For the first time since 2011, a UConn women’s basketball player was named Associated Press National Player of the Year when it was announced on Saturday that sophomore forward Breanna Stewart took home the yearly honors.
She is the first Husky to be named player of the year since Maya Moore, who also won the award in 2009, but in 2010 the honor went to teammate Tina Charles. Baylor center Brittney Griner won the award in back-to-back years since the UConn three-peat.
“It’s a great reflection of our program and the University of Connecticut,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said according to the Hartford Courant. “Mostly it’s the hard work Stewie has put into the game, how much she has improved from last year. You could make a case for Chiney [Ogwumike of Stanford]. You could make a case for [Baylor’s] Odyssey Sims.
“But in the end, it’s hard to find somebody who’s had the type of season Stewie’s had all-around. And she’s so young. So much pressure on her, given what she did at the Final Four last year. It’s not easy for her.”
Stewart is averaging 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds for undefeated UConn.
Despite losing Skylar Diggins to graduation, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has led the Fighting Irish to a perfect season so far. She was presented with the Associated Press National Coach of the Year award on Saturday.
UConn and Notre Dame enter Nashville with unblemished records. One could end with a perfect season while Maryland and Stanford look to pull upsets.
The women’s Final Four tips Sunday night with Maryland-Notre Dame beginning at 6:30 p.m. followed by Stanford-UConn at 9 p.m.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.