Quick, name the best freshman point guard in NCAA women's basketball. If you said Lexie Brown, give yourself a prize. But not too big a prize, since you're reading Testudo Times, after all. The Detroit Rotary Club announced the twenty-nine players on the Nancy Lieberman Award watch list Wednesday and the Terrapins' Brown made the first cut. Lest you think this is not such a big deal, the only other underclassmen on the list are Northwestern's Ashley Deary, also a freshman and Jordan Jones, a sophomore at Texas A&M.
The first Lieberman Award was given after the 1999-2000 season and is presented annually to the top point guard in the NCAA. Lieberman, who played collegiately at Old Dominion in the late seventies, is a legend in women's basketball. For those of you unfamiliar with her, check her Wikipedia page. Since only a dozen or so have ben given, here's the list of past winners: Sue Bird (3 times); Diana Taurasi (twice); Temeka Johnson; Ivory Latta; Lindsay Harding; Kristi Toliver; Renee Montgomery; Andrea Riley; Courtney Vandersloot; Skylar Diggins (twice).
Brown currently sits third - just behind Calli Berna of Arkansas and Rebecca Henricson of Western Illinois and just ahead of Duke's Chelsea Gray - in John Hollinger's metric "pure point rating." What is PPR? Well, Pure Point Rating = 100 * (League Possessions per 40 min/Team Possessions per 40 min) * (((Assists * 2/3) - Turnover Value) / Minutes Played. According to BasketballReference.com, it's "considered a better "ballhandling" metric than regular assist-to-turnover ratio because it properly weights assists & turnovers relative to each other, and it presents the two in a per-minute form." However, Brown's simple assist to turnover ratio is 2.71. The freshman averages 4.64 assists per game in just over 24 minutes of playing time.
For the hard core Maryland fans reading this, I have to mention that Natasha Cloud, who transferred to St. Joseph's after her freshman year at Maryland is also on the watch list. For those of you who don't know, Cloud left Maryland to be closer to home because of health problems in her family and those of us who got to know Tasha during her brief stay in College Park still regard her with some affection.
As for Lexie, does she have a realistic chance to win the award as a freshman? Likely not. Sue Bird won the first Lieberman Award as a sophomore and only upper classmen have won it since. On the other hand, does Brown's presence on the list show what a gem Maryland has for the next three and a half seasons? Absolutely.