Tensions high at awards presentation
Published: April 7, 2014 11:31PM
Updated: April 7, 2014 11:31PM
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In this Feb. 19, 2014, photo, Connecticut's Breanna Stewart smiles during an NCAA college basketball game against Central Florida in Hartford, Conn. Stewart says she's not cocky heading into the NCAA tournament, where she earned MVP honors a year ago in leading the Huskies to their eighth national title. But after a more consistent regular season as a sophomore, she is very confident. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Sports needs rivalries and the best are when talented teams legitimately don’t care for one another.

When that bad blood boils over on the championship stage, it makes for good theater.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and UConn’s Geno Auriemma left no doubt Monday where their undefeated programs stand.

The two talked about their strained relationship during a pregame news conference, including the tension in a crowded room at Bridgewater Arena over the weekend when their teams showed up to support the winners of The Associated Press coach of the year — McGraw — and player of the year, Huskies sophomore Breanna Stewart.

“I think there was definite tension in the room,” McGraw said. “I think, for us, we wanted Kayla McBride to win the player of the year award. So, I think it was a little bit of that.”

Apparently that didn’t sit well with Connecticut.

Auriemma said Monday that he felt Stewart should have won. The Huskies sophomore received 20 of the 36 votes from the national media panel that votes on the weekly Top 25. McBride finished fourth with two votes.

He said opponents get upset when any UConn player wins an award, and worse than that, they show it “because it’s Connecticut all the time, all Connecticut all the time. People are sick of it.”

Still, Auriemma stands by his program and his players.

“I thought Stewie deserved to be player of the year and I’m glad I was there to be a part of it. I thought Muffet deserved to be coach of the year and I’m glad I was a part of it.”