Here are the wbbFlashes votes for the post-season MAC awards

As the reporter who covers Kent State women’s basketball team most, I get to help pick the MAC coach of the year, player of the year and freshman of the year. More than 30 media folk will vote on those awards. Coaches pick the other awards.

The official awards will be announced over the next few days.

For what it’s worth, here’s how I voted:

Coach of the year

Heather Oesterle, Central Michigan. It may be obvious; the coach of the championship team always wins. But my criteria is more to pick the coach who does more than expected with the personnel she or he has.

Oesterle took over in July for her longtime boss, Sue Guevara, who won a ton of championships herself . Oesterle inherited a team that had lost two of the best players in Central Michigan history — guard Presley Hudson and forward Reyna Frost. The preseason coaches’ poll did pick CMU to win the West — by only one vote.

Her team has gone 22-6 and 16-2 in the MAC. The Chippewas’ RPI is 18 (of 351 teams); I can’t remember another MAC team having an RPI that high at the end of the regular season.

Oesterle helped Micaela Kelly become the best player in the league (see next award). She helped Molly Davis become one of the best freshmen in the conference. She seems to have a very good recruiting class coming in next season.

You can’t do much more than that your first year.

We got to rank three choices. Oesterle should be a lock. My second choice was  Ball State’s Brady Sallee, whose team was picked fifth in the West and went 21-9. Third was KSU’s Todd Starkey, who started two freshmen and two sophomores, had injuries to three key players and still took third in the conference.

Player of the year

Junior guard Micaela Kelly, Central Michigan. My criteria on this one is the single player that had the most impact on the league. Kelly was the No. 3 player on her own team last season. This season she’s among the MAC’s top 15 in every category except blocked shots and 3-point percentage. She leads the league in scoring in all games (she’s third in MAC games) and first in assists.

Sophomore guard Erica Johnson of Ohio is a close second. She leads the league in scoring in league games only and is in the top 13 in the conference in everything but blocked shots and free-throw percentage.

But Kelly led her team to the championship the Ohio was overwhelming picked to win. That makes an MVP.

My third choice is probably the only vote junior guard Aereana Combs of Eastern Michigan will get other than from her EMU’s media people. She helped Eastern finally climb from a below-average team to an above-average team.

Freshman of the year

Guard Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo. It’s hard not to choose someone who averaged 21 points a game as a freshman, even though her team didn’t have the record it had expected. She ranked in the MAC’s top 10 in scoring, assists and steals.

Guard Molly Davis of Central Michigan was my second choice. She probably played better than Fair in half of her MAC games and ranked in the league’s top 10 in scoring, shooting percentage, 3-point percentage and assists.

Third could have either guard Peyton Scott of Miami, Kent State guard Katie Shumate or Kent State forward Nila Blackford. The MAC ballot only listed Blackford from KSU, and I ranked her third. But I couldn’t tell you whether she or Shumate is a better player. They’re both good and are on my all-freshman team (which I don’t get to vote on officially).

It was a very good set of freshmen in the conference this season.

All-MAC teams

I don’t get a vote on these, but I do have an opinion.

All-MAC

  • Junior guard Micaela Kelly, Central Michigan.
  • Sophomore guard Erica Johnson, Ohio.
  • Junior guard Areanna Combs, Eastern Michigan.
  • Junior guard Cierra Hooks, Ohio.
  • Senior guard Courtney Woods, Northern Illinois.

The fifth spot could just as easily be forward Savannah Kluesner or Lauren Dickerson of Miami, forward Oshlynn Brown of Ball State or Buffalo guard Dyaisha Fair.

And I have doubts on whether Combs will make the coaches’ first team. But she makes mine.

All-freshman

  • Guard Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo.
  • Guard Molly Davis, Central Michigan.
  • Guard Katie Shumate, Kent State.
  • Forward Nila Blackford, Kent State.
  • Guard Peyton Scott, Miami.

Guard Sydney Freeman of Ball State is also going to be a good one, but I rank her below the rest.

All-defensive

  • Senior guard Theresa Onwuka, Buffalo, who would be my defensive player of the year.
  • Sophomore guard Erica Johnson, Ohio.
  • Junior guard Cierra Hooks, Ohio.
  • Senior forward Savannah Kluesner, Miami.
  • Junior forward Oshlynn Brown, Ball State.

Close area Breanna Mobley of Western Michigan, Dyaisha Fair of Buffalo and Lindsey Thall and Katie Shumate of Kent State.

Sixth player of the year

The criteria I found for this award on the web were “the best player came off the bench in more games that she started.” (That was for several other conferences and the NBA; I couldn’t find anything MAC-specific.)

  • By that rule, the winner is sure to be senior forward Gabrielle Bird of Central Michigan, who didn’t start a game this season (not even Senior Day) but was the Chippewas third-leading scorer at 8.6 points a game. She’s a great story of perseverance. In her first three, she averaged below two points a game.
  • The person who I think should win the award is Kent State’s Asiah Dingle. She started coming off the bench in the middle of the conference season and averaged 13.8 points and made 62% of her shots. KSU played its best basketball with her coming off the bench.

But she doesn’t seem to qualify. She started 15 of the 27 games in which she played. She started five of 16 MAC games, which would qualify her. We’ll see how the MAC rules.

 

 

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