One hour after losing to UConn in the national championship game last Tuesday, Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw received even more devastating news. Her star player Jewell Loyd informed McGraw that she was leaving school a year early to enter the WNBA Draft.
"I was shocked," McGraw said Tuesday before the Notre Dame Banquet, speaking for the first time publicly about the situation. "It was a real blow. It was a bad day. We're incredibly disappointed in so many ways."
"I think I was numb--I couldn't really talk to her about it. She didn't really give us an opportunity to talk her out of it because the deadline was the very next day to declare so it was unfortunate with the timing, wish we had time when she made the decision which was apparently a couple weeks before."
The big question remains why Loyd made the decision.
"I don't really know what her reasoning is," McGraw said, pausing to try to come up with an answer. "Sorry. I don't know."
McGraw said Jewell told them 3-4 weeks ago that she would be returning and the team didn't make a big deal out of that because they didn't expect her to leave.
"I think it's really a bad decision for women to leave early," McGraw said referring to the women's game in general. "They are not making the money the men make. They are going to make less than $50,000 in the league. And to get your degree from a school like Notre Dame, it's just mind-boggling that anyone would choose to leave early."
Loyd was not in attendance for Tuesday night's banquet because she was attending the WNBA Rookie Orientation. The WNBA Draft is Thursday.
Meanwhile, the news is still very fresh for McGraw.
"I am definitely trying to get over this shock," McGraw concluded. "I think it's going to take a while."