April 8, 2006
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The annual Navy men's basketball banquet was held Friday night at Alumni Hall where head coach Billy Lange honored Navy's four graduating seniors and handed out several awards.
In his second season as the head coach, Lange led the Mids to a 10-18 record, the first time Navy has reached double digits in the win column since the 2001-02 season. Eight of Navy's 18 losses were by 10 points or less and three by four or fewer. In addition, the Mids finished the season with a 7-6 record against non-Patriot League teams, marking the first time since 1999-00 that Navy has produced a winning record in nonconference action.
Navy finished20'05-06 ranked among the country's top 75 in two statistical categories - free throw percentage and steals. The Mids' 8.4 steals per game was the 46th best average among 326 Div. I schools in the nation. Meanwhile, Navy finished 67th in free throw percentage, shooting 72.2 percent. The Mids finished the season ranked No. 1 in the Patriot League in three statistical categories (overall games), including scoring offense for the second-straight year. Navy averaged 67.8 points per game, 1.7 points more than Patriot League Champion Bucknell. Navy also paced the league in rebounding offense (35.6) and offensive rebounds (13.61) and finished second in free throw percentage.
Freshman guard Bryce Brigham (Bellevue, Wash.) was the recipient of the evening's first award, the Kevin Sinnett Academic Achievement Award. Presented to the player who demonstrates work ethic, commitment and pride in the classroom and in his efforts to represent the team in the academic arena, Brigham finished his first semester at the Academy with a 3.19 grade-point average. The outside gunner who shot 37.7 percent from long range, intends on majoring in economics.
Awarded to the player who performed exceptionally as an individual and team defender, senior Leonard Green (Overland Park, Kan.) was the recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The award was given to Green for his commitment, focus and energy to playing Navy defense. A starter in nine of the 28 games in which he played this season, he averaged 2.5 points per game. Green was tough on the boards where he grabbed 3.0 rebounds per game and was a tremendous spark on the defensive side of the court.
The Most Improved Award was given to senior David Hooper (Dale City, Va.) who demonstrated a desire and will to improve for the benefit of himself and his teammates. The award represents a commitment to being the best player one can be through responsibility, positive energy and passion. While Hooper had felt the pressure to be Navy's long range shooter for years, the coaching staff challenged him at the start of the 2005-06 season to set the bar for not only the team as a whole, but the freshmen specifically. Lange asked that Hooper be a role model in terms of hustle, defense, rebounding, energy and toughness, yet still be a shooting threat. Hooper sacrificed his long range shooting to become a more balanced player who feasted off of discipline. Hooper finished his career fifth on Navy's career three-point field goals list with 134 and averaged 7.0 points per game.
Senior captain Matt Fannin (Lakewood, Ohio) was the recipient of the David Robinson Award, which recognizes that member of the graduating class who has contributed the most to the team's success over his playing career. A three-year starter, Fannin made an impact from the moment he stepped foot on the Yard of the Naval Academy. He played in 105 of the 112 games during his career and averaged 7.3 points per game. He was arguably the team's most improved player during his junior campaign and despite his injury this season, he played a key role in the Mids' success in '05-06. He was instrumental in the early stages of rebuilding the program which saw the Mids nearly double their win total in 2004 and this season, led Navy to its first 10-win season in five years.
Sophomore swing player Greg Sprink (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) was the recipient of the Charles McDonough Most Outstanding Team Player Award, given to the player whose performance, ability and statistics had the greatest impact throughout the season. Sprink became only the 18th player in program history to top the 400-point milestone in a single season, leading the Mids with 416 points. He is also one of just four players in program history to score 200 or more points during the Patriot League slate, finished the season with 217 points, just 12 off the record. He scored double figures in 23 of the 28 games, including a pair of 30-plus point contests at Brown (34) and The Citadel (31).
The Rear Admiral Ronald Marryott Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a Navy basketball player. Awarded to the player who embodies what a Navy basketball player is about, he not only plays for Navy, but demonstrates commitment to character, to leadership and to his teammates. This year's recipient, Matt Fannin, is a warrior, a leader and one of the most inspiring young men to wear a Navy basketball uniform. Fannin had a solid nonconference season and was anxiously awaiting the start of Patriot League play when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee on Jan. 3 against UMBC. After missing four games, he returned to the court to play against arch rival Army, where he scored 18 points. Fannin fought through the pain on a daily basis and led his team through his courage to remain on the court and not the sideline. He finished the season as Navy's third-leading scorer, averaging 9.7 points, and was the team's second-leading rebounder (4.6 rpg).