Nov. 20, 2010
Full Notes Package in PDF Format
2010-11 ND Women's Basketball: Game 4
#12/12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. #9/10 Kentucky Wildcats (2-0 / 0-0 SEC East)
DATE: November 21, 2010
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Lexington, Ky. - Memorial Coliseum (8,500)
SERIES: First meeting
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TV: Fox Sports South / WHME-TV (Ch. 46) (live) (Garry Gupton, p-b-p / Christi Thomas, color / Carl Nathe, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
StorylinesNotre Dame will be playing its second consecutive top-15 opponent, the first time that has happened for the Fighting Irish since the 2008 NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame is set to meet its third first-time opponent in four games this season.
No. 12 Irish Set To Visit No. 9/10 Kentucky For Sunday Matinee
With the lessons from Thursday's hard-fought double-overtime loss to UCLA still fresh, No. 12 Notre Dame continues its rugged non-conference schedule Sunday when it travels to Lexington, Ky., for a 1 p.m (ET) matchup with No. 9/10 Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised live by UK's Big Blue Sports Network and Fox Sports South, with WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend) also broadcasting the game live back to Michiana.
The Fighting Irish (2-1) battled 15th-ranked UCLA tooth and nail on Thursday at Purcell Pavilion, but in the end, the Bruins had just enough left in the tank for an 86-83 victory. Despite the loss, Notre Dame outshot UCLA, connecting at a .459 clip from the field, including a .571 rate during the two overtime periods.
Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins scored a game-high 22 points for the Fighting Irish, while junior guard (and Lexington native) Natalie Novosel matched her career high with 19 points.
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 12 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.
Kentucky is No. 9 in the latest Associated Press poll and No. 10 in the current ESPN/USA Today poll.
Quick HittersWith its No. 12 ranking in this week's Associated Press poll, Notre Dame now has appeared in the AP poll for a school-record 60 consecutive weeks, breaking the previous record first set from preseason 1998-Dec. 3, 2001.
The Irish also have been voted into the preseason AP poll in 11 of the past 12 seasons (since 1999-2000), something only seven other schools in the country can match.
Notre Dame has a rugged 2010-11 schedule lined up, with games against at least one team from each of the top six RPI conferences (BIG EAST, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC), and five matchups against four other teams that advanced to last year's NCAA Sweet 16 (Connecticut twice, Baylor, Gonzaga and Kentucky).
The Irish will play a school-record 17 regular-season home games this year, including their first regular-season tournament (outside of the Preseason WNIT) since the 1983 Notre Dame Thanksgiving Classic. The three-day, round-robin WBCA Classic (also featuring IUPUI, Wake Forest and Butler) comes to Purcell Pavilion Nov. 26-28.
There will be lots of new faces on the Irish schedule this season, with Notre Dame playing seven first-time opponents as part of its 14-game non-conference slate. Those new opponents include: New Hampshire (Nov. 12 - W, 99-48), Morehead State (Nov. 15 - W, 91-28), Kentucky (Sunday), Wake Forest (Nov. 27), Baylor (Dec. 1), Gonzaga (Dec. 29) and Southeast Missouri (Jan. 2).
Notre Dame is closing in on the 1,000th game in the program's 34-year history, with that milestone contest set for Dec. 5 when the Irish play host to in-state rival Purdue at Purcell Pavilion in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2. Notre Dame currently has an all-time record of 691-303 (.695).
The Irish have only one true senior on this year's roster -- forward Becca Bruszewski. Guard Brittany Mallory and forward Devereaux Peters both are listed as seniors on the roster based on their academic standing, but each player has the option to petition for a fifth year of eligibility after both suffered season-ending knee injuries (torn ACL) within the first seven games of the 2008-09 campaign.
Notre Dame welcomes a three-player freshman class that includes the program's first-ever international player (Canadian National Team forward Natalie Achonwa), a 2010 McDonald's All-American (Erie, Pa., native Kayla McBride) and a two-time Michigan Player of the Year (Ariel Braker from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.). Collectively, this group has been ranked as high as eighth in the country by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
The Irish made a shift on their coaching staff during the offseason, as former longtime assistant and post coach guru Carol Owens (who previously served as Notre Dame from 1995-2005) returns to the program as associate coach following a successful five-year run as the head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois. In addition, Angie Potthoff has moved into the newly-created role of associate director of operations & technology, a position that has seen her help direct Notre Dame's emergence as one of the nation's leaders in social media development among women's college basketball programs.
