On Wednesday, the American Conference announced its yearly awards and, in a not-at-all shocking turn of events, the UConn women’s basketball team earned multiple accolades.
Junior forward Gabby Williams won Defensive Player of the Year after finishing the conference season averaging 8.9 rebounds per game, 2.7 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game, all of which ranked in the top five of the conference.
“Gabby Williams is like the Lawrence Taylor of women’s basketball,” remarked head coach Geno Auriemma in January. “Whatever play you’re trying to run, it ain’t gonna happen.”
Williams also earned First Team All-Conference honors along with fellow teammates Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. Collier and Samuelson were two of the three unanimous selections to the First-Team after both players broke out in their sophomore campaigns.
Samuelson led the team with 20.7 points per game, while Collier shot 69% on the season and was the Huskies’ leading rebounder at 9.0 rpg.
Kia Nurse was named to the Second Team. She has been UConn’s best perimeter defender while also serving as the team’s emotional leader on the court. Nurse finished the season as the Huskies’ best three pointer shooter, hitting at a 46% clip.
All five members of UConn’s starting lineup were named to an All-Conference team as Saniya Chong was named to the Third Team. The point guard finally put it all together in her senior season after struggling through the first three years of her career. Chong played the role of facilitator and held the second-highest assist-to-turnover ratio in the country.
Lastly, Crystal Dangerfield received All-Freshman honors. Dangerfield started at different points of the season, filling in when Saniya Chong and Kia Nurse dealt with injuries, but has mostly been coming off the bench.
On Friday, the conference will announce the the Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and Coach of the Year. The event will be live-streamed on the American Conference’s YouTube page at 2 pm.
The American handed out the second part of its awards on Friday and UConn brought home a pair of awards.
Much of the debate about Player of the Year was between Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. Collier was one of the Huskies’ most consistent scorers but Samuelson made flashier plays and was a more well-rounded scorer. The debate ended up being moot as both earned Co-Player of the Year awards.
Geno Auriemma won Co-Coach of the Year with Temple’s Tonya Cardoza. This season has arguably been Auriemma’s best coaching job, replacing three All-Americans without skipping a beat while breaking the Division 1 record for consecutive wins and finishing the regular season undefeated for the ninth time.
For sophomores Samuelson and Collier, this is their first time winning Player of the Year. One or both of them will have a good chance to repeat next year but will have competition from their own team. Auriemma has won a conference Coach of the Year award 13 times before.