Beating Villanova was nothing. Winning a Voodoo Five Award... now that's something to celebrate.
With the end of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend, the 2010-11 USF athletic season officially came to an end. So now, it's time to look back at the best and... not best teams, moments, and athletes from the year gone by. Presenting the 2011 Voodoo Five Awards!
Rather than fight it out when we disagreed, I listed both Ken's and my votes for each category below. Toro was too busy getting a totally awesome job to participate, but
we'll we did edit this post to include Gary's votes later on.
KEN'S BEST TEAM: Women's soccer. Not the greatest season in USF Athletics history, so let's give the team who actually made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament some credit. Coach Denise Schilte-Brown did a fantastic job with a team full of underclassmen, and was extremely close to knocking out a quality FSU team in the second round. They have nine starters returning next season, so expect some great things from them in 2011.
VOODOO'S BEST TEAM: Totally agree. Women's soccer was the only team to get past the first round of their NCAA tournament.
GARY'S BEST TEAM: There aren't really any other candidates. Honorable mention to men's soccer and women's tennis who both made the NCAAs.
KEN'S MOST SURPRISING TEAM: Women's soccer. See above.
VOODOO'S MOST SURPRISING TEAM: Softball. Maybe it's just because I underestimated Ken Eriksen, which would rank among the dumber things I've done for this blog. But they were better a lot faster than I expected, powered by a bunch of underclassmen who will only get better over the next 2-3 years.
GARY'S MOST SURPRISING TEAM: Football, anyone? It's easy to forget we entered 2010 thinking the St. Petersburg Bowl might actually be a successful season, and were an empty 3-3 halfway through the year. Then came the where-did-that-come-from Cincinnati performance, the gawdawful-but-we'll-take-it Rutgers win, and the opportunistic Louisville win -- each of which got a monkey off the team's back.
KEN'S MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Baseball. You figured that they would at least get a Top 4 finish in a down Big East this season. But with injuries and a lack of hitting from most of the lineup, Coach Lelo Prado's club couldn't even make it to the Big East Tournament. Thankfully our
four six best players are leaving and it doesn't look like there is anyone to pick up the slack. (ED NOTE: Save us Rock Shoulders, you are our only hope.)
VOODOO'S MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Well, duh.
GARY'S MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Baseball. USF has such an advantage with weather and access to local prospects that Big East baseball shouldn't even be a fair fight. And yet USF can't even make the conference tournament. That's embarrassing.
KEN'S BEST INDIVIDUAL (MALE): Kevin Quackenbush, Baseball. Even though it was a horrible year for the baseball team, you can't blame it on Quack. He was one of the premier closers in the country and the first baseball All-American in 14 years, then was drafted in the eighth round of the MLB Draft.
VOODOO'S BEST INDIVIDUAL (MALE): David Aristil, track and field. Finished fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 400-meter hurdles, just missing the podium. But he did make All-American status for the second time in his career.
GARY'S BEST INDIVIDUAL (MALE): Ken sold me on Quackenbush. It was a season that lacked any one great performer.
KEN'S BEST INDIVIDUAL (FEMALE): Sara Nevins, softball. She was the focal point of softball's resurgence this season. With three more seasons, she will have a chance to break a ton of the all-time records here at USF.
VOODOO'S BEST INDIVIDUAL (FEMALE): Shena Yang, golf. Her worst finish of the year was tied for 12th; she finished in the top-10 in every other tournament, and fifth in the Big East championships. Basically she was only off her game for nine holes all season (the first nine holes of the NCAA East Regional, which she couldn't completely recover from). And she's a sophomore and her team is about to get some awesome training facilities, so there's still room to improve.
GARY'S BEST INDIVIDUAL (FEMALE): Tennis' Irene Rehberger had a good season too, finishing 35th in the individual rankings, and sharing Big East Player of the Year.
Lots more, after the jump.
KEN'S BEST GAME: Football vs. Miami. No it wasn't the prettiest game, but anytime you beat a member of the Big 3 it has to mean something. Plus Randy Shannon was fired minutes after Demetris Murray's touchdown, which puts it over the men's basketball win over Villanova in the Big East tournament.
VOODOO'S BEST GAME: Football vs. Cincinnati. If we're talking about just the best game, not the one with the most impact or significance, you can't top the Cincinnati game. It was spectacularly entertaining and I think it was also a tipping point for the season - it was one of five wins by less than a touchdown for the Bulls in 2010. Give that game away at the end, and who knows what the psyche of the team looks like in November.