Other Notre Dame NotablesNotre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 15 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 345 victories.
Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past 10 seasons. Last year, the program finished fourth in the final NCAA attendance rankings with 8,377 fans per game, both setting new school records in the process. The Irish also have drawn 5,000-or-more fans to 144 of their last 146 home games, logging 12 Purcell Pavilion sellouts (including a school-record six last year, including four of the final five home games, most recently on March 1, 2010 vs. top-ranked 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 decade. 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. Ruth Riley (San Antonio) was active in the league during the '10 season, helping the Silver Stars return to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. 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 fifth year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2010. What's more, since Muffet McGraw became the Fighting Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women's basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has earned her bachelor's degree (a 62-for-62 success rate), with all three members of this year's senior class on target to earn their diplomas.
A Quick Look At Kentucky
The 2009-10 season was a groundbreaking one for Kentucky, as the Wildcats posted a 28-8 record and finished second in the Southeastern Conference (11-5 record) on the way to a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight. Now, having set the bar high, UK is hoping to return to that level again this season, and they have the potential to do so with four starters and seven letterwinners back in the fold.
Ranked ninth in the latest AP poll and 10th in the current ESPN/USA Today poll, Kentucky (2-0) last played on Sunday, Nov. 14, when it earned an 84-71 victory at Miami (Ohio). The Wildcats featured an aggressive style at both ends of the court, forcing 28 turnovers on defense, while attacking the rim and getting the free throw line a staggering 54 times (making 36 of those charity tosses).
UK's two standard bearers, senior forward Victoria Dunlap and sophomore guard A'dia Mathies, shared team-high scoring honors with 16 points apiece at Miami, with Dunlap adding nine rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Freshman guard Maegan Conwright chipped in 15 points, five steals and four assists, while fellow rookie Samantha Drake contributed 13 points from the starting center position.
Dunlap and Mathies are tied for the team scoring lead this season (17.0 ppg.), with Dunlap pulling down a team-high 9.0 rebounds, 5.5 steals and 3.5 blocks per game, and Mathies shooting a team-best .692 from the field. Conwright also boasts a double-figure scoring average (11.5 ppg.) in the early going for the Wildcats.
Head coach Matthew Mitchell is in his fourth season at Kentucky with a 63-40 (.612) record in Lexington. Adding in his two seasons at Morehead State, Mitchell has a career record of 93-69 (.574).
The Notre Dame-Kentucky Series
Notre Dame and Kentucky will be meeting in the sport of women's basketball for the first time on Sunday afternoon.
Other Notre Dame-Kentucky Series TidbitsKentucky is the third of seven first-time opponents on Notre Dame's schedule this year (and third in the first four games of the season). Back on Nov. 12, the Fighting Irish defeated New Hampshire, 99-48 at Purcell Pavilion, and three days later, Notre Dame downed Morehead State, 91-28, also at Purcell Pavilion.
The Wildcats will be the 183rd different opponent in the 34-year history of Notre Dame women's basketball.
Notre Dame is 43-5 (.896) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, including a 23-1 (.958) mark vs. new teams since the start of the 2000-01 season with a current 18-game overall winning streak. The last first-time opponent to defeat Notre Dame was Colorado State, which earned a 72-66 victory on Nov. 21, 2001, in Fort Collins, Colo. -- and the Fighting Irish responded by knocking off the Rams in each of the following three seasons.
The Fighting Irish have won 21 consecutive home games against new opposition, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame and Kentucky were in the same NCAA regional last year, both advancing to the second weekend of the tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Fighting Irish dropped a 77-72 overtime decision to Oklahoma in the Sweet 16, with the Sooners then going on to defeat UK, 88-68 in the regional final and advance to the Final Four.
While the Notre Dame women's basketball team never has faced Kentucky, the Fighting Irish men have played UK on 59 occasions, going 18-41 all-time against the Wildcats (0-8 in Lexington, including an 0-4 mark at Memorial Coliseum, where they last played in 1961 when UK posted a 100-53 win over the Fighting Irish). Those two programs will square off next month (Dec. 8) as part of the BIG EAST/SEC Invitational at historic Freedom Hall in Louisville.
The Fighting Irish are 7-4 all-time against teams from the state of Kentucky, with the vast majority of those games coming against current BIG EAST member Louisville. Notre Dame is 5-4 all-time against the Cardinals, earned a 78-59 win over Western Kentucky on Nov. 13, 2007, in the second round of the Preseason WNIT at Purcell Pavilion, and most recently logged a 91-28 victory over Morehead State earlier this year (Nov. 15) at Purcell Pavilion. Prior to this season, Notre Dame never had played more than one Kentucky team in a season, but the Fighting Irish will be play three Bluegrass State clubs this year, with Sunday's game being their second against a Kentucky school in less than a week.
