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Notre Dame’s McGraw earns Coach of the Year honors; UNC’s DeShields top freshman
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Maryland senior Alyssa Thomas has been voted the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year for a record-tying third time, as announced today by Commissioner John Swofford.
In addition to recognizing Thomas, the ACC’s Blue Ribbon Panel chose Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw as the 2014 ACC Coach of the Year, while North Carolina’s Diamond DeShields earned Rookie of the Year honors.
Thomas, a 6-foot-2 senior from Harrisburg, Pa., joins former Duke All-American Alana Beard (2002-04) as the only student-athletes to be voted the ACC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year three times. Like Beard, Thomas earned the honor in consecutive seasons after first receiving the nod as a sophomore in 2012 and again last season.
With Thomas leading the way, Maryland enters the 2014 ACC Women’s Tournament ranked eighth nationally and boasting a 24-5 overall record. Thomas has averaged 18.7 points per game to rank fourth among conference scorers and ranks second in rebounds at 10.8 per game.
In addition to shooting 52.5 percent from the field, Thomas owns an 81.3 percent touch from the foul line and ranks fourth in the ACC in assists with 4.3 per contest. Thomas is one triple-double shy of tying the NCAA career record of seven and is the only player in ACC history with four triple-doubles in a single season.
The latest Player of the Year honor is the fourth ACC major postseason honor for Thomas, who was voted the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2011. That also matches the mark set by Duke’s Beard, who was voted the 2001 Rookie of the Year before beginning her three-year Player of the Year run.
Notre Dame’s McGraw led the Irish through a seamless transition in their first season of ACC competition, as the Fighting Irish own a 29-0 overall record that included a 16-0 mark in conference regular-season play. Notre Dame is one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in NCAA Division I, and its 29-game winning streak is the second-longest in school history.
McGraw, who owns 743 wins in 32 seasons as a collegiate head coach, has her team ranked second nationally heading into postseason play. Her Fighting Irish will enter the ACC Tournament as only the ninth team conference women’s basketball history to finish undefeated in ACC regular-season play, and only the fourth team with a perfect 16-0 league record.
North Carolina’s DeShields made an immediate impact as a freshman, ranking 10th among ACC scorers at 17.7 points per game while also ranking among the conference leaders in steals (1.7 per game) and free-throw shooting (75.7 percent).
A 6-foot-1 guard from Norcoss, Ga., DeShields was voted the ACC Rookie of the Week three times and was named the espnW National Player of the Week on Feb. 16 after her 38-point effort (the highest single-game effort ever by a UNC freshman) keyed the Tar Heels to an 89-82 win at NC State.
The 37th Annual ACC Women's Basketball Tournament tips off at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 5 at the Greensboro Coliseum, and will conclude with the 7 p.m. championship contest on Sunday, March 9. The title game will be televised on ESPN, and Saturday’s 5 p.m and 7:30 p.m. semifinal games will be shown nationally via ESPNU. All 11 games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be broadcast on the league’s regional sports network (RSN). The entire tournament can also be seen on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
2014 ACC Player of the Year: Alyssa Thomas, Sr., F, Maryland
2014 ACC Coach of the Year: Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame
2014 ACC Rookie of the Year: Diamond DeShields, Fr., G, North Carolina