BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Three Bellingham Slam players who played a key role in the team’s International Basketball League championship victory earlier this month, as well as head coach Rob Ridnour, have all earned end-of-the-season league accolades, as announced by the IBL.
Picking up individual awards were guards Morris Anderson, who earned the IBL’s Defensive Player of the Year award, and Paul Hafford, who was named as the league’s Most Improved Player. In addition, head coach Rob Ridnour earned the nod as the league’s Coach of the Year.
Anderson, in his third season with the Slam, enjoyed his finest season yet with a 21.4 points per game scoring average to go along with 6.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game. His steals total was tops in the IBL while his assist average ranked him fifth. On May 28, Anderson recorded his first career triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Japan Tornadoes. He wrapped up the 2012 season by earning Most Valuable Player honors in the IBL Championship Game on July 8 with totals of 29 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. His team-high scoring that night came thanks to a 4-of-5 showing from three-point range.
Hafford, who joined the Slam in 2008 as the team transitioned from the American Basketball Association to the IBL, earned Most Improved Player status thanks to a bump in his scoring average from 16 points per game in 2011 to a team-leading 23.6 in 2012. He ranked second on the team in three-point shooting at 38.1 percent and first in makes with 75, and headlined the Slam’s scoring column eight times this season. Hafford posted a season-high 35 points in a 112-107 win over the Edmonton Energy on May 18.
Ridnour picked up the IBL’s top coach honors after guiding the Slam to their best regular season in franchise history with a 15-3 mark and a winning percentage of 83.3. After dropping their home opener on April 21, the Slam did not lose again at Whatcom Pavilion all year, and was equally outstanding on the road – dropping just two contests. The season for Ridnour, who is the IBL’s all-time winningest coach with 82 victories, culminated with the team’s second IBL Championship and first since 2008.
Anderson and Hafford both earned spots on the IBL’s All-Star teams, with Hafford earning a First Team selection and Anderson a Second Team choice. Joining Hafford on the First Team is center Blake Poole, who narrowly missed out on the IBL’s Player of the Year award, which went to Andre Murray of the Vancouver Volcanoes.
Poole enjoyed an excellent sophomore season with the Slam, averaging 18.8 points and a league-leading 13.4 rebounds per game. He posted double-doubles in 15 of the Slam’s 20 games in 2012, and set a new team record with 19 rebounds in the Slam’s semi-final playoff win over Vancouver on July 6.
As IBL All-Stars, the trio has earned an invitation to participate in the prestigious Southern California Summer Pro League taking place later this month in Los Angeles, which will allow them to showcase their skills in front of agents and representatives of teams from around the world.