Baker named Lady Griz MVP at postseason banquet
April 29, 2012
Junior Katie Baker was named the Mary Louise Pope Zimmerman Most Valuable Player for the 2011-12 season Saturday evening at the Montana women's basketball program's annual postseason banquet.
The banquet came a month and a half after the team's season came to a close in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament. The Lady Griz went 16-14 last season, the 32nd winning season in coach Robin Selvig's 34 years at Montana, and finished fifth in the Big Sky with a 9-7 league record.
No. 5 Montana lost to No. 4 Montana State in the opening round of the Big Sky tournament at Pocatello, Idaho, 68-59.
Baker was a unanimous first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection, while De Boer earned honorable-mention honors.
Mary Louise Pope Zimmerman Most Valuable Player
Baker was named the 2011-12 team MVP after earning first-team All-Big Sky honors for the second consecutive year. She led Montana in scoring (15.0/g), rebounding (7.2/g), shooting (.449) and blocked shots (47).
She opened her junior season strong -- earning all-tournament honors at the season-opening Maggie Dixon Classic -- and finished it stronger -- averaging 22.2 points and 8.8 rebounds over the season's final five games. Her late surge allowed her to reach 1,000 career points in the team's final game of the season.
With a similar season next year, Baker would finish her career in the top five in program history in scoring and top 10 in rebounding, and she will enter her senior season on the short list of players who will be 2012-13 Big Sky Conference MVP candidates.
"Katie had the kind of year I was hoping she would have," Selvig said. "She has steadily improved all areas of her game and really shot better as a junior, so it wasn't a surprise she had a great year.
"She was healthy all year, which was good for her as well as us, and she was our most consistent player."
Outstanding Defensive Player
De Boer shared the Outstanding Defensive Player award last year as a sophomore with Jessa Loman Linford and won it outright as a junior. She was the heart of Montana's defensive effort -- whether zone or man-to-man -- that allowed teams just 58.5 points per game on 36.3 percent shooting.
Her 72 steals were 28 more than anyone else on the team and ranked her fifth in the conference.
Much more than a one-end player, however, De Boer averaged career highs in both scoring (10.8/g) and rebounding (3.5/g) and led the team at the free throw line, where she finished the season at 85.0 percent.
"Kenzie takes a lot of pride in her defense. She is versatile on that end of the floor because of her size and instincts and is a great competitor," Selvig said.
"Whether she is playing at the front of the zone or playing man, she raises havoc, so she is very deserving of this award."
Theresa Rhoads Award (best exemplifies Lady Griz basketball)
Ware finished her Lady Griz career with 88 points and 59 rebounds, but never getting elevated above role-player status over the course of her four-year career did not affect the other areas of Ware's collegiate life.
She'll graduate in May with close to a 3.4 GPA for her academic career and last winter was accepted into Washington's prestigious Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership Program, master's-level coursework that she hopes will springboard her into a career of college-level athletics academic advising.
"Ti has been a wonderful kid in our program," Selvig said. "She's done great in school, she's great with her teammates, she great with her coaches, so she is certainly the type of person we want representing our program.
"She's worked hard in all areas, and that's why she is getting this award. She is going to be successful in whatever she does."
Shannon Green Most Inspirational Player
Sullivan upped her scoring average from 4.5 to 7.0 from her freshman to sophomore year and her rebounding average from 4.2 to 6.6, but that is not why she received the award for which only the players have a vote.
"This award comes from voting among the players only, so it annually goes to someone their teammates respect. That's what earns you this award, and that's what Jordan has done," Selvig said.
"This goes to someone who comes every single day with everything they have. Every practice, every drill, every game, and nobody works harder on our team than Jordan.
"She is an inspiration to her teammates with how hard she works."
Grace Geil Most Improved Player
With Baker playing so well all season long and averaging nearly 30 minutes per game, Selvig's opportunities were limited, but she did see action in all 30 games and averaged nearly 12 minutes.
She averaged 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds, dished out nearly an assist per game from the post and blocked 39 shots, second only to Baker's 47.
"Carly has worked hard and has definitely improved a ton," Selvig (the coach) said. "She's gotten stronger, she's improved her stamina, and she really gave us quality minutes. And defensively she was a big factor.
"And she has more upside. If she continues to improve as much as she did from last year to this year, she'll be outstanding."
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