Post-Tour | Memories To Last A Lifetime
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 21, 7:10 p.m. ET)
Continuing the recap of our European tour, the cumulative statistics and complete box scores for our three games are now available in PDF form at the following link: 2009 Notre Dame Women's Basketball European Tour Statistics. Please note -- these final statistics vary slightly from the earlier unofficial reported totals in our game recaps. Now that we have had a chance to go through each game's statistics and make sure they add up and balance properly, these cumulative numbers should be considered official. Of course, they only include statistics for Notre Dame players, but it should give you a pretty good idea of how things went on the court over there.
In addition, we've pulled together in one location the links for each of the daily diary entries written by Melissa Lechlitner and Kellie Watson during our tour. They can be found at the following locations:
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Days 1-2
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 3
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 4
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 5
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 6
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 7
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 8
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 9
· Melissa Lechlitner Diary Entry From Europe - Day 10
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Days 1-2
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 3
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 4
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 5
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 6
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 7
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 8
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 9
· Kellie Watson Diary Entry From Europe - Day 10
More tour recap information, including additional photo galleries and possibly some more videos, to come, so check back to this space soon!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 20, 5:45 p.m. ET)
Well, we have all safely returned home from our trip, with the bus pulling back into the Joyce Center around 7:30 last night. The players are in the process of fanning out to their homes for a few weeks of rest and home cooking before returning to campus for summer classes and workouts. All of us are still working to get our bodies adjusted back to Eastern time -- in fact, judging by an informal survey we did during the day today, it wouldn't shock me if our average wake-up time this morning was somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 a.m.
Nevertheless, it's a small price to pay for what will be a treasured experience for decades to come. I think I speak for the entire Notre Dame travel party when I saw how incredibly grateful we are to the folks at Anthony Travel -- John Anthony, our tour representative Jim O'Connor and our tour leader, Leo Jenkins -- all of whom did an absolutely amazing job of planning this trip down to the last detail. We were able to spend just the right amount of time at every possible historical landmark during our journey, while also having plenty of free time to enjoy shopping and other adventures on our own. A special note of thanks also goes out to Coach McGraw, our coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio and our personnel manager, Tom Bacsik, who put in a lot of long hours while working with Anthony Travel to make this trip possible.
The last of our photo galleries from the tour, representing days 8-10 and our time in Rome, is now posted on this tour page. Stephanie also took more than 700 photos during the trip and we'll be going through those photos in the coming days to put together a final all-encompassing tour photo gallery to add to what we already have given you. What's more, we'll be working with the folks at UND.com to pull together the video footage we shot during the trip and create a video scrapbook of our travels, including some behind-the-scenes footage you should find entertaining.
Before the week is out, we will be building links to each of the daily diary entries penned by Melissa Lechlitner and Kellie Watson, as well as posting the final cumulative statistics for the three games the Irish played on the tour. So feel free to check back to this space later on as we continue to wrap up this amazing adventure. As a reminder, if you haven't already done so, we encourage you to follow all the doings with Notre Dame women's basketball via our Twitter page (twitter.com/ndwbbsid), and we welcome your comments on our coverage of this tour, as well as other events related to Notre Dame women's basketball -- click here to send us an e-mail. Thanks for your ongoing support and as always, GO IRISH!!
Day 10 | A Final Day To Remember
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 18, 8:20 p.m. ET/May 19, 2:20 a.m. local)
Super quick update, as we're literally only a few hours away from heading to the airport and the 10-hour flight home. Monday's final day of sightseeing in Rome included a whirlwind visits to some of the most important historic holy landmarks in the world such as The Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Everyone also had some time to get their last-minute shopping fix filled, while others found a cinema in downtown Rome for a screening of the new Tom Hanks film "Angels & Demons" which is set here in the city. Having visited many of the sites featured in the movie, it made the viewing even more riveting.
Kellie Watson's final diary update has been posted, but due to VERY sketchy Internet connections, we will have to hold off on posting Melissa Lechlitner's final diary update until we get back to South Bend. At that point, we'll also finish whittling down the tons of photos we took during our time in Rome ... it's going to be hard to keep it to a select few, but we should have those up soon. Stay tuned to this web page in the next few days for some final tour updates, both written and in video form ... thanks for following us on this memorable European adventure and we'll see you back Stateside soon!
