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Pitt Honors Men's Basketball Team With Season-Ending Awards Banquet




PITTSBURGH--Seniors Levance Fields and Sam Young along with sophomore DeJuan Blair were honored as co-Most Valuable Players as the University of Pittsburgh recognized its 2008-09 men's basketball team with its annual awards banquet Sunday at the Downtown Hilton. A crowd of approximately 600 alums, Panther Club members, fans, coaches, family members, support staff and student-athletes attended the event.

 

The event featured an inspiring highlight video of the season along with speeches from Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, Athletic Director Steve Pederson and Head Coach Jamie Dixon. FSN Pittsburgh's Rob King served as Master of Ceremonies. Dixon was also presented with the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award by members of the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

 

Ten team awards were announced by Dixon. Fields, Young and Blair became the first trio to earn co-Most Valuable Player honors. Sophomore Brad Wanamaker earned the team's Most Inspirational Player Award, junior Jermaine Dixon was honored with the Best Defensive Player Award and sophomore Gary McGhee earned the Coaches Award for outstanding attitude. Freshman Nasir Robinson was named the team's Most Improved Player. Freshman Ashton Gibbs was named the team's Free Throw Shooting leader after converting 80.0 percent and sophomore DeJuan Blair was the team's top rebounder (12.3 rpg.). Seniors Tyrell Biggs, Fields and Young all received the Captains Award for outstanding leadership. Biggs won the Jaron Brown Pursuit of Academic Excellence Award and redshirt sophomore Gilbert Brown received the team's Academic Excellence Award for his success in the classroom.

 

Pitt concluded the 2008-09 season with a 31-5 overall and 15-3 Big East Conference record.  The Panthers won a school record three NCAA Tournament games, advanced to the NCAA Regional Final/Elite Eight for the first time since 1974, earned the school's first-ever No. 1 seed and were ranked No. 1 in the national polls for the first time in school history (total of three weeks). Pitt also set or tied school records for overall wins (31), Big East regular season wins (15), advanced to its fifth NCAA Sweet Sixteen in each of the last eight years and completed its home schedule at the Petersen Events Center with an undefeated 19-0 record.

 

TEAM AWARDS

Most Valuable Player: Levance Fields, DeJuan Blair, Sam Young

Most Improved Player: Nasir Robinson

Best Defensive Player: Jermaine Dixon

Captains Award: Tyrell Biggs, Levance Fields, Sam Young

Team Rebounding Leader: DeJuan Blair (12.3)

Free Throw Shooting Leader: Ashton Gibbs (80.0%)

Most Inspirational Player: Brad Wanamaker

Coaches Award: Gary McGhee

Academic Excellence Award: Gilbert Brown

Jaron Brown Pursuit of Academic Excellence Award: Tyrell Biggs

 

PITT'S 2008-09 MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS

 

*Advanced to the NCAA Regional Final/Elite Eight for the first time since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64-teams. The last time Pitt advanced to the Elite Eight was in 1973-74. Pitt won more NCAA Tournament games (3) than any other team in school history.

 

*Appeared in its fifth NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen in the last eight seasons. Pitt ranks among the nation's top-5 programs in most NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances over the last eight seasons. Only two programs nationally have advanced to more Sweet Sixteens during that span. Those programs include: Kansas-6 and Duke-6. Pitt, Texas and Connecticut have advanced to five during that period.

 

*Advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a school record eighth consecutive season and 21st time in school history. Previously, Pitt appeared in three straight NCAA Tournaments from 1987-89. The eight consecutive appearances rank as the most in the Big East Conference during that span. Villanova ranks second with five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

 

*Became one of only eight schools nationwide to advance to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past eight seasons (2001-09). The eight schools include: Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, Pitt, Texas and Wisconsin.

 

*Earned the nation's consensus No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history. Pitt spent three weeks as the nation's No. 1 ranked team (Jan. 5, Jan. 12 and Feb. 23). Previously, Pitt was ranked No. 2 on 14 different occasions.

 

*Earned the school's first-ever No. 1 seed upon entering the NCAA Tournament. Previously, Pitt had been a No. 2 seed in two different seasons (1988 and 2003).

 

*Compiled a 220-56  record and .797 winning percentage over the past eight seasons (2001-09), which ranks among the nation's top-five best winning percentages during that span. The .797 winning percentage ranks No. 1 in the Big East during that period.

