- Player of YearDuke's Alana Beard is averaging 18.3 points in the tournament.
Alana Beard, Duke
STATS THROUGH MARCH 10 PTS AST REB STL FG% FT% 20.2 3.8 5.2 2.3 50.8 78.6 AND THE WINNER IS ... Freshman of the Year
Tiffany Jackson, Texas
One glance at Jackson and you might be fooled into thinking she's more than a rookie. That's because this freshman, says Mechelle Voepel, already has the body of a senior, a solid grasp of defense and great touches on offense. The 6-foot-3 forward, who was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, has helped keep Texas ranked in the top five all season long, especially when Stacy Stephens was hampered by injury early on. Jackson's also a big reason the Longhorns grab 40.8 boards per game and boast a plus-8.1 rebounding margin. Jackson, who has scored in double figures in 24 of 30 games this season and should top 400 points by the end of the Big 12 tournament, also ranked seventh in the league in blocks and steals. Nancy Lieberman's impressed by Jackson's quick transition to college ball. "In high school, Jackson put up a shot, and if she missed, got it and put it back in. "But in college, you've got to make quick decisions, read defenses and deal with being double-teamed. Jackson has passed with flying colors and has an incredible basketball acumen for a young player." Added Voepel: "When Jackson learns to cut down on turnovers, she'll be nearly unstoppable."
STATS THROUGH MARCH 10 PTS REB AST STL FG% FT% 12.8 7.7 1.5 2.0 47.4 75.4 Coach of the Year
Joe Curl, Houston
School-record for most victories in a season? Check (27). Best-ever mark in league play? Check (13-1). Highest ranking ever? Check (No. 11 in this week's AP Top 25). First regular-season title and a C-USA tournament championship to go along with it? Check, check. And then, of course, the one thing that really matters: Houston's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. Not bad for a team that won just five games five years ago. Yes, Curl's Cougars have come up big this season, winning 22 of their last 23 games to ride a 12-game winning streak into the Big Dance. Even the losses are respectable: Purdue, Georgia and Louisville. And while a lot of credit goes to Houston standout Chandi Jones, who ranked fourth in the nation in scoring during the regular season, you have to credit Curl for the way he coaches his team. "Curl doesn't overcoach," Nancy Lieberman said. "He lets the Cougars play free and makes sure they get the ball in Jones' hands. And yet, there's no talk of anybody being a ballhog. His players know their roles and have bought into their coach's system." Just goes to show Houston has more than your average Joe.
CURL'S CAREER WIN LOSS WIN PERCENTAGE 237 180 56.8 percent
MORE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- USC upends No. 4 Stanford in Pac-12 semis
- Duke's late free throws cap rally past UNC
- No. 1 UConn trounces Cincy in AAC quarters
- Irish rout NC State in ACC semis; now 31-0
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