In what has been quite a week in terms of All-America nods and being named to awards lists, Stanford senior forward Chiney Ogwumike was named by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on Thursday as one of three finalists for the Division I Defensive Player of the Year Award.
It marks the second straight year that Ogwumike has been a finalist for the honor. She was joined on the list by Connecticut's Stefanie Dolson and Baylor's Odyssey Sims. Over the past two weeks Ogwumike has also been named a Wade Trophy and Wooden Award finalist, as well as to the All-America teams of multiple outlets.
Ogwumike captured the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award for the third straight time in 2013-14, pacing a Cardinal defense that led the Pac-12 with just 59.8 points allowed per game and was second with a 35.3 opponents' field-goal percentage, a mark which also ranks 12th in the nation heading into the Final Four.
Individually, Ogwumike is second in the Pac-12 with 1.83 blocks per game and on the year has turned away 66 shots, tied with Joslyn Tinkle's 2012-13 total as the third-highest in Stanford single-season history. She is just four blocks away from Val Whiting's second-place mark of 70. For her career, Ogwumike is just one of three Stanford players with 200 career blocks, currently sitting second on Stanford's career list with 202, behind only Jayne Appel's benchmark of 273.
The 6-4 Cypress, Texas native has also deftly used her athleticism and length at floor level, coming up with 45 steals this season which ranks second among Cardinal players. On the boards, she combines with fellow post Mikaela Ruef to help the Cardinal post a 71.8 defensive-rebounding percentage that ranks third in the Pac-12.
Ogwumike's defensive prowess can sometimes be overshadowed by her offensive fireworks show, as this season she has been among the leading candidates for national player of the year honors averaging 26.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game and shooting 60.4 percent from the field, figures that, along with her 26 double-doubles, have her as the only player in the nation to rank in the national top 10 in each of those categories.
Her play on both sides of the court has helped Stanford (33-3) capture its 14th straight Pac-12 regular-season crown and advance to the program's 12th Final Four, and sixth in seven years, where this Sunday it will face No. 1 Connecticut (38-0) at 6 p.m. (PT) at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
The 2014 WBCA Division I Defensive Player of the Year will be announced during the WBCA Awards Show, to be held Monday in Nashville.
Don't look now, but No. 52 Stanford is riding a wave of momentum heading into its most challenging road trip of the season.
Stanford (9-2, 2-0 Pac-12) has won six in a row, its longest winning streak since a 13-match stretch that spanned from March-May back in 2011. The Cardinal's most recent victory, yesterday's rain-shortened 4-0 shutout of No. 22 Boise State, is the type of signature win that, along with a 4-2 win over No. 36 Washington in late January, will greatly enhance a postseason resume.
For a young squad whose singles lineup currently includes three sophomores, head coach John Whitlinger has to be pleased the recent progress. Not to mention, the Cardinal has battled injuries to key players throughout the season. Much like last year, Stanford will have to fight and claw its way to victories while holding serve when possible at home.
But the road gets a little tougher this weekend, with Stanford traveling to Southern California for matchups against No. 2 USC (Friday at 1:30 p.m.) and No. 3 UCLA (Saturday at 1 p.m.). Both squads are 2-0 in conference play while the Trojans are 20-2 overall and Bruins 15-2.
After this weekend, Stanford will have five regular-season dual matches left on its schedule, with the first four to be played at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Maciek Romanowicz (12-3 overall, 7-1 duals) enters the week as Stanford's only nationally ranked player, checking in at No. 55. Anthony Tsodikov (15-8 overall, 7-3 duals) leads the Cardinal in victories and has anchored the back courts, seeing time mainly at the No. 5 spot. Meanwhile, John Morrissey (10-7, 6-2 duals) has been the club's hottest player as of late, carrying a five-match winning streak.
Redshirt freshman 165-pounder Jim Wilson has been tabbed the Pac-12 Wrestling Freshman/Newcomer of the Year, the conference announced Thursday.
Wilson finished his rookie year with a 35-8 overall record, tying former Stanford NCAA champion Matt Gentry for the second-most wins by a freshman in program history. He qualified for the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, where he went 2-2 as the No. 16 seed at 165 pounds.
Wilson was one of four Stanford wrestlers to take home a Pac-12 title at the conference championships at Maples Pavilion. He is the first Cardinal freshman to win a conference crown since 1993.
Wilson played a large part in the Cardinal's dual-meet season in which the team set a school record for wins (17), breaking a 39-year-old record of 15 set in 1974-75. He was 18-2 in duals and registered 60.0 team points for Stanford.
Wilson is the third Stanford wrestler to earn Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year, joining Gentry (2002) and Zack Giesen (2007).