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    #15 Irish Tip Off Home Slate Wednesday Against Evansville

    FIGHTING IRISH Freshman guard Natalie Novosel will lead 15th-ranked Notre Dame against her older sister Shannon and her University of Evansville teammates with the Purple Aces take on the Irish Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET) inside the Joyce Center.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Freshman guard Natalie Novosel will lead 15th-ranked Notre Dame against her older sister Shannon and her University of Evansville teammates with the Purple Aces take on the Irish Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET) inside the Joyce Center.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 18, 2008

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    2008-09 ND Women's Basketball: Game #2
    #15/15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Evansville Purple Aces (1-0 / 0-0 MVC)

    DATE: November 19, 2008
    TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
    AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Joyce Center (11,418)
    SERIES: ND leads 18-1
    1ST MTG: ND 77-56 (1/27/84)
    LAST MTG: ND 89-62 (2/12/94)
    RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
    LIVE STATS: UND.com
    TEXT ALERT: UND.com
    TICKETS: (574) 631-7356

    Storylines

  • Notre Dame is 23-8 (.742) all-time in home openers, including an active 13-game winning streak that mirrors the program's membership in the BIG EAST Conference.
  • The Irish have not faced Evansville since the 1993-94 season, which was the freshman campaign for a pair of future Notre Dame All-Americans -- Beth Morgan and Katryna Gaither.
  • No. 15 Irish Tip Off Home Slate Wednesday Against Evansville
    After one of the more significant season-opening wins in the program's storied history, No. 15 Notre Dame steps onto the Joyce Center hardwood for the first time in the 2008-09 regular season when it plays host to Evansville Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET). The Irish and Purple Aces were conference rivals for a decade in the mid-1980s and will look to rekindle some of the old magic this week.

    Notre Dame opened the regular season this past Sunday with a strong 62-53 win at No. 24/22 LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. The Irish led virtually all the way, pulling clear with a 14-4 run to start the second half and going on to hand the Lady Tigers their first home-opening loss in 27 years.

    Junior guard Ashley Barlow scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the second half to lead three Irish players in double figures.

    Rankings

  • Notre Dame is ranked 15th in the current editions of both the Associated Press poll and ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
  • Evansville is not ranked.
  • A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
    Following two seasons of impressive growth and development, Notre Dame has constructed a firm foundation upon which to build its next championship contender. The Irish enter the 2008-09 season on the heels of a seventh trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a highly-competitive effort in that regional semifinal that has players, coaches and followers optimistic that even greater success may be on the horizon.

    Notre Dame has three starters and seven monogram winners returning this season from a squad that ranked among the top 10 in the country in scoring offense (8th - 76.2 ppg) and scoring margin (10th - +14.6 ppg) a year ago. The Irish also have many of the pieces back from the '07-08 club that led the BIG EAST in steals for the second consecutive year (school-record 397, 11.68 per game) and forced an opponent-record 737 turnovers.

    Perhaps it's no surprise that Notre Dame's present upward mobility has coincided with the arrival of its current junior class, including guards and co-captains Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner. Barlow earned honorable mention all-BIG EAST status last year and is the team's top returning scorer (12.1 ppg), while also setting the defensive tone with a team-high 68 steals last season. Meanwhile, Lechlitner (5.5 ppg, 2.6 apg) assumes the mantle of leadership from the point guard position after two consistent years as a reliable understudy to Tulyah Gaines.

    The Irish also should benefit from the veteran experience and guidance of senior guard and co-captain Lindsay Schrader, who joined Barlow on last year's BIG EAST honorable mention squad after logging 10.3 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. She earned similar status this fall in preseason voting by the conference coaches and gives Notre Dame a unique blend of toughness and determination that has become the common thread running through the team's recent resurgence.

