Dec. 20, 2007
#17/17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. IUPUI Jaguars (3-8 / 0-1 Summit League)
DATE: December 21, 2007
No. 17 Irish Back In Action Friday At IUPUI
Notre Dame (9-1) last took the court on Dec. 12, leading virtually from the opening tip to the final horn in a 94-56 victory over Valparaiso at the Joyce Center. The Irish used a 15-2 run midway through the first half to seize control, then opened up a 30-point lead early in the second half before rolling to the win. On the night, Notre Dame shot a blistering 54.7 percent from the floor and forced the Crusaders into 27 turnovers, cashing those miscues into 35 points at the offensive end.
Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, connecting on 8-of-12 shots from the floor and 3-of-4 three-point attempts. Senior guard Charel Allen added 14 points for Notre Dame, making her final seven shots of the evening after starting off with four consecutive misses.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
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.
A Quick Look At IUPUI
IUPUI (3-8) has hit a rough patch in its schedule of late, losing five in a row after a 3-3 start. The Jaguars are coming off a 77-56 loss at Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday night, a game that saw MU score 14 unanswered points in the first half, then maintain that lead the rest of the night. Junior forward Jernisha Cann tallied a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while junior guard Brykeesha Tate came off the bench to chip in 11 points.
Cann leads IUPUI in scoring (12.5 ppg.), rebounding (9.3 rpg.) and steals (3.3 spg.) this season. Sophomore center Julia Whitted is second in scoring (11.5 ppg.), rebounding (6.7 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.460), while also logging 2.5 blocks per night.
Shann Hart is in her fourth season at IUPUI with a 41-56 (.423) record at the school. Her 11-year coaching career also has included stops at St. Mary's (Md.) and American, with an all-time record of 168-151 (.527). She is 0-1 against Notre Dame in her career.
The Notre Dame-IUPUI Series
The Last Time Notre Dame And IUPUI Met
Tulyah Gaines added 16 points and a career-high five steals for the Irish (7-3), who earned their fourth win in five outings while seeing their first action following a season-long 10-day break for final exams. Ashley Barlow nearly picked up the second double-double of her rookie year, finishing with 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds. As a team, Notre Dame shot 53.1 percent from the floor in the first half, then expanded their advantage to as many as 24 points in the second period before the Jaguars made a late run to cut into the final margin.
Tiffany Finkton and Alicia Booyer scored 14 points apiece for IUPUI (5-5), which was playing Notre Dame for the first time ever. Jernisha Cann chipped in with a double-double for the Jaguars, collecting 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Despite their extended layoff, the Irish looked anything but rusty in the early going, surging out to a 24-7 lead on the last of four transition layups by Gaines with 12:31 to go in the first half. Notre Dame connected on 12 of its first 17 shots, while forcing IUPUI into 10 turnovers, including five on steals.
The Jaguars finally got on track later in the period, playing Notre Dame virtually even the remainder of the half and getting as close as seven points before the Irish stretched their lead back into double figures (42-29) by the intermission. In the opening 20 minutes, Notre Dame scored 22 points off IUPUI turnovers and scored 30 points in the paint.
The even nature of the game continued into the initial moments of the second half, with the Irish going basket-for-basket with the Jaguars while rotating in numerous lineup combinations. A 14-3 Notre Dame run, capped by a three-pointer from Crystal Erwin, hiked the Irish lead to 67-43 with 9:52 remaining.
Other Notre Dame-IUPUI Series Tidbits
Notre Dame vs. The Summit League
In fact, aside from last year's win over IUPUI, the Irish have faced only two other current Summit League members, going 3-0 all-time against first-year league member IPFW and winning its lone contest against Oakland, 100-51 back in Dec. 9, 1987 (early in head coach Muffet McGraw's first season at Notre Dame.
Friday's visit to IUPUI will mark the second road game for Notre Dame at a current Summit League school. The only other such contest took place almost 29 years ago on Jan. 24, 1979, when the Irish claimed a 49-41 victory at IPFW.
Start Me Up
A Capital Idea
No More Papers, No More Books
The last time Notre Dame lost a game coming out of its final exam break was Dec. 21, 1985, when Mary DiStanislao's Irish dropped a 73-67 decision to UCLA at the Joyce Center.
It's also the first time since the 2000-01 national championship season that the Irish have logged at least six 30-point wins in a single season. That year, Notre Dame collected a school-record 10 30-point victories, but only four of those came in the first 10 games.
What's more, the Irish 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
The Irish currently rank third in the BIG EAST Conference in scoring (and fourth in the country) at 82.8 points per game, having tallied at least 77 points in eight of their nine wins. What's more, Notre Dame also has the highest scoring average after 10 games in program history, topping the 1995-96 (82.6 ppg.) and 1998-99 squads (81.3 ppg.), the latter of which went on to post a single-season school record with an 81.0-ppg. scoring average.
What's more, Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points four times this season. That's the most 90-point games for the Irish in one year since 2000-01, when they also had four such outings. In fact, during the six seasons between then and now (2001-02 through 2006-07), Notre Dame had a combined total of four 90-point games.
Notre Dame also ranks third in the conference (and sixth in the nation) in scoring margin, outpointing its opposition by 26.4 points per night.
Spreading The Wealth
Notre Dame also has had at least three double-figure scorers in all but one game (Purdue) and has fielded five double-figure scorers in four of the past seven 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
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 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
For the year, the Irish rank second in the BIG EAST (and second nationally) with a 1.43 assist-to-turnover ratio, trailing only second-ranked Connecticut (1.74). Notre Dame also has assisted on 54.8 percent of its field goals this year (181 assists on 330 baskets), ranking fourth in the conference and 12th in the country with 18.10 assists per game.
Off And Running
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
That's the fourth-lowest opponent scoring average through 10 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 past 26 seasons that has gotten off to a better defensive start was the 2000-01 national championship team (54.3 ppg.).
(Nearly) Crowded House
Notre Dame now has been ranked in the AP poll for 146 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 sixth consecutive week, checking in at a season-high 17th for the second week in a row. Notre Dame's ranking of 17th is its highest since the week of Jan. 2, 2006, when the Irish were tabbed 12th by the coaches prior to losses at St. John's (66-63) and home vs. Seton Hall (74-61).
No Easy Road
With the addition of Maryland to the docket in the Preseason WNIT semifinals, the Irish now will face four of the top six teams (including the top three) 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. 6 Rutgers (Feb. 19 in Piscataway, N.J.). Three of the top four 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
Irish Debut Dish For The Holidays Food Drive
Irish Fans Crave A Big Mac Attack
This season's burger watch already is at six, 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, Canisius and Valparaiso.
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) four times, including each of the past three games that the Irish have scored 88 points at home.
Next Game: Saint Francis (Pa.)
Saint Francis is 3-6 this season following a 64-43 loss at Bucknell on Tuesday night. The Red Flash are in the midst of a four-game road trip, and are scheduled to visit Morgan State Friday evening before heading to South Bend after the Christmas break.