Giddy with excitement
In 13 seasons as the head coach at Notre Dame, Muffet McGraw has led the Fighting Irish to seven NCAA tournament appearances. In 1997, Notre Dame went to its first Final Four, and in 1999-2000, recorded the best winning percentage in school history. The Fighting Irish are currently 19-0 and ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. Check out McGraw's diary every other week on CNNSI.com.
February 1, 2001
I can't believe it's February already, and the regular season is winding down. We have been No. 1 for two weeks now and are still getting used to the bigger target on our back. Our goal for the rest of the year is to finish strong and maintain our focus on every game, so we can go into the Big East championship on a positive note.
The win over Connecticut definitely has been the highlight of our season thus far. To walk into our arena and see the sellout crowd of 11,418 enthusiastic fans, to be on ESPN and to be playing the No. 1 team in the nation was the kind of moment that you hope to have when you coach. It was an opportunity to upset the best team in the nation and also a chance to elevate our program to yet another level.
We were determined not to let this opportunity get away from us, and our seniors really got the team ready to play. We were confident, but after one of our starters broke her hand and Ruth Riley turned her ankle two days before the big showdown we were a little unsure as to how it would play out. Having Kelley Siemon play with a broken hand gave us a tremendous boost of confidence, and we fed off of her courageous performance.
It took a week and a win over Seton Hall to actually be named the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in our program's history. Despite all my filibustering that the rankings didn't matter in January, I was giddy with excitement. It took about two weeks to really sink in, and since I haven't slept much since being named No. 1, I've had a lot of time to enjoy it.
Kelley missed the next three games after the Connecticut win as a precaution. Without her in the lineup, we were a bit out of sync, but we played well enough to win and were able to beat Seton Hall, West Virginia and Providence. We expect her to be back this week and look forward to regaining our cohesiveness and getting back up to the level we were playing when we beat Connecticut.
-- Coach McGraw