March 3, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has been selected as one of 20 finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award, it was announced Thursday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. It’s the fourth time McGraw has been named a finalist for the Naismith Award, adding to her selections in 1998, 1999 and 2001. She was accorded the honor in ’01 when Notre Dame won its first national championship.
This season, McGraw has piloted the Irish to a 25-4 record, a No. 10 national ranking and a runner-up finish in the BIG EAST Conference. In addition, she led Notre Dame to the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship, a run that included back-to-back victories over No. 6 Duke (the eventual Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up) and No. 10/9 Ohio State (this year’s Big Ten Conference co-champion) in the semifinal and title games. All told, Notre Dame has posted a 7-3 record against ranked opponents this season, including four top-10 victories, a mark that ties Penn State for the second-most in the nation this season.
McGraw has a record of 409-153 (.728) in 18 seasons at Notre Dame, having picked up her milestone 400th victory at the school on Jan. 23 with a 63-47 win over No. 6/7 Rutgers (the eventual BIG EAST champion). Including a five-year run at Lehigh from 1983-87, McGraw has a career record of 497-194 (.719) in 23 years on the sidelines, putting her just three wins away from becoming the 27th coach in NCAA Division I history to amass 500 career wins.
Joining McGraw on this year’s list of Naismith Award finalists are three other BIG EAST coaches — Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, Boston College’s Cathy Inglese and Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer. The 20 finalists currently are on the ballot from which the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will choose this year’s honoree. The winner will be announced at the Naismith Awards Banquet on April 8 in Atlanta.
McGraw and Notre Dame, who ended the regular season with wins in 12 of their last 13 games, will be back on the hardwood Sunday at 6 p.m. (ET) when they tip off play in the BIG EAST Championship with a quarterfinal contest against either West Virginia or Pittsburgh at the Hartford Civic Center. The game will be televised to a national cable audience by College Sports Television (CSTV), which also is available on DirecTV Channel 610.
— ND —