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McGraw on top of her game

Irish coach, Griner named AP coach, player of the year

Griner
Associated Press
Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw was selected the Associated Press coach of the year on Saturday.

– Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw is the Associated Press women’s basketball coach of the year again.

McGraw, who also won the award in 2001, received 24 votes and was presented with the award Saturday. Baylor’s Brittney Griner won the player of the year award for a second straight season.

McGraw did one of her best coaching jobs this season, getting the Irish back to the Final Four for a third straight year. Notre Dame (35-1) plays Connecticut (33-4) in the NCAA tournament’s semifinals today.

“She’s well deserving of the award this year with what we lost,” Irish guard Skylar Diggins said. “To keep us winning like this, that means a lot. She’s a great person and knows how to win and motivate her players to give their all for her. When you have someone who cares about you, you’ll do anything.”

Last year’s winner, Griner’s coach Kim Mulkey, was second with seven votes. Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who guided the Golden Bears to their first Final Four, was third.

“It’s certainly an honor and truly a staff award,” McGraw said. “I got the best staff in women’s basketball and we definitely are a great team.”

McGraw became the second coach to win it multiple times. She joined UConn’s Geno Auriemma, a seven-time recipient.

McGraw wasn’t alone in collecting awards.

Diggins was named the winner of the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is presented to the nation’s top point guard, for a second year in a row, and she was named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American team.

Diggins was joined on the WBCA’s All-American team by fellow guard Kayla McBride.

Griner is just the third player to earn the AP award in consecutive years, joining Seimone Augustus of LSU and Chamique Holdsclaw of Tennessee. Connecticut’s Maya Moore won it twice in a three-year span.

“Those names are pretty big; to have my name in there is an honor,” Griner said.

The three-time All-American got 37 votes from the 40-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike received two votes while Diggins earned the other.

Griner helped hand McGraw’s team its only loss of the season in early December.

The Irish haven’t lost since, winning a school record 30 straight games. That’s not bad for a team that graduated three starters from last season.

“I think she’s one of the best players to play the game,” McGraw said. “She definitely has been a really dominating presence in every way.”

Griner averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocks this season. She shot 61 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free throw line.

Griner was the second all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history, with 3,283 points. She is the top shot blocker ever, shattering both the men’s and women’s college marks with 748.

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