Kristi Cirone of Illinois State has been named the Jackie Stiles MVC Player of the Year while Southern Illinois' Dana Eikenberg was voted the Rawlings Coach of the Year, announced at a special awards luncheon Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, the site of the 2007 State Farm MVC Women's Basketball Championship.
After leading Illinois State to a 13-5 record and its first 20-win season since 1989-90, Cirone becomes just the second MVP in the last 10 years that did not come from the regular-season champion or co-champion. Also, she becomes just the fourth sophomore in MVC history to be named the league player of the year, with Kari Koch of Missouri State the most recent student-athlete to achieve that honor (named POY in 2004). Cirone ranks fourth in the league in overall scoring (16.7) and first in assists (5.79). She was named Valley Freshman of the Year last season.
The league’s top coaching honor goes to Southern Illinois' head coach Dana Eikenberg. Eikenberg, in her third year at Southern Illinois, has produced arguably the biggest turnaround in Division I Women's Basketball. Just two years ago, her team produced one conference win, while last year, it finished with six. This season, her team went 16-2 in league play and won its first MVC regular-season title since 1989-90, while also reaching the 20-win plateau for just the ninth time in school history. SIU is currently winners of eight straight and 14 of its last 15 heading into tourney play.
The league’s specialty awards were presented at the league’s Rawlings Coach of the Year and All-Conference luncheon that tipped off the four-day, 10-team tournament.
Evansville's Rebekah Parker was tabbed league Defensive Player of the Year while Kelsey Luna of Indiana State is the league’s Freshman of the Year. Megan Neuvirth of Creighton earned the league’s award for Newcomer of the Year (top first-year non-freshman).
Specialty Award Winners
announced Thursday, March 8, at Awards Luncheon
JACKIE STILES PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kristi Cirone, Illinois State
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Megan Neuvirth, Creighton
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Kelsey Luna, Indiana State
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rebekah Parker, Evansville
RAWLINGS’ MVC COACH OF THE YEAR: Dana Eikenberg, Southern Illinois
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