    The Irish sophomore class proved to be an exceptional complement to their predecessors last season, led by forward Devereaux Peters (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg), who was a BIG EAST All-Freshman Team choice despite missing the final 11 games of the year with a knee injury. Guard Brittany Mallory (6.3 ppg, 34 3FG) joined Peters on the conference's all-rookie squad, while forward Becca Bruszewski (5.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg) may be the team's most improved player heading into this season after a scintillating three-game NCAA Tournament performance that included a season-high 16 points against both SMU and Tennessee.

    Potent Notables About The Irish

  • Notre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 12 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 293 victories.
  • For the eighth consecutive year, Notre Dame ranked among the nation's Top 20 in attendance, placing ninth in 2007-08 with an average of 7,016 fans to its 16 home games (including three of the top six crowds in school history and two sellouts). The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 110 of their last 112 home games, including five Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Jan. 27, 2008 vs. Connecticut).
  • The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as seven Notre Dame players have been selected in the past eight seasons. Charel Allen was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round (43rd overall pick) of the 2008 WNBA Draft. Allen, Megan Duffy (New York) and Ruth Riley (San Antonio) all were active in the league during the '08 season, with all three teams making the playoffs (San Antonio made the WNBA Finals, while New York was the Eastern Conference runner-up). Three of Notre Dame's eight 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 '06 title-winning squad in Detroit.
  • For the third year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2008. Notre Dame also was one of only four teams with a perfect '07 GSR to advance to the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 (joining Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt). 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 57-for-57 success rate).
  • A Quick Look At Evansville
    Although Evansville comes into this season with a new coach and a new offensive style, the building blocks remain the same for the Purple Aces. With three starters and 10 letterwinners returning from last year's Missouri Valley Conference regular-season co-champions (and postseason WNIT qualifiers), UE should be well-equipped to make another run in one of the nation's strongest mid-major conferences.

    Evansville opened its season on a solid note last Saturday, taking down visiting East Tennessee State, 83-73, at Roberts Stadium. The game featured an interesting contrast, with the Purple Aces taking just 48 shots, but making 23 of them (a .479 percentage), and tacking on an 8-of-17 (.471) showing from the three-point line and a 29-for-40 (.725) effort at the charity stripe. Conversely, ETSU attempted 84 shots, but made only 29 (a .345 ratio), and was just 9-of-16 (.563) at the foul line.

    Senior point guard Ashley Austin rolled up a double-double with 20 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, converting 13 of 16 free throws in the contest. Senior forward Robyn Jennings also scored a team-best 20 points and added eight rebounds, while making 5-of-7 shots from the field (3-of-4 from beyond the arc).

    Sophomore guard/forward Stephanie Bamberger had a perfect shooting day with 13 points (4-4 FG, 3-3 3FG, 2-2 FT), while senior center Shannon Novosel was held largely in check, finishing with just nine points, but adding a team-high five assists out of the post.

    First-year head coach Misty Murphy earned her initial victory at Evansville on Sunday following a three-year stint as an assistant coach at Rice. She does have seven seasons of prior head coaching experience at the small college level (Colorado State-Pueblo and Sheridan College) and owns a 109-65 (.626) career record. Murphy will be facing Notre Dame for the first time in her coaching tenure on Wednesday night.

    The Notre Dame-Evansville Series
    Notre Dame is 18-1 all-time against Evansville in a series that dates back to the 1983-84 season, the first for both schools in the now-defunct North Star Conference (and later the Midwestern Collegiate Conference). The teams played at least once (and sometimes twice or more) per season in league play through the 1993-94 campaign, before the Purple Aces left to join the Missouri Valley Conference and the Irish followed suit a year later to join the BIG EAST.

    The Last Time ND And Evansville Met
    The sharpshooting backcourt of Sherri Orlosky and Kara Leary combined for 18 points in a 22-5 first-half run as Notre Dame stormed past Evansville, 89-62 on Feb. 12, 1994, at Roberts Stadium in Evansville.

    Orlosky knocked all four of her three-point attempts, three in the backbreaking run and finished with 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds in just 24 minutes. Leary had a nearly perfect shooting night, going 3-of-4 from the field (1-1 from long range) and 4-of-4 at the foul line, tallying 11 points and six assists without a turnover.

