Dec. 27, 2010
State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic
#17/15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3 / 1-0 BIG EAST) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-3 / 0-0 WCC) / Loyola Marymount Lions (5-7 / 0-0 WCC)
DATE: December 29-30, 2010
No. 17/15 Irish Head To Pacific Northwest This Week
Notre Dame (9-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) last took the hardwood on Dec. 20, leading wire-to-wire in a 94-43 win at Valparaiso. The Fighting Irish connected on 14 of their first 16 shots and never looked back en route to their fourth 50-point win of the season.
Other Notre Dame Notables
A Quick Look At Gonzaga
The Bulldogs (10-3) seemingly haven't missed a beat, riding a nine-game winning streak coming into this week's tournament, most recently defeat Cal State Fullerton, 101-52 on Dec. 23 in Spokane. Senior guard/forward Janelle Bekkering had a near-perfect shooting day (10-11 FG, 2-2 3FG, 4-4 FT), scoring 26 points in just 24 minutes. Junior forward Kayla Standish added 22 points (10-13 FG) and nine rebounds, while senior guard Courtney Vandersloot posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists, sparking a Gonzaga offense that topped the 100-point mark for the third time this season.
Junior guard/forward Katelan Redmon leads the Bulldogs in scoring (18.5 ppg.) and is second in both rebounding (6.1 rpg.) and assists (3.2 apg.). Vandersloot is second in scoring (17.5 ppg.) and leads the nation in assists (9.7 apg.), while Standish adds 15.3 points per game and team highs of 7.7 rebounds per game and a .572 field goal percentage.
Head coach Kelly Graves is in his 11th season at Gonzaga with a 207-117 (.639) record at the school. Including a three-year stint at Saint Mary's (Calif.), Graves has a career record of 273-143 (.656).
The Notre Dame-Gonzaga Series
Other Notre Dame-Gonzaga Series Tidbits
A Quick Look At Loyola Marymount
Loyola Marymount (5-7) comes into this week's tournament on a three-game losing streak, most recently dropping a 54-33 verdict at Arkansas-Little Rock on Dec. 20. Junior guard Candice Nichols scored a team-high 11 points for the Lions, who were held to fewer than 40 points for the third consecutive game.
Part of the reason for LMU's recent offensive struggles has been its adjustment to the season-ending foot injury to junior guard/forward Alex Cowling, who was among the national scoring leaders (22.5 ppg.) and added a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game before going down right after Thanksgiving. In her absence, Nichols is the Lions' leading scorer (13.6 ppg.) and second-leading rebounder (5.3 rpg.), while freshman guard Hazel Ramirez adds 10.6 ppg.
Head coach Julie Wilhoit is in her 16th season at Loyola Marymount, sporting a 218-228 (.489) in southern California. Adding in her prior stops at IUPUI (1986-91) and Pitt-Bradford (1993-95), she has a 23-year career coaching record of 339-298 (.532).
The Notre Dame-Loyola Marymount Series
The Last Time Notre Dame And Loyola Marymount Met
Sandy Botham added 10 points for the Fighting Irish, who shot 59.4 percent from the floor in the first half while racing to a 42-8 halftime lead (at the time, the second-fewest points ever allowed by Notre Dame in a single half).
Sylvia Bauer was the lone LMU player to score in double figures, tossing in 12 points.
Other Notre Dame-Loyola Marymount Series Tidbits
Notre Dame vs. The West Coast Conference
Gonzaga will be the sixth different WCC school Notre Dame has played, with the Fighting Irish having faced every other program in that eight-team league except Pepperdine and Portland.
Other Notre Dame Tournament Tidbits
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were a pair of defeats to third-ranked teams in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at Maryland in 2007) and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic -- a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.
Notre Dame is playing its second regular-season tournament of the 2010-11 campaign, the first time the Fighting Irish have competed in multiple tourneys in the same season since 1996-97 (third place at Preseason WNIT; champion of Georgia Tech Comfort Inn Downtown Classic).
Only twice in school history has Notre Dame won two regular-season tournament titles in the same year, and both occurred during the program's Division III era. In 1978-79, the Fighting Irish won the Huntington (Ind.) University Tournament and the Northern Illinois Huskie Invitational. The following season, Notre Dame claimed top honors at the Taylor (Ind.) University Invitational and repeated as the champion of the Northern Illinois Huskie Invitational.
The Five-Finger Discount
Highlighting this year's takeaway brigade for Notre Dame was a school-record 36-steal performance in the season-opening victory against New Hampshire on Nov. 12 at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish followed that up three days later with 26 thefts in a win over Morehead State, and also logged 24 steals at Valparaiso (Dec. 2) and 23 steals against IUPUI (Nov. 26).
