March 5, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Senior forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike headlined the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Awards Monday, being named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Co-Defensive Player of the Year in voting by media members who cover the conference.
Nneka, younger sister Chiney Ogwumike and sophomore guard Toni Kokenis were all voted to the media's All-Pac-12 Team, while freshman point guard Amber Orrange earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team. Nneka was also voted to the All-Defensive Team.
Together, this crew has helped lead the Cardinal to the inaugural Pac-12 regular season title, Stanford's 12th straight conference crown and 21st overall. Stanford also owns the nation's longest home winning streak at 79 games, and is winner of 75 straight against conference competition and 25 in a row heading into this week's Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament in Los Angeles.
Stanford (28-1, 18-0 Pac-12), the draw's top seed, opens tournament play at 12 p.m. in Thursday's quarterfinal round, taking on either No. 8 Washington or No. 9 Oregon at USC's Galen Center.
The elder Ogwumike, a three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week selection, has enjoyed a banner year as one of the leading national player of the year candidates in 2011-12. She leads the conference with 21.6 points a game and ranks second with 10.5 rebounds a game and an 82.8 free-throw percentage. She is also fifth with a 53.9 field-goal percentage. Her scoring, rebounding and shooting figures all rank in the national top 16 as of Monday.
She has posted 15 double-doubles and 16 20-point games this season, as well as five 30-point efforts. On Dec. 20 against then-No. 6/6 Tennessee, Nneka scored a career-high 42 points with 17 rebounds as Stanford claimed a 97-80 victory.
Defensively, Ogwumike is second on the team with 30 blocked shots and 36 steals. While routinely covering one of the opposition's top posts, Nneka has played a key role in the Cardinal defense limiting opponents to a 34.0 field-goal percentage and a paltry 23.5-percent rate from behind the arc.
Chiney, a sophomore forward, has put together fine season of her own as one of two sophomores, along with Kokenis, in the starting lineup. The younger Ogwumike is among the Pac-12 leaders with 15.9 points and 10.1 rebounds a game and a 59.2 shooting percentage that also ranks fifth in the nation.
She is right behind Nneka with 14 double-doubles and 26 double-figure scoring games this season. One of her top efforts this season includes a career-best 27 points and 18 rebounds in Stanford's 74-71 overtime win against California on Jan. 28.
Kokenis' breakout sophomore season has vaulted her into the Pac-12's backcourt elite. The Oak Brook, Ill. native has quarterbacked the Cardinal offense to the No. 1 spot in the conference, and sixth spot nationally with 77.8 points per game. Her 106 assists pace the team, and she leads the Pac-12 and ranks ninth in the nation with a 2.30 assist-to-turnover ratio.
She has also gotten it done on the offensive end, averaging 9.7 points per game this year. Kokenis has scored in double figures 13 times this year, including top efforts of 26 points in Dec. 20's win over Tennessee and a game-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in Sunday night's win at California. On the year, Kokenis has hit 33 3-pointers, second-most on the team.
Defensively, Kokenis' speed has played a key role in Stanford limiting opposing guards on the drive. She also leads the Cardinal with 39 steals.
One of six freshmen on the Cardinal squad, Orrange has steadily taken the reins as the team's point guard, helping Kokenis lead the conference's top offense. Since scoring 14 points with six rebounds in Stanford's season-opening win at then-No. 24/20 Texas on Nov. 11, Orrange has settled into her point guard role, ranking second on the team with 81 assists and a 2.03 assist-to-turnover ratio, and shooting 45.5 percent from the field.
The Houston, Texas native has twice passed out nine assists in a game (Jan. 21 against Washington, Feb. 29 against Seattle University) and teams with Kokenis to form one of the Pac-12's speediest backcourts. That speed has led Orrange to 32 steals, a figure that is third on the team.