Dec. 7, 2007
#16/20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs.
Purdue Boilermakers (3-4 / 0-0 Big Ten)
DATE: December 8, 2007
TIME: 4:00 p.m. ET
AT: West Lafayette, Ind. - Mackey Arena (14,123)
SERIES: PUR leads 14-6
1ST MTG: 11/26/84 (PUR 62-59)
LAST MTG: 12/6/06 (ND 67-58)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
TV: Big Ten Network (Mark Neely, p-b-p; Stephanie White, color)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (800) 497-7678
In a season that already has been full of "firsts", No. 16/20 Notre Dame will look to add another when it goes after its first-ever win at Purdue's Mackey Arena as the Irish and Boilermakers tangle Saturday at 4 p.m. (ET) in their annual intrastate matchup. The game will be broadcast live to a national cable audience by the Big Ten Network.
Notre Dame (7-1) stretched its current winning streak to five games with a heartstopping 86-84 overtime win at three-time Mid-American Conference champion (and 2007 NCAA Sweet 16 participant) Bowling Green on Wednesday night. The Irish rallied from an early eight-point deficit, only to see the Falcons force overtime with five of the final seven points in regulation. Yet, Notre Dame never trailed in the extra session, pulling out the win on a jumper by senior guard Charel Allen with :00.8 seconds left.
- Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week's Associated Press poll and 20th in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll.
- Purdue is receiving votes in this week's Associated Press poll.
- Notre Dame: http://www.UND.com
- Purdue: http://www.purduesports.com
- BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
- Big Ten: http://www.bigten.com
Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 21st-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country's leading women's basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 14 NCAA Tournaments (including a current streak of 12 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past 11 years.
Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women's Final Four twice, winning college basketball's ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
In its history, Notre Dame has developed nine All-Americans, nine WNBA players (including six draft picks in the past seven years) and four USA Basketball veterans (nine medals won). Now in their 31st season in 2007-08, the Irish own an all-time record of 620-279 (.690).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph's (Pa.) '77
21st season at Notre Dame
456-180 (.717) at Notre Dame.
544-221 (.711) in 26 years as head coach.
2001 consensus National Coach of the Year u Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist u Four-time conference Coach of the Year
BIG EAST Conference (2001)
Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
North Star Conference (1988)
East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Even after a 20-12 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, Notre Dame still continues to fly below the national radar. Head coach Muffet McGraw wouldn't want it any other way.
Last year, the Irish learned quickly that respect is something that isn't handed to you, but rather earned on the court. It's also a quality that takes time to develop and doesn't come from trophy cases or record books. So although Notre Dame was tabbed fifth in the preseason BIG EAST Conference balloting, it's not a great concern to McGraw and her charges. Instead, they focus on the things they can control and prefer to let the outside world judge them when the season is over.
This year could prove to be unlike any in recent memory for Notre Dame.
For one, the Irish will roll out some impressive depth, going virtually two-deep at every floor position. In addition, Notre Dame's new offensive system (a Princeton-based set with four guards and a post) continues to evolve, building upon last year's 70.1 point-per-game average that was its highest since the 2000-01 NCAA national championship season.
Senior guard Charel Allen is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Irish, leading the team in both categories last year (17.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg.). She also was a first-team all-BIG EAST and WBCA honorable mention All-America selection, and was a finalist for the 2007 USA U21 World Championship Team that struck gold this past summer in Moscow.
Allen's backcourt partner and classmate is point guard Tulyah Gaines.
Now in her second full season at the helm of the Notre Dame offense, the speedy Gaines averaged 9.6 points per game along with team highs of 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She also is a two-year team captain who commands instant respect from teammates, coaches and opponents.
The Irish will benefit from the return of junior guard Lindsay Schrader, who missed the entire 2006-07 season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Schrader, who retains three years of athletic eligibility, was Notre Dame's second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg.) and top rebounder (5.4 rpg.) as a rookie in 2005-06 and will look to regain that form this season.
