Apr 6, 2014, 10:46 AM EDT
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.
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