Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2014 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BY LOU SOMOGYI E ver since her days as a point g u a rd f o r t h e C a l i f o r n i a Dreams of the Women's Pro- fessional Basketball League during the 1979-80 season, Muffet Mc- Graw has had an appreciation for the running game. Except back then she had to do just as much running off the court. "After we would get our checks, we had to race to the bank," she recalled, "and the first four players to get there were the ones who got their checks cashed." It was a time when women's ath- letics, especially in team sports, were in their embryonic stage. Attendance was known as the MCI crowd — only friends and family of the players. The first 32-team NCAA-sanctioned wom- en's basketball tournament didn't be- gin until 1982, and it wouldn't be until 10 years later that Notre Dame — a school that didn't even become co- educational until 1972 — participated in one. Today, McGraw has become the Knute Rockne of Notre Dame wom- en's basketball while shepherding it through some ebbs, but primarily flows, during her 27 seasons. The program has achieved tsu- nami-like growth the past four sea- sons — with three straight Final Four appearances and now an unbeaten 32-0 campaign, which includes ACC regular-season and tournament titles, prior to the NCAA Tournament — and many more years of high tide are in the forecast. "Coach is more energetic than us most days at practice," All-American senior guard Kayla McBride said. "I think coach is the most competi- tive out of all of us. … That mentality goes down to the assistant coaches and the players, and we take that to the younger players. It all starts with Coach McGraw." Although McGraw already has been to the summit with a 2001 national title, Act II of her career has enabled the program to blossom even more with consistent excellence. T h e 3 2 - g a m e w i n n i n g s t re a k eclipsed the program's previous stan- dard of 30 consecutive victories — set just last year despite the graduation of A RUN TO EXCELLENCE Muffet McGraw has cultivated a Golden Age for ND women

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