2023 Minnesota Hoops Basketball Awards–The Year of UMD

 The UMD Bulldog women swept 3 of 4 categories in our annual MN Basketball Awards.

Team of the Year–In case you haven’t heard, UMD took 2nd place in the NCAA D2 tournament recently, losing only to unbeaten Ashland in the finals 78-67. They went 21-1 in the Northern Sun, then swept 6 conference and NCAA playoff games before losing to Ashland to finish 31-3. UMD has now won 3 straight Northern Sun regular season titles and 4 of 5 NSIC playoff titles.

Player of the Year–UMD’s success is very largely the work of NCAA D2 national player of the year Brooke Olson. Olson is a 4X all-conference player. This year she averaged 23 ppg and 7 reb through the regular season, and 27 ppg in the NCAA tournament.

Coach of the Year–And of course UMD’s success is also the result of the remarkable work of coach Mandy Pearson. In addition to all those NSIC championships mentioned above, she now has an 8-year record of 155-67 (.698). Before that, she took over a faltering program at St. Mary’s and led the Cards to teheir first MIAC title in 29 years. In her last 3 years in Winona, she was 64-18. She is arguably the most successful basketball coach in the state of Minnesota over the past decade, with apologies to Cheryl Reeve.

Game of the Year–OK, here we abandon the UMD Bulldogs in favor of St. Michael-Albertville’s 71-70 win over Hopkins in the girls Class AAAA final. Hopkins had 2 regular wins over SMA and was heavily favored. But SMA ran out to a 42-25 halftime lead. But, hey, that was Hopkins they were playing, and the Royals roared back with a 45-29 2nd half margin. But that left them one point short. Tessa Johnson of SMA and Taylor Woodson of Hopkins starred.