Last year saw Notre Dame break new ground by becoming the first school ever to put three players on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Guards Ashley Barlow (10.3 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) and Melissa Lechlitner (6.3 ppg., 2.7 apg.) will provide a superb complement to the veteran Allen-Gaines tandem, while center Erica Williamson (6.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg.) showed flashes of potential throughout her rookie season and is poised for increased development this year.
Headlining a three-player freshman class (ranked 11th nationally by Blue Star Basketball) is Devereaux Peters, a smooth 6-2 forward who was a consensus All-American as a senior last year at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. Fellow post Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind.) finished third in last season's Indiana Miss Basketball voting and was a perennial all-state pick. And, guard Brittany Mallory (Baltimore, Md.) offers a perimeter shooting threat, as well as a cerebral player who will mesh well in the Irish offensive system.
Potent Notables About The Irish
- Notre Dame's incoming class of 2008 (next year's freshmen) has an average ranking of 15th (peaking at No. 8 by Dan Olsen Collegiate Girls Basketball Report), marking the 12th consecutive season that the Irish attracted a Top 25 recruiting class. Notre Dame is one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have an active streak of that length.
- Notre Dame ranks seventh in this year's first unofficial national attendance rankings (compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office), averaging 6,732 fans to its five home games this season (including 10,825 vs. Michigan on Dec. 2 < the fourth-largest crowd in school history). The Irish also have attracted 5,000-or-more fans to 99 of its last 101 home games, including three Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Dec. 31, 2005 vs. Tennessee). Last season, Notre Dame ranked 10th nationally in attendance (6,364 fans per game), marking the seventh consecutive year the Irish were among the national top 20 in attendance.
- The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as six Notre Dame players have been selected in the past seven seasons. Megan Duffy was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Minnesota Lynx in the third round (31st overall pick) of the 2006 WNBA Draft. Duffy and Ruth Riley (San Antonio) both have been active in the league during the 2007 season, with Riley making her sixth playoff appearance (on her third different team) in a solid seven-year pro career. All told, seven Notre Dame alums have competed in WNBA regular-season play, with three of them combining to win 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.
- Notre Dame has been an elite program in the classroom as well. For the second year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2007. Notre Dame was one of 23 Division I-A programs to achieve this distinction, and one of only two BIG EAST schools (Syracuse was the other). 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 perfect 53-for-53 success rate).
- Purdue is the second consecutive Irish opponent (and one of five this year) that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season. The Boilermakers got as far as the Dallas Regional final before falling to North Carolina (the same team that eliminated Notre Dame in a second-round matchup in Pittsburgh).
- The 70-point mark seems to be a magic figure in the series. One or both teams have scored 70 points in 14 of the 20 matchups, with the first team to reach that milepost winning each time. However, neither team has scored that many points in the past two series meetings since an 86-69 Irish win on Jan. 16, 2005 at the Joyce Center.
- In last season's 67-58 Irish victory, Notre Dame held Purdue to its lowest point total in the 20-game series.
- Notre Dame's most frequent NCAA Tournament opponent has been Purdue. The Irish and Boilermakers have played one another four times in NCAA postseason competition, with each team winning twice (ND in 1996 and 2001; Purdue in 1998 and 2003).
- The Irish and Boilermakers remain the only teams from the same state ever to play for the NCAA championship.
- Purdue is one of 11 former or current NCAA champions Notre Dame has faced in its history (and the second this year following the Nov. 16 game at Maryland). The Irish are 24-71 (.253) all-time against schools that have hoisted the hardware (either before or after they won the title), with records of .500 or better against USC (7-2), North Carolina (2-1) and Texas (1-1). The only NCAA winner the Irish have never played is 2005 champion Baylor.
- Notre Dame is 108-32 (.771) all-time against other schools from the state of Indiana, including a 56-21 (.727) record away from the Joyce Center. The Irish also have won eight of the past 11 games against in-state opponents, with Saturday's game at Purdue marking the first of three consecutive games vs. Indiana schools for Notre Dame.
