Blue Raider trio garner All-Sun Belt honors

Insell grabs Coach of the Year nod

February 29, 2012 · Athletic Communications

Coach Insell Video Comments

Middle Tennessee women’s basketball placed three of its players (Ebony Rowe, Kortni Jones and Icelyn Elie) on the postseason All-Sun Belt Teams, including a pair among the top five, it was announced Wednesday by the league office. In addition, head coach Rick Insell was voted the conference’s Coach of the Year.

Representing the Blue Raiders on the First Team were sophomore Ebony Rowe and junior Kortni Jones. Junior Icelyn Elie earned Second Team accolades following the vote of the league’s head coaches and selected media.

Rowe picked up her second career First Team nod after winning a Sun Belt-high four Player of the Week plaudits during the campaign, including this week’s, to conclude the regular season. She averages a near double-double with 16.7 points and 9.7 rebounds and ranks among the Sun Belt’s leaders in several statistical categories including field goal percentage and offensive rebounds (1st), rebounding and steals (2nd), scoring (3rd), minutes played (5th), defensive rebounds (13th) and blocked shots (T14th).

The Lexington, Ky., native totaled 13 double-doubles throughout the campaign, raising her career total to 29, and in the regular-season finale at Western Kentucky Sunday joined the school’s 1,000-point club. She is just the second Middle Tennessee player to become a member of the elite group by the end of her sophomore campaign.

Rowe hit a single-game school and conference-tying 13-of-13 field goals in the Jan. 18 win over Arkansas State on her way to a career-high 29 points. She scored in double figures in all but one Sun Belt contest and was selected to the All-Lady Lion Classic Team after the season-opening weekend at Penn State’s tournament.

Jones’ league hardware is the first of her career, as she joins Rowe as First Team members. Another high-scoring threat for the Blue Raider offense, the Oak Ridge, Tenn., product set the school and conference single-season records for 3-pointers made and attempted, entering the Sun Belt Championships with 104 and 293, respectively. She is the only player in school and league history with at least 100 in a single year and currently ranks second nationally in 3-pointers made.

In addition to her scoring, Jones also handed out a school-record 16 assists against Troy Jan. 25 to go along with her 24 points for her third career double-double and second of the season. Middle Tennessee netted 36 points on her assists, giving her a hand in 73.2 percent of the team’s points in the 82-52 triumph.

Like Rowe, Jones also ranks among the conference statistical leaders, placing high for 3-point field goals made per game and assist-to-turnover ratio (1st), scoring, assists and minutes played (2nd), 3-point field goal percentage (4th) and steals (T7th). Also along with her First Team mate, Jones was named to the All-Lady Lion Classic Team after the Blue Raiders knocked off UNC Wilmington in the season opener before falling to No. 12/14 Penn State in the tournament championship.

Elie received her first conference award after being chosen to the Second Team. Another member of the team’s scoring trio, she also ranks among the MT and Sun Belt top players for rebounding, averaging a near double-double of her own.

She hails from nearby Lebanon, Tenn., and posted nine double-doubles this year, lifting her career total to a dozen. She was held to single-digit scoring in only two Sun Belt contests but led all players with 23 points in the Dec. 28 home victory over No. 6/6 Kentucky. Against UALR Feb. 12, Elie matched her career best with 16 rebounds.

In the Sun Belt statistics, she ranks among the top conference leaders for rebounding and offensive rebounds (3rd), field goal percentage (4th), defensive rebounds (T4th), scoring (5th), free throw percentage (8th), minutes played (9th), steals (11th) and assists (14th).

Middle Tennessee was the only school to place two players on the First Team and it marks the third-straight campaign in which the Blue Raiders had a pair of players among the top five.

The two selections raise Middle Tennessee’s total to 18 All-Sun Belt First Team accolades since joining the conference in 2000-01 with 11 coming during Insell’s seven seasons.

