DURHAM, N.C. – The 2011-12 season officially came to a close on Wednesday evening for the Duke University women’s basketball team as the Blue Devils held their annual celebration at the Washington Duke Inn. With approximately 350 people in attendance and emceed by Morgan Patrick, Duke gave out eight awards.
There were three statistical awards given out -- Best Rebounder, Best Free Throw Shooter and Assist Maker. Other awards that were presented were Player of the Year, Most Improved, Making Plays, M.M.O.C. (Meanest Mother on the Court), Sixth Player, CNC (Choice Not Chance) Scholar-Athlete, Best Defender, Senior Award and CNC Ball Club Member of the Year.
A native of Stockton, Calif., Gray took home the M.M.O.C., Making Plays and Assist Maker awards. Gray averaged 12.5 points, 6.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals on the season for the sixth-ranked Blue Devils (27-6). She ranked 12th nationally in assists and 29th in steals. The 5-11 playmaker elevated her game even more in the NCAA Tournament averaging 16.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals as she was named to the Fresno Regional All-Tournament team.
Other honors Gray received this season include Naismith Midseason Player of the Year list, All-ACC Tournament second team, First Team All-ACC, two-time ACC Player of the Week and a John R. Wooden Award preseason list. Gray’s 201 assists on the season is a new Duke single-season record, while she also notched a NCAA Regional record-tying eight steals against St. John’s. She collected at least 10 points, four rebounds and four assists in 18 different games on the season.
The M.M.O.C. award represents the Blue Devil that does the dirty work, including assists, steals and leads the team in floor burns.
Williams, who is a product of Virginia Beach, Va., received the Player of the Year and Best Rebounder awards. Coming off a standout 2011-12 campaign where she averaged 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals, Williams was the consensus National Freshman of the Year by ESPN.com, USBWA and Full Court.
She posted one of the top freshman campaigns in league history as she notched a freshman record 116 blocked shots and ranked fourth nationally with a 3.5 per game average. She also became the first league freshman to be named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and only the third freshman to be voted to the All-ACC First Team.
Other honors the freshman received were ACC Defensive Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, All-ACC First Team, All-ACC Defensive Team, All-ACC Freshman Team, John R. Wooden Award finalist, WBCA Region II Nominee for WBCA All-America, All-ACC Academic Team and a Naismith Midseason Candidate for Player of the Year. Williams’ nine ACC Rookie of the Week selections matched the league record set back in 1992-93.
Liston, a 6-0 guard from River Forest, Ill., was presented the Most Improved Player and the Best Free Throw Shooter awards. As a sophomore, Liston registered a team-best 57 three-pointers, which ranked tied for 10th on Duke’s single-season charts. She also averaged 12.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals on the year. Liston’s 46.0 three-point field goal percentage ranked as the fifth-highest in school history. She nailed three or more treys in 11 games on the season. From the charity stripe, Liston hit 72-of-83 free throws for a team-best 86.7 percentage. Her percentage ranks as the fifth-best in school history.
Haley Peters was presented the CNC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for the second straight season, after registering a 3.79 grade-point average. On the season, Peters started all 33 contests, while averaging 10.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 assists. She was a third team All-ACC selection, while also being named to the All-ACC Academic team. The 6-3 forward scored a career-high 25 points in the NCAA Tournament at Vanderbilt as she hit 12-of-16 field goals, had six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 37 minutes.
Junior Allison Vernerey was awarded the Sixth Player of the Year, which marks the second time in her three-year career that she has been presented the honor. Vernerey, who is from Alsace, France, also received the Sixth Player of the Year award as a freshman. She averaged 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 33 contests on the year. Vernerey posted one of the best games of her career against UNC Wilmington as she hit 10-of-11 field goals, scored 22 points, had four steals, four assists and four rebounds in 19 minutes in December.
Earning the Most Improved Award along with Liston was freshman Ka’lia Johnson. A product of Chester, Va., Johnson made huge strides down the stretch and played her best basketball of the season during the NCAA Tournament. The 5-10 guard came off the bench against Samford and posted six points and four rebounds in 21 minutes in the first round, while collecting five points, one assist and one rebound at Vanderbilt in the second round. Johnson drained her second career three-pointer against Vanderbilt. She notched five points, three rebounds and one blocked shot in the Sweet 16 versus 14th-ranked St. John’s as well.
Presented with the Best Defender award was Richa Jackson, who had her season come to an end on Feb. 15 against Virginia Tech with a torn ACL. Prior to her injury, Jackson had started 17 straight contests, while averaging 9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.1 assists on the year. During one stretch of the season, Jackson tallied double-figure scoring in 11 of 12 games, including a career-high 21 points against N.C. State. Even though she missed the final eight games of the season, her 45 steals ranked tied for third on the team.
Kathleen Scheer was given the Senior Award on the evening, after concluding her career playing in 120 games, while making 18 starts. She scored 333 points, pulled down 250 rebounds, dished out 63 assists, blocked 54 shots and notched 61 steals. Scheer posted double-figure scoring against Pittsburgh and USC Upstate this season, while pulling down a season-high seven rebounds at Virginia Tech. She grabbed at least one rebound in 27 of 33 games played on the year.
Elizabeth Layne of Durham claimed the final award on the night as she was presented with the CNC Ball Club Member of the Year.
The Player of the Year, Most Improved, Sixth Player, Making Plays and Best Defender awards were voted on by team members and coaches.
Duke said good-bye to two seniors on the night-- Scheer and Shay Selby. The duo led Duke to a 116-22 overall record, 50-8 mark in the ACC and a 60-2 ledger in Cameron Indoor Stadium the last four years. The seniors also registered two undefeated seasons in Cameron Indoor Stadium, three ACC Regular Season titles and two ACC Tournament Championships.
As a team, the Blue Devils registered a 27-6 overall record in 2011-12 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Under the direction of the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year Joanne P. McCallie, Duke collected its third straight ACC regular season title and the first outright title since the 2006-07 campaign with a 15-1 mark.