Notre Dame women’s team picked secondPublished 9:27am Friday, October 30, 2009
NEW YORK – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team has been selected to finish second in the BIG EAST Conference in 2009-10, according to a preseason vote of the league’s 16 head coaches released Thursday morning during the annual BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day at the ESPN Zone in New York City.
The Fighting Irish picked up 210 points and one first-place vote in the balloting (coaches may not vote for their own teams), placing behind only defending national champion Connecticut, which was a unanimous choice to win the conference title with 225 points.
DePaul and reigning NCAA runner-up Louisville shared the third spot in the BIG EAST preseason poll with 171 points, while Pittsburgh rounded out the top five with 167 points.
Notre Dame returns all 12 players and all five starters from last season’s team that posted a 22-9 overall record and a 10-6 record in the BIG EAST (tying for fourth place, its 11th top-four finish in 14 years as a conference member). The Fighting Irish also made their 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance – and 16th overall – last year and were ranked 23rd in the final Associated Press poll of the 2008-09 season. Furthermore, Notre Dame adds a two-player freshman class that has been ranked as high as ninth in the country, according to All-Star Girls Report, marking the program’s 13th consecutive Top 20 recruiting class.
“We are certainly pleased that we have been voted second in the BIG EAST, which is the nation’s toughest conference,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on our part if we want to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves this season, and we know that while being ranked second in the preseason poll is great, it’s where we end up in March that will show if that hard work has paid off.”
The conference coaches also voted fifth-year senior guard/tri-captain Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill/Bartlett) and senior guard/tri-captain Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) to the 12-player Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Schrader, a two-time all-conference selection, garnered first-team recognition last year after averaging career highs of 12.6 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game with a .463 field goal percentage. What’s more, she registered seven double-doubles, setting a single-season school record for guards, and giving her 11 career double-doubles.