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Senior members play in last home game

Sports Writer | Wednesday, March 3, 2004

There are no All-Americans in Notre Dame’s senior class. Just like there are no Big East first- or second-team candidates, and no consistently dominating players. This group won’t be remembered for having the most skill or talent, but rather for providing the leadership – in different ways – that helped make Notre Dame a serious threat to travel deep into the NCAA Tournament. Each of the four seniors has provided something different that has molded and shaped the underclassmen and brought this team together.”This is a group that has been just tremendous,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said after Thursday’s practice. “They have provided tremendous dedication, great work ethic, positive attitude, commitment – everything you could ask for, they’ve got it. We have been so fortunate to have this group and their leadership.”Anne Weese was playing at a community college in the middle of Kansas two years ago before transferring to Notre Dame. She made the Irish squad halfway through last season and gained her first start Tuesday night against Syracuse. Her layup with .3 seconds left got the crowd on its feet for the first time all game. Weese has given the team a veteran on the bench, someone the younger players could look up to for advice.Jeneka Joyce has played through just about every nagging injury a players can have during her career for the Irish. Even after leg and ankle injuries forced Joyce to miss her junior season, the 3-point specialist was determined to come back this season and help Notre Dame any way she could. She’s knocked down over 40 percent of her 3-point attempts as the primary outside threat for the year.Monique Hernandez didn’t play for much of her sophomore and junior seasons – she actually left school for a time last season – before returning to this year’s team. Her scrappy play and hustle has helped earn Hernandez 14 starts this season.Two-time captain Le’Tania Severe has been a mainstay at the guard position for the last four seasons, leading on and off the court – with her play and attitude. She is the calming force on the court and has the ability to occasionally give the team an offensive spark. This group of seniors doesn’t have a Jacqueline Batteast-type player – someone who is relied on every night for 15 points and 10 rebounds. But these four players have each brought their own contributions in work ethic, defense and hustle. Wednesday night, in an otherwise boring and uneventful game against conference-dweller Syracuse, the Irish seniors played in their last regular season home game. Notre Dame will host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, which gives the Irish senior class at least one, and maybe two, more chances to play at the Joyce Center. The seniors will be looked upon to lead this team into the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament – a place where all four have been before.Whenever the season ends, Irish coach Muffet McGraw will find someone to replace the stats that each senior provided to this year’s team. But she’ll be hard pressed to find four players that will mold a team like Weese, Joyce, Hernandez and Severe have this season and throughout their careers.