May 5, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- To honor a season in which it won the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the Tennessee basketball team held its annual postseason awards banquet tonight at The Foundry in downtown Knoxville.
Tennessee concluded the season with a 22-8 record and a 12-4 mark in SEC action. The 22 wins are tied for the second-most in school history. The Vols continued to be recognized in the national polls, climbing as high as No. 8 in the Associated Press poll and finishing ranked 18th by the AP. Fans came from near and far to watch the Vols play. Tennessee's attendance increased by more than 5,500 from the previous season and the average home crowd of 17,954 ranked fifth nationally.
UT's success didn't come at the expense of a cupcake schedule. Thirteen of Tennessee's 22 opponents received postseason invitations, including nine teams getting NCAA Tournament bids. Four of the teams advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament and two of those went on to the Final Four.
After the season the regional and national awards began pouring in for the Vols. Head coach Bruce Pearl earned Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year honors and was named National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News. Sophomore guard Chris Lofton earned second team All-America honors after he broke nearly all of Tennessee's 3-point records. C.J. Watson finished his career ranking second all-time at UT in steals and assists and was a second team All-SEC pick.
The Tennessee Basketball Team Awards were handed out at tonight's banquet. Jordan Howell received the Burchfield-Moss Most Courageous Award, JaJuan Smith and Major Wingate earned the Lowell Blanchard Award as the most improved players on the team. Dane Bradshaw received the Team Before Self Award after playing much of the season with a wrist injury and also took home the John Stucky Lifter of the Year Award for his work in the weight room. The Thornton Athletics Student Life Center honored Ben Bosse for posting the highest grade point average on the team while also honoring Tony Passley as with the Hardest Worker Award.