March 22, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – 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 opponents, 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, the longest such stretch in school history.
On top of that, Notre Dame ranked fifth in the nation in attendance (school-record 8,571 fans per game) and led all 2012 NCAA Championship first/second round host sites with an average of 6,648 fans per game, including the two highest single-game attendance figures thus far in the tournament (6,777 on March 18 vs. Liberty; 6,519 on March 20 vs. California).
McGraw has a record of 588-214 (.733) in 25 seasons at Notre Dame, ranking second on the all-time wins list for all sports in the 125-year history of Fighting Irish athletics. A 2011 inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, McGraw has a career record of 676-255 (.726) in 30 years on the sidelines, ranking among the top 20 in NCAA Division I history for both career wins and career winning percentage.
Joining McGraw as regional coaches of the year and finalists for the 2012 WBCA Division I Coach of the Year award are: Brenda Frese (Maryland), Tom Collen (Arkansas), Curt Miller (Bowling Green), Kim Mulkey (Baylor), former Notre Dame guard and assistant coach/associate head coach Coquese Washington (Penn State), Raegan Pebley (Utah State) and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford).
This year’s recipient of the WBCA Division I Coach of the Year award will be announced at the second annual WBCA Awards Show on April 2 in Denver during the WBCA Convention that is held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
No. 4 Notre Dame will continue postseason play as the top-seeded Fighting Irish move into the NCAA Sweet 16 and a Raleigh Regional semifinal matchup with No. 21/25 (and fifth-seeded) St. Bonaventure at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPN2, with additional coverage on ESPN3/WatchESPN, and the live Notre Dame Radio Network broadcast can be heard free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com).
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 @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— ND —