Day 9 | Sightseeing in Rome ... Get Your Walking Shoes On!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 17, 12:23 p.m. ET/6:23 p.m. local)
Tell you what ... just because we're done with our games on this tour doesn't mean we're not getting a workout in. To the contrary, all of us did some serious walking around Rome on a hot and sunny afternoon, with our visits to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon, just to name a few hot spots. Our local tour guide, Giancarlo, and our full tour guide, Leo, did a remarkable job of shuttling us to all the notable landmarks in "ancient Rome," although this observer would definitely have to call the Colosseum and the Roman Forum the high points of the day.
I was able to snap a ton of photos today and will look to get those posted by tomorrow. The pictures from our visits to Lake Como and Florence now are up on the tour web page, and we'll look to get the latest diary entries from Melissa Lechlitner and Kellie Watson uploaded late tonight. We are headed out to a team dinner later this evening, during which time we'll get a chance to celebrate senior guard Ashley Barlow's 21st birthday. I can't even imagine what it's like to spend a milestone birthday like that in a foreign country, and our best wishes will be with her tonight. We've also got incoming freshman guard Skylar Diggins on our minds as she awaits word from USA Basketball on whether she's advanced through the USA U19 World Championship Team trials this weekend and will represent the Stars & Stripes at the U19 Worlds in late July-early August in Bangkok, Thailand. Talk about your exotic locales!
That's about it for now ... we're headed to The Vatican tomorrow morning and then have a farewell team dinner penciled in for tomorrow night before we sadly have to get on a plane and come home. This has definitely been one of those experiences we'll be talking about for decades to come. Take care and GO IRISH!
Day 8 | Shopping in Florence and Getting Ready For Game 3
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 16, 8:21 p.m. ET/May 17, 2:21 a.m. local)
All checked in at our hotel in Rome, located just steps from the Roman Forum and within walking distance of the Colosseum, both sites we'll be seeing in the morning. But first a little business to finish up -- the Irish completed their three-game schedule over here with a 94-39 dismantling of Athena Basket on Saturday night on the outskirts of Rome. It was our best shooting night of the trip (52 percent) and it was made even more encouraging by the 46.2-percent mark from the deeper international three-point line. We also got a ton of fast-break opportunities with another good defensive showing. We didn't track transition points, but having collected 61 steals (20.3 per game) on the tour, I've got to believe we cashed in more than our share off our aggressive defense.
Speaking of stats, I've got to give a huge thanks to our makeshift statistics crew for this trip. Luke Barber (husband of assistant coach Angie Barber) took care of the assists, Leigh Tsipis (wife of associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis) oversaw the blocks and steals, Monica Cundiff (our assistant athletics director) was charged with counting the rebounds, and Sister Sue Dunn (our team chaplain) counted up the turnovers. We also got tremendous help from Coach McGraw's son, Murphy, who served as our unofficial in-game and post-game photographer, and coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio, who was seen holding a number of different cameras during each game, including the mini-cam we've been using to compile highlights for WSBT-TV (Channel 22) back in South Bend.
On that note, we're hoping to get highlights of tonight's game and a post-game interview Q&A between our two leading scorers, Ashley Barlow and Erica Williamson, sent back to the Channel 22 studios in time for Saturday night's 11:00 news. And if we're fortunate, we'll be able to go those long-awaited behind-the-scenes videos transmitted out tomorrow, now that we have some down time and no more games to be played. That's all for now ... good night Irish fans!!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 16, 7:15 a.m. ET/1:15 p.m. local)
Just dashing off a quick note before we hop on the bus for the four-hour trip from Florence to Rome and the last game on our tour at 8 p.m. local (2 p.m. Eastern) today against Athena Basket. As we get set to load the bus, the players and coaches are gathered in the lobby of our hotel, showing off the various rewards from their hard work on the shopping trail here in Florence. These ladies and gentlemen are some tough negotiators, too, although our tour guide, Leo, did encourage us to barter with the local shopkeepers -- as he said, "they love it!"
