NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Women: 2014 All-Aussie Awards

Michael De Lacy takes a look back over the 2013/14 NCAA Division 1 hoops season and calls out the notable performances by the Aussie women.

Idaho | Overall (25-9), Conference (16-2)

The Vandals enjoyed a strong start to the season and an even more solid end to the year, losing only 2 games in 2014! Entering the season, Idaho were looking to prove something to the rest of the Western Athletic League and they definitely did not disappoint in showing once again they would be contenders.

This years squad managed to continue an amazing effort of 199 consecutive 3-pointers made in a game; a record which will continue into next season. In Stacey Barr's last game of the year in the NCAA tournament, the Vandals guard managed was uncharacteristically quiet in scoring just 4 points with 5 turnovers in 33 minutes. It was one of very few games this season in which she had a rough time in scoring.

This season Barr managed to move into 9th on the Idaho all-time scoring list with 1,278 career-points. Coach John Newlee had this to say after the loss;

“It's a tough way to end what for us was a great season. We talked about our goals of winning the regular season WAC title, winning the Tourney title and getting back to back in the NCAA tournament. The only goal we did not achieve was going further in the NCAA tournament.”

Barr averaged a team-best 18.7 points 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in leading the Vandals to back-to-back Western Athletic Conference titles. Not a bad year for the Junior at all! It was big increase in production, u from 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds as a sophomore.

Check out this exclusive interview with Stacey Barr (Click here).

Saint Mary's | Overall (23-10), Conference (11-7)

Enjoying a dream start to the season in winning 12 of their first 13 games through to December, the Gaels were unable to maintain the momentum into the New Year. In progressing to the second round of the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Gaels' run ended at the hands of UTEP 64-76. In securing 23 wins, the Gaels tied the school record for the second-highest total in school history.

Gaze in action for the Gael's vs BYU - Courtesy Saint Mary's College Athletics

During the season Kate Gaze averaged a solid 12.7 points, 4.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds and managed 89% from the foul line. It was arguably her finest year in college. Lauren Nicholson had a strong start to season but was slowed down by an injury. She contributed 12.4 points at 49% from field and 48% from beyond the arc alongside 2.7 rebounds in 18 games. 5’10” Hannah Kaser chipped in 2.5 points a contest in 26 games as a sophomore.

South Dakota | Overall (19-13), Conference (7-7)

Nicole Seekamp led her team with 15.3 points alongside 4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game while making 87.4% from the charity stripe. This season Seekamp was recognised for her performance by being named All-Summit League Honourable Mention. The Coyotes were able to overcome Denver 82-71 to become Summit League Champions. Seekamp had a spectacular game, going close to a triple-double in ending with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, while also snatching 5 steals in 34 minutes. In the NCAA tournament the Coyotes were defeated by Stanford 81-62 in a disappointing result, however Seekamp still managed to contribute 22 points. With their season coming to an end, we can look forward to another strong season by Seekamp in 2014/15.

St.Francis Brooklyn | Overall (19-11), Conference (10-8)

Even though Eilidh Simpson was hampered by injury during the season, the 5’7” team captain still managed a productive season. She finished the year averaging a team best 14.5 points including 45.4% from the field and 38.6% from beyond the arc with 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists. Simpson was also named in the Northeast Conference Second Team for the first time in her career. Coach John Thurston was full of praise for his team Captain;

"Eilidh is one of the toughest kids that I have ever been around in 41 years of coaching. She's a true heart and soul player."

Simpson made the following statement about the 2013/2014 season

"It was exciting but we didn't have much experience. We weren't really ready but this year we have taken a lot from last year, and we know what we need to do to be prepared for playoff games."

Jesssica Kaufman managed to snag 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists er game while shooting a reasonable 43% from field. In the battle of Brooklyn, the Terriers were able to defeat rivals LIU Brooklyn 66-55 for the 2nd year in a row. Both Aussies experiencing quiet games. Hoping to carry the momentum from their tight win over LIU, the Terriers fell in the Northeast Conference Championship to Bryant University 53-58. Again Simpson and Kaufman were both quiet, only managing 4 rebounds and 3 assists between them.

Fresno State Bulldogs | Overall (22-11), Conference (14-)

Fresno State can hold their heads high after a fantastic season which saw the Bulldogs win the Mountain West Conference Championship over No.1 seed Colorado State 77-68. After punching their ticket to the big dance, they were unable to progress past their first and only opponent in Nebraska.

