Oct. 31, 2012
#7/6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (35-4 / 15-1 BIG EAST in 2011-12) vs. Edinboro Fighting Scots (30-2 / 21-1 PSAC in 2011-12)
DATE: November 1, 2012
No. 7/6 Irish Tip Off Exhibition Slate Thursday Against Edinboro
The Fighting Irish return two starters and eight veterans from last year's 35-4 club that advanced to its second consecutive NCAA national championship game and earned the program's second BIG EAST regular-season title. Leading the way will be senior guard Skylar Diggins (16.8 ppg., 5.7 apg. in 2011-12), who was named the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and was a unanimous AP Preseason All-America selection within the past month.
Other Notre Dame Notables
The Fighting Scots bring back two starters and nine letterwinners from a club that went 30-2 and rose as high as No. 2 in the polls, reaching the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional final before being upset by eventual national champion Shaw University. Edinboro is ranked eighth in the 2012-13 preseason Division II Bulletin poll, and No. 6 in the initial USA Today/WBCA Division II coaches' survey.
Senior guard and first-team All-American Kiara Brown is back to lead a potent Edinboro offense after averaging 14.5 points, 3.2 assists and 2.5 steals per game. She's joined by senior honorable mention All-America center Samantha Blazetic, who chalked up 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last year.
Also returning for the Fighting Scots are a pair of redshirt sophomores from 2010-11 who missed much of last season with injuries. Laurel Lindsay tallied 6.4 points and 3.7 assists as the everyday point guard two years ago before suffering a knee injury. Meanwhile, sharpshooting wing Hope Mancini connected at a 37-percent clip from beyond the arc during her rookie season of 2010-11 before being sidelined by a foot injury last year.
Head coach Stan Swank is starting his 26th season at Edinboro, having piled up a 444-261 (.630) record during his tenure at the helm of the Fighting Scots. He ranks among the top 15 in NCAA Division II history for coaching wins and winning percentage, having piloted Edinboro to eight NCAA Championship berths, including a spot in the 1997 NCAA Elite Eight.
The Notre Dame-Edinboro Series
Other Notre Dame-Edinboro Series Tidbits
Exhibition Excellence For The Irish
The last squad to defeat the Fighting Irish in exhibition play was the Lithuanian National Team, which edged Notre Dame, 94-89 in 1996-97. However, the Fighting Irish were not fazed by that loss -- they went on to reach their first NCAA Final Four that season.
New NCAA rules in recent years have allowed Division I teams to play exhibitions against Division II, III, NAIA or Canadian institutions. The Fighting Irish are 11-0 against these programs, having downed 10 NCAA Division II schools since 2001 (Christian Brothers in 2001-02, Indianapolis and Ferris State in 2005-06, Lake Superior State and Northwood (Mich.) in 2006-07, Southern Indiana and Hillsdale in 2007-08, Gannon in 2008-09, Indianapolis again in 2009-10 and Michigan Tech in 2010-11), along with defending Canadian national champion Windsor (Ontario) last year.
Beginning with the 2008-09 season, Notre Dame has played just one exhibition game, electing to take part in a closed scrimmage in place of a second preseason contest.
Here's a look at how Notre Dame has fared since 1993-94 in exhibition games (college opponents in italics):
2011-12 W, 83-34 vs. University of Windsor (Ontario)
Other Exhibition Game Tidbits
Warming Up Quickly
2011-12 Exhibition Recap: Windsor
McBride added six rebounds and a game-high six steals, part of an aggressive Notre Dame defense that hounded the Lancers into 36 turnovers (with 25 coming on Fighting Irish steals) and a .268 field goal percentage, including 3-of-21 (.143) from the three-point line.
Fraderica Miller and Markisha Wright sparked a strong Notre Dame reserve unit, with each coming off the bench to score 12 points. Miller also collected four steals, while Wright had six rebounds and three blocks, in addition to going 4-of-4 from the field. Skylar Diggins chipped in with a balanced effort, scoring eight points and dishing out a game-high seven assists (more than the entire Windsor team) while nabbing five steals.
