Vol. 55, No. 3 • March 2018 • .pdf version
• Vahé Gregorian: Count on the USBWA
• Joe Mitch: USBWA awards event is moving to St. Louis
• Hoops a lifeline for Most Courageous Dowd
• Survey says: Some schools fall short of best practices
• Haverbeck Award goes to WBCA's Donehew
• Another Auerbach finding basketball success

Joe Mitch

USBWA awards event is moving to St. Louis

USBWA Executive Director

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After a one-year hiatus, the USBWA is once again hosting a college basketball awards function honoring the organization's player, coach and freshman of the year. It's an event the USBWA has organized for 12 of the last 13 years.

The USBWA is partnering with the Missouri Athletic Club on an awards dinner, slated for April 9 in St. Louis, to present the Oscar Robertson Trophy to the player of the year, the Wayman Tisdale Award to the freshman of the year and the Henry Iba Award to the coach of the year.

More from the USBWA:
• Buy tickets to the 2018 USBWA Awards Dinner in St. Louis
• NCAA memo (.pdf)
• Join the USBWA or renew your membership today!

The USBWA also plans to present lifetime achievement awards to two basketball legends: former Missouri and Hall of Fame coach Norm Stewart and retired referee and educator Ed Hightower.

All of the player and coach awards are voted on at the end of the regular season by the USBWA membership.

"The MAC was the first to host this celebration in 2005," said USBWA president Vahe Gregorian, columnist for the Kansas City Star. "We are delighted to renew a partnership with the MAC and look forward to sharing this occasion with them."

Kevin Cantwell, the MAC basketball chairman, added: "Hosting the USBWA awards fits perfectly with our club's long history of celebrating excellence in amateur athletics.

"It's a tradition that goes back to the inception of our club when MAC athletes participated in the 1904 Olympics, and it continues today with our annual presentation of college soccer's Hermann Trophy. It's an honor that the USBWA has chosen the MAC to host the top awards in college basketball."

The USBWA awards dinner comes a week after the Final Four. It's a great way to end the college basketball season by honoring the nation's best players and coach.

The first USBWA awards event was held in St. Louis during the 2005 Final Four and was held for the next six years where the Final Four was played. Oklahoma City hosted a dinner for four years but canceled it last year. For a while, it looked like the event might not be held this year, either.

But the MAC was contacted and decided to host a dinner for the USBWA, similar to what they've done hosting the presentation of the Hermann Trophy to the top male and female players in college soccer.

The awards dinner could become an annual event in St. Louis. The USBWA and MAC will meet after the event to talk about future years.

The USBWA player of the year award is named after one of college basketball's greatest players, Oscar Robertson. The Robertson Trophy is the only college basketball player of the year award named for a player. "The Big O" was the first player of the year selected by the USBWA in 1959. The USBWA named the award after Robertson in 1998.

Previous player of the year winners include Anthony Davis, Kentucky (2012), Blake Griffin, Oklahoma (2009), Kevin Durant, Texas (2007), Michael Jordan, North Carolina (1984), Ralph Sampson, Virginia (1981-83), Larry Bird, Indiana State (1979), Bill Walton, UCLA (1972-74) and Lew Alcindor, UCLA (1966-67).

The freshman of the year award honors the late Oklahoma standout, Wayman Tisdale. Tisdale was a three-time USBWA All-American and was the first freshman ever to be named a first-team All-American by the USBWA. Tisdale passed away in 2009 following a courageous battle with cancer.

Past freshman of the year winners include Lonzo Ball, UCLA (2017), Anthony Davis, Kentucky (2012) and Larry Hughes, Saint Louis (1998).

The coach of the year award is named for the legendary Henry Iba, who is recognized as one of the top college coaches of all time. Iba won 655 games in his career and led Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) to NCAA championships in 1945 and 1946. He also coached the U.S. Olympic teams to gold medals in 1964 and 1968 and a silver medal in 1972.

Coaches who have won the award in the past include Bill Self, Kansas (2009), Roy Williams, with North Carolina (2006) and Kansas (1990), Charlie Spoonhour, Saint Louis (1994), Bob Knight, Indiana (1989 and 1975) and John Wooden, UCLA (1967, 1970-73).

Stewart, a cancer survivor, is credited with creating the Coaches vs. Cancer charity. Stewart started the program that evolved into a nationwide effort to fight cancer and promote cancer awareness and prevention. Since 1993, the charity has raised over $100 million for the American Cancer Society.

Stewart is a coaching icon. He coached 32 years at Missouri (1967 to 1999) and posted a 634- 333 career record. He led the Tigers to eight Big Eight Conference regular-season championships, six tournament titles and 16 NCAA tournament appearances. He was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. A bronze statue of Stewart was erected last year on campus. The basketball court at Mizzou Arena is also named in his honor.

Hightower is regarded as one of the best referees ever to work college games. He was voted the Naismith Division I Men's College Basketball Official of the Year in 1992. He worked 12 Final Fours and was assigned to some of the biggest games in the country for nearly every major conference. Hightower retired from officiating in 2013.

A lifelong educator with 41 years of service in education, Hightower was superintendent of Edwardsville (Ill.) School District No. 7 before retiring in 2015.

USBWA schedules busy week during San Antonio Final Four

The USBWA will present an award to a young sportswriter for writing excellence, honor a studentathlete with a courage award, induct four new members into the association's Hall of Fame and recognize an administrator for service to the media at the USBWA's annual awards luncheon during this year's men's Final Four in San Antonio.

The luncheon will be held Monday, April 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Antonio, just a short distance from the media hotels.

The luncheon will feature the presentation of the following awards:

• Katha Quinn Award to Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione for his years of service to the media as a member of the Division I men's basketball committee.

• The Rising Star Award to Nicole Auerbach of the Athletic for excellence in sportswriting for writers under 30.

• Most Courageous Award to Idaho State junior guard Sam Dowd for the courage he's shown dealing with adversity and for overcoming all odds to earning a Division I scholarship.

• Induction into the USBWA Hall of Fame of Lew Freedman, Cody Enterprise; Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine; Dave Jones, PA Media Group; and Kirk Wessler, Peoria Journal Star.

• Ray Marquette Award to Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star for his leadership this year as USBWA president.

ESPN serves as the main sponsor of the luncheon and has been the major sponsor dating back to the mid-1980s.

Other luncheon sponsors include the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, USA Basketball, NABC and the American and Pacific-12 conferences.

The luncheon and short business meeting to follow conclude a busy weekend for the USBWA.

The USBWA's schedule of events starts with the Larry Donald sportswriting seminar on Friday, March 30, and the presentation of a $1,000 scholarship from the Steve Guback scholarship fund to the winning student in a sportswriting contest at the Final Four.

The seminar will be followed by a press conference announcing the winner of the Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Trophy. On Monday prior to the awards luncheon, the USBWA board of directors will meet in executive session before meeting with the Division I men's basketball committee.

Lodge Notes: Weiss named to NSMA Hall of Fame

Dick Weiss was elected to the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame and will be inducted this June. USBWA members who were named their state's sportswriter of the year include: Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal; Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant; Vahé Gregorian of the Kansas City Star; Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic; Joe Rexrode of the Tennessean; and David Teel of the Newport News Daily Pilot. Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer shared the honor with co-worker Andrew Carter.

Former District VII representative Carlos Mendez is longer with the Fort Worth Star Telegram. His replacement will be announced at the Final Four.

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