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    Irish Tip Off Exhibition Season Thursday Night Against Southern Indiana

    FIGHTING IRISH Head coach Muffet McGraw has piloted Notre Dame to 21 consecutive exhibition wins and a 26-1 record in the preseason dating back to 1993.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Head coach Muffet McGraw has piloted Notre Dame to 21 consecutive exhibition wins and a 26-1 record in the preseason dating back to 1993.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 1, 2007

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    2007-08 ND Women's Basketball: Exhibition 1
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs.
    Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (0-0 / 0-0 GLVC)

    DATE: November 1, 2007
    TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
    AT: Notre Dame, Ind. (Joyce Center - 11,418)
    SERIES: First meeting
    RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM/UND.com (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
    TV: UND.com
    LIVE STATS: UND.com
    TICKETS: (574) 631-7356

    Storylines

  • Notre Dame has won 21 consecutive exhibition games and is 26-1 in preseason contests dating back to the start of the 1993-94 season.
  • Notre Dame and Southern Indiana are meeting for the second time in any sport (first since a softball doubleheader in 1989).
  • Irish Tip Off Exhibition Season Thursday Against Southern Indiana
    More than seven months after a close loss to second-ranked North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame gets back on the hardwood Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET) when it plays host to Division II foe Southern Indiana in the exhibition opener for both teams at the Joyce Center.

    Notre Dame returns eight monogram winners and three starters from its 2006-07 squad that posted a 20-12 record and earned a fifth-place tie in the rugged BIG EAST Conference. Add in the nation's 11th-ranked rookie class and you have the makings of a deep and talented team built for the long haul.

    On the other hand, USI will have many new faces in uniform this season, with only four players returning from last year's 16-12 club. However, the Screaming Eagles are no strangers to Division I success, having won at Morehead State, 75-74 in an exhibition game last year.

    Rankings

  • Notre Dame is receiving 57 votes (28th place) in the preseason Division I ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
  • Southern Indiana is receiving 10 votes (52nd place) in the preseason Division II ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
  • A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
    Even after a 20-12 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, Notre Dame still continues to fly below the national radar. Head coach Muffet McGraw wouldn't want it any other way.

    Last year, the Irish learned quickly that respect is something that isn't handed to you, but rather earned on the court. It's also a quality that takes time to develop and doesn't come from trophy cases or record books. So although Notre Dame doesn't appear in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, and was tabbed fifth in the preseason BIG EAST Conference balloting, it's not a great concern to McGraw and her charges. Instead, they focus on the things they can control and prefer to let the outside world judge them when the season is over.

    This year could prove to be unlike any in recent memory for Notre Dame. For one, the Irish will roll out some impressive depth, going virtually two-deep at every floor position. In addition, Notre Dame's new offensive system (a Princeton-based set with four guards and a post) continues to evolve, building upon last year's 70.1 point-per-game average that was its highest since the 2000-01 NCAA national championship season.

    Senior guard Charel Allen is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Irish, leading the team in both categories last year (17.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg.). She also was a first-team all-BIG EAST and WBCA honorable mention All-America selection, and was a finalist for the 2007 USA U21 World Championship Team that struck gold this past summer in Moscow.

    Allen's backcourt partner and classmate is point guard Tulyah Gaines. Now in her second full season at the helm of the Notre Dame offense, the speedy Gaines averaged 9.6 points per game along with team highs of 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She also is a two-year team captain who commands instant respect from teammates, coaches and opponents.

    The Irish will benefit from the return of junior guard Lindsay Schrader, who missed the entire 2006-07 season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Schrader, who retains three years of athletic eligibility, was Notre Dame's second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg.) and top rebounder (5.4 rpg.) as a rookie in 2005-06 and will look to regain that form this season.

    Last year saw Notre Dame break new ground by becoming the first school ever to put three players on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Guards Ashley Barlow (10.3 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) and Melissa Lechlitner (6.3 ppg., 2.7 apg.) will provide a superb complement to the veteran Allen-Gaines tandem, while center Erica Williamson (6.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg.) showed flashes of potential throughout her rookie season and is poised for increased development this year.

    Headling a three-player freshman class (ranked 11th nationally by Blue Star Basketball) is Devereaux Peters, a smooth 6-2 forward who was a consensus All-American as a senior last year at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. Fellow post Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind.) finished third in last season's Indiana Miss Basketball voting and was a perennial all-state pick. And, guard Brittany Mallory (Baltimore, Md.) offers a perimeter shooting threat, as well as a cerebral player who will mesh well in the Irish offensive system.

