Lady Jackets receive national honors

2014-07-24T20:00:00Z 2014-07-25T17:27:05Z Lady Jackets receive national honorsBy JOHN LETASKY jletasky@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

No one will ever accuse the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team of not taking academics seriously.

For the seventh consecutive year, the Lady Jackets have earned recognition from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, by earning a spot on the group’s Top 25 Academic list. MSUB finished its academic season ranked sixth in the Division II Academic Top 25 Honor Roll released Thursday.

“I’m just really proud of how hard they work in the classroom as well as on the court,” 11th-year coach Kevin Woodin said. “When I’m looking for prospective players, academic success is really important. If I can find mentally tough people in the classroom that will also happen on the court as well. We have just been really fortunate with some great student-athletes. Most are from Montana, too, which is pretty cool.”

Every player on 2013-14 roster was from Montana. Woodin said this coming season will be much the same.

This past season the Yellowjackets advanced four spots on the honor roll. The previous squad had a 3.521 grade-point average and was ranked No. 10; this year’s team earned a cumulative 3.656 GPA.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Woodin said. “It is not easy to be a great student-athlete and play basketball at such a high level. Every member of the team put in a lot of effort both academically and athletically. Each player is a great representative of MSU Billings and our athletic department.”

A total of 315 schools compete in NCAA Division II in the United States and Canada. All nine eligible MSUB student-athletes from the 2013-14 team made the Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-academic list.

On the court, the Jackets were 25-8 and ranked 21st nationally in the USA Today Sports Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll. MSUB won the GNAC regular-season title and was ranked No. 2 in the West Region for the postseason. MSUB advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament before losing to host Cal Poly Pomona in the West Region title game.

“If you get in the habit of preparing yourself to do the best academically, you will see rewards for that on the court and later in their professional life,” Woodin said. “It’s a mindset to continue to strive to do your best. We have been really fortunate with some women who care about the grades they are getting. When you have upperclassmen doing well, it inspires the younger ones, too.”

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