McGraw finalist for coach of the yearPublished 9:23pm Thursday, March 22, 2012
NOTRE DAME — For the second time in less than a week, Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw has been selected as a finalist for a major national coach of the year award, as she was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region I Coach of the Year, it was announced Thursday by the WBCA.
As this year’s regional selection (the third in her career to go along with nods in 1996 and 2001), McGraw becomes one of eight finalists for the WBCA Division I Coach of the Year award, an honor she took home in 2001 when the Fighting Irish won their first NCAA national championship.
Also a finalist for the 2012 Naismith National Coach of the Year award, McGraw has piloted Notre Dame to a 32-3 overall record this season and a 15-1 mark in the rugged Big East Conference, securing the outright Big East Conference regular season title by two full games (the second Big East crown for the Fighting Irish, and first outright championship in their 17 seasons as a conference member). She also has led Notre Dame to its third consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearance (a first in program history), the fourth in five seasons and the 10th in program history. What’s more, the Fighting Irish have posted their second consecutive 30-win season, reaching that milestone before the start of the NCAA Championship (both also are first-time accomplishments in the program’s 35-year history).
Under McGraw’s guidance, Notre Dame has earned a school-record 12 wins over ranked opponent, including five against top-10 teams (the most ever compiled in the regular season). The Fighting Irish also rank among the top 15 in the nation in 10 NCAA statistical categories, having led the nation in scoring for much of the 2011-12 season (they currently are second at 79.2 points per game), and the Fighting Irish have appeared in the top five of both major national polls for all 19 weeks this season.