Monday, September 5, 2011

Muffet McGraw's near-miss on Sept. 11, 2001

Just finished reading the Jeff Goldberg book "Bird at the Buzzer: UConn, Notre Dame and a Women's Basketball Classic," a well-crafted and insightful look at the riveting 2001 Big East final. Ironically, though, one of its most compelling tales had nothing to do with basketball. In the epilogue, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw recounts how at the last minute, she canceled her seat on a Sept. 11 flight out of Boston on United Airlines Flight 175. That plane would later be hijacked and flown into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. USA Today's Mike Lopresti also details McGraw's situation here.

The Notre Dame coach was in Boston to recruit Nicole Wolff, the daughter of new Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff and the 2002 McDonald's National High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Nicole Wolff would wind up signing with UConn.

In the 10 years since, McGraw has sought to put the incident behind her and has declined most requests for comment about her near-miss, including Lopresti's. But among the thoughts she shared in Goldberg's book:

"I had a hole in one in there, too, that year. You know how people say good things come in threes. They say, you won the (NCAA) championship, you had a hole in one, and you didn't get on that plane. It was a good year for me."

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