Breanna Stewart's national profile expanded again Wednesday when she was named to the Wooden All-American Team. She is joined by Notre Dame's Kayla McBride, Baylor's Odyssey Sims, Maryland's Alyssa Thomas and Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike.
Stewart, the American Athletic Conference player of the year, is the seventh Husky to be selected as a Wooden All-American. The award was first presented in 2004. Maya Moore is the only former UConn player to earn the honor multiple times (four). Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Diana Taurasi also received the honor.
Stewart was a unanimous selection to the Associated Press first team on Monday. She leads the Huskies in scoring (19.4) and is second in rebounding (8.1). Her 738 points are fourth most in program history in a season and represent the second-highest total by a sophomore since Moore's 754 in 2009-10.
Stewart also leads UConn with 106 blocks, helping UConn set an NCAA single-season team record for rejections with 313.
Entering Sunday's national semifinal against Stanford, Stewart is averaging 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the NCAA Tournament. She has hit a team-high 16 of 19 free throw attempts.
The Wooden Award player of the year will be announced at the 38th annual Wooden Award Gala April 10-12 at The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The event will honor men's and women's Wooden Award winners and include the presentation of the Wooden All-America teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, this year going to Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer.
McGraw: Irish Focused
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said her team refuses to feel sorry for itself now that senior center Natalie Achonwa, its leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament, is lost for the Final Four with a torn left ACL.
Achonwa was injured in Notre Dame's 88-69 victory over Baylor. McGraw said her 36-0 team is determined to finish the job for their post leader.
"Natalie sets the tone for this team in everything that we do," McGraw said. "She's been our vocal leader. And after she went down to the floor, she bounced back up and gave the team a very spirited talk [before heading to the locker room]. She came back to the bench. She helps us cut down the nets. She proved to her teammates that it's not about her. It's about the team.
"We talked about it in the locker room [Tuesday]. There was no crying, there was no mourning. We are ready to move on and Natalie is going to be on the sidelines doing everything she can to help us win.
Notre Dame will face Maryland in Sunday's first national semifinal. Achonwa was third on the team in scoring (14.9) and its leading rebounder (7.7) and McGraw said the third-team All-American was playing her best basketball when she was hurt.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who has had many title runs interrupted by injuries, expressed sympathy for Achonwa on Twitter.
"All other issues aside I was sick to my stomach when I heard about Natalie Achonwa tearing her ACL. I've been there and I feel for her," Auriemma said.
Freshman Taya Reimer will most likely start in Achonwa's place
"There is absolutely a win-one-for-Ace [mentality]," McGraw said. "I think it's so important to really rally around this."
Achonwa, considered a possible WNBA first-round pick and a player on the Canadian national team, will have surgery on the knee after the tournament.
Wichita State coach Jody Adams, South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston and Notre Dame assistant Niele Ivey have emerged at the top of the list to replace Pam Borton at Minnesota. … Tyler Summitt, 23, the son of Tennessee Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt, was introduced Wednesday as the new coach at Louisiana Tech. Tyler Summitt succeeds Teresa Weatherspoon, who was fired after her fifth season. This is his first head coaching job. He was an assistant at Marquette for the past two seasons. ... Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech have been added to the Gulf Coast Showcase field, joining UConn, Arizona State, College of Charleston, Green Bay, Minnesota and Villanova. The tournament will be Nov. 28-30 at Germain Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.Copyright © 2015, CT Now