Jeffs Earn NESCAC Player, Coach of the Year Honors
AMHERST, MA – Amherst College’s Jaci Daigneault ’11 (Guilford, CT) was named Player of the Year and GP Gromacki took home Coach of the Year honors when the NESCAC announced its 2011 Women’s Basketball All-Conference Team this afternoon.
In addition to the individual awards, the Lord Jeffs placed three players on an All-Conference Team. Daigneault earned a First Team selection for the second time in her career, while Sarah Leyman ’11 (Cincinnati, OH) and Caroline Stedman ’12 (Walpole, MA) were voted to the Second Team.
Jaci Daigneault '11
Sarah Leyman '11
Caroline Stedman '12
Head Coach GP Gromacki
Daigneault joins Stedman—the 2010 NESCAC Player of the Year—as the only Lord Jeffs to have ever earned the conference’s top honor. Daigneault was named to the 2009 All-NESCAC First Team as a sophomore, but she missed the majority of her junior season due to an injury. Despite missing so much time a year ago, she ranks fourth on the program’s all-time scoring list (1,217) and is fifth in rebounding (649).
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Daigneault leads the NESCAC in field goal percentage (.618) and ranks second in scoring (15.0 ppg), sixth in rebounding (7.2 rpg), seventh in steals per game (2.1) and ninth in blocks (1.0 bpg), all while averaging only 23 minutes per contest. She has started in all 27 of Amherst’s games, scoring at least nine points in 26 of them.
A four-time Player of the Week selection this year, Daigneault has scored at least 20 points in six games and has recorded six double-doubles, including three in the past four games. She has shot 50 percent or better in 15 of the 18 games in which she has attempted at least 10 shots, as her field goal percentage has been one of the highest in Division III throughout the year. Daigneault has been equally impressive on defense, blocking at least two shots in eight games and picking up at least three steals in 10 games.
Sharing captain duties with Daigneault these past two seasons has been Leyman, who is making her third consecutive appearance on the All-NESCAC Second Team. In only 22.8 minutes per game, Leyman is averaging 7.8 points and 6.7 rebounds with a .426 field goal percentage. In Amherst’s nine conference games she averaged 9.1 points and 4.2 offensive rebounds, and in three games against Williams she totaled 39 points (13.0 ppg). Leyman has pulled down at least 10 rebounds on five occasions this year and has scored at least 10 points 10 times, recording two double-doubles along the way.
When she isn’t contributing to the scoring mix, Leyman finds other ways to help the team, as made evident by her five assists and eight rebounds in the 2011 NESCAC title game. She has been a consistent performer since she set foot on campus, having played in all 123 of Amherst’s games since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Ranking sixth on Amherst’s all-time scoring list (1,111 points) and third in rebounding (782), Leyman has a chance to break the Division III record for most games played in a career (128).
Stedman went on to win a number of prestigious awards after being named to the All-NESCAC First Team a year ago, but she got sidetracked in the beginning of the 2010-11 season due to an injury. The junior guard has battled her way back into the starting lineup, averaging 15.4 points per game since Feb. 1 and leading Amherst in steals, blocks and free throw percentage during that seven-game stretch.
Averaging 10.5 points in only 22.0 minutes per game, Stedman has the ability to hurt teams in a variety of ways. While she put her shooting skills on display by going 5-for-5 from behind the arc against Tufts and 5-for-8 in the conference finals, she is exceptional at driving to the hoop with either hand. Stedman averaged 12.4 points in the Jeffs’ nine conference games, notably pouring in 19 against Tufts and 26 against Bates to earn a NESCAC Player of the Week selection. She played a pivotal role in Sunday’s title game against Bowdoin, hitting three consecutive three-pointers en route to a game-high 23 points.
Gromacki is no stranger to being recognized by his peers, as he was named the NESCAC’s Co-Coach of the Year in 2008 before earning the honor outright in 2010. His statistics as a head coach are nothing short of spectacular, as he has posted a 277-47 record (.855) in 11 seasons. Across Divisions I, II and III, Gromacki’s career winning percentage is the third highest among active coaches—trailing only UConn’s Geno Auriemma (764-123, .861) and Hope University’s Brian Morehouse (374-62, .858)—and is the fourth highest all-time.
Some of Gromacki’s stats are downright comical. Each of his 11 seasons has resulted in at least 20 wins, while 10 of his 11 teams have qualified for the NCAA Tournament. He has won 114 games in four seasons at Amherst and lost only nine (.927), posting a 70-1 record at home and a 33-3 mark in conference play, also going 11-1 in the NESCAC Championship, 11-4 in the NCAA Tournament and 9-1 against Williams. The Lord Jeffs have won three of the past four NESCAC titles and are attempting to make a third consecutive appearance in the Final Four.
Tufts University’s Vanessa Miller ’11 was named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, while Meredith Kelly ’14 of Bates took home Rookie of the Year honors. Amherst and Williams each placed three players on an All-Conference Team, while Bowdoin and Colby had two apiece and Tufts had one.
All-NESCAC First Team
G – Katie Bergeron ’11 (Bowdoin)
G – Colleen Hart ’11 (Tufts)
F – Jaci Daigneault ’11 (Amherst)
F – Chessie Jackson ’11 (Williams)
F – Julianne Kowalski ’11 (Colby)
All-NESCAC Second Team
G – Jill Henrikson ’12 (Bowdoin)
G – Caroline Stedman ’12 (Amherst)
G/F – Claire Baecher ’13 (Williams)
F – Rachael Mack ’12 (Colby)
F – Taylor Shea ’11 (Williams)
C – Sarah Leyman ’11 (Amherst)
NESCAC Player of the Year
F – Jaci Daigneault ’11 (Amherst)
NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year
G – Vanessa Miller ’11 (Tufts)
NESCAC Rookie of the Year
G – Meredith Kelly ’14 (Bates)
NESCAC Coach of the Year
GP Gromacki (Amherst)