We've got another photo gallery posted from our two days in Nice and Monaco, with more to come from our stops in Lake Como and here in Florence. Depending on how good our Internet connection is at tonight's game, we'll try to get some in-game updates, but it may be a little later on in the evening before we can get word out about how things go. Ciao for now!
Day 7 | A Little AC 360, Notre Dame Style
(posted by Alena Christiansen, senior guard -- May 15, 12:25 p.m. ET/6:25 p.m. local)
Ciao! So it is now day 7 and we are leaving Lake Como en route to Florence! I am so excited to shop and travel to Rome and see the Vatican. The trip so far has been an absolutely amazing experience with so many unforgettable memories. My favorite city so far has definitely been Paris. I can't put it into words how awesome it was to see the Eiffel Tower and go to the top of it. It was breathtaking! Going to the Louvre and cruising along the Seine was also one of the highlights of my trip. It was also pretty neat just to listen to the French language ... I took French in high school, so I was hoping I could understand a few words here and there. To my surprise, I actually picked up on a few things!
After Paris, we headed to Nice for a day. Nice was paradise; it was sunny with mountains surrounding the bright blue water of the Mediterranean. Unfortunately the water was freezing, so I did not go in -- although some of my teammates had the courage to (ha ha!) -- but it was still so beautiful. After the beach, we climbed almost 430 stairs to the top of one of the nearby mountains where we saw a cascading waterfall that overlooked the shores of Nice. It was so serene and peaceful ... I kinda wished I lived there!
Unfortunately only 3 more days remain in our European tour so I plan to make the most out of them. This trip has been one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. Traveling and spending time with my teammates is so much fun, and there is never a dull moment!
Talk to you later! -Alena Christiansen #44
P.S. I promised my family I would say hi to them: Hi Mom, Dad, Gina and Eric! Love you guys!
Day 6 | Who's This George Clooney Guy?
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 14, 8:16 p.m. ET/May 15, 2:16 a.m. local)
Hope you all enjoyed yesterday's blog entry with assistant coach Niele Ivey as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. Niele is absolutely one of the greatest people to be around and we are truly blessed to have her as part of our Notre Dame family. We're intending to bring you more blogs from other members of the travel party, maybe as soon as tomorrow.
We're up here in Lake Como, in the northern part of Italy, and it's been an amazing couple of days. Between the private boat tours we had, the visits to the small towns of Como and Bellagio, and the mandatory search for the villa of some guy named George Clooney, it's been an amazing time. (By the way, we found George's villa and no truth to the rumor that we tried to get one of those t-shirt air guns out and shoot him a "Spirit Patrol" t-shirt for next season, although could you blame us if we tried?) We also saw the villas of Donatella Versace and the King of Saudi Arabia ... gotta think this part of the world is a lot different that the deserts he's used to.
Somewhere in all of this, we managed to squeeze in another game, this one a bit tougher challenge against an Italian first-division professional team called GEAS Sesto San Giovanni (GEAS is the sponsor, Sesto San Giovanni is the town where the team is located, just outside of Milan). Thanks to a facility conflict, the game was moved to the team's practice facility, which had no Internet capability and barely any phone service to send out text alerts for you diehard followers. We even had to wait an extra 45 minutes after arriving before we could take the court because a youth basketball clinic was still going on -- so our strength coach, Craig Cheek, adapted well and took the team out into the parking lot for their normal warm-up stretching routine.
Once the game got going, we turned in another solid performance at both ends, getting balance on the offensive and defensive ends. One particularly pleasing outcome was the play of sophomore guard Fraderica Miller, who made all three of her shots from the floor and had three key offensive rebounds in the third quarter when the Italians were trying to mount a comeback. Fred has really started to come into her own of late and we're excited to see what the future has in store for her and the rest of the team next season.
After the game, we joined our opponents for a pizza party at a local restaurant. There, I saw one of the more remarkable and enjoyable moments of the trip thus far -- players from both teams sat side-by-side and got to know one another, crossing through language and cultural barriers and building friendships that likely will continue well after we come home from Europe. The players exchanged e-mail addresses and promised to keep in touch, and I have no doubt that we've probably created a new legion of the Spirit Patrol on this side of the Atlantic.
