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Stewart player of year; McGraw coach of year

By Doug Feinberg Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Breanna Stewart picked up right where she left off as a freshman. Connecticut’s versatile star has had a stellar sophomore year.

The 6-foot-4 guard/forward earned the Associated Press Player of the Year award Saturday, becoming just the third sophomore to achieve the honor. Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw was selected coach of the year for the second straight season.

The pair accepted their awards in front of a standing room only crowd that included the entire UConn and Notre Dame teams as well as Stewart’s family.

“It’s obviously a huge deal and I think the fact that being able to be named player of the year is awesome and I think it just shows how hard I’ve worked this season and the offseason,” Stewart said. “But it doesn’t compare to what could happen this weekend. I think this is nice, but it’s a team game and we want to win a national championship.”

Stewart, a unanimous All-American, got 20 votes from the 36-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike received eight votes while Baylor’s Odyssey Sims had six. Kayla McBride of Notre Dame received the other two votes.

Stewart joined former UConn star Maya Moore and Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris as the only sophomores to win the award. Stewart helped the Huskies win the national championship as a freshman and has been a major reason why the Huskies are undefeated this season.

“I just think she grew up,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of his young star. “She’s a year older it’s not easy to be that good when you’re that young and haven’t played a lot of college basketball. She has year’s more experience as to what it takes to go through a college basketball season and knowing her, I think she is going to get better and better each day each week and each month. I’m really happy for her.”

Like UConn, McGraw’s Irish squad hasn’t lost either, winning their first 36 games this season.

McGraw is only the second coach ever to win the award in consecutive years, joining Auriemma. West Virginia’s Mike Carey was second with eight votes. Auriemma was third and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley was fourth.

McGraw also won the award in 2001.

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