Lavender will share the Player of the Year honors with Michigan State Senior Kalisha Keane who was named POY by the conference coaches. I have seen Keane play several times this season and she is a great player but I think the coaches got it wrong on this one. Keane averaged an impressive 16.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game and hit important buzzer-beating three-pointers to defeat Iowa and to force overtime at Wisconsin. As impressive as Keane’s numbers were, Lavender’s were more impressive. Jantel averaged 22.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game and while she did not hit any game-winning shots at the buzzer, she did make perhaps the most important play of the year for the Buckeyes with her pass to Brittany Johnson for the game winning three-pointer at Purdue. Lavender did all of this while constantly being double and occasionally triple-teamed.
Michigan State’s Suzy Merchant was named Coach of the Year by both the coaches and the media as she guided the Spartans, picked during the preseason to finish 3rd in the conference, to their first ever outright Big Ten Title. While Suzy is a good coach, she was not the most deserving of this award. As much as it pains me to say it because of who his employer is, Michigan’s Kevin Borseth should have won COY. The Wolverines have been perennial bottom dwellers in the conference for over a decade but this year Borseth led them to a third place finish in the conference, far exceeding anyone’s expectations.
In addition to being named POY, Jantel Lavender was named first team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media. She was the only unanimous selection by both the coaches and the media. Junior guard Samantha Prahalis was named to the third team by the coaches and to the second team by the media. Sophomore guard Tayler Hill was an honorable mention All-Big Ten player by both the coaches and the media and was named to the All-Defensive team thanks to her gritty play. Freshman center Ashley Adams was named to the All-Freshman team. Adams’ accomplishment is impressive since she did not receive significant playing time until she stepped into the starting line-up to replace an injured Sarah Schulze in mid-January. Upon becoming a starter, Adams wasted no time in making an impact thanks to her good shooting, ability to pass the ball, and skill at blocking shots. Senior Brittany Johnson was named Ohio State’s recipient of the Big Ten’s sportsmanship award.
Congratulations to all the Buckeyes for their achievements and hopefully they can still bring home some more hardware this year.