It's time to hand out the Hoopies -- this website's season-ending awards for "best this" and "worst that." It's the same thing like you had in your high school yearbook, minus the bad haircuts and "Biggest Flirt" award. I was going to do a live Internet telecast for these awards -- red carpet and all -- but my host for the awards (Jerrell Sanders) quit before the program went live. My backup host, Isaac Reid, quit after I said he wouldn't read the entire list of winners. So, we'll go with what we've got. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2009-2010 Hoopies!
Most Outstanding Player -- George Johnson: He led the Knights in scoring (15.2 ppg), three-pointers (60), assists (94), steals (40), and, much to my surprise, rebounding in PSAC play (7.4 rpg). But beyond that, he won three games in the closing moments, cashing in on free throws vs. Edinboro and Slippery Rock and draining a baseline jumper after, er, at the buzzer vs. Clarion. The Knights won 13 games this year. I think without Johnson they might have won 3 or 4. Seriously. Look at the season results and you'll see that he more-or-less carried Gannon in all their close wins this year.
Comeback Player (Literally) -- Johnson again: He took a ton of flak from Gannon fans for leaving his teammates high-and-dry, but you gotta give him credit, too, for swallowing his pride and rejoining the team.
Most Improved Player -- Tanner Furno and Steve Piotrowicz (tie): Watching them play early in the season I muttered to myself more than once an NFL term: "Physically unable to perform." I really thought in time these guys would prove to be unable to guard most anyone, unable to dribble by most anyone, and unable to score on most anyone in Division II play. Boy, did they prove me wrong. Despite his ugly duckling start, Furno should be the PSAC West freshman of the year and will be a force in the paint for years to come. As a starter for the last three games of the season, Piotrowicz was usually solid and occasionally spectacular. These guys excelled in prime time when most everyone expected them to have pine time.
Freshman of the Year -- Tanner Furno: I'm really excited to see how good he'll end up as a senior. I'm also excited to see how high he can actually jump. Following a shot in a late-season game, he actually touched the top of the square. How many other Gannon big men (besides Shanghai Matthews and Glen Summors) have done that?
Game of the Year -- Gannon 40, Northern Kentucky 38: After painful home losses to Urbana and Lake Erie, nobody expected the depleted Knights to compete with NKU's 5 Division I transfers. But a gutty defensive effort and clutch free throws by Preston Harris earned the Knights their first win of the season. The 13-13 halftime score also made this one a (Gary Miller) Classic. I was almost as excited after this win as I was for Gannon's regional final win vs. Kutztown last year. For the complete box score, click here.
Right Said Fred Award (One-Hit Wonder) -- Larry Swann at Slippery Rock: Here's Swann's All-American-like stat line vs. The Rock -- 24 points, 8-for-10 FG, 4-for-4 3FG, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 40 minutes of action. In his other 16 games, he averaged 3.7 ppg, shot 15-for-77 (that's a robust 19%) including just 7-for-36 on threes (that's 19% again). He closed the season with a DNP-CD (Did Not Play - Coach's Decision) before allegedly quitting the team at the end of the regular season. (To watch the video for Right Said Fred's one-hit wonder, click here. It's OK to admit you love it.)
Eternal Shame Award -- Corey Dotchin, Isaac Reid, Jonathon Jones, and Andrew Sweny: Dotchin (10 points), Reid (7), Jones (4), and Sweny (1) all quit the team before they could pass me (14 points) on Gannon's all-time career scoring list. For shame! Good news for me is that I'll be able to hold that over their heads for the rest of our lives, just like Tim Tarcson (15 points in 1987-88) and Kurt Norder (17 points from 97-99) can rub their stats in my face for eternity.
Quote of the Year -- Steve Piotrowicz: First, you have to know that Steve has been attending Gannon games with his dad Larry for many a winter. Now, do you recall when Steve was like 2-for-24 after the first 10 or so games of the season? He was averaging less than a point a game I think. According to Larry, after a game when Steve scored a handful of points, pushing him past the 14-point mark for the season, the first thing Steve said to his dad after coming out of the lockerroom was, "Pressure's off now. I passed Roddy on the scoring list." How can you not love that kid!
That's all for this season's Hoopies. Feel free to share your own superlatives from an extremely memorable 2009-2010 Gannon season.