Nov. 7, 2012
Full Notes Package in PDF Format
2012-13 ND Women's Basketball: Game 1
#7/6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (35-4 / 15-1 BIG EAST in 2011-12) vs. #19/21 Ohio State Buckeyes (25-7 / 11-5 Big Ten in 2011-12)
DATE: November 9, 2012
TIME: 4:00 p.m. ET
AT: Mount Pleasant, S.C. - USS Yorktown (4,000)
SERIES: Tied 1-1
1ST MTG: OSU 74-67 (1/4/97 @ OSU)
LAST MTG: ND 66-62 (11/20/04 @ ND)
TV: NBC Sports Network (live) (Dave Strader, p-b-p / Swin Cash, color / Lewis Johnson, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
StorylinesNotre Dame is 27-8 (.771) all-time in season openers, including a 22-3 (.880) record in the Muffet McGraw era.
The Fighting Irish will be opening the season against a ranked opponent for the first time since 2008-09, when they earned a 62-53 win at No. 24/22 LSU.
No. 7/6 Irish Go Outdoors To Face No. 19/21 Ohio State Friday In Carrier Classic
For the first time since walking off the court in the NCAA national championship game at the Pepsi Center in Denver, No. 7/6 Notre Dame plays a meaningful game as the Fighting Irish take on No. 19/21 Ohio State in the second annual Carrier Classic outdoors on the deck of the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience by NBC Sports Network.
Notre Dame made the most of its lone exhibition game this season, rolling over NCAA Division II power Edinboro, 88-28 on Nov. 1 at Purcell Pavilion. Freshman guard Jewell Loyd led four Fighting Irish players in double figures with a game-high 20 points, while senior All-America guard Skylar Diggins chalked up 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Notre Dame.
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press poll and is No. 6 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today poll.
Ohio State is No. 19 in the preseason Associated Press poll and is No. 21 in the preseason ESPN/USA Today poll.
Quick HittersNotre Dame is ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the initial ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. It marks the fifth consecutive season the Fighting Irish have appeared in the preseason AP poll (and fourth consecutive preseason coaches' poll appearance), as well as the third time in four years Notre Dame has opened the season ranked in the top 10 in both major national polls.
With its No. 7 preseason ranking in the AP poll, Notre Dame has appeared in the media poll for 97 consecutive weeks, extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll. In fact, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a ranked Notre Dame squad throughout her career, with the vast majority of that time (46 weeks) spent in the AP Top 10.
The Fighting Irish now have been made the preseason AP poll in 13 of the past 14 years (since 1999-2000), something only six other schools in the country can match.
Notre Dame could play as many as nine of the other 24 teams in the preseason AP poll if they meet No. 15 Texas A&M at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas (Dec. 19-21).
Senior guards Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner have helped Notre Dame win 95 games to date, easily the most victories by a Fighting Irish class in its first three seasons, surpassing the one-player 2001-02 senior class of Ericka Haney, who was a part of 87 wins through the end of her junior year (including the 2001 national championship).
With 591 victories in her first 25 seasons at Notre Dame, head coach Muffet McGraw ranks second on the Fighting Irish athletics all-time coaching wins list (across all sports), trailing only men's/women's fencing coach Michael DeCicco (774-80 from 1962-95).
Other Notre Dame NotablesNotre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 17 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking fourth with 409 victories.
Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past three years). Last season, the Fighting Irish ranked fifth in the nation with 8,571 fans per home game, setting a school record for average attendance for the third consecutive season. The Fighting Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 176 of their last 178 home games, logging 25 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 19 in the past three seasons, and a school-record eight in 2011-12 (most recently on Feb. 25, 2012, vs. South Florida).
The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as nine Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 12 seasons. Devereaux Peters and Natalie Novosel were the most recent Fighting Irish players to be chosen, with both going in the first round (Peters third overall to Minnesota; Novosel eighth overall to Washington) of the 2012 WNBA Draft. Last year's draft marked the first time Notre Dame has had two first-round picks in the same year, while Peters was the highest-drafted player (and first lottery selection) in program history. Ruth Riley (Chicago) was active in the league during the '12 season, helping the Sky contend for a playoff berth into the final weeks of the season. Three of Notre Dame's 10 all-time WNBA alums have won a total of 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 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit. Peters nearly joined that list in 2012, helping Minnesota return to the WNBA Finals, but the Lynx could not defend their title, falling to Indiana in four games.
For the sixth year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October. What's more, Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous five years to record a 100-percent GSR and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it twice, pulling off that feat in 2011 and 2012).
