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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Extent of Rucker's injury?...Dream get Sun in Eastern Conf. playoffs...McGraw a survivor.

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TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE:

-Gwen Rucker's injury status?

-Angel, Atlanta to face Connecticut in playoffs

-Muffet McGraw: 10 years ago.

It was on a Tuesday, 10 years ago that the terrorist attacks hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Notre Dame head women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw and her Irish were the reigning champions in women's college basketball...defeating Purdue 68-66 several months earlier. 

McGraw had more pressing matters on her mind that morning. She is in Providence, R.I. but needs to be in California on a recruiting trip. There is a flight that leaves out of Boston that is non-stop to L.A. and she books a seat on it. The fateful Flight 175, which crashed into the World Trade Center.

Along comes assistant Notre Dame coach Kevin McGuff, though...also in Providence...and strongly urges her to fly out of Providence with him instead of making the drive to Boston that morning. He is persistent. Muffet likes her idea though, and is unwilling to budge. McGuff won't back off. She changes her mind and cancels her Boston seat. She says, later:

"If it had been any other coach but Kevin, I would have gotten on that Boston plane."

They arrive at the Providence airport and see the news on TV. They also run into Notre Dame men's head basketball coach Mike Brey. The three of them rent a car and drive back to South Bend. She rides back to Indiana stunned and shaken.  

Fate works in strange ways. Time marches on. McGraw made it back to the title game in 2011. McGuff eventually left Notre Dame to build a highly successful Xavier program and - at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season - to guide Washington in the PAC-12. Brey was 2010-11 Coach of the Year in the BIG EAST.

Muffet McGraw's Irish are a popular pick for the #1 preseason ranking in women's college basketball for 2011-12. They are deep, talented and return playmakers Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel, Devereaux Peters and Brittany Mallory.

They also return Muffet McGraw...in a foreshadowing twist of fate that almost didn't happen.

 As a sideline, Courtney LaVere ends up on the 2002-03 Irish roster and the 6'3" front line player from Ventura, CA. ends up as a 3rd team Freshmen All-American selection.  

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The Louisville Volleyball team recently won the Ohio Bobcat Classic in Athens, Ohio without a very important member of their squad. Gwen Rucker did not participate in the three matches on the Ohio University campus because of injury. The extent and nature of her injury is unknown as we went to press this morning, but a UofL spokesman informed us that head volleyball coach Anne Kordes would wait for a full report before deciding whether Rucker would participate in this weekend's BIG EAST vs. BIG 10 contests in Champaign, Illinois vs. Purdue and the fighting Illini.  

WE hope it isn't too serious and that Rucker is back leaping and blocking with her teammates very soon. With an already thin roster, Rucker's prolonged absence isn't what the VolleyCards need at this point of the season.

Get well, soon, Gwen.

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The Atlanta Dream go into the first round of the WNBA playoffs against the Connecticut Sun....locking up the Eastern Division 3rd. seed with a 93-88 win over Indiana on Sunday. Angel McCoughtry tossed in 32 points for Atlanta (20-14) in the win. Atlanta broke open a 71-71 tie in the final quarter with a 13-4 run. The win gave Atlanta a 4-0 sweep over the Fever in regular season play.

Indiana, who finished atop the Eastern Division standings will face the New York Liberty in the first round. Here's the schedule:

Atlanta                                                                   Indiana

09/16 @ Connecticut 7 p.m.                            09/15 NY 8 p.m.
09/18     Connecticut 3 p.m.                            09/17 @ NY 4 p.m.
09/20 @ Connecticut noon                              09/19 NY 8 p.m.

In the Western Conference, #1 Minnesota will tangle with San Antonio and Phoenix and Seattle will face off.

Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry and Phoenix's Diana Taurasi finished atop the league's scoring leaders....each averaging 21.6 p.p.g.

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