Vandenberg makes a living scoring in the paint - Courtesy Fresno State Athletics

Emerging center Jacinta Vandenberg experienced a strong season, making 44% of her shots from field to average 5.8 points alongside a team leading 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Troubled by an ankle injury throughout the middle of the season, Alex Sheedy contributed 13 points and 6 rebounds per game. Courtney Gaze appeared in just 8 games and played a total of 25 minutes, however expect to see Gaze hit the court more often next season with the departure of standout senior Bree Farley.

Farley enjoyed arguably her best season at Fresno State on their way to the NCAA Tournament, providing 13.8 points on 46% shooting from the field and 40% on triples with 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Only ever missing 1 game in her 4 years of college, Farley helped the Bulldogs achieve three Conference Tournament titles and compile an impressive 47-10 record on their home court. This season Farley grabbed two mentions for Mountain West Player of the Week honours and also became the 21st Bulldogs player to compile 1,000 points. Farley had this to say after her outstanding season;

"To be playing at my best form at this point in the season is really important for me and my team. It was a very special moment and one that I will never forget."

The Best of the Rest

Murray State | Overall (11-17), Conference (4-12)

6’0 Sophomore Bianca Babic averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game.

Hawaii | Overall (17-13), Conference (10-6)

Ashleigh Karaitiana's 10.5 points included 39% shooting from beyond the arc with 5.1 rebounds per game. While not noticeable on her stats, the 6'0" Karaitiana put up some big games, however she appeared to struggle with consistency.

Boston University | Overall (13-20), Conference (7-11)

Mollie Mckendrick was reliable all season with averages 9.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. The Terriers came up short in the quarter-finals of the Patriot League tournament, going down to Army in a low scoring battle. McKendrick was able to collect her 4th double-double of the season with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in 35 minutes of action. McKendrick was the only player to reach double figures for Boston in that game.

Utah State Aggies | Overall (15-16), Conference (8-10)

Stephanie Bairstow shot 41% from field in compiling 7.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. In the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship game, Bairstow was outstanding in her best outing thus far in her short college career. She racked up 19 points and 5 rebounds in a loss to Colorado State 67-72. Bairstow really emerged in the New Year and established a strong presence at both ends. For the season she scored at 41% from the field in adding 7.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Bucknell | Overall (16-14), Conference (11-7)

In averaging only 16 minutes a game, Claire Maree O'Bryan managed 37% from long-range in providing 7 points and 2.9 rebounds a game. In the Patriot League quarter finals, the Bison's fell to Holy Cross 66-79. O'Bryan was solid with 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 21 minutes.

North Dakota State | Overall (6-24), Conference (2-12)

Bree Whatman shot 80% from the charity stripe while adding 5.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Marena Whittle was a solid producer and highly praised on her ability on to grab rebounds at a high rate. For the season, Whittle compiled 13.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals each contest.

Virginia Tech | Overall ( 14-16), Conference (4-12)

The Hokies raced to a 10-2 record to commence the season but was followed by an 8-game losing streak. Vanessa Panoussis was a clear stand-out for the Australians in starting every game and delivering 12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Hannah Young was not far behind, adding 6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while Madison Penn contributed 4.4 points 12.8 minutes per game.

All-Aussie Awards

With all the player of the week and team accolades throughout the year, my season awards are now ready to be announced.

Team of Season | Fresno State

Farley was outstanding, however with her departure with that of other star seniors, time will tell if the team can produce similar wins to this season. Look out for Sheedy next season

Farley weaving through traffic - Courtesy Fresno State Athletics

Player of the Season | Stacey Barr, Idaho

Barr on the way to the rack vs UConn - Courtesy University of Idaho Athletics

What's even more exciting about Stacey Barr's season is the gun still has one more season to produce bigger numbers!

All-Australian Team

Guard | Kate Gaze, Saint Mary's Guard | Bree Farley, Fresno State Forward | Stacey Barr, Idaho Forward | Marena Whittle, North Dakota State Centre | Jacinta Vandenberg, Fresno State

Honourable Mention | Nicole Seekamp, South Dakota

Farewell to the following Australian Seniors Emily Allen, Montana State Kiara Bomben, Massachusetts Bree Farley, Fresno State Kate Gaze, Saint Mary's Kate Oliver, Southern California

Who was your Favourite Aussie player or team this past season? Did anyone get missed that should have received a mention? Share your opinion by posting a reply