Lady Tigers Celebrate NCAA Sweet 16 at Banquet
SPRINGFIELD, La. – Members of the LSU women’s basketball team along with coaches, staff, parents and supporters gathered at Carter Plantation in Springfield, La., on Sunday night to recognize the 2012-13 Lady Tigers as individual awards were presented and a final look at the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008 was celebrated.
Seniors Adrienne Webb and Bianca Lutley addressed the audience and were honored for their four years with the program. Head coach Nikki Caldwell recapped the amazing journey and a video tribute was played highlighted by the seven-game winning streak late in the season. Caldwell also invited kids from the “Big Buddy Program” to be a part of the festivities.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” said Caldwell. “Our team came together at a very critical time when our season could have gone either way. Beating Missouri and then having to quickly face a very good Kentucky team that we ended up beating, I knew we had something special. We had some warriors on our team.
“We only had eight players and they did what they needed to do to put themselves in position to have their name called on Selection Monday. It was about the laughter, the tears, the hard work and everything they had invested to get this program back to the Sweet 16. I couldn’t have been prouder of this team.”
Webb was presented the Sue Gunter Award for outstanding leadership and effort in her final season. The senior averaged 14.6 points per game and was brilliant during LSU’s last 11 games where the Lady Tigers posted a 9-2 record. She was the team’s leading scorer during the NCAA Tournament with 19.7 points per game, including a career-high 29 points in one of the most memorable victories in school history over Penn State in the second round.
“You are not going to get a harder working person in the game than Adrienne Webb,” said Caldwell. “She doesn’t just go into workouts and get through them. She goes in and dominates it with a purpose. That’s a quality that says a lot in everything she does. She was the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.”
“Just looking up in the stands and seeing the cheers, the tears and celebration, that is something I will never forget,” said Webb of LSU’s victory over Penn State. “It was so great being it was my final time in the PMAC.”
Lutley was the recipient of the “Most Improved Award,” going from 5.3 points per game as a junior to 10.2 points per contest in her final season. She too played her best basketball of the season during the critical stretch that saw the Lady Tigers reach the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
“We believed in each other and we believed in the coaching staff,” said Lutley. “The fans were unbelievable, and I just want to thank them for supporting us.”
Junior forward Theresa Plaisance was honored with the “Offensive Player of the Year Award.” The honorable mention All-American and first-team All-Southeastern Conference recipient became the first LSU player since Seimone Augustus to lead the SEC in scoring with 17.0 points per game.
Junior guard Jeanne Kenney took home the “Courage Award.” Kenney played through numerous injuries throughout the season. The Baton Rouge native scored a memorable 22 points in a win over Kentucky on Feb. 24 just days after the passing of her grandfather. She led the team in assists with 137 on the year.
Freshman guard Danielle Ballard was named “Defensive Player of the Year” after collecting a single-season school-record 100 steals, while Anne Pedersen was recognized with the “Comeback Player of the Year Award.” Pedersen sat out all of last season after injuring her knee in the preseason. She played in 31 games this season.
Junior forward Shanece McKinney was the recipient of the “Tiger Award,” which recognized perseverance and resiliency. McKinney was one of the SEC’s top shot blockers, racking up 39 blocks on the season. Freshman forward Derreyal Youngblood earned the “Purple and Gold Award” for toughness.
Sophomore forward Sheila Boykin received a standing ovation when she was honored with the “Inspiration Award.” Boykin played in 25 games before being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which sidelined her for the remainder of the season. She has recovered and she was an instrumental part on the LSU bench during the team’s tournament run.
Caldwell put the finishing touches on the night with a look ahead at the 2013-14 season.
“The returning players got something from this season,” she said. “We are not just hungry for a Sweet 16, we are starving for a Final Four. Nashville is our goal.”