Notre Dame junior guard Natalie Novosel is the first Fighting Irish women's basketball player ever to come from the state of Kentucky, and she's a Lexington native to boot. Novosel played her high school ball at Lexington Catholic from 2003-04 to 2007-08 (she began playing on the varsity squad as an eighth-grader), helping the Knights to a 130-11 (.922) record and state championships in both 2005 and 2006. One of Novosel's teammates on those dominant Lexington Catholic squads was current Kentucky junior guard Keyla Snowden.
Notre Dame vs. The Southeastern Conference
Notre Dame is 10-30 (.250) all-time against the Southeastern Conference, although it should be noted that 20 of those losses have come to one opponent (Tennessee). The Irish also are 7-7 in their last 14 meetings with SEC opponents, including a current four-game winning streak.
Last season, Notre Dame won both of its matchups with Southeastern Conference schools, downing South Carolina, 78-55 on Nov. 27, 2009, at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Then, on Dec. 31, 2009, the Fighting Irish defeated No. 18/16 Vanderbilt, 74-69 at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame is 2-14 (.125) all-time against SEC teams on the road, but those two victories have come on the past two Fighting Irish visits to SEC campuses. On Nov. 16, 2008, Notre Dame earned a 62-53 win at No. 24/22 LSU in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic. Six weeks later on Dec. 30, 2008, the Fighting Irish rallied from a school-record 18-point second-half deficit to post a 59-57 win at No. 20/19 Vanderbilt.
November To Remember
Notre Dame's success during the past 16 years has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. To wit -- the Fighting Irish are 63-12 (.840) in November games since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season.
Notre Dame also just had a 16-game November winning streak ended with Thursday's double-overtime loss to No. 15 UCLA. That streak started on Nov. 20, 2007 with a 94-41 victory at Central Michigan and came four days after a 75-59 loss at third-ranked Maryland in the Preseason WNIT semifinals.
Game #3 Recap: UCLA
Darxia Morris scored five points in the second overtime and came up with a big steal to help No. 15 UCLA beat No. 12 Notre Dame, 86-83 on Thursday night at Purcell Pavilion.
Jasmine Dixon had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bruins (3-0). Morris added 17 and Markel Walker 16.
Skylar Diggins led Notre Dame (2-1) with 22 points and Natalie Novosel tied her career high with 19 points.
Morris opened the second extra period with a three-pointer and Dixon had a basket as the Bruins went up 84-81.
With the Irish trailing by one, Novosel missed two at the line with eight seconds left before Walker misfired on two at the other end.
Notre Dame called timeout with 4.2 seconds remaining, but Morris stole the inbounds pass and hit two from the line. The Bruins finally wrapped it up when Diggins' long attempt was off at the buzzer.
Novosel hit a follow-up shot with 8.9 seconds left in the first overtime to give the Irish a 79-77 lead, but UCLA got the ball down the floor and Dixon got a nice pass from Walker for a layup with 1.9 seconds remaining.
Morris also sank a tying three-pointer with 8.8 seconds left in regulation. Diggins then missed a short shot just before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
UCLA reeled off eight straight points with Rebekah Gardner hitting a backdoor layup and Dixon driving for a banker to make it 58-51 with just under seven minutes remaining.
The Irish rallied and finally tied it at 63 on Becca Bruszewski's basket. Novosel then added two buckets inside the final 1:15, but Notre Dame couldn't close the deal, as the Bruins kept their poise as the noise on Notre Dame's home court grew louder.
"We just couldn't get a stop. They just beat us down the floor, it was really frustrating to watch," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said, also pointing to 27 turnovers and nine missed free throws as reasons for the loss. "They made big plays."
Noting The UCLA GameThis was the fourth double-overtime game in Notre Dame women's basketball history and the first since Nov. 30, 1997, when the Fighting Irish defeated UCLA, 93-91 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Thursday's game was just the second double-OT women's basketball game in Purcell Pavilion history -- Nebraska defeated Notre Dame, 89-88 in two extra periods on Feb. 25, 1982.
The Fighting Irish were playing their first overtime game at home (of any length) since Nov. 13, 2006, when they defeated Bowling Green, 85-81 in one OT.
