By Cory Mccartney
March 06, 2007
Kevin Durant
Greg Nelson/SI
That's The Breaks, That's The Breaks
With the regular season in the books, it's time to unveil the inaugural Fast Break Awards (or the Breaks for short). The envelopes please ...
BMOC Of the Year: Kevin Durant, Texas. Forget the Year of the Freshman, nobody did it better, period. All Durant did was average 24.9 points (fifth nationally) and 11.5 boards (third nationally) in racking up 18 double-doubles and single-handedly stole the spotlight from defending champ Florida.
Small Wonder (best mid-major player): Nick Fazekas, Nevada. The 6-foot-11, 240-pounder was a double-double waiting to happen, registering 18 in dropping in 20.9 ppg and 11.4 rpg (fourth nationally). He's also a three-time WAC Player of the Year.
Norman Dale Award (best coach): Tony Bennett, Washington State. Picked to finish next-to-last in the Pac-10, the first-year coach won 24 games in succeeding his dad, Dick, as the Cougars earned their highest ranking ever (ninth).
Cinderfelllas (or the They Did What? Award) (biggest surprise): Washington State. Not to be redundant, but the Pullman magic hasn't all been about Bennett. The Cougars have one of the nation's top backcourt of juniors Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver and are a lock to make the NCAA tourney after going 11-17 last season.
Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda Award (biggest flop): LSU. From the Final Four to next-to-last in the SEC. That's the definition of a flop, especially when said team returned three starters from last season. The Tigers went 0-8 on the road in the conference -- bad enough to kill even Glen Davis' expansive grin.
Bob Knight Award (best use of a prop): Thad Matta, Ohio State. See Thad Matta's gum fly out of his mouth. See Thad Matta pick up gum. See Thad Matta put gum back in his mouth. It's nice to know the three-second rule applies to the entire playing surface.
Conference Calls
Who's primed for conference domination and who has the best shot at rocking the boat? With conference tournament time upon us here's a rundown of the six major-conference tourney favorites and darkhorse contenders:
ACC: North Carolina (FAVORITE). They were head-scratchingly bad in two uncharacteristic losses, but the Tar Heels looked dominant in dumping Duke. Maryland (DARKHORSE). The Terps finished with seven straight wins, including victories over Duke (twice) and North Carolina.
Big Ten: Ohio State and Wisconsin (FAVORITES). I'm not picking one because neither looked impressive on Saturday and their two head-to-head matchups were decided by a total of four points. Michigan State (DARKHORSE). The Spartans nearly beat Wisconsin for the second time on Saturday and took Ohio State to the brink in Columbus.
Big 12: Kansas (FAVORITE). The Jayhawks have won eight straight, but what's impressive is the last two games as they held off Oklahoma on the road and fought back from 16 down to beat Texas. Texas Tech (DARKHORSE). If the Red Raiders make some noise, it will all be on Jarius Jackson, who has averaged 23.6 ppg in Texas Tech's last five wins.
Big East: Georgetown (FAVORITE). Twelve wins in 13 games and the nation's best frontcourt? See you in the finals John Thompson III. Villanova (DARKHORSE). Red-hot freshman Scottie Reynolds has scored 87 points in his last three games and could give the rest of the league headaches.
Pac-10: UCLA (FAVORITE). This experienced group won't be fazed by the Washington loss. It may have been just what Aaron Afflalo & Co. need heading into the postseason. Washington (DARKHORSE). The Huskies, on the other hand, absolutely needed Saturday's win over the Bruins and it was a boost for Jon Brockman and Spencer Hawes, who give UW a frontcourt that rivals any in the Pac-10.
SEC: Florida (FAVORITE). Eerily similar to the Tar Heels, the Gators snapped out of their rut with a statement win over Kentucky. Just in time, too. Vanderbilt (DARKHORSE). Derrick Byars, Shan Foster and the Commodores are giant killers, but can they get it done away from Memorial Gym, where they've lost lost 3 of their last 4?
Made In Manhattan?
Bob Huggins created a frenzy when he arrived in Kansas State and he's already bringing in some of the nation's best high school talent with the likes of Bill Walker, and next year, five-star prospect Michael Beasley. If you doubted Huggins' ability to immediately produce in Manhattan, check out this: K-State (21-10, 10-6 in the Big 12) is line for its first NCAA tournament berth since 1996. Or is it? No team in the six BCS conferences has won 20-plus games, hit double-digits in league wins and been denied a NCAA berth. Since 1999, 169 teams have reached those two milestones and each one earned a ticket to the Big Dance. But the Wildcats could end that trend thanks to horrific strength of schedule (94th nationally) that includes a 1-5 record against teams with an RPI of 50 or higher, according to, beating only Texas. Despite 21 wins and history on its side, the truth is K-State still has probably has to win more than one game in the Big 12 tourney to make a real case to end its drought.
