But to do that, the Hall of Fame coach and two-time national championship winner will once again have to lead Notre Dame past the University of Connecticut in the NCAA Women’s Final Four, which features a match-up against fellow Hall of Famer (and Norristown native) Geno Auriemma.
Between them, McGraw and Auriemma have 13 national championships and 29 Final Four appearances. Unfortunately, that longtime rivalry inspired a cringe-worthy question to open McGraw’s press conference on Thursday, when she was asked if she could see herself being married to Auriemma if they weren’t competing against one another.
“Well there’s a question I didn’t expect,” McGraw said, laughing it off. “I could see us being friends, but I could not see us being married. So the answer is no, if he’s proposing.”
“You think Tom Izzo has to deal with this crap?" Auriemma said during his own press conference when told about the question. “I think it’s crazy. It’s like when you watch a game on TV, a women’s basketball game, they talk more about the shoes that the coach is wearing."
It might surprise casual viewers that roughly 40 percent of all women’s college basketball coaches are men. Of the four teams playing in the semifinals tonight on ESPN2, two are coached by men (Auriemma and Oregon’s Kelly Graves). Meanwhile, there isn’t a single woman coaching a Division I men’s basketball team, something that fortified McGraw’s position to only hire women for her coaching staff.
“Men run the world. Men have the power. Men make the decisions. It’s always the man that is the stronger one,” McGraw said Thursday. “All these millions of girls that play sports across the country, we’re teaching them great things about life skills, but wouldn’t it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead?”
While men’s basketball still dwarfs the female program in terms of ratings and attention, roughly 2.28 million viewers tuned in to ESPN2 during last year’s Final Four to watch Notre Dame’s overtime win over UConn. Some 1.51 million viewers tuned in to watch last year’s early game, when Mississippi State defeated Louisville.
When: Friday, April 5
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.
Time: 9 p.m. tipoff
TV: ESPN2 (Adam Amin, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo, Holly Rowe)
Streaming: WatchESPN app (requires cable authentication) ESPN+, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now, FuboTV, YouTube, PlayStation Vue (all require a subscription)