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Past articles:
  • 'BEEF' up your shooting!
  • Gball's Players of the Year

  • UConn's two freshmen

  • Gball's 2003-04 All-Americans

  • Leslie repeats as Player of the Year

  • 2002-03 NCAA Awards

  • Sophia Young

  • WBCA All Stars

  • NWBL Draft

  • The Burge Twins

  • 2002 WNBA Successes

  • Title IX's 35th Anniversary

  • The 2002 High School State Champs

  • The 2002 Gball Awards

  • Being Recruited

  • Protecting Your Knees

  • Candace Parker dunks!

  • Michigan Playoff Results

  • WNBA Teen Advisory Board

  • St. Ann's girls' team

  • Leslie Gball's Player of the Year

  • Hitting the last-second shot

  • Scholarships,
    Part I

  • Scholarships,
    Part II

  • Improving Agility


  • JACKSON NAMED GBALLMAG.COM MVP

    By Dave Wohlhueter

    jackson

    Seattle forward Lauren Jackson finally made the grade. In her first three years in the WNBA, the Australia native saw Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie win Gballmag.com's Most Valuable Player of the Year award.

    This season, the coveted honor is hers, after leading the Storm to its best campaign ever, including its first WNBA title. Leslie, who had won the Gballmag.com award for four straight seasons, turned in another outstanding performance, but it was felt that Jackson's feats helped her team reach first-time heights.

    The 6-5 Jackson led the league in scoring (20.5 ppg.) for the second straight year. She also ranked in the top five in 3-pt. field goal percentage (.452, 3rd), field goals made and attempted (220, 2nd, x460 4th), foul shots made and attempted (142, 4th x175, 6th), blocked shots (2.00, 3rd), and minutes per game (34.5, 4th). In the playoffs, she once again topped everyone with a 19.6 ppg. mark. This is her second appearance on the Gballmag.com first five.

    A prime example of her worth to Seattle came after the Olympics. Jackson went home to Australia, and missed three Storm games of which it lost two.

    Leslie joins Jackson on the Gballmag.com first team, and was named the Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-5 center led the Sparks to the Western Conference regular-season title, but they fell to the Storm in the Conference finals. Leslie was first in the WNBA in rebounding (9.9 rpg.), blocked shots (2.88 bpg.), and double-doubles (17). She placed third in the WNBA in scoring (17.6 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.494). She also demonstrated her tremendous athletic prowess with 1.47 steals per contest, and she helped the Sparks become the only team in the league in 2004 to hold its opponents to under 40 percent shooting (.389).

    The other member of the first team up front is Indiana forward Tamika Catchings, who was a second-team selection a year ago. The 6-1 former Tennessee great performs at a high peak at both ends of the court. In addition to scoring 16.7 ppg. (5th in the WNBA), she is also considered one of the league's top defensive players, ranking fourth in steals per game (1.97). Catchings ranked second in the league in free throws made (152). She was fourth in the WNBA in rebounding (7.3 rpg.), and averaged 3.4 assists per outing. Catchings shot .335 percent from behind the 3-pt. arc, and was 11th in the league in free throw percentage (.854). She placed sixth in double-doubles (5), and tied for eighth in minutes played (33.8 mpg.).

    Members of the first team in the backcourt are Seattle 's Sue Bird and Nikki Teasley of Los Angeles. Both were second-team honorees in 2003.

    Bird averaged 12.9 ppg. and 5.4 assists per outing, and was another key factor in the Storm going all the way. She was third in both 3-pt. field goals (64) and 3-pt. field goal percentage (.438). From the field, the former UConn great made 46.3 percent of her shots, while converting 85.9 percent of her free throws (7th in the WNBA). She was fourth in assists to turnover ratio of 2.11. During the playoffs, Bird averaged 10.0 ppg. and 5.3 apg.

    Teasley was responsible for getting the league's top offense (73.4 ppg.) into motion. She was first in the league in assists (6.1 apg.), with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.01. The 6-0 guard, who played at North Carolina, averaged 9.9 ppg., and was second in the WNBA in 3-pt. field goals (68), hitting on 41.2 percent of her shots from behind the arc. She had 1.26 steals per outing.

    Named to the Gballmag.com second team is Detroit forward Swin Cash for the second consecutive season. Other members are Houston forward Tina Thompson, Sacramento center Yolanda Griffith, Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi and Connecticut guard Nykesha Sales.

    Cash, a former UConn standout, was first in the league in free throws made (158) and was fourth in minutes played per game (34.5). The 6-2 forward averaged 16.4 ppg., 6.5 rpg., and 4.2 apg. as an all-around top performer. Thompson had an outstanding season on a mediocre team. The 6-2 forward from Southern Cal was second in the WNBA in scoring (20.0 ppg.) and first in minutes played (36.3 mpg.), although she missed eight games with injuries. Thompson pulled down 6.0 rpg., and shot 40.7 percent from behind the 3-pt. arc.

    Griffith is the best offensive rebounder in WNBA history. She finished fifth in the league in rebounding (7.2 rpg.) of which 3.6 each game came off the offensive boards. The 6-4 center, who played at Florida Atlantic, averaged 14.5 ppg., and was second in the WNBA in field goal shooting (.519). She tied Sales for most steals per game (2.21). Griffith placed second in the league in steals to turnover ratio (1.27), and tied for ninth in double -doubles (4). She was a tremendous contributor to the USA Olympic gold-medal women's basketball team.

    Sales had an outstanding playoff performance, after averaging 15.2 ppg. during the regular season. In Game 2 of the finals, she scored a league -record 32 points. She averaged 2.9 assists per outing, and tied Griffith for most steals per game (2.21) during the regular season. Sales finished the playoffs with a 14.8 ppg. average, and she led the WNBA in steals during the postseason with 25 for a 3.13 spg. mark.

    Taurasi lived up to her advanced billing by being named Gballmag.com Rookie of the Year, which wasn't an easy feat. Her college class that entered the league this past summer certainly ranks with the best, if not the very best. The 6-0 former UConn Player of the Year was fourth in the league in scoring at 17.0 ppg. She dished out 3.9 assists per contest, and shot 33 percent from 3-pt. range. Taurasi was a key, along with improved play from a pair of veterans, to the Mercury going 17-17, after just eight victories in 2003.

    Indiana guard Kelly Miller is the Gballmag.com Most Improved Player. Traded to the Fever by Charlotte before the 2004 season, Miller immediately took a liking to her new environment. At Indiana, she compiled career highs for points per game (10.2), rebounds (3.2), assists (3.1), steals (1.09), blocked shots (0.15), and free throw percentage (.877). She was third in the league in foul shooting, eighth in three-point field goal percentage (.411), and 16th in assists. Last year at Charlotte, she averaged 2.1 ppg., 1.3 rpg., and had a total of 14 assists.

    In 2002, Kelly's twin sister, Coco of the Washington Mystics, won the WNBA and Gballmag.com Most Improved Player Award. This is the first time in WNBA or NBA history that siblings have both won major awards.

    Like the Rookie of the Year award, there were many candidates for Coach of the Year. Before the season began, most "experts" picked Connecticut for the bottom of the East even though Coach Mike Thibault got the most from his veterans in posting a winning record in 2003.

    Well, the story gets better. Thibault not only led the Sun to the Eastern Conference regular-season crown (18-16), but he marched the team through the East opponents during the playoffs setting the stage for the matchup with Seattle. For this effort, Thibault is the Gballmag.com Coach of the Year.

    2004 REGULAR SEASON AWARDS

    WNBA Media Winner
    MVP: Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles
    Defensive Player: Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles
    Most Improved: Kelly Miller, Indiana; Wendy Palmer, Connecticut
    Rookie of the Year: Diana Taurasi, Phoenix
    Coach of the Year: Suzie McConnell Serio, Minnesota

    Gballmag.com Winner
    MVP: Lauren Jackson, Seattle
    Defensive Player: Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles
    Most Improved: Kelly Miller, Indiana
    Rookie of the Year: Diana Taurasi, Phoenix
    Coach of the Year: Mike Thibault, Connecticut

    GBALLMAG.COM WNBA TEAMS
    First Team
    C-Lisa Leslie, Sparks
    F-Lauren Jackson, Storm
    F-Tamika Catchings, Fever
    G-Sue Bird, Storm
    G-Nikki Teasley, Sparks

    Second Team
    C-Yolanda Griffith, Monarchs
    F-Tina Thompson, Comets
    F-Swin Cash, Shock
    G-Diana Taurasi, Mercury
    G-Nykesha Sales, Sun

    WNBA TEAMS
    First Team
    C-Lisa Leslie, Sparks
    F-Lauren Jackson, Storm
    F-Tina Thompson, Comets
    G-Sue Bird, Storm
    G-Diana Taurasi, Mercury

    Second Team
    C-Yolanda Griffith, Monarchs
    F-Tamika Catchings, Fever
    F-Swin Cash, Shock
    G-Nikki Teasley, Sparks
    G-Nykesha Sales, Sun



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