Youngblood collects another "double" to headline women's basketball awards banquet




April 15, 2002


DeKALB, IL---Northern Illinois University's Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island) led the Huskies to their best record in eight years this spring, finishing second in the Mid-American Conference with nine point-rebound "double-doubles." That effort was rewarded at the team's postseason awards banquet as the sophomore forward collected a different sort of "double" with the top two honors.

Youngblood garnered her second consecutive team Most Valuable Player plaque as well as the inaugural Queen of the Glass trophy. The latter accolade recognized her 9.0 rebounds-per-game average (second in the league and including a MAC-best 4.07 offensive rebounds per contest), as well as a .547 field goal percentage which was third-best in the conference. Youngblood's efficiency in the paint produced a team-leading 13.2 points per game as Northern Illinois compiled a 17-13 record and reached the MAC tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season.

Halfway through her collegiate career, the Rock Island native stands poised to become only the fifth player in NIU history to score 1,000 or more points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. In March, she was the first Huskie to earn MAC All-Tournament honors since 1985, adding that accolade to the Second-Team All-MAC status she received during the regular season.

"Just look at the statistics and where Jennifer ranks in the conference, and it's obvious that she's well deserving of this honor," NIU coach Carol Hammerle said. "Her teammates selected her as their MVP for the second year in a row, and that says a lot for her and what she has already accomplished.

"It's also very enjoyable to see her get recognized by the conference. Jennifer doesn't get caught up in statistics; she just goes out and works hard every day, so that makes these sorts of honors even more rewarding."

The Huskies ended the season above .500 for the first time since 1994-95 and managed the program's best overall record since the 1993-94 team finished 24-6 and reached the NCAA tournament. Among the 17 victories was the 500th of Hammerle's career, when Northern Illinois defeated the University of Akron, 63-42, on Feb. 2. The veteran sideline boss became only the 20th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach that milestone.

Monique Davis (Columbus, OH / Marion-Franklin) received the Most Improved Player award, averaging 5.8 points per game---more than double her total from the 2000-01 campaign and handing out 76 assists. The sophomore guard scored a career-best 18 points in the Huskies' 84-83 overtime victory over Eastern Michigan University on Jan. 31, one of six double-digit performances this season.

"With our system, the point guard position is so critical to success," Hammerle explained. "Monique truly took another step this year and was an important part of what we accomplished. We relied on her a lot this year and she continued to improve throughout the season. She has learned from her mistakes and I'm confident she will continue to get even better next season."

Fellow sophomore Elizabeth Strobel (Merrill, WI) earned the Academic Achievement Award. The 6-3 center completed the fall semester with a 3.93 cumulative grade-point-average as a kinesiology major, topping a list of seven players with GPAs of 3.00 or better. On the court, she averaged 3.3 points per contest in 20 appearances.

The "Super Sub" Award went to freshman forward Jamie Wilson (Reynoldsburg, OH), who provided the perfect complement to Youngblood in the post. Wilson averaged 17 minutes per game for the season, but her playing time

increased steadily over the second half of the season, with the 6-1 Wilson playing 22 minutes per contest in the second half of the year. She contributed 4.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per outing in her debut campaign.

Youngblood wasn't the only Huskie recognized by the MAC, as junior guard Kristan Knake (Marengo) gained Honorable Mention All-MAC honors for her 12.0 points per game along with team-best totals of 80 assists and 67 steals. Her 2.23 thefts-per-game pace was fourth on the final conference charts.

Knake scored a career-best 29 points to lift NIU past Miami University, 74-61, on Jan. 19---the first time the Huskies had won in Oxford, OH, since 1984. She begins the 2002-03 season needing 26 points to become the 19th Huskie to reach the 1,000 plateau. Youngblood could also attain the 1,000-point barrier next season, needing 232 more markers after recording 768 in her first two years in the program.

Northern Illinois also won at Bowling Green St. (56-52 on Jan. 9, 2002) for the first time since 1984 and snapped a ten-game losing streak to Northwestern University with a 68-63 triumph on Nov. 18, 2001. The Huskies finished the season leading the MAC in defense, allowing only 60.1 points per game---the best showing by a Northern Illinois team since the 1975-76 campaign.

"We achieved a lot of our goals this season and we did some things this program hadn't done in a long time," Hammerle said of her team's accomplishments. "I think our victory over (the University of) Toledo (in the MAC tournament quarterfinals) was big for our program. I also believe the conference was stronger this year than it was last year when we were 10-6 in the league. We should appreciate that as a reflection of our team and its progress. We played in a very difficult West Division, playing everyone but Eastern Michigan twice, and still won ten games in the MAC and got to the tournament semifinals."

The achievements of the 2001-02 campaign were more significant as the Northern Illinois roster did not include a single senior---the first time that has happened since 1960-61. All 12 players return in 2002-03, joining three incoming freshmen when Northern Illinois moves into the 9,100-seat NIU Convocation Center. The Huskies begin play in the new building on Nov. 22 versus the University of Wisconsin.


Mid-American Conference Awards:
Second-Team All-MAC: Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island)
Honorable Mention All-MAC: Kristan Knake (Marengo)
MAC All-Tournament: Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island)
MAC West Division Players of the Week: Jessica Shattuck (West Salem, WI), Dec. 10, 2001; Jennifer Youngblood
(Rock Island), Feb. 25, 2002

Team Awards:
Most Valuable Player: Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island)
Most Improved Player: Monique Davis (Columbus, OH / Marion-Franklin)
Academic Achievement Award: Elizabeth Strobel (Merrill, WI)
Queen of the Glass Award: Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island)
Super Sub Award: Jamie Wilson (Reynoldsburg, OH)

Northern Illinois University 2001-02 Women's Basketball Letterwinners (# -- denotes number of letters earned)
###-Kim Boeding (Fort Madison, IA), ##-Kristen Brown (Rockford / Christian Life), ##-Monique Davis (Columbus, OH / Marion-Franklin), ###-Kristan Knake (Marengo), ##-Lindsay Secrest (Bloomfield, IN), ###-Jessica Shattuck (West Salem, WI), #-Rachel Sillar (Plainfield), ##-Stephanie Smith (Huntley / Hampshire), ##-Elizabeth Strobel (Merrill, WI), #-Alyssa Verdegan (Glen Flora, WI / Flambeau),
#-Jamie Wilson (Reynoldsburg, OH), ##-Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island).

(For further information, please contact Robert Hester) -30-




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