As a team, the Fighting Irish shot 51.5 percent for the game (34-of-66) and held a slim 36-34 rebounding edge over Windsor, which features four players standing 6-foot-3 or taller. The Lancers were led by Korissa Williams, who had team highs of 10 points and seven rebounds, while Bojana Kovacevic added eight points. Notre Dame also did a solid job defending Windsor forward Jessica Clemencon, the reigning Canadian national player of the year, limiting her to seven points and six rebounds.
Both teams got off to a sluggish offensive start, although the Fighting Irish defense was strong from the outset, holding the Lancers to just two points during the opening 8:30 of the contest. In that time, Notre Dame forced 10 turnovers and limited Windsor to 1-of-7 shooting while opening up a 13-2 lead.
The Lancers would pull back within seven points twice in the ensuing five minutes, the last on Kovacevic's layup with 6:15 left in the first half. The Fighting Irish then effectively put the game on ice, closing the period with 23-4 run, fueled by six points from McBride and four apiece from Diggins, Miller and Wright.
Notre Dame continued to keep up the pressure in the second half, opening with a 19-4 run that included eight points from Peters, the last hiking the Fighting Irish lead over the 40-point mark at 61-20 with 13:32 to play. A Kovacevic three-pointer briefly pulled Windsor inside of 40 points (63-24) at the 11:22 mark, but the Lancers would get no closer, as Notre Dame steadily pulled away in the closing minutes, opening up its game-high 49-point lead on two occasions, the second being the final score.
Beyond The Box Score: Windsor
Notre Dame Picked Second In 2012-13 BIG EAST Coaches' Preseason Poll
Connecticut was the preseason BIG EAST favorite by the conference coaches, earning 194 total points, including 12 of a possible 15 first-place votes. Notre Dame was second, collecting 182 points along with the remaining three first-place votes. Louisville (167 points), St. John's (144 points) and Rutgers (143 points) rounded out the top five in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll, with league skippers not allowed to vote for their own teams or players.
Diggins AP Preseason All-American/BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Most notably, she was a unanimous choice for the Associated Press Preseason All-America Team, appearing on that squad for the second consecutive year. She is the first Fighting Irish player to garner AP Preseason All-America honors twice in her career.
In addition, Diggins was chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, becoming the first Fighting Irish player to receive that accolade more than once. A year ago, Diggins followed up her preseason selection by earning BIG EAST Player of the Year honors at the end of the 2011-12 campaign.
Diggins also was a unanimous choice for the preseason all-conference team for the third consecutive year. What's more, she already has been named to the State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List, and is a prime candidate for all other major national honors in 2012-13.
Last season, Diggins was a consensus first-team All-America selection (including her spot on the State Farm Coaches All-America Team, as selected by the WBCA), and she was a finalist for every major national player-of-the-year award, taking home the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation's top point guard. She also was chosen as the BIG EAST Player of the Year (the third Notre Dame player to be so honored and the first since 2005) and is a two-time unanimous first-team all-conference selection.
A year ago, Diggins became the first Fighting Irish player and just the fourth NCAA Division I player in the past decade (since 2001-02) to register 600 points, 200 assists and 100 steals in a single season. In fact, she set a school record with 102 steals, while her 222 assists were third-most on the Notre Dame single-season list, and her 657 points ranked fourth on the school's single-season chart. In addition, she posted the second-best assist-turnover ratio (2.16) by a Fighting Irish player in one season, and her four double-doubles tied for fourth-most by a Notre Dame guard in a single season.
That doesn't include the triple-double (22 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) she registered on March 27, 2012, in the NCAA Raleigh Regional final victory over No. 5 Maryland, just the third triple-double in program history and the first in 22 years. It also was the first recorded by a BIG EAST player in the NCAA Championship, not to mention being only the second triple-double posted by any player in a regional final game (it's never happened in a Final Four contest), and the first since Hall of Fame center Anne Donovan did so for Old Dominion in 1983.
