Thursday, July 18

Brantley Watson: Men’s Basketball Awards Banquet recognizes the right players

Michael Roll received the 2010 Coach John Wooden MVP award Monday.

Michael Roll received the 2010 Coach John Wooden MVP award Monday. Daily Bruin file photo

A lot of things went wrong for Ben Howland and the UCLA men’s basketball team this season.

But Monday night, the Bruins finally did something right.

The Bruins held their annual Men’s Basketball Awards Banquet Monday evening, in which they give out several illustriously named team awards to the most deserving cats on the team.

And I must say, as much as I disagree with some of their coaching methods, I can’t disagree with any of Howland and his staff’s awards selections.

Here are a few that stick out in my mind “¦

Coach John Wooden Award/Most Valuable Player ““ Michael Roll

This one was a slam dunk. As a matter of fact, it was a three-sixty windmill slam dunk.

Mikey led the Bruins in points and assists, averaging 14.1 and 3.6, respectively, and was a first team All Pac-10 selection. But more importantly than his stats, it seemed to me that this season, Roll was one of the few Bruins who played with a chip on his shoulder. If he missed a shot, he was angry. If he made a turnover, he tried to make up for it. Roll was one of the few guys that I saw who was genuinely sick when his team lost.

I can’t say that for many others.

Maybe it was because he was a senior and he wanted to go out on a high note, but whatever the reason, Roll didn’t let down the UCLA name this season.

Not one bit.

Elvin C. “Ducky” Drake Memorial Award/Competitive Spirit, Inspiration and Unselfish Contributions ““

Mustafa Abdul-Hamid

I thought that Roll for MVP was by far the biggest slam dunk, but I may have to rethink that after realizing how much “˜Staf actually embodies the ideas of “competitive spirit, inspiration and unselfish contributions.”

If you didn’t know, or haven’t read it in any Daily Bruin articles over the past few years, “˜Staf isn’t your normal UCLA student-athlete. He skipped on Harvard to attend UCLA and be a walk-on for Howland’s squad.

I would define that as an inspirational story. Oh yeah, he also has the highest GPA of any basketball player in the Pac-10, a 3.81.

And although he didn’t receive substantial minutes until this season, any player, coach or spectator can attest to the fact that not once did Abdul-Hamid’s bottom lip poke out.

That’s kind of unselfish, don’t you think?

As for competitiveness “¦ did you see the home game against Washington this season? A few seconds left. UCLA is down one. “˜Staf dribbles the length of the floor. Pull-up jumper “¦ wet. Go home, Huskies.

Enough said.

Bruin Bench Basketball Award/Most Improvement in All-Around Play and Mental Attitude ““ Tyler Honeycutt

The fact that Honeycutt received this award is a testament to just how effective he was for the Bruins this year. Honeycutt sat out the beginning of the season because of an injury, but ended the season leading the Bruins in rebounding (which is why he also won the Gerald A. Finerman Award for the team’s rebounding leader) and started 18 of the 26 games he played in.

Honeycutt also found himself on the cusp of a few triple-doubles this season and, in my opinion, is by far the best passer on the team.

Most impressive though? He’s staying in school.

Although Ty-Ty is as thin as a rail and the Bruins had a sub-par season, with the way kids are declaring for the NBA these days I wouldn’t put anything past anyone. If T-Honey had declared for the draft, I would have thought it was a bad decision, but I certainly wouldn’t have been surprised.

Bob “Ace” Calkins Memorial Award/Free Throw Champion ““ Nikola Dragovic

Good for you Nikola! No one can shoot a free throw like you!

E-mail Watson at [email protected]

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