April 23, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Senior All-WCC guard Becki Ashbaugh was named the team's most valuable player, one of many awards handed out at the Santa Clara women's basketball annual banquet Sunday night at Mondo Burrito Restaurant.
Second-year head coach Chris Denker hosted the affair, set to honor the team's graduating seniors and to thank the Bronco fans and supporters for a memorable season, in which SCU advanced to its fifth straight postseason appearance and finished with a 21-10 record.
Ashbaugh, a Verizon District VIII Academic All-American, received the honor as voted by her teammates. The team captain became the first Bronco ever to notch 1,000 point and 600 assists in a career. She finishes her career ranked second in the league in assists and averaged 7.2 assists per contest, the sixth best mark nationally. She was also ranked top 25 in the NCAA in free throw percentage and has played in more games than any other Bronco in her career. Ashbaugh also received a commemorative basketball for breaking the school's assist record, which now stands at 646.
"Despite starting practically every game of her career, Becki found ways to improve every night out," Denker said. "She really blossomed this year with her assists because she found other ways to get people the ball."
Senior guard Caroline Gruening was named the team's Most Inspirational Player. She was also awarded the Christine Silvernail Award, a recognition given to the athlete that "best embodies what it means to be a Bronco." The award was established two seasons ago, in honor of Silvernail, the 1994 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, after she passed away as a result of a car accident. Katie Pursley and Annie Garrison are past award recipients.
"She's a great player on the court and an even better person off it," assistant coach Benita Martin said.
Gruening also shared the Best Defensive player award with junior forward teammate Kendra Rhea. Rhea was also named the team's most improved player during the season. Fellow junior frontcourt teammate Tammy Annas was named the most improved player in-between seasons. The Coaches Award was presented to junior Jennifer Bradley and sophomore Megan Nelson.
Each athlete received a watch commemorating the team's selection to the NCAA Championships. Achievement awards for statistical category leaders were also presented. The evening ended with a 20-minute highlight video that captured the team's season. The team's graduating seniors then said goodbye to their teammates: Ashbaugh read a poem she wrote for her teammates, while Gruening read a letter.
2001-02 Santa Clara Basketball AwardsMost Improved Player (in between seasons): Tammy Annas
Most Improved Player (during the season): Kendra Rhea
Most Inspirational Player: Caroline Gruening
Best Defensive Player: Caroline Gruening, Kendra Rhea
Coaches Award: Jennifer Bradley, Megan Nelson
Most Valuable Player: Becki Ashbaugh
Christine Silvernail Award: Caroline Gruening