Prior to this season, Notre Dame had posted 23 steals in a game just seven times in the first 33 years of the Fighting Irish women's basketball program (and only three games with 25-plus steals in that time, none since a then-record tying 29 steals at Saint Louis on Jan. 31, 1991).
Individually, Notre Dame has nine different players with double-digit steals this season, led by junior guard Natalie Novosel, who has registered 27 thefts (2.3 per game), and senior guard Brittany Mallory, who has collected a team-high 2.5 steals per game (tied for fifth in the BIG EAST).
The 700 Club
The Fighting Irish actually are in a race with Middle Tennessee and Saint Joseph's (Pa.) to see which school will be the next to reach the 700-win mark. MTSU currently has 699 victories as they prepare to visit No. 11 Kentucky on Wednesday. Meanwhile, SJU next will play host to New Hampshire Tuesday afternoon.
Another Present Under The Tree
The Fighting Irish also have won their last seven games coming off the Christmas break, including a 85-52 victory at Central Florida last season (Dec. 29, 2009). Wednesday will mark the first time Notre Dame has played on the road right after Christmas in three consective years since a five-season run of post-Yuletide road contests from 2000-04.
Ringing In The New Year
Game #12 Recap: Valparaiso
Notre Dame (9-3) had 24 steals and led by as many as 50 in the second half.
The Fighting Irish, who have a tradition of slow starts against the Crusaders, jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the first media time out and never looked back.
They built the lead to 34-11 with 6:45 left in the first half before subbing liberally.
Novosel and Mallory had 10 points each at halftime for Notre Dame, which also recorded 14 steals and four blocked shots at the intermission.
The second half was more of the same as the Irish built their lead as high as 54 points in the final five minutes.
Stefanie Lang scored 11 points to lead the Crusaders (2-9).
Noting The Valparaiso Game
This year's No. 12 preseason ranking (currently a season high) 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 204 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 15th in the Dec. 21 ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches' poll. Notre Dame now has been ranked in the coaches' survey for 65 of the past 66 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 196 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw's tenure).
More Polling Data
Besides her 204 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 30 people on this list, 16 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).
A Grand Occasion
The Fighting Irish played their first game on Dec. 3, 1977, defeating Valparaiso, 48-41 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame would play its first three seasons as a Division III program in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) before moving up to the Division I level in 1980-81. The following season, the Fighting Irish would begin competing under the NCAA banner.
Peters Adds Griner To SWAT Team
At the 10:22 mark of the second half, the Lady Bears threw an entry pass in to their 6-foot-8 sophomore All-America center Brittney Griner, but as she turned to shoot, Peters rotated perfectly from the weak side and rejected Griner's shot out of bounds. It was one of the highlights in a 17-2 Fighting Irish run that pulled Notre Dame within six points of Baylor with five minutes left.
It's believed to be the first time in Griner's two-year college career that she has had a shot blocked. A video clip of Peters' block has been posted on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball YouTube channel (search for "notredameirishhoops" or click the link through the sidebar on the women's basketball page at www.UND.com).
Notre Dame Picked Fourth In 2010-11 BIG EAST Coaches' Preseason Poll
The Fighting 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
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
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. 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
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
The Fighting Irish have been up at the break in nine games this year, including their Dec. 20 win at Valparaiso when they led 49-23 through the first 20 minutes.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
...But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Notre Dame has topped the 80-point mark in eight games this year (7-1 record) after going 17-0 last season when it scored at least 80 points, including four games when it topped the 90-point mark (a plateau the Fighting Irish already have attained six times this season, one short of the school record set on three occasions - 1996-97, 1998-99 and 2007-08).
Now That's A Home Court Advantage
The Fighting Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 92 of their last 100 non-BIG EAST contests (.920) 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 346-87 (.799) 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
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 8,452 fans for its first eight home games this season, including a sellout crowd of 9,149 for the Dec. 5 win over in-state rival Purdue.
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
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
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 the Dec. 20 Valparaiso contest (a Horizon League TV webcast), Notre Dame has played in 177 televised games, including 123 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
In the four-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 24 times, including wins this year over Michigan Tech (exhibition), New Hampshire, Morehead State, IUPUI, Wake Forest and Creighton.
It should come as no surprise that in the short history of the promotion, the Notre Dame player with the most "Big Mac" baskets shares the same initials with the tasty burger -- senior guard Brittany Mallory, who sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times during the promotion's inaugural run in 2007-08.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of "media relations director has too much time on his hands"), 14 different players have converted the "burger ball", including eight current members of the Fighting Irish roster.
What's more, of the 24 Big Mac games to date, 13 have been reached on two-point baskets, eight on free throws, and three on three-pointers.
Next Game: Southeast Missouri State
Southeast Missouri (4-8) has lost three in a row as it prepares to come off the Christmas break on Thursday, playing host to Lindenwood-Belleville in an afternoon contest, its lone game prior to visiting South Bend next weekend.