Pfeifer named Lady'Backs' MVP

SPRINGDALE -- Sarah Pfeifer had one arm in a sling, but with the other arm she collected the Most Valuable Player Award at the Lady Razorbacks Basketball Banquet on Wednesday night.

Pfeifer, who averaged 12.4 points for the 17-14 Lady'Backs, underwent successful shoulder surgery last Thursday.

"Sarah leads our team in surgeries with one per year," said Arkansas coach Susie Gardner about the third-year sophomore from Ozark. "But she's the player who always wanted the ball at crunch time."

Pfeifer, named the Scholar Athlete of the Year in the Southeastern Conference, shared the team academic award with sophomore guard Kristin Peoples. Both carry grade-point averages of 3.94 -- Pfeifer in engineering, Peoples in biology and pre-med.

DeeDee Brown, Arkansas' academic adviser, received a special award for helping the team posts its best-ever GPA last spring.

Gardner, citing the adversity her team faced this past season, said, "We're going to come back next year better than ever. I think something special is going to happen."

At the NCAA Women's Final Four which Gardner attended last week, one SEC coach said to her, "Susie, your team did a wonderful job despite all the injuries. If that had happened to us, we never would have survived."

The Lady'Backs, just 3-11 in the SEC, rallied to defeat Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament, and later downed Nevada-Las Vegas in the first round of the Women's NIT before losing to Arkansas State in Jonesboro.

Gardner received applause from a nice gathering at the Northwest Arkansas Holiday Inn when she said, "Our job is to touch lives as well as win games."

Pfeifer and Peoples made Academic All-America, while senior guard April Seggebruch was named the Outstanding Senior Graduate in the UA College of Business.

Allison Singleton of Fort Smith, who joined the team last season after serving three years as a manager, received the Lady'Back Award.

Danielle Allen, a sophomore from Harrison, earned the "Take-A-Charge" Award and also shared the "Most Improved" Award with junior Adrienne Bush of Russellville.

Gardner said Allen made good on a promise she made to the coach after a tough freshman year: "Coach, I'm going to come back a different player."

Allen averaged 9.0 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds.

Bush not only won the award for Best Defensive Player, but also came on offensively late in the year to average 12.5 points in the two WNIT games.

The Super Woman Award, created this year, went to senior manager Brittney Johnson.

Kristina Andjelkovic, a 6-foot-2 junior, limped to the stage in a boot to receive her first varsity letter. Andjelkovic underwent surgery on a "hot spot" on her foot on Wednesday.

Bill Smith, the team's publicist and longtime radio analyst who has worked 481 games, noted that Arkansas set a school record with 388 steals this season and led the nation in that department for two-thirds of the season.

Smith mentioned the balanced scoring which saw seven Lady'Backs lead the team in one or more games.

Noted golf writer Dan Jenkins, who revealed last week that women's basketball is one of his favorite sports to watch, would have loved the 2004-2005 Lady Razorbacks. They played with heart, if not always with the greatest skill.

Arkansas loses just two seniors, and should gain the signature today of 5-10 guard Dominique Washington of Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College.

If Kristin Moore and Ruby Vaden can return healthy from knee ligament surgeries that short-circuited their seasons, the Lady'Backs should improve in the SEC and contend for postseason play again in 2005-2006.

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