Durham named GNAC Coach of the Year

Photo by Paul McCarthy
Photo by Paul McCarthy

Jamie Foland

Second-year head coach Mick Durham has been named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Coach of the Year while three men’s basketball starters were named to the All-Conference teams, the league office announced Monday afternoon.

Senior guard Dominique Brinson (Juneau, Alaska/Accounting) and junior center Sergej Pucar (Belgrade, Serbia/Business administration) were both honored on the All-GNAC Second Team while junior guard Pat Voeut (Bellingham, Wash./Communication) was tabbed as a GNAC Honorable Mention selection.

“I think those three are very deserving,” Durham said. “Our team by finishing fourth had a very good GNAC season so I’m excited for them. Anytime you finish higher than people expect, you feel good about that and we definitely did that.”

In only his second year at the helm, Durham led the Nanooks to their first winning season in six years with a 15-11 overall record and turned in the program’s best mark in conference play in seven seasons with a 10-8 record to finish in fourth place.

“It’s a great honor for Mick and a great acknowledgement of the program,” director of athletics Gary Gray said. “He and the team worked very hard and what a tremendous turnaround in one year. He is well deserving and it says a lot about his ability and speaks really well for the future of the program.”

The Nanooks won GNAC Team of the week three times throughout the 2012-13 season and its three All-GNAC honorees were named Player of the Week a combined five times. The signature win of the season, which clinched the program’s first post-season berth since 2005, was against Western Washington on Feb. 21, in which the ‘Nooks snapped WWU’s program- and GNAC-record 30-game win streak with a 77-73 victory at the Patty Center.

“I sure felt we could be a top-four team with how we recruited and we were able to do that,” Durham said. “I sure didn’t think we were an eighth-place team and I don’t think we overachieved. I think we played to our ability and that was fourth place.”

Durham shared the Coach of the Year accolade with WWU’s first-year head coach Tony Dominguez, who led the Vikings to the regular-season title with a 26-1 overall record and 17-1 mark in GNAC play.

Brinson led the team and ranked 12th on the GNAC’s scoring list with 12.5 points per game. He also ranked eighth in three pointers made (2.0) and ninth in free throw percentage (.831). Brinson recorded 15 double-figure scoring games and five 20-point games, which included a season-best 28 points at home against Western Oregon. He drained a career-high six treys in that win.

“You want your seniors to have a great season to remember and Dom has been very consistent,” Durham. “He’s our leader, he’s our second-year senior and he leads by example. He’s done that since last season ended. He had a great summer and I’m excited he was able to get this honor.”

Pucar turned it on the second half of conference slate and finished the regular season with 11.2 points per game while ranking tied for seventh in the GNAC with 6.9 rebounds per outing. Despite his size and being a post player, he was one of the league’s top three-point shooters as he connected on 45.8 percent (33-72) of his shots from beyond the arc. Pucar scored in double figures on 16 occasions and brought down 10-plus rebounds five times. He had career-highs of 26 points in the upset win over Western Washington and 16 rebounds, which he achieved twice in the road trip at Central Washington and Northwest Nazarene.

“Sergej just really came on the second half of conference and had two outstanding weeks where he was named Player of the Week,” Durham said. “We go how Sergej goes because he gives us that inside game and is also tough to guard because he can pop out and shoot it.”

Voeut ran the offense for the Nanooks at the point guard position and was solid on the defensive end as well. He was 18th in the GNAC with 11.8 points per game while also leading the league with 5.3 assists per game. In addition he was third in steals (1.7), ninth in assist/turnover ratio (1.8) and 10th in free throw percentage (.828). Voeut recorded 16 double-figure scoring games and his season highlights included 25 points at Central, nine assists versus WWU and five steals against Seattle Pacific.

“Pat has been the leader on the court as the point guard,” Durham said. “We recruited him to be our point guard and he knew that the day he signed  with us. It was a great opportunity for him and he really took advantage of it. He gets a lot of credit for being a leader on both ends of the court.”

The Nanooks fly to Lacey, Wash., this week for the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championship and will face fifth-seeded Montana State Billings in the first round Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. (PST).

First Team: John Allen (WWU), Jarrell Crayton (MSUB), David Downs (SPU), Kyle Fossman (UAA), Paul Jones (WWU), Mark McLaughlin (CWU).

Second Team: Dominique Brinson (Alaska), Sergej Pucar (Alaska), Patrick Simon (SPU), Teancum Stafford (UAA), Jobi Wall (SPU), Richard Woodworth (WWU).

Honorable Mention: David Arnold (MSUB), Andy Avgi (WOU), Brady Bomber (SMU), Austin Bragg (WWU), Jordan Coby (CWU), Taylor Dunn (SFU), Liam Gibcus (UAA), Kalob Hatcher (MSUB), Jonathan Hawkins (NNU), Kenny Jones (NNU), Omar McDade (MSUB), Chris Mitchell (WWU), Kolton Nelson (WOU), Roger O’Neill (SMU), Andy Poling (SPU), Kevin Rima (NNU), Riley Stockton (SPU), Pat Voeut (Alaska).

Player of the Year: John Allen (Western Washington)
Defensive Player of the Year: Riley Stockton (Seattle Pacific)
Newcomer of the Year: Mark McLaughlin (Central Washington)
Freshman of the Year: Andy Avgi (Western Oregon)
Coaches of the Year: Tony Dominguez (Western Washington) and Mick Durham (Alaska)