Doing The Charleston
Bobby Cremins wasn't able to cap his first year at the College of Charleston with an NCAA appearance, falling short in the Southern Conference final with a 72-65 loss to Davidson. "It's been an incredible year," Cremins told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "We had hopes of winning. We felt like we were on a destiny of something different. It could have been a fantastic story -- an incredible story. It was nice to make a run at it." The fairy tale ending didn't come to fruition, but Cremins still deserves some props after his comeback season. The former Georgia Teach coach came out of a six-year layoff to lead the Cougars to a 20-win season after the preseason SoCon favorites limped to a 3-6 start that included losses to Villanova, Kentucky and South Carolina. They put together a SoCon run included a win over Appalachian State, which beat the Cougars twice before. No, it didn't end in an NCAA bid, but Cremins is well on his way to reviving this previously slumping program.
Washington Huskies
Washington ended a four-game losing streak with a 15-point victory over then-No. 23 USC and beat formerly second-ranked UCLA by 10. It was a strong end for a team that was previously 2-9 against ranked opponents.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies squandered a chance to clinch a share of the ACC title twice in four days as they lost to rival Virginia and Clemson. Virginia Tech has struggled on offense, allowing at least 10 treys in three of five games.
Creighton Blue Jays
The Bluejays earned a seventh NCAA berth since '99 by ending an eight-game skid against Southern Illinois to win the MVC. Creighton disrupted SIU's defense by setting the pace and getting to the line, going 21-of-28.
Cincinnati Bearcats
The best thing you can say about Mick Cronin's first year in Cincinnati is that it's over. UC, which wasn't invited to the Big East tourney, went 11-19, marking the Bearcats' worst season since they went 3-25 in 1983-84.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech seriously boosted its NCAA tournament hopes with a strong final week, beating both North Carolina and Boston College in Atlanta. GT has owned the boards of late, outrebounding its last nine opponents.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mario Boggan went all Zinedine Zidane in the Cowboys' victory over K-State and was suspended for the bubble-bursting loss to Baylor, which ruined Oklahoma State's shot at finishing with a .500 mark in the Big 12.
"Do the Wizards play tonight? I hope not. Because my wife and kids and I will come back and cut down the nets and take them home."
--Georgetown coach John Thompson III after a win over UConn at the Verizon Center, home of the NBA's Washington Wizards, gave the Hoyas the regular-season Big East crown.
"It was a big relief. I'm sure you could tell by the expressions on my face."
--Wisconsin guard Kammron Taylor, who hit the game-winning three with four seconds left as the Badgers beat Michigan State. He was 0-for-6 in UW's Feb. 20 loss to the Spartans.
"This game was stressful for us."
--Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts on a 64-61 win over SMU in which the Tigers overcame an 11-point deficit for a perfect C-USA run, the first since Cincinnati in '99-00.
Tyler HansbroughF - North Carolina
Twenty-six points, a career-high 17 boards and a bloodstained face. Hansbrough dominated as the Tar Heels ended their current woes with a rout of Duke to win the ACC title, a performance that will be largely remembered for its bloody end.
Al ThorntonF - Florida State
With four NBA scouts in attendance Thornton put on a show as the senior scored a career-high 45 points on 16-of-24 shooting and hit 11-of-11 free throws to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks in the Seminoles' OT victory at Miami.
Ivan RadenovicF - Arizona
Radenovic had a career-high 37 points and nine rebounds in Arizona's win over Stanford and left an impression on coach Lute Olson. "[He] probably played as good a game as we've had out of anyone for ... forever," Olson told the AP.
Eastern Kentucky frosh Josh Taylor hit just one shot, converting a layup with 2.9 seconds left as the Colonels edged Eastern Kentucky for the Ohio Valley title and an NCAA spot.
Florida beat Kentucky 85-72, making the Gators the first SEC team to beat the Wildcats six straight times. Only Notre Dame has recorded seven consecutive victories over Kentucky.
Division II Winona State extended its winning streak to an NCAA record-tying 52 games by winning the Northern Sun Intercollegiate title, equaling Langston University's 1943-46 mark.

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