Tomorrow morning, we'll pack up our bus and head back down the narrow winding roads of northern Italy before we get outside of Como and pick up the highway down to Florence. Just about everyone is excited to check out the shopping possibilities in the city, and enjoy a day off before our final game on the tour Saturday night at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern). We're also hoping to have some better luck with our sketchy Internet connections, which have caused our photo gallery efforts to stall a bit, but let's see if we can't fix that tomorrow, along with sending more video highlights and interviews back to our friends at WSBT-TV (Channel 22) in South Bend. In the meantime, take care and GO IRISH!
Day 5 | Ivey-Covered Walls
(posted by Niele Ivey, Assistant Coach -- May 13, 4:44 p.m. ET/10:44 pm local)
Bonjour (and bongiorno) everyone ... I hope all is well back home in South Bend!!! This trip has been AMAZING so far. One of the many reasons I have been excited for this foreign trip was because I unfortunately didn't get a chance to go on a foreign tour during my five years at Notre Dame. Yes, I was mad about that, but this trip is making up for that so far! I was also excited to visit some places I have never had the opportunity to travel to and to bond with the team and support staff. Every single place that we have been has been absolutely gorgeous! I am so blessed to say that I had the opportunity to be here with this Notre Dame group. I will recap a little and talk about where I am now.
Paris was great!! We toured the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum on the day of our first game. We also had the opportunity to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and went to a French mass. It was beautiful. I had to imagine what was being said, but just the fact of being at a mass in Paris at the Notre Dame Cathedral was a classic experience that I will never forget. One thing I can say is that we are always busy. We leave in the morning and tour the entire day and return in the evening. Sometimes I am completely exhausted, but I have built up stamina from running around chasing after my son, Jaden, so I am good.
Next, we took a train to Nice, Italy in the south of France. I was hoping to run into the Carters (Jay Z and Beyonce) but that didn't happen. Oh well. However, I just found out that Beyonce was in Monaco the day before we got there. How cool is that!! Dang, we could have done a duet!! Anyway, the view was breathtaking and the Mediterranean waters were clear and beautiful. We spent the day shopping and relaxing on the beach. I love the beach and I love being around water so I was personally in my element. Tinia (Scott), our administrative assistant, and I have been roommates for this trip and we took advantage of the sun and the beach. There was no sand on the beach, only rocks but we didn't care. It was better than the Michigan Dunes. LOL. The girls soon joined us, and our time there turned into a photo shoot just like every other place. We are such American tourists.
This morning we woke up and had a team run. We ran to the beach and back just to get a good workout in. Because I am not in great shape, I ran with our trainer and Brittany Mallory who is coming back from an ACL. I figured I could keep up with her and I would look like I was fast and in shape. Sorry Brit!! LOL. We showered, ate breakfast, and packed our things to head to Monaco for a couple of hours before our final stop in Lake Como, Italy. All I can say is WOW!! Monaco is one of the most beautiful and expensive places in the world. Words cannot express how rich in culture and how beautiful Monaco was. Our tour guide, Leo, told us Monaco is a billionaire's playground and he was right. We saw every kind of fancy car you could imagine-- Ferrari's, Lamborghini's, Bentley's, and who could forget the Rolls Royce we saw in front of the Monte Carlo Casino. I felt like I was in a movie. The city was preparing for the Grand Prix and every building looked like royalty. While we were touring the city, the Prince just happened to drive past us while being escorted by a line of police cars and motorcycles. It was unbelievable.
Monaco has been my favorite city so far because of the shopping and the rich culture but most importantly because I managed to find a GREAT pair of heels there. I know you are all shocked, but I did. They are my 2010 National Championship heels!! I will be wearing them to the championship game next year!! Remember that I said that!! I spent an hour window-shopping at Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, YSL, and Dior. That was fun!! Fred (Fraderica Miller), Tinia, and I imagined what we would want to buy from the store windows. How ghetto is that!! LOL! You got to dream big!! After our day in Monaco, we headed to Lake Como where I am writing you now. This hotel is great. We are right on the Lake and the girls have already jumped in the pool, which is freezing by the way. They are so silly and having a great time!!
