The Spectrum presents its end-of-the-year sports awards
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, April 28, 2013 18:04
As voted on by the fans
Athlete of the year: Khalil Mack and Mike Burke (tie)
The polling for athlete of the year ended in a tie between junior linebacker Khalil Mack and junior pitcher/shortstop Mike Burke. Mack, also the editors’ pick for Best Male Athlete, has an opportunity to graduate as the best-ever defensive player in Buffalo football history.
Burke, the baseball team’s ace, has started 10 games this season and is averaging over seven innings per outing. Through 70.2 innings, he has pitched two complete games with 54 strikeouts and a 3.31 ERA. Burke is also the starting shortstop for the Bulls when he is not pitching, and he has turned 13 double plays, the second most on the team.
The editors’ picks
Best Male Athlete: Khalil Mack
Mack led the football team with 94 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and eight sacks. He was also named to the All-Mid-American Conference first team for the second straight season. Entering his senior season, Mack is in reach of becoming the NCAA’s all-time leader in career tackles for a loss; he is just 19 short of the mark.
Best Female Athlete: Britney Kuras
Junior Brittney Kuras has now won back-to-back MAC Most Outstanding Swimmer awards. She has never lost an individual event in the MAC Championship meet and has gone to the NCAA championship meet both seasons at UB as well (she swam her first year at Rutgers). Her dominance in conference and performances on the national stage make her an easy pick for female athlete of the year.
Coach of the Year: Felisha Legette-Jack
Head women’s basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack led her team to a 12-20 record, going 8-8 in MAC play, before losing in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals to Akron. The young team was hampered by injuries but surged late in the year nevertheless. Legette-Jack started turning around a program that went 75-137 in the previous seven years under former head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald.
Club Sports Team of the Year: Ice Hockey
Despite being a ‘hockey town,’ UB doesn’t have a Division I hockey program, but the club ice hockey team fills the void. With a 26-4 record, the Bulls were ranked 24th nationally and second in the Northeast Collegiate Hockey League.They went on to defeat Niagara to win the NECHL Championship this winter, cementing their status as the best club team on campus.
Biggest Surprise of the Year: Reggie Witherspoon’s firing
Athletic Director Danny White relieved Reggie Witherspoon of his duties as men’s basketball head coach March 15, just a season after winning 20 games and making a MAC Championship semifinals appearance. Under Witherspoon, the Bulls had four 20-win seasons and made two MAC Championship games. From 2003-13, the men’s basketball team went 173-140 overall under Witherspoon. White hired Duke legend Bobby Hurley to replace Witherspoon.
Best Game of the Year: Men’s basketball vs. Akron
On March 2, the Bulls defeated then-top 25 ranked Akron, 81-67, in Alumni Arena. At the time, Akron was on a nation-high 19-game win streak. It was the first victory over a top-25 opponent in UB program history.
Rookie of the Year: Mackenzie Loesing
As a freshman, Loesing led the women’s basketball team with 11.6 points per game. Loesing scored at least 12 points in 15 of 19 conference games (including the MAC Tournament).
Best Team: Baseball
In 2012, the baseball team went to its first-ever MAC Tournament, winning two games before falling to Kent State. The Bulls then lost their star catcher, Tom Murphy, to the draft and best pitcher, Cameron Copping, to graduation. To make things worse, preseason first-team All-MAC selection senior outfielder Matt Pollock went down for the season in the first weekend series with a broken wrist.
The team didn’t falter, though, and has already tied the modern era record for wins in a season. At 23-17 (13-4 MAC), the Bulls are one of the only teams on campus to have a record over .500 this year and they’ve dominated conference play.