Scouting Ohio State
Ranked 19th in the preseason Associated Press poll and 21st in the initial ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, Ohio State brings back four starters and 12 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 25-7 (11-5 in the Big Ten Conference) and advanced to the NCAA Championship, where the Buckeyes were upset in the first round by Florida, 70-65.
OSU (which did not play a public exhibition game this season) is led by senior guard and Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Tayler Hill, who averaged a team-high 20.4 points and 2.5 steals per game last year with a team-best .418 three-point percentage. She's joined in the backcourt by redshirt senior guard Amber Stokes, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, who averaged 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game a season ago.
Up front, the Buckeyes are paced by junior center Ashley Adams, who collected 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.
Head coach Jim Foster is beginning his 11th season at Ohio State, with a 261-69 (.790) record in Columbus. The 2012 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee also has a 765-294 (.722) career record entering his 35th season on the sidelines, including prior stints at Saint Joseph's (Pa.) and Vanderbilt, and he's one of just two coaches in Division I history (along with Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer) to win at least 200 games at three different schools.
The Notre Dame-Ohio State Series
Notre Dame and Ohio State will square off on the hardwood for just the third time on Friday afternoon, with the two schools splitting their previous two matchups (each winning at home).
The Buckeyes won the initial series meeting, 74-67 on Jan. 4, 1997, at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio, before the Fighting Irish posted a 66-62 victory on Nov. 20, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion in the Preseason WNIT title game.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Ohio State Met
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored seven points in Notre Dame's game-ending 12-0 run as the No. 11/10 Fighting Irish rallied to beat No. 10/9 Ohio State 66-62 in the Preseason WNIT championship game on Nov. 20, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion.
Batteast finished with a career-high 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field and blocked a potential tying three-pointer by OSU's Caity Matter with two seconds left. The Fighting Irish, who defeated No. 6 Duke in the tournament semifinal three days earlier, beat top-10 teams in back-to-back games for the first time since beating No. 1 Connecticut and No. 9/8 Purdue at the 2001 NCAA Women's Final Four in St. Louis to win the program's first national championship.
Notre Dame was trailing 62-54 with 4:39 left when Batteast, who was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, made a pair of free throws to start the comeback. She then converted a three-point play with 3:59 left to cut the lead to 62-59. Junior guard Megan Duffy, who had 15 points and was named to the all-tournament team, hit a three-pointer to tie it and Batteast put the Fighting Irish ahead for good at the 2:45 mark on a 12-foot jumper that bounced twice off the rim before falling in.
The Buckeyes, who set a Preseason WNIT record with 27 treys in the four-game tournament, missed their final two three-point attempts. First, Matter missed an attempt from the top of the key, then had her final shot blocked by Batteast, who raced from the top of the key deep into the corner to get a hand on Matter's try. Batteast also scored 10 consecutive points midway through the first half to give the Fighting Irish a 21-12 lead. She averaged 21.5 ppg. in the Preseason WNIT on the way to earning tournament MVP honors.
However, Ohio State, which trailed 29-25 at halftime, appeared to have the game under control as Jessica Davenport, who joined Matter on the all-tournament team, scored 14 of her 23 points in the second half and dominated in the middle. She also was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, but was held without a point after scoring inside over senior center Teresa Borton with 6:42 left. Ashley Allen hit a three-pointer to give the Buckeyes a 60-54 lead, and Matter, who had 13 points, added a layup on her team's next possession, but Ohio State missed its final eight shots down the stretch and turned the ball over four times.
Other Notre Dame-Ohio State Series TidbitsNotre Dame and Ohio State are playing what is believed to be one of the first outdoor women's basketball games in NCAA Division I history. Records are incomplete for some programs during their early years, with indications that a few Southern schools (particularly in Florida) may have played one or more outdoor games as members of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Notre Dame is 75-16 (.824) all-time against Ohio schools, with a 37-7 (.841) record against the Buckeye State away from home (road/neutral sites combined). The Fighting Irish also have won their last 18 games against Ohio teams, dating back to Jan, 4, 1997, when Notre Dame dropped a 74-67 decision at Ohio State.
Two of the top point guards in the history of the Saint Joseph's (Pa.) University women's basketball program will be in attendance Friday, when Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Ohio State assistant coach Debbie Black step onto the court on the deck of the USS Yorktown. Playing under her maiden name of Muffet O'Brien from 1974-77, McGraw helped the Hawks to a 23-5 record and a No. 3 national ranking (still the highest Associated Press poll appearance in school history) by her senior season, while serving as team captain during her final two campaigns. Meanwhile, Black was a standout for the Hawks from 1984-88, still standing as SJU's leader in career steals (572) while placing second in assists (718) -- she also led the nation with 153 steals in 1985-86 and was eighth in assists (231) that season. Both McGraw and Black have been justly celebrated for their success at Saint Joseph's, as both are enshrined in the school's Basketball and Athletics halls of fame, as well as the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame.
