COLUMNS

You're the best

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Once again, the ESPY Awards have now come and gone. The trophies for the best the world of sports had to offer in the past year were dealt last night in Hollywood in front of a star-studded audience.

Well, I decided to look back at the past sports year and give nods to the athletes, coaches and teams that I thought were the best. I don't have any fancy crystal awards to dish out, and there is nothing star-studded about this column, but I'll give it a try anyway.

The first award I'll give is for college coach of the year. I'm giving it to a guy that is often overlooked because of the sport he coaches. Geno Auriemma gets my nod.

In a year that was supposed to be all about Baylor, Auriemma led his Connecticut squad to a national title. The run was so special because the team was probably one of the lesser-talented rosters he has ever led to championship glory.

Despite the lack of superstars and flash, he guided the Lady Huskies to a 35-4 record, blowout of Louisville in the title game and eighth national crown in his tenure.

I'll give the nod to Jon Harbaugh as the best professional coach. Despite so many injuries throughout the season to Raven starters, he kept the team from imploding and led Baltimore to two straight road wins in the playoffs against the Broncos and the Patriots.

And in the Super Bowl, Harbaugh and the Ravens took down his brother Jim and the 49ers in a thriller to claim the franchise's second championship.

For best college athlete, I'll go with Johnny Manziel. The man they call "Johnny Football" came out of nowhere to become the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

He went on to throw for 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns along with 1,410 yards rushing and 21 scores. The 5,116 yards from scrimmage was the most by any player in SEC history.

The phenomenal year helped Texas A&M go 11-2 in their first season in the SEC, earn a top-10 finish and a Cotton Bowl title.

I give the edge for best professional athlete to LeBron James. It was a tough call.

After finishing just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's record for most rushing yards in a season, I gave Adrian Peterson serious consideration. After Miguel Cabrera won the first triple-crown in 45 years and led the Tigers to the World Series, his stock certainly shot up.

However, I'll give LeBron the edge because he not only won the NBA MVP Award, but he also finished with the hardware that really matters: a championship.

He put up two straight clutch performances in games six and seven of the NBA Finals against the Spurs to fight back from a 3-2 series deficit. His 37 points and 12 rebounds in game seven was enough to clinch a second straight title for the Heat.

My award for best college team goes to college basketball's Louisville Cardinals. I give them the edge over Alabama football. Alabama lost late in the season and had to rely on a little luck to end up back in the championship picture.

Louisville, on the other hand, surged to 13 wins in their final 14 games of the regular season. After winning the Big East Tournament, they entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and made a run to the national title game.

There, playing for their fallen teammate Kevin Ware, they fought back from an early 12-point deficit to beat Michigan for a classic championship win.

For the best professional team, it would be hard not to go with the Heat.

Besides being led by the NBA's MVP, Miami finished the year 66-16--the best record in the league. That included a 27-game winning streak during the season--which is the second-longest such streak in NBA history

The Heat went 12-4 in their first three playoff series prior to the Finals. There, they fought back from a 3-2 series deficit against the Spurs to win their third championship in franchise history and their second straight title.