Senior Jeanette Pohlen was named Pac-10 player of the year on Tuesday, making her the fourth straight Cardinal player to win the award.
Also, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer was named Pac-10 coach of the year for the 11th time and for the seventh time in the past 10 seasons.
Chiney Ogwumike was named Pac-10 freshman of the year, becoming the eighth Stanford player to earn that honor and the first since Kayla Pedersen was conference freshman of the year in 2008.
Also, four of the five Stanford starters – Pohlen, Pedersen Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike – were named to the all-Pac-10 squad, although that honor has been cheapened by the fact that 15 players were named to the all-conference team. Three players from UCLA also were named all-conference.
Pohlen’s honor is the biggest. It’s the seventh time in the past eight seasons and the 15th time overall that Stanford has had the conference player of the year. Last year, Nneka Ogwumike was Pac-10 player of the year, and the year before it was Jayne Appel, so for the second straight year, Stanford will enter the postseason with two conference players of the year on the same squad.
Coming into this season, Pohlen had been considered the third best of Stanford’s three stars, behind Nneka Ogwumike and Pedersen. But Pohlen was the Cardinal’s best player against the top opposition this season, starring it the games against Tennessee, Xavier and Connecticut.
Pohlen’s 31-point effort in the upset of Connecticut was clearly the most impressive performance by a Stanford player this year, and one of the best performances by any player in the country – given the situation.
Her scoring average is up to 15.8, virtually tied for the team lead with Nneka Ogwumike and just 0.3 of a point off the Pac-10 lead. It’s a major improvement over her 9.8 scoring average of last season. Her overall shooting percentage has increased from 38.5 percent last season to 45.3 this year, and her three-point shooting is up to 43.2 percent this season (second in the Pac-10) after being 37 percent a year ago. Despite the increase in scoring, her assists are up a bit from 4.5 last year to 4.8 this season, ranking third in the Pac-10. She also leads the conference in foul shooting at 90.8 percent, which would rank sixth nationally if she had enough attempts to qualify. (She is three made free throws shy of qualifying).
Despite Sanford’s dominance of the Pac-10 player of the year award, it is noteworthy that only two Stanford players – Nneka Ogwumike last season and Candice Wiggins in 2008 and 2006 – have won Pac-10 scoring titles, and only one – Nicole Powell – has won a conference rebounding title. That speaks to the balance of the Cardinal squads this season and over the years.
Stanford has three players among the Pac-10’s top 10 scorers this season and three among the top seven rebounders.
Stanford, which won the regular-season Pac-10 title for the 11th straight year, plays in the conference tournament semifinals on Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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