College basketball has a new award, and this one bears the name of former coach and 804-game winner Eddie Sutton. This award is unique in that it honors the national player of the year who played most like a warrior.
The Eddie Sutton Tustenugee Award honors the tenacity of unselfish play that Sutton demanded. The word "tustenugee," means "warrior" in the language of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
The finalists for the award -- Arizona's Derrick Williams, Butler's Matt Howard, Cal's Jorge Gutierrez, Duke's Kyle Singler, Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor -- represent those ideals. Maybe you've seen Williams playing with a cast over a broken pinkie or Howard with his face bloodied. Gutierrez pestered opponents on both ends of the floor. Singler was last seen getting a floor burn in the NCAA tournament. Taylor willed his team to a win that toppled top-ranked, and at the time previously unbeaten, Ohio State.
"The idea behind this award to to reward both tangible and intangible qualities that help teams win games," said ESPN's Doug Gottlieb, who played for Sutton at Oklahoma State. "Eddie Sutton's coaching style demanded toughness and team play at both ends, so too will this award. In many ways all of these finalists are great players for their teams due to their all around efforts at both ends of the floor."
The winner will be named May 7 in Tulsa.
"I remember growing up watching Coach Sutton's teams and admiring how hard they played and the success they had at Oklahoma State," Taylor said in a statement. "I'm honored to be recognized as a finalist for this award."