Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2015

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

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WHERE HAVE YOU GONE? In retirement, the basketball standout makes a larger impact than ever off the court BY LOU SOMOGYI F or the past several years while en route to four straight Final Fours, three national title contests, a 66-game regular-season winning streak, un- beaten Big East and ACC titles, etc., Notre Dame women's head coach Muffet McGraw has been regularly queried whether her latest juggernaut is the best in her 28 seasons. The response has been the same: "That remains to be seen." For McGraw, The Gold Standard re- mains the 2001 edition that captured the program's lone national title, led by 6-5 center and National Player of the Year Ruth Riley. That 34-2 campaign was culminated by first defeating nemesis UConn in the NCAA Final Four, and then Riley converting two free throws with 5.8 seconds left in a 68-66 victory over Pur- due in the final. She finished the contest with 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots. "It is not lost on me that my col- legiate career had a perfect ending," said the now 35-year-old Riley, who completed her first semester in Notre Dame's Executive MBA program this fall in the top-ranked Mendoza School of Business. "Not many athletes win a championship, and even fewer get to finish their collegiate careers by win- ning one." Eventually during a 13-year WNBA career that came to a close last spring, Riley also became the first person to win MVP awards in the NCAA Tour- nament and WNBA Championship (with the Detroit Shock in 2003, where she also won a second title in 2006). In 2004, she added basketball's version of the Triple Crown as a member of the Team USA Basketball squad that won the gold medal in Athens during the Summer Olympics. Yet when it comes to achievement in life, basketball might not even capture a bronze medal in Riley's world. HUMBLE ROOTS Growing up in rural Peru, Ind., Ri- ley was raised in a single-parent home by mother Sharon Riley with sister Rachel and brother Jake, and received no child support from the father. Ruth Riley, 1997‑2001 Center Riley's philanthropy overseas and in the United States has earned her global esteem. PHOTO COURTESY RUTH RILEY

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