Dec. 2, 1999
Date: Saturday-Sunday, December 4-5, 1999
TONIGHT'S GAME - The Notre Dame women's basketball team heads into this weekend's Wachovia Women's Invitational Tournament in Richmond, Va., with a 2-1 record after the Irish defeated Buter 77-57 in its home opener on Wednesday evening. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad meets North Carolina in first round action in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Tar Heels are ninth in the Associated Press ranking and 12th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Notre Dame will play either host Richmond or Liberty in the consolation or championship contest.
The Irish dropped two spots to eighth in the ESPN/USA Today ranking and slipped five spots to 11th in the Associated Press poll this week. Notre Dame is out of the top 10 in the AP ranking for the first time since the Nov. 16, 1998 poll. The Irish were ranked a school-record 19 consecutive weeks.
Notre Dame, which plays five of is first six games on the road, will be playing in their first in-season tournament since the 1996-97 campaign. Following this weekend's tournament, the Irish are on the road again when they travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for an in-state matchup with defending national champion Purdue on Wednesday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Notre Dame Probable Starting Lineup
Off The Bench
* - Indicates monograms won
BUTLER REVIEW - Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 26-9 lead 9:15 into the contest as the Irish posted a 77-57 victory in their home opener. Freshman Alicia Ratay, who leads the team in scoring, had 16 points, seven rebounds and a personal best seven assists in 31 minutes of action. Senior All-America Ruth Riley, who had struggled with foul trouble in her first two games, had just one foul in 19 minutes of action. She scored 14 points and blocked a season-high seven shots. Senior Niele Ivey had 13 points and seven assists, while Ericka Haney came off the bench to score 11 points in 23 minutes of action. Notre Dame finished the game hitting 51.8 percent from the field after connecting on 18-of-29 shots in the first half (.621). The Irish blocked a season-high 11 shots in the game and finished with a 49-35 rebounding advantage. Notre Dame shot a season-best 83.3 percent from the charity stripe.
POLL WATCHING - Notre Dame is ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll and eighth in the ESPN/USA Today ranking. Notre Dame slips out of the 10 of the AP poll for the first time since Nov. 16, 1998. The Irish had been ranked a school-record 19 straight weeks in the top 10. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad has now been ranked 20 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today ranking. Notre Dame has earned a top 25 ranking for 23 consecutive weeks now in the AP, one short of the school record of 24 which was set from February 5, 1996 thru March 10, 1997.
HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW - Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 13th season with the Irish and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to four straight NCAA tournament appearances and six overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Regional championship. In 1998, McGraw's squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In 12-plus seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 263-111 (.703), and in 17-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 351-152 (.698) ledger. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she spent five seasons at Lehigh where she compiled an 88-41 record for a .683 winning percentage. Last season, McGraw, after guiding the Irish to their sixth consecutive 20-win season, was named finalists for the Naismith Women's Basketball and Associated Press coach-of-the-year awards.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER MAGAZINE TO FOLLOW IRISH ALL SEASON - Annette John-Hall, a feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer will be following head coach Muffet McGraw, a native of Pottsville, Pa., and the Irish all season long and feature them in the magazine section of that publication. She will file stories throughout the season on McGraw and her squad. Hall has already written two features introducing the team to the readership and is her at this weekend's tournament.
IRISH MAKE A TOURNEY RETURN - Notre Dame is making its first appearance in an in-season tournament since the 1996-97 campaign when the Irish won the Comfort Inn Downtown Classic in Atlanta, Ga., in November of '96.
SERIES RECORD VERSUS TOURNAMENT FIELD - North Carolina: This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Liberty: The two teams have met just once prior at the Rotary Classic in Orlando, Fla., on November 24, 1989. The Irish were victorious in that contest as they beat the Flames 113-35, a school-record for largest margin of victory (78 points). Richmond: Notre Dame won the only meeting between the two schools, 51-46, at the National Women's Invitational Tournament in Amarillo, Texas, on March 25, 1989.