- Second-year Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp grew up in Mishawaka (minutes from the Notre Dame campus) and was named Indiana Miss Basketball in 1984 while attending Mishawaka High School.
- Irish junior guard Lindsay Schrader and Purdue junior center Danielle Campbell were AAU teammates with the Chicago Flames, while Schrader and Boilermakers senior forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton faced off regularly in the Illinois Upstate Eight Conference (Schrader at Bartlett High School, Wisdom-Hylton at Neuqua Valley High School).
- Notre Dame sophomore guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner were teammates with Purdue sophomore guard FahKara Malone on the 2006 Indiana All-Star Team that swept a two-game series from their Kentucky counterparts.
- Notre Dame freshman forward Devereaux Peters and Purdue freshman forward Samantha Woods were teammates at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill., from 2003-04 through 2004-05 before Woods transferred to Bolingbrook High School for her final two prep seasons.
- Notre Dame and Bowling Green go to overtime for the second consecutive year, following last season's 85-81 Irish win at the Joyce Center (also the last ND win in OT prior to this evening).
- Notre Dame now has had at least one overtime game in each of the past five seasons (2003-04 to present).
- The Irish move back above the .500 mark in overtime games during their 31-year history, improving to 15-14 (.517) when playing bonus basketball; Notre Dame also is now 6-6 all-time in true road OT games and wins its first overtime game away from the Joyce Center since Feb. 25, 2006 (ironically also in the state of Ohio < 75-66 at Cincinnati).
- Bowling Green becomes the seventh Notre Dame opponent to play multiple overtime games against the Irish and just the second that Notre Dame has defeated in OT more than once; the others to take the Irish to OT multiple times are (ND record in parentheses): Dayton (2-0), Michigan State (0-2), Rutgers (1-1), Seton Hall (1-1), South Florida (0-2) and UCLA (1-1).
- Senior guard Charel Allen's jumper with 00.8 seconds left was the first game-winning last-second shot for Notre Dame since Jan. 10, 2006, when Megan Duffy converted an off-handed layup at the horn in overtime to defeat Marquette, 67-65 at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame now is 4-0 all-time against Bowling Green and has scored at least 85 points in each game against the Falcons.
- The Irish also snapped Bowling Green's 13-game home non-conference winning streak, which dated back to the 2003-04 season.
- The Irish pick up their 16th consecutive win against a current MAC school, dating back to March 10, 1995 when Notre Dame dropped an 87-64 decision at Northern Illinois in the semifinals of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament.
- Notre Dame handed head coach Muffet McGraw a nice birthday present, improving to 4-1 on Dec. 5 since McGraw arrived in South Bend 21 seasons ago.
- Allen moved into sole possession of 18th place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,167 points, breaking a tie with former teammate Courtney LaVere (1,150 from 2002-06).
- Junior guard Lindsay Schrader had her third career double-double and first since Dec. 17, 2005, when she had 10 points and 10 boards vs. Arkansas State in the first round of the Duel in the Desert at Las Vegas.
- Freshman forward Devereaux Peters tossed in a season-high 14 points, cracking double figures for the third consecutive game and fourth time in six games, and she blocked four shots (her fourth game this year with three or more rejections).
- Freshman guard Brittany Mallory had 10 of her 12 points in the first half and scored in double figures for the third time in four games, finishing one off her season high (13 vs. Boston College on Nov. 24).
- Senior guard Tulyah Gaines dished out a season-high six assists without a single turnover despite dodging foul trouble much of the night.
- Notre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 11 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 274 victories in that span.
A Quick Look At Purdue
A perfect storm of graduation losses and injuries have conspired to put Purdue in an unfamiliar position early in the 2007-08 season.