This marks the eighth consecutive season in which Notre Dame has played at least one overtime game.
The Fighting Irish fall to 4-9 all-time against UCLA, with the series in South Bend now knotted at 3-3.
This was the third overtime game in the 13-game series between Notre Dame and UCLA, with the Bruins winning two of those three OT contests (also a 67-65 victory on Jan. 5, 1987, in Los Angeles).
This also was the seventh game decided by single digits in the Notre Dame-UCLA series, with four decided by one possession (three in OT).
The loss snaps a 16-game Fighting Irish winning streak in the month of November, a run that started on Nov. 20, 2007, with a 94-41 win at Central Michigan (following a 75-59 loss at third-ranked Maryland in the Preseason WNIT semifinals four days earlier).
The Fighting Irish fall to 18-17 (.514) against Pac-10 Conference teams, with the Bruins being the first Pac-10 team to defeat Notre Dame since USC earned a 69-58 win on Nov. 24, 2006, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.
The Fighting Irish also tumble to 9-4 (.692) against the Pac-10 at Purcell Pavilion, ending their seven-game winning streak against that conference; UCLA is the first Pac-10 team to defeat Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion since Nov. 24, 1991, when No. 5/7 Stanford defeated the Fighting Irish, 88-76.
Thursday's setback was just the eighth in Notre Dame's last 95 non-conference home games, and the first since March 22, 2009, when Minnesota upset the Fighting Irish, 79-71 in the first round of the NCAA Championship; it's the first regular-season non-conference home loss for Notre Dame since Jan. 5, 2008, when third-ranked Tennessee earned an 87-63 win.
The Fighting Irish had their 19-game regular-season non-conference winning streak snapped ... in the past two-plus seasons (2008-09 to present), the Fighting Irish are 26-2 in regular-season non-conference games, with both losses coming in overtime (the other was a 63-59 defeat at Michigan on Dec. 10, 2008).
Thursday's game had another rarity, as it was just the fifth time in 147 games (since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96) that Notre Dame lost when scoring at least 80 points; three of those five defeats came in overtime (also 88-84 vs. Texas A&M and 87-83 at Michigan State in 1995-96), as well as a 106-81 home loss to top-ranked Connecticut in 1998-99 and most recently, an 81-80 loss to DePaul on Jan. 22, 2008, also at Purcell Pavilion.
Junior guard Natalie Novosel tied her career high with 19 points, having previously set that mark on Jan. 27, 2009, against Rutgers at Purcell Pavilion.
Sophomore guard Skylar Diggins posted her eighth career 20-point game and first since March 23, 2010, when she scored a career-high 31 points against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion.
Diggins' 47 minutes played were the most by a Fighting Irish player in a single game since Nov. 30, 1997, when Mollie Peirick also played 47 minutes in the double-OT win at UCLA.
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski collected her third career double-double, and first since Nov. 15, 2009, when she nabbed 19 points and 10 rebounds in a season-opening win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Purcell Pavilion.
Bruszewski's 13 rebounds also were a career high, one more than her previous best set on Feb. 8, 2009, against DePaul at Purcell Pavilion, as was her 44 minutes played, topping her old standard of 37 minutes at Providence on Feb. 28, 2009.
Notre Dame is ranked 12th in this week's Associated Press poll. That marks the 60th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, setting a new program record and surpassing the old standard set from 1998 (preseason poll) to Dec. 3, 2001.
This year's No. 12 preseason ranking also represented the 11th time in the past 12 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) that Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason AP poll, something only eight schools in the nation have done -- Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 12 during that span, while Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Irish with 11 preseason AP poll berths.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 199 weeks during the program's 34-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 is 22nd all-time in that category.
In addition, the Fighting Irish are ranked 12th in the latest ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches' poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches' survey for 60 of the past 61 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 191 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw's tenure).
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 28 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 199 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 28 people on this list, 15 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart), including former Fighting Irish point guard and assistant coach Coquese Washington ('92), who helped Notre Dame to its first-ever AP poll ranking in 1990-91, and is in her fourth season as head coach at Penn State, guiding the Lady Lions into the AP poll at No. 23 on Jan. 25, 2010.
Six of the 16 active coaches in this group -- including McGraw -- led their teams to this year's NCAA Championship, while McGraw and Baylor's Kim Mulkey are the only active skippers to play for and coach a team in the AP poll, and also coach that team to a national title (McGraw in 2001, Mulkey in 2005).
