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ND Women’s Basketball

McGraw reflects on her Hall of Fame induction

| Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Irish head coach Muffet McGraw discussed the preparations she has been putting in to add the words “Hall of Famer” to her biography with the media Tuesday, as she readies herself for her induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

Irish head coach Muffet McGraw crouches during Notre Dame's 88-82 overtime victory over Purdue on March 19 at Purcell PavilionObserver Photo Department | The Observer
Irish head coach Muffet McGraw crouches during Notre Dame’s 88-82 overtime victory over Purdue on March 19 at Purcell Pavilion

McGraw is about to enter her 31st season as head coach at Notre Dame. And in her 30 years at the helm, she has guided her squad to 765 victories, 24 NCAA tournament appearances, 15 Sweet 16 appearances, seven trips to the Final Four and the 2001 national title.

McGraw said being named to the Class of 2017 in April has created the chance to walk down memory lane with her former players and all those who coached under her, an opportunity she has relished.

“It’s been such a great time to reflect back on all of the assistant coaches, all of the amazing players that I’ve had,” McGraw said. “It’s really something that I rarely do — usually I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. So, it’s really been great to talk to all the players and coaches and just to think about this 30-year career at Notre Dame. I mean, it’s amazing that I’ve been able to stay here that long, and I’m just so lucky to be here.”

While McGraw is thrilled with the Hall of Fame honor, she admitted she is more nervous than excited for the impending ceremony.

“[I feel] anxious, really anxious,” McGraw said. “I got the dress, so I think that was my main stumbling block. … After that, I did the speech — had to turn that in last week. So hopefully I can enjoy it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.”

McGraw has arguably been one of the greatest draws to the sport of women’s basketball for much of the duration of her tenure at Notre Dame. Once inducted, McGraw will become one of only a handful of women in the Hall of Fame — a fact of which she is well aware.

“I do take a lot of pride in that [being a woman in the Hall of Fame],” McGraw said. “I think it’s great for women to be recognized on the same par as the men. I think that, in the future, there’s going to be a lot more women, so I’m kind of happy to be blazing a trail.”

McGraw was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, but said that breaking through to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame felt like reaching the ultimate level of her sport.

“Well, I think it’s great for women in general just to know that we can achieve those things,” McGraw said. “I think getting into the women’s Hall of Fame was really exciting for me a few years ago, but this one just feels so much bigger. It’s just — this is it. This is the pinnacle. So, I think someday I am going to look back and really appreciate what I’ve had.”

McGraw took the time Tuesday to look back to the beginning of her Notre Dame career, reflecting on the fact that coaching the Irish felt like a long-shot for her when she first applied for the head coaching job.

“Well, I had had a little bit of success at Lehigh, but on a very small scale, and each year the NCAA tournament would roll around, and we would look at all the games in March and think, ‘Someday, I want to be on the sideline coaching in a game like that,’ McGraw said. “And then when the Notre Dame job opened, I was a little hesitant — I really liked it at Lehigh, I was really happy there — and [my husband] Matt was the one who really pushed me to apply, and so I felt like, ‘What the heck, I’ll send my resume in and see what happens.’”

And what happened was McGraw became one of the most highly regarded coaches of all time. Many of McGraw’s players go into coaching and many continue playing in the WNBA and overseas. But McGraw is also famous for turning out players who are more than just talented players.

“I love to hear the ones that continue playing and ‘I still here your voice in my ear,’” McGraw said. “I think that really means something to me, and just to see the way they’ve flourished in the WNBA and playing overseas, I think it’s been great to see their confidence grow, to see what they’ve become and know that the future is bright because there are some terrific leaders that we’ve had.”

While McGraw will be reaching the height of basketball — women’s or men’s — this week, she noted there are two people who have helped her tirelessly along the way, and who will be standing beside her Friday: her husband, Matt, and her son, Murphy.

“Well, I couldn’t have done it without Matt,” McGraw said. “I mean, you have to have a great partner who can do so many things — it’s fallen to him to do so many of the things that most of the moms do, most of the wives do — so he has been so supportive. And having Murph has really made it so much more fun. So, to have the two of them with me on Friday, that’s where the emotional part is going to come in.”

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a senior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident assistant in McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is currently serving as assistant managing editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

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