Sunday, April 10, 2016

2015-16 MBWA Women's Basketball Award Ballot

With the annual MBWA All-Met Haggerty Awards dinner taking place Tuesday night at the Westchester Marriott, I figured I would take the time to unveil my picks on both the men's and women's sides. The women's awards are actually decided somewhat differently, on a committee headed by Associated Press writer Doug Feinberg, who covers the women's game better than anyone I know around these parts. However, if there were a formal vote for women's basketball honors, my ballot would look something like this: (drumroll, please)

Player of the Year: Kelsey Minato, Army West Point (photo courtesy of ESPN)
Admittedly, this was probably the toughest call I had to make, choosing between Minato; the do-it-all center of gravity for Dave Magarity's Army team, and Tabatha Richardson-Smith of Seton Hall. In the end, I just couldn't overlook how important Minato was to the Black Knights as they won the Patriot League and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. I had the privilege of calling two of her games in her sophomore and junior seasons, and was still amazed by her incremental improvement every year, culminating with averages of 23 points and nearly five rebounds and four assists per game, all while shooting 48 percent from three-point range. It's a shame she wasn't recognized more often over her four years.

Rest of All-Met First Team, in alphabetical order:
Joy Adams, Iona
Danaejah Grant, St. John's
Aliyyah Handford, St. John's
Tori Jarosz, Marist
Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Seton Hall

All-Met Second Team, in alphabetical order:
Hannah Kimmel, Sacred Heart
Erika Livermore, Fairleigh Dickinson
Marina Lizarazu, Iona
Jasmine Nwajei, Wagner
Shakena Richardson, Seton Hall

All-Met Third Team, in alphabetical order:
Sydney Coffey, Marist
Kahleah Copper, Rutgers
Kelsey Cruz, Fairleigh Dickinson
Aleesha Powell, Seton Hall
Amani Tatum, Manhattan

Rookie of the Year: Ogechi Anyagaligbo, Stony Brook (photo courtesy of Stony Brook University Athletics)
Anyagaligbo blossomed into the next big star for Caroline McCombs and the Seawolves this season, showing flashes of brilliance that will no doubt come over her next three years. The native of Miami put together a remarkable freshman campaign, averaging ten points and nine rebounds per game, backing it up with an impressive 56 percent field goal percentage. Also considered were St. Francis Brooklyn's Maria Palarino and Alexis Lewis of Iona, but Anyagaligbo gets the nod among the area's top freshmen.

Coach of the Year: Tony Bozzella, Seton Hall (photo courtesy of The Setonian)
Picked fifth at the start of the season in the Big East's coaches' poll, Bozzella looked for one word before tipping off his third year at the helm in South Orange: Consistency. What followed was a non-conference effort that had many of the Pirate faithful thinking that Seton Hall could possibly top last year's 28-6 mark, a record that ushered in more than just promise for a long-neglected program, signaling a new status quo in the process. Although ending the year at 23-9, Bozzella exceeded expectations for a third consecutive campaign, solidifying his program as the unquestioned best in New Jersey in the process. With a record of 71-29 since returning to his alma mater in 2013, the affable and charismatic leader has served notice that his teams, although they may have to reload, are not leaving the top of the stratosphere anytime soon.
Also considered: Jessica Mannetti, Sacred Heart; Billi Godsey, Iona

1 comment:

  1. How is there no one from Hofstra on this list? They went 25-9, made it to the WNIT quarterfinals (4th round/Elite 8) and knocked off 2 P5 opponents in the process, did all that while battling through countless injuries to many key players, and beat a couple teams that have players on this list, Marist and Stony Brook.