Tony Bozzella caps off a dream season at Seton Hall with MBWA Coach of the Year award. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
They won 28 games, a conference championship, and represented themselves in a world-class fashion at the NCAA Tournament. Now, it seems only fitting that some of Seton Hall's best have the finest honors in local college basketball bestowed upon them.
In a result that comes as no surprise to those who either know him well or have seen his team in action, Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella was rightfully rewarded today as the MBWA Maggie Dixon Division I Women's Coach of the Year, as voted upon by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. In just two years at the helm of his alma mater, Bozzella has guided the Pirates to success that had long been forgotten in South Orange, amassing a 48-20 record that has seen Seton Hall reach the postseason in both seasons, most notably last month's NCAA Tournament appearance against Rutgers that concluded a 28-6 campaign that earned the Hall a ranking as high as No. 23 in the nation over the course of a year where the 28 wins were the most in school history since recording 27 victories in 1994. His award is Seton Hall's first such honor since Phyllis Mangina received the same distinction in 1994 and 1995.
Ka-Deidre Simmons missed out on Big East Player of the Year honors, but made up for it with MBWA Player of the Year award. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
In addition to Bozzella, his point guard, Ka-Deidre Simmons, added another trophy to her case with her selection as the MBWA Division I Women's Player of the Year. Narrowly defeated by DePaul's Brittany Hrynko for the same honor in the Big East Conference, Simmons was the clear-cut choice for the MBWA award. The graduate student from Newark averaged 17.0 points, 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game running Bozzella's offense this past year, and was the unquestioned floor general for the Pirates throughout the season, leading with and without the ball in her hands. She is the third Seton Hall player to be honored as the Player of the Year, and first since Dana Wynne in 1997.
Finally, two other Pirates were named to all-MBWA teams, as fifth-year senior Daisha Simmons capped off her lone year in the Garden State with a first team selection, while junior forward Tabatha Richardson-Smith garnered second team honors.
All of Seton Hall's award winners will be officially recognized at the annual MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner, to be held Wednesday at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.