Dec 3, 2013, 2:20 PM EDT
When the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team takes the floor in Iowa City this evening (9:15 pm ET on ESPN2), there will be at least a couple Iowans with deep ties to Notre Dame.
Fran McCaffery, head coach of the 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes, served as an assistant under Digger Phelps and John MacLeod at Notre Dame from 1988-99. During that time, he helped recruit Martin Ingelsby (’01) and Harold Swanagan (’02), both of whom are current Irish staff members.
But perhaps it is McCaffery’s wife, the former Margaret Nowlin (’92), whose connection to the University is strongest.
The St. Paul, Minn. native was a four-time Monogram winner, three-year starter and 1,000-point scorer (she tallied 1,312, to be exact) for Irish head coach Muffet McGraw from 1988-92.
As a senior, she led the squad with 16.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and was named first-team all-Midwestern Collegiate Conference. During that season, Nowlin also earned MCC Tournament MVP honors. In the championship game, she scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, leading Notre Dame to an upset victory over Xavier and its first NCAA tournament appearance in program history.
After receiving her degree in government in 1992, Nowlin played one year professionally in France, and later returned to Notre Dame where she was an assistant on Coach McGraw’s staff during the 1995-96 season.
A quick look at Margaret’s student-athlete questionnaire in her Notre Dame media relations file uncovered a few fun facts. She was born in Kabwe, Zambia, if she could meet anyone from history she would choose Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt, and her favorite Muppet is Grover.
If she was starting a college basketball team, which player would she choose first? David Robinson, now a regular in Notre Dame Stadium where he cheers on his son, Corey, a freshman receiver for the Irish.
While it is probably safe to say Margaret will be wearing black and gold tonight, there’s no doubt that part of her will always be cheering for old Notre Dame.