I am so excited about our game tomorrow and more importantly to see Lake Como, Florence, and Rome and to find exotic gifts for Jaden, Kinnon (my boyfriend), and my family. The only thing that is missing on this trip is Kinnon and Jaden. I wish they were here with me. I can't wait to be back home with them and to share all of my experiences with them. I love you both! Sorry, I had to give them a shout out!! Well, I am going to try to get on the Internet to talk to my family and let them know I am safe!! Have a great weekend and keep following us on the web!! But before I go, I want to wish Skylar good luck before she heads to the USA basketball trials in Colorado tomorrow!! I know she will do great!! Go get that spot Skylar!! It's yours to get!! We are thinking about you!! Until next time, Go Irish!!
Ciao ... Niele Ivey
Day 4 | Here Comes The Sun ... Down By The Sea
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 12, 9:34 p.m. ET/3:34 pm local)
Two exciting late night developments from over on this side of the pond ... one, we were able to get the Internet cooking well enough and thus, as a reward for bearing with us, we've posted an expanded photo gallery of Day 3 from our tour, featuring our visits to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, as well as our first game. And second, we were able to transmit some short video highlights of Monday's game back to WSBT-TV (Channel 22) in South Bend and we hope that those will show up on Tuesday's 11 p.m. (ET) news.
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 12, 5:38 p.m. ET/11:38 pm local)
After a REALLY early wake-up call this morning (the rooster was crowing at 5 a.m.!), we jumped on the high-speed train (also known as the TGV or Train a Grande Vitesse) from Paris to Nice. We had a whole train car to ourselves and we quickly spread out and settled into advanced stages of either sleep, movie watching, card playing or iPod listening (sometimes more than one of the above!). Six hours later, we pulled into the train station in Nice, just a stone's throw from the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and warm sunshine of the French Riviera. Our bus driver for the next few days, Giovanni, not only nimbly navigated our massive bus through the narrow streets of Nice, but also found time to drive us to a vista point overlooking the city, which gave us some breathtaking views and enough photos to fill hundreds of photo galleries. The team then fanned out during the afternoon, either shopping or relaxing on the beach, which is not at all like your average American beach back home with tons of smooth, yet large rocks and icy cold water. Yet, it was still a great way to enjoy our first day in the south of France.
Speaking of photo galleries, we're still in a holding pattern on those, due to some unreliable Internet service. We hope to resume those galleries tomorrow when we get back on the road and head to Monte Carlo (in the principality of Monaco) and then on to Lake Como. We'll talk to you then ... GO IRISH!
Day 3 | More Sightseeing And Game 1
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 11, 7:25 p.m. ET/May 12, 12:25 am local)
Will keep this kind of short, since it's after midnight and we've got a 5 am wake-up call to get ready for our 7:45 am high-speed train trip down to Nice. Because of the early turnaround, we'll hold off on posting our Day 3 photo gallery until we arrive in Nice, as well as our player diary entries, although you can get them earlier if you wish by going to either the South Bend Tribune or Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette web sites on Tuesday morning.
With the exception of some occasional rain, it was just about a perfect two days in Paris for the Irish. Between Monday night's throttling of the French Junior National Team (and some real encouraging signs from the Notre Dame defense which turned up the heat to the tune of 23 steals), and the dizzying amount of historical landmarks we were able to visit in our short time, I don't think any of us will soon forget Paris. Monday's trip to the Eiffel Tower was particularly special, as many of us got a chance to ride to the stop of the 1,063-foot structure and enjoy a panoramic (if not fog-shrouded) view of the city. We then stopped at the Louvre for an extended tour that included some of the museum's most famous works -- the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Coach McGraw and a few others also bumped into several members of the Georgia Tech women's basketball team, which was visiting the Louvre while winding down its own foreign tour with a stop in the City of Light after six days and three games in Tunisia.
