Payne, Craig Honored by College Insider
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After a 20-win campaign, USC Upstate head coach Eddie Payne was named the A-Sun Coach of the Year by College Insider, while Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) was named the league's player of the year.
Coach Payne led the Spartans to a 20-11 regular season mark and a No. 3 seed in the A-Sun Tournament in their first full season of eligibility. The Spartans were denied a shot at the crown with a quarterfinal loss to Florida Gulf Coast.
Coach Payne picked up career win number 400 in the regular-season finale as the Spartans downed Stetson, 90-72, Feb. 25.
The Spartans currently own the best turnaround in all of Division I with a 15-win improvement compared to the 2010-11 season.
Craig finished the 2011-12 regular-season at the top of the A-Sun scoring chart with 17.1 points per outing, while ranking second in rebounding with 7.9 rpg. Craig was the only unanimous selection to the league's All-Conference First-Team.
Craig also finished second in defensive rebounds (5.5 drpg), fourth in three-point field goals made per game (2.5 pg), eighth in offense rebounds (2.5 orpg), ninth in blocked shots (1.1), 13th in free throw percentage (.685), 14th in steals (1.3 spg), 14th in three-point field goal percentage (.361).
Craig finished his sophomore campaign with 27 double-digit scoring performances. He surpassed the 20-point plateau 12 times and tallied eight double-doubles. He reached the 30-point mark for the first time in his career with 30 points behind a career-high eight three-pointers in the Spartans' 87-74 win over Florida Gulf Coast (2/23/12). Craig also hit a pair of game-winners this season.
Against Jacksonville State (12/1/11), he sank a jumper in the paint with 18 seconds to play to give the Spartans a 50-48 victory over the Gamecocks. Against Belmont (1/21/12), Craig's put back with 0.7 seconds to play gave the Spartans a 79-78 victory, the first-ever over the Bruins.
The Spartans, who are patiently awaiting a possible post-season tournament appearance, are just the second team to post 20 or more wins in their first season of full NCAA D-I eligibility after completing the five-year transition from to D-I. North Dakota State posted 26 wins in their first season of full eligibility (2008-09) and the Bison advanced to the NCAA Tournament (L, 74-84, (3) Kansas, First Round).