ISU's Five Seniors Highlight 2008 Awards Banquet
April 11, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - The culmination of Illinois State's 110th season of men's basketball was recognized Friday night, as more than 300 people were in attendance for the 2007-08 banquet at Redbird Arena. The event, emceed by Redbird Radio Network play-by-play voice Dick Luedke, included speeches by all five members of the senior class, along with the presentation of six annual awards.
Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich recognized his team following a speech by Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger and a video tribute from university president Al Bowman.
"Within minutes of me accepting this job, I knew I had a good group to work with, just based on their body language," said Jankovich. "What I didn't know was that it would be a great group, and that became evident when practices began. I have never been around a more attentive, caring and understanding group in my 25 years of coaching."
After Jankovich thanked the fans, support staff and administration, he recognized ISU's five seniors, sharing short stories about each individual. Julius Moor, Levi Dyer, Dom Johnson, Anthony Slack and Boo Richardson then took the podium, reflecting on their respective careers as Redbirds.
ISU's coaching staff then each took turns presenting a series of individual awards.
Igor Vrzina, the Redbirds' administrative assistant, presented Slack with the Most Outstanding Rebounding Award. Slack led Illinois State with 234 caroms (7.1 rpg), including a 20-rebound effort on senior night (Feb. 27) against Creighton. He was the first Redbird to grab 20 or more rebounds in a game since 1978.
Assistant coach Anthony Beane presented Johnson with the Most Outstanding Free Throw Award. Johnson led the `Birds with an 81.1 free throw percentage. His two clutch free throw with 25 seconds remaining gave ISU a 64-63 win over host Missouri State on Feb. 2, lifting the Redbirds to their third of five Valley road wins.
Assistant coach Paris Parham, a former point guard at Mankato State, presented Richardson with the Most Outstanding Assist Award. Richardson had 135 assists against just 62 turnovers on the season, and dished out five or more assists in 12 games. He also played 30.1 minutes per game, the second-highest total on the team.
Director of Basketball Operations Kerry Darting presented Dyer with the Most Outstanding Three-Point Shooting Award. Dyer, the Redbirds' sixth man, finished his career fourth all-time in three-point field goal percentage (42.2 percent), and is ninth on the all-time made three-point field goal list with 141. He finished the 2007-08 campaign with a team-high 53 threes.
Assistant coach Rob Judson presented the Most Improved Player Award to sophomore forward Dinma Odiakosa. Odiakosa started 34 of 35 games, and scored 6.9 points per game to go along with a team second-best 5.5 rebounds per contest. He recorded eight double-digit scoring efforts, including one in both of ISU's National Invitation Tournament (NIT) games against Utah State and Dayton.
Jankovich wrapped up the awards presentation by handing out both the "Redbird Award" and "Doug Collins Awards." The Redbird Award, given annually to a player that demonstrates leadership, heart, effort and attitude, was given to Richardson.
The Doug Collins Award, which is awarded annually to ISU's most valuable player, was given to sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge.
Eldridge had 30 double-digit scoring efforts this season, and was named to the MVC First-Team while also collecting All-Tournament team honors. In conference play, he paced the league with a 17.1 points per game scoring average in addition to 5.6 rebounds per Valley game. The two-time MVC Player of the Week had two 30-point efforts, including nine outings with 20 or more points. Eldridge, who was the runner up for the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year Award, also tallied seven or more rebounds 13 times with two double-digit rebounding outputs.
Notably, both an audio highlight package, courtesy of WJBC, and highlight video, provided by WMBD's Kurt Pegler, were both included in the ceremony.
Illinois State is set to return eight letterwinners, including two starters, from a team that won a school-record 25 games, and advanced to the second round of the NIT, securing the Redbirds' first postseason appearance since the 2000-01 season. Three redshirts (Blake Mishler, Chamberlain Oguchi and Landon Shipley), along with a four-member recruiting class, will also highlight the Redbirds' 2008-09 campaign.