The Boilermakers knew that coming off last year's trip to the NCAA regional finals, they would lose the services of standout guard Katie Gearlds and physical power forward Erin Lawless. However, they weren't totally prepared for the loss of talented and versatile senior forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee while playing for the United States at the U21 World Championships in Moscow, Russia. On top of that, sharpshooting junior guard Jodi Howell has been sidelined indefinitely after offseason shoulder surgery, leaving Purdue with only one returning starter (sophomore guard FahKara Malone) from last year's club.
As one might expect, these challenges have led to some early-season struggles for the Boilermakers, who are 3-4 this season and recently ended their first four-game losing streak in 15 seasons. Purdue last played on Dec. 2, defeating Southeast Missouri State, 51-41 at Mackey Arena. Redshirt junior forward Lakisha Freeman scored a game-high 17 points, including six in a row during a game-ending 9-0 Boilermaker run to help pull out the win. Junior center Danielle Campbell added a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while also tallying five assists and four blocks.
Freeman leads Purdue in scoring (14.1 ppg.), field goal percentage (.493) and free throw percentage (.923) this season, while Campbell is second in scoring (11.7 ppg.) and tops in both rebounding (8.6 rpg.) and blocked shots (2.9 bpg.).
Head coach Sharon Versyp is in her second season at her alma mater with a 34-10 (.773) record in West Lafayette. Including prior stops at Maine and Indiana, Versyp is 151-75 (.668) in her eight-year career, with an 0-2 record against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Purdue Series
It's blackjack for Notre Dame and Purdue as the Irish and Boilermakers prepare to meet for the 21st time on Saturday afternoon. Purdue leads the all-time series by a 14-6 count, including an 8-0 record at Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers won the first six games in the series, which began back in the 1984-85 season (the freshman season for current Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp). Notre Dame got its first win over its cross-state rival on March 15, 1996 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Lubbock, Texas. That victory was the first of four in a seven-game span for the Irish over the Boilermakers, capped by their 68-66 win in the 2001 NCAA championship game in St. Louis.
Following that contest, Purdue exacted a measure of revenge with four consecutive wins, all by double figures. Since then, Notre Dame has rebounded with wins in two of its last three games against the Boilermakers.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Purdue Met
Notre Dame had advice from Digger Phelps and an offensive reminder on their jerseys.
That one-two combo, coupled with a career-high 22 points by senior guard Breona Gray, helped the Irish overcome an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat No. 10/9 Purdue 67-58 on Dec. 6, 2006 at the Joyce Center.
Gray was 8-of-12 from the field and made a career-high four 3-pointers < the only 3-pointers the Irish had. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said she decided to have the team wear the jerseys with green borders to remind her team they had the green light to shoot 3s after going 1-of-14 in its previous game vs. Indiana.
It was the first time the Irish wore those jerseys in a home regular-season game. But McGraw said the key to the victory was the Irish using a 1-3-1 defense that Phelps, Notre Dame's longtime men's coach, had taught her staff before practices started.
Purdue (7-2) led through most of the game, opening a 41-30 lead when Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton scored nearly eight minutes into the second half. The Irish (6-3), who shot 58 percent in the second half, answered with a 14-4 run to cut the lead to 45-44 when Tulyah Gaines scored inside on a pass from Gray.
Gray hit a three-pointer with 2:59 left to give Notre Dame its first lead, 53-52. Katie Gearlds then threw up an air ball from 12 feet along the baseline and Purdue was called for its second shot-clock violation. The Irish extended the lead to 59-52 on a fast break basket with 1:17 left by Gaines, who finished with 20 points (16 in the second half).
Wisdom-Hylton and Gearlds led Purdue with 15 points each and Jodi Howell scored 11 for the Boilermakers.
