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Notre Dame

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Notre Dame notebook

Notre Dame’s McGraw honored as coach of year

– Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw was named The Associated Press women’s college basketball coach of the year for the second straight season Saturday.

McGraw has won the award three times, trailing only Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, who has seven and is the only other back-to-back winner.

“An incredible honor,” said McGraw, who also won the award in 2001.

“This is most definitely a team award. When you love the people you’re working with, it makes it a lot more fun.”

The Irish (36-0) play Maryland (28-6) in one NCAA tournament Final Four game tonight.

UConn’s Breanna Stewart was named The Associated Press’ women’s college basketball Player of the Year. The Huskies (38-0) face Stanford (33-3) in the other semifinal.

Grab a clipboard

The Irish lost Natalie Achonwa’s services as a player due to a serious knee injury.

The Irish gain her expertise as a quasi-assistant coach for their Final Four clash with Maryland.

“She’s been our most vocal leader the entire year, so that’s what she’s going to do on Sunday,” said Taya Reimer, who will start in Achonwa’s place.

Achonwa said she shares McGraw’s Zen philosophy.

“I’m just trying to let her know I’m still there in support mentally and emotionally,” Achonwa said.

Rivalry renewed

Notre Dame will renew its rivalry with UConn next season when the teams play Dec. 6 in Purcell Pavilion as part of the Jimmy V Women’s Classic. The teams did not play during the season this year but could play for the NCAA title Tuesday.