March 6, 2008

Sports Shorts 3/7/08: Maroons rake in league's highest honors

[img id="80414" align="alignleft"] An impressive win for men's tennis and successful seasons from both of the basketball squads have earned the Maroons a shower of awards this week.

First-year Will Zhang didn't drop a set en route to two victories at first singles last weekend, but that was not what earned him UAA Athlete of the Week honors for men's tennis. To wrap up that title, Zhang had to beat Wash U's John Watts, the 2007 national runner-up, in a 6–4, 6–4 match Sunday. Watts is one of the top players in the country again this year, having lost only eight out of 44 sets heading into the match with Zhang.

It's a good week when your third consecutive UAA Athlete of the Week award isn't the biggest honor you receive, and that's how it went for fourth-year foward Nate Hainje, who was named UAA Player of the Year in addition to picking up the weekly title. Hainje had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the team's win over Wash U Saturday, picking up his ninth career double-double as the Maroons clinched the UAA conference championship and an automatic berth in the NCAAs. Hainje's points helped Chicago climb out of an early hole, and he sunk a couple of free throws with five minutes to go to put the team ahead for good.

On the year, Hainje averaged 16 points per game, the fourth-best number in the league. He shot almost 50 percent from the field and snagged 7.5 rebounds per outing. Against Emory February 15, Hainje scored his 1,000th career point; he now has 1,105 points all told, putting him 11th on Chicago's all time list. This is Hainje's second selection to the All-UAA First Team, and he is the Maroons' first UAA Player of the Year since Derek Reich won the award four straight seasons, 2000–2003.

Hainje's teammate Matt Corning joins him on the UAA First Team. Corning was Chicago's leading scorer, recording 17.8 a night on 55 percent shooting. The third-year forward has scored in double figures in 23 out of 25 appearances this season, but the highlight of the year was his slam dunk against Case January 18.

Netting second team honors was second-year guard Jake Pancratz, the team's catalyst on offense. Pancratz served up 4.5 assists per game, good for fourth in the league, and scored nearly 12 points a game on his own. Pancratz had one of his best showings of the year against Wash U last week, putting up 15 points and 9 assists, leaving him just shy of a double-double.

Also joining the all-conference group was fourth-year forward Tim Reynolds, who got an All-UAA Honorable Mention. With 56 career blocks, Reynolds sits at fifth on Chicago's all-time list. Reynolds was a strong presence in the post for the Maroons all season, contributing 6.4 points a game.

For their team's success, men's basketball head coach Mike McGrath and assistant coaches Jarred Samples and Jim Prunty were named UAA Coaching Staff of the Year. This is McGrath's second UAA Coach of the Year award.

On the women's side, fourth-year guard Nofi Mojidi earned UAA Athlete of the Week honors, as well as being named to the UAA Second Team. Mojidi led the Maroons against Wash U last weekend, pouring in 25 points on 11 of 15 shooting. The strong showing capped off another big year for Mojidi, who is second on Chicago's all-time scoring list with 1,352 points. Mojidi, who is known for her acrobatic drives through the lane, averaged 11.5 points a game this year.

The team's leading scorer, second-year forward Molly Hackney, was named to the UAA First Team after leading the team in scoring and rebounding, with 12.8 points and 6.3 boards a game. One of Hackney's top performances of the year came in a December 18 victory over Rhodes, when she had a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Also honored was third-year forward Alex Leach, who received an All-UAA Honorable Mention. Leach averaged 8.1 points a game and turned it on down the stretch, scoring in double figures in seven of her last 13 games. Leach put up some of her best numbers of the season February 22 against NYU, when she had 19 points to go along with 3 rebounds and two steals.

After guiding women's basketball to its first NCAA berth since the 1994–1995 season, head coach Aaron Roussell and assistant coaches Molly Dullea, Steve White, and Korry Schwanz were named UAA Coaching Staff of the Year.

Baseball's pair of double headers this weekend against Rose Hulman and Illinois Wesleyan at Terre Haute, IN have been canceled due to an inclement weather forecast.