In addition to the long-standing ties between Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Ohio State head coach Jim Foster (see separate note below), the Fighting Irish have several other ties within the OSU athletics department, most notably in the director's chair. Ohio State associate vice president/director of athletics Gene Smith is a 1977 graduate of Notre Dame and played football for the Fighting Irish from 1973-76 (he was a freshman defensive end on the '73 national championship team coached by Ara Parseghian). Smith later served as an assistant football coach at Notre Dame from 1977-81, helping head coach Dan Devine lead the Fighting Irish to the '77 national title.
Teacher vs. Student
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has historically been reluctant to have her teams play schools coached by her former players and/or assistants. However, when it comes to her mentor, Ohio State head coach Jim Foster, that reluctance is heightened, with the pair squaring off just six times during their longstanding friendship (dating back more than three decades), and each winning three times (McGraw is 3-0 against Foster since coming to Notre Dame).
McGraw got her start in college coaching as a member of Foster's staff at her alma mater, Saint Joseph's (Pa.), from 1980-82, filling a vacancy in the program's coaching ranks created when a young assistant named Geno Auriemma left Hawk Hill to take a similar position at Virginia under legendary coach Debbie Ryan.
McGraw's early coaching prowess was evident and it was only two seasons before she would be handed the keys to her own program at Lehigh, where she spent five years (1982-87) before coming to Notre Dame to begin the centerpiece of her Hall of Fame career.
From the outset, McGraw has been quick to credit Foster with helping mold her into the coach she has become. The McGraw and Foster families continue to remain very close, so much so that McGraw and her husband, Matt, asked Jim to be godfather to their son, Murphy (now 22 years old).
A Very Special Guest
Among the members of the Notre Dame travel party for Friday's Carrier Classic is Danielle Green ('00), who was a standout guard for the Fighting Irish from 1995-2000, scoring 1,106 points in her career and helping Notre Dame to three NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, including the 1997 NCAA Women's Final Four (she missed that '96-97 season with a torn Achilles). Green also played alongside current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham from 1995-97, and assistant coach Niele Ivey from 1996-2000, witih head coach Muffet McGraw and current associate head coach Carol Owens on staff throughout Green's career.
However, it's not Green's playing career that carries special significance this week. In January 2003, the Chicago native enlisted in the U.S. Army and a year later, she and the 571st MP Company out of Fort Lewis, Wash., were deployed to Baghdad, Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In May 2004, Green suffered significant arm and leg injuries during a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on the roof of a police station she was patrolling in Baghdad. Green's left hand (her basketball shooting hand) was subsequently amputated between the wrist and elbow.
Green later received the Purple Heart and was discharged from the service. After earning post-graduate degrees in counseling, Green now serves as a readjustment counselor for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, helping her fellow veterans cope with physical and psychological trauma suffered on the battlefield.
In honor of Green's service to our country, Notre Dame players will be wearing special camouflage uniforms and shoes with purple laces and trim for Friday's game. The shoes also have a unique purple heart insignia on the tongues, with Green's number 12 inside the heart.
Notre Dame vs. the Big Ten Conference
Notre Dame is 43-49 (.467) all-time against the Big Ten Conference, with a 19-31 (.380) record away from home (road/neutral sites combined). The Fighting Irish also are 36-34 (.514) against the Big Ten in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), with a 16-20 (.444) ledger outside from South Bend.
Of note, Notre Dame has won 15 of its last 21 games vs. Big Ten schools, including a current string of four in a row since Minnesota ended the 2008-09 Fighting Irish season with a 79-71 win in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion.
Blowing The Lid Off
Notre Dame is 27-8 (.771) all-time in season openers and carries a 17-game winning streak into Friday's game against Ohio State. The Fighting Irish also are 22-3 (.880) in lidlifters during the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88), with their last season-opening loss coming on Nov. 26, 1994 (65-60 in overtime at No. 25 Seton Hall). Last year, Notre Dame opened with an 81-61 win over Akron in the first round of the Preseason WNIT at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish also are 8-2 (.800) all-time when opening the season on the road (6-2 in the McGraw era), something they haven't done since 2008, when they posted a 62-53 win at No. 24/22 LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic.
