A look at possible award winners in women's hoops
NEW YORK (AP) As the college basketball regular season starts to wind down, it's a good time to look at who could potentially win some of the major awards.
With major conference tournaments being played this week, most teams have a handful of games to make final impressions.
Here's a look at the some of the top candidates for coach of the year, player of the year and freshman of the year.
COACH: The favorite and overwhelming choice is UConn's Geno Auriemma. No one, including him, expected the Huskies to keep their winning streak going this season after the top-ranked team graduated three of the best players in school history. Yet, here they are, 29-0 with a 104 consecutive victories. This might be Auriemma's best coaching job in a long while.
Auriemma isn't the only coach to have done an incredible job this season. DePaul's Doug Bruno and Oregon State's Scott Rueck also have led their teams to stellar seasons.
Bruno lost player after player to injury at DePaul, but it didn't stop the Blue Demons from going 23-6 and winning a fourth consecutive Big East Conference regular season title.
Rueck was honored as the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time. The Beavers were projected to finish fifth in the league following the graduation of last season's conference player of the year Jamie Weisner and defensive player of the year Ruth Hamblin. Yet Rueck's squad won the Pac-12 regular season title and is in position to potentially earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
PLAYER: For the first time in a few years, there was no clear-cut favorite coming into the season for the nation's top player honors. UConn has a trio of candidates with Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. Each one has taken turns stepping up for the Huskies and any of them would be a fine choice. What's scary for the rest of the country is that all three will return next year.
Kelsey Plum of Washington has had another incredible season. She broke Jackie Stiles' NCAA career scoring record in dramatic fashion, scoring 57 points in the Huskies' final regular season home game. Kelsey Mitchell of Ohio State had another great season in leading the Buckeyes to a share of the Big Ten regular season title - the school's first since 2010. The junior guard is averaging 23.4 points.
South Carolina's A'ja Wilson has been solid on both ends of the court for coach Dawn Staley. She's averaging 17.4 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Gamecocks to earn her second consecutive SEC player of the year honor.
ROOKIE: Making the transition from high school to college is never easy. This group of freshmen hasn't had much trouble adjusting their games to the next level.
Destiny Slocumb has stepped right in at the guard spot for Maryland, helping the Terrapins go 27-2. She averaged 11.1 points and 6.0 assists to earn Big Ten freshman of the year honors. Joyner Holmes made her mark as a first-year player for Texas. She averaged 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Longhorns to help them finish second in the Big 12.
Sabrina Ionescu had a stellar first season to earn Pac-12 freshman of the year honors. She already owns the Oregon career record for triple-doubles with four this season. She's averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists during the regular season.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg