Kerusch, Pettigrew, McNear receive MVP awards at basketball banquet

Seniors Sergio Kerusch, left, and Arnika Brown, right, laugh at their highlights video Thursday evening at the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Dinner and Awards Banquet held in the Topper Club in Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.

Brad Stephens

The 2010-2011 WKU men’s and women’s basketball seasons officially came to an end Thursday night at an awards banquet held in the Topper Club at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Senior forwards Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch both received the Clem Haskins Most Valuable Player Award for the men’s team.

Kerusch led the Toppers in scoring this year with a 15.6 point per game average and also grabbed 7.9 rebounds a game.

Meanwhile, the Elizabethtown native Pettigrew averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 rebounds while leading WKU in minutes played with 33.9 per game.

Men’s Head Coach Ken McDonald said Kerusch and Pettigrew have different personalities, but both were equally valuable to the team.

“Sergio brought charisma, energy and passion to the team,” McDonald said. “And I might have him back here in a few years running my basketball camps because he’s so great with kids.

“Pettigrew is more of a quiet assassin. He’s hard-nosed and has incredible character. He’s what we want the image of our program to be.”

WKU’s other graduating senior, Juan Pattillo, was absent from the banquet.

The Toppers had a 16-16 overall record but finished the year with an 11-5 run.

Senior point guard Amy McNear was awarded the women’s team MVP after averaging 10.8 points per game and finishing fourth in the nation last season with 6.8 assists per game.

The Lady Toppers went 15-17, losing the Sun Belt Conference Championship game to Arkansas-Little Rock.

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles confirmed after the banquet that the team has an assistant coach opening on staff, as coach Latasha Dorsey is no longer with the team.

Other awards received included:


· E.A. Diddle Award: Pettigrew

· Jim McDaniels Leading Scorer Award: Kerusch

· Danny Rumph Outstanding Teammate Award: Caden Dickerson

· Ralph Crosthwaite Field Goal Accuracy Award: Pattillo

· Darel Carrier Free Throw Accuracy Award: Dickerson

· Tom Marshall Rebounder of the Year: Pattillo

· Dwight Smith Playmaker of the Year: Jamal Crook

· John Oldham Most Improved Player: Crook

· Bobby Rascoe Defensive Player of the Year: Pattillo

· Dixie Mahurin Academic Award: Dickerson

· Jones Family Appreciation Award: Deborah Wilkins, WKU Chief of Staff and General Counsel


· Coach’s Award: Jasmine Johnson

· Free Throw Accuracy Awards: McNear, Chaney Means, Vanessa Obafemi

· Academic Achievement: Arnika Brown, Mimi Hill, Teranie Thomas

· Scholar Athlete: Means

After the ceremonies, both McDonald and women’s coach Mary Taylor Cowles spoke with the media.

McDonald on the banquet: “It’s always good to say goodbye to the seniors and thank the seniors for their contributions. You forget how long you’re around them, but then you have guys like Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio who have been around three years. We want to thank them, end on that right note and look forward to the future. We’re not very interested on the past. We want to focus on what’s coming in, and how the guys are doing.”

McDonald on spring workouts: “It’s our job to start from scratch with the fundamentals. We want to break down the core values of our program and try to build it up where we want it. The biggest gauging point you have as a staff is effort and attitude, and if those things are going well, then at a high level you’re going to be where you want to be a year from now… I’m really proud of our guys academically and athletically.”

McDonald on working with a young 2011-2012 team: “We’re never going to use youth as an excuse. This year the fact was that we had seven new guys, which was a challenge, and we didn’t find that chemistry. We didn’t have good point play early, but that got better as the season went on. I just want our guys to understand they’ve got to come in and set a tone and know that we’re about teamwork, pride, and toughness. We want to put a product on the floor that people are excited about watching. The fans will matriculate back and understand this is a team they can be proud of watching. We will play a whole lot harder on the court, and I think the fans are going to see that.”

McDonald on recruiting: “We want to be stronger at the point and have more depth at the point. They are a lot of variables that go into the spring recruiting period, and that’s going to have to be a week-to-week deal. We’ve got several visits coming in over the next few weeks. Obviously the most important position is solidifying and adding depth to the point guard position. After that, you can make a case for a lot of different positions.”

Cowles on banquet: “I’m so proud of the ladies and the way we were able to make a strong finish in the conference tournament. That really created some memories that, in my opinion, kind of overshadowed the rest of the season. I wish as a head coach I could’ve figured out what we did in the tournament a lot earlier in the season and maybe have been able to incorporate some of those things.”

Cowles on the team improving after the departure of Janae Howard: “There’s no doubt our team came together as a team when it became smaller. I learned a lot during that process, but the thing I took away from that is the character these young ladies played with. It meant a lot to these ladies to represent the WKU that they were wearing on their uniforms every day.”

Cowles on spring workouts: “They’ve been extremely positive. We’ve probably gotten between 1600 and 1900 shots up during eight workouts. They’re very tuned in, and I think they understand what they’ve got to do between now and next November. Hopefully we can take the success from the end of last year and incorporate that into an entire season.”

Cowles on recruiting: “I think recruiting is 24/7/365; it’s something that never goes away. We’ll continue to do that, and our roster is not full yet, so obviously recruiting is something that is extremely busy. We’ve got some more official visits coming in and are expecting another late signee as of now, if not two more. That would put us at a full roster of 15 for next year.”

Cowles on open staff position: “It’s been posted online, and obviously there’s the official process that we have to go through. That’s what we’re dealing with right now, and applications coming in. I’m confident we’ll hire the best person that can fit in with what we’re trying to do with our program.”