MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Lynx piled up the victories during the regular season. Now the awards are starting to come in bunches as well.
Forward Maya Moore was chosen the rookie of the year and coach Cheryl Reeve earned coach of the year honors in voting by a national media panel, the WNBA announced on Friday.
“We’ll share this moment and then we move on,” Reeve said before the Lynx opened the Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio. “The only thing we all care about is winning.”
Moore was the No. 1 overall pick out of Connecticut and one of the most decorated female athletes in NCAA history. She didn’t disappoint in her first season as a professional, averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Buoyed by the addition of Moore and the healthy return of Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins, Reeve helped turn the Lynx around in her second season on the job. After going just 13-21 and missing the playoffs last year, the Lynx went 27-7, the best record in franchise history.
They finished six games better than any other team in the league and earned home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Moore is the third Lynx player to be selected the league’s top rookie, joining Augustus (2006) and Betty Lennox (2000). Moore is also the third former UConn player to win the award, after Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (2004) and Sun forward Tina Charles (2010).
“She’s been everything we thought she would be,” Reeve said of Moore.
Reeve was hired as head coach before last season after spending the previous nine years as an assistant with Charlotte, Cleveland and Detroit. She is the second Lynx coach to be picked for the honor, joining Suzie McConnell-Serio (2004).
“She’s made it extremely easy for all of us,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of new pieces to this team. For us to really come together and remain focused takes hard work and focus, which we can all do. The expectation level that she set for this team is extremely high and that’s exactly what we want.”
Minnesota also has two candidates for MVP — Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. The winner of that award was not disclosed.
“I better get rookie of the year if I’m playing with two MVP candidates,” Moore quipped.
Also, Phoenix’s DeWanna Bonner has been picked the league’s sixth woman of the year for the third straight season, and New York’s Kia Vaughn is the most improved player.
Bonner, selected by the Mercury with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, has won the sixth woman award in each of her three seasons in the WNBA. The 6-foot-4 former Auburn star averaged 10.7 points, a career-high 7.0 rebounds and a league-leading 91 percent shooting on free throws. She also shot 34 percent on 3-pointers.
Vaughn, selected by the Liberty eighth overall in 2009, was thrust into a starting role in New York with the absences of the team’s top two rebounders from last year — Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who signed with Minnesota, and Janel McCarville, who sat out. Vaughn averaged 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds — up from last season’s 2.1 and 1.4, respectively. The former Rutgers star started every game this year after starting just one the previous two.
Vaughn is the second straight Liberty player and fourth overall to be picked for most improved. Leilani Mitchell was selected last year, McCarville in 2007 and Tari Phillips in 2000.
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