Elie becomes just the second Second Team selection in program history. Overall, 25 Blue Raiders have collected All-Sun Belt honors, either First, Second or Third Team selections with 18 of those playing under Insell’s watch.

Insell earned his third career Sun Belt Coach of the Year nod, voted upon by his peers, after guiding the program to the East Division crown for the fourth-straight year and an undefeated 16-0 league mark. MT finished the regular season with a 24-5 overall record, including a perfect 8-0 home conference ledger and 13-2 overall mark inside the historic Murphy Center.

Insell has now accumulated the awards in 2007, 2009 and 2012 and remains the lone Middle Tennessee head coach to earn the accolade during the Sun Belt era.

His three awards equal the school record set by Larry Joe Inman, who picked up his hardware while coaching the Blue Raiders in the Ohio Valley Conference in 1980, 1983 and 1985. The only other MT head coach to win the plaudit was Lewis Bivens in 1988, also from the OVC.

Insell joins MT men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis as Coaches of the Year this season, marking just the fourth time in conference history one school has had both win the award and the first time since 1999 when Louisiana Tech did it.

Insell was also announced as one of 10 inductees into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, his fourth career Hall of Fame honor.

Middle Tennessee heads to the Sun Belt Championships for its next game. The Blue Raiders garnered a first-round bye and open tournament action at Noon Sunday, March 4 against the winner of ULM and Western Kentucky. Middle Tennessee posted a 3-0 record against the two schools this season, including a 2-0 mark against them last week.

Dick Palmer and Duane Hickey will have all the action live on the Blue Raider Network on WMOT (89.5 FM) and WGNS (1450 AM, 100.5 FM, 101.9 FM).

In addition, 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament booklets are on-sale at the Middle Tennessee athletic ticket office. Cost per booklet is $83 and includes a ticket to all eight sessions of the Sun Belt Championships, March 4-6, in Hot Springs, Ark. Fans can purchase booklets by calling 1-888-YES-MTSU or visiting goblueraiders.com.

All-Sun Belt First Team Blue Raiders
Jamie Thomatis, 2001
Jamie Thomatis, 2002
Patrice Holmes, 2002
Patrice Holmes, 2003
Patrice Holmes, 2004
Krystle Horton, 2004
Patrice Holmes, 2005
Chrissy Givens, 2006
Chrissy Givens, 2007
Amber Holt, 2007
Amber Holt, 2008
Alysha Clark, 2009
Alysha Clark, 2010
Brandi Brown, 2010
Ebony Rowe, 2011
Anne Marie Lanning, 2011
Ebony Rowe, 2012
Kortni Jones, 2012

All-Sun Belt Second Team Blue Raiders
Jackie Pickel, 2010
Icelyn Elie, 2012

2012 All-Sun Belt Conference Honors
First Team

Ebony Rowe (Middle Tennessee, So., F)
Kortni Jones (Middle Tennessee, Jr., G)

Taylor Gault (UALR, Fr., G)
Kaetlyn Murdoch (Denver, Sr., F)
Jerica Coley (FIU, So., G)
Second Team
Icelyn Elie (Middle Tennessee, Jr., F)
Jane Morrill (Arkansas State, So. F)
Marian Kursh (UALR, Sr., C)
Emiko Smith (Denver, Jr., G)
Chenise Miller (Florida Atlantic, So., F)
Third Team
Fanni Hutlassa (FIU, r-Sr., G)
Larrie Williams (ULM, Sr., C)
Jasmine Godbolt (North Texas, Jr., F)
Mansa El (South Alabama, r-Jr., G)
LaTeira Owens (Western Kentucky, Sr., F)
Coach of the Year
Rick Insell, Middle Tennessee
Player of the Year
Jerica Coley (FIU, So., G)
Defensive Player of the Year
Teri Stamps (Florida Atlantic, Sr., G)
Freshman of the Year
Taylor Gault (UALR, Fr., G)

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