U’s Iverson overlooked by Big Ten committee, again

Aaron Kirscht

For the last two weeks, Gophers center Angie Iverson has made a legitimate claim to the Big Ten Player of the Week award. And for the second straight week, Iverson was overlooked in favor of other players whose teams went undefeated over the weekend.
Penn State sophomore Shauntai Hall and Purdue senior Jannon Roland shared this week’s award. Northwestern’s Michele Ratay last week took the honors.
Hall scored 20 points in a win over Michigan and 18 in a win over Indiana. Roland had 17 points and seven rebounds against the Hawkeyes and 20 points and five rebounds against Michigan — both wins for the Boilermakers.
Iverson, meanwhile, had 22 points and 13 rebounds at Michigan State and a career-high 30 points and 18 rebounds at Illinois. But both games were resounding losses for the Gophers.
To be considered for the award, players must be nominated by their school’s sports information department (Iverson was nominated the past two weeks). A small committee in the Big Ten communications office then confers on the nominees.
Big Ten Director of Communications Dennis LaBissioniere said four basic criteria are factored into the selection process: a player’s individual statistics, the team’s performance and record over the week, the location of the games (home or away) and the strength of the opponents. None of the criteria, he said, are given more value than any other.
For example, a player’s chances of winning the award could be diminished if her performance came against weaker teams but improve if the games were on the road or if her team won.
Sixth-place Penn State was 2-0 during the weekend, with home wins over ninth-place Michigan and seventh-place Indiana. Third-place Purdue won twice on the road, against fifth-place Iowa and Michigan. (All standings are through Feb. 10.) In each instance, the higher-ranked team won.
Iverson’s numbers came on the road against first-place Illinois and then-second-place Michigan State. Both teams are now tied for first in the conference and rank in the top 25.
So, in terms of statistics, the relative position of competing teams and game location, it seems that Iverson has the advantage. But the fact that Minnesota went 0-2 (and sits at the bottom of the Big Ten standings) surely influenced the committee.
Gophers coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said the recent selections seem to be based more on the performances of the team than on the individual. Hill-MacDonald made it clear that she felt Iverson has been slighted.
“If they want to name a team of the week,” she said, “they should do that. But if they want to truly honor the player of the week, they need to look very closely at what the individual players are doing, regardless of the score or the place of the team in the conference.
“Teams have not been able to stop Angie. They’ve tried a lot of things, but nothing has worked. She just finds a way to score.”
But until those wins start coming, Iverson may not be able to achieve the elusive Player of the Week award.
Hoop funk
ù Iverson’s 15.5 rebound average over the weekend pushed her season average to 12.3 — first in the Big Ten and second in the nation. Her 25-rebound game against Colorado State on Dec. 3 is a Big Ten record, and still ranks as the national season high.
ù Freshman guard Kiauna Burns had another strong weekend, tying her career-high in points with 13 (she had 13 against Purdue). Lynda Hass set a career mark in assists on Sunday with six.
ù Clarification: The original box score from Sunday’s game against Illinois showed Iverson with 28 points on 10-of-22 shooting. But a post-game revision improved Iverson’s stats to 30 points (a career high, eclipsing the 29 points she had against Purdue Jan. 31) on 11-of-22 shooting.