IRISH IN THE JOYCE CENTER - Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 197-65 mark for a .752 winning percentage since that first season. Last season, Notre Dame won a school-record 12 games at home en route to a 12-1 home mark.
NOTRE DAME IN HOME OPENERS - Notre Dame is 15-8 in home openers in 22-plus seasons at the Joyce Center. The Irish have not lost a home opener since the start of the 1994-95 campaign when they dropped an 87-83 decision to Purdue.
RILEY NAMED FINALIST FOR NAISMITH PLAYER OF THE YEAR - On everyone's preseason All-America teams, Ruth Riley, a third-team Associated Press All-America selection in 1999, is one of 10 finalists for the 1999-2000 Naismith Women's Basketball Player of the Year Award which is presented by the Atlanta Tip-off Club. Riley and the nine other candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading college basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. She is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to be named a finalist for the award, which was first presented in 1983. The nine other finalists include: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut), Edwina Brown (Texas), Tamika Catchings (Tennessee), Tamicha Jackson (Louisiana Tech), Maylana Martin (UCLA), Kelly Miller (Georgia), Lynn Pride (Kansas), Semeka Randall (Tennessee) and Nikki Teasley (North Carolina).
RILEY RECORDS 500 REBOUNDS - Ruth Riley grabbed her 500th career rebound against Butler on Wednesday night to move into 12th on Notre Dame career rebounding list. Riley, who has played in 66 career games, has 503 rebounds in two-plus seasons for a 7.6 career rebounding average.
TWO MORE READY TO JOIN 1,000-POINT CLUB - Senior Danielle Green and junior Ruth Riley will likely join 14 former Notre Dame women's basketball players who have reached the 1,000-point mark in their careers. Riley has 912 career points for a 13.8 career scoring average. She topped the 500-point mark last season as she scored 514 points for a 16.6 point-per-game scoring average. Green, who was granted a fifth year after sitting out the entire 1996-97 season with a torn Achilles' tendon, has 792 points. She scored just 30 points in 27 games during her freshman year in 1995-96, but has come back each of the last two seasons to average in double figures. Green scored 306 points for a 10.2 scoring average in 1997-98 and tossed in 432 points for a 14.4 points-per-game average a year ago.
NON-CONFERENCE LOSS A RARITY - Notre Dame's 77-67 loss to Illinois last Saturday marked the first regular season loss the Irish had suffered in 12 outings. Heading into its matchup with the Illini, Notre Dame had won 11 straight non-conference regular season games. Last season, the Irish were 8-0 against non-conference foes during the regular season. Prior to the Illinois game, the last non-conference regular-season loss suffered by the Irish was to Wisconsin (89-77) on December 8.
NOTRE DAME TO TAKE ON 10 NCAA TOURNAMENT FOES - The 1999-2000 Notre Dame women's basketball slagte features 10 teams which last season participated in the 64-team 1999 NCAA tournament field. Notre Dame has already played Illinois and meets the following nine other teams: Boston College (Feb. 5), Connecticut (Feb. 26), Florida International (Dec. 19), Illinois (Nov. 27), Liberty (Dec. 5 - possible second round opponent at Wachovia Women's Invitational Tournament), Marquette (Jan. 2), North Carolina (Dec. 4), Purdue (Dec. 8), Rutgers (Feb. 19) and Toledo (Nov. 20).
BIG EAST DEBUTS 16-GAME SLATE - The BIG EAST Conference will begin its 16-game league schedule this season. That's a change from the 18-game format which had been in existence since the league expanded to 13 teams in 1995-96. In 1999-2000, Notre Dame will play Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Miami and St. John's twice and has single games against West Virginia, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Providence, Villanova, Rutgers and Connecticut.
RATAY NETS 18 IN DEBUT - Freshman guard Alicia Ratay, a first-team Parade High School All-American, scored 18 points in her collegiate debut. It was the most by an Irish rookie in her first college game since Michelle Marciniak scored 16 points in an 86-70 loss to Penn State on November 22, 1991. Ratay's five field goals were all from three-point range as she hit five-of-eight field goals from beyond the arc.
