March 21, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame has a player in contention for major national honors, with Friday’s announcement that Fighting Irish senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) has been selected as one of four remaining contenders for the prestigious Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the national player of the year, according to a release from the award’s presenting organization, the Atlanta Tipoff Club. McBride follows in the footsteps of Skylar Diggins, who was a Naismith Trophy finalist in both 2012 and 2013.
This also is the second time in a little more than two weeks that McBride has been chosen as a finalist for a major national player of the year honor, having joined Notre Dame sophomore guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) on the final 15-person ballot for the Wooden Award on March 6.
In addition, McBride is the second Notre Dame representative in the past three days to be tabbed a finalist for a national Naismith honors from the Atlanta Tipoff Club. On Wednesday, head coach Muffet McGraw was chosen as one of four finalists for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year award, an honor the Fighting Irish skipper earned for the second time in her career last season (she already has been named ACC Coach of the Year, as well as espnW and Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year this season).
McBride is aiming to follow the path blazed by another Notre Dame great, Ruth Riley, who not only was one of four finalists for the 2001 Naismith Trophy, but went on to become the first Fighting Irish player to receive the award that season. Joining McBride as the other finalists for this year’s Naismith Trophy are Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford), Odyssey Sims (Baylor) and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut).
The finalists were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on player performances this season. The 2014 Naismith Trophy recipient will be announced on April 7 in Nashville, Tenn., site of this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four.
For the 10th consecutive year, fans will have the opportunity to vote for the player of their choice and help determine the 2014 Naismith Trophy recipient. Beginning next Monday (March 24) and running through April 5 fans can cast their vote through the online and mobile optimized site www.NaismithVote.com. The fan vote represents 25 percent of the selection process — the largest fan impact of any collegiate basketball award.
Already an espnW first-team All-America choice, McBride is one of the country’s top all-around players and recently was chosen as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year by the league’s 15 head coaches and was a consensus first-team all-ACC choice by the coaches and conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel (media). A member of the 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team Player Pool, McBride has started all 32 games for Notre Dame this season, registering career highs of 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a 1.82 assist/turnover ratio, while tying for team-high honors with 11 20-point games.
McBride is a fixture among the ACC statistical leaders, ranking in the top 15 in five categories — scoring (11th), free throw percentage (3rd – .874; also 20th in the nation), assist/turnover ratio (5th), assists (10th) and three-point percentage (10th – .368). Her numbers were even sharper in conference games, where she ranked seventh in scoring (19.3 ppg.), first in free throw percentage (.919), third in assist/turnover ratio (2.03) and eighth in assists (4.1 apg.).
On Feb. 3, McBride swept all the major national player of the week awards (espnW, United States Basketball Writers Association and NCAA.com) and was named ACC Player of the Week after averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists with a .600 field goal percentage in wins over No. 8/6 Maryland, Virginia Tech and No. 3 Duke.
Those performances are part of McBride’s remarkable success in 11 games against Top 25 opponents this year, against which she has averaged 19.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .466 field goal percentage. In six games against top-10 teams, she’s even better, averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .495 field goal percentage.
Ranked No. 2 in the latest Associated Press and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today polls, Notre Dame (32-0) has earned the No. 1 seed in the Notre Dame Region for the 2014 NCAA Championship, and will tip off tournament play at 1:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday against Northeast Conference champion Robert Morris at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio. The game will be televised live to a full national audience on ESPN as well as online through the WatchESPN platform, while the Notre Dame Radio Network broadcast can be heard live in Michiana on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and online through the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv), with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.
Tickets for this weekend’s NCAA Championship games in Toledo (Vanderbilt and Arizona State meet in Saturday’s other first-round game at 11 a.m. ET, with the first-round winners meeting Monday night) currently are on sale through the Toledo Athletics Ticket Office (419-530-4653; utrockets.com) or at the Savage Arena ticket windows on game day.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director