Megan Gustafson Named Big Ten Player of the Year

By RossWB on March 4, 2019 at 5:07 pm
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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Finally. The most obvious result in recent memory is now finally official. The Big Ten women's basketball regular season ended on Sunday (Iowa thumped Northwestern at home on Senior Day) and the league handed out end of season awards on Monday. Which means that Megan Gustafson is now, officially, the Big Ten Player of the Year. 

The release from the Big Ten doesn't note if she was a unanimous selection or not, but... she had to be, right? Gustafson was also named Big Ten Player of the Week earlier on Monday, the 13th time in 16 weeks that she's been so honored. Gustafson led the Big Ten in scoring with 27.7 ppg, a full 8.3 ppg more than the second-best scorer in the league (Penn State's Teniya Page). Her 802 points this year were 253 more than the next-highest total (Minnesota's Kenisha Bell). She also led the Big Ten in rebounding (13.3 rpg) and had a double-double in 17 of 18 league games. She topped the league by making 70.8% of her field goals; the next best percentage was Michigan's Naz Hillmon at 63.8% -- and she attempted over 200 fewer field goals than Gustafson. And she ranked fifth in the league in blocked shots (1.7 bpg), too. Calling her play this season "absolutely dominant" is both 100% accurate and also feels like it's somehow short-changing her. So if a player like her, having a season like the one she's just had, wasn't a unanimous selection... what are we even doing here? So I'm going to assume that she was a unanimous selection. 

This is the second-straight year that Gustafson has been named Big Ten Player of the Year by the media and her first Big Ten Player of the Year award from Big Ten coaches (they named Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell POTY last season). She becomes the first Iowa player named Player of the Year by Big Ten coaches since Tangela Smith in 1998. She's also the first Iowa player ever to win Player of the Year awards in two seasons. 

The Big Ten also named All-Big Ten teams; the release confirmed that she (and Maryand's Kaila Charles) was a unanimous selection to the coaches and media first teams. Gustafson was also named to the Big Ten's All-Defensive Team by the Big Ten coaches. Nor was Gustafson the only Iowa player who received all-conference honors. Kathleen Doyle was named first team All-Big Ten by the coaches and second team All-Big Ten by the media. And Tania Davis was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. Doyle led the Big Ten in assists (6.0 apg) and was second in the league in steals (2.3 spg), while Davis was sixth in the Big Ten in assists (4.6 apg) and tenth in 3FG made per game (1.6). Doyle and Davis also tied for third in the Big Ten in assist/turnover ration at 2.4. Gustafson was the engine that made Iowa's offense (well, entire team) run, but she couldn't have succeeded without the work that Doyle and Davis did to feed her night in and night out. 

A hearty congratulations to all three players for their well-deserved honors. We've known all season long that Megan Gustafson was the best player by far in the Big Ten, but it's always gratifying to see the official confirmation, too. This is an immensely well-deserved honor for an absolutely astonishing season. 

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