Butler dominates Horizon League season-end awards
Butler sophomore Gordon Hayward has been named Player of the Year to highlight the Horizon League's 2009-10 Men's Basketball All-League Teams and specialty award winners, which were announced Monday (March 1) by the League office.

Valparaiso sophomore Brandon Wood has been selected as Newcomer of the Year, while Butler's Brad Stevens claims Coach of the Year honors for the second season in a row.

Butler sophomore Ronald Nored and Detroit senior Woody Payne has been voted Co-Defensive Players of the Year, and Loyola sophomore Walt Gibler was selected Sixth Man of the Year.

Hayward is joined on the All-League First Team by classmate Shelvin Mack and junior teammate Matt Howard -- the 2008-09 Player of the Year – plus Green Bay junior Rahmon Fletcher and Cleveland State junior Norris Cole.

The All-League Second Team features Wood, along with Wright State junior Vaughn Duggins, Milwaukee senior Ricky Franklin, Detroit sophomore Chase Simon and Valparaiso junior Cory Johnson.

The player, coach and newcomer of the year awards as well as the All-League and All-Newcomer Teams were voted on by the League's head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members.

The All-Newcomer Team includes Valpo's Wood and Johnson, along with Detroit's Simon, sophomore Eli Holman and junior Xavier Keeling.

Joining Nored and Payne on the All-Defensive Team are Butler senior Willie Veasley, Cleveland State junior D'Aundray Brown and Duggins. The defensive awards and Sixth Man of the Year were voted on only by the League's 10 head coaches.

Hayward is the fourth Butler player in the last five seasons to be named the Horizon League's Player of the Year, following Brandon Polk (2005-06), Mike Green (2007-08) and Howard last season. A native of Brownsburg, Ind., Hayward ranks fourth in the League in scoring (15.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.5 rpg), while leading the conference with 11 double-doubles.

Stevens directed Butler to its fourth straight League regular-season title and the first 18-0 season in conference history. The Bulldogs (26-4) are riding a nation-leading and school-record 18-game winning streak and have been ranked in the national coaches poll every week this season, including 10th this past week.

Wood leads the League with 17.5 points per game, including 39 at Georgia Southern, 30 at defending national champion North Carolina and 24 at national runner-up Michigan State. A native of Kokomo, Ind., Wood helped Valparaiso to a fourth-place tie in the League standings with a 10-8 record, which was a five-game improvement over last season.

Nored and Payne are the first co-winners of the defensive player honor in the award's third year of existence. Nored Homewood, Ala.) ranks eighth in the League in steals with 1.5 per game, while Payne (Inkster, Mich.) stands second with 2.4 per contest.

Gibler, a native of Cincinnati, averaged 11 points and 5.1 rebounds per game despite starting only once for Loyola and averaging just 22 minutes a contest.

The 2010 Speedway Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship begins Tuesday with first-round games at campus sites. Action then moves to Indianapolis and historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the Butler campus for a second-round doubleheader on Friday and the semifinals on Saturday. Friday's games will be available live on the Horizon League Network (HorizonLeagueNetwork.tv) at 6 and 8 p.m. ET. Saturday's first semifinal will be shown live on ESPN360.com at 5:15 p.m. and tape-delayed on ESPNU at 10 p.m., following a live broadcast of the second semifinal at 8 o'clock.

The higher-remaining seed after the semifinals earns the right to host the championship game March 9 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Horizon League champion receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, where League teams have won games in each of the past five seasons and advanced to the regional semifinals three times in the past seven years.

2009-10 Horizon League Men's Basketball All-League Teams and Specialty Award Winners

All-League First Team

Gordon Hayward Butler So. G/F 6-9 207 Brownsburg, Ind. 15.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 48.0 FG%

Rahmon Fletcher Green Bay Jr. G 5-10 165 Kansas City, Mo. 16.6 ppg, 3.1 apg, 47.5 FG%