Nov. 18, 2008
#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
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.
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
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 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.
Andrea Kelly scored 10 points off the bench to lead LSU.
Noting The LSU Game
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:
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:
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.