Dec. 27, 2009
The conclusion of the first decade of the new millennium is just days away and to commemorate it, the UC Santa Barbara Athletics Department will take a look back and honor the athletes who have made the biggest impact on their respective teams over the past 10 years.
It has been a decade that saw a national championship, numerous Big West titles, All-Americans, Players of the Year, record-setting performances and far more victories than defeats.
In a retrospective look, the team sports at UCSB will release the All-Decade Teams - compiling the players who helped make those teams successful from 2000-09.
Sure, there are certain criteria for selecting the starting lineups of these teams. To be considered for the All-Decade Team in his or her sport, a student-athlete must have played the majority of their contests in the past 10 years; student-athletes who spent more time at UCSB to accomplish greater things typically will be given the edge over those who either left early or started late, but it won't rule out transfer students or those who departed for professional careers; while the players selected may have won more awards or had better statistics, the All-Decade Teams don't go solely by what happens between the lines or shows up in the box scores - intangibles play a large role; the idea of the All-Decade Team is to make the best starting lineup of the players who competed for UCSB from 2000-09. Part six of this 10-part series, which is being released over the final two weeks of 2009, is the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team.
In the past 10 seasons, the women's basketball team has clearly enjoyed its most success. Every season the Gauchos were playing in the postseason, which included a 2004 run to the Sweet 16.
Over the past decade the Gauchos lost a mere 16 games in Big West play and captured eight Big West Tournament titles, which resulted in automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament.
From 2000-09, UCSB saw 11 of its players join the 1,000-point club, which totals half of the elite group in the program's history. In addition, three players were named All-Americans, five took home Big West Player of the Year honors and a staggering nine accounted for UCSB's 15 First Team All-Big West honors.
Here is the Gauchos' All-Decade Team, by position.
Mia Fisher, 2001-05
Fisher is currently 12th all-time in UCSB scoring history after racking up 1,378 points in her stellar career. She was a four-time all-conference honoree and once was named to the Big West's all-tournament team. Fisher won a Big West title in every season of her career and sits fifth all-time in career field goal percentage and eighth in career assists.
"One of the most athletic and creative offensive players in the history of our program, she had an uncanny ability to get into the paint and score," said former UCSB head coach Mark French, who retired after 21 seasons in 2008. "She had an unbelievable shooting percentage for a guard. She is currently enjoying a very successful professional career in Europe (France most recently). And, she had the best smile in Gaucho history!"
Jessica Wilson, 2004-08
Wilson was named the Big West's Player of the Year as a senior in 2008 as well as the Big West's tournament MVP, one of only four players in UCSB history to perform the feat (two others are also on the All-Decade Team). She finished with 1,157 career points, which is 18th in program history and was a two-time All-Big West Second Team pick.
"She was very versatile as a scorer, defender and passer," French said. "She could get to the rim and shoot the three. She was a very clutch player in end-game situations. She had tremendous speed and quickness."
Kristen Mann, 2001-05
One of the most decorated players in school history, Kristen Mann was a three-time All-American and the team's go-to player when the Gauchos went to the Sweet 16 in 2004. Mann was named the conference's MVP in 2005, the same year she was Big West Tournament MVP. Mann, who is currently playing for the WNBA's Washington Mystics, was a three-time All-Big West First Team pick and the conference's Freshman of the Year. She is third all-time in Gaucho history with 1,700 career points. With four Big West titles under her belt, Mann's career NCAA Tournament record is 5-4. Her 14.9 points per game career average is second all-time at UCSB, she is also seventh all-time in career rebounds.
"She is probably the most skilled offensive player to ever don a Gaucho uniform," French said. "Very skilled inside and out. She is an excellent post defender and rebounder. She is one of our few women to play for a U.S. National Team."
Kayte Christensen, 1998-2002
Described by Coach French as "the whole package," Kayte Christensen finished her career in the blue and gold with 1,318 career points. Named the Big West Player of the Year in 2002, Christensen was a WBCA District All-American the same year, which also included a Verizon Academic All-Distict nod. A two-time All-Big West First Team player, Kayte also pare of the Big West Freshman Team and was a member of the Big West All-Tournament team. The forward from Aptos, Calif. was also part of four Big West title-winning teams. She is second all-time in field goal percentage and ninth in career rebounds. Following a WNBA career Christensen is now a sideline reporter for the Sacramento Kings.
"Athletic and skilled in the low post, she ran the court extremely well," French said. "She was a relentless rebounder, and terrifyingly physical at all times!"
Lindsay Taylor, 2000-04
The school's all-time leading scorer with 1,767 career points, Lindsay Taylor is also the Gauchos' leader in field goal percentage, blocked shots, second in free throws made, third in rebounds and fourth in scoring average. Taylor was a WBCA District All-American in 2003, the same season she was the Big West's Player of the Year. Taylor was a two-time All-Big West First Team honoree and a two-time Second Team selection. A three-time Big West Tournament MVP, Taylor led the Gauchos to four straight NCAA appearances.
"She was one of the dominating figures in women's basketball during her final years at UCSB," French said. "She forced other teams to double team her always, and allowed us to never have to double when the opponents got the ball down low. She played for a US National Team, and has had a very productive career overseas (most recently in Poland)."
Off the bench
Jess Hansen, guard, 1999-2003
Another member of the 1,000-point club, Jess Hansen is 19th with 1,154 career points. She is first all-time in UCSB history in three-point field goal percentage, with an astounding 43.3% made. Hansen is sixth in career assists and was a four-time all-Big West selection. Her memorable buzzer-beater knocked out Lousiana Tech in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament, which Coach French calls the "shot of the decade."
"She was very versatile as she played both point and shooting guard," French said. "She was a tremendous leader and was another clutch player in game-ending situations."
Jenna Green, forward/center, 2003-09
Given six years to polish her UCSB resume, Jenna Green did just that, fighting through constant injuries (which forced her to redshirt and receive a medical redshirt) to become one of the school's best players. Green is seventh all-time in school history with 1,545 career points and was a three-time All-Big West First Team selection. Green, a member of the All-Big West Freshman Team, helped the Gauchos to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and was a three-time All-Big West Tournament Team pick. She is sixth all-time in career field goals made and fourth in career field goal percentage. Her 181 blocked shots are second and Green is currently playing overseas in Spain.
"She was a great player, a great leader and a great student," French said. "She was very steady and consistent. A very skilled offensive player in the low post. She battled serious injuries that might have defeated a less courageous woman."
To see the All-Decade women's volleyball team, click here
To see the All-Decade men's water polo team, click here
To see the All-Decade women's soccer team, click here
To see the All-Decade men's soccer team, click here
To see the All-Decade men's volleyball team, click here