That LSU game also was the last time Notre Dame opened the season against a ranked opponent. The Fighting Irish are 3-4 (.429) all-time when they face a Top 25 team right out of the gate, with a 3-2 mark under McGraw (having won their last three such contests).
Exhibition Game Recap: Edinboro
Representing the excellence of the program's recent past and the promise of its near future, the guard duo of three-time All-American Skylar Diggins and McDonald's All-American Jewell Loyd combined for 33 points and 10 assists as No. 7/6 Notre Dame raced past Division II foe Edinboro, 88-28, in exhibition action on Nov. 1 before a crowd of 8,226 fans at Purcell Pavilion.
Loyd, a freshman, notched 20 points, three assists and three rebounds in her Fighting Irish debut, while Diggins, a senior and preseason All-America selection, added 13 points, five rebounds and a team-high seven assists for Notre Dame in 17 minutes of action.
Although Notre Dame committed an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers in the game, the stifling Fighting Irish defense more than made up for the miscues, forcing 33 Edinboro turnovers that led to 36 points for the home team. Notre Dame limited the Fighting Scots to a paltry 25 percent (11-44) shooting effort on the night, while the Fighting Irish offense shot 50 percent (28-56) from the floor, including a 57.7 percent (15-26) mark in the second half.
The Fighting Irish asserted their will around the basket throughout the contest and held advantages of 44-22 in rebounding and 36-8 in points in the paint. The Notre Dame bench, led by 11 points from sophomore guard Whitney Holloway, outscored the Edinboro reserves, 29-8, for the game.
The exhibition tilt got off to a familiar start, as Diggins posted the first six points of the contest, then registered assists on two of the next three Fighting Irish baskets to help Notre Dame open the game on a 12-2 run. After Edinboro moved to within seven points (14-7) on a three-pointer by Kiara Brown, Notre Dame responded with a 10-0 run to extend its advantage to 24-7 with 9:49 to play in the first half.
A three-pointer by freshman guard Michaela Mabrey pushed the Notre Dame lead to 29-9, and eight consecutive points from Loyd -- including a 6-for-6 run from the free-throw line -- gave the Fighting Irish a 39-13 edge with less than three minutes to go in the half. Notre Dame finished the stanza on a 13-0 run and led at the break, 43-13.
Junior guard Kayla McBride and sophomore forward Markisha Wright combined to score 12 of Notre Dame's first 16 points of the second half as the Fighting Irish pulled in front by 36 (59-23). McBride posted 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in a productive 25 minutes on the floor, while Wright contributed nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
From there, Notre Dame rattled off 19 consecutive points, including six points from Holloway and five from Diggins, to move ahead by 53 (76-23) with 8:20 left in the game.
All in all, the Fighting Irish outscored the Fighting Scots, 31-5, over the game's last 15 minutes, as the final score of 88-28 proved to be the biggest lead of the contest for Notre Dame.
Brown led Edinboro with 10 points and two assists, while Darche' Jackson added six points and five rebounds for the Fighting Scots.
Beyond The Box Score: EdinboroNotre Dame is 33-1 in its last 34 exhibition games, including 28 in a row, dating back to the 1993-94 season.
The past 12 Fighting Irish preseason victories have come against NCAA Division II or Canadian opponents, with the win over Edinboro marking the program's second exhibition triumph over a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (Notre Dame defeated Gannon, 96-30 in the 2008-09 opener).
The Fighting Irish have held five of their last six exhibition opponents to fewer than 40 points, setting a new preseason record by holding Edinboro to 28 points (the previous school record for fewest points allowed in an exhibition was 30 points, set in the 2008-09 win over Gannon, and matched in a 102-30 win over Michigan Tech to open the 2010-11 campaign).
Notre Dame has won its last seven exhibition games by an average of 53.6 points per game, while scoring 93.1 ppg., in those same seven contests.
In their last five preseason games, the Fighting Irish have forced their opponents into 36.8 turnovers per night (never fewer than 33 in a single outing).
Had it been a regular-season game, Holloway's 11 points would have been a career high, topping her current official mark of six points against Hartford on Nov. 17, 2011, at Purcell Pavilion.
All three Notre Dame freshmen (Loyd, Mabrey and guard Hannah Huffman) made their unofficial college debuts, as did sophomore guard Madison Cable, who missed all of last season with stress fractures in both feet.
The crowd of 8,226 set a new Notre Dame women's basketball exhibition game record, topping the previous mark of 7,735 set in last year's preseason win over Windsor (Ontario).
