Feb. 9, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the fourth time this year, three Notre Dame women's basketball players -- junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington), senior guard Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) -- have received recognition on a national player of the year award watch list, as the trio are among a group of 20 players chosen for the 2011-12 Midseason Watch List for the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Women's National Player of the Year, it was announced Wednesday by the USBWA.
Beginning with the 1987-88 season, the USBWA annually has named a Women's National Player of the Year. This year's watch list was compiled by the Association's Board of Directors, which lists the leading contenders for the 2012 award (although all Division I players remain eligible for postseason honors from the USBWA). The 20 players on this year's watch list represent 13 different schools and eight separate conferences.
In mid-March, the USBWA will announce its 2012 Women's All-America Team, while also choosing the finalists for the Women's National Player of the Year award. Once those finalists are named, the entire USBWA membership (consisting of more than 900 members worldwide) will vote for the recipient of this year's award, which will be presented during the USBWA Women's College Basketball Awards Breakfast on April 3 during the NCAA Women's Final Four in Denver.
This marks the first time the USBWA has released a Midseason Watch List for its Women's National Player of the Year honor. The BIG EAST Conference had the most selections on the rundown with seven, followed by the Atlantic Coast Conference (4). No other league in the country had more than two players named to the list.
Earlier this season, Diggins, Novosel and Peters were named to three other watch lists for national player of the year awards -- they were among a group of 25 players named to the "Wade Watch" list for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/State Farm Wade Trophy, as well as part of the 30-player preseason roster for the John R. Wooden Award (Diggins and Novosel subsequently made that award's midseason list), presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. In addition, they were among 51 players tapped for the preseason candidate list for the Naismith Trophy, given annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Fighting Irish trio (who helped the United States win the gold medal and post a 6-0 record at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China) also were tapped as 2011-12 preseason All-Americans in college basketball preview issues by a variety of publications, including The Sporting News (Diggins-first team; Novosel-second team; Peters-third team) and Athlon Sports (Diggins-first team). They went on to be recognized by the BIG EAST coaches during the league's annual Media Day in New York back in October, with Diggins being voted the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, while Novosel and Peters joined her on the preseason all-conference team.
A two-time BIG EAST Player of the Week selection this year, as well as a member of the Preseason WNIT and Junkanoo Jam all-tournament teams, Diggins currently ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring (4th - 16.5 ppg.), assists (1st - 5.8 spg.), assist-to-turnover ratio (1st - 2.4), free throw percentage (3rd - .828), steals (tied-4th - 2.4 apg.) and field goal percentage (10th - .524), to go along with three double-doubles, 21 double-figure scoring games and four double-digit assist games.
Meanwhile, Novosel (a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, as well as the MVP of the Junkanoo Jam, a Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team pick and a BIG EAST Player of the Week) is tied for ninth in the conference in scoring (14.9 ppg.), while also leading the BIG EAST in three-point percentage (.448) and ranking fifth in the loop with an .821 free throw percentage. She has scored in double figures a team-high 22 times, and recently capped off a streak of 27 games scoring in double digits, the second-longest run of its kind in school history (and longest in 15 years).
Peters, who was named BIG EAST Player of the Week on Jan. 23, is appearing among the league leaders in a number of categories, including scoring (25th - 12.3 ppg.), rebounding (4th - 8.6 rpg.), field goal percentage (4th - .581), blocked shots (4th - 1.4 bpg.) and steals (14th - 2.1 spg.). She also has a team-high seven double-doubles this season (good for third in the conference), and has become just the fifth Fighting Irish player ever to record four games with 15-or-more rebounds in a single season (and the first since Katryna Gaither also had four in 1996-97).
No. 2 Notre Dame (24-1, 11-0 BIG EAST) is back at home at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, playing host to West Virginia at Purcell Pavilion. The game has been chosen as the fourth annual Fighting Irish Pink Zone game (known nationally by its new moniker, Play4Kay), designed to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. Notre Dame will have numerous special Pink Zone events surrounding Sunday's game, including a pregame luncheon (with the first Fighting Irish women's basketball coach and cancer survivor, Sharon Petro, serving as keynote speaker) at 12:45 p.m. (ET) in Club Naimoli at Purcell Pavilion, a silent auction during the game, and a special halftime celebration honoring cancer survivors and paying tribute to those lost to the disease.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.