    Potent Notables About The Irish

  • Notre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 11 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 267 victories in that span.
  • Notre Dame's incoming class of 2007 was ranked 11th in the nation by Blue Star Basketball, marking the 11th consecutive season that the Irish attracted a Top 25 recruiting class. Notre Dame is one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have an active streak of that length.
  • Last season, Notre Dame ranked 10th nationally in attendance (6,364 fans per game), marking the seventh consecutive campaign the Irish were among the national top 20 in attendance. Notre Dame also has attracted 5,000-or-more fans to 94 of its last 96 home games, including three Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Dec. 31, 2005 vs. Tennessee).
  • The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as six Notre Dame players have been selected in the past seven seasons. Megan Duffy was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Minnesota Lynx in the third round (31st overall pick) of the 2006 WNBA Draft. Duffy and Ruth Riley (San Antonio) both have been active in the league during the 2007 season, with Riley making her sixth playoff appearance (on her third different team) in a solid seven-year pro career. All told, seven Notre Dame alums have competed in WNBA regular-season play, with three of them combining to win four league championships -- Riley won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley's teammate on the '06 title-winning squad in Detroit.
  • Notre Dame has been an elite program in the classroom as well. For the second year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2007. Notre Dame was one of 23 Division I-A programs to achieve this distinction, and one of only two BIG EAST schools (Syracuse was the other). Furthermore, since Muffet McGraw became the Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women's basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has graduated (a perfect 53-for-53 success rate).
  • A Quick Look At Southern Indiana
    If any team could truly say it was unsure of what lies ahead this season, it would likely be Southern Indiana. The Screaming Eagles return just four players (including one starter) from last year's squad that registered a 16-12 record and placed fourth in the West Division of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) with a 10-9 mark. However, with eight newcomers on board, the future for USI is exceptionally bright, as it looks to return to the national spotlight that saw the Eagles finish as the 1997 NCAA Division II runner-up and reach the 2001 NCAA Division II Elite Eight as part of seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

    Southern Indiana was picked to finish third in the GLVC West this season, according to a preseason poll of the league's head coaches. The Eagles are led by senior forward Jasmine Baines, who started 20 games last season, averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a night. No other player on the USI roster averaged more than four points or four rebounds per game last season.

    Highlighting the large incoming class for Southern Indiana is sophomore guard VaNita Smart, who transferred from Indiana during the offseason. Smart played in 23 games for the Hoosiers last season, averaging 1.6 points per game. She actually is the only current USI player who has ever played a college game at the Joyce Center, seeing one minute of action in IU's 54-51 win over Notre Dame on Dec. 3, 2006.

    Southern Indiana is playing a Division I opponent in exhibition play for the second consecutive season and fourth time since the 2001-02 season. The Eagles are 1-2 against Division I foes, most recently pulling out a 75-74 victory at Morehead State on a last-second three-pointer by current senior guard Marshay Jolly.

    Rick Stein is beginning his ninth season as the head coach at his alma mater, following eight years (1991-99) as an assistant coach. He has a career record of 143-92 (.609).

    The Notre Dame-Southern Indiana Series
    Thursday will mark the first time Notre Dame and Southern Indiana have ever faced one another on the hardwood.

    Other Notre Dame-Southern Indiana Series Tidbits

  • Southern Indiana is the second GLVC opponent for Notre Dame in exhibition play. The Irish defeated Indianapolis, 84-59, exactly two years ago on Nov. 1, 2005, at the Joyce Center. Guard Megan Duffy led four Notre Dame players in double figures with 18 points and seven assists, while center Melissa D'Amico collected 16 points and seven rebounds, and guard Lindsay Schrader added 13 points and seven boards.
  • During the program's infancy, Notre Dame faced two other current GLVC schools --St. Joseph's (Ind.) and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. The Irish are 4-3 all-time against SJC (the alma mater of Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White), last playing the Pumas on Dec. 2, 1981 and taking a 78-44 victory at the Joyce Center. Meanwhile, the Irish played SIU-E for the only time on Jan. 11, 1980, defeating the Cougars, 65-51 at the Huskie Invitational in DeKalb, Ill.
  • Not only have Notre Dame and Southern Indiana never met in women's basketball, they have only played previously in one sport. On March 9, 1989, the Irish and Eagles split a softball doubleheader in Evansville, with USI taking the opener, 6-1, and Notre Dame winning the nightcap, 1-0. That was the first weekend of action for the Irish as a varsity softball program, with current Notre Dame assistant athletic director Brian Boulac serving as head coach, and Joe Speybroeck, husband of Irish head equipment manager Kathy Speybroeck, filling the assistant coach's chair.
  • Although Notre Dame has had a program-high 18 players from Indiana during its 30 seasons of existence (including three Hoosiers on this year's roster), the Irish have never had a player from the Evansville area suit up. The closest any Notre Dame player has lived to Evansville is Bloomington (140 miles to the northeast), which was the hometown of two-time All-American and Irish career scoring leader Beth Morgan (1993-97).
  • Exhibition Excellence For Irish
    Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable in exhibition games during the past 14 seasons. Since the 1993-94 campaign, the Irish are 26-1 (.963) in these preseason tilts and own an active 21-game exhibition winning streak. During that time, Notre Dame has outscored its preseason opponents by an aggregate score of 2,337-1,621, which is good for an average score of 87-60. The last squad to defeat the Irish in exhibition play was the Lithuanian National Team, which edged Notre Dame, 94-89 in 1996-97. But the Irish were not fazed by that loss -- they went on to reach their first NCAA Final Four that year. New NCAA rules in recent years have allowed Division I teams to play exhibitions against Division II, III or NAIA institutions. The Irish are 5-0 against these College Division programs, having downed four 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).

    -- ND --
     

     

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