Monday, March 7, 2005
Fox, Fazekas, Sessions honored
RENO, Nev. -- Nevada swept the Western Athletic Conference's three big postseason basketball awards with Nick Fazekas earning player of the year, Ramon Sessions freshman of the year and Mark Fox coach of the year.
Wolf Pack forward Kevinn Pinkney was named to the WAC's all-defensive team and junior college transfer Mo Charlo joined Sessions on the all-newcomer team. All squads were selected by the WAC coaches.
"I was pretty excited," said Fazekas, a 6-foot-11 sophomore.
"To be honest with you, I didn't think it was going to be given to me. I wasn't picked for anything in the preseason," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Fazekas said he had expected the honor to go to Rices Michael Harris, who had been the preseason player of the year and became his school's all-time leading career scorer and rebounder this season. He ranked second in the WAC this year in scoring (20.4) and rebounds (11.8).
Fazekas said his selection Sunday was tied to Nevada's success this season. The Wolf Pack are 24-5 overall and won the conference title at 16-2, going into the WAC tournament, which begins Tuesday at Lawlor Events Center, although the Pack don't start play until Thursday.
"I don't think they would've given (the award) to me if I put up the same numbers and we finished third or fourth," Fazekas said. "It came with winning. The thing I'm most proud of is winning (the regular-season title) by ourselves. For us to win 24 games is a big deal."
Joining Fazekas on the all-WAC first team were Harris, Louisiana Tech's Paul Millsap and UTEP's Omar Thomas and Filiberto Rivera.
"Nick was driven to win that award," Fox said. "He was driven all offseason. His play was deserving of that. I had my doubts. I never doubted in my mind he was the best player, but I had doubts he would get those votes."
For the Pack, Sessions was the final piece of the puzzle. Sessions, from Myrtle Beach, S.C., didn't agree to come to Nevada until Aug. 1 after being a late Division I qualifier.
"That (award) is a credit to his maturity as a kid, a credit to him as a player and the success we had, and as few bumps in the road as he has had," Fox said.
"For a freshman to do what he's (Sessions) done and to lead us is a big deal. He deserved that," Fazekas said.
Sessions was also the only freshman named to the All-Newcomer Team, joining Charlo, a junior college transfer from Diablo Valley College of Pleasant Hill, Calif.
Fox, who is in his first season as a Division I head coach, downplayed the significance of him winning the coaching award.
"The complete credit goes to the players and the system," Fox said. "Those players would make anybody look smart."
Fox said he was happy that Pinkney landed a place on the second team.
"It's good for Kevinn to get some appreciation," Fox said. "I've always felt he was the most under-appreciated guy on our team. If he doesn't play next to Nick, he averages 18 points per game."