Lady Griz Hand Out Annual Awards, Kellie Cole-Rubel Named MVP

By JOEL CARLSON

Kellie Rubel was named the Mary Louise Pope Zimmerman Most Valuable Player, and Montana’s other two seniors, Maggie Rickman and Carly Selvig, were both double award winners at the Lady Griz basketball program’s recent postseason banquet.

Rickman and Selvig shared the Shannon Green Most Inspirational Player award, the one accolade voted upon only by the players. Rickman also received the Theresa Rhoads Award for best representing Lady Griz basketball, and Selvig was named the Julie Deming Outstanding Defensive Player.

Junior McCalle Feller and sophomore Kayleigh Valley were co-winners of the Grace Geil Most Improved Player award.

Kellie Cole Rubel

Kellie ColeRubel

Rubel, who shared the award with Torry Hill last year, was named MVP for the second straight season. It caps an impressive career trajectory for Rubel, who redshirted in 2010-11, then was a role player off the bench the next two seasons.

Finally in the starting lineup, she had her breakout campaign in 2013-14 as a redshirt junior, when she earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors. She repeated this season and was the only league player to be a unanimous first-team selection.

Rubel, then Cole, was the 2-guard to Hill’s point guard in 2013-14. With Hill lost to graduation, Rubel took over the point, a position she got a taste of in the 2014 WNIT after Hill suffered a season-ending injury in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game.

She had 22 points and nine assists in Montana’s victory over Washington State and 16 points and five assists in a second-round loss to San Diego.

“It’s not like she hadn’t ever been at the point before this season,” said Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig, who was voted conference coach of the year last month for the 21st time in his career.

Kellie had a big game against Washington State and played well against San Diego. That let me know we were going to be okay there this season.”

Rubel led Montana in scoring (13.8/g) and assists (4.3/g) last winter, and finished third in rebounding (5.6/g) as the Lady Griz won the Big Sky regular-season championship with a 14-4 record and advanced to the program’s 21st NCAA tournament.

She was named the Big Sky Conference co-MVP, sharing the award with Northern Colorado’s D’shara Strange, and the Big Sky tournament MVP after leading Montana to victories over Idaho State, Eastern Washington and Northern Colorado.

Carly Selvig

CarlySelvig

Kellie had an outstanding year for us,” said Selvig. “She was our leader at the point and did a lot of everything for us.”

Rickman and Selvig, each for her own reason, shared the Most Inspirational Player award. It was the first split of the award since Sarah Ena and Alyssa Smith won it following the 2009-10 season.

Selvig suffered a serious knee injury in March 2014 and was back playing again eight months later, a tale of hard work and dedication that could inspire anyone, teammate or not. And Rickman was the team’s season-long upbeat presence.

“That award has always been an interesting one, because kids gain inspiration from different things and different players,” Selvig said.

“I think that Carly and Maggie shared the award attests to the leadership they gave us. They showed up every day and didn’t ever get down when things weren’t good.”

Selvig was the easy vote for Outstanding Defensive Player. She led Montana with 78 blocks, but more telling of her presence in the lane was that teams shot just 34.8 percent against the Lady Griz, the sixth-lowest percentage in the nation.

10554600

MaggieRickman

Selvig finished her career with 258 blocks, the second-best total in program history and third-highest total in Big Sky history. She was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year as both a junior and senior.

Carly was our leader on defense, and we won a lot of games this past season with our defense,” said Selvig. “Her offensive numbers don’t jump out, but what she did on the defensive end was a big part of us winning a lot of games.

“And she was a very versatile defender. She was really good around the basket blocking and changing shots, yet she could go on the perimeter and guard quicker kids as well.”

Rickman will graduate next week, then spend the summer in a holding pattern as she awaits word on her future. If she had her choice, she’d spend two years serving in the Peace Corps in Thailand beginning in the summer of 2016. She is on the reserve list and will find out in the fall if she gets called up.

McCalle Feller 1

McCalleFeller

It’s not the only reason she was named the Theresa Rhoads Award winner for best representing Lady Griz basketball, but it serves as a great example.

Maggie represents what that award is about very well,” said Selvig. “She’s a good student and a great kid, and she had a really good year. She showed up and played hard all the time. Maggie represented us well in all areas.”

Only one time in the history of the Grace Geil Most Improved Player award had a Lady Griz won it twice: Crystal Baird in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Make that two times, now that Feller has repeated.

She went from scoring eight points — total — as a freshman to 185 (5.8/g) as a sophomore to 361 (10.9/g) as the starting 2-guard last winter as a junior. As the team’s third-leading scorer, she earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors.

But it wasn’t just Feller’s scoring that blossomed. She became a double threat as a scorer and distributor — her 50 assists were more than she had her first two years combined — and she became a presence on the defensive end, where she finished third on the team in both blocks and steals.

McCalle just continues to improve each year, and her game just keeps growing,” said Selvig. “Her game has expanded on the offensive end. She has started scoring in more ways than just the 3-point shot, and she can create shots for her teammates.

“And she really improved last year defensively. She made great strides on that end, which people may not notice as much, but that’s been huge for us.”

5498b48d1e0fa.preview-620

KayleighValley

Valley’s narrative was similar to Feller’s — first-time starter sees jump in numbers — but it felt different. Everything seemed to be there the season before, but it took until her sophomore year before Valley started taking the floor with a different level of confidence. And production followed.

She was named the Lady Griz Classic MVP after having big games against Utah Valley and Austin Peay, was voted honorable mention All-Big Sky by the league’s coaches and was named to the Big Sky all-tournament team.

Her biggest offensive weapon was her versatility. She has range to the 3-point line, and she became the team’s most destructive interior scorer despite being 5-foot-11. Her aggressiveness in the paint got her to the line a team-high 152 times, where she connected on 80.9 percent of her attempts.

Kayleigh had a good freshman year, but she just emerged this year as a more consistent player. She was really a force for us at times. She is making the kind of strides you like to see,” said Selvig.

“She had some big scoring games for us, and she became our biggest inside scoring threat, and we found ways to utilize that.”

With Rubel, Rickman and Selvig lost to graduation, Feller and Valley will be Montana’s lone returning starters in 2015-16. Feller will be joined in the senior class by fifth-year guards Hannah Doran and Haley Vining.

Montana Sports Information