The school year is quickly winding down and with it ends an eventful year for Eastern Michigan University’s athletic teams. As part of my weekly appearances on E-TV’s Eagles Sports Update, I share my “Eagle of the Week” – a player or coach who stands out to me for their performances in the week leading up to the show.
For this, the final issue of the school year (not counting the summer semester), I have compiled a list of my Eagles of the Year for all of EMU’s sports, as well as for some specialized categories.
Eagle of the Year
Coach Rob Murphy – Men’s Basketball
Murphy put the concept of creating a winning culture into practice over the last three years – leading his team to its best record since the 1996-97 season. What’s more – I think the best is yet to come.
All-Defensive Eagle of the Year
Da’Shonte Riley – Men’s Basketball
At the end of the 2012-13 season, Riley showed an intensity which was desperately needed – I just wondered why it came so late. This year, he took that and became a blocking machine – swatting away 96 shots (6.0 a game) on the way to earning Mid American Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.
All-Offensive Eagle of the Year
Raven Lee – Men’s Basketball
Lee averaged 10.6 points per game this year – none bigger than his 38 against the University of Texas – Arlington. He’ll be back next year and I fully expect him to get even better.
Eagle Freshman of the Year
Cha Sweeney – Women’s Basketball
Sweeney came here touted as a defensive standout, but quickly became a scoring machine. She averaged 17.2 ppg and was named MAC Freshman of the Year. Enjoy, folks – there’s three more years of this.
Eagle Comeback Player of the Year
Olivia Fouty – Women’s Basketball
Fouty played in seven games last year, starting six – before suffering a season-ending knee injury. This year, she came back with a vengeance. She started 28 of the 30 games she appeared in, averaging 10.6 ppg and 8.2 rebounds per contest, but what really stood out was the way she emerged as a vocal leader of the team.
Eagle Senior of the Year
Sarah Chauchard – Women’s Track & Field
Chauchard was an Eagle for only one year, but she immediately turned heads – participating at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, as well as recording a few personal bests throughout the year.
Eagle Coach of the Year
Tory Verdi – Women’s Basketball
Verdi finished his second season as the coach of the women’s basketball team with a second round exit in the WBI tournament and a 18-14 record – a year removed from a 8-22 record. His recruiting has already made an impact. Players like Cha Sweeney and Janay Morton are scoring – a lot. Mark my words: Verdi will win a MAC title in the next three years.
Eagle Team of the Year
The volleyball team was probably the most underrated team of the season. The Eagles made the MAC Tournament as an 8-seed, ultimately falling to Ohio University in the MAC Finals. Kudos to Coach Kim Berrington and the team for a great season.
Here are the Eagles of the Year – by sport.
Olivia Fouty – Honorable Mention
Coach Steve Wilce
Anna Willette – Honorable Mention
Sarah Hillegonds, Ashley Gilmore, Taylor Cyr, Lyndsey Tollas
Men’s Swimming & Diving
Coach Peter Linn
Dan Proctor – Honorable Mention
Women’s Swimming & Diving
Cara Cutaia – Honorable Mention
Lindsay Rich, Amanda Stanton, Lauren Wells, Lindsay Smith
Women’s Track & Field
Men’s Track & Field
Vincent Pizzuto, Jared Germaine, Phillip Joseph, Brandon Zeerip
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho