Large reward for little man?
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/2/1999

AMHERST - When Shawnta Rogers leaves the banquet room at Philadelphia's downtown Double Tree Hotel tonight, the diminutive guard likely will have a collection of hardware that weighs as much as he does.

The Atlantic 10's annual awards banquet is tonight and Rogers, a 5-foot-4 point guard from George Washington, is a favorite to earn several honors.

The awards are voted on by the coaches. No coach can nominate his own players.

Following is a look at the likely winner in each category.

Player of the Year - There should be no debate here. Rogers leads the conference in scoring, assists and steals and would possibly be a unanimous choice if coach Tom Penders weren't forced to vote for somebody else.

First Team All-Conference -The league has placed six players on this team in the past and likely will this year, too. Rogers and Xavier's James Posey are locks. Rhode Island's Lamar Odom ought to be here, too, but coaches might be hesitant to pick a first-year player.

The other three slots are difficult. La Salle's K'Zell Wesson and Donnie Carr both have the numbers to be on the first team, but it's hard to imagine coaches picking two La Salle players. Wesson's scoring numbers are lower but he is leading the A-10 in rebounding with 10.7 boards per game.

UMass' Monty Mack belongs on the first team and if the Minutemen had a better record he would be a lock to land there. He averaged 17.8 points per game in just his second season, despite facing opponents' toughest defenders.

Xavier's Lenny Brown probably will edge GW's Yegor Mescheriakov for the final spot.

Carr, Mescheriakov and Fordham's Bevon Robin likely will lead the second team.

Coach of the Year - With the coaches voting, this award rarely ever turns out the way it would if the media were still voting.

Despite the fact that his team finished the season 12-14 and just 8-8 in the conference, La Salle's Speedy Morris will get consideration here, mostly because his teams have grossly underachieved in the past. There is speculation that his job might be in jeopardy, so coaches tend to try to use the award to save somebody's neck.

Otherwise, GW's Penders, whose club was the surprise champion in the Atlantic 10 West, would be a natural choice.

Defensive Player of the Year/All-Defensive Team - Again, Rogers probably gets the nod for his steal numbers and for his ability to disrupt opposing offenses. St. Bonaventure could put two players on this squad. Caswell Cyrus leads the conference in blocks, while Tim Winn is second in the league in steals.

Temple's Pepe Sanchez and UMass' Mike Babul also will draw consideration.

Newcomer of the Year/All-Rookie Team - Odom won the league's Rookie of the Week award nine times, making him a virtual lock for Newcomer of the Year. Duquesne's Wayne Smith and Temple's Mark Karcher will join Odom on the All-Rookie Team, while St. Joseph's Damien Reid, Virginia Tech's Dennis Mims, Temple's Kevin Lyde, Xavier's Lloyd Price and La Salle's Rasual Butler will compete for the last two slots.

Chris Daniels Award for Most Improved - Anyone who has seen UMass' Chris Kirkland play over the last 16 games or so will pick him. He has been fantastic over that stretch and has proven to be a far better player than projected when he arrived in the league as a freshman.

Fordham's Alejandro Oliveras is another logical candidate.

Best sixth man - Xavier's Lloyd Price or Temple's Quincy Wadley lead a thin pack at this spot.

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