Two from UConn named to first team
Whether or not she delivers a national championship, Courtney Paris will leave Oklahoma with quite a legacy: the only four-time All-American in women's college basketball.
"I'm truly honored to be the first," said Paris, who already holds 18 NCAA records. "I'm sure that will happen with Maya Moore in the next couple of years."
AP All-America First Team• Courtney Paris, Oklahoma,
(16.0 ppg,13.7 rpg)
• Maya Moore,
Connecticut, 6-0, sophomore
(9.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg)
• Angel McCoughtry, Louisville, 6-1, senior
(23.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg)
• Kristi Toliver, Maryland,
(18.4 ppg, 4.9 apg)
• Renee Montgomery, Connecticut, 5-7, senior
(16.1 ppg, 5.1 apg)
The sensational sophomore Moore is on pace to join the Oklahoma center in two years after making The Associated Press' All-America team for the second consecutive season Tuesday. She was joined by UConn teammate Renee Montgomery, marking the first time since 2000 that two players from the same school made the first team.
The AP has named a women's All-American team annually since 1995.
"It is nice because whenever you get recognized you always want your teammates to get recognized also, because you know you wouldn't be here without them," Montgomery said. "To have another teammate on a team like this makes you feel good."
Angel McCoughtry of Louisville and Kristi Toliver of Maryland rounded out the first team.
"That is some squad," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "They have athleticism, skill and toughness."
Moore received 225 points and was the only unanimous choice among the 45-member national media panel that votes in the weekly Top 25. The voting was done before the start of the NCAA tournament.
Moore helped lead Connecticut to its fourth undefeated regular season, averaging 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds. She could join Paris, Chamique Holdsclaw of Tennessee and Alana Beard of Duke as the only three-time All-Americans.
"It's a great honor. There's a lot of talent around the country," Moore said. "Women's basketball has come so far. The last two years have been amazing and to be able to come in and be able to be myself on such a great team."
Montgomery was the heart of that team, averaging 15.8 points and 5.1 assists.
"Renee's one of those players that she has a way to lead that makes you want to play harder for her. The competitiveness that she has that she brings every day inspires you," Moore said. "I'm surprised that she hasn't gotten more recognition than she has because she's the MVP on our team.
Moore and Montgomery are the third set of UConn first-teamers. Shea Ralph and Svetlana Abrosimova did it in 2000 and Kara Wolters and Jennifer Rizzotti made it in 1996. Tennessee is the only other team to put a pair on the first team.
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma wasn't surprised Connecticut has had so many first-teamers.
"I'm really drawn to kids who are so competitive and so passionate, and leave everything with your program when they leave," he said.
Still, he was happy his star point guard finally made it.
"I don't think anyone has done that more than Renee. The only thing that can make it better is for her to be a national champion."
The 6-foot-4 Paris' career at Oklahoma may be most remembered for her record-setting 112 straight double-doubles or the many records she set. Yet she feels she will have shortchanged the school if she can't deliver a national title -- offering to repay her scholarship if the Sooners don't win it all this season.
"I absolutely am humbled by all the awards. I really want to win a national championship. I really want to do something special," Paris said. "If we don't get it done, I didn't do what I said I was going to do."
Toliver already has a national championship, winning one as a freshman. This season she helped Maryland capture its first Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships in 20 years.
A second-team All-American last season, the 5-foot-7 guard was honored to make the first team this year.
"With the caliber of players we have this year [around the country], it's a huge honor to be first-team," Toliver said. "I'm small, but I play big. I think you don't get these type of accolades without a great team."
Like Toliver, McCoughtry was a second-team All-American as a junior. The Louisville forward helped the Cardinals to a second-place finish in the Big East and its highest ranking ever. On Monday, she guided Louisville to its first Final Four.
For the third straight year, McCoughtry led the conference in scoring, rebounding and steals. She became the first player in Big East history to accomplish that feat. She also led the nation in steals with 4.7 per game.
"She has worked extremely hard for four straight years," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "What makes her so special is that she cares more about the team's success then she does about individual honors."
The second team consisted of Auburn senior DeWanna Bonner, Stanford junior Jayne Appel, Maryland senior Marissa Coleman, Ohio State sophomore Jantel Lavender and Connecticut junior Tina Charles.
The third team included California senior Ashley Walker, Pittsburgh senior Shavonte Zellous, Rutgers junior Epiphanny Prince, Duke senior Chante Black and Middle Tennessee State junior Alysha Clark.
The preseason All-America team was Paris, Moore, McCoughtry, Toliver and Andrea Riley.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press