Coaches Talk Basketball with Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw
Ann “Muffet” McGraw traded the court at the University of Notre Dame for a night of talking basketball at a coaches’ clinic, May 19 at Schuldes Sports Center.
McGraw, arguably the nation’s best-known active women’s basketball coach, was in her element in front of a group of area college and high school coaches. She directed a team made up of mostly Green Knights to share insights that helped the Fighting Irish win the 2001 NCAA Division I national title and advance to three of the past four national championship games.
“I love talking basketball, just having a little back-and-forth and talking about our Princeton offense,” McGraw says, “to just talk about things that will hopefully help their teams.”
Attendees recorded the talk on their iPads as McGraw set plays and gave examples of some of her favorite practice drills, encouraging questions throughout.
“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to speak with them and to learn from them. I think you always learn something new, no matter who you’re talking to,” she says.
McGraw was in northeast Wisconsin to give the keynote address at the Sport & Society in America conference sponsored by St. Norbert College and the Green Bay Packers. She was able to fit in time for the rare clinic.
“I don’t do a lot of them, maybe one a year,” McGraw says. “It's just a great opportunity. I’m excited to be up here.”
The Packers invited approximately 70 local coaches to the free clinic. Missy Dowden, girls’ basketball coach at Bonduel High School, was thankful for the chance to learn from McGraw.
“She was in the national championship this year,” Dowden said. “I love to bring it back to the girls and say, ‘Hey, this is what she showed me. Now let’s see what we can do with it.’ ”
McGraw credits good players, solid recruiting, excellent assistant coaches and staff for the success of the Fighting Irish, but the most important element is team chemistry, she says.
“Team chemistry, to me, is so much more important than anything, than Xs and Os, the talent,” she says. “How the players get along as a group is critical in women’s basketball.
"I really think that’s why we’ve been successful. We have teams that really get along well.”
June 3, 2014