It was a sloppily played game by both teams. Notre Dame turned the ball over a (then) season-high 23 times and Purdue had 20 turnovers < one shy of the (then) season-high it had in its only previous loss of the season, 66-55 at No. 7 Connecticut on Nov. 30. The Boilermakers also made just 1 of 9 shots in the final four minutes.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Purdue Met At Mackey Arena
Reserve forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton scored 14 points and Katie Gearlds added 13 to help No. 24/23 Purdue hand No. 10 Notre Dame its first loss of the '05-06 season, 65-54 on Dec. 7, 2005 in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Boilermakers (5-2) held Notre Dame guard Megan Duffy to 12 points, six below her average. She didn't make a field goal for the first 19 minutes of the game as Purdue took a 39-22 halftime lead. The Boilermakers shot 48 percent from the field in the first half while holding the Irish to 29 percent shooting.
The Boilermakers led by as many as 21 points in the second half. Aya Traore scored 11 points and Erin Lawless had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Purdue, which outrebounded the Irish, 47-34.
Other Notre Dame-Purdue Series Tidbits
Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten Conference
Notre Dame is 35-46 (.432) all-time against the Big Ten Conference, including a 15-30 (.333) away from home. The Irish also are 28-32 (.467) against the Big Ten in the Muffet McGraw era (13-21, .382 outside of South Bend) and have won eight of their last 12 games against that league.
Purdue is the second of two Big Ten teams on Notre Dame's '07-08 schedule, following a 77-46 win over Michigan on Dec. 2. Last season, Notre Dame split four games against the Big Ten, winning at Michigan (61-58) and home vs. Purdue (67-58), while losing at Penn State (75-49) and home vs. Indiana (54-51).
The Un-Friendly Confines
To say Notre Dame hasn't had much success at Purdue's Mackey Arena would be putting it mildly. The Irish are 0-9 all-time at the facility, going 0-8 vs. the host Boilermakers in addition to dropping a 78-61 decision to Boston College in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament that was played at Mackey Arena.
The only other women's college basketball arenas currently in use where Notre Dame has not yet posted a victory (minimum of two games played in the building) are Illinois' Assembly Hall (0-2) and LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center (0-2). Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena would be on that list (the Irish are 0-6 vs. the Lady Vols there), were it not for a 58-44 Notre Dame win over New Mexico in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
That's A Lot Of Candles
Notre Dame will play the 900th game in program history on Saturday afternoon at Purdue. The Irish have an all-time record of 620-179 (.690) that features 26 winning seasons in the previous 30 campaigns (with a current string of 15 in a row) and 21 20-win seasons, including 13 in the past 14 years.
Five of Notre Dame's seven wins this season have come by at least 30 points, while the Irish held a 32-point lead midway through the second half of their 78-59 conquest of Western Kentucky on Nov. 13. This marked the first time in school history that Notre Dame has fashioned five 30-point wins in its first eight games.
It's also the first time since the 2000-01 national championship season that the Irish have logged at least five 30-point wins in a single season. That year, Notre Dame collected a school-record 10 30-point victories, but only three of those came in the first eight games.
What's more, the Irish recently had a streak of four consecutive 30-point wins from Nov. 20-Dec. 2. The last time Notre Dame did that was Jan. 20-30, 1999, when the Irish had four straight 30-point victories, all during BIG EAST Conference play < at Seton Hall (87-47), home vs. St. John's (99-60), at Syracuse (94-61) and at Providence (97-59).
Put A Tiger In Your Tank Less than two seasons after posting the program's lowest scoring output (64.5 ppg) since 1980-81, Notre Dame has reversed that trend in a big way.
The Irish currently lead the BIG EAST Conference in scoring (and rank third in the country as of Dec. 3) at 84.1 points per game, having tallied at least 77 points in each of their seven wins. What's more, Notre Dame also has the highest scoring average after eight games in program history, topped the 1995-96 and 1998-99 squads (81.9 ppg.), the latter of which went on to post a single-season school record with an 81.0-ppg. scoring average.
Notre Dame also ranks second in the conference (and sixth in the nation) in scoring margin, outpointing its opposition by 26.6 points per night.
