March 15, 2013
Sophomore Rachel Banham was named the recipient of Minnesota's Most Valuable Player award, highlighting the women's basketball program's annual team banquet, which took place in the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium Friday night.
A native of Lakeville, Minn., Banham was named First Team All-Big Ten this season after claiming the Big Ten regular-season scoring title with her 21.0 points-per-game average. Banham is the top-scoring sophomore in NCAA Division I and ranks 12th overall nationally in scoring average heading into postseason play, having posted five games with 30 or more points and 16 games of 20 or more points on the year.
Over the course of her sophomore year, Banham has surpassed numerous milestones and ascended Minnesota career and single-season record charts. The guard became just the third sophomore Gopher to reach the 1,000-point milestone when she scored 37 points vs. Illinois on Jan. 28, and also surpassed former Gopher great Lindsay Whalen for the most points scored through a sophomore season with her 1,093rd-career point on Feb. 7 vs. Iowa.
With 1,231 career points, Banham currently ranks 14th all-time on Minnesota's career record chart, while also ranking fourth in games in double figures (63) and 10th in three-point field goals made (110). Banham also ranks fourth on Minnesota's single-season record chart with her 651 points scored this season.
Junior Micaëlla Riché was the recipient of Minnesota's Most Improved Player award. Riché, a native of Gloucester, Ont., played her best basketball in her junior campaign, posting career-highs in every statistical category on her way to being named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. She improved her scoring and rebounding averages by 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, respectively, while more than doubling her total point production from a season ago. A two-time Big Ten Player of the Week, Riche started all 31 games for the Gophers this season, after having started just seven games in her two seasons prior, and averaged 11.6 additional minutes on the floor.
Freshman Shayne Mullaney was honored with the 2013 Coaches Award, an award selected by the coaching staff in recognition of a player's impact on her team, her leadership qualities and work ethic, while fellow freshman and Eden Prairie native, Jackie Johnson, was honored with the Golden Gopher Award. The award is bestowed upon a player who displays what a Minnesota student-athlete is all about - the values, respect, loyalty and integrity of being a Golden Gopher athletically, academically and in the community - throughout a collegiate career.
The Defensive Player of the Year award was given to junior Sari Noga. The guard was given the task of defending the best offensive player on each of the Gophers' opposing teams this season, which included Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas. Noga held Lucas to an 8-19 performance from the floor, including 1-5 from three-point range, in Minnesota's victory over No. 7 Penn State on Feb. 28.
The Most Outstanding Scholar award was presented to senior Katie Loberg. A native of Princeton, Minn., Loberg is set to graduate in May with a degree in journalism and will intern in the sports department at KARE11 this spring. She will end her career at Minnesota ranked sixth on the program record chart with 91 career blocked shots.
The Terry McFarland Sixth Player of the Year Award is given to a person or people who make a special contribution to the Golden Gopher program, whether in time, effort, donation or spirit. The 2012-13 recipients of this special award were Gary Cohen and Margaret Macneale.
The Fast Break Club also announced its award winners at the banquet. The awards are voted upon by the FBC's Board of Directors. The Fast Break Club Award was given to Riché, while the FBC's Love of the Game award was given to Kayla Hirt.
Head coach Pam Borton also took time during the night to recognize the hard work and dedication of the members of the scout team, who regularly practice with the team and prepare the Gophers for competition.
The evening's festivities concluded with the 2012-13 highlight video, which was produced by Paul Jelinek.
2012-13 Minnesota Women's Basketball Award Winners
Most Valuable Player - Rachel Banham
Most Improved Player - Micaëlla Riché
Coaches Award - Shayne Mullaney
Golden Gopher Award - Jackie Johnson
Defensive Player of the Year - Sari Noga
Most Outstanding Scholar - Katie Loberg
Terry McFarland Sixth Player of the Year - Gary Cohen and Margaret Macneale
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Minnesota's two nominees will be in consideration for the award's 26th presentation since its inception.