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Syracuse women’s basketball: TNIAAM 2022-2023 Awards

It’s time to hand out some honors from this past season.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team into the off-season, there’s no better time to hand out some awards for this past season’s action.

How did my ballot shake out based on this year’s performance by the team? Here are the categories:

Most Valuable Player: Dyaisha Fair

2022-2023: 35.9 MPG, 19.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.4 SPG, 40% FG, 36% 3FG, 82% FT

If we’re looking at the complete resume from top to bottom, no one contributed more to the Orange this season than Fair. In her first year with the program, she shined as a pesky perimeter defender and was the go-to shot maker for a top-40 offense. Her 19.9 points per game average this season (lowest of her career) does not speak to how vital she was for the Orange’s offense, especially with Teisha Hyman’s regression and Georgia Woolley not catching fire until late in the season. The 36% mark from three on high volume in addition to her relentless ability to attack the rim and generate fastbreak opportunities is the complete package offensively. Having her back in what will be her fifth collegiate season is a steal for the Orange.

Most Improved Player: Georgia Woolley

2022-2023: 30.4 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 SPG, 41% FG, 30% 3FG, 79% FT

Coming off a solid freshman year with the Buffalo Bulls, Woolley struggled with injuries and adjusting to her new team before performing like arguably the second-best player on the roster. She reached double-digits in points in the Orange’s last 12 games, including a remarkable 30-point effort in the team’s loss to Columbia in the WNIT. In the last two months of the season, she averaged nearly 18 points per game while looking more confident with the outside jumper and against quality ACC competition. With some offseason improvement, Woolley with some experience under her and in her junior year will be fun to watch.

Rookie of the Year: Kennedi Perkins

The counting stats (2.8 points on 43% shooting) do not tell the whole story, but Perkins shined as a fourth guard with injuries piling up for the Orange. A 13-point performance against Miami in Syracuse’s regular season home finale was promising after riding most of the year on the bench. Her role and development is still in question for next season, but she deservedly showed flashes and stepped up when the Orange’s depth was tested most.

Defensive Player of the Year: Dariauna Lewis

2022-2023: 29.3 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 49% FG

Following stops at Missouri State and Alabama A&M, Lewis proved to be a tremendous transfer pickup for Felisha Legette-Jack. She was super productive in her collegiate career before joining Syracuse, but making the leap from Alabama A&M to the ACC is well... a pretty big jump forward. Did I think she would finish second in rebounds per game and seventh in blocks per game in the ACC? Absolutely not. She brought energy on both ends of the court, but it was the rebounding, hustle, and running to the rim capabilities that shined the most. Her intensity shined every minute on the court, keeping the Orange’s defense afloat for a team that was basically put together from scratch with the amount of new players on the roster.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Best Bench Spark Plug: Asia Strong

Initially beginning this season as a starter, Strong was at her best coming off the bench as the jack-of-all-trades forward who could space the floor with her outside shot, grab some rebounds, and not kill her team on defense. The Lewis-Strong combo was small in height but made for that with the extra effort that showed.

Unsung Heroes of the Year: Alaina Rice and Asia Strong

Strong gets the nod here too because her skill set rarely translated to the final box score, but Alaina Rice played incredibly well down the stretch for the Orange. With Hyman struggling due to injury, Rice played bigger than her size and embodied the philosophy Legette-Jack wanted to build with the Orange. She averaged 5.2 rebounds per game which is impressive given that she is only 5-foot-8 and matched up usually against bigger ACC forwards while still shooting 37% from three. Outside of Lewis, there was no better two-way player on the roster this season than Rice.


Now it’s your turn: are there any picks that you think should be up for debate? Leave your thoughts down below.