April 22, 2008
The accomplishments of the Lipscomb Bisons and Lady Bisons basketball teams were celebrated Tuesday night with a recognition dinner on the playing floor at Allen Arena.
Coach Frank Bennett's Lady Bisons finished strong after struggling for much of the season. They beat arch-rival Belmont twice in the last five games of the season, including the first win for the Lady Bisons at the Curb Center and quarterfinals win in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at Allen Arena.
The Lady Bisons lost in the semifinals to ETSU, the eventual tournament champion. It was the deepest they had advanced in the conference tournament since winning it in 2004.
"It was a tough season in many ways," said Bennett. "We really overscheduled. We played too much on the road and we played some major programs like Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt from the Southeastern Conference and Kansas State."
Bennett made three special awards to players.
Freshman point guard Jenna Bartsokas, a member of the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team, was the winner of the "Best Teammate" Award for "being fun to be around and willing to help other players out."
Senior point guard Catie Woods was presented the "Glue" Award for her ability to keep the team together in tough times. Senior forward Rachel Davis won the "Nails" award for having overcome so many injuries in an attempt to play this past season.
Bisons coach Scott Sanderson's team did not advance past the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament this season. Sanderson admitted that it was not the season he wanted.
"Every season has a life of its own," Sanderson said. "We had won a lot for a couple of years, but this season did not meet the expectations I wanted or that the players wanted.
"Our goals are always going to be to win in the conference, to win the conference tournament and to get into postseason play."
Sanderson also presented a number of individual awards. Freshman center Adnan Hodzic won the "Most Improved" Award.
His teammates chose freshman guard Jimmy Oden as the winner of the Michael Mays "Best Teammate " Award. Senior center Jason Hopkins won the "Academic" Award.
Dr. Steve Potts, Lipscomb's director of athletics, presented the James R. Byers Awards to Rachel Davis and Jason Hopkins. Each one received a Bible.
The finale of the evening was the presentation of a framed purple Bisons basketball jersey with the No.1 on the front to Dr. Potts. Both Sanderson and Bennett made the presentation to Potts who is leaving Lipscomb to serve as senior director of athletics at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
"Steve Potts has a passion for doing things right," said Sanderson. "He will always take the high road even if it is unpopular. He has been unbelievable to work with. He has a passion for excellence."
Bennett, who is celebrating his 35 year at Lipscomb as a coach on both the high school and college levels, echoed the sentiments of Sanders.
"Steve has provided great leadership as we made the move from NAIA to NCAA Division I," Bennett said. "It hasn't always been easy. We haven't always had as much staff or as much money as we would like.
"When there has been a difficult situation he has been there to walk with you. He has covered our backs."
Dr. Potts was visibly moved by the gesture.
"What a blessing it has been to be here with you," he said. "The things I will take with me are not how many wins or losses we had but the depth of the friendships and the genuine love and affection for each one of you."