The N. C. State women's basketball team held their end of the year banquet in late April. The following awards were given:
Sixth Man of the Year
Chairman of the Boards (top rebounder)
Playmaker of the Year
Freshman of the Year
Peanut Doak Award (top newcomer)
Leader of the Pack Award
Kay Yow Award (a person who exemplifies strength and/or excels through adversity)
Secretary of Defense Award (top defender)
Most Outstanding Player
Markeisha Gatling and Miah Spencer received multiple awards. Gatling was named most outstanding player. There is no argument there. Markeisha also received the top rebounder award as she led the team in rebounding.
Miah was named sixth woman (don't know why it is still called sixth man) of the year, new comer of the year and freshman of the year. To be honest, there was not much competition for the freshman of the year and the new comer of the year awards as the 2013 class initially only included two scholarship players (Spencer and Mathurin), and Spencer was clearly the best of the 2013 class.
Len' Nique Brown received the Kay Yow Award; however, I would equally give it to Myisha-Goodwin Coleman and Lakeesa Daniel both of whom suffered season ending ACL injuries on Februrary 20th and 21th of this season, respectively, keeping each from playing in their only opportunity to play in a NCAA tournament game.
While I do not have an issue with naming Krystal Barrett as Secretary of Defense (also received this award in 2013), I do think that Miah Spencer was a close second for this award. Miah had a knack for deflecting passes on defense and had 35 steals in 23 minutes per game to Barrett's 39 steals in 27 minutes per game.
WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE FROM CERTAIN RETURNING PLAYERS
What I would like to see from Nique Brown is better shooting in "big" games. Brown shot 1-6 against UNC at Chapel Hill, shot 5-13 against UNC at home, shot 0-12 against Duke at Duke, shot 2-16 at home against ND and shot 3-14 against BYU in the NCAA tournament. As a senior, the team needs Brown to shoot better under pressure.
I would like to see Miah Spencer just keep on playing as well as she did this past year. While Miah was third in field goal percentage at 45% (75% in free throws), plays the point well (2.6 assist per game-tied for second with Barrett), has an arc game, and drives to the basket effectively, her mid-range game could improve. What set some of the top conference players such as Kayla McBride apart is their mid-range game. Improvement in this area by Miah could make her more effective. While Spencer was not a top 100 HoopGurlz player coming out of high school and only a top 200 Blue Star player, she really is much better than the analyst rated her.
Krystal Barrett improved her three point shooting from 29% in 2012-13 to 34% in 2013-14, decreased her turnovers from 2.3 in 2012-13 to 1.6 in 2013-14 and cut down on the wild drives to the basket. Barrett could also improve her mid-range game taking a page from Kayla McBride and her former teammate Marissa Kastanek. With Barrett's ball handling skills and her speed/quickness, she has the ability to get by her defender into the lane. As noted, this past season Krystal cut down on wild shots at the basket when she broke down her defender leading to more made bank shots or assists. Krystal being able to pull up for the mid-range jumper would be a big step in her development as a top notch player.
Jennifer Mathurin got a rebound every 3.82 minutes. Compare this to State's rebounding leader, Markeisha Gatling, who got a rebound every 3.84 minutes. It was not missed that Jennifer can rebound. She also showed a good back to the basket game. Because Jennifer is only six-one, she needs to take a page from Kody Burke and improve her three point shooting (21%) and her mid-range game.
State will return all of the guards who started at the end of the 2013-14 season: senior Brown, senior Barrett and sophomore Spencer. Where State will be inexperienced is in the front court. State does not have a starter returning at the four and five positions where All-ACC performers and WNBA draftees Burke and Gatling played. State will have more height next year when six-five Akela Maize, six-two Carlee Schuhmacher, and six-one Chelsea Nelson join six-one Mathurin. Addtionally, five-eight Washington Post Player of the year Chloe Jackson replaces senior guard five-four Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and transfer five-eight Dominique Wilson becomes eligible.
Absent any updates on additions to State's recruiting classes, this is a wrap on my thoughts and questionable knowledge for and on this past season's women's basketball.