In 2011-12, Diggins was the only BIG EAST player to rank among the top five in the conference in three of the five major statistical categories. She led the conference in both assists (5.7 apg. - 16th in nation) and steals (2.6 spg. - 55th in nation; school-record 102 steals overall), and she was fourth in scoring (16.8 ppg. - 70th in nation), while also posting her conference-best 2.16 assist-turnover ratio (10th in nation). What's more, she ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in free throw percentage (9th - .786) and field goal percentage (tied-10th - .500; 35th in nation).
Diggins also wrapped up the 2011-12 BIG EAST regular season statistical titles in assists (5.8 apg. - the second Notre Dame player to win the BIG EAST assist title, and first since current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey in 1999-2000), steals (2.6 spg.), and assist-turnover ratio (2.3). She finished conference play among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in scoring (3rd - 17.8 ppg.), field goal percentage (9th - .508) and free throw percentage (12th - .788).
Besides her seasonal awards, Diggins was chosen as the NCAA Raleigh Regional Most Outstanding Player and was a member of the NCAA Women's Final Four All-Tournament Team, becoming the first Notre Dame cager to be selected for either honor twice in her career (she was the 2011 NCAA Dayton Regional MOP before making the Final Four squad).
In her career, Diggins already ranks among the top 10 on nine Fighting Irish statistical charts -- scoring average (4th - 15.3 ppg.), 20-point games (4th - 33), free throws made (4th - 414), free throws attempted (5th - 541), points (6th - 1,726), assists (6th - 520), steals (6th - 267), double-figure scoring games (6th - 88), double-doubles by a guard (6th - 6) and games started (9th - 107).
Diggins enters her senior season needing 74 rebounds to become the first player in school history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in her career. She also is 274 points away from becoming the fourth 2,000-point scorer in school history, and she needs 596 points to catch current Notre Dame associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham as the program's all-time leading scorer. In addition, Diggins is 81 steals away from Ivey's school record for career thefts, and Diggins even has an outside shot at the Fighting Irish all-time record for assists held by Mary Gavin, needing 258 helpers to reach the mark (Ivey is second, 207 ahead of Diggins).
The No. 7 ranking also marks the 97th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Fighting Irish, extending the program record that started with the AP preseason poll in 2007-08 (the old record was 59 consecutive weeks from 1998-2001). In fact, every current Notre Dame player has competed for a ranked Fighting Irish squad throughout her career, spending nearly all (46) of those appearances in the AP Top 10 (and never lower than 18th).
This year's No. 7 ranking also represents the 13th time in the past 14 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only seven schools in the nation have done -- Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 14 during that span, while Georgia, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Fighting Irish with 13 preseason AP poll berths.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 236 weeks during the program's 36-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks ninth among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and 20th all-time in that category.
In addition, the Fighting Irish are No. 6 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches' poll.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches' poll for 97 of the past 98 weeks, falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of the 2008-09 season. Nevertheless, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the coaches' poll for a total of 230 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw's tenure).
This marks the fifth consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA poll, as well as 11 of the past 15 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
More Polling Data
Besides her 236 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph's (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks to No. 3 in the nation.
Of the 32 people on this list (counting Warlick), 15 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), with McGraw and Baylor's Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005 and 2012).
The Diggins Factor
Upon closer examination, Notre Dame's 18 losses in Diggins' career primarily have been ones that could have gone either way, with 11 decided by single digits (six were in doubt inside the final minute), and two that went to overtime.
With Diggins in uniform, the Fighting Irish have posted three of the top 10 most prolific offensive seasons in school history, averaging 78.9 ppg. last year, after logging 77.0 ppg. in 2010-11, and 77.2 ppg. in her freshman season of 2009-10.