Notre Dame Picked Fourth In 2010-11 BIG EAST Coaches' Preseason Poll
Notre Dame was selected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Conference in 2010-11, according to a preseason vote of the league's 16 head coaches released on Oct. 21 during the annual BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.
The Irish picked up 177 points in the balloting (coaches may not vote for their own teams), placing behind only two-time defending national champion Connecticut, which was a unanimous choice to win the conference title with 225 points, West Virginia (207 points, one first-place vote) and Georgetown (186 points) -- St. John's rounded out the top five with 173 points.
Diggins Earns 2010-11 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honors
Along with picking Notre Dame to finish fourth in the conference this year in their preseason poll, the BIG EAST coaches unanimously voted sophomore guard Skylar Diggins to the 10-player Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.
A preseason candidate for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award, as well as a consensus preseason All-American by most major media outlets, Diggins is coming off one of the finest rookie seasons in Fighting Irish women's basketball history as the first freshman in 17 seasons to lead Notre Dame in scoring and the first rookie in 16 years to top 100 assists in her debut season. What's more, she finished as just the third player in program history (and the first freshman) to log 400 points, 100 assists and 75 steals in a single season, joining a pair of All-Americans and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (top senior in the nation 5-foot-8 and under) recipients -- current Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (2000-01) and Megan Duffy (2004-05) -- in achieving that distinction.
A 2009-10 honorable mention All-America selection by both the Associated Press and WBCA, Diggins led Notre Dame in scoring (13.8 ppg.), steals (2.6 spg.) and assists (tied - 3.2 apg.) last season, while ranking third on the squad in three-point percentage (.350) and free throw percentage (.782). She also chalked up a team-high 24 double-digit scoring games, including seven 20-point outings, capped by a season-high 31 points against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion. That scoring effort was the highest ever recorded by a Fighting Irish rookie in NCAA postseason play, while her 13 field goals made tied the program record for an NCAA tournament game.
In 2009-10, Diggins set Notre Dame freshman records for steals (90), free throws made (111), free throws attempted (142) and minutes played (1,028), while ranking among the top five on the Irish rookie charts for points (3rd - 484), scoring average (tied/4th - 13.8 ppg.), field goals made (3rd - 169), field goals attempted (3rd - 385), three-point field goals made (4th - 35), three-point attempts (5th - 100), three-point percentage (5th - .350), assists (3rd - 112), steals per game (2nd - 2.6 spg.), games started (tied/2nd - 30), games played (2nd - 35) and minutes per game (5th - 29.4).
McGraw Is Simply Legendary
The announcement on July 10, 2010, may have made it official, but it really only confirmed what Notre Dame fans have known for a very long time -- head coach Muffet McGraw is a Hall of Famer.
McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of more than 600 games in her illustrious career, was one of six people -- and the lone coach -- named to the 2011 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Class, as announced in Uncasville, Conn., during the "WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game" that was televised live nationally on ESPN from Mohegan Sun Arena.
The others in McGraw's Hall of Fame class include former Olympic gold medalists Ruthie Bolton (Auburn) and Vicky Bullett (Maryland), as well as Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president (1996-2005) and first female president of USA Basketball (2005-08), and a pair of three-time All-America players from the pre-NCAA era, Pearl Moore (Frances Marion) and Lometa Odom (Wayland Baptist).
The '11 class offically was introduced at the 2010 State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 16 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., before the Connecticut-Baylor game (McGraw was not able to attend due to NCAA regulations). The group will be enshrined June 10-12, 2011, during the 13th annual Induction Weekend at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
McGraw becomes the first Notre Dame selection for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The Irish skipper also is the third BIG EAST Conference coach chosen for the honor, joining Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (2001) and Connecticut's Geno Auriemma (2006) in that elite company. First-year Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan also was a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in primarily for her accomplishments as a player at Old Dominion.
McGraw also will be the ninth active college head coach to enter the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame on the basis of her success on the sidelines. Besides Stringer and Auriemma, the others on this notable list are: Pat Summitt (1999 - Tennessee), Van Chancellor (2001 - LSU), Tara VanDerveer (2002 - Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 - North Carolina), Andy Landers (2007 - Georgia) and Debbie Ryan (2008 - Virginia).
Riley's Double Zero Goes To The Rafters
Ruth Riley, a three-time All-America center at Notre Dame during her storied career from 1997-2001, and the 2001 consensus national player of the year, was inducted into Notre Dame's Ring of Honor on Nov. 12 during a pre-game ceremony before the Fighting Irish opened their 2010-11 season against New Hampshire at Purcell Pavilion.
