March 1, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball program had four student-athletes honored by the Big Ten today, as the conference released it 2009-10 postseason awards and honors. Earning major awards from the conference was senior Allyssa DeHaan, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and junior Kalisha Keane, who took home the Sixth Player of the Year award. DeHaan, Keane, junior Brittney Thomas and sophomore Lykendra Johnson all received All-Big Ten recognition by both the coaches and media.
"We have proved to be a well-balanced team this season and it was good to see numerous Spartans recognized with postseason honors," said MSU head coach Suzy Merchant. "Each of these four student-athletes is well deserving and played a key roles in the success of this season's team."
DeHaan became the first Spartan to be named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, after leading the league in blocked shots in conference games with 3.1 and overall at 3.3, also good for sixth in the nation. Earlier this season, DeHaan broke the NCAA Division I blocked shots record and is currently second all-time with 499, sitting one behind St. Mary's junior Louella Tomlinson. In addition, she became the first player in Big Ten history to be named to the All-Defensive Team in each of her four seasons. DeHaan helped to anchor the Spartan defense that led the Big Ten in conference games in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense and blocks.
"I feel honored to be recognized by the Big Ten coaches," said DeHaan. "I have to give credit to my teammates though for surrounding me with such a great defensive team."
"It is rewarding to see Allyssa's defensive ability honored with the Defensive Player of the Year award," said Merchant. "She changes the game as a defender with her presence as a shot blocker. With all the block records that she holds, it is fitting that Allyssa can win this award in her senior season."
DeHaan also earned All-Big Ten honors for the fourth time in her career, being named to the second team by both the coaches and the media. Overall, she leads the Spartans with 11.6 points and is second with 6.1 rebounds, and is also sixth in the conference with an 82.0% free throw percentage.
Keane was the first MSU student-athlete to win the Sixth Player of the Year award, in addition to being named to the All-Big Ten Third Team by the coaches and honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media. Michigan State led the Big Ten in bench production this season and she was one of the main reasons for its success. Keane is second on the team with 9.9 points per game, but led the Spartans with 10.8 points in conference play. She has been a valuable weapon for MSU from the perimeter, leading the team with 44 3-point field goals and a 38.3% clip from behind the arc, both ranking in the top-15 in the Big Ten. On the defensive end, she is tied for fifth in the Big Ten in steals with 1.8 steals. Keane was an honorable mention All-Big Ten choice in her first two seasons.
"Kalisha has been a major reason for our success this season," said Merchant. "She could very well be a starter for this team, but has given us a spark off the bench that we have needed at times this season. With the impact that our bench has had on our team this season, it is great to see a Spartan win the Sixth Player of the Year award."
Joining DeHaan and Keane on the All-Big Ten teams were Johnson and Thomas. Johnson was named to the third team by the coaches and honorable mention by the media, while Thomas was an honorable mention selection by both parties. Thomas is an honorable mention selection for the third time, while Johnson also earned honorable mention recognition last season.
Johnson has been a stat sheet filler for the Spartans this season, ranking first on the team in rebounds (8.0) and field goal percentage (48.0%), second in steals (1.7) and blocks (1.1), third in points (9.0) and fourth in assists (1.5). Her rebounding total is fourth in the Big Ten, while she is also second in offensive rebounds with 3.1. Meanwhile, Thomas leads the Spartans with 3.4 assists, good for ninth in the Big Ten, while also adding 7.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals. She has improved her 3-point shooting this season, ranking second on the team with a 36.5% clip.
Senior Lauren Aitch was the team's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient.
In Merchant's three seasons at Michigan State, 12 Spartans have earned All-Big Ten recognition.
Ohio State's Jantel Lavender was named the Big Ten Player of the Year by both the coaches and media, while Iowa's Jaime Printy also swept the ballots for Freshman of the Year. Wisconsin's Lisa Stone (coaches) and Iowa's Lisa Bluder (media) split Coach of the Year honors.
Michigan State finished the Big Ten regular season winning 10 of its last 11 games to place second in the conference at 12-6. Overall, the Spartans are 21-8 and are ranked No. 25 in the country in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today national rankings. MSU begins the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 2 seed, facing the winner of Michigan and Northwestern on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET in Indianapolis.
For the complete listing of the Big Ten women's basketball postseason awards, click here.