UNO junior Matt Pile was named the Summit League defensive player of the year and sophomore Marlon Ruffin was the sixth man of the year as the league announced its basketball postseason honors on Thursday.
Pile averaged 11.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as he had a team-leading 11 double-doubles. He led the Summit in rebounds and blocks. It’s the third time in five seasons that UNO has had the league’s top defensive player — Tra-Deon Hollins won the award in 2016 and ’17.
“He’s a superior post defender, can block shots and rebound,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said in a release. “Matt’s taken a big step this year, not only in terms of his physical ability, but also in his voice behind the defense to help everyone on our team.”
Ruffin averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, but the wing from Highland (Kan.) Community College was at his best in league play when he averaged 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds. He scored a career-high 30 in a win at Western Illinois on Feb. 22.
“Marlon has always provided a spark off the bench for our team and given us a dose of energy when he enters the game,” Hansen said.
Guard KJ Robinson, who averages a team-best 15.3 points, received honorable mention.
Norfolk graduate Tyler Hagedorn of South Dakota was a first-team selection. Hagedorn missed last season with a foot injury, but he returned for his senior year to average 18.1 points and shot 51.5% from the 3-point line.
South Dakota State’s Douglas Wilson was named the player of the year. It’s the fourth year in a row SDSU has had the league’s top player — Mike Daum won the previous three years.
On the women’s side, UNO sophomore Mariah Murdie was selected to the second team. Murdie, an honorable mention selection as a freshman, averaged a team-best 11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The 6-3 center from Meriden, Kansas, also shot 52.8% from the field.
South Dakota’s Ciara Duffy was the women’s player of the year. USD, which went 16-0 in league play, also had the defensive player of the year (Hannah Sjerven) and sixth woman of the year (Taylor Frederick, a Harlan, Iowa, graduate).