CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The North Carolina women?s basketball program celebrated the 2002-03 season Wednesday evening at its annual team banquet, held at UNC's Friday Center. Senior guard Coretta Brown was named the recipient of the team's Best All-Around and Best Offense awards. Sophomore Nikita Bell earned the team's Best Defense and Most Improved awards.
Recipients of the team's Hustle Award were freshman Jessica Sell and sophomore Jenni Laaksonen. The Coaches Award went to freshman La'Tangela Atkinson and sophomore Leah Metcalf. Senior Jennifer Thomas was honored as the recipient of the team?s Athletic Director?s Scholar-Athlete Award for the second year.
The team also honored several supporters, naming Diane McGrath and Laurie Ferris as the Volunteers of the Year. David 'Stoney' Stone received the team's Outstanding Service Award.
The team's four departing players = Brown, Courtney Chambers, Elizabeth Coughran and Thomas - provided the evening's highlights with their 'Senior Memories' speeches, which moved the crowd of 250 to laughter and tears. Brown, the last to speak, summed up all of their feelings with her final words: "Although I'm leaving, Carolina will forever be a part of me." Brown will remain a part of the UNC record books as the program's career leader in three-pointers and three-point percentage. She also was recognized Wednesday for passing the 1,500-career-points mark this season. Junior Candace Sutton was honored for passing the 1,000-career-points mark.
UNC finished the season 28-6 after falling in the NCAA Tournament second round to Colorado. The Tar Heels were second in the ACC regular season with a 13-3 record and were the ACC Tournament runners-up. Carolina was ranked No. 12 in the last Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the final USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll.
Sylvia Hatchell, the Tar Heels' head coach for the last 17 seasons, wrapped up the evening by reminding the returning players of their 6:30 a.m. running workout, looming less than 10 hours away. "Nothing great," she told her team and the UNC supporters assembled, "happens without hard work."