Breanna Stewart and Buddy Hield are the 2016 Wooden Award Winners

SONG SELECTION:

“These Are Days”, by The 10,000 Maniacs

Found on the Our Time in Eden album

Released September 29, 1992 via Elektra/Wea Records

This past Friday night in Los Angeles, the second annual televised awards honored the best players in men’s and women’s college basketball.

If you managed to catch that awards show on ESPN2 (or the replay overnight early Saturday morning on ESPNU), you might have had an instant chuckle or two when Denzel Valentine and Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo tried to master the salsa as if they were going to be auditioning for ABC’s hit series, Dancing With The Stars.

Nonetheless, the real reason to watch was seeing all the hardware being handed out by the greats of the sport (albeit Bob Cousy was not formally in attendance, so he sent in his thoughts via video instead).

Years from now, when one looks back at the 2015-2016 college basketball season–no question, it was topsy-turvy at times.  But the most important takeaway for me as a hoops superfan was that for the first time since the days after the tragic passing of Hank Gathers in March 1990, I had so much fun watching the games.

Every night featured compelling storylines and plenty of talented players that were definitely worth keeping two eyes and ears on during the 40 minutes (and then some in some cases with the dramatic triple overtime games when Oklahoma played at Kansas in January, along with during the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament).

In the end, only a select few were chosen by members of the Los Angeles Athletic Club in association with Wendy’s Hamburgers (love me a double burger with cheese, heavy pickle and hold the onions every time–especially if you travel underneath the El railroad tracks at Wabash Avenue in downtown Chicago south of Madison Street…what a sight to behold).

Here are the winners for 2016 and what a special group this turned out to be:

Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year

Buddy Hield, University of Oklahoma

Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year

Tyler Ulis, University of Kentucky

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year

Jakob Poetel (pronounced like famous comedian Yacov Smirnoff),

University of Utah

Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State University

Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year

Georges Niang, Iowa State University

Legends of Coaching

Tubby Smith, Texas Tech University

John R. Wooden Women’s Player of the Year Award

Breanna Stewart, University of Connecticut for second straight year

Next stops, the WNBA followed up by Rio and the Summer Olympics.

Her remark in answering a question posed by ESPN’s Rece Davis, “Do you ever lose in anything?” was how she simply took a back seat when Breanna answered, “Earlier today (Friday), I lost in bowling.”  Rece followed up by saying, “I bet you were pretty mad about it.”  She gave off a brief scowl, paused for a moment and then said, “Yeah.”  No question, Breanna Stewart deserved everything she did in her four years at UConn in rewriting some key portions of the women’s college basketball history books for decades to come.

John R. Wooden Wendy’s Men’s Player of the Year Award

Buddy Hield, University of Oklahoma

His story of constructing baskets out of crates, loose nails from his uncle and lots of plywood is definitely the stuff of legend.  From a very humble upbringing on the Bahamas to being one of the best players in the Big 12, these last four years have shown us how hard work and discipline can make quality players household names.  No question about it, as I said during my Final Four preview blog a few weeks back–the types of shots Buddy Hield makes are simply out of this world and not many guys have done it going back to the 1960’s when Rick Mount of Purdue fame was filling them up in the early years of Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Congratulations once more to all of the deserving award winners in giving us loyal fans a season to remember for years to come.

As for me, it is time to put this blog to bed unless there is any news involving movement of coaches, the pending North Carolina academic scandal and what the NCAA will hand out their specific punishment sometime during the summer, and of course–the 2016-2017 schedules of your favorite teams.

However, I am not going away on WordPress for good.

Please kindly point your web browsers or for some of you, gently tap to the link below for key news involving the United States Olympic Trials and some basketball news involving the NBA and WNBA’s elite as they again will vie for gold in Rio de Janiero, Brazil less than four months from now.  I am sure you will find some names that you might remember from NCAA Tournaments past suiting up for other countries, as is usually the case every four years.

Inbetween, please take some time to savor the most relaxing music outside of the Equator–the cool sambas and passionate bossa novas that make up the distinctive voices of Brazilian jazz.

You can find my weekly CD/MP3 album reviews at this link:

https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/

And by the time the Olympic flame is snuffed out and when the balls beginning dribbling again with the start of practices returning in earnest come fall, expect a decent sized preview blog to kick off the 2016-2017 season sometime during the week of October 23.

No question, my online plate is going to be full most of this off season–long after the last notes of “One Shining Moment” resonate in the back of my ears for years to come.

For the rest of you who only follow me during the season and especially during the NCAA Tournament, I hope you all have a nice spring and a relaxing summer.  Please try not to get sunburn, so I can see your kind comments when the games start up for real again come November.

So long, everybody.

 

 

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