Brittney Griner named WNBA defensive player of year

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has won the WNBA defensive player of the year award for the second straight season, the league announced Thursday.

Griner became the first player in league history to average at least four blocks a game, with 105 in just 26 contests. She was suspended for the first seven games of the season following a domestic violence arrest.

"This award means a lot to me because our team defense puts us in a good position to win games," Griner said. "If I'm blocking shots or changing shots or even preventing players from taking shots, I'm helping the team, and we are likely to win when our defense is playing well.

"I really wanted to break my record from last year and came close, but I will definitely be looking to break it next year."

Griner received 33 of the 39 first-place votes from a national panel of writers and broadcasters. New York rookie Kiah Stokes was second with two. Tina Charles, Briann January, Angel McCoughtry and Maya Moore each got one vote.

Griner becomes the sixth player to win the award in multiple seasons. Tamika Catchings won it five times, and Sheryl Swoopes won it three times. Lisa Leslie, Teresa Weatherspoon and Sylvia Fowles have won it twice.

Bill Laimbeer was honored Thursday night as the league's coach of the year. He guided New York to a franchise record 23 wins and the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs for the first time. It's the second time in his career that Laimbeer earned the award; he also won it in 2003, when he was coaching Detroit.

Laimbeer is the fourth coach to win the award at least twice. Van Chancellor won it in the league's first three years. Mike Thibault also has won it three times and Dan Hughes twice.