Well, a lot has happened since yours truly was able to take a breath and get back to Big Sky updates.
First, we’ll look at the all-conference team.
Individual Award Winners
Damian Lillard, Weber State
Newcomer of the Year
Collin Chiverton, Eastern Washington
Freshman Of the Year
Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State
Defensive Player of the Year
Will Cherry, Montana
There was no doubt about the Big Sky MVP: Damian Lillard led the Big Sky and is second in the nation currently with 24.5 points per game; the point guard is the conference leader in free-throw shooting percentage (.883) and 3-pointer per game (3.1) and is top 10 in assists (3.9, fourth) and steals (1.4, sixth).
He was named the conference player of the week five times and earned the Oscar Robertson National POW award from the USBWA once and in a finalist for a few national player of the year awards.
Lillard joins former Montana standout and NBA player Larry Krystkowiak (three MVPS), Idaho’s Orlando Lightfoot (two MVPs) and former WSU Wildcat Harold Arceneaux (two MVPs) as multiple POY award-winners. He is also the 19th player in league history to be named to the All-Conference First Team three times.
Joining him was junior Montana point guard Will Cherry, who locked down Lillard in the final game of the season to give UM home-court advantage through the BSC tournament.
Cherry netted 16.1 points per game and 3.3 assists per game. Cherry, who was an unanimous selection along with Lillard and PSU”s Charles Odum, also won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors; he led the Big Sky with 2.6 steals per game (sixth in the nation) and spearheaded a Griz defense that allowed a league-low 61.4 points per game, a league-low 39.8% shooting, and a league-low 32.8% from 3-point range.
Kareem Jamar, a sophomore three-position player from UM,recorded the first triple-double by a Big Sky men’s player in 12 seasons on Feb. 18 and ranked in the top 15 in the conference in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
Odum finished second in the league in scoring with an average of 19.1 points per game. Odum shot 53.1% from the floor and 83.3% from the free-throw line.
Teammate Chehales Tapscott, despite being a 6-foot-5 forward, led the Big Sky with an average of 9.2 rebounds per game, led the league in blocks (1.4) and tallied a league-high 11 double-doubles.
Eastern Washington senior guard Cliff Colimon was the final member of the first team
Sacramento State point guard Dylan Garrity was selected as the Freshman of the Year. The true freshman capped the regular season leading the Big Sky and ranked sixth in the nation in assists at 6.9 per game. He recorded 16 assists in a victory over Montana State, tying the single-game high in the NCAA this season. Garrity recorded four point-assist double-doubles this season and finished with an assist to turnover ratio of 2.3.
Collin Chiverton of Eastern Washington was tabbed the Newcomer of the Year. He played in 30 games and averaged 14.7 points; he sank 2.9 3-pointers per game. Chiverton transferred from City of College of San Francisco.
Highlights include: Tapscott recording his league-leading 12th double-double of the season with 20 points and 12 rebounds; the Vikings won their fourth straight by holding the Bobcats to just 36.7% from the field and connecting on only 3-of-16 3-pointers; in Cheney, Wash., junior Jeffery Forbes scored 21 points and had a game-clinching steal after Idaho State pulled within 74-72 late. LaRon Griffin added 21/11, his sixth career double-double, and Colimon scored 22 and dished out seven assists.
Bengal Kenny McGowen scored 28 points and lofted up a Big Sky single-game tournament record 19 3-pointers. ISU attempted a single-game tournament record 33 3-pointers, making 14. The previous record was 31 set by Nevada in a 1992 game against Montana.