March 2, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. - Notre Dame junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) has been chosen as the 2011-12 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, it was announced Friday during a press conference at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., site of this year's BIG EAST Championship. Diggins was chosen for this year's award through a vote of the league's head coaches, who were not allowed to select their own players.
Diggins is the third Notre Dame player ever to be named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, following the path blazed in 2001 by consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley and 2005 recipient Jacqueline Batteast. Diggins also is just the fifth player from a school other than Connecticut to be named BIG EAST Player of the Year in the past 19 seasons -- along with the Notre Dame trio, Rutgers' Cappie Pondexter received the award in 2005-06, followed one year later by Louisville's Angel McCoughtry.
On Thursday, Diggins also garnered unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST laurels for the second consecutive year following her second-team selection as a freshman in 2009-10.
A midseason candidate for both the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Player of the Year, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, as well as a prime contender for the State Farm Wade Trophy (which also goes to the nation's top women's college basketball player) and one of eight final nominees for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation's top point guard, Diggins is the only BIG EAST player to rank among the top five in the conference in three of the five major statistical categories. She leads the BIG EAST in both assists (5.8 apg.) and steals (2.6 spg.), and is fourth in scoring (17.4 ppg.), in addition to posting a conference-best 2.26 assist-to-turnover ratio, and ranking among the top 10 in the league in free throw percentage (eighth - .802) and field goal percentage (ninth - .525). She also wrapped up the BIG EAST regular season statistical titles in assists (5.8 apg. - second ND player to win BIG EAST assist title, first since Niele Ivey in 1999-2000), steals (2.6 spg.) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), and finished league play among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in scoring (third - 17.8 ppg.), field goal percentage (ninth - .508) and free throw percentage (12th - .788).
Ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, Notre Dame (28-2, 15-1 BIG EAST) is the top seed for the BIG EAST Championship and has earned a bye through the first two rounds of the tournament. Notre Dame will open play with a quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday against either No. 8 seed DePaul or No. 9 seed USF at the XL Center, with ESPNU to televise the game live to a national cable audience. The Fighting Irish quarterfinal game also can be heard live on the radio in the Michiana area on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), as well as worldwide on the Internet at www.UND.com with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.
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