Philadelphia Karen Habrukowich was named Penn women’s basketball’s Most Valuable Player at the team’s postseason banquet held on April 10 at World Café Live. Twelve awards in all were bestowed upon the players during the afternoon, including the Harschberger-Johnson-Brendel (HJB) Award and the newest award, the Epton-Tarr Prize.
The HJB award, receiving its primary name for Jane Harschberger, a member of the Penn Class of 1930, is awarded to the player that most exemplifies outstanding loyalty, sportsmanship and leadership in Penn women’s basketball. This year’s winner was Habrukowich. As one of five seniors, Habrukowich provided leadership on and off the court and represented Penn Athletics as it should be, with dignity, class and honor. The award is also named for Cynthia Johnson Crowley, a member of the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame, a Penn women’s basketball player in the 1950’s and long time supporter of the program, and Kirsten Brendel, a 1991 Penn graduate and one of the greatest women’s basketball players to ever wear the Red and Blue.
Habrukowich also received the team award for Best Defense, due in part to her leading the team in steals with 36 and ranking 12th in the Ivy League in swipes per game with 1.33. The Council Rock graduate was also named team MVP for leading in scoring (13.1 ppg), three-point field goals (61), points (353) and field goals (117). Habrukowich was selected first-team All-Ivy League in March.
The Julie Epton-Amy Tarr prize is awarded to the player that, throughout their Penn career, exemplified the quintessential team player. The award that was unveiled at this year’s banquet was presented to Cat Makarewich. The award was issued by Crowley and Elizabeth M. Ritchey to Makarewich for her enduring team spirit and approach to the game of basketball. Makarewich proved herself as a leader during her final season as a Quaker, starting all 26 games she appeared in and leading the team in three-point field goal percentage at 38.5 percent (36-for-85).
The team’s Most Improved Player Award, as well as the Unsung Heroine, Hustle, Best Defense and MVP Awards, were voted on by the team and this year’s MIP was Ashley Gray. Just a sophomore, Gray went from appearing in seven games during her rookie season to appearing in 17 during the 2004-05 season, averaging 2.2 rebounds per game and 1.8 points per contest. Gray proved to be a force on the glass as the season wore on and solidified herself as one of Penn’s versatile post players of the future. Another sophomore, Lauren Pears, received the Hustle Award and the award for the team’s best free-throw percentage. Pears appeared in all 27 games for the Quakers and showed her tenacity on defense from the start, recording two or more steals in three of the first five games of the season. Pears ended the 2004-05 campaign with 16 swipes. When the Mechanicsburg, Pa. native stepped to the free throw line, she was near automatic, hitting 87.5 percent of her foul shots on the season.
The Rebounding Award was given to Jennifer Fleischer. Fleischer was the Quakers’ leader on the glass from start to finish in 2004-05, averaging a double-double with 10.8 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game, which was good for 10th in the nation. The junior center led the Ancient Eight in rebounding as well and recorded 10 double-doubles on the season. Fleischer’s 21 boards against Cornell on Feb. 12, tied for the fourth-highest single game total in Penn history.
Penn’s award for assists went to its floor general, Amanda Kammes. Kammes finished her season with 103 assists, averaging 4.1 dimes per game to lead the team and finish second in the Ivy League. Kammes also finished second in the Ancient Eight in assist/turnover ratio (1.76). The Wheaton, Ill. native’s 103 helpers marked the first time she went over the century mark in assists in a season and gave her 231 for her career.
The team’s academic award presented to Rachel Wilson. Wilson showed the ability to perform in the classroom as well as breaking through on the basketball court. The junior forward battled back from injury to appear in 13 games for the Quakers, playing a career-high 13 minutes against Rider and grabbing a career-best five boards against Lafayette.
The final player award given was the Unsung Heroine Award and Maria DiDonato’s teammates voted the senior as this year’s recipient. Throughout her four years in the Red and Blue, DiDonato has personified the word team’ and continued to do so during her final season at Penn.
Penn honored Cynthia Johnson Crowley with the team’s Fan Award. Crowley can usually be seen cheering on the Quakers from her normal position behind the home bench in The Palestra.
Under first-year head coach Pat Knapp, Penn finished the season with a 15-12 overall record and an 8-6 mark in the Ivy League. The Quakers faced nationally ranked opponents on various occasions this season and earned multiple Big 5 victories for the first time in program history. The Red and Blue will lose five seniors to graduation and will need to replace three starters from this year's squad in 2005-06.
Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications