BATON ROUGE – After guiding the LSU Lady Tigers to a 22-12 overall record and its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since 2008, head coach Nikki Caldwell, junior forward Theresa Plaisance and freshman guard Danielle Ballard have been awarded the state’s highest honors by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, it was announced this weekend.
For the second straight year, Caldwell was named Louisiana Coach of the Year with 12 votes. Plaisance, a native of New Orleans, is the second straight LSU player to take home Louisiana Player of the Year honors with 21 votes. Ballard, a native of Memphis, Tenn., was awarded Louisiana Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Lady Tiger since LaSondra Barrett in 2009 to receive the honor. She received 17 of the 32 votes.
In two seasons at LSU, Caldwell has compiled a 45-23 record with two NCAA Tournament appearances. Despite a roster of only eight players and at times seven late in the season, the Lady Tigers reeled off seven consecutive victories, including three over top-15 teams Kentucky, Georgia and Texas A&M. It represented the first time since the 1985-86 season that LSU took a seven-game winning streak into the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The biggest win of the Caldwell era came when the Lady Tigers knocked off No. 3 seed Penn State, 71-66, in the NCAA Tournament second round to reach the Sweet 16. They did it with a roster of only seven available players. For the year, LSU recorded six wins over ranked teams and the Lady Tigers finished the season ranked in the USA Today Coaches poll (No. 21) for the first time since the 2008 Final Four campaign.
Plaisance is the eighth different LSU player to earn Louisiana Player of the Year honors, joining Pokey Chatman (1991), Cornelia Gayden (1995), Marie Ferdinand (2001), Seimone Augustus (2004, ’05, ’06), Sylvia Fowles (2007, ’08), Allison Hightower (2009, ’10) and LaSondra Barrett (2012). Plaisance was also named to the All-Louisiana first team.
Plaisance, a first-team All-SEC recipient, averaged an SEC-best 17.0 points per game. From Nov. 16 to March 24, she recorded 31 consecutive double-figure scoring games, representing the longest streak by an LSU player since Seimone Augustus did it in a school-record 97 straight games from 2003-06. She was also the first Lady Tiger since Augustus to lead the conference in scoring.
Plaisance finished fourth in the SEC in rebounding (8.3 rpg), sixth in field goal percentage (43.7), second in blocks (2.5 bpg) and 10th in free throw percentage (.728). Plaisance was the only player in the SEC to rank in the top 10 in all five of those categories. She made (139) and attempted (191) more free throws than any player in the SEC.
In addition to being named Louisiana Freshman of the Year, Ballard earned a spot on the All-Louisiana second team. Ballard shattered the LSU single-season record for steals with 100 in her first season. The SEC All-Freshman selection ranked second among all freshmen in the conference in scoring (12.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg) while leading all players in the league in steals (2.9 spg).
Senior guard Adrienne Webb was named to the All-Louisiana second team. Webb had the best season of her career, ranking sixth in the SEC in scoring (14.6 ppg) and leading the league in free throw percentage, making 86-of-107 for 80.4 percent. Webb finished 17th in all-time LSU scoring with 1,370 points and fifth in LSU career threes with 168.
Theresa Plaisance, LSU, Jr., F
Ashlyn Baggett, McNeese State, Sr., G
Natosha Gottlieb, Louisiana College, Sr., F
Sharde Henry, LSU-Shreveport, Sr., G
Joanna Miller, Grambling State, Jr., G
Vashni Sharp-Moore, Centenary, Jr., G
Olivia Grayson, Tulane, Sr., G
Jasmine Brewer, Loyola, Jr., F
Whitney Frazier, LA Tech, So., F
KK Babin, Nicholls State, Jr., G
Honorable Mention: Danielle Blagg (Tulane); Jenna Diakos (LSU Shreveport); Brittany Lewis (LA Tech); Janelle Perez (Northwestern State); Lulu Perry (LA Tech); April Perry (SUNO).
Louisiana Coach of the Year: Nikki Caldwell, LSU
(Caldwell 12, Bo Browder 8, DoBee Plaisance 4, Brooke/Scott Stoehr 3, Jason Tinsley 3, Donald-Williams 2)
Louisiana Player of the Year: Theresa Plaisance, LSU
(Plaisance 21, Gottlieb 6, Baggett 4, Henry 1)
Louisiana Freshman of the Year: Danielle Ballard, LSU
(Ballard 17, Perez 5, Veal 4, Perry 4, Evans 2)
Louisiana Newcomer of the Year: Joanna Miller, Grambling State
(Miller 25, Okoye 6, Jasmine Scott 1)