Those of you in the South Bend area may also want to check out WSBT-TV Channel 22 later this week and early next week, as we attempt to transmit some highlights from Monday's win over the French Junior National Team and our other games (contingent upon a quality Internet connection, of course!). Senior center Erica Williamson will be serving an internship at the station this summer, and also is taping several short pieces which she plans to turn into a short documentary-style feature that will air following the team's return later this month. That's all for now ... we'll talk to you Tuesday from Nice and the heart of the French Riviera!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 11, 1:20 p.m. ET/7:20 pm local)
It's a final ... Notre Dame takes down the French Junior National Team, 77-44, in the first game of their three-game exhibition tour at the Daniel Perault Gymnasium on the campus of the INSEP (Institute Nationale de Sport et Education Physicale) in Paris. Sophomore Natalie Novosel and junior Becca Bruszewski had a game-high 15 points apiece, while sophomore Erica Solomon chipped in 11 points. We'll have much more complete stats and a full game recap later on ... right now, the teams are posing together for a group photo at midcourt. Interesting result tonight, considering this same French team played North Carolina tough last year, with the Tar Heels winning, 73-59 on this same floor.
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 11, 12:20 p.m. ET/6:20 pm local)
Days 1 & 2 | A Whirlwind Trip
We're at the half in Game 1 of our international tour, and the Irish have a 38-26 lead on the French Junior National Team at the Daniel Perault Gymnasium on the campus of the INSEP (Institute Nationale de Sport et Education Physicale) in Paris. Sophomore Natalie Novosel leads the way with 9 points (7 of those in the first half), while classmate Erica Solomon has 6 points to her credit. Notre Dame actually trailed 18-17 after one quarter, struggling to find its shooting eye early on. However, an aggressive defense shut down the hosts in the second quarter, as theIrish outscored the French, 21-8, in the second 10-minute period. Notre Dame also forced a pair of shot-clock violations late in the quarter and went on a 13-4 run over the final 5:24 to take advantage. More to come after the game!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 9, 5:45 p.m. ET/11:45 pm local)
Bonjour a Paris (Welcome to Paris)! Whew ... we finally made it and now have some down time in our hotel on the west side of Paris after what seemed like two days rolled into one. Between the eight-hour flight, during which a lot of us didn't get nearly enough sleep, and the packed day of sightseeing around Paris, we're all dragging pretty good right now. But after a full night's sleep, we'll be good as new and ready to go on Monday.
The flight over from O'Hare was pretty uneventful, with the biggest stress deciding between the chicken and pasta or the beef burgundy and mashed potatoes for the in-flight meal. Around 7:45 in the morning, as the sun broke over the English Channel, we picked up the sight of the French coastline and knew we weren't far away from setting foot on foreign soil. We had a bit of a delay going through customs, only because it looked as though three different international flights landed at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport at pretty much the same time and the customs inspectors didn't seem prepared for it. But no matter -- we all made it through, grabbed our bags, loaded the bus and were off to the heart of Paris.
After photo stops at the national opera house, the Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral de Notre Dame, it was a pretty full morning. The stop at the Cathedral was especially interesting, between the noon Mass that some of our travel party took part in, to the 8-10-year-olds from the Moldova youth soccer team that engaged some of our players in a form of rudimentary world diplomacy (even though neither side spoke the other's language). We also fanned out along some of the side streets in an effort to grab some Euros and a bite to eat, and a couple of our girls even got spooked by a street performer in a ghoulish mask wandering through the lines around the Cathedral and sneaking up behind unsuspecting visitors.
After a quick stop at our hotel to check in and grab some brief shut-eye, it was off to a tasty dinner down on the Champs Elysees at Cafe Clement, just a block away from the Arc de Triomphe. The menu of French onion soup, leg of chicken and mashed potatoes, and creme brulee (the best i've ever had!) was warmly received and gave us all a little extra in our tank as we headed down to the River Seine for an hour-long boat cruise. The narrated trip gave us insights into some of the unique landmarks of Paris, including the National Assembly, Pont-Neuf (New Bridge), the Louvre and the Ile de la Cite (City Island, where Paris originally was founded 2,000 years ago). However, the highlight of our day came as the boat eased back up to the pier beneath the Eiffel Tower ... the spectacular edifice suddenly lit up with a million brilliant flashing lights in a sight none of us will ever forget.
