March 3, 2000
HARTFORD, Conn. - University of Connecticut junior Shea Ralph has been named the 1999-00 BIG EAST Player of the Year by a vote of the league's head coaches. Notre Dame freshman Alicia Ratay was named BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, while University of Notre Dame junior Ruth Riley earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Junior Jamie Cournoyer of Boston College was honored as the Most Improved Player. Geno Auriemma of Connecticut and Traci Waites of Pittsburgh were selected as the BIG EAST Co-Coaches of the Year.
Ratay started all 27 games for the Irish and finished second in scoring (15.1) and was the team's top three-point shooter (.492). She earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors six times and finished sixth among all players in BIG EAST scoring (14.8). Ratay, a native of Lake Zurich, Ill., was also fourth in conference three-point field goal percentage (.493) and sixth in free throw percentage (.833). She set the BIG EAST single game three-point field goal percentage record when she hit all seven of her attempts in an overtime win against Rutgers. Ratay is the only unanimous choice on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team and is Notre Dame's first BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.
Riley, a center, earns the defensive award for the second consecutive year. She is the BIG EAST rebounding champion (7.8) and finished third in league scoring (16.4). Riley is the league's leading shot blocker (2.7) and is fifth among all Division I players. The native of Macy, Ind. also is seventh in the nation in field goal percentage (.611).
Cournoyer, a junior center, emerged as the Eagles' third-leading scorer (12.0) and second-leading rebounder (5.8). The native of North Attleboro, Mass. improved her scoring average by more than six points per game and nearly doubled her rebounding total (175). Cournoyer ranks sixth among all conference players in BIG EAST rebounding (7.1).
Ralph, a guard/forward who is a native of Fayetteville, N.C., finished seventh among all BIG EAST players in overall scoring (14.7). She was second among all league players and third in the nation in field goal percentage (.630). In BIG EAST games, Ralph finished the regular season third in steals (2.6) and fifth in assists (5.0). She is the 10th UConn player to win the award. A Husky has earned the honor each of the last seven seasons.
Auriemma earns Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in his 15-year career. He led the Huskies to their 10th regular season title. His team finished the regular season undefeated (16-0) in BIG EAST play for the third time. UConn has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for all 16 weeks of the regular season with a 27-1 record, including 10 wins over nationally-ranked teams.
Waites wins the coaching honor in just her second year at the helm of the Pittsburgh program. The Panthers recorded their best record (16-11) since 1994-95. They doubled their win total from last season, marking the best turnaround in school history. Waites guided the Panthers to a 7-9 BIG EAST record after being picked to finish 10th.
Joining Ralph on the All-BIG EAST First Team is junior teammate Svetlana Abrosimova, Riley, Boston College senior Cal Bouchard and Rutgers senior forward Shawnetta Stewart. Abrosimova, Riley, and Stewart earn first team honors for the second consecutive year. Bouchard is also a two-time honoree after being named to the 1997-98 All-BIG EAST First Team as a sophomore.
1999-00 ALL-BIG EAST AWARDS
BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR
BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
BIG EAST CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
BIG EAST DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
BIG EAST BASKETBALL SCHOLAR-ATHLETE