UMass notebook: Sam Breen named 2023 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player Of The Year

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-29-2023 2:30 PM

Add one more jewel to Queen Breen’s crown.

UMass graduate student forward Sam Breen was named the 2023 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player Of The Year on Wednesday, becoming the fourth winner in the award’s history and first Minutewoman.

“I am super blessed and grateful to have received this award,” Breen said in a release. “It had honestly not been on my mind too much since the season ended, but being able to be with all my teammates and coaches when I found out meant the world to me. They have helped me become both the player and person I am, so being able to receive this news with them was incredible."

Breen received the news in UMass’ film room surrounded by the Minutewomen. Fellow graduate student Destiney Philoxy bounced out of her chair and slapped Breen’s hand several times before the rest of her teammates piled on. UMass assistant coach (and Breen’s former teammate) Jessica George delivered balloons and a cake.

“Alright, sit down,” Breen said through a smile as teammates serenaded her with a sing song. “All hail the queen.”

Breen is a two-time Atlantic-10 Player of the Year. She led the league in rebounding (10.1 per game) and was third in scoring (17.3 points per game). The Gibsonia, Penn., native notched 20 double-doubles, ninth most in the country. She also won the ECAC Division 1 Player of the Year this week.

No other Division 1 player averaged at least  17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists this season. Her 589 points set a single-season UMass record.

“I am so excited and proud of Sam,” UMass coach Tory Verdi said in a release. “She is the first A-10 player to receive this prestigious award. This just completes one of the best careers in the history of our program.”

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LINE CHANGES – UMass hockey goalie Luke Pavicich won’t be going far in the transfer portal. The sophomore is staying in Hockey East and transferring to UMass Lowell, according to a report by the Lowell Sun’s Barry Scanlon.

The Minutemen have been active in the portal this offseason. Forwards Reed Lebster (Michigan State), Cal Kiefiuk, Josh Nodler and Ryan Sullivan, defensemen Mikey Adamson (Sacred Heart) and Noah Ellis, and goalie Henry Graham have also exited the program.

UMass has added three graduate transfers in Princeton forward Liam Gorman, Brown defenseman Samuli Niinisaari and New Hampshire goalie David Fessenden.

Gorman, an Arlington native, had 22 points with 12 goals last season as a senior. The Chicago Blackhawks hold his rights after the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted him initially. 

Niinisaari posted eight assists and was an assistant captain as a senior.

Fessenden was 7-14 last season in 25 games. He posted a 2.65 goals against average and saved 91.1 percent of the shots he faced.

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