LSU star heads women's All-America team

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2005

Seimone Augustus plays with dazzling skill, a crowd-pleasing flair and, according to her coach, plenty of smarts.

With that combination, it's no wonder the LSU star was a unanimous All-American.

Augustus led The Associated Press women's basketball All-America team, which was announced Wednesday. She was the only player picked for the first team by all 45 members of the national media panel that also votes in the weekly AP poll.

''People marvel at her mid-range jumper. I marvel at the fact she's always wide open when the opposition has practiced all week (to stop her),'' LSU coach Pokey Chatman said. ''That's because she's cerebral.

"She understands what cuts to make and when to pick up the basketball.''

Augustus, a 6-foot-1 junior, received the maximum 225 points in the voting and was joined on the first team by Kansas State's Kendra Wecker (192), Duke's Monique Currie (180), Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (163) and TCU's Sandora Irvin (153).

Wecker received 36 first-team votes, Currie 29, Davenport 22 and Irvin 20.

Augustus and Wecker were third-team selections each of the past two years and both were on the preseason All-America team.

''It means a lot to me to be picked and have everybody select me to be first team,'' Augustus said. ''I am very appreciative of this honor.''

Chatman and the rest of the Lady Tigers certainly appreciate having Augustus around.

A year ago, Augustus led LSU to its first Final Four. This season, the Lady Tigers were ranked No. 1 longer than anyone, won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship and earned the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. And it all started with Augustus.

She averaged 20.1 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent in the regular season, complementing that mid-range jumper with an ability to take the ball to the basket, post up and find an open teammate when double-teamed.

Augustus also is talking more, and Chatman likes that, too.

''She has become a more vocal leader. Not loud, but vocal,'' Chatman said. ''I think I heard her whisper ... when they were having a team meeting. No one heard her, but the fact she's taking those steps is something she's worked on.''

LSU and Baylor were the only schools with two players on the three All-America teams.

Temeka Johnson, LSU's feisty 5-3 point guard, was a second-team pick. Baylor had Sophia Young on the second team and Steffanie Blackmon on the third.

Also on the second team were Minnesota's Janel McCarville, Stanford freshman Candice Wiggins and Mississippi State's Tan White. The other third-team selections were Notre Dame's Jacqueline Batteast, North Carolina's Ivory Latta, Texas' Tiffany Jackson, DePaul's Khara Smith and Penn State's Tanisha Wright, who tied Blackmon for the final spot.

Wecker has been such a key figure in the women's basketball resurgence at Kansas State that her jersey number already has been retired. The 5-11 senior, the Big 12's career scoring leader, averaged 20.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in the regular season.

''It's exciting and a great honor,'' Wecker said. ''It's definitely a tribute to my teammates and the success we've had as a team.''

Strong around the basket, Wecker also could burn opponents on the perimeter. She went 8-for-9 on 3-pointers while scoring a school-record 41 points against Illinois State this season.

''I think that is perhaps one of the greatest individual performances I have ever seen,'' said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors, who attended that game. ''She can beat you in so many ways.''

Currie, a 6-foot junior, had to become the go-to player at Duke following the departure of three-time All-American Alana Beard and Iciss Tillis. She responded to that calling by averaging 17.6 points, seven rebounds and 3.3 assists in leading the Blue Devils to a share of the ACC regular-season championship.

''I am really proud of Monique,'' Goestenkors said. ''The way she has helped this team accomplish so much this season shows what kind of player and leader she is. She had a lot of responsibility placed upon her.''

Davenport didn't receive a single vote for the preseason All-America team, but made herself known while leading Ohio State to a share of the Big Ten title. The 6-4 sophomore averaged 19.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, shot 59 percent and blocked 109 shots.

She scored 36 and 32 points in back-to-back games in late January and was durable, playing the full 40 minutes in five straight games in February.

''This has been a great year,'' Davenport said. ''I am excited about the recognition. My teammates and I have worked hard this season to accomplish all that we have. I am thankful for everything we have done.''

When it comes to blocking shots, Irvin has no peer. The 6-3 senior, the niece of former NFL star Michael Irvin, broke the NCAA's single-game and career records for blocks and averaged 20.1 points and 12 rebounds.

Irvin set the game record while putting up an eye-popping triple-double: 20 points, 18 rebounds and 16 blocks against UAB. She is TCU's first All-American in women's basketball.

''That's what everybody keeps telling me — that I'm the first to do a lot of things at TCU,'' Irvin said. ''It's a big accomplishment and definitely something I wanted to do. TCU gave me a chance to make that happen.''

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