MONDAY, MARCH 02, 2009
Warren, Smith and Hardy receive all-conference recognition
JU head coach Cliff Warren was named Atlantic Sun Conference “Coach of the Year,” with junior point guard Ben Smith being picked first team all-conference on Wednesday.
Sophomore forward Ayron Hardy was named the league’s “Defensive Player of the Year.”
It is the second straight season that Smith has earned a spot on the first team. He led the Dolphins in points, assists and steals during the run to the title.
“We are very thankful and feel very blessed to be recognized by our peers,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “This has been a process for us, with tremendous support from our administration through the last four years. As group, we feel honored to receive this award.
“Both awards are well deserved. These two young men worked extremely hard in the offseason and throughout the year to receive this award.”
Hardy earned his award by finishing ranked in the top 10 in the A-Sun in steals (1.68) and blocks (0.86). He finished the season with 47 steals, just shy of cracking the school’s top 10 for a single season.
Smith had another stellar season. While leading the Dolphin in scoring, he became a more consistent scorer – putting up double figures in 25 of JU’s 29 games, including a streak of 10 straight games at one point.
Topping it off, he put up 20 points or more eight times – including 27 points in the win over Belmont to give JU the regular season title.
The win over Belmont on Saturday was yet another milestone for the Dolphins in their four seasons under Warren.
Since winning one game four years ago, the Dolphins have improved each season and finally climbed to the top of the league standings this year.
The Dolphins begin their quest for the A-Sun Tournament title on Friday as they face the winner of the Lipscomb-Campbell game at 9:30 p.m. (EST).
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