February 24, 2010 in Sports

It’s all about team

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Bjorklund
(Full-size photo)

Angie Bjorklund was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, which never came up in a conversation last week.

But that’s hardly surprising. Until last week the Tennessee junior out of University High School had no idea she was on the verge of reaching the 1,000-point plateau.

“I didn’t even know until I had a recent interview and someone told me,” she said. “Here it’s all about the team.”

Draining a winner is completely different, which helped make her milestone memorable.

Bjorklund’s first 3-pointer at Mississippi on Feb. 11 gave her 1,001 points. Her fourth, with 1 second left, gave the fifth-ranked Lady Vols a 61-58 win.

“Any time you can hit a game-winner, it’s exciting,” said Bjorklund, who beat Florida earlier with a closing seconds reverse layup. “It comes down to basketball is a team sport. I never keep track of points. My role here is to shoot and score and I’m going to do that to the best of my ability. It’s just the same as someone’s role to get rebounds or get stops.”

Bjorklund takes her roles seriously.

After she shot poorly, defended worse and threw the ball away numerous times in a loss at then-No. 8 Georgia last month, coach Pat Summitt made her leading scorer (14.6 ppg) come off the bench in the next game at No. 18 LSU.

Bjorklund cheered hard and promptly drained a 3-pointer when she hit the court, finishing with 10 points in the 12-point win.

“I was just trying to be an example of coming hard off the bench, set a positive tone,” Bjorklund said. “You always have to be ready.”

Though scoring is what she does, it’s not what she’s about.

“My goal was just to come to Tennessee and win a championship,” Bjorklund said. “I’ve done that. Now my goal is to win a championship with a completely different team. I’ve never thought about milestones.”

No heroics were needed when the Vols played again. Bjorklund had 24 points in the 39-point win over Florida that led to her first Player of the Week recognition, although she received six Freshman of the Week awards and was the SEC Freshman of the Year.

Tennessee handled LSU, now No. 20, by nine in the rematch Monday to improve to 25-2 (the other loss at No. 2 Stanford) and opened a two-game lead over No. 16 Kentucky (23-4), which visits Knoxville on Thursday.

Bjorklund is shooting better from 3-point range (45.9 percent), which is ninth in the nation and higher than her overall average (43.8).

Her 3.2 3-pointers a game are 10th nationally. Her 83 3-pointers are second on the UT single-season list, 20 behind the record.

Bjorklund was a little more excited when she was named to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American first team.

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected an Academic All-American,” the psychology major with a 3.8 GPA said. “We are all student-athletes, with the student portion of our responsibilities coming first.”

Seeing Red

Eastern Washington (17-9, 10-3) is on the verge of several significant accomplishments.

The Eagles, who clinched their first berth in the Big Sky Conference tournament after a three-year absence, can win their first conference title and host the tournament for the first time by winning two of their final three games.

Winning all three games would give them 20 wins for the first time in 25 years. This is only the second time EWU has reached double figures in Big Sky wins and the Eagles have never won more than 11.

The Eagles are on the road this weekend at Weber State on Friday and Idaho State on Saturday. They defeated those teams by 12 and 10 points, respectively, at home last month. They close the season at home next week against Portland State, which is tied for second, two games back.

The historic opportunity was helped when Sacramento State beat Montana last weekend for the first time since the Hornets joined the Big Sky.

Tip-ins

Charlotte Otero reached 350 career assists in Idaho’s win over New Mexico State while Yinka Olorunnife moved into fifth on the Vandals’ career rebound list with 685. … Stanford’s Jayne Appel repeated as the Pac-10 Player of the Week as she reached the 2,000-point plateau and moved to within 12 rebounds of Lisa Leslie’s Pac-10 record 1,214. … Washington State won at USC for the first time in more than 10 years, ending an 18-game losing streak to the Trojans. That gave the Cougars back-to-back road wins for the first time since 1996. WSU had 23 steals at UCLA, but the Bruins shot 58 percent for a 93-58 win. … Weber State senior Tonya Schnibbe (University) has 177 assists, 10th on the Big Sky single-season list. Her 6.8 assists a game lead the conference and are fifth nationally. She had a school-record 194 assists last year.

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