Feb. 27, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A pair of Notre Dame women's basketball players -- senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) and junior guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) -- are among a group of 30 players chosen for the 2012-13 Midseason Watch List for the Naismith Trophy, it was announced Wednesday by the award's presenter, the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Notre Dame was one of six schools in the country (along with Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Maryland and Penn State) to have multiple players named to this year's Naismith Trophy Midseason List, which identifies the top candidates for the prestigious national player of the year award.
This year's top 30 candidates were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances during this year's college basketball season. In late March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the pack to four finalists. The Naismith Women's College Player of the Year presented by AT&T will be awarded to one female athlete on April 8, 2013, during the NCAA Women's Final Four in New Orleans.
For the ninth consecutive year, fans will have the opportunity to text their votes for the player of their choice and help determine the 2013 Naismith Trophy winner. Voting will open to fans on Monday, March 25 (with details to come). Naismith Trophy presenting sponsor AT&T is making the voting open to other wireless carriers, enabling even more fans to participate.
Diggins, who was one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy last year, appeared on every major national player-of-the-year award midseason watch list in 2012-13, including the State Farm Wade Trophy (presented by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association), the John R. Wooden Award and the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year (presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association). Diggins also is one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award, and is one of seven final nominees for the Nancy Lieberman Award (given to the nation's top point guard), an honor she earned last year.
Meanwhile, McBride was a midseason addition to the candidate list for the Wooden Award, but was left off the 20-player USBWA Midseason Watch List for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award when it was released Tuesday afternoon, despite having been selected as the USBWA/Drysdale National Player of the Week on Jan. 7 (one of only a dozen players to earn that honor this season). All of the major midseason national player-of-the-year watch lists are not inclusive, in that players who excel throughout the season, but do not necessarily appear on the watch lists may end up being selected for the award.
Diggins was a consensus preseason first-team All-America selection and the Preseason BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, and she has done nothing to dissuade those early prognostications, having twice garnered BIG EAST Player of the Week citations, as well as five appearances on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll. She ranks among the top 10 in the BIG EAST in six different statistical categories, including assists (1st - 6.0 apg.), steals (3rd - 3.0 spg.), assist/turnover ratio (5th - 1.86), free throw percentage (5th - .810), scoring (6th - 16.5 ppg.) and three-point percentage (8th - .345). As of Monday, she also ranked 21st in the nation in assists and she leads the team with 23 double-figure scoring games (highlighted by a career-high 33 points on Jan. 28 in a win at No. 9 Tennessee), along with two double-doubles and the second triple-double of her career (17 points/10 rebounds/10 assists) on Feb. 24 in a victory at DePaul.
McBride, a two-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll choice, currently is tied for 10th in the BIG EAST in scoring (14.6 ppg.; a 25-percent increase in her production from last year) and leads the conference with a .915 free throw percentage. She also would rank sixth in the nation in free throw percentage, but she is three made foul shots shy of the minimum necessary for NCAA ranking (2.5 free throws made/game). McBride also is second on the team with 22 double-figure scoring games, including a career-high 25 points in Tuesday's win over No. 22/20 Syracuse. That performance is just the latest in several outstanding efforts for McBride against ranked opponents -- she has scored at least 15 points in eight of nine games against Top 25 teams this season, adding a (then) career-high 21 points in Notre Dame's 73-72 win at No. 1 Connecticut on Jan. 5.
Winners of 21 consecutive games, No. 2/2 Notre Dame (26-1, 14-0 BIG EAST) returns to the hardwood at 4 p.m. (ET) Saturday when it takes on Providence at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I. The game will be televised live as part of the syndicated BIG EAST Game of the Week package, with major outlets including the flagship station SportsNet New York (SNY) and ESPN3/WatchESPN (check local listings for further coverage). In addition, it is currently scheduled to air on a delayed basis on Comcast SportsNet Chicago at 1:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday.
The contest also can be heard live on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) in South Bend, as well as free of charge around the world on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.