A banner honoring Riley's number 00 was unveiled and now permanently hangs in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion, making her the first women's basketball player added to the Ring of Honor, and the second player overall following last spring's induction of men's basketball All-America forward Luke Harangody.
Beginning in 2010-11, the Notre Dame Athletics Department plans to honor annually additional former and present men's and women's basketball and volleyball players who have made distinguished and noteworthy contributions during their career while student-athletes at the University. A committee that will consist of Fighting Irish coaches and administrators will be formed to determine future inductees.
The only player in Notre Dame women's basketball history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds, Riley ranks as the program's all-time leader in seven categories, including rebounds (1,007), blocked shots (370 - fifth in NCAA history) and field goal percentage (.632 - 11th in NCAA history). What's more, the Macy, Ind., native ranks third in school history with 2,072 points, and holds the Fighting Irish single-game scoring record with 41 points in a January 1998 win over Providence. Riley also played a pivotal role in Notre Dame's run to the 2001 NCAA national championship, earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the title game victory over Purdue, capped by her gamewinning free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining.
A 10-year WNBA veteran (the past four with the San Antonio Silver Stars), two-time WNBA champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Riley was back on campus with the other members of the 2001 championship team for ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of that milestone achievement in Notre Dame athletics history.
Half And Half
During the past decade, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Fighting Irish are 190-17 (.918) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 118 of their last 129 such contests.
Notre Dame has led at the break in its first two games this year, after doing the same in 25 games last season (earning victories each time).
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
During the past 16 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 210-15 (.933) record when they hold their opponents below 60 points in a game, including victories in each of their first two contests this season.
...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 16 seasons (since 1995-96), the Fighting Irish are 142-5 (.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, and an 81-80 loss to DePaul in 2008.
Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in all three games this year (2-1 record) after going 17-0 last season when it scored at least 80 points, including four games when it topped the 90-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 Fighting Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 191 of their last 217 games (.880) at the 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 106-18 (.855) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the former 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 Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 87 of their last 95 non-BIG EAST contests (.916) 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 341-87 (.797) 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 last year, when Notre Dame went 16-1, capped by an 84-66 triumph over Vermont on March 23, 2010, in the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Irish Are The Hottest Ticket In Town
The 2009-10 season saw 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), highest average attendance (8,377 fans per game) and most sellouts (six) in a single season. And, as the old saying goes -- "you ain't seen nothin' yet."
For the second consecutive preseason, Notre Dame fans have all but exhausted the program's season ticket packages (close to 7,500) and are snapping up single-game ducats at a rate that will have the Fighting Irish challenging their freshly-minted single-season average attendance record in 2010-11.
Notre Dame has wasted little time in getting started with that challenge, averaging 8,067 fans for its first three home games this season.
Part of the appeal of Notre Dame women's basketball can be traced to the renovated Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, which has yet another new feature this season with the addition of a four-sided LED video scoreboard high above center court, as well as LED auxiliary scoreboards above all four court-level entrance ramps and at the scorer's table.
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-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 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 (www.UND.com) through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia 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 third 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 21 regular season games televised during the 2010-11 season. Highlighting this year's broadcast schedule are seven nationally- or regionally-televised Fighting Irish women's basketball contests, including the program's fourth-ever appearance on network television (Jan. 8 vs. Connecticut on CBS), two showings on the ESPN family of networks, and three others on CBS College Sports.
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Fighting Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, via the site's free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access.
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 Thursday's UCLA contest, Notre Dame has played in 170 televised games, including 116 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior forward Becca Bruszewski and senior guard Brittany Mallory will serve as Notre Dame's team captains for the 2010-11 season. Both players received the captain's honor for the first time in their respective careers following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Next Game: IUPUI (WBCA Classic)
The Fighting Irish return home to host their first regular-season scheduled tournament in 27 years when Purcell Pavilion serves as the locale for the 2010 Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Classic, beginning at 2 p.m. (ET) Friday when Notre Dame tangles with IUPUI.
Wake Forest and Butler will play the day's first game at noon (ET), with all four teams competing in a round-robin format through Sunday afternoon. Notre Dame is looking to continue its success in regular season tournament play, with the Fighting Irish having won 21 of their last 24 in-season tournament games, including last year's Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Jaguars are 0-2 this season, following early-season losses to Wright State and Akron. IUPUI is scheduled to take on Indiana-Southeast on Tuesday before heading north to take on the Fighting Irish.
-- ND --