Jolene Anderson gave her teammates and coaches a reason to take a break from the rigors of practice when she was named unanimously by the coaches and the media as the 2005 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Tuesday morning.
“I personally didn’t think I could get it coming into this year,” Anderson said. “I had a lot to work on, but when I put a goal towards myself, I just work as hard as I can to achieve that goal and this one I obviously achieved.”
Anderson learned from head coach Lisa Stone the night before that she would be the next Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
“When coach Stone called me last night I just said ‘thank you;’ I really didn’t let it sink in too much,” Anderson said.
Anderson was also the only Badger player named to the Big Ten’s awards lists as she garnered third team All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media. Anderson became the fifth Badger player to accomplish the feat and the first since Wisconsin’s Jessie Stomski in 1998-99.
“I’m not surprised at all, for her to have gone out there and led our team, carried our team like she did as freshman is a tremendous feat,” Gebisa said.
Anderson through her calm, cool demeanor set Wisconsin’s new freshman scoring mark this season with 470 points, after a 26 point outburst at Purdue Sunday. Anderson also ranked second on the team in both rebounds, 5.6 per game, and assists, dishing out 84 on the season.
“It’s just remarkable, and hopefully she can continue that success the next couple years,” fellow guard Stephanie Rich said. “I can’t imagine what she’s going to do in the next couple years before she’s a senior.”
The only Badger freshman to come close to her scoring average was Pam Moore who averaged 15.7 points per game in 1977-78. Anderson is just one tenth of a point shy of Big Ten all-time scoring leader Kelly Mazzante’s freshman scoring mark of 18.2 points per game.
“We ask a lot of Jolene,” Stone said. “She has taken shots in situations that are more difficult than most people know. We don’t ask her to put up big numbers. It just comes.” But the stellar freshman has put up big numbers. In fact, her 18.1 points per game average was third best in the nation for freshmen, a feat coach Stone believes should garner Anderson consideration for National Player of the Year honors.
“I’m a person that kind of tells it like it is and if I didn’t think that I certainly wouldn’t say it,” Stone said. “I think Jolene has to be one the top freshmen in the country, hands down.”
But Anderson was simply content on accomplishing a goal that she had set for herself before the season even started.
“The beginning of the year, when the coaching staff gave us a paper to fill out, my individual goal was to be Big Ten Freshman of the Year,” Anderson said.
Opponents have tried to stop Anderson with a variety of different defenses, but somehow she has found a way to score, as she has posted double figures in all but two games.
“You can never figure her out,” Rich said. “She just gets sneaky points. She probably could have an extra 30 points if she would shoot the ball a couple 15 more times during games.”
Early on Anderson’s teammates were not sure what to expect from the freshman. The youngster brought with her a gaudy scoring average from the high school ranks, yet her success came from the relatively unknown northern Wisconsin town of Port Wing.
“Honestly, her coming in from high school and being able to create her own shot in high school, I thought she would have some trouble finding those shots,” Rich said. “But we get her wide open looks in our offense and she does a great job of crashing the boards and getting those easy putbacks.”
But those doubts, and doubters, have been silenced by the freshman’s performance. Instead, fans are left with a sense of anticipation, as they wait to see just what Anderson can accomplish in the coming years.
“She’s a special player. I can’t say enough about her,” Stone said. “She is completely committed to the team. Her accomplishments are spoken in statistics, but she’s a very even-keeled kid that’s just going to be better and really take this program where we want it to go.”