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NEW YORK, August 19, 2006 - The WNBA today announced that Erin Buescher of the Sacramento Monarchs has been named the 2006 WNBA Most Improved Player. Buescher received 28 out of a possible 56 votes among a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
In her fifth year in the league, Buescher saw her playing time increase dramatically while DeMya Walker was returning from her pregnancy. Playing almost double the minutes she did last year (19.7 minutes per game vs. 9.1), Buescher posted career highs in points (9.7), rebounds (3.9) and steals (0.97) per game, marking significant increases from her averages prior to the season (3.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 steals). In all, Buescher finished the season as the Monarchs' second leading scorer and offensive rebounder behind Yolanda Griffith, and ranked third on the team in total rebounds, fourth in both steals and blocks and sixth in assists.
Perhaps most significant was Buescher's offensive efficiency as she led the league in field-goal percentage at 53.7. Similarly, her 78 offensive rebounds ranked seventh in the WNBA, eclipsing her total of 14 a year ago.
Buescher established career high single-game numbers with 25 points and 9 free-throws on June 29 vs. Minnesota and with 13 rebounds on July 1 vs. Charlotte.
"She worked really hard on her post work early in the season with Assistant Coach Monique Ambers," said Monarchs Head Coach and General Manager John Whisenant. "It's nice to see her get recognized for her efforts."
A product of the University of California-Santa Barbara and The Master's College, she joined the Monarchs in March, 2005, when traded by the Charlotte Sting as part of a four-player deal that also sent Nicole Powell to Sacramento. Powell went on to be named the 2005 WNBA Most Improved Player.
As the WNBA Most Improved Player of the Year, Buescher will receive a Tiffany-designed trophy and $5,000.
Below are the results of the 2006 WNBA Most Improved Player voting and past recipients.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER RESULTS
28 - Erin Buescher Sacramento Monarchs
18 - Tamika Whitmore Indiana Fever
3 - Kelly Mazzante Charlotte Sting
3 - Katie Douglas Connecticut Sun
2 - Nakia Sanford Washington Mystics
1 - Margo Dydek Connecticut Sun
1 - Cathrine Kraayveld New York Liberty
PAST MOST IMPROVED PLAYER WINNERS
2006 - Erin Buesher Sacramento Monarchs
2005 - Nicole Powell Sacramento Monarchs
2004 - Wendy Palmer/Kelly Miller Connecticut Sun/Indiana Fever
2003 - Michelle Snow Houston Comets
2002 - Coco Miller Washington Mystics
2001 - Janeth Arcain Houston Comets
2000 - Tari Phillips New York Liberty
Featuring 14 teams and the greatest female basketball players from around the world, the WNBA is the longest-running and most successful women's professional team sports league in U.S. history. The 2006 WNBA Playoffs tip off on August 17 and complete coverage will be provided by ABC, ESPN2 and NBA TV through the conference finals. The 2006 WNBA Finals will be televised on ESPN2.