April 11, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina men's basketball and head coach Larry Hunter held its annual seasonal wrap-up with a team dinner on Wednesday evening on-campus. In addition to internal recognitions of its awards and honors from the 2011-12 season, Hunter and staff handed out its team superlatives and awards.
"Our staff really enjoyed coaching this team," said Hunter, reiterating a post-season address he made to his squad while summarizing the 2011-12 campaign. "This group of young men was talented, receptive to coaching, consistently worked hard and were competitive. We were a very good team at the end of the season - our `never say die' attitude, heart, competitiveness, toughness and will to compete and win in the face of severe adversity touched a lot of people - not just Catamount fans, but people all across the country."
Hunter's remarks also included thanking the three senior members of the team, while also challenging the returning players to remain hungry and to continue to make strides and improvements in looking to the 2012-13 season.
"We will miss Sam (Smithson), Harouna (Mutombo) and Keaton (Cole) - they are great people who made a serious commitment to being the best they could be and to helping our program establish new levels of excellence," said Hunter. "But we have some really good people and outstanding players returning for next year with an influx of talented players coming in next fall. Our coaching staff cannot wait to get started."
Below is a complete list of the team awards handed out by the coaching staff on Wednesday.
Among the awards were team superlatives for performance both in the classroom and on the court including statistical leaders for the season. Highlighting those awards in which the Catamount coaches voted on were team Most Valuable Players from the year, which was split three ways. Seniors Harouna Mutombo and Keaton Cole - both team captains - as well as redshirt sophomore Trey Sumler were all recognized as the key ingredients among a team that bonded together the second half of the season to make the run towards a championship.
Freshman James Sinclair was enshrined with the "Mr. Hustle Spirit Award" for his work ethic on the court, while classmate Kenneth Hall was dubbed "Most Improved" from the start of individual workouts through the final whistle of 2011-12. Sophomore Tawaski King was selected as the "Catamount Attitude Award" recipient.
Hunter broke the informal team dinner by passing out the framed senior jerseys to Cole, Mutombo and Smithson.
Western Carolina Men's Basketball - 2011-12 Team Awards:
Captain's Award: Keaton Cole and Harouna Mutombo
Scholar-Athlete Award: (highest GPA beyond 24 hrs of undergraduate study) Sam Smithson
Best Assist/ Turnover Ratio: Trey Sumler
Top Rebounder: Harouna Mutombo
Best 3-Point Shooter: Keaton Cole
Best Free Throw Shooter: Trey Sumler
Top Defensive Player: Trey Sumler
Best Field Goal Pct. Shooter: Tawaski King
Most Improved: Kenneth Hall
Mr. Hustle Spirit Award: James Sinclair
MVPs: Keaton Cole, Harouna Mutombo, Trey Sumler
Catamount Attitude Award: Tawaski King
Recapping 2011-12 in Notes:
- Western Carolina finished with an overall record of 17-18 on the year, winning its last four regular season games and its first three games in the Southern Conference tournament to make a run to Monday night's championship game ... WCU has won double-digit games in seven-straight season - every year under head coach Larry Hunter ... Nonconference victories were highlighted by a road win at perennial Missouri Valley Conference foe, Bradley, and a home win over eventual Big South Champion - and mountain-rival - UNC Asheville;
- WCU finished with a 9-4 overall home record - the four losses represented the most for the program at home since going 8-6 in the Ramsey Center back in 2007-08 (the Catamounts were 11-1 in 2010-11; 14-2 in 2009-10; 11-2 in 2008-09) ... All told, the Catamounts have won 47 of their last 56 (.839) home games including 32 of the last 39 (.820) SoCon games in Cullowhee ... Over the past three seasons, WCU is 45-9 (.833) at home ... During Larry Hunter's tenure, the Catamounts are 68-23 (.747) inside the Ramsey Center;
- The 2011-12 season ended in front of a frantic purple-and-gold clad, near-capacity crowd in the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville in the SoCon Championship game ... WCU erased a 13-point deficit over the final 2:47, tying the game on clutch free throws by Keaton Cole in the closing seconds to force overtime ... In the first extra session, Harouna Mutombo drained a pair of free throws and WCU got a defensive stop to force a second overtime ... At the end of double-overtime, Cole had a 3-point attempt from the top of the key rim out as Davidson won, 93-91 ... All told, WCU made all 16 free throw attempts including eight in bonus time in the thrilling final;
- Western Carolina landed a school-record four players on the Southern Conference All-tournament team - the most since putting six on the squad following the 1996 tournament championship ... Harouna Mutombo and Trey Sumler were named first team while Keaton Cole and Tawaski King were selected to the second team by voting members of the media at the post-season tournament ... Mutombo led the team with a 18.8 point per game average over the four games while Keaton Cole made 14 3-pointers while averaging 17.0 ppg ... Sumler averaged 41.8 minutes, 16.0 points and five per game over the four-day run while King scored 10.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Catamounts;
