|Charlston, Karr earn WAC honors|
DENVER - If the all-Western Athletic Conference teams are any indication, the future of Idaho women's basketball is bright, as sophomore Alyssa Charlston was honored as a first-team all-WAC selection and freshman Krissy Karr earned WAC all-freshman team honors Monday.
But the Vandals, who completed a climb all the way to fourth place in the final league standings after an 0-5 WAC start, still have business to take care of this season as they head into the WAC tournament in Las Vegas with a date with San Jose State on Wednesday evening at 8:30.
Charlston ranked fourth in the league in WAC games in scoring with 15.5 points per game, and second in rebounding with 10.1 boards. She also shot 51 percent from the field in WAC play, the sixth highest percentage, and ranked fourth with 1.21 blocks per game.
"It's a fantastic honor for her," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. "To me all individual awards also go back to the team. Obviously the team has made her better but she has worked harder than anyone to develop into the player she is now."
Charlston, a Sammamish, Wash., native took home WAC Player of the Week honors after netting a career-high 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting against Southern Miss in late December. That game began a streak of 15 consecutive games in which she scored in double figures. That streak was only snapped when Charlston played only 11 minutes, all in the second half, due to illness the day of Idaho's win over San Jose State on March 1. Charlston had nine double-doubles on the season, including a 21-point, 19 rebound effort in an overtime win over Nevada on Feb. 18.
"She has made the biggest jump of player improvement of any player I've coached in a long time from one year to the next," Newlee said of Charlston. "She's done everything for us. She's scoring, she's rebounding, she's defending. And, she's just a sophomore, her ceiling is so high. The sky is the limit as to where she could end up in the next couple years."
Charlston becomes the first Idaho player to earn first-team all-WAC honors since Idaho joined the league in 2005-06.
Karr, a true freshman point guard from Orange, Calif., started 24 of the 27 games she played in during the 2011-12 season, and ranked third in the WAC with 4.36 assists in WAC games. She also ranked fourth with a 1.33 assist-to-turnover ratio, and fifth with a 38.5 3-point field goal percentage.
"It's probably the hardest spot to be, a freshman point guard that's starting and playing a lot of minutes and has the ball in her hand a lot," Newlee said. "As the year has gone along you can see how much more confident she's gotten with the basketball, with her shot, defending people and just making better decisions with the basketball."
Karr had her first career double-double on Feb. 4 as she scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting and dished out 10 assists in a win over San Jose State. She scored in double figures seven times and had a career-high 17 points at Nevada on Feb. 18. In that game, Karr hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in overtime, and after the Wolf Pack took a two-point lead on the next possession, she delivered a game-winning, buzzer-beating 3.
"She's been a huge key to what we've done," Newlee said. "We depend on her to make good decisions with the basketball. I'm happy for her. She works hard in practice, she wants to be better. For her to come in here and be on the all-freshman team is fantastic."
Charlston's honor continues Idaho's streak of 29 consecutive years with at least one all-conference player. Idaho has had a player on the all-conference team every year since its first conference affiliation in 1982-83.
The fourth seeded Vandals take on the fifth seeded Spartans in Las Vegas' Orleans Arena in the WAC quarterfinals on Wednesday. The WAC semifinals will be played Friday with the championship game on Saturday.
First Team All-WAC