Sept. 20, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's basketball team will take on teams from each of the nation's top six conferences, and will play 22 regular-season games against teams that qualified for postseason play last year (including 11 NCAA Championship qualifiers and four NCAA Sweet 16 participants) as part of a challenging 2010-11 schedule that was released Monday afternoon following approval by the University's Faculty Board on Athletics. In addition, the Fighting Irish will play seven first-time opponents during their 14-game non-conference slate, and they have a school-record 17 regular-season home games lined up inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center during the upcoming campaign.
Among the marquee matchups on this year's Notre Dame women's basketball schedule are a home-and-home series with BIG EAST Conference rival and two-time defending national champion Connecticut (Jan. 8 at Notre Dame; Feb. 19 in Storrs, Conn.), first-ever trips to 2010 NCAA Women's Final Four participant Baylor (Dec. 1) and 2010 NCAA Kansas City Regional finalist Kentucky (Nov. 21), and a post-Christmas visit to Seattle for matchups with 2010 NCAA Sweet 16 qualifier Gonzaga (Dec. 29) and Loyola Marymount (Dec. 30) in the Seattle U. Holiday Classic inside KeyArena at Seattle Center (home of the 2010 WNBA champion Seattle Storm). The Fighting Irish also will welcome '10 Pac-10 Conference runner-up and NCAA second-round participant UCLA (Nov. 18) and in-state rival Purdue (Dec. 5) to Purcell Pavilion, along with a trio of teams -- Wake Forest, Butler and IUPUI -- for the WBCA Classic from Nov. 26-28.
A handful of tip times for Notre Dame's 2010-11 schedule have yet to be announced, due to either pending television considerations (to be released at a later date by the BIG EAST office) or because the host school has not yet determined the start time. The Fighting Irish are expected to make several appearances on national and regional television this season, continuing a trend that has seen Notre Dame play in 167 televised games during the past decade, including a school-record 29 TV contests last season.
What's more, for the fourth consecutive season, the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (www.UND.com) is planning to produce free live webcasts of several home games that are not selected for commercial television coverage.
Notre Dame also begins its 15th season of full-time commercial radio coverage this fall, as the LeSEA Broadcasting Network and Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) will air every Fighting Irish women's basketball game live to more than 1.35 million listeners in the Michiana area and worldwide on UND.com, with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle calling the play-by-play.
"I think when you talk about the schedules we've had through the years, this has to rank right up there as one of the most challenging ones we've put together," 24th-year Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "Our philosophy has always been to test ourselves during the non-conference season in order to prepare for the demands of playing in the BIG EAST, which is the toughest conference in the country. The combination of our non-conference and BIG EAST schedules this year also will serve as excellent preparation for the postseason. We're going to see many different styles of play and compete in a number of hostile environments, which will only make us a better team when March rolls around."
Notre Dame returns eight monogram winners, including two starters, from last year's squad that went 29-6 overall (12-4, tied for fourth in the BIG EAST) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the eighth time in the past 14 seasons. The Fighting Irish finished the season ranked seventh in the Associated Press poll and 11th in the final ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
Several media outlets already have placed Notre Dame in their preseason Top 25 polls for the 2010-11 campaign. The Sporting News college basketball preview has tabbed the Fighting Irish at No. 8 in its preseason rankings, while ESPN.com women's basketball analyst Charlie Creme ranked Notre Dame ninth in his early preseason poll published back in April, shortly after the Women's Final Four. In addition, Lindy's college basketball preview penciled the Fighting Irish in at No. 11 in its preseason prognostications, and the Athlon college basketball preview rates Notre Dame 14th in the nation heading into the 2010-11 season. The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls will not unveil their preseason rankings until late October.
Notre Dame's 2010-11 schedule will see the Fighting Irish play six of their first seven regular-season games at Purcell Pavilion, following a single exhibition contest against Michigan Tech (Nov. 3, 7 p.m. ET) -- the Huskies are coming off a 31-3 campaign and trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight last season. The Fighting Irish tip off the regular season on Friday, Nov. 12 with a 3:30 p.m. (ET) matchup against first-time opponent New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion. During that game, Notre Dame will hold a special 10th-anniversary reunion celebration for its 2001 NCAA national championship squad, with many of the members from that team scheduled to be back on campus for the event.
The season-opening homestand continues with another first-time opponent in Morehead State (Nov. 15) before UCLA returns to the Fighting Irish schedule (Nov. 18) for the first time since Nov. 14, 1998, when Notre Dame defeated the Bruins, 99-82, also at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish then embark on their first road trip of the season to Kentucky (Nov. 21), picking up a clash that looked to be in the cards for last year's NCAA Kansas City Regional final before Notre Dame fell to Oklahoma in the final seconds of overtime in the Sweet 16.
The Fighting Irish return home during the Thanksgiving weekend for the WBCA Classic, a three-day, three-game round-robin tournament that will see Notre Dame welcome IUPUI (Nov. 26), Wake Forest (Nov. 27) and Butler (Nov. 28). It's the first regular-season home tournament for the Fighting Irish (aside from the Preseason WNIT) since the 1983 Notre Dame Thanksgiving Classic, with the Fighting Irish facing Wake Forest for the first time ever and tangling with Butler for the first time since Dec. 1, 1999 (a 77-57 Notre Dame win at Purcell Pavilion).
The month of December starts with a bang, as the Fighting Irish head to Waco, Texas, for a Dec. 1 matchup with Baylor. It will be the first time these two former national champions have met on the hardwood, with the Lady Bears (the '05 titleists) being the lone former NCAA champion Notre Dame has yet to play. The Fighting Irish then come back to Purcell Pavilion for their annual tussle with Purdue (Dec. 5), looking to extend a four-game winning streak in that series, before the BIG EAST schedule gets underway with a rare pre-Christmas game at '10 WNIT quarterfinalist Providence (Dec. 8). It's the first time since 2000-01 that the conference has scheduled games this early, although it was a regular practice during Notre Dame's first few seasons in the BIG EAST (1995-96 through 2000-01 with the exception of 1999-2000).
The Fighting Irish step back out of conference for the rest of the month, playing host to Creighton (Dec. 11) -- the first matchup with the Bluejays since January 9, 1982 (a 69-48 Notre Dame win in Minneapolis) -- and traveling to Valparaiso (Dec. 20) before the holiday break. After Christmas, Notre Dame heads to the Pacific Northwest for its games at the Seattle U. Holiday Classic against first-time foe Gonzaga (Dec. 29) and Loyola Marymount (Dec. 30), an opponent it has not played since Jan. 3, 1987, when the Fighting Irish posted a 78-40 win over the Lions in Los Angeles. The non-conference slate wraps up Jan. 2 with another first-time visitor to Purcell Pavilion, as Southeast Missouri State comes calling.
The BIG EAST sent a conference-record 13 teams to postseason play last year, including seven to the NCAA Championship. The Fighting Irish will open the balance of their BIG EAST schedule on Jan. 5, when they pay a visit to Marquette. Notre Dame then plays four of its next five conference games at Purcell Pavilion, starting with the first of two in-season contests against Connecticut (Jan. 8) and continuing against Louisville four days later. A weekend trip to Pittsburgh (Jan. 15) breaks up the stretch of home games, but the Fighting Irish come right back to town the following week for matchups with 2010 NCAA second-round participants Georgetown (Jan. 18) and St. John's (Jan. 23). A stop at Villanova (Jan. 29) closes out the calendar's first month.
Notre Dame opens February with three of four at Purcell Pavilion, starting with 2010 WNIT quarterfinalist Syracuse (Feb. 1) and mixing in Seton Hall (Feb. 8) and Rutgers (Feb. 12) around a road contest at South Florida (Feb. 5). The Fighting Irish then face a difficult closing stretch, playing four times in the final nine days of the season, including road games at Connecticut (Feb. 19), '10 NCAA second-round qualifier West Virginia (Feb. 22) and DePaul (Feb. 28). Notre Dame will play its final home game of the season Feb. 26 when it takes on Cincinnati on Senior Day.
The 2011 BIG EAST Championship is scheduled for March 4-8 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., marking the eighth consecutive season the conference tournament will be held at a neutral site. Once again this year, all 16 BIG EAST teams will participate in the event, with the top eight teams earning a first-round bye, and the top four seeds garnering a second-round bye.
The vast majority of 2010-11 season ticket packages for the complete 18-game Notre Dame women's basketball home schedule (including the exhibition contest) have been sold, as the Fighting Irish look to build upon last year's school-record attendance average of 8,377 fans per game, which ranked fourth in the nation and included six sellouts. However, a limited number of season tickets have been freed up and went on sale Sept. 15 -- they are available by contacting Notre Dame's Murnane Family Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows inside Gate 9 of the new Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion. Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card at www.UND.com/tickets.
Packages start as low as $60 per person for individuals and $48 per person for full-time Notre Dame faculty/staff, while four-ticket "Fan Packs" are as low as $170 ($136 for faculty/staff). Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross students are admitted free for all home games.
Any remaining single-game tickets for the 2010-11 Notre Dame women's basketball home schedule will go on sale Oct. 21. In addition, a limited number of tickets for each home game may become available during the week prior to, or the day of that contest due to visiting team returns and other considerations.
With all Fighting Irish ticket purchases, standard processing fees and service charges do apply.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (www.twitter.com/ndwbbsid or www.twitter.com/notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women's basketball page at UND.com.
2010-11 IRISH SCHEDULE NOTES: Eight of Notre Dame's opponents were ranked in either the Associated Press or ESPN/USA Today polls at the end of last season (#1/1 Connecticut, #10/16 West Virginia, #13/17 Georgetown, #14/4 Baylor, #15/18 St. John's, #18/12 Gonzaga, #19/9 Kentucky and #22/23 UCLA), while three others were receiving votes in one or both polls at the close of the 2009-10 campaign (#rv/rv DePaul, #rv/- Rutgers and #rv/- Syracuse) ... in addition to the rigorous schedule in the BIG EAST (ranked the nation's third-toughest conference, according to CollegeRPI.com prior to '10 NCAA Championship), Notre Dame will face teams from 11 different conferences, including the rest of the top six (aka the BCS conferences) and eight of the top 14 nationally, during non-league play: #1 Big 12, #2 ACC, #4 SEC, #5 Big Ten, #6 Pac-10, #11 Missouri Valley, #13 West Coast and #14 America East ... all told, 18 regular-season opponents on Notre Dame's schedule had winning records last season, with 13 posting 20-win seasons (two more ended up with 19 victories) and nine registering 25-win campaigns ... this year's Fighting Irish opponents amassed a combined record of 549-385 (.588) last season.