March 4, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Three members of the Michigan State women's basketball team - senior Jasmine Thomas, junior Klarissa Bell and sophomore Kiana Johnson - were selected to an All-Big Ten team on Monday, as the conference released its postseason awards. Bell was a third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches, while all three were honorable mention selections by the media. Senior Courtney Schiffauer was MSU's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's six seasons, the Spartans have received 20 All-Big Ten selections, marking the most in the conference during that span.
Bell earns All-Big Ten recognition for the first time in her career. Bell currently leads the Spartans with 11.4 points per game, while ranking second on the team with 5.9 rebounds and 0.6 blocks, and third with 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals, in a team-high 35.6 minutes. She ranks sixth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), eighth in minutes played, 14th in assists, 18th in rebounds and 24th in points. So far this season, Bell is averaging career highs in every statistical category, including a +7.3 increase in scoring from last season, the second-largest margin in the Big Ten.
Thomas also garners her first Big Ten postseason honor. She is second on the team in points (10.0), assists (3.1) and steals (1.9), while third on the team in rebounds (5.4). Among the Big Ten, she is sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio, 11th in steals, 12th in assists and 28th in scoring. Like Bell, Thomas is averaging career highs in every statistical category. She picked up her play in the final couple weeks of the season, averaging 15.6 points over the final five games, in addition to posting a 23-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last seven contests.
Johnson was an All-Freshman Team selection last season, but earned her first All-Big Ten honor her sophomore season. Johnson leads the Spartans with 4.2 assists, 2.1 steals and a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio, while also fourth with 9.5 points. She is also top on the team with an 80.5% free throw percentage. In conference games, Johnson was third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), eighth in assists (4.3) and steals (2.2) and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (35.0%).
Schiffauer joins Bell and Thomas as the team's tri-captains and are the only three Spartans to start every game this season. She leads the team and is 13th in the Big Ten with 6.4 rebounds, while also chipping in 6.4 points, 2.3 assists and 0.9 steals.
Penn State's Maggie Lucas was the Big Ten Player of the Year by both the league's coaches and media. The Coach of the Year voting was split between Connie Yori of Nebraska (coaches) and Coquese Washington (media). Rounding out the major honors, Northwestern's Maggie Lyon was the Freshman of the Year, Illinois' Adrienne GodBold was Defensive Player of the Year and Iowa's Melissa Dixon was Sixth Player of the Year.
For a complete list of the Big Ten postseason awards and honors, click here.
The Spartans finished the Big Ten season in a tie for third at 10-6, continuing a streak of 11-straight seasons with at least 10 conference wins. MSU has finished among the top-3 in the Big Ten in each of the last five seasons. Overall, MSU enters the postseason at 22-7, having won at least 20 games in 10-consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in the Big Ten.
Michigan State begins postseason play on Friday as the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, held this season at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The Spartans will face either No. 5 Michigan or No. 12 Indiana in the quarterfinals at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET.