William & Mary dominates CAA postseason men's basketball awards

Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 15:37:58-05

RICHMOND, Va. (Tribe Media Relations) – William & Mary senior Nathan Knight and head coach Dane Fischer headlined an impressive Tribe haul when the Colonial Athletic Association handed out its annual men's basketball awards on Friday afternoon.

Knight became just the second player in league history to be named both the CAA Player and Defensive Player of the Year, while Fischer was the fifth rookie head coach to garner the league's coach of the year honor. W&M is just the third program, along with George Mason in 1999 and Hofstra in 2019, to earn three major CAA awards in the same season.

Along with Knight's spot on the first team, senior Andy Van Vliet earned All-CAA Third Team honors, giving the Tribe multiple all-league selections for the eighth-straight season. For the first time in program history, W&M placed two players on the CAA All-Defensive Team with junior Luke Loewe earning a spot alongside Knight. It marked the third-straight year that Knight was honored, making him just the 15th player in league history to earn three defensive team honors and just the second in Tribe annals, along with David Culley (1994-96).

After leading the Tribe to the program's best regular-season win total since 1950 with 21, Fischer was selected as the CAA Coach of the Year. He is the fourth W&M head coach to receive the honor. Fischer joined a list that includes VCU's Anthony Grant in 2007, UNCW's Brad Brownell in 2003, Richmond's Bill Dooley in 1994 and George Mason's Rick Barnes in 1988 as rookie head coaches to win the CAA's top honor.

The Tribe was picked seventh in the CAA's preseason poll and went on to finish second with a school-record tying 13 league victories. W&M won 10 road games which also tied a school record and ranks seventh nationally. The 21 wins are the fourth most in Tribe history and the second most for a rookie head coach in the country this season.

Knight joined George Mason's George Evans as the only players in CAA history to win both the league's player and defensive player of the year awards in the same season. Evans did it in both 1999 and 2001. Knight also joined Marcus Thornton, who recently had his No. 3 jersey retired on Feb. 15 during the program's Gold Rush game, as the only Tribe players to be named CAA Player of the Year. He is also just the second W&M player, along with Terry Tarpey in 2015 and 2016, to be named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year.

Knight garnered a spot on the All-CAA First Team for the second-straight season. He is one of only three players in school history to be named to the first team in two seasons, along with Thornton (2014-15) and Adam Hess (2003-04). Knight is just the fourth W&M player to be named All-CAA on three occasions.

This season, Knight is on pace to become just the fourth CAA player and first since 1989 to average 20 points and 10 rebounds. Nationally, he is one of only two players to rank among the top 20 in both scoring (20th at 20.6) and rebounding (14th at 10.5). Knight also leads the country in player efficiency rating (PER), while ranking second in double-doubles (22). He was named to a number of national player of the year watch lists including the United States Basketball Writers Association Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Citizen Naismith Trophy Men's Player of the Year presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, the Luke Olson National Player of the Year and the Lou Henson Mid-Major National Player of the Year, both presented by Knight was named one of 10 finalists for both the Senior CLASS Award and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year as well.

Defensively, Knight leads the CAA in blocked shots at 1.5 per game and defensive rebounds per contest (7.9). He also ranks sixth nationally in defensive rebounds. Knight leads the CAA in defensive win shares (1.7) and defensive rating in CAA games (95.0).

Van Vliet earned All-CAA Third Team honors in his lone season with the Tribe. The 7-foot forward ranks third in the CAA in blocked shots (1.3) and defensive rebounds (7.3), fourth in rebounding overall (8.6), 13th in scoring (13.3) and 14th in field goal %. Earlier this season, he earned CAA Player of the Week honors on Nov. 18 after scoring 21 points in a win at Wofford and 22 in a victory over Hampton. Van Vliet owns 10 double-doubles on the year, which ranks third in the CAA and 60th nationally. His 8.6 rebounds per game rank 75th nationally.

Loewe earned CAA All-Defensive Team honors to give W&M two of the five selections this season. He turned in a number of strong defensive efforts against All-CAA First Team members in Northeastern's Jordan Roland, Charleston's Grant Riller and Hofstra's Desure Buie. Loewe held Roland to a season-low seven points in the win at Northeastern on Jan. 4 after limiting Buie to 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting and 1-of-7 from 3 just two days earlier in a victory at Hofstra. In both contests with Charleston, Riller scored just 10 points with Loewe as the primary defender and combined to go just 6-of-21 (28.6%) from the field.

The Tribe is the No. 2 seed in the 2020 Hercules Tires CAA Championship, which will be March 7-10 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. W&M meets the winner of No. 7 seed Elon and No. 10 seed James Madison in the quarterfinals on Sunday, March 8, at 6 p.m. The game will be streamed on FloHoops.

Fans can also listen in to every W&M CAA Tournament game on the William & Mary Sports Network with Jay Colley and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM is the flagship station of the William & Mary Sports Network and the audio is also available over the Web for FREE via the Tune-In app.