Amherst Takes NESCAC Player, Rookie and Coach of the Year Honors

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Caroline Stedman '12: NESCAC Player of the Year.

AMHERST, MA – The top-ranked Amherst College women’s basketball team took home more awards than any other school in the NESCAC when the 2010 All-Conference Teams were announced this afternoon. Amherst placed three players on the First and Second Teams, while also grabbing the Player, Rookie and Coach of the Year honors.

Earning First Team recognition and Amherst’s first-ever NESCAC Player of the Year title is sophomore Caroline Stedman (Walpole, MA). Stedman had a breakout 2009-10 season, leading Amherst and the conference in numerous statistical measures. In addition to leading Amherst in scoring (12.6 ppg), Stedman averages 17.1 points per conference game (1st in the NESCAC) to go along with 2.4 steals and a 91 percent free throw percentage.

Stedman wasted no time solidifying her spot in the starting lineup, as she was named to the Amherst Tip-Off All-Tournament Team before earning MVP honors at the Amherst Classic early in the season. She has started in each of Amherst's 27 games, recording at least 10 points in 21 of those contests despite averaging only 27.1 minutes. Stedman was named NESCAC Player of the Week Feb. 1 thanks to a career-high 26-point performance during a win at Colby, which followed a 21-point showing at Bowdoin.

Amherst placed a pair of players on the Second Team in junior tri-captain Sarah Leyman (Cincinnati, OH), and sophomore point guard Shannon Finucane (Cortland, NY).  Leyman is Amherst’s emotional leader on and off the court, and is the most potent offensive rebounder in the conference. Of her 178 rebounds this season (6.6 rpg), 109 have come on the offensive glass. Her ability to pull down offensive boards leads to second chances for Amherst and easy shots for herself, as made evident by her 53 percent field goal shooting (2nd best in the conference). Leyman ranks eighth on Amherst's all-time rebounding list (555) and is quickly moving up the program's all-time scoring ranks (824 points).

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Marcia Voigt '13: NESCAC Rookie of the Year.

Finucane ranks second in the NESCAC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.52, while also ranking third in the conference in steals per game (2.46). Finucane can almost single-handedly close out games for Amherst as the primary ball-handler, with teams unable to foul the conference’s best free throw shooter (90 percent) down the stretch. Finucane has knocked down 24 consecutive free throws, including each of her eight attempts in the NESCAC title game en route to a 21-point performance. Despite often lining up as the shortest player on the court, Finucane nearly averages double-digits in scoring (9.4 ppg) and has raised her shooting percentages both from the field and behind the arc this season.

Also earning conference recognition is first-year guard Marcia Voigt (Skillman, NJ), who was voted the NESCAC Rookie of the Year. Voigt has emerged as Amherst’s primary backup at either guard position this season, and stepped into the starting lineup for three games when Finucane suffered an injury. Arguably Amherst’s most explosive player on the ball, Voigt can create her own shot like very few players in Division III. During her first collegiate start, Voigt scored a career-high 23 points against Trinity College in a 75-55 win.

Rounding out Amherst’s award winners is head coach G.P. Gromacki, who for the second time in the past three years earned at least a share of the Coach of the Year title. Gromacki has the Lord Jeffs poised for a second-straight run at a Final Four appearance after a record-setting regular season and NESCAC tournament. During his three seasons at Amherst, Gromacki has posted an 83-7 overall record, including a 24-3 mark in conference play. With the Lord Jeffs likely to host all the way to the 2010 Final Four, Amherst fans can rest easy knowing the team has posted a 48-1 record at LeFrak Gymnasium since Gromacki’s arrival.

As NESCAC champions, the Jeffs were named a host for this weekend’s first and second rounds of NCAA Championship competition, and are one of the top overall seeds in the 64-team field as one of only two undefeated teams in Division III. Amherst will face MCLA Friday at 6 p.m., with the advancing team playing the winner of an RPI-Southern Maine showdown Saturday at 5 p.m. for a spot in the Sectional Semifinals.

The complete 2009-10 All-NESCAC Team can be found on the conference's website.