Oct. 24, 2002
NEWARK, N.J. – University of Connecticut junior guard Diana Taurasi is the choice for the 2002-03 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head women’s basketball coaches. UConn newcomer Ann Strother is the pick for Preseason Rookie of the Year. Coaches were not permitted to select their own players.
Taurasi, a Chino, Calif. native, was a 2001-02 Kodak All-American and Associated Press Second Team All-American while helping the Huskies to an undefeated 39-0 record and their third national championship. Taurasi earned NCAA Mideast Region and BIG EAST All-Tournament team honors last year. She led the league in overall 3-point field goal percentage (44.0) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.51). Taurasi ranked among the top 10 in four additional categories – scoring (8th), field goal percentage (4th), 3-pointers made per game (5th) and assists (6th).
Taurasi, a 2001-02 All-BIG EAST First Team selection, averaged 14.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists last year as a sophomore. She has made 52 career starts in 72 games played. In 2001, Taurasi became the first rookie to earn the conference tournament’s Most Outstanding Performer award.
Strother, a 6-2 guard, won 2002 Player of the Year accolades from Naismith, USA Today, WBCA, Parade Magazine and Gatorade. A native of Castle Rock, Colo., she is a two-time high school All-American and 2002 consensus first team All-American. Strother has twice been named the USA Today and Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year while helping Highlands Ranch High School to back-to-back state titles. She averaged 20.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists as a senior.
Taurasi is joined on the ’02-03 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team by two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. Notre Dame is the only team to place two players on the first team, with senior guard Alicia Ratay and sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast earning the distinction. Ratay is a 2001-02 All-BIG EAST First Team member, while Batteast was the coaches’ pick as the league’s Rookie of the Year and a second-team all-conference selection. Both players also were named candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year award earlier this week.
Villanova senior guard Trish Juhline is the other returning All-BIG EAST First Team selection. Rounding out the preseason first team are Miami junior forward Chanivia Broussard and Virginia Tech junior forward Ieva Kublina, both members of last year’s All-BIG EAST Second Team.
Notre Dame’s 2002-03 season gets underway Monday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. (EST) with an exhibition game against the Houston Jaguars at the Joyce Center. The Irish will tip off the regular season Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. (EST) against Cleveland State, also at the Joyce Center.
2002-03 Preseason Player of the Year:
Diana Taurasi, Jr., G/F, 6-0, Connecticut (Chino, Calif./Don Lugo HS)
2002-03 Preseason Rookie of the Year:
Ann Strother, Fr., G, 6-2, Connecticut (Castle Rock, Colo./Highlands Ranch HS)
Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Jacqueline Batteast So. F 6-2 Notre Dame
Chanivia Broussard Jr. F 6-0 Miami
Trish Juhline Sr. G 5-10 Villanova
Ieva Kublina Jr. F/C 6-4 Virginia Tech
Alicia Ratay Sr. G 6-0 Notre Dame
*Diana Taurasi Jr. G 6-0 Connecticut
* – unanimous selection
Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Rebekkah Brunson Jr. F 6-2 Georgetown
Kate Bulger Jr. G 5-11 West Virginia
Julie McBride Jr. G 5-4 Syracuse
Cappie Pondexter So. G 5-9 Rutgers
Brianne Stepherson Sr. G 5-8 Boston College