knee injuries earlier in her career. Peters set new career highs in virtually every category, ranking third on the team in scoring (11.9 ppg.) and tops in double-doubles (10), rebounding (7.5 rpg.), field goal percentage (.593), and blocked shots (1.7 bpg.), not to mention fourth in steals (1.7 spg.). She also placed fifth in the country in field goal percentage, and ranked among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (22nd), rebounding (6th), field goal percentage (2nd), blocked shots (4th) and double-doubles (2nd). She was one of just two players in the nation to record at least 60 blocks and 60 steals this season (she had 68 blocks and 66 steals), joining Illinois' Karisma Penn (78/62) in that select company.
Like Novosel, Peters was named a State Farm Coaches' honorable mention All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST selection this past year, while also taking home BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year honors. She scored in double figures 25 times and tied the school record by starting all 39 games during Notre Dame's run to the NCAA national championship game. In that title clash against Texas A&M, Peters rang up a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, securing her place on the NCAA Women's Final Four All-Tournament Team.
USA Basketball women's teams have participated in 15 prior World University Games and collected a record seven gold medals, six silvers and one bronze medal. Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled an 89-15 (.856) overall record. In 2009, the USA posted a 7-0 slate en route to the gold medal. The World University Games women's basketball competition gets underway Aug. 14 (Aug. 13 in the U.S.), with Team USA facing Brazil at 10 p.m. (ET) in the Universiade Main Gym. The Americans also will take on Slovakia (Aug. 14, 10 p.m. ET) and Great Britain (Aug. 16, 6 a.m. ET) at the same arena during preliminary round play, with the top two teams in each of the four pools advancing to the quarterfinals.
A total of five current or former University of Notre Dame fencers will take to the strip at the Games, including 2011 NCAA individual gold medalists Ariel DeSmet (Troutdale, Ore./men's foil) and Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas/women's epee) and '11 NCAA competitor Lian Osier (Battle Ground, Wash./women's sabre). Former Irish fencers Hayley Reese (Crestwood, Ky./women's foil) and Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas/women's epee) also will compete at the Games.
All five of the fencers have previous experience within the international fencing circle, with the Hurley sisters sharing in the most success. Most recently, the duo finished one-two at the Pan American Championships with Kelley claiming the gold over younger sister Courtney. Both rank in the top 50 of international women's epee rankings on the senior level, with Courtney placing 34th and Kelley just behind her in 40th.
DeSmet has competed in four internationally-sanctioned events on the senior circuit during the 2010-11 season, most recently taking to the strip at a world cup event in Havana, Cuba. The tournament also saw the rising sophomore earn his best senior-level finish, placing 87th in the 160-member foil field.
Both Osier and Reese have enjoyed a limited international schedule on the senior level. Osier has competed in two events, earning her best finish at the New York World Cup in June. Reese, meanwhile, has not competed internationally since '09 where she placed 32nd at the Dallas World Cup.
Fencing events at the 2011 World University Games will include 12 events: individual and team versions of men's and women's epee, foil, and sabre. The United States is sending a full contingent of 24 fencers - four in each of the six weapons. Competition is scheduled to take place Aug. 13-18 with two medal up for grabs on each of the six days.
Along with the Irish representatives competing at the Games, Notre Dame also will see one of its coaches partake in the festivities as Caiming Xie, Notre Dame's head diving coach, will serve as an assistant coach to the U.S. diving team. Along with his coaching duties, Caiming also will act as a team leader and interpreter for the team.
A tutor of numerous conference champions, All-Americans and Olympians, Caiming boasts a wealth of international experience on his resume. Caiming served as the 1980 Chinese Olympic diving coach. He also has served as a technical consultant for United States Diving since 1994 and has held clinics and presentations for the United States Diving national team.
The Chinese national team coach from 1977-90, Caiming coached Sun Shu-Wei, a gold medalist in the men's platform competition at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and Zhu Jin-Hong, who finished fourth in the women's platform in Barcelona.
Caiming's divers also have earned medals at the Asian Games, World Cup, World University Games and World Championships.
In 2009, he was an assistant coach for the United States at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. The United States earned six medals at the event.