Over 250 friends and fans turned out as Siena held its annual First Niagara Siena Basketball Celebration Monday night at Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. The event was presented by First Niagara.
Time Warner Cable Sports Director Marisa Jacques hosted the evening, which included a cocktail reception, sitdown dinner, awards presentations, senior tribute and team highlight videos, and speeches from Ali Jaques and Jimmy Patsos.
Patsos presented six awards:
Sophomore point guard Marquis Wright won the Doc Marcelle Most Valuable Player Award and the Dan Cunha Defensive Player of the Year Award. Wright was named captain for a second straight season and has led this year's team on and off the court. He ranks second in the conference with five assists and 2.1 steals per game and fourth in the conference with a 1.9 assist/turnover ratio. His 12.7 points per game are second best on the team and tied for 16th in the MAAC, and his 36.6 minutes played per game are third most in the conference. He scored 31 points at Fordham, the most for any Siena player in a road game since Kenny Hasbrouck in 2009.
Classmate Lavon Long received the Billy Harrell Rebounder Award. Long posted double-doubles in Siena's win over St. Bonaventure and hard fought Senior Night loss to Manhattan. Despite his 6-7 size, like Harrell he has a nose for the ball and is already one of the best rebounders in the conference. He led the Saints with 4.7 rebounds per game.
Yet another sophomore, Troy's Javion Ogunyemi, took home the Jim Sullivan Most Improved Player honor. After averaging just 1.9 points and 1.8 rebounds in 10 minutes per game as a freshman, he's averaging almost 10 points and five rebounds per game this season and he ranks among the MAAC leaders in field goal percentage. He's reached double figures in 14 of the last 21 games after doing that just twice in the first 38 games of his career.
The Reverend Benjamin Kuhn Student Athlete Award went to freshman Jimmy Paige, a player with a bright future on the court and in the classroom. Paige has elected to enroll in Siena's challenging accounting program and he's in great academic standing after taking on a full course load in his first college semester.
Patsos presented senior Rob Poole with this year's Hustle Award. Poole finishes his career ranked in the top-10 on the school's all-time scoring charts, and in the top-five in minutes played. He's reached double figures 78 times in his career and his 212 career three-pointers rank fifth all-time. He was a huge factor in Siena's CBI Championship run last year and scored 23 points in the title game. This year, he leads the team and ranks in the top-10 in the MAAC with nearly 15 points per game. He's also amassed 120 career steals and 545 career rebounds.
Coach Jaques gave out nine awards:
Senior Tehresa Coles was named the team's Most Valuable Player and also took home the Best Defensive Player award for the third time in her career. A two-time MAAC Player of the Week, Coles recently became the program's all-time steals leader and the 26th member of Siena's 1,000 Point Club. A versatile all-around performer, she became just the sixth player in the MAAC's 33-year history to eclipse 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 steals for her career on Sunday. She currently ranks sixth in the MAAC averaging 13.5 points, third in free throw percentage and her 3.1 steals per game rank her 16th nationally.
The Vicki Aromando Academic Excellence Award went to senior Kelsey Booth. Booth was challenged by Jaques to improve in the classroom this year, and not only met the challenge, but far surpassed it by achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA during the fall semester.
MAAC All-Rookie selection Kollyns Scarbrough took home the Joe Hogan Award for Desire, Dedication and Positive Attitude. Scarbrough was consistently in the gym more than anyone else. She had to transition from being a post player in high school to playing on the perimeter as a freshman. She worked tirelessly on her game and got in and got up more shots than anyone else. The hard work paid off as she has averaged solid numbers of 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while starting all 29 games during her rookie campaign.
Sophomore Meghan Donohue was honored with the first Strength and Conditioning and Toughness Award. Donohue worked hard to change her body between last year and this season and as a result was able to become a physical presence. As Coach Jaques puts it, she's as strong as a beast and came into this season in the best shape of her life and it's paid off. She currently ranks second in the MAAC in field goal percentage, while averaging a solid 10.4 points and five rebounds.
Senior Ida Krogh won the Val Higgins Award for Leadership for her superior leadership this season on the court. Krogh has become a coach on the floor, taking over the offense and evolving into a true point guard. A converted post player who had to make the switch to the point just prior to this season, she has excelled in the role and dished out 133 assists this season which is the most by any Siena player in 16 years.
The recipient of this year's Most Improved Player Award was sophomore Emia Willingham. Willingham is a student athlete who had a positive attitude despite having to adjust from being a wing to playing the point guard position this season. She has dished out more than six times as many assists as she had all of last season and was one of the key reasons why the Saints swept what turned out to be a pivotal Buffalo trip for the first time in seven years. She ranks third in the MAAC in steals and has tallied four four-steal games.
Another new award was the Sixth Player Award which went to junior Symone Kelly. With the team forced to play with just seven active players for nearly the entire season, Siena's bench - all two of them - has played an integral role in the team's success. Kelly overcame an injury plagued first two seasons to help anchor the defense and rebound, while also seeming to make clutch plays when the team needs them the most. Just Sunday, she posted a career-high 15 points off the bench in leading the Saints to a Senior Day win over Saint Peter's.
To nobody's surprise, the Rookie of the Year was Margot Hetzke, who is also the leading candidate to take home the MAAC's Rookie of the Year honor later this week. Hetzke burst on to the scene by scoring 29 points in the Saints' season-opening road win at Mid-American Conference preseason favorite Buffalo, which was the fourth most points scored by a freshman in their collegiate debut in NCAA history. She's been named the MAAC Rookie of the Week a program record nine times this season, which is the third most in MAAC history, and the Corvias ECAC Division I Metro/Upstate Rookie of the Week five times. She leads the team in both scoring at 13.8 points and rebounding at 7.3 boards per game, which ranks fifth and fourth respectively in the MAAC.