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  • TAURASI NAMED GBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR; AUGUSTUS TOP ROOKIE; AURIEMMA BEST COACH
    By Dave Wohlhueter

    University of Connecticut junior guard Diana Taurasi was awesome this season. She had her ups and downs, plagued by injuries caused by her own determination and fortitude, and sometimes by fouls, but in the end, the 6-0 slasher put her team on her back and carried it to the national championship. Taurasi was named the Gballmag.com Player of the Year, succeeding former teammate Sue Bird, now playing in the WNBA.

    This is the third straight year that a Big East player has earned the award. Notre Dame center Ruth Riley, also in the WNBA, was honored in 2001.

    Taurasi had the usual nice stats--16.3 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 4.6 apg., including 50 3-pt. baskets--but it was her leadership that put her over the top. When UConn needed a basket, Taurasi stepped forward. She was the leader for a team that was 37-1, with a starting lineup of two juniors, two freshmen, and one sophomore.

    Joining Taurasi on the Gballmag.com All-America first team are: Duke junior Alana Beard, Mississippi State senior LaToya Thomas, Kansas State junior Nicole Ohlde, and Penn State junior Kelly Mazzante.

    Beard, making her second appearance on the Gballmag.com All-America first team, averaged 21.8 ppg., 7.1 rpg., 3.0 steals per outing, and shot .529 from the field. Beard, named ACC Player of the Year, helped the Blue Devils turn in their second consecutive unbeaten conference record.

    Thomas has received All-America recognition for four years. The 6-2 forward was SEC Player of the Year, and became the only player to ever earn SEC Newcomer of the Year and SEC Player of the Year during their career. Thomas, the country's third leading scorer in NCAA Division I, averaged 25.9 ppg., 8.7 rpg., while shooting .535 from the field and .825 from the foul line. She was on the Gballmag.com All-America second team last year.

    Ohlde, at 6-4, was a dominant force for the Wildcats. The Big 12 Player of the Year averaged 18.4 ppg., 9.0 rpg., 1.9 blocks, and shot .565 from the field.

    Mazzante was named to Gballmag.com's second team last year. The 6-0 guard was fourth in Division I in scoring (24.1 ppg.), and made 88 3-pt. baskets. The Big Ten Player of the Year, she averaged 4.6 rpg. and 2.5 steals per outing.

    Named to the Gballmag.com second team for 2003 were: Vanderbilt senior Chantelle Anderson, South Carolina senior Jocelyn Penn, Tennessee senior Kara Lawson, Minnesota junior Lindsay Whalen, and Stanford junior Nicole Powell.

    LSU freshman Seimone Augustus led a tough yearling field for Gballmag.com Rookie of the Year. Augustus, the SEC Newcomer of the Year, averaged 15.3 ppg., 5.6 rpg., and shot .552 from the field and .881 from the foul line.

    Many coaches earned their pay during the 2002-03 season, but UConn's Geno Auriemma may have done his best coaching job of his career to garner Gballmag.com Coach of the Year honors. Auriemma replaced four starters who were picked in the top six spots in the 2002 WNBA draft, and continued a winning streak that reached 70 games. He then regrouped the troops on the victory path for six more outings and the national championship. And, of course, he had "Diana."

    Gballmag.com All-America First Team
    Diana Taurasi, UConn, Jr., 5-11, G (Player of the Year)
    *Alana Beard, Duke, Jr., 6-0, G/F
    +LaToya Thomas, Mississippi State, Sr., 6-2, F
    Nicole Ohlde, Kansas State, Jr., 6-4, C
    +Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, Jr., 6-0, G

    Second Team
    *Chantelle Anderson, Vanderbilt, Sr., 6-6, C
    Jocelyn Penn, South Carolina, Sr., 6-0, F
    Kara Lawson, Tennessee, Sr., 5-8, G
    Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota, Jr., 5-8, G
    *Nicole Powell, Stanford, Jr., 6-2, F

    *2002 Gballmag.com First Team
    +2002 Gballmag.com Second Team

    Rookie of the Year
    Seimone Augustus, LSU, Fr., 6-1, G

    Coach of the Year
    Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut




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