Basketball players garner All-MIAC honors

By Caitlin Opperman

Thompson Coach of the Year The women’s basketball team came a long way this season, climbing from a rocky 2-10 start to a 10-13 finish after making the conference playoffs. After a season filled with such drastic improvement, it is hardly surprising that this week’s All-MIAC announcement honored several Scots as well as the team’s head coach. Guard Jessica Rene ’12 received honorable mention all-conference honors, and guard Jessica Ramirez ’11 was selected to the All-Sportsmanship squad.

After an impressive season, forward Majra Mucic ’11 was named to the All-MIAC team. She was ranked nationally with 15 double-doubles and led the conference in rebounding with 11.3 boards per game during the 2010-2011 season. Mucic was also named as a volleyball All-MIAC player this fall and is the first athlete to receive all-conference honors in both sports since the 2004-2005 season.

Mucic’s awards along with an induction into the M Club are a fitting way to end what has been an extremely successful athletic career at Macalester.

“It was wonderful to be a part of two great teams that have improved tremendously during my four years here,” Mucic said. “I enjoyed the highly competitive conference and being the underdog in many situations. It also showed me that persistence and hard work pay-off in the end and that is a lesson that will be beneficial as I move forward with my life.”

The driving force behind this season’s success has been Head Coach Ellen Thompson, who was selected as MIAC Coach of the Year. She was also awarded the title after the 2006-2007 season.

“I was surprised, but so honored that I was selected as Coach of the Year by my peers,” Thompson said. “I credit our players and our coaching staff for our accomplishments this season. It was a true team effort.”

Looking forward, Thompson’s goals are to continue to grow and improve as a program.

“We have a strong group of returning players, but we also have several first year athletes who will be looked at to contribute,” Thompson said. “We would love to not only make playoffs again, but win our first game in the playoffs and advance.”

Peters, Wasik lead team

The success of the men’s basketball team in last week’s announcement of All-MIAC honors effectively overshadowed a dismal season in which the team finished with a conference record of 2-18. Despite a season that fell short of expectations, Pierce Peters ’13, Justin Wasik ’14 and Holden Bigler-Johnson ’11 picked up All-MIAC commendations.

Peters, a member of last year’s MIAC All-First Year team, received Honorable Mention All-MIAC honors for the 2010-2011 campaign. Peters led the team in scoring 16 out of 25 games and was ranked fourth overall in scoring in the MIAC with an average of 15.9 points per game.

“Because I spend such a large amount of time playing basketball, it means a lot to receive recognition on a conference-wide scale,” Peters said.

He noted, though, that the success of the team is much more important than any individual award.

Wasik, ranked ninth in the MIAC in three-pointers made per game and named to the 2010-2011 All-Newcomer team, echoed Peters’ sentiment.

“I’m definitely proud of myself because I know I’ve worked for it in the off-season,” Wasik said. “But the main thing it means to me is that I know I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Bigler-Johnson rounded out the team’s honors with a spot on the MIAC All-Sportsmanship team.

Looking toward next season, the emphasis will be on translating competitive play into winning play.

“We had the same record this year (as last year), but I think everyone on the team would agree that we had a more competitive season,” Peters said. “We made improvements over the off-season that translated into a pair of conference wins and a lot of close games. Next year we will take an even bigger step.”

Leadership is also a crucial part of this improvement, according to Wasik.

“We want every guy to be a leader in some fashion and for everyone to be accountable for things like punctuality to practice and having a great work ethic,” he said.