    Strangely, neither player took game-high scoring honors, a title reserved for freshman forward Beth Morgan, who tossed in 21 points (a sign of things to come for the school's eventual career scoring leader). Katryna Gaither came off the bench to chip in 10 points for the Irish, who shot a blistering 57.5 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

    The difference in the contest came just past the midway point of the first half, with the Irish leading 26-15. Letitia Bowen started things off innocently enough with a layup before the media timeout, but Leary came out of the break with her only three-pointer of the day and the first olive had officially tumbled from the jar. Orlosky followed with her trio of treys in a span of 1:49, and try as they might, the Purple Aces couldn't get any closer than 24 points the rest of the way.

    Other ND-Evansville Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame and Evansville were traditional rivals for a decade (1983-84 to 1993-94) when the schools were members of the North Star and Midwestern Collegiate conferences (the latter now known as the Horizon League). Wednesday's contest will mark the first time the Irish and Purple Aces have ever met in a non-conference game.
  • Evansville is the first of three in-state opponents for Notre Dame this season, with a home game against Purdue (Dec. 7) and a road trip to Valparaiso (Dec. 13) penciled in next month. Notre Dame is 111-32 (.776) all-time against other Indiana schools, with a 53-11 (.828) mark at the Joyce Center; the Irish also have won 11 of their last 14 games against in-state opponents, losing only to Purdue (Jan. 4, 2004 and Dec. 7, 2005) and Indiana (Dec. 3, 2006).
  • Notre Dame freshman guard Natalie Novosel and her sister, Shannon (a senior center at Evansville) will play against one another for the first time in organized competition. The Novosel sisters also were teammates at Lexington (Ky.) Catholic High School for two seasons (2003-04 and 2004-05), leading the Knights to the state title the latter year.
  • Evansville junior forward Anaris Sickles was another of Natalie Novosel's teammates at Lexington Catholic -- the pair suited up for the Knights for three seasons (2003-04 through 2005-06).
  • Notre Dame vs. The Missouri Valley Conference
    Notre Dame is 24-2 (.923) all-time against the current alignment of the Missouri Valley Conference, including an 11-1 (.917) record at home against MVC schools. The Irish last played a Valley school on Nov. 12, 2004, downing Illinois State, 92-73, at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Preseason WNIT (an event the Irish would go on to win).

    The bulk of Notre Dame's games against the present MVC membership have come against Evansville, when the Irish and Purple Aces were rivals in both the North Star and Midwestern Collegiate conferences.

    In the 22-year tenure of Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, the Irish are 15-1 (.938) against the Missouri Valley Conference, going 8-0 at home, 5-1 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites.

    Her only setback also represents the last time a current MVC squad defeated Notre Dame. Ironically enough, it was Evansville that pulled off the feat on Jan. 28, 1993, when the Purple Aces handed the visiting Irish a 73-69 loss. Since then, the Irish have won six consecutive games against current MVC schools.

    Notre Dame also has an active 10-game home winning streak against MVC teams, since Illinois State edged the Irish, 61-59, on Feb. 8, 1984, at the Joyce Center.

    Starting Off On The Right Foot
    Notre Dame is 23-8 (.742) all-time in home openers and carries a 13-game winning streak into Wednesday's game against Evansville. The Irish also are 17-4 (.810) in season openers during the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88), with their last season-opening loss coming on Nov. 30, 1994 (87-83 to No. 13/11 Purdue). Last season, Notre Dame opened up its home slate with a 98-50 win over Miami (Ohio) at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Preseason WNIT.

    Game #1 Recap: LSU
    Junior guard Ashley Barlow scored 10 of her 19 points during a run to start the second half and No. 16/14 Notre Dame beat No. 24/22 LSU, 62-53 on Sunday in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.

