Irish celebrate national championship with postseason awards

NOW: Irish celebrate national championship with postseason awards

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It's been a week of celebration for Notre Dame basketball.

While the men's team looked back on its season Monday night, the women had more to celebrate than ever, less than two weeks removed from winning the national championship.

The Irish took a look back on their dream season with the annual postseason award show, and reminisced on the careers of their four outgoing players.

"We wanted to celebrate the seniors," said head coach Muffet McGraw. "[We wanted them] to get up and speak to the crowd and just talk about their experience here at Notre Dame."

Even beyond the senior class, the adversity Notre Dame faced on its road to the championship could have easily proven too much. To McGraw, it was important to recognize every player that helped keep the team on track.

"We have so many MVPs and couldn't have won without them," said McGraw. "It's amazing. One person missing, we wouldn't have been able to do it."

Still, there was no surprise that the Final Four hero Arike Ogunbowale was ultimately named the team's MVP by both the media and the Monogram Club.

After a whirlwind week full of interviews and appearances across the country, the star junior said it was nice to be back in familiar territory.

"[It means a lot] being able to share this experience with my team," she said, "and being able to bring a national championship back to the school. I mean, everyone's been congratulating us and are just really happy for us."

Before handing out individual honors at its annual postseason awards show, the Irish signed autographs for hundreds of fans lining the halls of Purcell Pavilion.

The allotted hour for the signing session actually wasn't enough, as the ceremony had to be pushed back to accommodate the demand for autographs. While this wasn't the first chance for fans to greet the team, their enthusiasm was once again noticed by the Irish.

"It is so great to be with the fans because they mean so much to us," said McGraw. "We get to see them when we're out in the community, but to have them here tonight to celebrate with us makes it even more special.

"I wasn't expecting this many [fans] but we're so happy to have them here."

Award Winners

Monogram Club MVP: Arike Ogunbowale

Most Spirited: Mikayla Vaughn

Co-Most Improved Players: Kristina Nelson and Jackie Young

Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Marina Mabrey and Jackie Young

Knute Rockne Student-Athlete of the Year: Nicole Benz

Woody Miller Award (media MVP): Arike Ogunbowale

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