Lone Trojan honored
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2003
Troy State's Ben Fletcher is hard to miss on the basketball court.
His trademark holler after a made three-point basket is as much a part of his game as his shooting touch.
Tuesday, Fletcher was recognized as one of the Atlantic Sun's best players as he was named to the All-Conference team. He was the only Trojan named to the team.
"This caught me off guard," Fletcher said. "I am pleased with the recognition, but I have to give the credit to my teammates."
Fletcher has had to give a lot to his teammates this season.
Since Troy State decided to use the press-and-run style of play, Fletcher had to surrender his minutes on the court. As a senior captain, he would have played close to 35 minutes a game in another system. Under this system, Fletcher only averages 25 minutes a game.
"I'm very proud of Ben," Troy State head coach Don Maestri said. "He worked every day in the gym during the summer, probably expecting to play 35 minutes. When we came back, I told him we were going to play a fast-paced style and that meant he would have to play less.
"He means so much to our team, physically and as a leader. His leadership was as important to us as his talent."
While Maestri marveled at his unselfishness, Fletcher said he did not struggle with any negative feelings.
"We ran this exact same style my junior year of high school," Fletcher said. "I knew we would have to share the minutes because you use so much energy on the defensive end."
Fletcher still managed to average 14.1 points per game for the season and improved that averaged during the conference season to 15.6. He also improved his three-point shooting from 38 overall to 42 percent during conference play.
Fletcher also viewed his emotional level of play as a contribution to the team. That was how he explained his trademark shout after making a three-pointer, usually early in games.
"I'm an emotional player," Fletcher said. "The players and the crowd feed off that."
Fletcher and the rest of the Trojans will try to take their first step toward an NCAA Division I Tournament berth Thursday when they face Samford in the first round of the conference tournament. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The rest of the All-Conference team was comprised of big men. Mercer's Scott Emerson was on the team, as were Belmont big men Adam Sonn, who was also the A-Sun Player of the Year, and Adam Mark. Nate Williams from Georgia State was also named to the team.
Mercer's Mark Slonaker was named Coach of the Year.