Here are two takes on a meeting that took place in July on the college women’s basketball recruiting trail:
First, Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen: She was watching a game when Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw came up to her and started asking questions. How did your first season as a head coach go? How do things look for this year?
Whalen, frankly, was a bit shy. McGraw has 900-plus NCAA wins, nine Final Fours trips, two NCAA titles and 24 straight tournament appearances. Her starting five from last season’s team that went to the NCAA title game were all drafted into the WNBA.
Whalen can remember, as a freshman coming off an 8-20 season with the Gophers (better things were ahead), watching the 2001 women’s championship on TV as Ruth Riley led the Irish to the title.
“I was a little star-struck,” Whalen said. “It was like the first time I tried out for USA Basketball, and I talked to Geno [Auriemma]. It was the first time we’d talked. It took me a little while to be able to respond to questions.”
McGraw? She just figured Whalen was quiet because they hadn’t met before.
“I thought she was just taken aback,” McGraw said.
But, eventually, they talked for a half-hour. Whalen wants to get her team to where Notre Dame is. McGraw’s burning desire is to get more women like Whalen into college coaching.