Young and Mills Bring Home Hardware At C-USA Tournament
March 1, 2006
DALLAS - Tulsa head coach Charlene Thomas-Swinson and Golden Hurricane junior forward Jillian Robbins headline the list of Conference USA women's basketball award winners announced by the league today in Dallas, site of the 2006 C-USA Women's Basketball Championship. The championship begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday at SMU's Moody Coliseum.
Thomas-Swinson is in the midst of a highly-successful first season as Tulsa's head coach, leading the Golden Hurricane to a 22-5 record and the school's first-ever conference championship. TU finished 13-3 in league play, the most conference wins the school has ever produced, and the team is the No. 1 seed in this week's C-USA Championship. Thomas-Swinson, who helped turn around the St. John's program during a three-year stint as head coach in the late 1990's before serving as an assistant in the WNBA and at Florida, is the first person to earn Conference USA Coach of the Year honors in their first year at a school.
Robbins is on pace to become just the third player in C-USA history to lead the league in scoring (18.0) and rebounding (13.6) in the same season. A record six-time winner of the Conference USA Player of the Week award, Robbins led the country in rebounding for seven straight weeks earlier this season and currently places second. She is one of just two players in the nation to have two games with 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds in the same game, setting single-game rebounding records in two different arenas in the process. In addition to Robbins' rebounding prowess, she leads the conference in steals (77) and is second in blocked shots (64) and field goal percentage (.558). Along with being named Player of the Year, Robbins took home Defensive Player of the Year honors. It marks the second straight season that a player has earned both of those awards (TCU's Sandora Irvin).
Joining Robbins on the first team is Rice's Lauren Neaves, the league's preseason Player of the Year, Houston's Tye Jackson, SMU's Janielle Dodds and UAB's Carmen Guzman, the only All-Conference performer that played in C-USA last season. Neaves has led the Owls to a seven-game winning streak entering the conference tournament and tops the team in scoring (14.8 ppg), while placing second in the league in rebounding (11.0). A three-time Player of the Week selection, Neaves has 14 double-doubles. Jackson returned home to Houston after transferring from Purdue and became eligible to play on Dec. 17 due to transfer rules. Due to sitting out the first seven games of the season, she has not played in 75 percent of UH's games and does not appear among the league stat leaders. If eligible, she would be tied for the league lead in scoring (18.0 ppg) and would rank second in assists (5.4). Dodds averaged 15.5 points (fifth in C-USA) and 8.3 rebounds per game (third), while posting 11 double-doubles.
The All-Conference second team includes: East Carolina freshman guard Jasmine Young and junior center Cherie Mills, Marshall guard Sikeetha Shepard-Hall, Southern Miss freshman guard Kendra Reed and senior forward Megan Moody of Tulsa.
Named to the All-Conference third team were Houston freshman guard Sha'Ratta Hawkins, Rice guard Krystal Frazier, SMU forward Sarah Davis, Tulane guard/forward Jennifer Sands ad Tulsa point guard Kara Pongonis-Paslay.
For the first time in C-USA history, a pair of players share Freshman of the Year honors. East Carolina guard Jasmine Young and Southern Miss Kendra Reed each earned a share after their impact debut seasons. Young was second on the Pirates in scoring at 13.1 per game and dished out 144 assists, the ninth-highest total in school history. Reed has scored 20 or more points on 10 occasions, ranking fifth in the league with a 15.9 scoring average. She also places fifth in the conference in free throw shooting, hitting at a .863 clip from the charity stripe.
The league's Sixth Player of the Year award went to Paris Leonard of Memphis. The first Memphis freshman in 10 years to post a double-digit scoring average, Leonard is second on the Tigers with 12.9 points per game. She has connected on 38 three-pointers this season, the ninth-best single-season mark in school history.
Just three of the fifteen All-Conference honorees were seniors, with six underclassmen included among those that received recognition. Six of the fifteen all-league picks hail from the Houston area and seven are from the state of Texas. Regular season champion Tulsa was the only school to have three All-Conference performers, while East Carolina, Houston, Rice and SMU all placed two players on the all-league team.
Conference USA award winners were selected by a panel including the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media representatives.
2005-06 CONFERENCE USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL AWARD WINNERS
Coach of the Year
Player of the Year
Freshman of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Sixth Player of the Year