Five St. Mary’s basketball players received post-season honors from the Heartland Conference following the end of the 2001-2002 season. Conference head coaches named Martha Brinker, Erin Griffin and Meosha Nash to the women’s All-Conference First-Team and Ky O’Dell and Billy White to the men’s All-Conference Honorable Mention squad. Griffin was named women’s Conference Player of the Year and White was named men’s Freshman of the Year. St. Mary’s head coach Paige Clawson, in her first year at the Lady Rattler’s helm, was named women’s coach of the year.
The Lady Rattlers, 2001-02 Heartland Conference champions, swept through their competition this season, ending the year with a perfect 10-0 conference record en route to a 26-3 record. The St. Mary’s women, ranked sixth in the final regular season USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Division II Women’s Basketball Poll, appeared in their first NCAA Division II national tournament and came one game sort of advancing to the D-II Elite Eight. In the South Central Regional Final, the Lady Rattlers lost to Southeastern Oklahoma State 76-70.
This has been an impressive season for the Rattler women, who started off the year by winning their first four games before their first loss, which came in overtime. The Lady Rattlers then went on a 19-game winning streak – the nation’s longest of the season. The loss that ended the steak, to a team that also went on to the national tournament, was their only home loss of the 2001-02 season. The Rattlers won their next to games to finish the regular season with a 25-2 record, the conference crown, and an at-large bid to the national tournament. The Lady Rattlers last appeared in a national tournament in 1997, when they tied for the Heart of Texas Conference title to advance to the NAIA Tournament.
Griffin, a sophomore post from San Antonio, was twice named the Heartland Conference Player of the Week (11/26-12/2 and 2/11-2/18). Other Rattlers to receive player of the week honors were Brinker, a sophomore post from Corpus Christi, (1/21-1/27); Amber South, a senior guard from Corpus Christi, (12/18-1/6); and Nash, a junior guard from Bryan, (12/10-12/17). Nash and Erin were named to the All-Regional Tournament Team at the South Central Regional.
The Men’s Basketball team had a disappointing season, finishing the year with a 11-15 record overall and in fourth place in the Heartland Conference with a 2-8 league mark. However this was only the fourth loosing season in Buddy Meyer’s 24 years as the Rattlers’ head coach. After 24 years, Meyer has an overall record of 471-222 (.680). His conference record, amassed over twenty-three seasons in either the Big State, Heart of Texas or Heartland Conferences is 195-58 – a .771 winning average.
Marcus Fields, a junior wing from Wichita, Kansas was named Heartland Conference Player of the Week for January 14-20. All-Conference Rattler O’Dell is a sophomore point guard from Olathe, Kansas and freshman honoree White is a wing from Gonzales, Texas.