March 11, 2010
As we close out our basketball season, I would like to thank many people for making it one of the best ever for Western Carolina University. Like all tournament sports, most basketball teams end their seasons with a loss and, for a while, that is the lingering memory. Yet, this season has been full of records, wins and improvement.
It was last May, when Karen Middleton joined the athletic staff, that basketball season began for the women's team. Looking back on the past few months, we see a team that worked through a coaching transition, roster changes and injuries to finish the season on the upswing over their last few games. The seniors on this team have made this one of the most successful periods ever for Catamount women's basketball, both athletically and academically. Thank you ladies, for the hard work, perseverance and dedication you have given to your school and your team.
It was even farther back, in November 2005, when the foundation of the men's season began with the signing of Jake Robinson, Brandon Giles and Brigham Waginger to letters of intent to play at WCU. They and their teammates signaled an improvement in the Catamount men's team that culminated with this year's outstanding achievements, which include:
A 22-11 record, which is the tenth 20 win season in the program's history. It the first since 1971-1972 and the only fourth time a men's team has won 22 or more games;
An RPI ranking in national top 30; the first time that has happened since the RPI has been calculated;
Signature wins over the University of Louisville and Bradley University, and
The setting of new school records by Jake Robinson and Brigham Waginger for three point baskets and steals, respectively.
Thank you guys, for building a foundation that will make this program even more successful.
Not to forget the coaches and staff that are sometimes overlooked in the excitement of the season. Coaches Hunter and Middleton have assembled an excellent group of assistants who are integral in meeting the challenges of collegiate coaching. Thanks to each coach, as well as to the team who works above and beyond taking care of tickets, promotions, media, game day operations and a myriad of other details that are essential in putting on a basketball game.
Another huge thank you goes to the fan and student support we received this year. This season you set an all-time record for season attendance since such records have been kept, highlighted by the second largest basketball crowd in WCU history.
Speaking of attendance, I want to thank each person who followed the teams to Charlotte for this year's Southern Conference Tournament. We had the largest number of supporters at the tournament than have been present in many years, and that was indicative of the support shown throughout the year. Working behind the scenes (and signs) to organize the pre-game gatherings were Brian Frerking, Gorham Bradley and Tom Frazier.
A special thanks goes to Greg McConnell, manager of the BlackFinn Restaurant, which served as our headquarters for the weekend.
It truly has been a year to remember for Catamount Basketball... Bring on next season!
Thank you and...
Director of Athletics