March 7, 2016
By Chris Masters
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Less than 24 hours after capping off its third consecutive sweep of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles, the No. 2/3 University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team added to its hardware haul, as five of its players and its head coach earned All-ACC honors from the league’s 15 head coaches, it was announced Monday by the conference office.
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) was a triple honoree on Monday, being named the ACC Player of the Year, as well as a member of the All-ACC First Team and the ACC All-Defensive Team, garnering the latter two awards for the second consecutive season.
This marks the fourth consecutive season Notre Dame has had a player chosen as its conference player of the year – Skylar Diggins earned the 2013 award in the BIG EAST, Kayla McBride was the ACC Coaches Player of the Year in 2014, and last year, Jewell Loyd swept both the ACC Blue Ribbon Panel and Coaches Player of the Year honors.
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner was named the ACC Player of the Year on Monday, following a vote by the conference’s 15 head coaches.
Last week, the conference coaches tapped Turner as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as an All-ACC First Team choice by the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel, which consists of designated media members who cover the conference’s 15 institutions, the ACC head coaches and its media relations directors, along with other selected national and regional women’s basketball experts.
Also on Monday, Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw earned her second ACC Coach of the Year trophy from her conference coaching peers, having also received the same honor in 2014. As was the case that season, McGraw received the ACC’s top coaching award from the Blue Ribbon Panel last week.
In addition, Notre Dame was well-represented on Monday’s All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman teams, as chosen by the conference coaches.
Duplicating last week’s selections by the ACC Blue Ribbon Panel, Turner joined Fighting Irish junior guard Lindsay Allen (Mitchellville, Md./St. John’s College) and graduate student guard Madison Cable (Mt. Lebanon, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) in earning spots on this year’s 10-player All-ACC First Team.
Like the Blue Ribbon Panel voting, Notre Dame was the only school with three first-team all-conference coaches’ selections this season, marking the fourth time in six years the Fighting Irish have fielded three first-team all-conference honorees in the same season (first since 2012-13 in the BIG EAST Conference).
Furthermore, the ACC coaches mirrored the Blue Ribbon Panel and selected two of Notre Dame’s freshman guards – Marina Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) and Arike Ogunbowale (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) – for the 2015-16 ACC All-Freshman Team. The Fighting Irish and North Carolina were the only programs with two all-freshman choices, the first time Notre Dame fielded a pair of all-rookie picks in the same season since a three-year run of multiple BIG EAST All-Freshman Team choices from 2007-09.
Junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen leads a group of five Notre Dame players that collected All-ACC honors from the league’s head coaches on Monday.
The complete rundown of conference award recipients can be found on the ACC’s official web site, theacc.com.
Turner is a prime candidate for every major national player-of-the-year honor, including the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, the Naismith Trophy (she is one of 10 semifinalists) and the John R. Wooden Award (she is one of 15 candidates on the award’s final ballot).
Despite missing six games with a shoulder injury early in the season, Turner has been one of the ACC’s most consistent players all year long, starting the other 26 games she has suited up for and leading the conference in field-goal percentage (.596 ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” also fifth in nation as of Sunday) and blocked shots (3.2 bpg. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 12th in nation), while ranking 10th in rebounding (7.3 rpg.) and 11th in scoring (14.3 ppg.) with three double-doubles.
Turner was equally strong during conference games, leading the ACC in field-goal percentage (.658) and blocks (2.9 bpg.), while ranking eighth in scoring (15.4 ppg.) and 12th in rebounding (7.3 rpg.).
After blocking 89 blocks as a rookie last year, Turner has recorded 82 blocked shots this season, already standing sixth on Notre Dame’s single-season blocks list. In fact, she joins Ruth Riley as the only Fighting Irish players ever to post multiple 80-block seasons – Riley did so during her final three years under the Golden Dome from 1998-99 through 2000-01.
Turner was named to the All-ACC Tournament First Team for the second year in a row on Sunday after nearly averaging a double-double with 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game in three Fighting Irish victories. She tallied a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) in the championship game win over No. 17 Syracuse on Sunday after narrowly missing a double-double (17 points, nine rebounds) in a semifinal victory over No. 21 Miami one day earlier.
