West Liberty’s Jim Crutchfield was named Coach of the Year and Hilltopper standout Corey Pelle picked up another All-America award when Basketball Times announced its 2011 NCAA Division II All-America Team.
A national magazine which bills itself as the “Real Voice of College Basketball,” Basketball Times has been one of the most respected observers of the collegiate basketball scene for more than a quarter-century.
Crutchfield led the Hilltopper program to unprecedented heights in his seventh season at the West Liberty helm.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation for most of the season, West Liberty opened the year with a 106-point blowout of Lock Haven (154-48) and followed that up with 32 more wins en route to its second straight West Virginia Conference championship, a WVIAC Tournament championship and the first NCAA Division II Atlantic Region title and Elite Eight tournament appearance in school history.
The Hilltoppers’ magical season – and 33-game winning streak – ended with a 110-101 loss to NCAA Division II runner-up BYU-Hawaii in a national semifinal but not before Crutchfield’s Atlantic Region juggernaut had put up some incredible numbers.
The first NCAA Division II team ever to make more than 500 3-point field goals in a single season, West Liberty led the nation in scoring for the fifth time in the past six years under Crutchfield and also finished No. 1 in a staggering seven other statistical categories.
The Hilltoppers’ season average of 111.3 ppg. – posted in a year when no other NCAA Division II team could average 90 points a night – is one of the top five single-season scoring averages ever in the Division II ranks while their final scoring margin of 29.7 ppg. is No. 2 all-time and the highest recorded in the past 50 years.
Having posted seven 20-win seasons in as many years at West Liberty, Crutchfield now leads all NCAA Division II coaches in career winning percentage (175-40, .814). He became the first three-time winner of the West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year Award earlier this month and has also been named Atlantic District Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
Pelle was a third-team selection on the Basketball Times NCAA Division II All-America Team. The 5-11 senior guard from Silver Grove, Ky. was the NCAA’s only men’s basketball player to record more than 200 assists and 100 steals this season while leading the nation’s most prolific offense with a 17.3 ppg. scoring average.
Pelle was named to the Elite Eight All-Tournament Team after averaging 26.5 points and 8.0 assists per game in West Liberty’s two Elite Eight games. A first-team Daktronics NCAA Division II All-American, Pelle also earned a first-team spot on the NABC All-District Team and was the WVIAC and NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Player of the Year.
The Hilltoppers’ all-time leader in assists (652) and steals (331), Pelle ended his West Liberty career as the fifth-leading scorer in school history with 1,953 points.
COREY PELLE, WEST LIBERTY 6-0 SR
Marques Whippy, BYU-Hawaii 6-5 Sr