College season concludes with our unofficial awards
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
If Hollywood can give out its Academy Awards, the Trib can distribute its kudos for the college basketball season Ñ without the golden statues and ghastly gowns.
Here's one reporter's Best of 2001-02:
Best accessory: Don't tell Kansas guard Aaron Miles that the ultra-cool wear headbands for looks only. His blue headband, with Air Jordan figurine, has its practical purpose. 'I was trying to help myself with the sweat,' he says. That's funny, he didn't need one at Jefferson High.
Best shooter: The couple dozen students watching Lewis & Clark games rose in anticipation every time the aptly named Danny Winchester cocked his shooting hands. He shot 47 percent to lead the Northwest Conference.
Most efficient: A 2.32-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is great at any level, especially in the women's game, where tough defenses and inconsistent shooters are more the norm. Ms. Dependable should be OSU guard Leilani Estevan's nickname.
Merit award for honesty: Guard James Davis often offered the frankest observations of any Duck. On his late miss at the free-throw line against Texas: 'We had our little pregame free-throw thing, and I hit 20 out of 20. I get up to the line and choke. It was just an in-the-moment thing. Choked is the best way to describe it.'
Best coaching job: Coach Ernie Kent had talent and players who could score, but he needed the right man to teach the Ducks how to play defense. In stepped Fred Litzenberger, a diminutive drill instructor-type whose persistence in demanding a defensive work ethic paid off.
Top post moves: When not double-teamed, OSU's Philip Ricci could spin and score on anybody. When not double-teamed É
Outstanding player: Big-time teams don't go to the Elite Eight without somebody in control. If I'm starting a college team, I look no further than Oregon's lucky No. 13, Luke Ridnour.
Best friend to have: Portland's Coky Rochin, because his parents live in a Mexican resort town. He already has treated several UP players to a vacation there.
Best excuse: The Portland women, who had high hopes after starting 6-0, saw their season come crashing down when Ashlee Giles blew out her knee. Second year in a row that a top Pilot went down. Coach Jim Sollars, we feel your pain.
Coolest name: PSU's Seamus (pronounced SHAME-us) Boxley. I love saying the name, Seamus Boxley. He's a pretty good rebounder, too.
Best one-on-one player: You want to try to stop UO's 6-7 Luke Jackson when he drives, jumps and shoots right in your mug?
Newcomer of the year: So many candidates, but none had more impact than Warner Pacific's Shawna Damon, a freshman from Newberg. Take away Damon's 15 points an outing, and the Knights would have had trouble winning any of their six games.
Best practice player: St. John's had him, USC wanted him and Portland's tiny Cascade College got him. But, the question is: Will former Wilson player Jack Wolfinger, a 6-10 guard, ever live up to his hype?
Most memorable game: Portland beat Oregon 79-78 in December on Rochin's free throw with two seconds left. The Pilots went on to win three more games all year. The Ducks, well, they played pretty well into March.
Best skills among women: Stanford's Nicole Powell was clearly the best player in the Pacific-10 Conference, but how good would Shaquala Williams look on the stockpiled Cardinal?
Merit award for exceptional play: It wouldn't be surprising if USC's Errick Craven still has nightmares about when Oregon's Freddie Jones stuffed him on a fast break.
County of the year: When will Clark County have another year with two first-team All-American players Ñ Gonzaga's Dan Dickau and Vanderbilt's Chantelle Anderson?
Most shocking development: Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Duke losing. As Jason Williams learned, all the talent in the world doesn't help you make free throws.
Career achievement award: One can't blame Ritchie McKay for chasing another $200K in salary from New Mexico. Some have called him a quitter for leaving OSU after two years. How about 'Larry Brown Without The Resume?'
And, finally É
Sight I don't need to see for another eight months: Cheerleaders. Nobody can be that happy.