Bush honors basketball team in Washington
By Tim Casey
Senior Staff Writer
It's been over three weeks since the women's basketball team won its first national championship but the celebration continues. On Monday, President George W. Bush honored the Irish at the White House. President Bush also addressed the men's basketball national champions, Duke University, at the morning ceremony.
"I was looking at some of the footage I taped when we were there," freshman guard Jeneka Joyce said on Monday night. "It's amazing that we were in the Oval Office. A lot of people never have that opportunity."
Coach Muffet McGraw presented a gold Notre Dame uniform to Bush, with "G.W.Bush 1" emblazoned across the back. Moments before, the president addressed both teams and offered some humorous anecdotes. "I'm reminded about what Coach McGraw's son, [10-year old] Murphy, said as he watched the [national title] game," Bush said. "He said, `That was scary.' Murphy, I know what you're talking about. It reminds me of election night."
Bush then alluded to the oft-repeated portrayal of the Irish as an unselfish, mature, virtually problem-free squad.
"I love what Coach McGraw said," Bush said. "She said, `Usually there are negative things that occur during the season. But this year I've had not to call a single team meeting. I've gotten no complaints from professors. We can't even yell at the players, because they do everything we ask.' I need your help with Congress."
Most of the Notre Dame contingent, which included athletic department officials, team managers and coaches, arrived in Washington on Sunday morning. A few players, including recent WNBA draft choices Ruth Riley, Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon traveled to the nation's capital early Sunday evening.
On Sunday afternoon, the Irish toured several of the District's landmarks, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The next morning, the Irish and Blue Devils arrived at the White House and were surrounded by several members of the Secret Service.
"You did notice them, with their black sunglasses," Joyce said. "I saw them everywhere. But the whole environment was so relaxed. Everything seemed so ordinary."
During his speech, the President singled out Riley and Duke's Shane Battier, the national players of the year. Both Riley and Battier were also named Academic All-Americans. Riley, Battier, and their teammates toured the White House after the ceremony.
"I want to remind people who may not know their histories that not only were [Riley and Battier] great players, they're great people," Bush said. "Not only did they set goals about being the best on the basketball court, they set goals of becoming all-academic stars, and they were. They set goals of understanding the Golden Rule, and living by it. These are good people. And I'm sure your teammates are, as well. But they set the kind of example that America needs."
Riley and the rest of the seniors will have a chance to see the President again in a few weeks. Bush will address the class of 2001 at the May 20th graduation ceremonies.
"Everybody's joking that when he comes out here, we'll all know him, give him hugs and high fives," senior Kelley Siemon said.
"There's no way this year could have been better," Joyce said. "No way."
All News Stories for Tuesday, April 24, 2001