Kurz gains accolades while leading ‘Cats to success

Jamie Augustinsky

Most athletes who play team sports would choose gaining victories for their teams over personal glory for themselves. When an athlete is able to receive individual awards while proving her team to victory, it’s like having the best of both worlds.

This past week, senior forward Laura Kurz felt the joys of both individual and team victories. Not only did her basketball team knock off Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the Big East Championships, but Kurz was honored with three awards celebrating her outstanding play this season.

Kurz’s 21 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s Big East Championships led the Wildcats past Notre Dame and into the Big East Semifinals for the first time since 2005. A few days earlier, she was announced as one of 30 candidates for the 2009 Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T.

The candidates were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors which is made up of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The trophy is awarded to the top Division I women’s basketball player in the country and will be announced in St. Louis at the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

To go along with her NCAA recognition, Kurz was also awarded two Big East honors this week. She was named the Big East Co-Most Improved Player, and is only the second Wildcat ever to win this award. She was also named a unanimous choice for first-team All-Big-East. Kurz becomes the 13th player in Villanova history to earn first team honors and the first since Liad Suez-Karni in 2006.

The senior forward has started all 30 games this season. She leads the team in scoring with 18 points per game, rebounding with 7.2 rebounds per game, blocks, with 40, and in field goal percentage at .464. Kurz has scored double figures in 28 of her 30 games this year and has seven games with 20 or more points, including a career performance at Pittsburgh on Feb. 18, where she netted a personal-best 35 points.

A few weeks ago against the University of Connecticut, she became only the second player in he history of Villanova women’s basketball to score 1,000 points in just two seasons.

Kurz played her first two collegiate seasons at Duke, where she scored a combined 358 points in her freshman and sophomore seasons. She was not eligible to play during the 2006-2007 season due to the NCAA transfer rules, but proved to be a big asset to the Wildcat team when she resumed play during the ’07-’08 season. As a junior, she notched 491 points and prior to the Big East Championships this season, she stood at a solid 541 points this year.

Having grown up surrounded by basketball talent, basketball seems to be in Kurz’s blood. She has three family members with college ball experience. Her brother played for Notre Dame, her mother played for Lafayette, where she holds the school record for rebounds per game, and her cousin played for the 2001 Division III National Champion Catholic University.