AP Source: Phoenix's Griner WNBA defensive player of year
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has won the WNBA defensive player of the year award for the second straight season the league announced Thursday.
The 6-foot-8 star became the first player in league history to average at least four blocks a game with 105 in just 26 contests. She was suspended for the first seven games of the season following a domestic violence arrest.
''This award means a lot to me because our team defense puts us in a good position to win games,'' Griner said. ''If I'm blocking shots or changing shots or even preventing players from taking shots, I'm helping the team and we are likely to win when our defense is playing well.
''I really wanted to break my record from last year and came close, but I will definitely be looking to break it next year.''
Griner received 33 of the 39 first place votes from a national panel of writers and broadcasters. New York rookie Kiah Stokes was second with two. Tina Charles, Briann January, Angel McCoughtry and Maya Moore each got one vote.
Griner becomes the sixth player to win the award in multiple seasons. Tamika Catchings won it five times and Sheryl Swoopes three. Lisa Leslie, Teresa Weatherspoon and Sylvia Fowles have won it twice.
Bill Laimbeer was honored Thursday night as the league's coach of the year. He guided New York to a franchise record 23 wins and the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs for the first time. It's the second time in his career that Laimbeer earned the award, also winning it in 2003 when he was coaching Detroit.
Laimbeer is the fourth coach to win the award at least twice. Van Chancellor won it in the league's first three years. Mike Thibault also has won it three times and Dan Hughes twice.
The Liberty's coach received 23 votes. Indiana's Stephanie White finished second with seven votes and Tulsa's Fred Williams was third with six.
Chicago's Allie Quigley also is a repeat winner, as the WNBA has announced she is the league's sixth woman of the year for the second consecutive season. She received 24 votes. Quigley averaged 11.1 points in just 22.5 minutes a game.
''When you get it once you want to keep playing good,'' Quigley said. ''It's definitely a cool award to get.''
Quigley is only the second player to win the award in back-to-back seasons joining Phoenix's DeWanna Bonner, who was honored three straight years from 2009-11. Chicago's guard said last year's award is at her parent's house and she plans to put this one there as well. She will receive the award Thursday night before the Sky open up the Eastern Conference playoffs against Indiana.
''You always have to be ready,'' Quigley said. ''When you come in, be aggressive and make something happen.''
Stokes finished second with 11 votes.
''She was a phenomenal pick up for us,'' Laimbeer said of Stokes. ''She's the glue player that keeps everything together. She always draws the toughest defensive assignment. Those players don't get the recognition they deserve. I'm glad she got noticed.''
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