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ETSU men dominate SoCon coaches honors; Wadood, Bartow earn top awards
Monday, March 01, 2004
The Southern Conference men's basketball coaches on Monday named ETSU senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) as the 2003-04 Player of the Year, while head coach Murry Bartow became only the third coach in league history to earn Coach of the Year honors in his first season. In addition, ETSU sophomore Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) and senior Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) were also named to the coaches' All-SoCon team, giving the Bucs a league-best three selections on the 10-player team. In fact, Smith was the runner-up behind Wadood for player of the year.
"I think all three of those guys are deserving and I'm happy for all of them," Bartow said. "It's been a fun and exciting season for our entire coaching staff, and this is just a great group of guys. They're fun to coach."
Wadood has helped lead East Tennessee State to a 24-5 overall record, its fourth-straight SoCon North Division title, and the overall SoCon regular season championship. The 6-6, 210-pound senior is averaging 14.8 points per game and is leading the SoCon with 7.8 rebounds and 2.83 steals per game. Wadood is the fourth ETSU player to be so honored and the first since Dimeco Childress in 2001-02.
"It's great to be honored like this," said Wadood, who is currently No. 7 on the ETSU all-time scoring list with 1,324 points. "After all the hard work we've put in as a team, it's nice. But we've got a great team, and this award is as much for them as it is for me."
Bartow, in his first year as the head coach at East Tennessee State, earned Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Bucs to a program-record 15-1 league mark and a program-best 16-game winning streak from Jan. 4 until Feb. 28. The Bucs will be the No. 1 seed out of the SoCon North Division in the Southern Conference Basketball Championship, which begins on Wednesday at the North Charleston (SC) Coliseum.
Meanwhile, Smith and Fields were first-time selections to the coaches' All-SoCon team. Smith currently leads the Bucs with 16.5 ppg and 4.4 apg, while Fields is second on the team with 6.4 rpg and third with 13.2 ppg.
"It feels good to finally make it," said Fields, who is just behind Wadood on the career scoring list at No. 8 with 1,294 points. "To tell you the truth, though, the season's not complete yet. I'll tell you how I really feel about it after the tournament."
The Buccaneers will open play at the SoCon Tournament Thursday at noon when they face the winner of Wednesday's first-round game between Furman and Western Carolina.
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