As we enter the final week of the 2017-18 athletic calendar, we return with our annual Daily Stampede Awards!
Like every year, the staff (plus Josh Appel) reflected on the past year of USF athletics and made their picks for best games, athletes, moments, etc.
For part one today, we discuss the best teams and athletes.
Nathan: This is tough. There’s a part of me that wants to put football here, but I just can’t. The only other option has to be women’s basketball. Head coach Jose Fernandez continues to churn out great teams every single year and this year was no exception.
Six straight 20-wins seasons, four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a blowout 84-65 victory over then-#13 Ohio State where Kitija Laksa got NBA Jams hot from the opening tip, pouring in a career-high 41 points. Regardless of how the season ended in the NCAA’s, this team was the best on campus for the majority of the year.
Steeg: Women’s soccer, women’s basketball being a close second. Strong regular season, won the conference, won a game in the NCAA tournament and kept it close against UF.
Jamie: Football. I mean, they must have been really good to overcome Sterlin Gilbert and still go 10-2.
Ryan: Quinton Flowers
Vito: Men’s Golf. Five first place finishes and seven top three finishes on the year, including their fourth straight Conference Championship by stampeding the competition by twenty strokes and having the top three individual scorers.
Claudio Correa and Christian DiMarco received Regional All-American honors. Coach Steve Bradley has the program humming and one of these years the right courses will fall for them in the NCAA Tournament and Finals and they will strongly compete for a title. This team is the closest to winning a natty on campus.
Josh: We had quite a few good teams. Going with Baseball.
Carl: Women’s Soccer. A ten game unbeaten streak to end the season is great. Grabbing your first conference title during that streak is spectacular.
Senator Giggity: WBB, they were spotty at times but when they shined, they were blinding.
Nick: The end result was disappointing, but I have to give it to women’s basketball.
Best Male Athlete
Nathan: Quinton Flowers. Pencil him in for next year as well. I don’t care that he’s in the NFL now. GOAT.
Steeg: Quinton Flowers, not even close.
Jamie: Quinton Flowers. Duh.
Ryan: Quinton Flowers.
Vito: The goat: Q. No question, no contest. Wink did things that only a few athletes every generation can, and his story is heart warming. He was the catalyst that turned this bus around and here’s to hoping the inertia keeps it moving. I hope he kills it in the league.
Carl: Q. G. O. A. T.
Senator Giggity: Q.
Nick: Quinton Flowers. What else is there to say? The GOAT.
Best Female Athlete
Nathan: Maria Jespersen. She elevated her game to another stratosphere this season. She was virtually a walking double-double machine with a conference-high 18 of them. The Denmark native carried the team during Kit Laksa’s multi-week shooting slump and led the team in scoring (19.8 ppg) in conference play. She will be missed.
Steeg: Evelyne Viens. Probably one of the best female athletes USF has seen in a while.
Jamie: Evelyne Viens. I hope she doesn’t pack it in and go play professionally somewhere.
Ryan: Maria Jespersen
Vito: Evelyne Viens. The sophomore scored 12 goals in 19 matches with nine assists totaling 33 points. The second highest point scorer had 16 points. She also was named third team All-American, the first WSOC All-American in program history.
Josh: Kitija Laksa
Carl: Evelyne Viens. She might not have matched her stellar freshman campaign, but she’s still on track to break all the scoring records for women’s soccer. She remains consistently excellent on the pitch with two years remaining.
Senator Giggity: Laia Flores
Nick: Georgina Corrick. Being named AAC Co-Pitcher of the Year as a freshman isn’t too shabby of a way to start off your career.
Most Surprising Team
Nathan: 100% baseball. They had to replace their shortstop, Friday night starter, DH, and basically their entire “A” bullpen, and throw in a first-time head coach and it’s a recipe for a down year. Instead, they went 36-22-1, earned the #2 seed in the AAC tournament and won three games.
They defeated #6 UNC on opening night, took two-of-three from #7 ECU (Pimpin’ Aint Easy), finished the year with the 18th-best RPI in the nation, and won a game in the DeLand Regional. All this success despite first round pick Shane McClanahan having an ERA nearing 7.00 in conference play. The future is bright under Billy Mohl.
Steeg: Men’s Tennis coming out of nowhere to have a terrible regular season, but then turning it around in the conference tournament, coming within one set of having B2B2B2B conference championships.
Jamie: Baseball didn’t look too good on paper and they easily qualified for another NCAA regional. Could have had a chance of hosting but well, you know.
Vito: Softball. Especially after the start of the year, not many expected USF to win the regular season conference title and play in the tournament final. Ken’s Cardiac Kids describes this team, too bad the program up I-10 trademarked it.
Honorable Mention: Baseball. Came really close for me. In the opening day podcast featuring Josh Appel, the guys predicted maaaaaybe 30 wins but laid out what needed to happen for the momentum left by Kingston to continue. However, we knew the talent was there, and it came down to answering all of the questions we had; the bullpen, replacing Kevin Merrell’s bat, starters stepping up. They all did in spades, even with Shane being inconsistent in conference play.
Carl: Men’s Basketball. They showed competence when everyone assumed it was year -3 for them. They also looked like a unit toward the end of the year.
Senator Giggity: Men’s Golf
Nick: I’d say men’s basketball looking competent during the last week of the season and nearly winning a game in the conference tourney was a shock.
Most Disappointing Team
Nathan: Women’s basketball. We rode hard for them getting under-seeded in the NCAA Tournament (#Malfeasance). And they just laid an absolute egg against Buffalo. They were up 10 early in the first half and then gave up a 100-Burger in the first round loss. That still hurts.
HM: Football. The Houston game was the only game I’ve had to turn off my phone for 15 minutes afterward so I wouldn’t get fired from my own blog. Maybe that should win tbh.
Steeg: Men’s soccer. Looked pretty discombobulated down the stretch after starting the year strong.
Jamie: Women’s basketball. You can’t go out in the first round like that, you just can’t.
Ryan: N/A. I was pretty happy this year.
Vito: I really wanted to put women’s basketball here because you don’t expect getting throttled by an 11-seed especially with the talent on this team, but it has to be football; albeit slightly unfair.
You can never expect what will happen with a new staff and losing the best RB and WR duo in program history, but losing to Houston the way they did at home and then losing in heartbreaking fashion in Oviedo to wind up in another Birmingham Bowl is not what we all expected.
It was clear Q and company were frustrated at times implementing the Veer and Shoot from the fast and fun GCO and it showed at times with slow starts and conservatism. I still firmly believe this season hurts more because of what C. accomplished; and a 10 win, would’ve been 11 with UMass, in a coach’s first season is great on the surface with recruiting as good as ever.
Still, for a team aspiring for it’s first conference championship and a NY6 Bowl in addition to the expectations leading up to this season, another Birmingham Bowl bid was disappointing.
Carl: Football. We don’t need to beat that dead horse’s skeleton any more.
Senator Giggity: Baseball.
Nick: Football. We’ve beaten this dead horse so many times, but it’s the obvious choice here imo.