Honors begin to roll in

Best of the best

Nate Green picks off rare double-double, conference MVP and top defensive player

Senior first Sycamore to be Valley's best since Larry Bird

By Mark Bennett

Tribune-Star

Nate Green

Less than a day seemingly all 8,738 fans gave high-fives and back slaps after an unforgettable 56-54 victory over Bradley in his final game in Hulman Center, Indiana State senior Nate Green got a few extra pats on the back Tuesday.

One came as no surprise. The other was a pleasant shock.

Green was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in voting by the college basketball league's beat sports writers, university sports information directors and coaches. Everyone expected that.

In fact, as Sycamore Coach Royce Waltman introduced his 6-foot-5 senior to the Senior Night crowd in Hulman Center after Monday's regular-season ending victory, those fans chanted "MVP, MVP." And Waltman said if Green didn't win the honor on Tuesday, "There should be an investigation."

Later, Waltman called Green "the most gifted and graceful athlete I've ever coached."

No such investigation was necessary. The 22-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, became just the second ISU player to be the MVC's Player of the Year. The other, 1978 and 1979 winner Larry Bird, was in the crowd Monday, watching Green and his teammates win the school's first conference regular-season title since LB's bunch won in 1979.

But Green, the lane-slashing, high-leaping, shot-blocking, ball-stealing guard-forward, was also chosen Tuesday as the MVC's Defensive Player of the Year.

Only one other player in conference history has swept those honors -- Ashraf Amaya of Southern Illinois in 1992.

"That's a little bit more unexpected," Green said. "And I think that means a little bit more than Player of the Year."

Green and the Sycamores have thrived on defense, triggering many fast-break baskets with stolen passes and offensive rebounds. "That's been our calling card," Green explained.

As a result, ISU ended the regular season with a 21-8 record overall and a 14-4 MVC mark. The Sycamores enter this weekend's MVC Tournament at St. Louis' Kiel Center as the No. 1 seed, and will play Friday's Wichita State-Illinois State winner at 1:05 p.m. EST in Saturday's second round.

Entering that game with dual Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards is secondary to Monday night's events, Green said.

"It's a bigger honor for us to have won the championship last night," he said.

By the numbers

ISU's Nate Green was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and also Defensive Player of the Year Tuesday. Here are his per game statistics and rank in the conference.

14.1 points................................... 6th

5 rebounds................................... ----*

4.2 assists................................... 4th

3 steals ................................... 1st

1.03 blocked shots........................2nd

80.2 free throw percentage............8th

* Not in top 10


Published March 1, 2000