- Despite not putting anyone on the 10-player coaches All-SoCon or three-squad media All-SoCon teams following the close the regular season, Western Carolina did put two on the College Sports Madness All-SoCon squads ... Harouna Mutombo earned third team honors and Trey Sumler picked up fourth team accolades from the media group ... Mutombo led the team with a 13.3 point per game average with Sumler right on his heels at 13.2 ppg during the regular season;
- One-year removed from playing 13 of its first 15 games away from home, the 2011-12 Catamounts played SEVEN of its their first EIGHT games on the road ... All told, 10 of WCU's first 15 games were played away from Cullowhee;
- Trey Sumler was named the Southern Conference's Player of the Week for all games played February 21-25 ... Sumler nearly averaged a triple-double, finishing the week with a team-best 19.5 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Catamounts closed the regular season with four-straight victories including wins over Samford and Appalachian State ... the weekly honor is the first for Sumler and the first for WCU since Mike Williams garnered the award during the 2009-10 season;
- Senior guard Keaton Cole finished his final season with a WCU single-season record 116 made 3-pointers ... During the year, Cole made a career-high nine 3-pointers at home against Samford, becoming WCU's single-season record holder during the game ... Cole eclipsed the previous record of 99 made 3-pointers held by former WCU standout - and current assistant coach - Anquell McCollum which he set in 1995-96, the same season he earned Southern Conference Player of the Year plaudits;
- Cole led the Southern Conference - and ranked FOURTH nationally in the NCAA - averaging 3.31 3-pointers per game ... He additionally ranked 19th in the NCAA by shooting 42.3-percent from long range on the season;
- With 204 made 3-pointers in his career, Cole finished FOURTH on Western Carolina's all-time career 3-pointers made chart;
- Western Carolina senior Harouna Mutombo finished with 1,578 career points to conclude his career ranked 10th in the school's record books ... He also pulled down 684 career rebounds, becoming just the eighth Catamount all-time to score over 1,000 career points AND record over 650 career rebounds - the first WCU player to do so since Dondrell Whitmore (1997-2000) - 1,144 points, 699 rebounds ... Mutombo ranked third in school history with 185 career steals and was tied for 10th on the school's ledger with 55 blocked shots during his four-year career;
- Mutombo was selected to the 2011-12 University Division All-State Men's Basketball team by the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) ... Mutombo was named to the second team by the group ... the honor is the second of Mutombo's career as he garnered first team All-State accolades following his SoCon Freshman of the year campaign in 2008-09;
- Western Carolina's scored a 141-39 victory over Toccoa Falls on Jan. 17 ... the 102 point margin of victory ranks as the third largest in NCAA history according to the 2011-12 NCAA Men's Basketball Record Book ... Long Island recorded a 117-point victory over Medgar Evers (179-62) in 1997 and Purdue defeated Indiana State by 106 (112-6) back in 1911;
- WCU is only the fourth NCAA Division I team to win by 100-or-more points in a single game ... the Catamounts join Long Island (1997), Purdue (1911) and Texas (1916);
WCU SCHOOL RECORDS SET IN THE VICTORY:
- Points in a Single-Game: 141 - (previous record was 133 vs. Toccoa Falls 11/26/01)
- Points in a Half: 72 in the 1st - (previous record was 71 vs. Piedmont 1/25/71)
- Margin of Victory: 102 - (previous was 75, 133-58, vs. Toccoa Falls 11/26/01)
- WCU's 141 points ranks third in Southern Conference history, behind Furman on two occasions as the Paladins scored 154 vs. The Citadel in 1955 and Newberry in 1954 ... WCU's 141 points are the most for a SoCon team since Davidson scored 137 vs. Warren Wilson in 1991.
- Larry Hunter reached a career milestone on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, by claiming his 600th career victory with the 109-63 win over Montreat College ... According to available research, Hunter became the 61st NCAA men's basketball coach all-time at all levels and 38th at the NCAA D-I level;
- Hunter scored his 100th win as the head coach in Cullowhee with the Catamounts' home victory over Chattanooga on Feb. 2 ... At the time, he became the sixth different active head coach in the SoCon with 100 victories at a conference school;
- At the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, Hunter had scored a combined 107 of his 616 career victories in Cullowhee after taking over a Catamount program which had suffered five-consecutive losing seasons including three with single-digit win totals ... Hunter has helped claim two of WCU's three SoCon divisional titles including sharing the North Division crown in 2008-09 and 2010-11... He also led the Catamounts to their first-ever, 20-win season as a NCAA Division I program in 2009-10, halting a drought of 38 years between milestone seasons;