According to many around the Mountaineer women's basketball scene, senior center Olayinka Sanni is more than deserving of All-American consideration.
Sanni, a Chicago native, is having her best season yet in Blue and Gold, posting career-best averages of 16.7 points and 7.4 rebounds while starting all 27 games for the 13th-ranked Mountaineers. Along the way, Sanni has been the focal point for many an opposing defense, though success with such a strategy has been hard to come by.
Mountaineer coaches and officials are just hoping that those outside the Big East are taking notice. And to help ensure that they are, WVU's sports information department recently mailed out hundreds of postcards to All-American voters all over the country.
"We started those with Yolanda Paige and Meg Bulger about three years ago," said WVU assistant sports information director Phil Caskey, who heads up media and public relations for Mountaineer women's basketball. "Basically, we ripped them off of other ideas from SID's around the country. We get postcards, notebooks, and all of that stuff sometimes."
Sending out publicity materials is certainly nothing out of the norm, as Caskey noted. Sportswriters, coaches, SID's and other voters/observers from coast to coast receive a variety of items throughout the season.
"As a coach, I'll look at them and look through them, especially if you haven't played them or aren't aware of them," he explained. "You just look at their stats, and what they've done for their university. It's very effective, and everybody in the country looks at it."
"A lot of the coaches look at them; some coaches don't," Carey continued. "If you can get a coach that is not aware of your player to look at it, then it is worth sending."
The postcard itself measures six inches long by eight and a half inches wide, and features a collage of Sanni photos on the front. On the back, Sanni's individual statistics are highlighted complete with a career box score through the end of January. Caskey noted that he would likely follow-up with voters via a mass email which updates Sanni's statistics while reiterating the key points of her candidacy.
Having never run for so much as student council, the whole experience has been a boatload of fun for West Virginia's senior center.
"It's been cool," said Sanni, affectionately known simply as Yinka to her fans, friends and teammates. "It's an honor for Phil to do that for me, you know? It's a blessing for him to get that put together, and people can recognize what I've done for four years. I just thank West Virginia and Phil for putting it all together for me."
No problem, says Caskey.
"I see it as part of my job," said the Martinsburg native. "It's about promoting the team, and not just the team but promoting excellent play by an individual. I kind of brainstormed with Coach Carey, and we thought that this year, Yinka had a really good shot at being an All-American. If anyone else had emerged such as her during the season, then heck yeah we would have done it for them, too."
In recent seasons, it worked while promoting Meg Bulger, who has twice been named an All-American. Now, WVU is hoping it pays off once more.