Stewart is AP Player of the year; Collen coach of the year

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

NEW YORK — Breanna Stewart has taken her game to a new level this year to lead Seattle to the top spot in the league.

Her efforts earned her Associated Press WNBA Player of the Year honors on Tuesday. The award was chosen by the 14-member media panel that votes for the weekly poll.

Stewart averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and shot 52.9 percent from the field this season to help the Storm earn a bye until the semifinals of the playoffs. She received 12 of the 14 votes with Liz Cambage earning the other two.

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“To be recognized as the best player is where I want to be and I want to continue to get better,” Stewart said in a phone interview. “The biggest change I made besides improving on the court was preparing myself off the court. Make myself strong and take care of my body nutritionally.”

Atlanta’s Nicki Collen was chosen as the AP’s coach of the year, receiving 13 of the 14 votes. In her first season as a head coach, she guided the Dream to a second place finish in the standings despite Atlanta facing a lot of injuries during the year. The team finished the season with seven wins in its final eight games.

“I am incredibly humbled to be named AP coach of the year. When I accepted the position in Atlanta I knew how important it was to hire a great coaching staff, and I am lucky to work daily alongside Mike (Petersen), Darius (Taylor), and Zach (Cooper),” Collen said. “I inherited a group of players who were hungry for success and have been easy to coach and I thank them for their belief in a rookie head coach.