GW's Larsen, Watanabe Sweep Atlantic 10 Hoops Weekly Awards

Junior Kevin Larsen and freshman Yuta Watanabe hug it out after helping GW win the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day.
Dec. 29, 2014

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - GW men's basketball garnered both Atlantic 10 Conference weekly awards on Monday as junior Kevin Larsen was named Player of the Week and freshman Yuta Watanabe was tabbed Rookie of the Week.

The duo was part of a balanced effort that helped GW knock off Ohio (77-49), Colorado (53-50) and No. 11 Wichita State (60-54) to win last week's 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, doing so with a record-setting defensive performance. The Colonials surrendered just 153 points in the tournament's three games, besting the previous mark of 156 set by 2009 champion USC.

The tournament title was GW's first in a decade since capturing the 2004 BB&T Classic, and the upset of the 11th-ranked Shockers marked the Colonials' second Top 20 victory in the past two seasons and their best since toppling No. 11/9 Michigan State in the 2004 BB&T Classic.

Larsen was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Diamond Head Classic after averaging 11.3 points on 48 percent shooting, a team-best 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks in 34.3 minutes over the tournament's three games, highlighted by a 19-point, 15-rebound double-double in a quarterfinal rout of Ohio on Monday. He capped his Classic MVP performance with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal in Thursday's upset of Wichita State, scoring eight points in the second half including a punctuating three pointer with 2:50 remaining to clinch the victory over the Shockers.

In addition to the recognition from the conference, Larsen was also named the College Sports Madness A-10 Player of the Week and GWsports.com's Colonial of the Week.

Watanabe twice matched his career-high of 10 points en route to averaging 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in three games as GW captured the crown. Watanabe, the fourth Japanese-born student-athlete in Division I men's basketball history and the first to compete in Hawai'i, totaled 10 points and six rebounds in a semifinal victory over Colorado, then added 10 points, including two 3-pointers in a decisive 20-6 game-ending run, to help the Colonials come back to upset Wichita State in the title game.

It is the first time GW has swept both A-10 weekly awards since Nov. 24, 2001 when Chris Monroe and T.J. Thompson earned Co-Player and Rookie honors, respectively. Larsen's A-10 recognition is the second of his career after being named Rookie of the Week on Feb. 25, 2013.

GW (9-3) returns to action on Tuesday when it hosts VMI at the Charles E. Smith Center at 7 p.m.

 

 

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