Monday, January 16, 2006

Notre Dame Sports Update

Baseball 22 Collegiate Baseball The team, which is set to begin play on February 23, was predicted by Big East coaches to win the conference this year. (The home opener is March 21.) SP Jeff Samardzija, 3B Brett Lilley, and LF Matt Bransfield made the preseason all-Big East team. ND's out-of-conference schedule features Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arizona. The team's annual Opening Night Dinner, held on February 6, will be keynoted by Charlie Weis and Aaron Heilman.

Men's Basketball 10-5/1-3 Big East The men have struggled in the new, stronger Big East so far, dropping three straight conference games before blowing out a Providence team whose best player is a poor man's Luke Zeller. The team normally plays well enough to hang in close games, with only one loss by more than six points, but they seem to lack that killer instinct when it matters most. It looks like the men are starting to put together the pieces for something good - hustling, getting rebounds, not always settling for threes. Chris Quinn and Russell Carter have the ability to create their own shots. Colin Falls has broken out of an early season slump. Torin Francis is showing flashes of playing with a purpose. Zeller, Rob Kurz, and Kyle McAlarney have contributed well. But it will be a long year unless the Irish can start playing well in crunch time. For their next game, the Irish travel to Marquette for a 9 PM tipoff on ESPNU.

Women's Basketball 10-5/1-3 Big East/20 AP/19 USA Today It hasn't exactly been a storybook season for the women's cagers. Muffet McGraw picked up her 500th career victory early in the season, but later had to leave the team for medical reasons. She is back now, but the team isn't necessarily playing like it. The Irish have lost four of their last five, with the lone win coming in overtime against a decent Marquette team. At first glance, the problem appears to be shooting percentage - both from the field (42.1%/31.2% 3PT) and the free throw line (65.8%). Other than Megan Duffy, the team lacks an outside threat. Melissa D'Amico and Lindsay Schrader have played well, but they have also shown their inexperience at times. The "Lady Irish" face DePaul at home on Tuesday night.

Men's Cross Country 5 MONDO/5 USCCCA The men finished 3rd overall at the NCAA Championships in November, led by Kurt Benninger's individual 8th place finish. Benninger, Tim Moore, and Kaleb Van Ort were named All-Americans.

Women's Cross Country 4 FinishLynx/4 WICCCA The women finished 7th at the same NCAA Championships, paced by Stephanie Madia's 3rd place showing. Madia and Molly Huddle were named All-Americans.

Fencing Olympic Gold Medalist Mariel Zagunis (how many gold medals do you have?) was named to the US World Championship team and helped her country win the sabre title. The Irish continue to prepare their NCAA championship defense by participating the NYU duals on January 22.

Football 9-3/9 AP/11 USA Today Five seniors will be playing in all-star bowls this month. Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson will play in the East-West Shrine Game, Saturday, January 21, at 4 PM eastern. Hoyte will wear #44 and Stevenson #74 for Houston Nutt's East squad against Dennis Franchione's West. DJ Fitzpatrick and Corey Mays will play in the Hula Bowl, Saturday, January 21, at 7 PM eastern. Both Fitzpatrick and Mays will be in their familiar numbers (19 and 46, respectively) for the Tommy Tuberville's East team against Ty Willingham and the West. Mo Stovall will play in the Senior Bowl, Saturday, January 28, at 4 PM eastern. The complete Senior Bowl roster and coaching staffs will not be announced until next week. Coaches are normally taken from the NFL for this game. The Senior Bowl will be televised by ESPN, and I'm assuming the other two will be as well.

Men's Golf The men golfers finished no higher than 5th and no lower than 8th in eight matches this fall, not counting a DQ from their final match. The spring season starts on February 27 in Naples, FL.

Women's Golf The women golfers started strong, finishing no lower than 4th until they reached the Las Vegas Invitational. At Las Vegas, the finished 9th, 8th, and 10th. The semester ended with the Irish finishing 2nd at the Lady Jaguar Invitational. The spring season starts the weekend of February 19 in Parrish, FL.

Hockey 7-12-3/5-8-3 CCHA The icers have been playing well as of late, posting a 3-1-1 record in a stretch that includes a 2-2 tie and a 3-2 loss against #3 Miami University. The Irish next travel to Northern Michigan for games on Friday and Saturday.

Men's Lacrosse 10 Lacrosse Mag/12 Inside Lacrosse/12 Face-Off Yearbook The men lax-ers begin their spring season on February 26 with a home game against Penn State.

Women's Lacrosse Following a 2005 season that saw only 3 wins, the women begin their 2006 campaign at Cal on February 24. Attacker Crysti Foote returns from the Canadian national team to lead the Irish this spring.

Women's Rowing The women rowers competed in four events this fall. At least one Irish boat finished in the top 5 in all races competed in.

Men's Soccer 12-8-3/6-4-1 Big East In what was perhaps the highlight of the season, the Irish knocked of the defending champs from Indiana 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The season ended days later with a 1-0 loss to Clemson. Midfielder/defender Greg Dalby was named a first team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, College Soccer News, and

Women's Soccer 22-3-0/10-1-0 Big East/5 NSCAA/5 Soccer America The women advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, losing 3-1 to the eventual champions from Portland. Forward Katie Thorlakson was named a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, the player-of-the-year award for women's soccer.

Softball The softball team begins the season on February 18 with a doubleheader against Colorado State and BYU in Las Vegas.

Men's Swimming & Diving 5-1/19 CSCAA Besides their 5-1 record, the Irish have finished 1st in two events and 5th in one. The swimmers and divers next hit the pool this Friday at Northwestern.

Women's Swimming & Diving 2-2/20 CSCAA The women swimmers and divers are only 2-2 this year, but they have finished first or second in all tournaments and invitationals participated in this season. The team swims again versus Michigan State this Saturday.

Men's Tennis 26 ITA The tennis season continues this Saturday at Northwestern.

Women's Tennis 22 ITA The 22nd ranked Irish women's tennis team is led by Catrina and Christian Thompson, the #1 rated doubles team. The team next plays Ohio State on January 28 at the Eck Tennis Pavillion.

Track & Field The Irish began the spring on January 14 in a non-scored meet at Purdue. The Notre Dame Opener starts this Friday at the Loftus Center.

Volleyball 30-4/13-1 Big East/12 AVCA/11 Volleyball The Irish volleyball team fell three games to two against Wisconsin in the NCAA round of 16, a year after the same Wisconsin team ended the Irish season in the second round. MB Lauren Brewster was named a second-team All-American, while OHs Lauren Kelbley and Adrianna Stasiuk were given honorable mentions.