Notre Dame gives out team awards for 2022-23 season
For the second straight season, Notre Dame made noise that forced the women’s basketball world to pay attention to it. The impact this past year was even greater than the year before though. The Irish upset UConn during nonconference play, won the outright ACC regular-season championship and made their second straight Sweet 16. That’s a year almost any program would take.
The book on the 2022-23 season officially closed Wednesday when the Irish held their awards banquet. It had to have been tough for ACC Coach of the Year Niele Ivey and her staff to select the winners of these awards. Then again, when you look at who won, you probably won’t be surprised. These winners embodied the very things they were honored for, and if the awards had to be voted on again, it’s likely the same results would have come out.
Here are the players who shined the most for the Irish this season:
Most Improved Player: Kylee Watson
Notre Dame’s Kylee Watson looks to pass the ball as Mississippi State’s Debreasha Powe defends during the Mississippi State-Notre Dame NCAA Women’s Tournament Second Round basketball game on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana.
In her first season with the Irish, Watson more than doubled her career scoring average at Oregon, and that’s only the beginning. Her 6.8 points a game, 4.2 rebounds a game and 60.1% shooting from the field all were drastic jumps from the year before. She only stands to get better as a senior.
Defensive Player of the Year: Sonia Citron
Jan 1, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Sonia Citron (11) knocks the ball away from Boston College Eagles guard Dontavia Waggoner (24) in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
With much of the Irish’s backcourt riddled with injuries late in the season, Citron was forced to up her game. She did so wonderfully, and the Irish wouldn’t have had the success they did without her. If you don’t believe that, her 6.2 win shares were a team high, and that propelled her to the All-ACC First Team and an honorable mention on the All-American Team.
Most Spirited: Dara Mabrey
Dec 4, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Dara Mabrey (1) shoots a three point basket in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies at the Purcell Pavilion. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Mabrey’s final college season was going along just fine until she tore her ACL during a game in January. While it was ending she or anyone envisioned, she remained on the sidelines during the final two months of the season to offer whatever assistance she could. It’s great to see her recognized for that.
Woody Miller Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player: Olivia Miles
Dec 21, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Olivia Miles (5) dribbles in the second half against the Western Michigan Broncos at the Purcell Pavilion. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Could you really see this award going to anyone other than the ACC leader in assists (6.9), Second Team All-American and runner-up for ACC Player of the Year? It’s a shame Miles injured her knee in the regular-season finale and couldn’t play after that. But she only has completed her sophomore season, so she has more than enough time to add to her growing legacy.