Bulldogs Announce Award Winners At Women's Basketball Banquet
Head coach Amy Stephens presented five awards at the event at the Sheraton West Des Moines.
Junior Brandy Dahir (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview) was honored as the team’s Best Offensive Player. A 2007 first team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, Dahir turned in the best offensive campaign of her career, registering team highs in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (5.5). In 27 games, she connected on a team-best 52.1 percent of her shots, a mark that ranked 49th nationally. Dahir became the 18th 1,000-point scorer in Drake history when she surpassed the plateau with a 22-point performance versus Evansville on Feb. 18. She finished among the Missouri Valley Conference leaders in five statistical categories.
Earning Best Defensive Player accolades was freshman Monique’ Jones (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit North). Appearing in 30 games, she registered 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest en route to being named to the MVC All-Freshman team. She paced the Bulldogs in offensive rebounds and placed among the league leaders in rebounding and offensive rebounds (2.30). Jones helped set the defensive tone for a Drake unit which held opponents to 63.2 points per outing, the second-best mark in the MVC.
Hauling in Most Improved Player laurels was sophomore Kelsey Keizer (Arnolds Park, Iowa/Okoboji). One of three Bulldogs to appear in all 33 games, Keizer more than quintupled her career scoring average as she recorded 5.8 points per game. She ranked second on the team in rebounding (5.4), while shooting a team-high 74.1 percent at the free throw line. Her numbers placed her among the conference leaders in rebounding and defensive rebounds (3.67).
Sophomore Tori Runner (Saratoga, Wyo./Saratoga) was tabbed as the recipient of the Bulldog Spirit Award, which goes to the player who most exhibited the Bulldog spirit and commitment to excellence and exemplifying what Drake women’s basketball aspires to represent. Appearing in 27 contests this season, the sophomore averaged 3.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. She finished second on the team in blocked shots (17), while ranking 14th in the conference in the same category.
Runner also was the winner of the Charles E. Leonard award. The honor recognizes an individual overcoming adversity and having a positive attitude everyday and living life to the fullest. Runner overcame and persevered through injuries during her first three campaigns at Drake to become a valuable member of this year's squad, which earned the school’s 10th NCAA Tournament appearance.
Stephens and the Bulldogs had plenty to celebrate as the team concluded the campaign by running the table with four wins in four days at the Knapp Center to claim the Missouri Valley Conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. In the event, Drake (14-19 overall) more than held its own in the first half with eventual national champion Tennessee before falling in first round play in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Bulldogs return all five starters next season and will begin their quest of a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth when Drake opens the 2007-08 campaign at home, versus Wisconsin-Green Bay. The game is tentatively slated for Nov. 9.