Day 4 - Saturday: Coach of the Year, Men's and Women's Rookie of the Year, Clutch Moment of the Year, Fan Favorite
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- Lee “Nails” Nickell
It’s a story that we’re getting a little used to covering, but it’s still fun to watch it when it unfolds. Nails Nickell’s roster was depleted after last year. Only two players —Tony Miller and Ethan Nittolo — came back this season, leaving Nickell to assemble a virtually new roster.
Bringing in four freshman and a pair of juniors, expectations weren’t high for the bunch coming into the season. Had they gone 11-8 again like a year prior it’d be a good sign for what’s to come. But, Nickell’s squad destroyed all expectations, and that came to light when the Bulls started playing against Ivy League foes. The Bulls gave Yale and Harvard trouble, losing each on a 4-3 decision; but they did manage to run through Brown 5-2.
Buffalo’s only losses were against Ivy League opponents and to nationally ranked Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, which is nothing short of amazing for a team packed to the brim with freshmen. Nickell pulled a Nate Oats, and did it even better.
With his second MAC Championship, he’s the first UB head coach to win more than one and we’d be very surprised if Nails doesn’t lead the Bulls to more in the future.
Honorable Mentions: Kristen Maines, John Stutzman**, Stu Riddle**, Andy Bashor, Vicki Mitchell
**2016 Honorable Mention
Men’s Rookie of the Year- Villhelm Fridell
Villhelm Fridell was on fire this season. There’s not much I can add to what I said yesterday, but I don’t think there’s a single freshman at UB that isn’t one of his teammates that had a viable argument against him.
Honorable Mentions: Hao Sheng Koay, Rikard Lindqvist, Quate McKinzie
Women’s Rookie of the Year- Summer Hemphill
For much of the season, she sure didn’t look like or play like a freshman. Summer Hemphill became a key piece to a team that was already loaded with depth this season, averaging 6 points and 7.4 boards a contest. A double digit performance was not uncommon for the freshman, with her most notable performance being 15 points and a whopping 17 rebounds in a 65-54 thrashing of Ohio.
Hemphill played with poise and maximum effort. She went after the rebound harder than anyone on the team and did her best to leave everything on the court and it paid off for her. Keep an eye on Hemphill these next three years as she develops into one of the better forwards in UB history.
Honorable Mentions: Stephanie Ward, Scout McLerran Theresa Onwuka, Jessica Goldyn
Clutch Moment of the Year-
Brian Dudek’s walkoff homer in UB Baseball’s last-ever home game
This one’s bittersweet.
Sometimes in sports you get hit with the bitter reality, and sometimes you witness magic. You don’t know which you’re going to get, but for some reason the Bulls were graced with the latter.
UB Baseball had to finish their final season knowing that this was it. Playing at Amherst Audobon Field for the final time in program history, Brian Dudek stepped up to the plate with the Bulls tied at nine apiece in the 10th inning with Niagara. The senior drilled a pitch deep and the wind helped it get over the outfield wall.
Home run, UB wins 10-9.
The Bulls never gave up and put on one more show in the name of four programs that didn’t deserve their fate.
Honorable Mentions: Men’s Tennis’ MAC Championship comeback; UB Football’s comeback against Army.
Fan Favorite- Christian Pino
The first Bull Run Award we’ve left up to the fans and it was a close race, but the greatest player in UB history edged out Stephanie Reid by just a single vote among a diverse voting pool that included entrees like Raheem Johnson, Andy Kotelnicki, Brandon Berry, Justin Moss, and some player named “T.”
But even so, Christian Pino had a cult following in his time at UB because let’s face it, how do you root against him? Pino made blowout games fun and it’s no shocker that the fans agree with everyone here at Bull Run. UB Basketball will never be the same without this legend.