Volume 95, Issue 87

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
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Mustang b-ball stars dominate national awards

Following the yellow brick road to end-game

Zags get a taste of "bad medicine"

Mustang b-ball stars dominate national awards

By Dave Martin
Gazette Staff

HALIFAX, N.S. – Andy Kwiatowski is no longer just a big man on campus. The Western Mustangs men's basketball star can also claim the title of big man in Canada.

After a second dominating season that led Western to a national final, Kwiatkowski was named the most valuable player in Canadian university basketball, winning the Mike Moser Trophy for 2001-2002.

Never one to put himself on a pedestal, the first thing Kwiatkowski noted after the awards ceremony was the amount of other great talent in Canada.

"There are so many guys who could've won this, like any one of the All-Canadians – they're all really good players," he said.

For the second straight year, Kwiatkowski was also named First Team All-Canadian, after compiling an incredible stat line. Kwiatkowski averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and grabbed 59 steals, while shooting 56 per cent from the field.

Dave Martin/Gazette
But it's much more than individual statistics that Kwiatkowski felt earned him such an honour.

"This is certainly a team award for one. It's easier to gain recognition when you're on a winning team, but more than that, the chemistry on this team has definitely been a big part to all of our successes."

A 'massive' step that Kwiatkowski felt took him to the top was playing for the Canadian National team this summer with the likes of NBA stars Steve Nash and Todd MacCulloch.

"I think I improved tremendously – not only in my numbers, but I gained a real comfort and control on the court, which has made a huge impact on my game," Kwiatkowski said.

After transferring from Simon Fraser University prior to last season, Kwiatkowski has definitely enjoyed his time at Western.

"It has certainly been what I had hoped for as we've won back-to-back [Ontario University Athletics] banners and had a chance at a national championship two years in a row. You can't ask for anything better than that."

Another major highlight of awards night for Western was point guard Jimmy Grozelle who was not only the Second Team All-Canadian, but more importantly, the recipient of the TSN Ken Shields Award.

The award is given every year to a player who demonstrates a commitment to athletics, academics and also the community.

In an inspiring acceptance speech, Grozelle challenged his fellow athletes to make a difference.

"I'm trying to get people to realize that they can be a leader, not only in their athletic lives, but also in the classroom and in the community."

Grozelle's work off the court has included speaking at elementary and special school assemblies, playing in charity basketball games, volunteering as a basketball instructor in his hometown of Ridgetown Ont., heavily interacting with the Mustang Kids Club and helping establish the Mustang Tutorial Program.

On top of these duties and the demands of a varsity basketball, Grozelle is a first-year honours business administration student at the Richard Ivey School of Business, which, at times, he said has not always been easy.

"It's really been tough. My schedule this year has been incredibly hectic, but hopefully both basketball and school will all work out at the end of the year," Grozelle said.

"I think [volunteering is] a really important thing to do and I've always enjoyed it my first three years at Western, so I didn't want to give it up just because I was going into [business] school."

Taking home two of the biggest awards was a great event for Western for more than just the obvious reasons, Boydell said.

"I think [tonight] shows that we attract more than just athletes, but really good people to our program and that is a big point the CIS is trying to promote these days," he added.

Boydell also noted that Mike Moser Award winner Kwiatkowski is much more than just an elite basketball player.

"Andy is the first Western student to ever win a top 10 Academic All-Canadian honours."

Boydell said the most important part of the evening was the theme of the speeches, which acknowledged all those who had helped Grozelle and Kwiatowski along the way.

"Both speeches made a very strong point of recognizing the efforts of players, coaches and family – and these days, that has sometimes been missing in varsity athletics," Boydell said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002