Player of the Year: Antoinette Miller, Winnipeg Wesmen
While you could make a case for a few candidates for Canada West Player of the Year, when push came to shove, there was really only one person deserving of this year’s honour. Not only did Winnipeg’s Antoinette Miller lead the charge in turning around a Wesmen team that finished 8-12 last year, but she dominated the conference in a variety of categories including: points and points per game (373 / 18.7), assists (76), and field goals made (140). And while Miller was a constant offensive threat, she is also one of Western Canada’s best defenders. She was equally in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, and if there was a separate award for guards and forwards, she would be taking that home as well, as there is arguably no better perimeter defender in the conference. In speaking with several coaches throughout the conference, they speak highly of Miller’s ability to dominate on both sides of the ball. Her next challenge is to lead her Wesmen through the Canada West playoffs, as they search for their first Nationals berth since 2011.
Defensive Player of the Year: Becky Nash, Mount Royal Cougars
Leading the conference in blocks (62) and defensive rebounds (163), statistically Becky Nash was a favourite to take home the DPOY award. In speaking with various coaches throughout Canada West, they agree that Nash was a game-changer on defence this year for her Mount Royal Cougars. Her 62 blocked shots were the second most in a 20-game season and fourth most overall in Canada West history, just two back of the MacEwan Griffin alumna, Kelly Fagan, who made 64 rejections in 2014-15.
Rookie of the Year: Kyanna Giles, Regina Cougars
The Giles family is quickly making themselves known as one of the best women’s basketball families in the history of U SPORTS. Following her older sister’s 2015-16 CIS Player of the Year award, Kyanna Giles was the runaway choice for CWUAA Rookie of the Year, and is the odds-on favourite to take home the nation’s ROY honours as well. Her 41.2 three point percentage was fourth best in the entire conference, and following in her big sister’s footsteps, she showed off her defensive quickness, racking up 42 steals (ninth in the conference) on the year. A stat that does a good job at levelling out players who play more or less minutes per game, is points per 40 minutes. Giles is 20.4 in that category, good for 13th in the conference. It is safe to say that the Regina Cougars are in great hands over the next five years with not just Kyanna Giles, but her twin sister Kyia as well.
Coach of the Year: Tanya McKay, Winnipeg Wesmen
Last season the Winnipeg Wesmen finished 15-16 in overall play. This season, they’ve completely flipped that number on its head, going 21-2 in all competitions—a winning percentage improvement of +0.429, the highest seen in U SPORTS women’s basketball in several years. While they have a dangerous roster lead by our CWUAA Player of the Year, Antoinette Miller, much of this credit rightfully goes to head coach Tanya McKay. The Manitoba Basketball Hall of Famer has lead her team to the conference’s #3 seed in the RPI standings, despite owning Canada West’s best record. They will take on the winner of the UVic/MacEwan series next week, and will be looking to punch their ticket to Victoria, for the 20th time in their program’s illustrious history.
First & Second Team All-Stars
First Team All-Stars
Antoinette Miller, Winnipeg Wesmen – See Player of the Year
Keisha Cox, Brandon Bobcats – Canada West’s third leading scorer had another strong year on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 17.9 points per game and converting on the third most free throws (88). Cox also flexed her defensive muscle this season, recording 74 steals, just four behind Mount Royal’s Angela Driscoll. Cox will be relied upon heavily to lead her team if her Brandon Bobcats are to make a splash in their first ever Canada West playoffs, in their 46th season.
Maddison Penn, UBC Thunderbirds – It was a pretty easy decision to pencil in Maddison Penn as a CWUAA First Team All-Star. The 6-1 Australian guard lead the Thunderbirds to a strong 16-4 season, which was a big improvement from last year’s disappointing 9-11 campaign which saw them barely squeak in as the #12 seed. Penn averaged the second most points per game (18.1), the most points per 40 minutes (31.0), and the second most free throws made (90) in Canada West basketball.
Jenna Bugiardini, Victoria Vikes – Canada West’s most prolific rebounder secures a spot in our 2016-17 First All-Star team with yet another strong year for the Vikes. Bugiardini was the second-highest scoring post, putting up an average of 16.1 points per game, on top of her primary rim protection duties, where she pulled down 199 boards on both sides of the floor. She will be a big piece of the Vikes squad when they host the national championships beginning on March 9th at the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.
Becky Nash, Mount Royal Cougars – See Defensive Player of the Year
Second Team All-Stars
Maria Mongomo, UNBC Timberwolves – It was another impressive year for the Spaniard, who was solid in all facets of the game, and really leading her Timberwolves teammates on the court. Her 306 points on the season were the sixth highest total, and was a mainstay on opponent’s scouts for her shooting ability, where she maintained a 40.4% clip, while collecting 7.8 rebounds per game, placing her in the top ten in the conference.
Katie Polischuk, Regina Cougars – Katie Polischuk, aka KP3, turned in yet strong season for the Regina Cougars, who enter this year’s Canada West playoffs with the #2 seed. Regina, who lost in last season’s national quarter-final match-up to the Ryerson Rams have re-tooled and look lethal heading into playoff time. Polischuk, who does a lot of things really well for the Cougars has not only rubbed off on our Rookie of the Year, Kyanna Giles, but she also has been a reliable player for Dave Taylor, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Poliscuk earned the conference’s third highest points per 40 minutes average (23.2) and knocked down the second most three balls (56) in Canada West women’s basketball.
Sabine Dukate, Saskatchewan Huskies – Another U SPORTS international stand-out and one of the keys to Saskatchewan’s first national championship last year, Dukate helped turn the Huskies season around, and helped lead them to the conference’s highest RPI seeding, which could see the Huskies host the Canada West Final Four, if things go as chalk would suggest it will. The Latvian guard finished seventh in three point percentage (37.0), points per game (16.2), and assists (64).
Kayli Sartori, UFV Cascades – For someone who once had dreams of becoming the first female in the Canadian Football League, Kayli Sartori brings a high level of tenacity and aggressiveness to the hardwood, and she continues to do big things for the Cascades. Sartori finished with the most made free throws in the conference this season (96) as well as scoring the fourth most points (328) and fifth most points per game (16.4) in Canada West. Sartori was relied upon a lot by head coach Al Tuchscherer, as she was involved in 649 minutes of CWUAA play this season, the third most in the conference and the nation, only trailing teammate Taylor Claggett and Vasiliki Louka of the UNBC Timberwolves.
Tessa Ratzlaff, Trinity Western Spartans – Rounding out our all-star teams is the Trinity Western’s junior standout, Tessa Ratzlaff. Ratzlaff was a consistent offensive threat for the Spartans throughout the season, scoring the second most field goals in the conference (130) which lead to her points per game average of 16.7, the fourth highest in Canada West. Tessa also neared the top of the conference in total rebounds, finish 11th with an average of 7.4 per game. She will be relied upon heavily as the Spartans take on a feisty and hungry Brandon Bobcats team, who is making their first ever playoff appearance.