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Bull Run Awards 2016: Coach, Rookies, and Clutch Moment of the Year

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Porque no los dos?

UB Athletics

This is the second year of the Bull Run Awards, which we started after the 2014-15 season, our first covering each and every UB team. As last year, the Awards will be spread out over five days, covering each of the three seasons and two day's worth of special awards:

Day 1 - Wednesday: Fall Sports
Day 2 - Thursday: Winter Sports
Day 3 - Friday: Spring Sports
Day 4 - Saturday: Coach of the Year, Men's and Women's Rookie of the Year, Clutch Moment of the Year
Day 5 - Sunday: Team of the Year, Men's Overall Bull of the Year, Women's Overall Bull of the Year

Coach of the Year - Nate Oats, Men's Basketball

Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person when they're faced with seemingly endless adversity, and this year we learned a hell of a lot about Nate Oats. Shannon Evans left, Justin Moss was kicked off the team and Oats had to use several JUCO transfers to fill out the Men's Basketball roster and the Bulls, the reigning MAC Champions, were an afterthought heading into the season. Then, the unthinkable happened. Despite all of the turmoil in the program, nothing compares to hearing a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. The losses of Hurley, Evans and Moss seemed insignificant when the news broke that Oats' wife Crystal was diagnosed with double-hit lymphoma.

Oats was faced was a nearly impossible task: care for his wife stricken with cancer and the stress that's associated with such an undertaking while being on the road constantly as a first year Division I basketball coach. Most men would crumble under that sort of pressure, but not Nate Oats. Oats didn't just survive the adversity, he thrived in it; culminating in a MAC Championship that most didn't think would happen. This was an easy choice given the circumstances. In any other year the award would've gone to John Stutzman for his work on the wrestling team, but I don't think anyone can argue that Oats deserves the win. -John McWhinnie

On the basis of on-court personnel and regular-season results alone, there's no question this is Oats' this year. Hell, Jarryn Skeete had been in D-I college basketball longer than Oats had at this point. And Oats only had three guys back from the 2014-15 MAC Champions. And he found gold when he needed to-- in Blake Hamilton, Willie Conner, and Lamonte Bearden. He didn't amaze in nonconference play, but won the games he was supposed to, before pulling his group together for the critical MAC season, and then got the cherry on the sundae after an unconvincing final stretch to MAC play to cap off a year that was already several wins above expectations. UB Basketball is in good, good hands with Oats. -Matt Gritzmacher

Honorable Mention: John Stutzman, Felisha Legette-Jack, Stu Riddle

**2015 Honorable Mention

Men's Rookie of the Year - CJ Massinburg, Men's Basketball

With Oats assembling his ragtag group of JUCO transfers and unheralded high school seniors, a name that flew under the radar until he stepped on campus was CJ Massinburg. I figured Massinburg would be a relief guy off the bench, or perhaps even redshirt with the likes of Lamonte Bearden and Jarryn Skeete on the roster. But by the end of the season, Massinburg was an integral part of Nate Oats' MAC Championship squad. Massinburg played an average of over 25 minutes per game, was 4th on the team in points per game with 11.3 and led the regulars in 3 point percentage. He showed flashes of being a future superstar in a 36 point outburst against Ohio and an 18 point performance to lead UB in the MAC Championship game.

He came in as a true freshman and far exceeded anyone's expectations and nearly broke Javon McCrea's freshman scoring record in the process and helped UB to a 2nd striaght NCAA tournament appearance. No other male freshman had the type of impact that Massinburg did. -John McWhinnie

As big a fan as I am of Mason Miller, John's right. Massinburg was on another level for freshman this year, and Men's Hoops fans are starting to get real spoiled by freshman guards with CJ taking it to another level, finishing just shy of Javon McCrea's mark as the highest-scoring freshman in school history and settling for #2. He was occasionally streaky, as freshman can be, but as poised as any of the three-year run of Skeete-Evans-Bearden before him, and impressively diverse in his game. Look for him to continue to take heat off Lamonte Bearden in the years to come..

Honorable Mention: Justin Patrick, Mason Miller

Women's Rookie of the Year - Katie Weimer, Softball

Of the women's freshmen athletes none had the type of pure impact that Katie Weimer did. Even though the softball team struggled this season, Weimer helped lead the way offensively. Weimer was 2nd on the team in hits, batting average while leading the team in home runs, RBIs and doubles. Weimer drove home a whopping 49 runs which accounted for about 22 percent of UB's runs scored. Her statistical dominance wasn't rivaled by any of the other candidates. - John McWhinnie

It's not just the in-season stats that ice it for Weimer, but also her impact on the UB record books. As a freshman, the Orchard Park native had one of the finest seasons UB Softball's ever seen. And it's not just her single-season RBI record, but who she passed: Buffalo great Breanne Nasti. She's likely to start appearing on the UB career lists by the end of next season. -Matt Gritzmacher

Honorable Mention: Julia Box, Sanjana Sudhir, Chantal Martinez-Blanco, Bri Shingary)

Clutch Moment of the Year - Saturday, March 12th

Either one of these shots would be good to win the Clutch moment award in any other year and after little debate, Matt and I couldn't separate the two. Both won a MAC Championship and sent both teams to their respective NCAA tournaments and they happened within hours of each other on the exact same court, you can't make this type of stuff up. -John McWhinnie

What can you say? The only debate was whether we should pick one over the other. Porque no los dos? I'll encourage you to remember the runners-up. -Matt Gritzmacher

Honorable Mention: James Benjamin pinning #16 Shawn Scott to help Wrestling beat NIU; Joe Ariola upsetting Vic Avery in the NCAA Tournament; Daniel Cramarossa and Russell Cicerone scoring to give Men's Soccer a late comeback win in the MAC Semis

***

Tomorrow closes out the Bull Run Awards with for Team of the Year and Men's and Women's Overall Bulls of the Year