    Notre Dame (1-0) trailed only once, after LSU's Latear Eason hit a floater to make it 20-18 with 4:46 left in the first half.

    With the game tied at 24 at halftime, the Irish opened the second half with a 14-4 spurt, giving them their first double-digit lead of the game.

    LSU (0-1) got as close as 43-40 with 9:39 left, but Notre Dame answered with a 10-0 run for its largest lead.

    Senior guard Lindsay Schrader scored 13 points and sophomore forward Devereaux Peters added 12 for the Irish.

    Andrea Kelly scored 10 points off the bench to lead LSU.

    Noting The LSU Game

  • Notre Dame squares its all-time series with LSU at 2-2, while all four games have been decided by 10 points or less.
  • The Irish earn their first-ever win over LSU in Baton Rouge, and avenge their 1999 NCAA Tournament second-round loss to the Lady Tigers (74-64) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
  • Notre Dame registers its first-ever win over a Southeastern Conference (SEC) opponent on its home floor, and its first victory inside an SEC arena since March 24, 1997, when the Irish downed George Washington, 62-52, in the NCAA East Regional final at South Carolina's former home, the Frank McGuire Center, in Columbia, S.C.
  • Notre Dame collects its first victory over an SEC opponent since Nov. 14, 2003, when the Irish opened that season with a 77-64 win over No. 22/25 Auburn at the WBCA Classic in Boulder, Colo.; that Auburn victory also marked the last time Notre Dame opened with a ranked opponent -- the Irish have won the past three times they have tipped off the season against a Top 25 foe, having also downed No. 6 UCLA, 99-82, at the Joyce Center to begin the 1998-99 campaign.
  • Notre Dame is 24-8 (.750) in season openers and now has won 14 consecutive season lidlifters, going a combined 19-3 (.864) in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
  • The Irish continue to sparkle in regular-season tournament play, improving to 22-5 (.815) in their last 27 regular-season tourney games, starting with the 1996-97 season.
  • Notre Dame also stamped its place in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center record books, becoming just the fourth non-conference school to defeat LSU at home in the past 13-plus seasons (1995-96 to present) -- the others were Purdue and Michigan (in double overtime) in 2001-02 and Connecticut twice (2006-07 and 2007-08).
  • What's more, the Irish handed the Lady Tigers their first loss in a home opener since Nov. 23, 1981, when McNeese State shaded LSU, 75-74, in the final season prior to the arrival of the Lady Tigers' late legendary coach, Sue Gunter.
  • Notre Dame picks up its first win in the state of Louisiana since the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament, when it downed Saint Mary's (Calif), 61-57.v
  • The 53 points allowed by Notre Dame were the fewest they have given up to a ranked opponent since Feb. 15, 2005, when they earned a 54-47 win at No. 25/22 Boston College.
  • LSU went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, the first time a Notre Dame opponent has failed to connect on a triple since Dec. 2, 2007, when IUPUI was 0-for-10 from distance.
  • In her first game since tearing the ACL in her left knee on Feb. 10, 2008, sophomore forward Devereaux Peters matched her career high with six field goals and matched the third-highest minute total of her career (34 at Maryland on Nov. 16, 2007; 31 in overtime win at Bowling Green on Dec. 5, 2007; 28 vs. Villanova on Jan. 16, 2008).
  • Sophomore forward Becca Bruszewski made her first career start on Sunday.
  • Junior guard Melissa Lechlitner made her second career start and first as the primary point guard (she filled Ashley Barlow's starting spot at the 2-guard on Feb. 24, 2008 at DePaul, while Tulyah Gaines continued to run the point).
  • All four Irish freshmen saw action in Sunday's game, with forward Erica Solomon turning in the best effort with six points and two rebounds in 11 minutes; guard Natalie Novosel had two points and two rebounds in 17 minutes, while forward Kellie Watson and guard Fraderica Miller made their college debuts in the final minute.
  • Polling Station
    Notre Dame is ranked 15th in this week's Associated Press poll, up one spot from its preseason ranking. It's the 22nd consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, which opened last season at No. 24 and rose as high as ninth on March 3, marking the eight time in the past 12 seasons (1996-97 through 2007-08) that the Irish have reached the AP Top 10.