Notre Dame Picked Second In 2012-13 BIG EAST Coaches' Preseason Poll
Following its second BIG EAST Conference regular-season title (and first outright championship) in 2011-12, Notre Dame was selected as the No. 2 team in the annual BIG EAST preseason women's basketball poll, according to a vote of the league's 15 head coaches released Oct. 18 during the 2012-13 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.
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
Even before the ball has been tossed for the first time in 2011-12, Notre Dame senior guard Skylar Diggins already has been tapped for numerous accolades.
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.
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).
Notre Dame is ranked No. 7 in the 2012-13 Associated Press preseason poll, its 27th consecutive week in the top 10 of the media balloting, dating back to the middle of the 2010-11 season.
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
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 31 people in NCAA Division I women's basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll (Tennessee's Holly Warlick will be the 32nd when the Lady Vols tip off their season this week).
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
Notre Dame has posted a 95-18 (.841) record in the past three seasons, a mark that can be traced in no small part to the arrival of guard Skylar Diggins. The South Bend native has helped lead the Fighting Irish to a spot in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA national championship games and a berth in the 2010 NCAA Sweet 16, as well as an 19-11 record against AP Top 25 teams (10-9 vs. the AP Top 10) and a 63-game winning streak against unranked opponents (not appearing in the AP poll) from the start of the 2009-10 season before falling to West Virginia on Feb. 12, 2012 (now 68-1 vs. unranked teams).
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
During the past 12 seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 247-19 (.929) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 175 of their last 188 such contests (.931).
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...
During the past 18 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame's first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Fighting Irish have an amazing 258-15 (.945) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including 28 contests last year.
...But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 18 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 168-6 (.966) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are three overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and UCLA (86-83 in double OT) in 2010, as well as a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008, and a 94-81 setback at Baylor in 2011.
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
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 221 of their last 249 games (.888) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51, 25 and 20 games in that span (the latter from 2011-12, ending Feb. 12 vs. West Virginia). Notre Dame also has a 120-20 (.857) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the former Joyce Center, sporting a program-record 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the `02 home finale.
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
The past three seasons have seen an unprecedented surge in fan support for Notre Dame women's basketball, as the Fighting Irish set new program records for the highest year-end NCAA attendance ranking (fourth in 2009-10), highest average attendance (8,571 fans per game in 2011-12) and most sellouts in a single season (eight in 2011-12). And, as the old saying goes -- "you ain't seen nothin' yet."
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
Beginning with the 2008-09 athletics year, the Notre Dame athletics department announced it had partnered with the LeSEA Broadcasting Network, making Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) the new radio home of Notre Dame women's basketball in the South Bend market.
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
Notre Dame will have at least 22 regular season games televised during the 2012-13 season. Highlighting this year's broadcast schedule are 15 nationally- or regionally-televised Fighting Irish women's basketball contests, including the program's sixth-ever appearance on network television, and third in as many years (Jan. 5 at Connecticut on CBS) and eight showings on the ESPN family of networks, including three appearances on that entity's famed "Big Monday" telecast (matching the most by any women's basketball program in the nation this season).
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 the Nov. 1 exhibition against Edinboro (streamed live at UND.com), Notre Dame has played in 234 televised games, including 178 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guards Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner are serving as Notre Dame's team captains for the 2012-13 season. Both players received the captain's honor for the first time in their respective careers following a preseason vote by their teammates.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
Now in its sixth season, Notre Dame's wildly-successful "Big Mac" promotion will once again look to send fans home with full bellies, offering a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald's restaurants if the Fighting Irish score at least 88 points in a home game.
In the six-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 35 times, most recently in the Nov. 1 exhibition win over Edinboro.
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.
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"), 20 different players have converted the "burger ball", including seven current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What's more, of the 35 Big Mac games, 16 have been reached on two-point baskets, 13 on free throws, and six on three-pointers.
Next Game: Massachusetts
Notre Dame will tip off the home portion of its 2012-13 schedule at 2 p.m. (ET) Nov. 18 when it welcomes Massachusetts to Purcell Pavilion. Prior to the game (which will be streamed live at UND.com), the Fighting Irish will honor junior forward and 2012 Canadian Olympic Team member Natalie Achonwa for her performance at the London Games.
UMass welcomes eight letterwinners, including two starters back from last year's team that went 8-21 and tied for 12th in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 3-11 record. The Minutewomen, who are led by senior center (and 2009 South Bend Washington High School graduate) Jasmine Watson, open their season Saturday, playing host to Kent State, with additional games to come at Central Connecticut (Nov. 13) and at home against Quinnipiac (Nov. 16) before coming to Notre Dame next weekend.
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