LINEUP SHAKEUP - Notre Dame has had a different starting lineup in its first three games. Against Butler, senior Julie Henderson and junior Imani Dunbar made their first starts of the season. It marked the first-ever start for Dunbar in 49 career games.
DOMINATING ON THE BOARDS - Notre Dame averaged 43.9 rebounds a year ago and outrebounded its opponents by 9.9 per game. The Irish have continued that trend this season as they have outrebounded their opponents by an 11.0 margin. Against Toledo in the season opener, Notre Dame had a 46-27 advantage on the boards against the Rockets. The Irish grabbed a season-high 49 boards in the win over Butler. In its three games thus, McGraw's squad is averaging 43.7 rebounds compared to just 32.7 for its opponent.
RILEY HELPS USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CAPTURE SILVER MEDAL - Ruth Riley was one of 12 players selected to the 1999 World University Games Team. She and 1999 graduate Sheila McMillen (now an assistant coach at Western Michigan) were among the 44 players invited to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the five-day tryout. The team, coached by Penn State's Rene Portland, took home the silver medal after posting a 4-2 mark in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, site of the basketball competition. Riley appeared in all nine games with the USA and started five of those contests and was the team's third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder as she averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, with a .630 field-goal percentage. At a tournament in Madrid Spain prior to the start of the World University Games, the USA Women's Basketball squad posted a 3-0 mark and captured first-place. During those three games, she averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. This was Riley's second stint with the USA Women's basketball program. In the summer of 1998, she was a member of the USA Women's Basketball Select Team.
SIEMON TOURS WITH BIG EAST TEAM - Junior Kelley Siemon averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in helping the BIG EAST/Nike Women's Basketball All-Stars to a 4-1 record in a '99 summer tour of Belgium and Germany. Siemon scored 14 points in the win over Aalst (Division) and had seven points and eight rebounds in a win over the Belgian Junior National Team. The team was coached by Boston College's Cathy Inglese.
THERE'S A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK - Coquese Washington, who played for Notre Dame from 1989-93, has joined head coach Muffet McGraw's coaching staff this season as an assistant coach. She replaces Letitia Bowen who has become the administrative assistant to the women's basketball program while attending graduate school. Washington, the Notre Dame record holder for steals (307) and steals average (2.7), has played professionally the last three years. During the summers of 1998 and 1999, she has been a member of the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) New York Liberty. This past season, her Liberty advanced to the finals of the WNBA Championship. The 5-6 guard, who led the Irish in steals all four seasons she was at Notre Dame, spent the 1996-97 season on the roster of the Portland Power franchise of the now defunct American Basketball League (ABL).
IRISH SIGN TWO - Notre Dame signed two players listed among the top 40 prep players in the country during the early signing period. Jeneka Joyce, a 5-9 shooting guard from Topeka, Kan., and Le'Tania Severe, a 5-9 point guard from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., were rated 26th and 40th, respectively, by Blue Star Basketball.
PRESEASON HONORS FOR RILEY - The name Ruth Riley appears on preseason All-America teams of several publications. Notre Dame also is ranked in the polls of every preseason publication.
QUICK PLAYER BIOS:
Irish All-Time vs. 1999-2000 Opponents
NOTRE DAME POLL WATCHING
Series Record vs. North Carolina First Meeting
1999-2000 BIG EAST Coaches' Preseason Poll
Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut), Tasha Pointer (Rutgers), Shea Ralph (Connecticut), Ruth Riley (Notre Dame), Shawnetta Stewart (Rutgers)
Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team: Niele Ivey (Notre Dame), Alissa Murphy (Boston College), Katie Smrcka-Duffy (Georgetown), Tammy Sutton-Brown (Rutgers), Tamika Williams (Connecticut)
BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut)
BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year: Kennitra Johnson (Connecticut)