March 9, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara's women's basketball team was rewarded for its first-place finish in the Big West when the conference announced its annual awards on Monday.
Head coach Lindsay Gottlieb was named the Big West Coach of the Year after leading UCSB to a 15-1 record in league play. Gottlieb also guided the Gauchos to a 20-9 overall record in her first season at the helm of the team. The Scarsdale, NY native took over for Mark French last May.
"I feel really fortunate to be the head coach at this program, which I feel is one of the most special women's basketball programs in the country," Gottlieb said. "I think anytime you're rewarded for what you do, it's because the players have performed and the assistant coaches have put the time and effort in that most people don't understand. I'm excited about this award because it sheds light on the wonderful people I get to work with - the players and coaches."
For the second time in as many seasons, the Gauchos placed two players on the All-Big West First Team. Seniors Jenna Green and Lauren Pedersen were both honored as First Team players as UCSB was the only school to boast a pair of First-Team All-Big West selections.
It is Green's third selection to the Big West's First Team as the senior is now only the fourth player in UCSB history to take home that honor three times. The senior from San Jose, Calif. averaged 11.4 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game this season and is currently ninth on UCSB's all-time scoring list.
Pedersen led the Gauchos with a 12.8 scoring average while also leading the team in total rebounds, assists and steals. She is the first player in UCSB history to lead the Gauchos in every single category. The Brea, Calif. native started every game for UCSB this season and poured in a career-high 28 points last week against UC Riverside to give the Gauchos the regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in this week's Big West Tournament.
"As a coach, I am really proud of the two players named to the First Team," Gottlieb said. "Jenna and Lauren have taken so much upon themselves, but always have the attitude of `What can I do to help the team win?' Both of them have unbelievable skill sets at their positions, but both are also leaders and big-time players."
Jordan Franey, the 2007 Big West Freshman of the Year, was honored again as she was named to the Big West's Honorable Mention team. The junior from San Diego averaged 6.6 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game as one of only four Gauchos to play in all 29 games.
"Jordan is so deserving of being an all-conference selection," Gottlieb said. "She's bought into her role as well as any player I've coached. She's been a consistent force for us with her scoring ability and her toughness as well as her ability to give us life off the bench every time."
Emilie Johnson became the third UCSB player in as many years to be named to the Big West's All-Freshman Team. The Loomis, Calif. native averaged 5.9 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game and was third on the team in assists. Johnson started the first 12 games of the season as UCSB's starting point guard, becoming just the third freshman in the past decade to open her collegiate career as the Gauchos' starting point guard.
"No question we would not have been where we are as a team and as successful as we've been without Emilie's contributions," Gottlieb said. "The fact that she is a freshman makes it all that much more impressive. She's thrown into the fire as a freshman and she's handled every situation with an incredible attitude. She has an unbelievable work ethic and I think every coach would love to have a player like Emilie."
Gottlieb made sure to note that the achievements could not be done without her coaching staff - Kelly Barsky, Jaida Williams, Evan Unrau as well as director of basketball operations Araceli Gil - and the rest of the Gaucho team that helped UCSB to the Big West regular season title.
"Awards are exciting mostly because they reflect the tremendous team success we've had this year," Gottlieb said. "To go 15-1 certainly only happens when you have a group of student-athletes and a staff on the same page and working together and that's what I'm most proud of. Part of being a Gaucho is that team success is the most important thing and our players embody that."
The Gauchos will play their first Big West Tournament game this Friday in Anaheim at noon. To get tickets to the game, please call 893-UCSB. Every ticket purchase comes with a free UCSB T-shirt.