NIU's Raymond wins MAC women's basketball All-Freshman Team notice, Youngblood earns Honorable Mention All-MAC



March 8, 2004


Stephanie Raymond
Fr. - Rockford / Lutheran
Jen Youngblood
Sr. - Rock Island

CLEVELAND, OH---Freshman point guard Stephanie Raymond (Rockford / Lutheran) has already left her mark on the Northern Illinois University women's basketball record books. Her impact was recognized Monday (March 8) when Raymond was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman Team, as announced by league commissioner Rick Chryst.

The Rockford native is the fourth Huskie in the last five years to earn a spot on the MAC's All-Freshman Team, following Kristan Knake (1999-2000), Jennifer Youngblood (2000-01) and last year's MAC Freshman of the Year, Joi Scott (2002-03).

"When we recruited Stephanie, I truly believed she would be an impact player for our program, and she has lived up to that billing," Northern Illinois coach Carol Hammerle said. "She has definitely lived up to our expectations and has made a tremendous impact as our point guard."

Raymond started 16 games this season, including 12 of the final 13 for Hammerle's crew which finished 12-16 after an 80-71 loss to Ball State in the first round of the MAC tournament. She averaged 8.9 points per game this season, with that number climbing to 10.1 ppg. in conference play. The five-foot-five Raymond became the first freshman in program history to lead the Huskies in assists---posting 78 helpers (2.89 per game)---and also topped NIU with her 47 steals.

Her scoring pace included a team-best 43 percent (34-of-79) shooting from three-point range. That long-range accuracy puts her third on the current MAC charts.

"Of any position on the floor, point guard is the most challenging. Especially in our system," the Huskie sideline boss added. "She is our floor general and needs to be in control at both ends. For her to be able to assume that role as a freshman is a credit to her, and to receive this award as a point guard is extra special and well deserved."

"It was a shock when Coach Hammerle told me (about the award), but that was my goal, what I've worked for the entire year," Raymond said. "I've tried to be consistent and give 100 percent all the time. It's not all about scoring, but trying to do as much as I can to help the team win. It makes it a lot easier having the teammates I do surrounding me. Now my focus will be to work on my game this summer, getting stronger and making myself better for next season."

The five-member All-Freshman team includes four players from the MAC's West Division, with Raymond joined by Bowling Green St. University forward Ali Mann, Western Michigan University guard Carrie Moore and Eastern Michigan University forward Sarah VanMetre. Miami (OH) University guard Amanda Jackson was the lone East Division representative.

Raymond wasn't the only Huskie to garner postseason recognition, as Youngblood (Rock Island) was one of ten players to receive Honorable Mention All-MAC status.
The senior forward capped her career with an 11.0 ppg. scoring average this season, while her 9.9 rebounds-per-game pace is second on the conference charts. The Rock Island native is second in the conference off the boards and finished with an 18-point, 15-rebound effort Saturday.

The 15 caroms put Youngblood into an elite group as one of five players in MAC history to collect 1,000 rebounds. Her 1,010 boards are also good for fourth place on the all-time Northern Illinois charts, trailing only Tammy Hinchee (1,099 from 1986-90), Carol Owens (1,028 from 1985-90) and Angela Lockett (1,014 from 1990-95).

That performance against BSU was Youngblood's tenth double-double of the season, tying Marshall's Catie Knable for the most among MAC players this season. No conference player can touch Youngblood's career numbers in that department, however, as the Huskie captain finishes her career with 37. Only Hinchee (50), Owens (40) and Lisa Starosta (49 / 1980-85) have posted more "doubles" in a Northern Illinois uniform.

Youngblood earned Second-Team All-MAC accolades in each of the past two winters and was a Preseason All-MAC West Division honoree entering her senior campaign after averaging 13.5 points per game last year. And despite raising her rebounding numbers from last season's 8.3 per-game pace, the 5-11 Youngblood failed to land among the top ten players receiving First- or Second-Team recognition.

"This year has been hard, with the attention Jen has been getting---being double- and triple-teamed---and the fact that I asked her to do a lot more as our captain," Hammerle said. "She has done everything I asked in that role and has done an outstanding job. She has been much more vocal and more demonstrative in practice, and that's been a challenge."

"Something had to give, and that's probably been some of her point production," Hammerle added. "But when you look at her work ethic and what she has accomplished in our program, it's tremendous."

The First-Team All-MAC squad includes the league's top two scorers in Western Michigan junior guard Casey Rost and Ball State junior forward Kate Endress. Rost---the Most Valuable Player in the MAC tournament last spring and the only repeat First-Team honoree---was averaging a league-best 19.8 points plus 4.2 rebounds and 2.67 steals per game before suffering a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 18. Endress is at 19.2 per contest as a 42 percent shooter from three-point range. In addition, the six-foot junior grabbed 6.7 rebounds per game.

Also on the First-Team honor roll were Eastern Michigan junior guard Ryan Coleman and Kent State University sophomore forward Lindsay Shearer. Coleman ranked ninth in the MAC with her regular-season rate of 12.9 points per game, adding 6.4 rebounds per contest to rank among the MAC's top 15 players in each category. Shearer's 14.3 ppg. pace was fifth on the MAC charts, one of four categories in which she ranked among the conference leaders during the regular season.

Miami forward Colleen Day was the lone senior on the First-Team list. Day led the RedHawks to the MAC regular-season championship (MU's first in 14 years). She was fourth on the MAC scoring charts at 14.6 points per game and ranked fifth in rebounding at 8.1 per contest heading into the tourney, playing a key role in Miami's 14-2 MAC ledger and 20-7 overall record.

The Second-Team group included two of Day's teammates in senior forward Kim Lancaster and sophomore guard Cindi Merrill. Joining them were KSU junior center Andrea Csaszar, Eastern Michigan sophomore forward Nikki Knapp and Bowling Green St. University senior guard Stefanie Wenzel.

Honorable Mention All-MAC notice went to University of Toledo teammates Karin Hoogendam and Kelly Walker, along with BGSU's Lindsay Austin, Eastern Michigan guard Marion Crandall and Ball State guard Johna Goff. Western Michigan guard Maria Jilian---last year's Defensive Player of the Year---also earned Honorable Mention status, along with Mann, University at Buffalo forward Jessica Kochendorfer, Marshall University guard Sikeetha Shepard-Hall.

-30- --- Copy by Robert Hester