    Notre Dame also has been ranked in the AP poll for 161 weeks during the program's 32-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 13th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also stands 25th all-time in that category.

    In addition, the Irish earned their 22n dconsecutive ranking in the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches' poll, placing 15th this week (down one spot from the preseason balloting). Notre Dame ended last year at No. 13, its highest ranking of the 2007-08 season, and has appeared in the coaches' poll for 153 weeks during its history (all coming during McGraw's tenure).

    More Polling Data
    Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 23 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.

    Besides her 161 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 rise to No. 3 in the nation. Of the 23 people on this list, 11 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart).

    Irish Fourth In BIG EAST Preseason Poll
    The Notre Dame women's basketball team has been projected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Conference this season, according to a preseason vote of the league's 16 head coaches that was announced during the 2008 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day on Oct. 23 at the ESPN Zone in New York City.

    The Irish collected 182 points, with Connecticut (14 first-place votes, 224 points), Rutgers (one first-place vote, 201 points) and Louisville (one first-place vote, 200 points) joining Notre Dame in the top four.

    In addition, senior guard Lindsay Schrader was chosen as a Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection, one of 14 players to garner preseason all-conference status. Schrader averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game last season while scoring in double figures 21 times.

    A 2008 honorable mention all-BIG EAST selection, Schrader is one of three starters and seven monogram winners back for the Irish from last year's 25-9 club that finished fourth in the BIG EAST and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the seventh time in the past 12 seasons.

    Half And Half
    During the past nine seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 146-14 (.913) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 74 of their last 82 such contests.

    Last year, Notre Dame led at the half 24 times and went on to win 22 times, although both losses came in the postseason -- against Pittsburgh in the BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals after leading 22-21; and against Tennessee in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional Semifinals after leading 33-31, the first time the Irish were up at the break on the Lady Vols in 20 series games.

    The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
    During the past 14 seasons (1995-96 to present), 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 Irish have an amazing 185-12 (.939) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game.

    Notre Dame added its first tally of the season to this ledger with Sunday's 62-53 win at LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic.

    ...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 14 seasons (since 1995-96), the Irish are 114-4 (.966) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995, a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.

    Notre Dame won 14 of 15 games last season when it reached the 80-point mark.

    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 Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 162 of their last 183 games (.885) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 93-15 (.861) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the '02 home finale.

    The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 71 of their last 77 non-BIG EAST contests (.922) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Four of the losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents -- Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT) and Indiana in 2006 (54-51) -- with the other two defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63). 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 Joyce Center, posting a 312-82 (.792) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

    Irish Have New Home On The Dial
    On Aug. 27, 2008, 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 now originates all Notre Dame women's basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking the first time since the 1998-99 season that the Irish are heard on an FM station. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation's No. 89 media market (South Bend-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains more than 1.35 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame's new women's basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former 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 All-Access multimedia package.

    The new agreement includes extensive Notre Dame athletics promotion aired on a combination of the LeSEA stations.

    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 as the play-by-play voice of the Irish this season.

    Notre Dame On The Small Screen
    Notre Dame will at least 19 regular-season games televised during the upcoming 2008-09 season. Highlighting this year's broadcast schedule are eight nationally-televised Irish women's basketball contests, including four games on the ESPN family of networks (beginning with last Sunday's State Farm Tip-Off Classic game at LSU, which aired on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com) and three others on CBS College Sports.

    In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All 11 Irish regular-season home games that have not been selected for commercial TV coverage will air live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com, via the site's free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.

    This year's TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through this year (not counting Wednesday's game), Notre Dame has played in 116 televised games, including 66 that were broadcast nationally.

