Wojta Earns Player of the Year Honors, Ritchie Second Team

Courtesy: Green Bay Athletics
Release: March 05, 2012
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Ritchie (left) earned her first league postseason award while Wojta earned Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year accolades

By: Jill Wunrow

GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - For the second consecutive season, a No. 11/11 Green Bay (27-1, 17-1 HL) women's basketball player has earned Horizon League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors as senior Julie Wojta (Francis Creek, Wis.) claimed both awards for 2011-12, the league office announced Monday.

Wojta was also a First Team All-League and All-League Defensive Team selection while teammate Adrian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) earned her first postseason accolade as a Second Team All-League selection. Fifth-year head coach Matt Bollant earned his second consecutive and fourth Coach of the Year honor.

Seven teams placed two different players on the postseason All-League teams as Green Bay topped postseason awards, bringing home six honors while Wright State was second with four honors.

Wojta is the eighth player in Green Bay history to earn Horizon League Player of the Year honors and second to be recognized as the Defensive Player of the Year but first to have the honor to herself as Celeste Hoewisch was Co-Defensive Player of the Year last season.

"These are team awards and Julie has been amazing carrying our team, being a great leader and doing everything she can on both ends of the court," Bollant said of Wojta. "She's as complete a player as there is in college basketball. She's really deserving of these awards and we're thankful to the coaches, media and sports information contacts who voted for her."

The senior forward leads the league in scoring, rebounding, and steals, pouring in an average of 19.8 points per game while grabbing 10.3 rebounds and 3.5 steals per contest. Wojta has posted six double doubles in the past seven contests, tallied 16 in regular season play and has 32 for her career, tying Green Bay's Division I program record. With 1,549 career points and 802 career rebounds, Wojta is one of three Phoenix players in program history to be in the top six in both scoring and rebounding and her current scoring average (13.0) ranks seventh on Green Bay's career record list.

"It's a huge honor and it's good for our program to get that recognition again this year as it's a credit to our program and how it develops players," said Wojta. "I would never have received these awards without the competition in practice every day that my teammates provide to make us all better as players."

With 99 steals on the year, Wojta is just five steals shy of owning Green Bay's individual season record. On Jan. 7 at Milwaukee, Wojta grabbed a Horizon League and program record 12 steals (11 in the first half) in Green Bay's 88-53 win while pouring in a game-high 27 points in 25 minutes of play. The NCAA record for steals in a single game is 14.

"As a team we want to be known for our defense," Wojta said. "Defense is something we focus a lot of our time in practice on and individually we all strive to be the best defenders so in a five-on-five situation there are no break downs. A lot of my steals are credit to our guards and our Buzz defense and everyone pressuring the ball."  

Ritchie has been Green Bay's clutch player this season, stepping up in games with little time remaining to spark the Phoenix. After trailing by nine with 59 seconds remaining in regulation at Youngstown State Feb. 18, Ritchie scored nine points, including three free throws with 19 second to play to send the game into overtime for an eventual 77-72 Phoenix win. In the same contest, Ritchie poured in a career-high 26 points while playing a career-high 43 minutes. With 0.6 seconds remaining against then-ranked No. 25 Georgia Tech, Ritchie sank a three pointer to send the game into overtime, sparking the Phoenix to a 67-62 win in the San Juan Shootout.

"It means a lot to get the recognition from our league but it's a team award because we can't receive those types of awards without our team," Ritchie said. "I've been a competitor my whole life and I for some reason I thrive under pressure and procrastination so the pressure situations we've faced this season highlight my strengths, knowing my team needs me."

Ritchie is eighth on Green Bay's individual career record list with 119 made three point field goals and sixth with 330 three point field goal attempts. Ritchie ranks 12th among league players in scoring, averaging 12.2 points per game throughout regular season play.

"Adrian has had a great year and really deserving of the recognition," said Bollant. "She's taken steps in every aspect of her game and always done what we need to win.

With a 17-1 Horizon League record, fifth year head coach Matt Bollant was recognized by his colleagues as the Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and fourth time in his career. Bollant has led the Phoenix to the top of the league in nine statistical categories including scoring (75.1), scoring margin (+20.2), scoring defense (54.9), free throw percentage (.763), field goal percentage (.453), assists (18.0), steals (12.7), turnover margin (+9.6), and assist/turnover ratio (1.1).

"I feel very fortunate and see this award as a staff award and thankful to them for how good they are," Bollant said. "I'm thankful for all the great players we have and humbled by the recognition."

Bollant owns the best winning percentage (.944) in Horizon League games with an impressive 85-5 record. This season, Bollant led the Phoenix to its 35th-straight winning season in the history of the 39-year-old program and 13th consecutive 20-win season. For the first time in program history, Green Bay finished regular season play with an unblemished record on the road, going 12-0.

UP NEXT: Green Bay tips off Horizon League Championship competition Wednesday, Mar. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Kress Events Center with a quarterfinal game as the No. 1 seed. The Phoenix will host the winner of the first round game between No. 8 seed Milwaukee (9-20, 5-13 HL) and No. 9 seed Valparaiso (9-20, 5-13 HL). For ticket packages to the Horizon League Championship, click here.

HORIZON LEAGUE POSTSEASON AWARDS: Complete results of this season's Horizon League postseason awards are as follows:

First Team All-League

Julie Wojta, Green Bay

Shalonda Winton, Cleveland State

Shareta Brown, Detroit

Kim Demmings, Wright State

Jasmine Bailey, UIC

Second Team All-League

Brandi Brown, Youngstown State

Molly Fox, Wright State

Adrian Ritchie, Green Bay

Shamiea Green, UIC

Sarah Hamm, Butler

All-Newcomer Team

Kim Demmings, Wright State

Shareta Brown, Detroit

Simone Law, Loyola

Ashley Green, Milwaukee

Patrice King, Loyola

All-Defensive Team

Julie Wojta, Green Bay

Jasmine Bailey, UIC

Shalonda Winton, Cleveland State

Jenna Cobb, Butler

Laura Richards, Valparaiso

Player of the Year - Julie Wojta

Co-Newcomers of the Year - Shareta Brown; Kim Demmings

Defensive Player of the Year - Julie Wojta

Sixth Player of the Year - Yar Shayok, Detroit

Coach of the Year - Matt Bollant


Ticket packages for the women's basketball Horizon League championship are currently on sale with the Green Bay ticket office. For more information or to order tickets, please click here. Green Bay will host its opponent in the quarterfinal round Wednesday, Mar. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Kress Events Center.

For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.

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