March 12, 2001
By CHUCK SCHOFFNER
AP Sports Writer
Ruth Riley, the dominating center who led Notre Dame to its first No. 1 ranking, was a unanimous choice for The Associated Press All-America team in women’s basketball.
Riley was the only player named Monday on the first team by all 39 members of the national media panel, made up of writers and broadcasters who vote in the AP poll.
She was joined on the first team by national scoring leader Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State, Kelly Miller of Georgia, Katie Douglas of Purdue and Stacey Dales of Oklahoma.
Riley had 195 points in the voting, while Stiles was a first-team pick on 34 ballots and had 183 points. Douglas had 23 first-team votes and 155 points, Miller 24 first-team votes and 151 points, and Dales 13 first-team votes and 123 points.
Though all five first-team selections from last year returned this season, Riley and Miller were the only repeaters. Two others, Tennessee’s Tamika Catchings and Connecticut’s Svetlana Abrosimova, were injured during the season and made the second team.
The fifth member of last season’s team, Connecticut’s Shea Ralph, received honorable mention. Ralph will miss the NCAA tournament because of a torn knee ligament suffered in the Big East championship game.
Wearing her trademark headband, Riley was a force in the middle all season long for the Irish, who were ranked No. 1 for five weeks and are the top-seeded team in the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The 6-foot-5 senior averages 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds and is shooting 62.7 percent. She also averages 3.1 blocks, has altered countless other shots and has signed even more autographs for the hordes of youngsters who flock to her after every game.
“I’m honored to be on the first team, because the level of competition in women’s basketball has increased so much over the years,” Riley said. “To be chosen as one of the top five players in the country is very exciting.”
Riley was at her best when Notre Dame beat Connecticut 92-76 before a full house in South Bend and a national television audience. She scored 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked five shots and found open teammates when Connecticut double-teamed her.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said Riley was “better than Bill Walton” that day.
Stiles, the NCAA career scoring leader, was a third-team pick as a sophomore two years ago and moved up to the second team last season. This season, she’s averaging 30.7 points and is shooting 57.8 percent.
She had 49 points in one game this season and 47 in another, and she can get points in bunches. Stiles rang up 20 in the final 5:58 of the first half against Northern Iowa and scored 21 straight Southwest Missouri State points in five minutes against Drake.
“I have to give credit to my teammates, coaching staff and the community for making it all possible,” said Stiles, who has scored 3,253 points. “They are the reason I have been chosen for this and it is one that we all share.”
Sharing is part of Miller’s job as the point guard at Georgia, where she distributes the ball in a balanced offense that averages 80 points a game. She can score (15.8 points), rebound (5.3) and pass (4.7 assists) and plays defense well enough to average two steals a game.
“I’m lucky to have a lot of good players around me,” said Miller, who plays alongside her twin sister, Coco. “The success of the team means a great deal more than anything I can accomplish individually.”
Douglas didn’t have to score as much this season because Purdue had more depth, but she again showed her versatility while averaging 14.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.6 steals. She was the Boilermakers’ leader as they won the regular-season Big Ten title.
“It’s amazing and humbling to think that I could be considered one of the best players in the nation,” Douglas said. “But I’m much more interested in leading my team to success. I just want to do everything I can for this team and see the good things that follow for all of us.”
Dales, the only junior on the first team, played for Canada in the Sydney Olympics and followed up by leading Oklahoma to the regular-season championship in the Big 12.
She has excelled across the board, averaging 16.1 points, 7.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals.
Also selected for the second team were LaToya Thomas of Mississippi State, Marie Ferdinand of Louisiana State and Chantelle Anderson of Vanderbilt. Chosen for the third team were Deanna Jackson of Alabama-Birmingham, Angie Welle of Iowa State, Sue Bird of Connecticut, Georgia Schweitzer of Duke and Niele Ivey of Notre Dame.