    Oh Captain, My Captain
    Senior guard Lindsay Schrader and junior guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner are team captains for the 2008-09 season. All three players are serving as captains for the first time in their careers, and each received the captain's honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.

    Irish In The Pink (Zone) All Season Long
    Notre Dame is proud to be a participant in the second annual Pink Zone initiative, created by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) in order to heighten breast cancer awareness and raise money for research towards finding a cure for the disease.

    Throughout the 2008-09 season, the Irish will take part in several activities centered around the Pink Zone initiative, including:

  • Open Practice/Tip-Off Luncheon - On Oct. 19, the Irish open the doors to one of their preseason practice sessions and allowed approximately 600 season ticket holders to watch the team prepare for the upcoming season. A luncheon with the team followed and a total of $3,311 was raised.
  • Three-Point Pledge - Fans can pledge an amount to donate for every three-pointer the Irish make this season. Pledge cards are available at the Joyce Center Gate 10 marketing table prior to each home game.
  • Beanie Bears/Calendars - The Irish are collecting a $5 donation for every special-edition Notre Dame women's basketball beanie bear and team calendar sold during the season.
  • T-Shirt Sales - Specially-commissioned "Irish Believe" pink t-shirts are on sale in the Hammes Bookstore and Varsity Shop on the Notre Dame campus. Proceeds from the sales of the t-shirt will go to breast cancer awareness and research.
  • Brittany and Becca's Class - Sophomores Brittany Mallory and Becca Bruszewski currently are taking a management class in Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business under the guidance of Chuck Lennon, an Irish women's basketball season ticket holder, as well as Associate Vice President for University Relations and Executive Director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. This class has been focusing on ways to help promote and enhance the Pink Zone initiative on the Notre Dame campus and will debut their ideas at the Purdue game on Dec. 7.
  • Pink Zone Challenge - The Irish women's basketball program has challenged some of the other top-drawing teams in the country to a friendly fund-raising competition to see which school can raise the most money for breast cancer awareness and research during the WBCA's designated Pink Zone games (Feb. 13-22, 2009). A total of 15 schools from among the top 20 in last year's final NCAA attendance rankings have committed for this inaugural challenge -- Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. The school raising the most money during their specific Pink Zone game will earn the first-ever Pink Zone Challenge Trophy, to be commissioned by Notre Dame and awarded during the WBCA National Convention, to be held April 3-7, 2009, at the NCAA Women's Final Four in St. Louis.
  • Game Day (Feb. 8 vs. DePaul) - The Irish have selected their Feb. 8 home game against DePaul as Notre Dame's Pink Zone game, presented by Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. The Irish will take the court in white, pink and navy uniforms, specially-designed by the school's official athletics apparel provider, adidas. The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a free pink Irish t-shirt, compliments of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, and pink pom-poms, balloons and posters will fill the crowd. In addition, breast cancer survivors will be recognized on the court during a special halftime ceremony. What's more, should Notre Dame sell out this game, the Irish will donate an additional $10,000 to the Pink Zone initiative.
  • Proceeds from all of Notre Dame's Pink Zone events this season will go to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, as well as three local charities -- Women's Task Force, Young Survivors Group and Secret Sisters Society. For more information on the WBCA's Pink Zone initiative, log on to the WBCA's official web site at www.wbca.org.

    ND To Host NCAA Tourney Games in 2009
    Notre Dame's Joyce Center will serve as one of 16 host sites for first- and second-round games in this year's NCAA Championship. The two opening-round contests will be played on Sunday, March 22, while the second-round game will take place on Tuesday, March 24.

    All-session tickets for this year's NCAA Championship games at the Joyce Center are available by contacting the Notre Dame athletics ticket office (574-631-7356).

    Notre Dame has played in the NCAA Championship on its home floor five times before, most recently defeating Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) and Middle Tennessee in 2004 to make the program's sixth NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. All told, the Irish are 6-1 in NCAA tourney play at the Joyce Center, winning six in a row since an 81-76 first-round loss to Minnesota in 1994.

    Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
    After a wildly-successful debut last season, Notre Dame is bringing back its "Big Mac" promotion for 2008-09, offering fans a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald's restaurants if the Irish score at least 88 points in a game.

    It didn't take long for the burger watch to fire back up again, as Notre Dame topped the 88-point mark in its lone exhibition game this year with a 96-30 win over Gannon on Nov. 5.

    Last year, the Irish reached the magic number eight times, doing so in both exhibition wins, along with regular-season victories over Miami (Ohio), Boston College, Canisius, Valparaiso, Marquette and South Florida.

    It should come as no surprise that in the short history of the promotion, the Notre Dame player with the most "Big Mac" baskets shares the same initials with the tasty burger -- sophomore guard Brittany Mallory, who was sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times.

    The Final Countdown
    Less than 1,000 tickets remain for the Dec. 7 game with in-state rival Purdue at the Joyce Center (2 p.m. ET tipoff). Should that allotment be exhausted, it would represent the sixth women's basketball sellout (11,418 capacity) in school history and the third in the past two seasons.

    Last year, Notre Dame sold out its games against Tennessee and Connecticut, and nearly did the same for the Michigan contest, drawing 10,825 fans for that game.

    Joyce Center Arena Renovation Underway
    On Sept. 13, 2008, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Purcell Pavilion, including the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation, were held to kick off the first phase of the two-year project to upgrade the home for Notre Dame basketball and volleyball.

    The first phase of the project, that began in September 2008, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new three-story lobby, the Notre Dame ticket operations (approximately 4,500 square feet) and a varsity shop to sell apparel and souvenirs (approximately 3,000 square feet), in addition to a new club seating and hospitality area.

    Replacement of the existing Joyce Center arena seating, including installation of chair-back seating throughout the arena, is expected to take place after the University's Commencement Exercises in May 2009. The entire project is scheduled for completion in January 2010. The arena is expected to re-open by mid-October 2009, in time for the start of the basketball season and the end of the volleyball season.

    The University announced in October 2007 that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley.

    Exterior changes to the Joyce Center that began taking shape in September include a new, three-story addition on the south end of the current structure. The third floor area will include the stadium club/hospitality area. The first-floor addition will include almost 4,500 square feet for ticket offices (including four exterior and 10 interior tickets windows), 3,000 square feet for the varsity shop, as well as a completely new main entrance and lobby situated between Gates 8 and 10. The new entrance will feature graphics and theming that highlight Notre Dame's competing athletic programs.

    Changes to the interior of the Joyce Center arena include:

  • New, blue chair-back seating from top to bottom of the arena, including all-new upper-arena sections. All seating will be replaced in the lower bowl (including platform seats), and the wooden bleachers in the upper bowl will be removed and replaced with treads and risers and permanent arena seats. The exchange of the bleacher sections for chair back seats will change the capacity from the current 11,418 to approximately 9,800.
  • A stadium club/hospitality area (approximately 16,500 square feet) in the south end of the arena, with a separate, private entry and with premium club seating for nearly 800 fans (that figure is part of the projected 9,800 capacity). Included in this area will be food service and restroom facilities.
  • New fixed concession areas, increased numbers of women's restrooms and increased handicapped seating options.
  • The interior seating changes provide an opportunity to consider new options for student seating. Students currently sit in both lower- and upper-arena sections behind the basket on the east end of the arena.
  • Next Game: Boston College
    The Irish get back on the road Sunday for a 2 p.m. (ET) matinee at their old BIG EAST Conference rival, Boston College. It will mark Notre Dame's first visit to Chestnut Hill since the 2004-05 season (BC's last in the BIG EAST before moving to the ACC).

    Under first-year head coach Sylvia Crawley, the Eagles have opened their season with wins over Saint Francis (Pa.) (99-68) and Holy Cross (82-69). Boston College will play host to Hofstra Thursday night before welcoming the Irish to town over the weekend.

    -- ND --
     

     

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