March 11, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - As the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball season comes to a close, ACC champion Notre Dame continues to add awards to its trophy case, with the Fighting Irish picking up two major honors on Tuesday when senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) was named the ACC Player of the Year and head coach Muffet McGraw was chosen as the ACC Coach of the Year, according to a vote of the league's 15 head coaches announced Tuesday by the conference office.
This marks the third consecutive season in which a Notre Dame player has earned a conference player of the year award, following Skylar Diggins' back-to-back selections as BIG EAST Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013. McBride also was a first-team All-ACC choice by both the conference coaches and the Blue Ribbon Panel (made up of media, coaches, media relations personnel and local/national basketball experts).
"I'm honored and extremely grateful, and I want to thank the ACC coaches for this award," McBride said. "This is something that I share with all of my teammates and coaches who all have had a part in making this possible. They're the ones that push me in practice, that challenge me to get better every day, and it's because of them that we have been able to have the kind of success as a team we have had so far."
"This is an incredibly well-deserved award for Kayla," McGraw said. "She's a tremendously humble and hard-working player who is always looking for ways to make herself and her team better. The growth and development she has shown, not only this season but throughout her four years at Notre Dame, is remarkable and we are so thrilled that she has been recognized with this award."
Meanwhile, McGraw completed a sweep of the ACC Coach of the Year honors, having also received the award from the ACC's Blue Ribbon Panel in voting announced last week.
"Our players, coaching staff and I share this award together," McGraw said. "Everyone in this program has had a particular role in our journey this season and it's their ability to embrace those roles and contribute to the greater team goals that has allowed us to have the kind of success we've had to this point."
The complete rundown of the ACC women's basketball honors for this season can be found on the conference's official web site, theacc.com.
A consensus All-America choice last year, McBride is one of the country's top all-around players and a candidate for all major national player of the year awards this season. A member of the 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team Player Pool, McBride has started all 32 games for Notre Dame this season, registering career highs of 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a 1.82 assist/turnover ratio, while tying for team-high honors with 11 20-point games.
McBride is a fixture among the ACC statistical leaders, ranking in the top 15 in five categories -- scoring (11th), free throw percentage (3rd - .874; also 19th in the nation), assist/turnover ratio (5th), assists (10th) and three-point percentage (10th - .368). Her numbers were even sharper in conference games, where she ranked seventh in scoring (19.3 ppg.), first in free throw percentage (.919), third in assist/turnover ratio (2.03) and eighth in assists (4.1 apg.).
On Feb. 3, McBride swept all the major national player of the week awards (espnW, USBWA and NCAA.com) and was named ACC Player of the Week after averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists with a .600 field goal percentage in wins over No. 8/6 Maryland, Virginia Tech and No. 3 Duke.
Those performances are part of McBride's remarkable success in 11 games against Top 25 opponents this year, against which she has averaged 19.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .466 field goal percentage. In six games against top-10 teams, she's even better, averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .495 field goal percentage.
McGraw earned her sixth conference Coach of the Year award this season, and fifth at Notre Dame following previous honors in the BIG EAST (2001, 2013), Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League (1991) and North Star (1988) conferences, as well as in the East Coast Conference (1983) when she was coaching at Lehigh. She also is the second Fighting Irish coach to earn top honors in consecutive seasons, following Mary DiStanislao, who was named North Star Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1986.
McGraw led Notre Dame to the ACC regular season and tournament championships in the program's inaugural season in the conference, posting an unblemished 19-0 record against league foes to become the first non-charter member of the ACC (or school from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle) ever to run the table in conference play, dating back to the league's first women's basketball season in 1977-78.
What's more, under McGraw's guidance, Notre Dame never trailed at halftime or by more than six points at any time during its 19 conference games this season en route to winning the regular season crown by four games (the largest margin by an ACC champion since Duke in 2001-02) and averaged 86.5 points per game during the ACC regular season, the highest scoring output by a conference squad since 1990-91 (Virginia and North Carolina State).
By winning the ACC Championship, second-ranked Notre Dame (32-0, 16-0 ACC) has earned the conference's automatic berth into the 2014 NCAA Championship. The full 64-team field for this year's tournament will be announced at 7 p.m. (ET) March 17 live on ESPN.
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.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director