Thursday, March 8, 2012

America East Awards

Black Bears Pit hands out its awards after the conference tournament. There is no more important event during the mid-major basketball season than the league tournament, so how a player performs on the biggest stage can make a huge impact on my personal ballot.

The selection for Player of the Year is Albany's Gerardo Suero, a 6-3 guard. He was spectacular at times during the tournament and led America East in scoring. He scores easily in a league where buckets sometimes feel like a root canal. He slashes, he spins and he's got a knack for getting to the spot for rebounds. He's the best talent in the league.

Rookie of the Year goes to Hartford's Mark Nwakamma. The 6-6 forward used the tournament as a springboard. He's been a key player during the Hawks' recovery from an abysmal non-conference record, but his performance during the tournament served notice to the rest of the league. He can rebound, he can defend and he's not afraid to take a big shot.

Stony Brook's Steve Pikiell earns the Coach of the Year selection. He's got the Seawolves back in the title game after winning the regular season title. After a look at his roster and its performance last weekend, Stony Brook has the feel of a consistent contender.

For the rest of the Black Bears Pit honor roll, check out the sidebar to the right.

When perusing the Black Bears Pit honors, there's a name conspicuous by its absence: Gerald McLemore.

McLemore, a senior captain and UMaine's leading scorer, came down with an illness early in the week and was unable to play. He didn't make the trip to Hartford. In all the years of following America East (and many of those in attendance were buzzing about it), nobody could remember a player who, despite injury or illness, did not at least attend the conference tournament. There are always exceptions, of course. Evidently, this was one.

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