Halftime of the Big 4 men's basketball season has come to a close. As we head toward the final buzzer, it's time to pass out some midseason awards.
Best Player: Alvin Young, Niagara. Is there any doubt? The senior guard has been sensational all season and shows no signs of slowing down. Not only is he the best player in the Big 4, but he has to be the odds-on favorite for player of the year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Runners-up include Tim Winn of St. Bonaventure and Kevin Worley of Canisius. After missing the first six games because of a school-imposed suspension, Winn has been solid for the Bonnies. He leads the team in scoring, assists and steals. Worley provided leadership, stability and great perimeter shooting to keep the Griffs from faltering after a slow start.
Top Newcomer: It is close, but the nod goes to sophomore guard Louis Campbell of the University at Buffalo over freshman guard J.R. Bremer of Bona because Campbell is more valuable to his team. Campbell, who sat out last season as a Prop 48 student, has led the Bulls in scoring all year. UB isn't having a great year, but its future is promising thanks to Campbell.
Bremer has also been as good as advertised. He has played consistently well all season and gives the Bonnies a reliable outside shooter.
Most Improved: It's a tie. UB center Nikolai Alexeev didn't seem like he would amount to much as a freshman, but has raised his level of play in virtually every area. Canisius point guard Clive Bentick rarely got in the game last season, but the sophomore is playing more than 25 minutes of near-flawless basketball every game.
Top Five (from Nov. 13 to present): Young, Winn, Worley, Campbell and Jeremiah Johnson (Niagara). As the group shows, this is truly the year of the guards in the Big 4.
Praise for Ippoliti
Jerry Ippoliti, retiring as commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, will always be remembered fondly at UB. He played a major role in the Bulls being a part of the league's expansion to 13 teams.
"We hate to see him go, but Jerry has made a significant contribution to this league that won't be forgotten," said UB's interim athletic director Bob Arkeilpane. "We are certainly grateful for his efforts to bring us into the MAC."
Ippoliti, who was an assistant football coach at UB from 1966-68, had several significant achievements during his six-year tenure. He brought the league national exposure with the MAC championship game and the addition of the Motor City Bowl, which has been televised on ESPN2 the past two years.
Ippoliti's final contribution is the development of the World College Bowl, which begins in December in Toronto. The game will provide an additional MAC team a chance to play in the postseason.
Thundering Herd coming here
The MAC has not released its football schedule yet, but two-time league champion Marshall will visit UB Stadium this fall. The Thundering Herd, who also won the Motor City Bowl, will be led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Chad Pennington.
The Bulls' MAC slate includes road trips to Ohio University, Western Michigan, Kent and Miami in addition to non-conference visits to Virginia and Connecticut. The dates have not been determined, except for the Nov. 13 game at Virginia.
Steals leader King honored
Daemen College guard Amy King (Clymer), the NAIA's all-time career steals leader, was named the Northeast Atlantic Conference player of the week for the week of Jan. 19. The 5-foot-5 senior averaged 17 points, 5.5 assists and 6.3 steals in leading the Lady Warriors to four wins in five games.
Her nine steals in a 74-67 victory over Montmorency on Jan. 9 gave her 564, breaking the NAIA record of 558 set in 1990 by Tina Webb of Arkansas-Monticello. King leads the NAC in steals per game (5.42) and ranks in the top five in scoring (16.0) and assists (5.63).