Allen, a final candidate for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the country’s top point guard and a first-team All-ACC Tournament pick on Sunday, leads the ACC in both assists (5.7 apg. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 22nd in nation) and assist/turnover ratio (2.39 ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 21st in nation) while averaging 8.9 points per game. In conference play, she likewise led the ACC in those two categories with 5.6 assists per game and a 2.43 assist/turnover ratio, while ranking third in the league with a .549 field-goal percentage.
In addition to being a Lieberman Award final candidate, Allen also was named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30 List and was chosen as the ACC Player of the Week on Dec. 28 after collecting 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds a week earlier at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.).
In last weekend’s ACC Championship, Allen averaged 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists with a 2.25 assist/turnover ratio in the three Fighting Irish wins. She turned in a well-balanced line in the semifinal win over Miami with 14 points, six rebounds and eight assists, then skillfully managed the Notre Dame offense against an aggressive Syracuse defense in the championship game, collecting eight points, five rebounds and six assists in steering the Fighting Irish to the title.
Graduate student guard Madison Cable was named the ACC Tournament MVP on Sunday after scoring 18 points on a career-high-6-of-9 three-pointers and grabbing eight rebounds in Notre Dame’s 68-57 championship game win over No. 17 Syracuse.
Fresh off her selection as the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player on Sunday, Cable (who also was a two-time ACC Player of the Week selection this year) has posted career-high averages in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and double-doubles. She ranks among the top 20 in the ACC in five different categories, including a conference-best .476 three-point percentage (good for No. 4 in the nation). She also is eighth in the ACC in three-pointers per game (2.2), 10th in steals (1.8 spg.), 15th in field-goal percentage (.502) and 18th in scoring (13.7 ppg.) with three double-doubles to her credit.
In conference games, Cable ranked fourth in the ACC in free-throw percentage (.850), seventh in three-point percentage (.385), 15th in field-goal percentage (.472) and 23rd in scoring (12.2 ppg.).
Cable has been especially strong against Top 25 opponents this season, averaging a team-high 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with a .517 three-point percentage and all three of her double-doubles. She also was named the Most Valuable Player of the Junkanoo Jam’s Freeport Division on Nov. 28 after averaging 17.5 points and 6.0 rebounds with a .688 field-goal percentage in leading Notre Dame to wins over Denver and UCLA to claim the tournament title.
This past weekend at the ACC Championship, Cable averaged 14.3 points and 5.0 rebounds with a stellar .611 three-point percentage in the three Notre Dame wins. She was at her best in the championship game against Syracuse, pouring in 18 points on the strength of a career-high 6-of-9 three-pointers, while grabbing eight rebounds for good measure.
Freshman guard Marina Mabrey was one of two Notre Dame players to make this year’s ACC All-Freshman Team after averaging 10.6 points per game and scoring in double figures 19 times so far this season.
Mabrey has been part of one of the nation’s premier bench units, ranking fourth on the team in scoring at 10.6 points per game with 19 double-figure scoring games to her credit (good for sixth among conference rookies). She also ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage (.451), as well as sixth in free-throw percentage (.800), and 14th in both steals (1.7 spg.) and field-goal percentage (.509).
Mabrey was chosen as the ACC Rookie of the Week on Nov. 30, two days after making the Junkanoo Jam All-Tournament Team. Those two honors capped a week that saw her average 18.5 points and 5.0 steals per game at the Junkanoo Jam, on the heels of a triple-double at Valparaiso (18 points, school-record 12 steals, 10 assists), the fifth in school history and first by a freshman (second by an ACC rookie).
What’s more, Mabrey pulled off the second-fastest triple-double to start a career in NCAA Division I history, doing so in her fourth college game. She is one of 19 players in the nation to record a triple-double this season, and one of two ACC player to do so, along with Syracuse’s Cornelia Fondren.
Mabrey also has shown she can thrive on the big stage, averaging 10.4 points per game with a .557 field-goal percentage and .652 three-point percentage against ranked opponents. That includes a career-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting at top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 5, a performance that featured 21 first-half points on 9-of-10 shooting and 12 in a row to open the second quarter.
Freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale ranks fifth among ACC freshmen with 21 double-digit scoring games this season, including a career-high 21 points on Dec. 12 in a win at TCU.
Ogunbowale teamed with Mabrey to provide solid punch from the Fighting Irish second platoon this year, ranking third on the team and 25th in the ACC (fifth among league rookies) in scoring at 11.7 points per game, while placing fifth among ACC freshmen with 21 double-figure scoring games.
During league play, Ogunbowale was equally sharp, ranking 20th in the ACC in scoring (12.6 ppg.), as well as 14th in free-throw percentage (.768).
Ogunbowale also earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors on Dec. 14 after pouring in a career-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting in a win at TCU two days earlier.
Muffet McGraw not only is a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016, but she also is now a seven-time conference coach of the year and a prime candidate to earn national coach-of-the-year honors for the fourth time in her career.
For McGraw, this is the third time in four years, and the seventh time in McGraw’s career that she has been named a conference coach of the year, covering five different leagues. She previously was honored in 1983 (East Coast Conference, while coaching at Lehigh University), as well as six times during her 29-year career at Notre Dame – 1988 (North Star Conference), 1991 (Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League), 2001 and 2013 (BIG EAST), and 2014 and 2016 (ACC).
One of 14 finalists in the Class of 2016 for induction in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as a leading candidate for every major national coach-ofÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬”the-year award this season, McGraw recently led Notre Dame to its third consecutive sweep of the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, becoming just the second ACC women’s basketball program to pull off that feat and the first since Duke from 2001-04.
Notre Dame’s success this season has been even more remarkable considering the Fighting Irish have had to navigate through a host of challenges, including the loss of two starters from last year’s team that played for the NCAA title, notably leading scorer, All-America guard and 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year Jewell Loyd. In addition, Notre Dame had to deal with a preseason knee injury to freshman guard Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North) that ended her year before it began, and had to play without the injured Turner for a critical six-game stretch during the non-conference schedule, a gauntlet that included three ranked opponents (Ohio State, Connecticut, DePaul) and a fourth (UCLA) that entered the polls two days after it played the Fighting Irish.
Through it all, McGraw has displayed steady, firm leadership, piloting Notre Dame to a 31-1 record, including an active 24-game winning streak (the third-longest run in school history) and the program’s third 16-0 record in conference play during the past four seasons, including two of three years in the ACC. The Fighting Irish also are 10-1 against Top 25 teams this season, not counting the win over UCLA on Thanksgiving weekend in the Bahamas – the Bruins have been ranked ever since that game, currently standing 12th in the Associated Press poll and 14th in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association/USA Today poll.
In addition, Notre Dame ranked in the top 25 in six NCAA statistical categories, including five top-10 placements as of Sunday – field goal percentage (3rd – now .492), three-point field-goal percentage (4th – .406), scoring margin (5th ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” +19.1 ppg.), scoring offense (9th ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 79.2 ppg.), assists (10th ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 17.8 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (21st ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” 1.21).
By winning the ACC Tournament, Notre Dame (31-1, 16-0 ACC) has earned the conference’s automatic berth into the 2016 NCAA Championship, securing the program’s 21st consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament and 23rd in program history. The Fighting Irish will learn their first-round opponent, as well as the date, time and site of that game, when the full 64-team field for this year’s NCAA Championship is announced at 7 p.m. (ET) March 14 live on ESPN and WatchESPN.
The top 16 seeded teams in the NCAA tournament will play host to first- and second-round games March 18-21. At this stage, Notre Dame likely will be selected as a host site for those early-round games, and NCAA tournament tickets currently are on sale only to Fighting Irish women’s basketball season ticket holders through Notre Dame’s Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office (call 574-631-7356 or visit the ticket windows at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. ET). Should Notre Dame officially be chosen as a host site when the bracket is released on March 14, NCAA tournament tickets would go on sale to the general public beginning at 8:30 a.m. (ET) March 15.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, visit the main women’s basketball page on the University’s official athletics web site (UND.com/ndwbb), sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter and Instagram pages (@ndwbb), like the program on Facebook or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
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Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s basketball and women’s golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).