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Lauren Van Kleunen Named First Team All-Big East; Chloe Marotta Earns Sportsmanship Award

Two Golden Eagles come away from the Big East’s postseason awards with a trophy.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 23 Womens - Marquette at Butler
I don’t get enough chances to use a Chloe Marotta picture.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the eve of the start of the conference tournament, the Big East announced the postseason awards for women’s basketball on Thursday morning. Two Marquette players received honors from the league: Super-senior forward Lauren Van Kleunen was named to the 10 woman All-Big East First Team, while senior forward Chloe Marotta earned the Sportsmanship Award from the conference.

Here’s the rundown on LVK’s season from the Marquette press release on the two trophies:

Van Kleunen, MU’s all-time record holder for career games played with 155, put together the best statistical season of her career this year. The Mason, Ohio, native averaged a team-best 13.2 points to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest. She finished the regular season shooting 47.4 percent (161-of-340), good for sixth in the BIG EAST. Additionally, she had the fewest turnovers (46) of any Marquette starter while starting all 29 games. She was twice named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll this season, and was a member of the Daytona Beach Invitational All-Tournament Second Team back in November.

Since Marotta got an individual award from the Big East, she gets her own paragraph in their press release:

Marotta has been a leader for Marquette both on and off the court. She serves as the president of Marquette’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Marotta will graduate in May with a dual major in Journalism and Public Relations, and will then begin graduate school with dual enrollment to earn master’s degrees in both business and law. She has logged countless hours of community service in and around the Milwaukee community, volunteering with groups such as the Interchange Food Pantry, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Milwaukee Neighborhood House, the MU Backpack Program, Scouting & Scavenging and the Neighborhood Kitchen. A Milwaukee-area native herself, Marotta has given back to the area’s youth by being a part of free basketball clinics for youth and by reading to kids in local schools, as well as participating in Milwaukee’s PEARLS program, a group which helps to guide and empower teenage girls. On the court, Marotta has started all 29 games for Marquette, averaging 5.8 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds.

I don’t know why, but the “and also she is good at basketball” inference from that last sentence is very funny to me.

Onwards to the other awards!

The Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year trophies went exactly like I expected them to go: Maddy Siegrist and Aneesah Morrow, with Morrow getting FOY by unanimous choice. This makes sense, as I though there was a serious case to be made as Morrow for Player of the Year. That explains both her unanimous vote for that award as well as Siegrist not being a unanimous choice as POY.

Villanova’s Denise Dillon was named Coach of the Year, which makes sense as the Wildcats overperformed their preseason poll ranking to finish second in the Big East. In case you were wondering, yes, the writeup on why she won does mention that Villanova handed UConn their first in-league loss in nearly a decade. I don’t think this should explicitly be a “you beat Connecticut” award, but it definitely did not hurt Dillon’s case here.

To round out the other individual awards that I didn’t even attempt to make a pick on: Connecticut’s Nika Mühl was named Defensive Player of the Year, Creighton’s Lauren Jensen and Villanova’s Lior Garzon are sharing the Most Improved Player award, Creighton’s Morgan Maly was named Sixth Woman of the Year, and Xavier’s Ayanna Townsend was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

I have a deep distaste for the Big East announcing a 10 woman all-conference First Team AND THEN ALSO announcing a five woman Second Team. Do First, Second, and Third already. Five women on the court at once, five women on the all-conference teams. C’mon. In any case, four of the five women who were unanimous choices by way how the coaches voted were my picks: Siegrist, Morrow, Connecticut’s Christyn Williams, and Seton Hall’s Lauren Park-Lane. The coaches and I differed on Creighton’s Emma Ronsiek, who still made the 10 woman team, and instead went with DePaul’s Sonya Morris across the board. I mentioned Morris in my discussion of who should be on the five woman team so it’s not surprising to see her as part of the 10. However, I don’t think that the fourth best team in the conference should be ending up with two players that 10 people all said “yes, one of the best players in this conference, no questions asked.”

Marquette starts their run in the Big East tournament off on Saturday, when the #5 seeded Golden Eagles face off against #4 seed DePaul in the quarterfinals. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30pm Central time, and FS2 will have the broadcast.

Here’s the full rundown on the awards, including the completely unanimous picks for the five woman All-Freshman team!

Big East Player of the Year

Maddy Siegrist, Villanova, Jr., F

Big East Freshman of the Year

Aneesah Morrow, DePaul, Fr., F*

Big East Coach of the Year

Denise Dillon, Villanova

Big East Defensi­­­ve Player of the Year

Nika Mühl, Connecticut, So., G

Big East Co-Most Improved Players

Lauren Jensen, Creighton, So., G
Lior Garzon, Villanova, So., F

Big East Sixth-Woman Award

Morgan Maly, Creighton, So., G/F

Big East Sportsmanship Award

Chloe Marotta, Marquette, Sr., F

Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Ayanna Townsend, Xavier, R-Jr., F

All-Big East First Team

Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Connecticut, Sr., F
Christyn Williams, Connecticut, Sr., G*
Emma Ronsiek, Creighton, So., F
Sonya Morris, DePaul, Sr., G*
Aneesah Morrow, DePaul, Fr., F*
Lauren Van Kleunen, Marquette, Grad., F
Leilani Correa, St. John’s, Jr., G
Lauren Park-Lane, Seton Hall, Jr., G*
Sidney Cooks, Seton Hall, R-Sr., F/C
Maddy Siegrist, Villanova, Jr., F*

All-Big East Second Team

Caroline Ducharme, Connecticut, Fr., G
Lauren Jensen, Creighton, So., G
Lexi Held, DePaul, Sr., G
Andra Espinoza-Hunter, Seton Hall, Grad., G/F
Lior Garzon, Villanova, So., F

All-Big East Honorable Mention

Deja Church, DePaul, Grad., G
Janai Crooms, Providence, Jr., G

Big East All-Freshman Team

Caroline Ducharme, Connecticut, Fr., G*
Azzi Fudd, Connecticut, Fr., G*
Aneesah Morrow, DePaul, Fr., F*
Kylee Sheppard, Providence, Fr., G*
Lucy Olsen, Villanova, Fr., G*

* — unanimous selection