California Baptist senior guard Ane Olaeta is the WAC Preseason Player of the Year and is living up to that billing. Grand Canyon freshman Katie Scott is the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year and hasn’t missed a beat since coming to Phoenix. Both the Lancers and Lopes are a combined 15-1 through non-conference play.
So, as we hit the holiday break, it’s time to hand out some awards heading into conference play. I hope everyone is having a happy & healthy holiday season.
Coach of the Year
Jarrod Olson (California Baptist University)
The Lancers are 8-0 with four wins against Big West squads and a lone victory against both the West Coast and Mountain West Conferences while operating without Britney Thomas and Georgia Dale (both preseason All WAC media selections) for significant portions of non-conference due to injury. Both were cleared to return last Saturday against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
In addition the Lancers are in the collegeinsider.com’s top 25 mid-major poll for a second straight week. The Lancers are at 24, a first in their third year of the transition to Division I. Expectations are high in Riverside. And the Lancers have an immediate test in WAC play with an opening weekend series against Utah Valley at home.
Receiving heavy consideration for this award was Grand Canyon’s Molly Miller, who has the Lopes at 7-1, with a lone non-conference matchup just after New Year’s against Park University before opening WAC play. They are 3-1 against the Big Sky with Southern Utah being their only loss (84-83), and have single wins against the WCC & Southland Conferences in addition to two wins against NAIA teams.
Miller, who recorded 180 wins in six years at her alma mater Drury University before moving to Phoenix, is making the move a level up seem almost easy. Her first Lopes team is in the national rankings defensively in the categories below:
Turnovers Forced Per Game>>26.62 (1st)
Turnover Margin>>11.62 (2nd)
Total Steals>>121 (2nd)
Steals Per Game>>15.1 (2nd)
Player of the Year
Ane Olaeta (California Baptist University)
For a second straight year a Lancer was named Preseason Player of the Year. And thus far, Olaeta, a 5’4″ guard from Spain, has not disappointed. She averages 13.4 PPG, 8.1 APG (3rd Nationally), 5.1 RPG, and 3.0 SPG (35th Nationally) in 32 minutes played. Olaeta is also shooting 45.6% from the field (31.3% on 3s). Olaeta’s streak of six straight games scoring in double figures ended on Saturday against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. However, her streak of five straight games with five or more assists remains intact as conference play begins just after New Year’s.
Newcomer of the Year
Katie Scott (Grand Canyon University)
In life, like sports, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Thus far, Grand Canyon University freshman center Katie Scott has fully taken advantage of her opportunities in 2020. Not only has she won a WAC Player of the Week award but her numbers are just jaw dropping. This is especially true when you consider she averages 19 minutes played per contest. Scott averages 19.8 PPG (T44 Nationally), 6.4 RPG, 2.3 APG & 1.8 SPG while shooting 60.2% from the field & 60% beyond the arc.
Scott has two streaks (one active) of three games in double figure scoring. And currently is on a four-game streak recording multiple assists. The Freshman from Carl Junction, Missouri leads her team in scoring, three point percentage, and rebounding while those 2.3 assists are good for second in that category.
>>Also receiving consideration for this award was CBU freshman Nicole Villa-Ambrosi who is averaging 9.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 SPG and a block per game in 23 minutes of action, recording two starts. She is 3rd on the Lancers in three point percentage at 35.3% (T15 in the WAC rankings).
Coming back from the break CBU & Utah Valley are scheduled to meet in Riverside on the 8th & 9th of January in a pair of 2pm tip offs. Utah Valley and Grand Canyon University will meet on the regular season’s final weekend (March 6th & 7th) in a series which could have regular season championship & conference tournament seeding implications.