Feb. 28, 2011
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference announced the women's basketball all-conference teams and individual award winners on Monday. Michigan State's Kalisha Keane was selected as the Big Ten Player of the Year by the conference coaches, while Ohio State's Jantel Lavender earned top billing from the media. Lavender's award marks her fourth Player of the Year honor, making her the only women's or men's basketball player in conference history to earn the award four times. She is also the only women's basketball player among the Big Ten, ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-10 or SEC to accomplish the feat.
Michigan State's Lykendra Johnson earned Defensive Player of the Year accolades from the conference coaches, while Spartan head coach Suzy Merchant received the nod from her peers and the media as conference Coach of the Year. Penn State's Maggie Lucas was also honored with the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award by the coaches and media and the Sixth Player of the Year award by the coaches.
Keane becomes the first player in Michigan State history to be named Big Ten Player of the Year after leading the Spartans to the Big Ten title, their first outright conference crown and their third overall. The senior averaged 16.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game this season, starting all 29 games for the Spartans. She led Michigan State in scoring on 15 occasions and posted 20 or more points nine times.
Lavender led the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding, posting 22.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game this season en route to her fourth Player of the Year award. She picked up six conference Player of the Week honors this season, pushing her career total to 18, the most in Big Ten history. The Cleveland, Ohio, native became the Big Ten's all-time rebounding leader this season, racking up 1,352 boards in her career. She is also just the second player in conference history to amass 2,600 points.
Merchant earns top billing among Big Ten coaches after guiding Michigan State to the conference crown for the first time in her tenure. The Spartans put together a 25-4 overall record and a 13-3 conference ledger under her tutelage, marking their eighth-straight 20-win season. The award is the third in Michigan State history and the first by a Spartan coach since Joanne P. McCallie earned top honors from the media in 2005.
Lucas led all Big Ten freshmen with 16.3 points per game en route to the Freshman and Sixth Player of the Year awards. The Lady Lion newcomer made 102 three-point field goals, the most in the Big Ten this season and tied for the second-most in a single season all-time in the conference. Lucas is the second player in Penn State history, and the first since 2001, to receive top freshman honors. She is also the first Lady Lion to receive Sixth Player of the Year accolades.
Johnson picks up Defensive Player of the Year laurels after leading the Big Ten with 2.5 steals per game and cementing herself among the conference's defensive elite with 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest. She also started all 29 games for Michigan State and was one of just three Big Ten players to average a double-double in conference games, posting 13.9 points and 10.8 boards per game. Johnson follows in the footsteps of former teammate Allyssa DeHaan, who won the same award in 2010.
The coaches and media also selected three All-Big Ten teams, while the coaches picked five-player All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams. Lavender was a unanimous selection by the coaches and media, while Keane was a unanimous choice by the coaches. The two are joined by Iowa's Kachine Alexander and Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke on both the coaches' and media's first team, with Johnson garnering first-team recognition from the media and Penn State's Alex Bentley receiving the honor from the coaches. The complete All-Big Ten teams can be found on the PDF at the top of the page.
The Big Ten also recognized 11 Sportsmanship Award honorees. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. These student-athletes must also be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. The complete list of honorees can also be found on the PDF at the top of the page.