Spreading The Wealth
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's squad this season is its balance and depth. That's been particularly evident through the first 10 games of the season (counting the exhibitions), with six different players from all five floor positions and all four classes leading the team in scoring.
Another example of Notre Dame's balance this season is seen in its point distribution. No fewer than nine of the 11 Irish players on this year's roster have scored in double figures at least once this season, with only sophomore center Erica Williamson and senior guard Amanda Tsipis yet to crack the 10-point mark.
Notre Dame also has had at least three double-figure scorers in every game and has fielded five double-figure scorers in four of the past five games, including three in a row from Nov. 20-27. It's believed to be the first time in school history (and certainly the first time in the Muffet McGraw era) the Irish have pulled off that feat of three straight games with five double-digit scorers, although records are incomplete prior to the 1983-84 season.
Protecting The Pill
Notre Dame has gotten off to a strong start this season, thanks in large part to its ability to take care of the basketball. The Irish are averaging just 12.0 turnovers per game (second-best in the nation as of Dec. 3) and have yet to commit more than 16 giveaways this year. On the flip side, Notre Dame is forcing 23.1 turnovers per night, resulting in a BIG EAST Conference-best +11.13 turnover margin (nearly four takeaways better than second-place Connecticut).
The Irish took ball protection to a new level in their loss at No. 3 Maryland on Nov. 16. Notre Dame set a school record with only three turnovers against the Terrapins, with two of those giveaways coming on offensive fouls. The previous school record for fewest turnovers was six, set on Feb. 12, 2006 at DePaul.
With only three turnovers, it's probably comes as no surprise that Maryland did not register a steal against Notre Dame. However, what is surprising is that it was the first time in the 31-year history of the Irish program that an opponent did not record a steal against Notre Dame. Several opponents had only one steal vs. the Irish, with the most recent being Boston College on March 19, 2006 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (played at West Lafayette, Ind.).
Keeping It On The Plus Side
Notre Dame has registered a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in seven of its eight games this season, only finding the red in its Nov. 13 win over Western Kentucky (12 assists, 15 turnovers).
For the year, the Irish rank second in the BIG EAST (and second nationally as of Dec. 3) with a 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio, trailing only second-ranked Connecticut (1.58). Notre Dame also has assisted on 53.1 percent of its field goals this year (144 assists on 271 baskets), ranking third in the conference and ninth in the country with 18.00 assists per game.
Off And Running
Notre Dame has wasted little time in jumping ahead of its opponents this season. In five of their seven wins, the Irish have opened up a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game, while a 20-0 run late in the first half at Central Michigan aided that win, as did a 18-3 first-half surge at Bowling Green.
Even in its lone defeat at third-ranked Maryland, Notre Dame made a statement early with a 10-0 run in the first five minutes of action and led by as many as five points in the first half before the Terrapins rallied back for the win.
Going Into Lockdown
Notre Dame has held six of its eight opponents this season below 60 points. The Irish also currently rank eighth in the BIG EAST (and 29th in the nation as of Dec. 3) in scoring defense at 57.5 points per game.
That's the fourth-lowest opponent scoring average through seven games for Notre Dame, third-lowest since elevating to Division I in 1980-81, and second-lowest of the Muffet McGraw era. In fact, the only Irish squad in the last 26 seasons that got off to a better defensive start was the 2000-01 national championship team (53.1 ppg.).
(Nearly) Crowded House
The season-best crowd of 10,825 that took in last Sunday's win over Michigan at the Joyce Center marked the fourth-largest crowd in school history and the fourth audience of 10,000 fans in the Notre Dame women's basketball record books. A full rundown of the top crowds in Joyce Center history can be found in the sidebar on page 7 of this notes package.
Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, climbing a poll-best six spots from the previous survey. The No. 16 ranking is the highest for the Irish in the media poll since the week of Jan. 2, 2006, when they were ranked 12th prior to losses at St. John's (66-63) and home vs. Seton Hall (74-61).
