Guests dined from a barbecue buffet provided by Jim and Nick’s.
Three Bisons players received special recognition. Redshirt sophomore center Justin Glenn received the Academic Award for his 3.28 average in Management.
Redshirt freshman forward Brian Wright was presented the “Most Improved Player” Award.
The players voted on the “Best Teammate” Award which is presented annually in honor of former Bisons player Mike Mays. The award was given to freshman guard Brett Staal.
While the Bisons did not reach their goals of winning the A-Sun Tournament and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament there was still much to celebrate.
“We were 11-3 at home during the regular season,” said Sanderson. “We had five games on national TV which was great exposure for the university and for our players.”
Sanderson stressed that the Bisons will always play non-conference games against major powers like Indiana and North Carolina State. The 74-69 victory at Indiana was the highlight of the season.
“Those are great games,” said Sanderson. “Winning against Indiana was awesome. We played in front of 18,000 people and there were national championship banners hanging from the rafters. It was an unbelievable atmosphere for our team.”
Sanderson stressed that the Bisons have goals every season which are posted in the locker room. One of the constant goals is to win all games on the home court at Allen Arena, win the A-Sun Championship and go to the NCAA Tournament.
“This year we finished 14th in the country in rebound margin,” said Sanderson. “We finished 27th in the country with 16 assists a game. We were sharing the basketball. That’s a great feat.
“We were 29th in the country in 3-point percentage defense (31 percent). In field goal percentage we shot 47 percent from the floor, the highest we have ever shot since I have been here. That was 32nd best in the country.”
The Bisons were first in a number of categories in the A-Sun Conference.
The Bisons improved as the season progressed, but the slow start was also on Sanderson’s mind.
“We lost several games throughout the year on one possession _ a missed free throw, a missed box out or a missed assignment. We lost six conference games by an average of three points a game.
“There is such a fine line in this league between winning and losing. It is usually a difference of one or two possessions.”
Sanderson credited the players for their perseverance during the rough times during the season.
“Our players deserve a lot of credit for staying in there and staying together,” said Sanderson. “We could have easily gone in another direction. We beat Campbell, Jacksonville and ETSU, three teams that were above us in the second half of the year.
“Our players were committed to each other. That is the only reason we turned the corner the second half of the year.”
The Bisons had six different players score 20 points or more in a game. Only VMI and Minnesota had higher numbers.
One of those players was Adnan Hodzic, a sophomore center who set the pace for the Bisons most of the season and earned All-Conference First Team honors in the Atlantic Sun. He average 17.1 points per game overall, 7.1 rebounds and.587 from the field.
“Adnan had an unbelievable year for us,” said Sanderson. “He is a guy who is easy to coach and wants to learn. He wants to be as good as he can possibly be.”
Sanderson also honored guard Mike Lusk and center Thomas Pfaff, the only seniors on the team.
“Both of them are solid,” said Sanderson. “Both of them have been here four years. Both them have been very, very dependable. They averaged 18 wins a year.”
Sanderson informed the crowd that Pfaff performed this season even though he had multiple injury problems.
“I think Thomas was the best low post defender in our league,” said Sanderson. “I appreciate everything he has done for us.
“Michael had a very good career for us. He shot 37 percent for his career from 3-point range. In nine of the last 11 games of the year he scored in double figures for us.”
Pfaff will graduate this summer with a degree in Management. Lusk will graduate in the fall with a degree in Mass Communication.
“That’s so important,” said Sanderson. “In the 10 years I have been here only two of our players have not graduated.”