Whitney Hand honored as team's most valuable player.
April 17, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Oklahoma women's basketball team celebrated its 2011-12 season with fans at its annual postseason awards banquet Monday night at the NCED Hotel and Conference Center.
"This was one of the strangest, toughest, most rewarding seasons I've had at the University of Oklahoma," head coach Sherri Coale said. "It started with a season-ending injury to a senior and the physical adversity did not end there. We faced emotional obstacles as well. But we grew from that, together. Time after time, we refused to lose."
Oklahoma, picked in the preseason to finish fourth in the Big 12 Conference, ended the year in second place behind national champion Baylor. The Sooners also recorded their 17th 20-win season and conference-leading 13th straight NCAA tournament appearance.
"The challenge for this now experienced group is to be sure that we make a commitment to reveal that potential. These guys have had the most productive, most competitive offseason of any team I've had here."
OU returns its entire starting lineup next season and adds two nationally-recognized freshmen in addition to the return of two veterans from season-ending injuries.
Redshirt-junior co-captain Whitney Hand received the most hardware from team awards in addition to the accolades accumulated throughout her first full season back from an ACL tear that occurred in November 2009.
Hand was an All-Big 12 First Team selection who led the Sooners in rebounds (241), assists (140) and minutes played (36.2 per game) and was second in points scored, averaging 13.3. Monday, she was honored as the team's most valuable player, defensive player of the year, rebounding leader and given specialty awards as the "Nail" (the player who epitomizes physical and emotional toughness) and "Foxhole" (best teammate) winner.
Sophomore Aaryn Ellenberg, who led the Sooners with 15.5 points per game and 75 3-pointers, was named the offensive player of the year and "Mojo" winner for player who could best change the momentum of a game.
Senior Jasmine Hartman, who missed the season after tearing an ACL in the preseason, was awarded the "Glue" as the player who bonds the team together. Hartman received a medical redshirt for the 2011-12 season and will return her final season in 2012-13.
Freshmen completed the player-voted awards with Kaylon Williams earning most improved and Sharane Campbell taking the "Shoush", named for former Sooner Lauren Shoush and awarded to the player who makes the most selfless plays, and Charge Award, for taking the most offensive fouls during the season.
The Sooner Service Award recipient was Noah Brooks, Vice President of the Fast Break Club Board of Directors.
"Noah and his wife, Carol, are the kinds of fans that coaches dream about," Coale said. "Their support of our program is unconditional. They are about our mission and the amount of time and energy they devote to us is not dependent on the number of times we win basketball games.
"Noah is the kind of guy you would pass coming in or out of the office and you would just feel better because your path crossed with his that day."
The Mary Jane Noble Humanitarian Award honored Adam Barnett, college pastor at Journey Church.
"Adam graduated from OU in 2005 and his origins began as a scout teamer for our women's basketball team," Coale said. "He has traveled to more than 30 nations doing missionary work, including Rwanda, Liberia, Nicaragua and, of course, Haiti."
2012 University of Oklahoma Women's Basketball Team Awards
Most Valuable Player: Whitney Hand
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaryn Ellenberg
Defensive Player of the Year: Whitney Hand
Most Improved: Kaylon Williams
Nail (player who exhibits mental and physical toughness): Whitney Hand
Glue (player who bonds teammates): Jasmine Hartman
Monster Board (rebounding leader): Whitney Hand
Shoush Award (sell-out play-making): Sharane Campbell
Charge Awards (most charges taken): Sharane Campbell
Foxhole (best teammate): Whitney Hand
Mojo (momentum changer): Aaryn Ellenberg
Sooner Service Award: Noah Brooks
Mary Jane Noble Humanitarian Award: Adam Barnett