GARY'S BEST GAME: Basketball vs. VCU. We didn't know they'd go to the Final Four, but we knew they were a good team. The Bulls played good defense, rebounded well, a lot of guys contributed, and the crowd was into it. You could almost imagine we were back in the Sun Belt if there were a couple thousand more people there. The BYU game deserves a mention too, even though we lost. Lots of big shots back and forth in a double-OT nailbiter, with National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette deciding it at the end.
KEN'S WORST GAME: Men's basketball vs. Marquette. Destroy a 17-point lead in the second half against an extremely soft press and blow endless chances to steal the game back at the end? Sure, that will take this award. Add in Fitzy's intentional miss that actually went in and it could be the worst game of the decade.
VOODOO'S WORST GAME: The Marquette loss was the worst USF game in any sport since Rutgers in 2007. Fortunately it was on ESPN2 against the Syracuse-Georgetown game on ESPN, so not that many people saw it unfold. Speaking of Syracuse, USF's give-up against the Orange at the St. Pete Times Forum comes in second here.
GARY'S WORST GAME: Oh, God, Marquette. That game was so Biblically terrible it should have its own name, like Agony of Doha. Not just to commemorate it, but so those who were there can just say the name and not have to explain what they saw that day. If you weren't there, just move to the next item and don't ask questions. If you're morbidly curious, you can read this summary, and then consider that those are the winners talking. If you're the kind of person who gets off on fatal car crashes, you can re-read what I wrote at the time.
KEN'S BIGGEST UPSET: It was a horrible season for USF basketball. Thankfully, Stan Heath's club got their moment in the sun by rallying from 16 down for a last-second triumph against Villanova in the Big East tournament. We'll always have Villanova, Anthony Crater. I hope you had the time of your life.
VOODOO'S BIGGEST UPSET: Now this is where I'll put the Miami game. I don't think the Villanova win at the Big East tournament had quite the same impact as beating the Canes in their house. It freaked out Miami so bad that they fired Randy Shannon before the day was over, and later they came out and announced they weren't extending the USF-Miami series after 2013 (although that may change with a new AD). It's a huge win for the program's own sake, and it's something Skip Holtz and the coaches can use to make some recruiting inroads in south Florida. Just like everyone else.
GARY'S BIGGEST UPSET: Villanova. No question. After an all-timer of a bad season, it was a well-deserved triumph for a team who'd had it taken away so many times. Go back to the top of the article and look at the faces in that picture. That is pure joy. And let's say this about those guys: they never gave up. USF has had basketball teams that were down to six players at the end of the year because so many guys quit. Not this year. Even the guys who weren't getting on the court at all, and would transfer out of USF after it was over, kept going to practice and stuck it out to the end. Good on them for that.
KEN'S FUNNIEST STORY: The Holtzisms.
VOODOO'S FUNNIEST STORY: The idea that Gus Gilchrist might have considered declaring for the NBA Draft because he graduated in three years. Don't think that would have worked out too well.
GARY'S FUNNIEST STORY: This is only funny because of where it happened, but... Porche Grant flipping off Rutgers. OK, that's not a cool thing to do, but I was amused by the fans' reaction to it. They were pretty offended by it. These people were offended by it. I thought she was just trying to say hello in the local language.
KEN'S BIGGEST CONTROVERSY: When you put 71 players on a women's cross country roster, something isn't right. Throw in the fact that some of the runners were sprinters, pole vaulters, and hurdlers and it's a black eye on the university.
VOODOO'S BIGGEST CONTROVERSY: Agreed, with Myrtice Landers in second.
GARY'S BIGGEST CONTROVERSY: It's never good to be the centerpiece of a New York Times article on the need for athletics reform. But I think the biggest controversy, in terms of dollars and long-term importance, was the struggle to get the financing for the Sun Dome renovation. They say they've got it settled now, but this could still run into next season.
VOODOO'S USF COACH YOU WOULD PICK TO LEAD HUMANITY IN A ONE-GAME BATTLE WITH ALIENS FOR CONTROL OF PLANET EARTH: Unquestionably Skip Holtz. Not only would he figure out the rules of any other sport besides football fast enough to coach the team up, but even if they lost the game he might be able to communicate with the aliens and negotiate some kind of peaceful settlement.