No matter if you're talking land mass, oil resources or self assurance, Texas is bigger than most states. Ashland University senior forward Kari Daugherty (Fresno, Ohio/Dayton) has shown over the last two years that she can be very comfortable in the Lone Star State. That's because when it comes to big games, big plays and the big stage, Daugherty produces large numbers.
Monday night (Mar. 25), on the eve of the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in San Antonio, Daugherty learned that she's probably going to need a trophy case the size of Galveston. Daugherty was named to the State Farm, Women's Basketball Coaches of America (WBCA) All-America Team. She was also named the WBCA Division II Player of the Year. This is the second consecutive year Daugherty has received both of those honors. Last week, Daugherty was named the Daktronics Player of the Year. That award is selected by sports information directors from around the country.
AU head coach Sue Ramsey was honored as the Region 4 coach of the year. She was one of eight finalists for the Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division II Coach of the Year award. Ramsey received that award in 2011-12. This year the award went to Barbara Stevens of Bentley.
All of these awards were announced in San Antonio at the Elite Eight Banquet of Champions at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.
Daugherty has been the most dominant player in the country for the last two years. Ashland is 67-3 over the last two seasons and has made two consecutive trips to the Elite Eight. This year, the senior is averaging 22.4 ppg., and 13.6 rebounds per game. She set the NCAA Division II record for consecutive double-doubles (34) this season. The only thing that's slowed down Daugherty this season is a knee injury that caused her to miss eight games.
The other two finalists for the Player of the Year award were Drameka Griggs of Clayton State and Bianca Simmons of UMASS-Lowell. Daugherty will receive her award at the NCAA Division I Final Four in New Orleans.
Daugherty and Griggs were two of the four players at the Elite Eight who were named to the All-America Team. They were joined by Kelsey Sigl of Colorado Mesa and Meixandra Porter of Nova Southeastern. The All-America Team lists 10 players (see list at the end of the story).
Ramsey is Ashland's career leader in victories (321-199). This is her 18th year on the AU bench. In 26 years as a head coach she is 416-327. This year's AU team is 34-1 and ranked second in the country. Ashland has not been ranked lower than third all season. This year's team has established a school, single-season record for victories. AU has won two consecutive GLIAC championships.
All eight teams had public workouts on Tuesday. The eight head coaches met the media for a 45-minute question-and-answer session late in the afternoon.
Many of the questions were directed toward Ramsey and Gannon head coach Cleve Wright. Much of the interest in this game centers around the fact that the teams played earlier this year in California and Ashland won, 70-59.
"You play your conference teams twice," said Wright. "All we have is that one game we played 33 games ago. I'm not sure it's a huge benefit. I think it's unique.
"We're excited to play Ashland," added Wright. "I don't like to play my friends, but that's the way it is."
Wright and the Golden Knights and Ramsey and the Eagles used to do battle on a yearly basis before Gannon led the GLIAC for the Pennsylvania Conference. In those days, AU didn't have a player like Daugherty.
"We weren't here before Kari Daugherty," said Ramsey. "I've coached 34 years and never coached anyone like here. I should get on the white horse and ride out of town."
Wright believes the Eagles have plenty of horses around Daugherty and that's part of what makes AU so difficult to beat.
"Ashland is not just Kari Daugherty," Wright said. "I'm not falling for that one. If anyone's looking, they averaged just over 12 turnovers a game. They're very efficient with the ball."
2012-13 State Farm WBCA All-America Team
|Drameka Griggs||Clayton State||Senior||5-5||Guard|
|Meixandra Porter||Nova Southeastern||Senior||5-6||Guard|
|Kelsey Sigl||Colorado Mesa||Senior||6-0||Forward|
|Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe||Simon Fraser||Senior||6-2||Guard|
|Hillary Southworth||West Liberty||Junior||5-10||Guard|
|Kiara Wright||Tarleton State||Junior||6-1||Center|