Awards Galore at Marquette Men's Basketball Banquet
By Troy Sparks
When I played basketball at the junior college level and we had our banquet, there were only four awards given out: There were offensive, defensive, most valuable and most improved player awards that went to those who earned them.
I was surprised when I won the most improved award, which I didn't expect to get. I wasn't the most valuable player or the best offensive or defensive player. In all the games I played, I was the sub coming off the bench.
It's fine and dandy to get a postseason award in one of those categories I mentioned above, but the off-the-wall awards that the Marquette men's basketball players received at this year's annual banquet was over the top.
A total of 14 awards were handed out to the players, and every player who was on the team, starter or bench player, received something.
We'll start with the Most Valuable Performer awards, which went to Jimmy Butler and Darious Johnson-Odom. Both of them carried the Golden Eagles all season. Chris Otule won the Most Improved Player award, and no one would dispute that at all. He overcame injuries to show people a little of his potential as a big man.
Butler was the Defensive Player of the Year and Devante Gardner won the Sixth Man of the Year award.
So let's get to these other awards that only a program like Marquette can create because they identify the fabric of the men's basketball program.
Jae Crowder won the Rebounding Effort award. Jamail Jones took home the Hank Raymonds Sportsmanship award. He had to be a good sport, considering that he stayed on the bench too many times.
Maybe Jones will get some playing time next season, unless any of those three freshmen Marquette signed outplay him in practice and steal those minutes from him.
Junior Cadougan and Dwight Buycks shared the Create for Others award. I guess that if they didn't look for their teammates and shot the ball 20 times a game, neither guy wouldn't have fit this cateegory.
Butler got the Dwyane Wade Legacy of Leadership award. He was a quiet leader who wasn't vocal enough on the floor, and maybe he didn't want to take on the leadership role. He was asked because he was a senior.
Cadougan received the Standard of Academic Excellence award. Weren't the other players supposed to be striving for academic excellence, or are they at Marquette to play basketball? I think Cadougan didn't want to do enough to just get by.
The Wesley Matthews Just Today award went to Joseph Fulce. For everything he went through with his issues and playing on one grinding bone-on-bone knee, Fulce was going day-to-day and taking every moment in of his basketball career.
They made an award for Fulce called the Joseph Fulce WDYL? 1%, which went to Erik Williams. I have no idea what the heck that means.
Butler won the Only Now Exist award and Robert Frozena got the We Are Marquette award. Frozena identifies every bit of the We Are Marquette phrase as a walk-on who hardly got off the bench unless the team were ahead or behind by 20-plus points with two minutes left.
The student section called his name at the Bradley Center when a blowout win or loss was likely to occur. Frozena made the last basket of the season, a three-pointer for Marquette, against North Carolina in their Sweet 16 game. He was also the guy who helped me get the Chairman of the Boards award at the Marquette Men's Basketball Media Day scrimmage in August of 2009.
That guy will be successful in whatever he sets out to do after college and he'll score about 20 a game in some rec league.
Vander Blue won the Golden Eagle Everyday Tough award. He of the most decorated high school credentials needed his ego checked at the door. When he fell flat on his behind, the teammates picked him up. Maybe next year, Blue will figure out how to adjust to the college game.
Coach Buzz Williams did a good job of not throwing Blue to the wolves of the Big East beasts right away. I'd swear that every time Blue was in the game against Big East competition, he was swallowed up by the swarm of defenders who rattled his brain. Maybe Blue should've went to Wisconsin, where action in the Big Ten is a little slow and rugged.
Wow, that was a lot of hardware passed out at the banquet. I guess that since Jamil Wilson and Dave Singleton were redshirted and not allowed to play, they got left out. The team could've at least created a Redshirt Award for them.