Shimek reaches Michigan State milestone


Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 1:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 1:09 p.m.

(AP) - Michigan State's Liz Shimek is officially a trailblazer.

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Michigan State's Liz Shimek, right, drives around Wisconsin's Jordan Wilson during the second half of their Big Ten basketball game in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006. Michigan State defeated Wisconsin, 69-63.

AP Photo/Matthew Kutz

The 6-foot-1 senior forward grabbed 10 rebounds in the ninth-ranked Spartans' 79-63 win over Wisconsin on Thursday to reach 1,000 for her career. She became the first player in the program to reach the 1,000 mark in both points and rebounds. With 1,515 points, she is just the fifth player in school history to surpass 1,500 points.

"I never really thought about it as being one of my goals. It's just something that comes with your role on the team and how you're supposed to help the team out," Shimek said. "With team success comes individual accolades."

Coach Joanne P. McCallie's Spartans have had plenty of both in her six-year tenure. The reigning Big Ten champs reached their first Final Four last season as a No. 1 seed, thanks to homegrown talent such as Shimek and Lindsay Bowen. Shimek, who played her high school ball three hours away at Maple City-Glen Lake, set the state high school record for career rebounds (1,533).

Coming out of high school, Shimek narrowed her choices to Michigan State, Indiana and Michigan.

"What caught my attention was just the family atmosphere that coach P and her staff has," Shimek said, "and coach P's passion behind what she's doing here. She just has a way of getting every single drop of blood from you."

Shimek has transformed herself from a strictly back-to-the-basket post player to someone who can score both inside and out. She picked up her fourth Big Ten player of the week honor this week. She leads all conference players with seven games of 20 points or more. On Wednesday, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association named Shimek and Oklahoma freshman center Courtney Paris National Co-Players of the Month.

"Liz has been amazing from day one. When we recruited her, her work ethic, her competitiveness, there are no words to describe how much she wants to compete," McCallie said. "Every year she's grown in so many ways."

Odds are she'll collect a few more individual awards before the season's end. She'd like it to end in Boston in April with a second straight trip to the Final Four.

"I look back on it now and how tough it really was last year and as a team how hard we battled," Shimek said. "All the struggles we went through were all worth it in the end."

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THE 700 CLUB:@ They're exhaling now at Bentley College.

Longtime coach Barbara "Bardy" Stevens picked her 700th win on Jan. 5 with an 85-69 win over Bryant. Stevens becomes the sixth women's basketball coach in NCAA history to reach the milestone. She's joined the likes of Pat Summitt (Tennessee), Jody Conradt (Texas), the late Sue Gunter (LSU), C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers) and Philip Kahler (St. John Fisher, Division III).

After the final buzzer, there was cake _ plus celebration and relief.

"I'm glad to have it over with. More for my team, I didn't want them to get distracted," Stevens said. "Too many people were making a big deal of it."

Her colleagues are quick to point out that what the unassuming Stevens has accomplished is a big deal. She's spent the last 19 seasons at the Waltham, Mass., Division II school. Before that, she spent three years at Massachusetts and six at Clark.

"She's a class act," said Beth Bass, executive director of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. "I sell women's basketball every day and Bardy Stevens is a good product to sell. She gives back to the sport."

The 51-year-old Stevens is a three-time national coach of the year and the only Division II coach to serve as president of the WBCA.

"I'm lucky because I truly enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work. It's funny to call it work, because it isn't," Stevens said. "Whenever you work with young people in an environment like this it's just great. I can't even think of what I would rather be doing at this point."

There's another big honor heading her way. In April, Stevens will be heading to Knoxville, Tenn., where she will be inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame. Her good friend and frequent opponent, North Dakota State coach Amy Ruley, already is enshrined and is fast approaching 700 wins herself.

"She's just an outstanding coach and not just from the Xs and Os," Ruley said. "She understands the players. She's dedicated herself to her school and team. Before she hangs up the whistle, there will be many more wins."

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STINGY BEARS:@ The Oklahoma State Cowgirls were going nowhere fast against defending national champ Baylor. The Lady Bears beat OSU 57-26 on Wednesday, the lowest total for a Baylor opponent since Dec. 20, 2003, when the Lady Bears defeated UPR-Mayaguez 103-25.

Oklahoma State's 14 first-half points marked the lowest first-half total since the Lady Bears held Lamar to nine first-half points on Dec. 7, 1988.

The Cowgirls managed a dozen points in the second half, the lowest point total for a Big 12 Conference opponent in a half in school history.

"We've had trouble scoring all year long," Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke said. "We've got the most inexperienced lineup in the Big 12."

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DIVINE PROVIDENCE: The conference drought is over for Providence. The Friars snapped a 39-game winless streak in the Big East with 58-57 win over Cincinnati last week.

The victory capped a five-game win streak, the longest stretch of consecutive wins for the program since the 1991-92 season.

The Friars won only one game last season, but under first-year coach Phil Seymore, a former PC men's assistant, the Friars are 6-8.

"Things are going good right now," Seymore said.

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