Saturday, June 19, 2010

FOV Cavalier of the Year #7/#8

From Old Virginia celebrates its birthday in a unique way: by recognizing one of Virginia's student-athletes as Cavalier of the Year. What are the criteria for the award? You decide: that's the beauty. I nominate the 12 athletes that I think have been most outstanding during the latest season of UVA athletics, and provide a short summary of their accomplishments. You choose the winner in a poll that goes up after all 12 have had their moment in the spotlight.

Over the next two weeks, two athletes at a time will be profiled, and you'll hear about what they've accomplished while representing Mr. Jefferson's University. The athletes are presented in a totally random order so as to hopefully not imply any endorsement one way or another. Athletes from all fields are considered; part of the point is that UVA is about excellence across the entire department and doesn't shortchange its so-called non-revenue sports simply because they don't make headlines. Last year's winner was Danny Hultzen; today's athletes are Hultzen and Monica Wright.

Monica Wright - Women's basketball - Guard

Team accomplishments:

- #5 seed in NCAA tournament

Personal accomplishments:

- Set UVA women's all-time scoring record
- ACC Player of the Year
- ACC Defensive Player of the Year
- 4-time ACC Player of the Week
- WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year
- AP first-team All-American
- #2 overall selection in WNBA draft

Last year, Wright shared this nomination with teammate Lyndra Littles, because it seemed way unfair to pick one and not the other, so similar were their accomplishments. This year, and no insult meant to the rest of the lady hoopsters, but it'd be an insult to Wright to put anyone on her level. An absolute no-brainer choice for ACC POTY, Wright averaged 23.7 points a game, which was over four more than second place. She actually averaged more points (25.7) in ACC competition - almost seven points higher than the next gal. And her record-breaking 2,136th career point came just past halfway through the season. She finished with 2,540 points, third on the ACC's list.

Scoring is one thing; earning accolades on both ends of the court as the conference and national defensive POTY really rounds out the resume. 2nd in the nation in steals per game goes nicely with her 7th-place ranking in nationwide scoring. Monica Wright finishes up her career at UVA as far and away the best and most-accomplished women's basketball player the school has ever had.

Danny Hultzen - Baseball - Pitcher

Team accomplishments:

- First 50-win season in school history
- #1 seed in ACC tournament
- #5 seed nationally
- NCAA regional and super-regional host

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Pitcher of the Year
- First-team all-ACC
- Baseball America 2nd-team All-American
- Howser Trophy semifinalist
- CoSIDA 2nd-team Academic All-American

Back for more. Last year's winner only improved with age, as Hultzen avoided the sophomore slump and locked down Friday nights for Hoo baseball. Finishing with an 11-1 record and a 2.78 ERA - outstanding in the bigs, and extraordinary in a metal-bat league - Hultzen held opposing hitters to a paltry .193 batting average. Hultzen's record would have been spotless but for a 1-run output by the offense against Wright State. Following another early hiccup in which UVA faltered late against NC State after Hultzen had departed the game (thereby not earning the loss), the team would not lose another Hultzen start the rest of the season - a two-month stretch.

For his efforts, the ACC declared him Pitcher of the Year, ahead of two MLB 1st-round picks in UNC's Matt Harvey and GT's Deck McGuire. Only fair, as Hultzen outdueled them both in UVA wins and earned the win himself against McGuire. Whether Hultzen earns a second COTY win in a row is up to you, but there's no chance he'll ever be our first four-time nominee; another season like this one will get him a top-five draft selection of his own.

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