For the second-straight year Martin Breunig has been named the recipient of the Carl E. Dragstedt Award for Grizzly basketball’s most valuable player following another first-team all-Big Sky season.
And for the third time in his three-year career, junior guard Brandon Gfeller has been given the Allan Nielsen Award, going to the player who best represents Grizzly basketball.
Head coach Travis DeCuire presented these, and five other awards, at the Grizzlies’ annual end-of-year banquet and award ceremony on Saturday.
Other Grizzlies earning awards were junior guard Mario Dunn, who received the Naseby Rhinehart Award (Most Inspirational); freshman guard Michael Oguine, who was given the John Eaheart Memorial Award (Outstanding Defensive Player); junior forward Jack Lopez was awarded the Dennis T. Murphy Award (Coaches Award); and junior guard Walter Wright received the team’s newest award, the Ryan Dick Award for the year’s most improved player.
Dunn, Breunig and Gfeller were also recognized for serving as UM’s 2015-16 season-long captains as recipients of the Captain Awards.
“The individual awards are a big deal to any program, but to me more so because at the beginning of the year we talk about taking our individual goals, throwing them out, and coming together with collective goals for our team and for our family. Then once the season is over, we look back and see who was able to accomplish some of the individual goals they set for themselves the year before,” said Coach DeCuire
“So what makes these awards special is, who accomplished what individual things, knowing that’s not really what they were thinking about during the course of the year. For me, it’s always about team first. Our staff worked hard, our guys committed everything they had to the success of the program. This is an opportunity for us to celebrate a few guys individually for their commitment to the group.”
Breunig finished his two-time Griz MVP career at No. 17 on Montana’s all-time scoring list, racking up 1,158 points in just two seasons. His 2015-16 season total of 624 points makes his senior campaign the fifth-best single season in Montana history.
Breunig, a 6-8 forward from Leverkusen, Germany, was a unanimous selection to the all-Big Sky Conference first team for two straight seasons, and was named to the NABC All-District 6 team for a second-straight season as well.
Breunig finished the 2015-16 season as the Big Sky’s fifth-leading scorer, averaging 18.9 points per game, and carried the league’s second-best field goal percentage, making over 62 percent of the shots he attempted.
“For Martin to get to 1,000 points as quickly as he did, and to contribute to 41 victories in two seasons, is very deserving of that award and I think he deserves to be in a small group of players that have had the success he’s had. We’re happy for him and I’m excited to see his name on the plaque,” added Coach DeCuire.
Gfeller, a 6-4, 190-pound guard from Colfax, Wash., finished the 2015-16 season as Montana’s fourth-leading scorer, averaging 8.3 points-per-game, and connecting on the team’s most three-pointers, making 72 of his 185 attempts.
He earned the Big Sky Player of the Week award in early January after draining eight three-pointers against Northern Arizona (tied for the most in any game by a Big Sky player this year), and leading the Griz to a new school record of 18 three-pointers in a single game against the Lumberjacks.
“Three-feller” finished the season at No. 3 on the Big Sky’s career active leaders in three-points made with 172. He also finished as the Big Sky’s seventh-leading three-point shooter, averaging 2.2 treys per-contest.
As one of the team’s most veteran leaders, Dunn took home the Rhinehart Award for most inspirational player after battling back from wrist surgery that saw him miss the entire nonconference season.
Despite missing a large part of the year, Dunn still finished as the team’s eighth-highest scorer, averaging 4.2 points-per-game and making an impact whenever he came on the court. He also dished out 27 assists during his shortened season.
Mike Oguine burst onto the scene as a true freshman, putting together one of the best seasons by a freshman in Montana history, taking a team-high 34 steals and earning the Eaheart Memorial Award for UM’s most outstanding defender.
The 6-2, 175-pound guard from Chatsworth, Calif., finished the season as UM’s third-leading scorer, averaging 11 points-per-game and dishing out 61 assists, the second-most on the team.
Junior forward Jack Lopez also enjoyed a breakout season in 2015-16, leading him to receive the Dennis T. Murphy Coaches Award.
Lopez finished the season as UM’s fifth-leading scorer, averaging 6.1 points-per-game and picking up 14 starts along the way. He also carried the team’s highest three-point field goal percentage at .462, making 42 of his 91 attempts from behind the arc.
New to Montana’s award presentation is the Ryan Dick Award for the team’s most improved player, this year awarded to junior transfer guard Walter Wright.
Wright earned a Big Sky all-conference honorable mention in his first season as a Grizzly as the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 13.2 points-per-game. He scored 50 points in three games in the Big Sky tournament, leading to a place on the all-tournament team.
Wright, the 5-10, 165-pound guard from Waterbury, Conn., was masterful with ball in hand his first year as a Griz, dishing out 152 assists, the third-most in the Big Sky, and was the conference’s seventeenth leading scorer.