Notre Dame now has been ranked in the AP poll for 144 weeks during the program's history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era. McGraw now ranks 14th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also stands 25th all-time in that category.
The Irish also are appearing in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll for the fourth consecutive week, checking in at No. 20 after placing 23rd in the previous poll. Notre Dame's ranking of 20th is its highest since the week of Jan. 9, 2006, when the Irish were tabbed 19th by the coaches before an overtime win at home vs. Marquette (67-65) and a loss at Louisville (61-51).
No Easy Road
Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule, using it as a means of preparation for future tests in both the BIG EAST Conference and the postseason. However, this year's slate could be one of the more rugged ones in recent memory.
With the addition of third-ranked Maryland to the docket in the Preseason WNIT semifinals, the Irish now will face the top four teams in the latest Associated Press poll. Still to come this season are No. 1 Tennessee (Jan. 5 at the Joyce Center), No. 2 Connecticut (Jan. 27 at the Joyce Center) and No. 4 Rutgers (Feb. 19 in Piscataway, N.J.). The top three teams in the poll have combined to win three of the past four national championships, with Tennessee currently holding the hardware after defeating Rutgers in last year's title game.
Leave The Driving To Us
Saturday's game at Bowling Green is the third of only four road contests for the Irish prior to the end of the calendar year. Even more notable < all four road games will be played no further than 200 miles from the Notre Dame campus, either within the state of Indiana or in neighboring states (Michigan or Ohio).
Allen Named To Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team
Senior guard Charel Allen earned a spot on the Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team after averaging 13.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in Notre Dame's three tournament games. Allen is the fourth Irish player in history to be named to the squad, joining Katryna Gaither (1996), Megan Duffy (2004) and '04 Most Valuable Player Jacqueline Batteast.
Guess Who's Back ... Back Again?
Junior guard Lindsay Schrader looked very sharp in her return to action on Nov. 9 vs. Miami (Ohio). In her first meaningful game in nearly 20 months, Schrader scored exactly one point for every month she was out, finishing with 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, converting her first six shots before the game was eight minutes old. The Bartlett, Ill., native wound up playing just 17 minutes against the RedHawks, resulting in the first "point-a-minute" game of her career.
Game #8 Recap: Bowling Green
Senior guard Charel Allen's jumper with 00.8 seconds left gave No. 16/20 Notre Dame an 86-84 win at Bowling Green on Wednesday night.
After Bowling Green's Kate Achter made two free throws to tie it at 84-84 with 23 seconds remaining, Allen drove the ball down the court, paused to allow the clock to run down, then took it to foul line, where she hit a 15-foot jumper for the win. It was the last of seven points Allen scored in the overtime period.
Allen and junior guard Lindsay Schrader scored 17 points apiece (Schrader had three huge baskets in the final three minutes of regulation) to lead Notre Dame (7-1), which has won five straight. Freshman forward Devereaux Peters added 14 points, freshman guard Brittany Mallory had 12 and sophomore guard Ashley Barlow 10 for the Irish.
Achter led Bowling Green (6-1) with 20 points. Lauren Prochaska scored 18, Crystal Murdaugh had 14 and Tara Breske 10 for the Falcons.
Noting The Bowling Green Game
Irish Picked Fifth In BIG EAST Poll
Notre Dame was projected to finish fifth in the BIG EAST Conference this season, according to a preseason vote of the league's 16 head coaches that was announced Oct. 25 during BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day at the ESPNZone in New York City. The Irish collected 165 points, with Connecticut (15 first-place votes, 225 points), Rutgers (one first-place vote, 211 points), West Virginia (186 points) and Pittsburgh (169 points) joining Notre Dame in the top five.
Senior guard Charel Allen was one of 11 players selected to this year's Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Allen averaged a team-high 17.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season and ranked second in the BIG EAST with 19.3 points per game in league play. She went on to earn first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America laurels. while helping the Irish go 20-12 and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Half And Half
During the past eight seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 131-12 (.916) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 59 of their last 65 such contests. Notre Dame has opened this season with seven victories in as many games after taking the lead to the locker room.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
During the past 13 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 Irish have an amazing 174-10 (.946) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added to this trend in six of its seven wins 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 13 seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 105-3 (.972) 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 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998.
Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark five times this season, winning all five contests (Miami-Ohio, Central Michigan, Boston College, Canisius and Bowling Green).
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 154 of their last 172 games (.895) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has an 87-13 (.870) 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 69 of their last 74 non-BIG EAST contests (.932) 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 fifth defeat coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51). 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 304-79 (.794) 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. For the third time in four years, and the second consecutive season, Notre Dame will equal the most regular-season home games (16) in school history. However, in 2004-05, the Irish played host to all four rounds of the Preseason WNIT before its regular 12-game home slate began. Notre Dame also played two Preseason WNIT games at home this season, in addition to its previously-scheduled 14-game Joyce Center docket.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have a school-record 22 regular-season games televised during the upcoming 2007-08 season. Highlighting this year's television schedule are nine nationally-televised Irish women's basketball contests, including one appearance on CBS (Jan. 5 vs. Tennessee), four games on the ESPN family of networks, and another four contests on CSTV.
In addition, Notre Dame has expanded its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Irish home games (11 regular-season, two exhibition) that have not been selected for commercial TV coverage will be televised live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.
This year's TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Since the start of its 2000-01 NCAA championship season (and including this year's broadcasts to date), Notre Dame now has played in 97 televised games, including 52 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain Senior guards Charel Allen, Tulyah Gaines and Amanda Tsipis are team captains for the 2007-08 season. Gaines is in her second year as a captain for the Irish, while Allen and Tsipis are first-time captains. All three players received the captain's honor through a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Joyce Center Arena Renovation On Tap
On Oct. 3, 2007, Notre Dame announced that construction on the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation will begin in September 2008. The University has selected the architects for the project, and they currently are in the process of completing final design plans.
The first phase of the project, to begin next September, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new two-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 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 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 men's and women's basketball seasons and the end of the women's volleyball season.
The University announced last October that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III. A month later, another major gift of $5 million from Notre Dame graduate Vincent J. Naimoli was announced.
The arena will be named Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center < and the new club/hospitality area and two outdoor patios will be named for the Naimoli family.
Irish Fans Crave A Big Mac Attack
Notre Dame has introduced a new promotion this season, 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. The coupons are issued at the Joyce Center gates as fans leave the arena following the game.
This season's burger watch already is at five, as the Irish have hit the 88-point mark in exhibition wins over Southern Indiana and Hillsdale, as well as regular-season victories over Miami (Ohio), Boston College and Canisius.
It's probably also not a surprise that the Notre Dame player with the most "Big Mac baskets" this season has the same initials as that of the tasty burger < freshman guard Brittany Mallory, who has sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) three times.
Here's a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women's basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356), on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center, or via the Internet at Notre Dame's official athletics web site (UND.com). Please note < additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
Dec. 12 vs. Valparaiso < Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation Night ... third annual Teddy Bear Toss (bring stuffed animal to benefit Toys-for-Tots and receive $3 admission; animals to be thrown on floor at halftime) ... Irish women's basketball Beanie Bears to first 1,000 fans, courtesy of Notre Dame Federal Credit Union ... post-game autograph session courtside with selected Notre Dame players.
Next Game: Valparaiso
Notre Dame continues its stretch of three consecutive games against in-state opponents next Wednesday, Dec. 12 with a 7 p.m. (ET) contest against Valparaiso at the Joyce Center. It will be the last game for the Irish before they break for final exams.
The Crusaders are 2-5 this season, having put together back-to-back wins after dropping their first five games of the year. Valparaiso last played on Dec. 1, taking down visiting Ball State, 64-55 in the final edition of the State Farm Hoosier Classic. The Crusaders will play host to North Texas Saturday afternoon before next week's visit to Notre Dame.