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Veteran Notre Dame head coach is just second person to earn award three times, and to receive it in consecutive seasons.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Before a standing room-only crowd that included her players, coaching staff and numerous supporters, Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw once again has been honored for her team’s success, earning the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award for the second consecutive season and third time overall, it was announced Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
McGraw is just the second coach in NCAA Division I history to earn the AP’s top coaching award three times in her career, as well as the second to do so in consecutive seasons (Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma is a seven-time recipient, including back-to-back honors in 2008 and 2009). No other coach has received the AP National Coach of the Year award more than once since its inception in 1995.
McGraw received 17 votes for the 2014 AP National Coach of the Year trophy from the 36-member media panel that also casts weekly ballots in the AP Top 25 poll. West Virginia’s Mike Carey was second with eight votes, followed by Auriemma and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
McGraw, who also previously was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coach of the Year (her second consecutive conference Coach of the Year award and sixth of her career across five different leagues), has led Notre Dame to an unprecedented 36-0 record (the longest winning streak by any Fighting Irish team in any sport since World War II), including 13 wins over ranked opponents and seven over top-10 teams. She also piloted the Fighting Irish to the ACC regular season and tournament titles with a perfect 19-0 record, making Notre Dame the first conference school since 2002-03 to run the table, and culminating with a trip in the program’s fourth consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four (sixth overall).
Along the way, the Fighting Irish have won 34 of their 36 games by double digits and topped 80 points in 28 of those contests. What’s more, Notre Dame ranks among the top 10 in seven different NCAA statistical categories, leading the nation in both field goal percentage (.510) and three-point percentage (.408), while ranking second in scoring offense (on a school-record pace of 86.8 points per game) and assists (20.4 apg., including a school-record 735 total).
In addition, Notre Dame, which has appeared in the top five of both major national polls for the final 16 weeks of this season, including the final 13 weeks as the consensus No. 2 team in the nation.
On top of that, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in attendance (8,694 fans per game), registered five sellouts this season, all in its final six home games of the season, including both of its NCAA Notre Dame Regional tournament games last weekend.
McGraw has a record of 662-217 (.753) in 27 seasons at Notre Dame, ranking second on the all-time wins list for all sports in the 127-year history of Fighting Irish athletics. A 2011 inductee into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, McGraw has a career record of 750-258 (.744) in 32 years on the sidelines, ranking 10th in NCAA Division I history for career wins and 17th for career winning percentage.
A handful of additional coaching awards are still to be announced, including those presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), Naismith Awards and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), all of which are expected to be determined in the coming days (McGraw is a leading candidate for all three honors).
No. 2 Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA Women’s Final Four for the fourth consecutive season and the sixth time in program history. The Fighting Irish will play in the NCAA national semifinals at 6:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. CT) Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., against No. 11/9 Maryland live on ESPN, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN mobile app, with radio coverage on Michiana’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and nationally on the Westwood One/NCAA Radio Network.