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Notre Dame head coach is first NCAA Division I skipper ever to sweep “Big Four” coaching honors three times in her career.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (und.com) — In a little less than a week’s time, Notre Dame women's basketball head coach Muffet McGraw has made a clean sweep of the nation’s top coaching awards for the second consecutive season, picking up two more major honors on Monday when she was selected as this year’s recipient of the Pat Summitt Trophy (presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association) and the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year award, as chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and its National Voting Academy.
On Saturday, McGraw was selected as the Associated Press Division I Women’s National Coach of the Year, followed a day later by her designation as the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Women’s National Coach of the Year.
With Monday’s final two announcements, McGraw locks up consensus National Coach of the Year honors for the third time in her career, having also done so in 2001. What’s more, she becomes the first NCAA Division I coach ever to sweep the four major national coaching awards three times in her career — Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma is the only other coach to sweep the “Big Four” honors more than once, doing so in 2008 and 2009.
McGraw is the third coach to earn the WBCA’s newly-renamed Pat Summitt Trophy three times in her career, dating back to the award’s inception in 1983. Only Auriemma (five) and the honor’s namesake, Summitt (three) have earn the award as many as times as McGraw, who joins Auriemma as the only back-to-back recipients of the WBCA honor (he did it in 2008 and 2009).
In addition, McGraw is the third coach to earn the Naismith Award three times, joining a select group that includes Auriemma (six times) and Summitt (five times), the legendary former Tennessee coach who retired after the 2011-12 season, with McGraw the second coach to earn the award in consecutive seasons (Auriemma in 2008 and 2009).
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 37-0 record (the longest winning streak by any Fighting Irish team sport since World War II), including 14 wins over ranked opponents and eight 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 leading to the program’s fourth consecutive NCAA Women’s Final Four (sixth overall) and its fourth trip to the NCAA national championship game (third in four years, just the fifth program to pull off that feat).
Along the way, the Fighting Irish have won 35 of their 37 games by double digits and topped 80 points in 29 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 (.405), while ranking second in scoring offense (on a school-record pace of 86.8 points per game) and assists (20.3 apg., including a school-record 750 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 663-217 (.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 751-258 (.744) in 32 years on the sidelines, ranking 10th in NCAA Division I history for career wins and 17th for career winning percentage.
No. 2 Notre Dame will play No. 1 Connecticut in the NCAA national championship game at 8:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. CT) Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., 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.