In addition, thanks to Diggins' penchant for steals (she has a 2.36 spg. career mark that is fourth-best in school history), the Fighting Irish have recorded the top three single-season steal marks in program history with 502 thefts last year, 495 steals in 2010-11, and 450 thefts in 2009-10.
The past two years also have seen Notre Dame post two of the four best defensive scoring average in school history, allowing a school-record 52.9 ppg., last season (well ahead of the previous mark of 55.1 ppg., in 1981-82) and giving up just 56.2 ppg., in 2010-11.
Half And Half
What's more, in the past four seasons (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 84-2 (.977) when leading at the half, with the only losses coming on April 5, 2011, in the NCAA national championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (Notre Dame led Texas A&M, 35-33 at intermission before falling 76-70), and Feb. 12, 2012, against West Virginia (Fighting Irish led 33-30 at the break before the visiting Mountaineers rallied to win in the closing seconds, 65-63).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
In the past four years (2009-10 to present), Notre Dame is 45-2 (.957) when topping the 80-point mark, having reached that level in 16 games last season and winning 14 times.
Now That's A Home Court Advantage
The Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 103 of their last 111 non-BIG EAST contests (.928) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the eight losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents (four by 12 points or less) -- Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) -- with the other defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63), and to UCLA in 2010 (86-83 in 2OT). The Purdue loss also snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 371-89 (.807) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Fighting Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, which was the school record for home victories in a season prior to the 2009-10 campaign, when Notre Dame went 16-1, a mark that lasted only two seasons before the Fighting Irish posted a 17-1 record at Purcell Pavilion last year.
Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
For the fourth consecutive preseason, Notre Dame fans all but exhausted the program's season ticket packages (approximately 7,500) and have snapped up single-game ducats at a rate that helped the Fighting Irish already sell out the Dec. 5 game with Baylor and March 4 Connecticut game.
In fact, while some additional tickets may be available on the day or week of the game for individual contests this season (depending on returned inventory by visiting teams and other constituencies), it's entirely possible that, for the second consecutive season, Notre Dame will flirt with a sell out for every one of its home games.
Fighting Irish On Your Radio Dial
LeSEA originates all Notre Dame women's basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking a return to the FM side of the dial for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation's No. 91 media market (South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains approximately 1.5 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame's women's basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former Fighting Irish All-America center Ruth Riley) to the south, and LaGrange, Ind., to the east.
Women's basketball game broadcasts also continue to be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame's official athletics web site (UND.com) through the Fighting Irish Digital Media package.
Bob Nagle, the voice of Notre Dame women's basketball from 1996-97 through 1998-99 (including the program's first NCAA Final Four berth in 1997), returns for his fifth season in his second stint as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. For the seventh consecutive season, all Fighting Irish home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.
This year's TV slate continues a trend that has seen the Fighting Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through last year's national championship game vs. Baylor (televised live nationally on ESPNHD), Notre Dame has played in 233 televised games, including 177 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
In the six-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 34 times, most recently in the Feb. 5, 2012, win over DePaul.
Sophomore forward Markisha Wright is the leader among current Fighting Irish players with three "Big Mac baskets", all coming during her rookie season of 2011-12 (the last in the aforementioned win over DePaul).
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of "the media relations director has way too much time on his hands"), 19 different players have converted the "burger ball", including six current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What's more, of the 34 Big Mac games, 16 have been reached on two-point baskets, 13 on free throws, and five on three-pointers.
Next Game: Ohio State (Carrier Classic)
Ohio State returns 12 letterwinners (four starters) from last year's club that went 25-7 and tied for second place in the Big Ten Conference before falling in the first round of the NCAA Championship to Florida. The Buckeyes did not play an official exhibition game during the 2012-13 preseason, instead choosing to compete in closed scrimmages to prepare for the start of the campaign.
Notre Dame and Ohio State will be playing for the third time in series history, with each side successfully defending its home court. OSU earned a 74-67 victory in 1997 at St. John Arena, before the Fighting Irish claimed a 66-62 win in the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship game at Purcell Pavilion.