 

*Won 30 or more games for the second time in school history and tied the school record for most victories in a season (31-5). Pitt also registered a 31-5 record in Jamie Dixon's first year as head coach in 2003-04.

 

*Achieved a school record eighth straight 20-win season (31-5). It was Pitt's 16th all-time 20-win season.

 

*Surpassed 20 wins overall and 10 wins in Big East regular season play for a school record eighth consecutive season. Pitt is the only Big East program to have won over 20 overall games and 10 league games in each of the past eight seasons. Additionally, Pitt is one of only three schools nationally to appear in the NCAA Tournament and win 20 overall and 10 league games in each of the last eight seasons: Gonzaga, Kansas and Pitt.

 

*Set a school record for most league wins with a 15-3 Big East Conference regular season record. The 15 wins surpassed the previous record of 13 wins set three times: 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04.

 

*Achieved a school record and seventh straight 10-win Big East regular season (15-3). Over the last eight years, Pitt owns a 96-36 record and .727 winning percentage in Big East regular season games, which ranks tied for first in the conference during that period.

 

*Defeated the nation's No. 1 ranked team for the first time in school history. Pitt also became just the ninth team and seventh program in NCAA Division I basketball history to defeat the nation's No. 1 ranked team on two different occasions during the same season.

 

*Head Coach Jamie Dixon became the first coach in school history to guide Pitt to six straight NCAA Tournaments (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009) and six straight 20-win overall and 10-win league seasons.

 

*With his 163 career wins, Head Coach Jamie Dixon set the NCAA Division I all-time coaching record for most wins after six seasons as a head coach. He surpassed the previous record of 161 wins set by North Carolina State's Everett Case from 1947-52.

 

*Dixon concluded the 2008-09 season as the winningest coach in Big East history with a current .698 winning percentage in league games (81-35). Following Dixon are: 2. John Thompson, Georgetown (.653), 3. Jim Calhoun, Connecticut (.650), 4. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse (.637) and 5. Lou Carnesseca, St. John's (.635).

 

*Dixon (.787 career winning percentage) concluded his sixth season ranked as the third winningest active coach in NCAA Division I. Dixon currently trails Roy Williams (.807) and Mark Few (.801).

 

*Concluded the season ranked No. 6 in the ESPN/USA Today national poll, its highest-ever national ranking in the final poll. Pitt also entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press poll, its highest ever national ranking upon entering the tourney.

 

*Seniors Tyrell Biggs, Levance Fields and Sam Young set the school record for most wins over a four-year period (112-31). Biggs, Fields and Young became the ninth, 10th and 11th players at Pitt to compete in four straight NCAA Tournaments.

 

*DeJuan Blair became Pitt's first consensus First Team All-America selection since Don Hennon earned the honor in 1957-58. Sam Young and Levance Fields also earned various All-America honors.

 

*DeJuan Blair became the third player in school history to earn the Big East Player of the Year Award. Blair and Young both earned All-Big East First Team honors. Young became just the fourth player in school history to earn two All-Big East First Team honors. Levance Fields was named to the All-Big East Third Team.

 

*Completed the school's fourth all-time undefeated season at home with a perfect 19-0 home record. Pitt also went undefeated at home in 2002-03 (16-0), 1973-74 (13-0) and 1974-75 (10-0). Pitt's 19 home victories also tied a school record for most home wins in a season (19 in 2003-04).

 

*Opened its season with 16 consecutive victories. The 16 straight wins ranked as Pitt's third longest win streak to start to a season and ranked as the fifth longest overall win streak in school history.

 

*Concluded its seventh year in the Petersen Events Center with a 115-10 all-time record and .920 winning percentage (16-0 in 2002-03, 19-1 in 2003-04, 13-4 in 2004-05, 16-1 in 2005-06, 16-2 in 2006-07, 16-2 in 2007-08, 19-0 in 2008-09). The 115-10 record and .920 winning percentage ranks among the nation's top-5 best marks since the arena opened in 2002 (Kansas-.941, Gonzaga-.935, Wisconsin-.922, Pitt-.920, Duke-.920).

 

*Set school records for total home attendance (212,682 in 19 games) and average home attendance (11,194 per game).

 

*Sold out the Petersen Events Center for the seventh consecutive season and has enjoyed a string of 132 consecutive home sellouts dating back to a January 12, 2002 game against Notre Dame.

