Women's Hoops Star Earns Honor
March 9, 1998
By CHUCK SCHOFFNER
Chamique Holdsclaw, who helped make Tennessee a unanimous No. 1 in the poll, was a unanimous selection Monday to The Associated Press women's All-America basketball team.
Holdsclaw was on the first team on all 40 ballots from a national media panel after leading Tennessee to a 33-0 regular-season record.
She was joined by Connecticut's injured star, Nykesha Sales; Old Dominion's Ticha Penicheiro, Texas Tech's Alicia Thompson and North Carolina's Tracy Reid.
Sales was the only other player named on all 40 ballots, although she wasn't a first-team pick on every one, while Penicheiro was listed on all but one ballot. Holdsclaw and Penicheiro became the first repeat selections on the first team in the four-year history of the AP team. Holdsclaw, a 6-foot-2 junior, was a third-team pick as a freshman in 1996.
Tennessee freshman Tamika Catchings made the second team. Old Dominion was the only other school with two players on the top three teams, Nyree Roberts earning a third-team berth.
Holdsclaw has led Tennessee to the last two national titles and improved her game even more this season. Surrounded by a cast that includes Catchings and three other talented freshmen, Holdsclaw didn't have to do as much as she did last season, when she played everything from the post to the point.
"It think it's allowed her to grow on the defensive end of the floor," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "I think she has really stepped up her defensive intensity and as a coach, that excites me. It just makes us a better team defensively."
Holdsclaw is averaging three steals, and her defensive plays often spark Tennessee's devastating transition game. She's also averaging 22.9 points and eight rebounds and shoots 56 percent from the field.
Sales, a second-team pick in 1997, was having a big senior year when she went down with a ruptured Achilles' tendon in the next-to-last regular-season game.
After playing with a steely resolve throughout her career, the injury was one the 6-foot senior couldn't overcome, although coach Geno Auriemma arranged for her to score an uncontested basket in the next game so she could become Connecticut's career scoring leader, triggering an often acrimonious debate over the ethics of the move.
Sales averaged 20.9 points and shot 56.6 percent from the field. She was the Big East's player of the year and, in a testimony to her all-around ability, was chosen the league's defensive player of the year as well.
"I knew the minute she walked on campus, by the way she reacted to the team and the way she behaved, that you could build a team around her," Auriemma said. "She's not just a skilled basketball player, she's a solid person."
Penicheiro, the flashy point guard who helped Old Dominion to a runner-up finish in last year's NCAA tournament, was slowed early by an ankle injury and her numbers are down slightly this year - 10.4 points and 7.3 assists per game.
But she's doing even more for the team, coach Wendy Larry said.
"She has basically taken this basketball team in the absence of some very fine contributing seniors from last year and has returned this basketball team to a No. 1 seed in the tournament," Larry said.
"She is unselfish almost to a fault. I believe she is truly one of the most creative passers in the game."
Thompson, a 6-1 senior, led Texas Tech to the Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships and a No. 1 seeding in NCAA play. She's averaging 22.9 points and 8.8 rebounds and shoots 54.7 percent from the field.
Reid, a 5-11 senior, moved up from last year's second team and again showed her versatility, averaging 20.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and shooting 54 percent. She also averages better than two steals a game.
"For a player who's 5-11 to do what she does just shows the competitiveness she possesses," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
Catchings was joined on the second team by Alabama's Dominique Canty, Florida's Murriel Page, Stanford's Kristin Folkl and Louisiana Tech's Alisa Burras. The third team had Roberts, Arizona's Adia Barnes, Illinois' Ashley Berggren, Maine's Cindy Blodgett and Stephen F. Austin's Katrina Price.
1997-98 AP Women's All-America Basketball Team
The 1997-98 AP women's All-America basketball team with school, height, class, key statistics and points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis in voting by a national media panel in parentheses:
Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee, 6-2, junior, 22.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 55.9 fg pct, 100 steals (200 points)
Nykesha Sales, Connecticut, 6-0, senior, 20.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 56.6 fg pct, 98 steals, 40 3-pointers (192)
Ticha Penicheiro, Old Dominion, 5-11, senior, 10.4 ppg, 7.3 apg, 138 steals (181)
Alicia Thompson, Texas Tech, 6-1, senior, 22.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 54.7 fg pct (158)
Tracy Reid, North Carolina, 5-11, senior, 20.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 54.4 fg pct, 69 steals (136)
Dominique Canty, Alabama, 5-10, junior, 21.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4.9 apg, 52.3 fg pct (119)
Murriel Page, Florida, 6-2, senior, 19.3 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 56.7 fg pct, 2.1 apg (119)
Kristin Folkl, Stanford, 6-2, junior, 18.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 69.5 fg pct (98)
Alisa Burras, Louisiana Tech, 6-3, senior, 13.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 61.5 fg pct (65)
Tamika Catchings, Tennessee, 6-1, freshman, 18.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 54.9 fg pct, 82 steals (60)
Adia Barnes, Arizona, 5-11, senior, 21.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 52.7 fg pct (53)
Ashley Berggren, Illinois, 5-10, senior, 18.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 57.2 fg pct, 2.8 apg (48)
Nyree Roberts, Old Dominion, 6-3 senior, 20.6, 11.9 rpg, 64.1 fg pct, 60 blocks (47)
Cindy Blodgett, Maine, 5-9, senior, 27.4 ppg, 4.4 apg, 56 steals, 53 3-pointers (37)
Katrina Price, Stephen F. Austin, 5-10, senior, 22.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 44 3-pointers (35)
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