UC Davis’ Corey Hawkins and Sacramento State’s Mikh McKinney, both senior guards, were named the best players in their men’s basketball conferences Monday..
Hawkins, the Big West scoring leader (20.6 points a game), is the first UCD player named the conference’s Player of the Year. McKinney, who averages 19.0 points, is the first Sac State player named the Big Sky’s MVP.
UCD’s Jim Les was selected as the Big West Coach of the Year after leading the Aggies to their first regular-season title in the conference.
Hawkins was part of the six-player Big West first team for the second time. He was the Big West Newcomer of the Year and a first-team pick as a sophomore and a second-team selection last season. He leads the nation in three-point field-goal percentage (49.3) and is No. 2 on the Aggies’ career scoring list with 1,623 points.
UCD senior forward Josh Ritchart (11.9 points, 4.3 rebounds) was named to the second team, and junior forward Josh Fox (9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds) received honorable mention. Fox also was named the best sixth man in the Big West.
McKinney is the first Sac State player named a conference MVP since Nate Robinson was selected the Far Western’s co-Player of the Year in 1977. McKinney also was a unanimous first-team selection for the second consecutive season. Sac State senior guard Dylan Garrity was named to the second team after receiving honorable mention his three previous seasons.
This season, McKinney averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.6 steals, and Garrity averaged 13.3 points and 2.7 assists.
Les, in his fourth season at UCD, orchestrated one of the biggest turnarounds in conference history. The Aggies, who were 9-22 last season and failed to qualify for the Big West tournament, are 24-5 overall and 14-2 in conference. The 15-win improvement is the second best in conference history, one short of the record. UCD also was the first school in the Big West’s 46-year history to finish last one season and win the regular-season championship the next.
Short-handed Matadors – Top-seeded UCD will play No. 8 Cal State Northridge (9-23, 4-12) in Thursday’s Big West tournament opener at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
The Matadors are coached by former Kings player and coach Reggie Theus. In his second season with the Matadors, Theus had hoped to build on last year’s 61-59 Big West tournament title-game loss to Cal Poly with some experienced returning players and a group of talented freshmen.
But six players – five freshmen and a transfer – have not played, and another freshman played in two games but none since mid-November when Northridge athletic director Brandon Martin announced in a statement that the university would “sit several basketball players due to potential violations of team rules and university policies until a full and thorough investigation is completed.”
So Theus has relied on six players to play most of the minutes. While Northridge has been competitive in many games, it has lacked depth.
“When the tallest guy coming off your bench is under 6-foot, that’s a problem,” Theus said during the Big West tournament media conference Monday. “I’ve even had to coach our games based on timeouts for rest, not necessarily strategy. It’s like having an injury season.”
Even though Northridge lost twice to UCD, Theus thinks his team matches up well.
“You don’t have to be the most talented team or the deepest team to win it, but you have to be the hungriest, and I think our guys are pretty hungry,” Theus said. “That’s why we love March Madness.”
Aggies star may be done – UCD women’s coach Jennifer Gross said senior forward Sydnee Fipps is doubtful for the No. 5 Aggies (13-15, 8-8) in Tuesday night’s Big West tournament game against No. 8 UC Irvine (8-23, 5-11) at Cal State Fullerton.
Fipps injured her knee during Thursday’s game against UC Riverside.
“With Sydnee, it’s pretty unlikely she will play, but I can’t say 100 percent,” Gross said. “If you know Sydnee, you have to have her in a body cast to keep her off the floor.”
Fipps, who has played through numerous injuries and illnesses during her four years at UCD, missed her first game in Saturday’s loss at UC Irvine in the regular-season finale.
“For someone who has played through so much during her career, it seems unfair,” Gross said.
Fipps on Monday was named to the Big West first team for the third consecutive year. Junior center Alyson Doherty made the second team for the second consecutive year, and guard Dani Nafekh made the All-Freshman team.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.
BIG WEST CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS
No. 1 UC Davis vs.
No. 8 Cal State Northridge, noon
No. 4 Long Beach State
vs. No. 5 Hawaii, 2:30 p.m.
No. 3 UC Irvine vs. No. 6 UC Riverside, 6 p.m.
No. 2 UC Santa Barbara
vs. No. 7 Cal Poly, 8:30 p.m.
Highest seed vs. lowest seed, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU
Other two quarterfinal winners, 9 p.m., ESPNU
Semifinal winners, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2
First round and quarterfinals,
Titan Gym, Fullerton
Semifinals and championship,
Honda Center, Anaheim
Today’s first round
No. 5 UC Davis vs. No. 8 UC Irvine, 6 p.m.
No. 6 UC Riverside vs.
No. 7 Cal State Fullerton 8:30 p.m.
No. 3 Cal Poly vs.
lowest remaining seed, 6 p.m.
No. 4 Long Beach State vs.
higest remaining seed, 8:30 p.m.
No. 1 Hawaii vs. lowest remaining seed, noon
No. 2 Cal State Northridge
vs. lowest remaining seed, 2:30 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.
BIG SKY CONFERENCE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS
No. 2 Eastern Washington (23-8)
vs. No. 7 Idaho (13-16), 10 a.m.
No. 3 Sacramento State (19-10)
vs. No. 6 Portland State (15-13), 12:30 p.m.
No. 4 Northern Arizona (18-13)
vs. No. 5 No. Colorado (15-14), 4:30 p.m.
No. 1 Montana (18-11)
vs. No. 8 Weber State (13-16), 7 p.m.
Game 1 winner vs. game 2 winner, 4:30 p.m.
Game 3 winner vs. game 4 winner, 7 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Dahlberg Arena, Missoula, Mont.
No. 7 Montana St. vs. No. 2 Sac State, 10 a.m.
No. 6 North Dakota
vs. No. 3 Northern Colorado, 12:30 p.m.
No. 5 Northern Arizona
vs. No. 4 Eastern Washington, 4:30 p.m.
No. 8 Idaho State at No. 1 Montana, 7 p.m.
Game 1 winner vs. game 2 winner, 10 a.m.
Game 3 winner vs. game 4 winner, 12:30 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.