Muffet McGraw AP Coach of the Year as wellPublished 8:56am Monday, April 8, 2013
NEW ORLEANS — Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw once again has been honored for her team’s success this season, earning the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award, it was announced Saturday afternoon at New Orleans Arena.
It’s the second time in McGraw’s career she has received the AP’s top coaching honor, having also taken home the hardware in 2001, and it makes the Fighting Irish coach just the second person to receive the honor twice (Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma is a seven-time recipient).
McGraw received 24 votes for the AP National Coach of the Year trophy from the 40-member media panel that also casts weekly ballots in the AP Top 25 poll. Baylor’s Kim Mulkey was a distant second with seven votes, followed by California’s Lindsay Gottlieb.
This marks the second time in less than a week McGraw has received a major national coach of the year honor, following on the heels of her selection as the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Women’s National Coach of the Year on Thursday. A handful of additional coaching awards are still to be announced, including those presented by the Naismith Awards and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), both of which are expected to be determined early next week (McGraw is a finalist for those two honors).
McGraw, who also previously was named the Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year and the BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year, has guided Notre Dame through a seamless transition this season after losing four seniors (including three key starters) who accounted for 40 percent of her team’s scoring and rebounding on last year’s NCAA national finalist squad. Under McGraw’s tutelage, the Fighting Irish have reached even greater heights this year, posting a 35-1 record, tying last year’s school standard for wins in a season and two victories better than last year’s team through the same number of games played. Notre Dame also has advanced to the NCAA Women’s Final Four for the third consecutive season, and the fifth time in program history.
What’s more, Notre Dame won the program’s second consecutive outright Big East regular season title (and third in school history) with a perfect 16-0 record before defeating host Connecticut in the Big East Championship title game to secure the program’s first Big East postseason crown in its 18th and final season in the conference. It marked the first time in 20 years that a team other than Connecticut swept the Big East regular season and tournament titles in the same year, while the Fighting Irish became only the third non-Connecticut squad to go undefeated in Big East play (first since Rutgers in 2005-06).
Notre Dame has piled up a 12-1 record against ranked opponents this season, including six wins against top-10 teams.
What’s more, Notre Dame has appeared in the top five of both major national polls for 18 weeks this season, including the final five weeks as the consensus No. 2 team in the nation (after spending an additional six weeks at No. 2 in the AP poll).