It was an amazing end to a long day, but it's only the beginning of this unforgettable journey. On Monday, we're headed back to the Eiffel Tower (this time going all the way to the top), and will visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo before turning our attention to our first exhibition game on the tour at 5:30 pm local time against the French Junior National Team (that's a half-hour later than originally scheduled, so make a note of that!). We're working to get some photos of our first day up on this page in a little while, and will also have links to the first diary entries from Melissa Lechlitner and Kellie Watson. In the meantime, a very Happy Mother's Day to all of our moms back in the States and we'll talk to you tomorrow ... au revoir (good bye)!!
Pre-Tour | Packing For Paris!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 8, 4:30 p.m.)
Media day is in the books and now it's on to the final stages of packing for our trip. The folks on the video side here at UND.com will be working on editing down our media day interviews (including a hilarious segment with Becca Bruszewski interviewing her fellow sophomore Brittany Mallory and a cameo appearance from Jaden Ivey, Coach Niele Ivey's son!) and we expect to have those interviews linked at the top of this page tomorrow. The team went through a spirited practice this afternoon, highlighted by a scrimmage played under the international rules the Irish will face dring their tour (click here for more details on those unique rules). One more practice tomorrow morning and then the bus pulls out from Gate 6 at the Joyce Center around 12:45 pm and we're off to Paris!
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 8, 1:30 p.m.)
Quick scheduling update ... had a change in just about everything related to our third game (the one in Rome). We're now going to play Athena Basket (an Italian Lega B1 team) on Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern) in Rome. That will give us two full days of sightseeing in Rome at the end of our trip. As an FYI, our Game 2 opponent (GEAS Sesto San Giovanni) is an Italian Lega A1 team (the top division in their pro league) and finished 6th out of 14 teams this past season. If you'd like to know more on any of our three opponents, just click on their names down in the "Schedule" section of this page. More to come later today after our media activities are done.
(posted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director -- May 6, 6:30 p.m.)
On Saturday afternoon, the Notre Dame women's basketball program -- all 12 returning players, plus the coaches and support staff (a total travel party of nearly 35 people) -- will embark on a 10-day European tour that will take them to three countries (France, Monaco and Italy) and see them play three games against quality European competition during that time. The Irish also will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the most amazing historical sites in Europe, from the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine, to Monte Carlo and Lake Como, and on to the Vatican (including St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel), the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. But, in the midst of packing for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, let me take a few moments and give you a scouting report on the full court press we're going to apply when it comes to covering the Irish in Europe.
Throughout this memorable 10-day trip, UND.com will bring you wall-to-wall coverage in a variety of ways. We will offer video interviews with Irish players and coaches during the tour's Media Day activities after practice at the Joyce Center on Friday (May 8), as well as a special video wrap-up of the trip soon after our return. In between, we plan to offer two daily player diaries, with junior point guard Melissa Lechlitner writing for the South Bend Tribune and freshman forward Kellie Watson penning her thoughts for the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette -- those diary entries will be available right here at UND.com through the links on this page, as well as through the South Bend Tribune and Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette web sites.
But that's not nearly all. We plan to have regular blog postings right here in this space (sometimes daily and sometimes more often than that, as our Internet access and cell phone reception allows), giving you a chance to hear from not only yours truly, but also other members of the Irish travel party. We'll also keep you in the loop on our travels, as well as the results of our three exhibition games over in Europe (which also will be posted in the space directly below this blog under the "Schedule" header). And, I've got my digital camera all fired up and will be snapping photos at every opportunity for our daily photo galleries to give you fans back here in the States (and around the world!) the chance to be a part of this tour.
Of course, you can satisfy your Irish women's basketball cravings up-to-the-second by signing on free of charge for either our exclusive Notre Dame women's basketball Twitter page or for the Irish ALERT text-messaging service (see the links in the lower right corner of this page). That Twitter page also will come in handy even after we get back from Europe, as we'll continue to keep that updated with breaking news and other behind-the-scenes information about the Irish. Down in that corner, you can get a quick refresher on Notre Dame's last European tour in 2002, including game recaps from all four contests over in Italy.
So don't waste any time -- go ahead and bookmark this page in your web browser because you'll want to stop back every chance you get to see what's happening with the Notre Dame women's basketball team during this amazing experience. We thank you for all of your tremendous support and can't wait to get started with the first step on what promises to be a magical 2009-10 season ... GO IRISH!!