Jayhawks Celebrate Hard Work Before Big 12 Championship

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Prior to Kansas heading south to Oklahoma City for the 2016 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship, the Jayhawks spent Tuesday night celebrating the hard work and dedication to the program through the past season.

The night began with remarks from the University of Kansas’ Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger, who praised the Jayhawks for their tireless work ethic and the way they represented Kansas on and off the court.

“I will always carry three memories with me from this season,” said Zenger. “First is our new coach, Coach Brandon Schneider and his staff. Secondly, we know this was a hard season, but the team never quit and that’s what I will remember the most about this season. Lastly, the crowds that attended every game were as good as we’ve ever had. The support that this team received this season is unbelievable. You put those three things together and it is the beginning of a really good story, and those of that were here this year get to tell that story long into the future.”

Following Dr. Zenger’s opening comments, first-year head coach Brandon Schneider took to the stage. Schneider addressed the crowd by thanking his family, staff and everyone that has a hand in helping the student-athletes on and off the hardwood, including the fan base that has been so supportive of the program.

“It’s so exciting to see what is around the corner for our team and our program as we continue to fight and continue to improve on a daily basis,” Schneider said. Many times banquets like this are solely for celebration of accomplishments, and I realize that our record was not what we want it to be and we don’t have a long list of accomplishments to celebrate, but these events are extremely important to celebrate not just the accomplishments but also the tireless work, time demands and dedication that our student-athletes give on a daily basis.”

Before turning the microphone over to his coaching staff, Schneider passed out the award for the 2016 Kansas Women’s Basketball Sixth Man given out to an outstanding KU fan. This year’s recipient, Amanda Young, can be found behind the Jayhawks’ bench with a smile on her face cheering for her favorite team. Young is constantly supporting and encouraging the Kansas women’s basketball team and staff. She has been to every home game this season and even made the trek down to Fort Worth with her mother to watch KU’s regular-season finale.

After Schneider handed out the first award of the evening, KU women’s basketball assistant coaches announced the winners of the 2016 Hard Hat Awards. The Hard Hat Awards are given to the individuals on the team who pull down the most rebounds, record the most deflections and take the most charges throughout the season.

Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen earned the 2016 Hard Hat Award for the most rebounds so far this season. The Chicago, Illinois native grabbed 147 rebounds, averaging 5.1 per game in 29 appearances. Manning-Allen has recorded 99 defensive rebounds and 48 offensive rebounds in 2016.

The Hard Hat for deflections went to freshman guard Kylee Kopatich. In her first with the Jayhawks, Kopatich totaled 150 deflections in the last 29 games. The Olathe, Kansas native recorded 65 deflections during KU’s non-conference slate and 85 in Big 12 Conference games.

The final award of the night went to the individual who tallied the most charges taken throughout the season. Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge received the Hard Hat Award for Charges after totaling 17 this season. The Marshfield, Missouri native posted 11 charges during non-conference action, while adding another six during conference play. At Texas Tech, Aldridge took three charges for the most in a game by a Jayhawk in this year.

Kansas opens the 2016 Big 12 Championship with TCU on Friday, March 4, at 8:30 p.m. inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The game will be broadcast on FOX College Sports and the Jayhawk Radio Network.

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