Notre Dame All-Americans Ruth Riley (Macy, Ind.) and Troy Murphy (Morristown, N.J.) are among the 15 male and female finalists for the Atlanta Tipoff Club Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards.
The Naismith Board of Selectors, which includes some of the country's leading basketball coaches, journalists, administrators, began the selection process in the fall. The winners of the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious honor in college basketball, will be honored in Atlanta on April 7, 2001.
Notre Dame was one of two schools (the other Duke) to have at least one male and female finalist. Murphy was one of four BIG EAST male players to the final list of 15 -- the two others were Troy Bell of Boston College, Michael Bradley of Villanova and Eddie Griffin of Seton Hall. Riley was joined on the final ballot by two players from Connecticut -- Svetlana Abrosimova and Shea Ralph.
Riley, also a first-team All-American as a senior, leads the top-ranked Irish in scoring (18.7) and rebounding (7.8) and has been named BIG EAST player of the week on four occasions this season -- more than any other BIG EAST player. She has recorded double-doubles in three consecutive games and in seven games total this season and has scored at least 20 points in eight of the last 12 games. According to the most recent NCAA statistics, Riley is the only player in the country among the top 20 leaders in blocks (third at 3.14/game) and field-goal percentage (fourth at .651). Riley enters the week two free throws from breaking the Notre Dame record for career free throws (447 by Beth Morgan, 1993-97) and needs just two rebounds to become the third Irish player to reach the 900-rebound milestone.
Murphy, a first-team consensus All-American as a sophomore, ranks third nationally in scoring as he is averaging a team-leading and career-best 23.2 points per game. He is second on the team in rebounding with a 9.3 rebounding average and leads the team with 10 double-doubles. Murphy, who has scored in double figures in 84 of 85 games during his career is one of only two players in the history of the Notre Dame men's basketball program to scored more than 1,800 points and grab more than 800 rebounds with 1,846 pointts nad 843 rebounds. He has been named BIG EAST player of the week four times this season and on 10 occasions during his career.