SPRINGFIELD, Ohio—The North Coast Athletic Conference announced this year's league awards on Wednesday morning, as the Tigers landed a player on the first, second and honorable mention team, as well as Coach of the Year Honors for Matt Croci.
Chad Roy was the Tiger's lone first-team selection, as the senior was also named the 2017-18 NCAC Top Defensive Player. Shane Edwards earned the NCAC's top-defensive honor for the Tiger's last season. Roy, who is also making his All-NCAC debut as a member of the first team, was selected as the league's top defensive player throughout the conference season after anchoring the Tigers' defensive unit that limited NCAC opponents to a league-low 67.2 points per game. In 18 conference games, he ranked sixth among league players in rebounding with 80 total boards (6.4 rpg) and 16th overall in blocked shots with 10. He notched a pair of double-digit rebounding performances against conference foes with 11 in an 87-67 win over Kenyon and 10 in an 87-58 win at Allegheny, while his season-high mark in blocks also came against an NCAC foe with three in the 76-64 win over DePauw on January 24th. Along with his defensive efforts, Roy became the 33rd member of the Tiger's 1,000-point club late in the regular season.
Wittenberg head coach Matt Croci was named the NCAC Men's Basketball Coach of the Year for the second time in his career after also earning the recognition as Kenyon's head coach in the 2007-08 season. Croci guided the Tigers to their first outright NCAC title since 2012 with a 16-2 mark against league foes and also helped them earn their first NCAC Tournament crown since 2006 with an 82-70 win over Ohio Wesleyan in the championship game. The Tigers not only swept the regular season NCAC titles, but also opened the season with a remarkable 22-game winning streak will now take a 26-2 mark into the NCAA Div. III Men's Basketball Tournament.
This stands as the sixth time that a Wittenberg coach has won NCAC Coach of the Year. For the second time, Croci stands as the only person to win NCAC Player of the Year and NCAC Coach of the Year.
After transferring to the Tigers, junior point-guard Mitchell Balser guided the Tiger's offense in 2017-18 to one of the best regular seasons in recent Tiger history. The Centerville, Ohio native's big year landed him on the NCAC's second-team. Balser averaged 12.3 points per-game, 3.2 rebounds per-game and 3.6 assist per-game, including an 11-assist performance against OWU in the NCAC Tournament Championship game.
One of Balser's counterparts in the backcourt, sophomore Jacob Bertemes, received honorable mention recognition after a breakout campaign. The Springfield product wowed Tiger fans all season long at Pam Evans Smith Arena with his late-game theatrics, as Bertemes' season featured a buzzer-beating layup off a full-court pass against Capital, and a masterful late-game offensive display in the Tiger's comeback overtime win against rival Wooster. Bertemes has averaged 10.9 points per-game, 2.3 rebounds per-game and 3.2 assist per-game through 28 contests.
Croci and the Tigers are now set to compete in the national tournament for the first time since 2014 with a first-round home contest against Misericordia on Friday, March 2nd, at 7:30 p.m.