 

2008-09 SENIOR CLASS NOTES

     Four-year accomplishments of Pitt's 2008-09 senior class consisting of Tyrell Biggs, Levance Fields and Sam Young:

*Advanced to its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, becoming the fifth senior class in school history to achieve that honor.

*School's all-time winningest class over a four-year period with a 112-31 overall record.

*112-31 overall record and .783 winning percentage. The .783 winning percentage ranks as the third best in school history.

*47-21 Big East regular season record and .691 winning percentage. The threesome concluded its career with the second most Big East regular season wins in school history.

*Guided Pitt to its first NCAA Regional Final/Elite Eight appearance since 1973-74.

*Guided Pitt to the 2008 Big East Tournament championship, Pitt's second all-time title.

*Two NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances (2007 and 2009).

*Became the first senior class in school history to guide Pitt to the consensus No. 1 national ranking and the first to defeat a No. 1 ranked team in 2008-09.

*Four consecutive 20-win seasons.

*Four consecutive 10-plus win Big East regular seasons including a school record 15-wins this year.

*Is the only senior class in the Big East Conference to win over 20 overall games and 10-plus league regular season games in four consecutive seasons during that time period (2005-09).

*One of only six senior classes in school history to win over 100 career games.

*Biggs, Fields and Young will become the ninth, 10th and 11th players in school history to compete in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments during their basketball career at Pitt.

*9-3 overall record in the Big East Tournament. The nine wins rank second all-time on Pitt's Big East Tournament wins list.

*7-4 record in the NCAA Tournament. The seven wins rank as the most NCAA Tournament wins for a senior class in school history.

*66-5 four-year record and .930 winning percentage in games played at the Petersen Events Center.

*49-3 four-year record and .942 winning percentage in games played vs. non-conference teams.

*All three student-athletes are on pace to graduate with a degree from the University of Pittsburgh: Tyrell Biggs--economics, Levance Fields--communications, Sam Young--communications.

 

2008-09 HONORS AND AWARDS

ALL-AMERICA

National Player of the Year Finalist, DeJuan Blair

            Naismith Trophy (one of four)

            John R. Wooden Award (one of three)

            USBWA Oscar Robertson Award (one of 15)

Associated  Press All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair (3rd overall in voting)

            Third Team: Sam Young

            Honorable Mention: Levance Fields

Wooden All-America Team

            DeJuan Blair, Sam Young

State Farm/NABC All-America Team

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

USBWA All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

Sports Illustrated All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

            Second Team: Sam Young

            Third Team: Levance Fields

The Sporting News All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

            Third Team: Sam Young

ESPN.com All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

Basketball Times All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

Naismith Lives All-America

            First Team: DeJuan Blair

            Second Team: Levance Fields

            Fourth Team: Sam Young

Bob Cousy Award Finalist

            Levance Fields, three-time finalist

Lowes Senior CLASS Award Finalist

            Sam Young

Naismith National Coach of the Year

            Jamie Dixon

National Coach of the Year Finalist, Jamie Dixon

            Naismith Trophy

            Jim Phelan Award

            USBWA Henry Iba Award

            Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award

 

ALL-REGION

NCAA Tournament All-East Regional Team

            Sam Young and DeJuan Blair

USBWA All-Region 2 Player of the Year

            DeJuan Blair

USBWA All-Region 2 Coach of the Year

            Jamie Dixon

USWBA All-Region 2 Team

            DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, Sam Young

NABC All-District 5 Team

            Second Team: DeJuan Blair, Sam Young

Basketball Times All-Region

            Coach of the Year: Jamie Dixon

            All-Region: Sam Young

 

ALL-CONFERENCE

Big East co-Player of the Year

DeJuan Blair

 

All-Big East

First Team: DeJuan Blair, Sam Young

Third Team: Levance Fields

 

Preseason All-Big East First Team

            Sam Young

 

Big East Statistical Champions

Rebounds: DeJuan Blair (12.3)

Assists: Levance Fields (7.5)

3-point field goal percentage: Ashton Gibbs (43.9)

Assist:Turnover Ratio: Levance Fields (3.80)

Offensive Rebounds: DeJuan Blair (5.6)

 

Big East Player of the Week

Sam Young (Jan. 26)

DeJuan Blair (Feb. 23)

Sam Young (March 8)

 

OTHER AWARDS

Legends Classic MVP

            Sam Young

Legends Classic All-Tournament

            DeJuan Blair, Sam Young

 

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