It’s awards season: time for the Kennys


Right now, as people in the entertainment industry tell me, we are in the midst of awards season.

We had the Golden Globes and the Grammys. The Academy Awards and James Beard Foundation Awards are right around the corner.

Thus, since we are literally right in the middle of it all, it made perfect sense to give some awards out to the best of USC sports in the last year.

I present to you the first, and probably last, Kenny Awards. All winners can stop by Traddies and buy me a beer to pick up their trophies (which might or might not be Kevin O’Neill bobbleheads).

Coach of the Year: Jovan Vavic. This is Vavic’s first Kenny award and quite frankly, it was the easiest decision since LeBron James chose to stay with the Cavs.

The men’s and women’s water polo coach simply can’t be stopped.

Take away 10 seniors from Vavic’s two-time defending NCAA champion men’s team? That’s fine. He’ll just make it a three-peat.

Think he’s burned out from the long and grueling men’s season in the fall and that he’ll just coast in the spring with the ladies?

Well, there he goes, jumping in the pool in May after the final buzzer sounds for another national title.

With football and basketball down, USC is starting to turn into a water polo school, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Honorable mention: Men’s tennis coach Peter Smith and women’s volleyball coach Mick Haley.

Dishonorable mention:  Lou Holtz and former USC baseball coach Chad Kreuter. You don’t get to go to Traddies, but you can stop by the 9-0 and buy me a beer as your reward. No Kevin O’Neill bobblehead for you.

Play of the Year: Murphy Troy’s kick save. If you haven’t seen what men’s volleyball player Murphy Troy did last month against UCLA, pull out your smart phone or open a new tab on your web browser, search Google for “Murphy Troy kick save” and open the first link. You won’t regret it.

After a long rally, Troy falls out of bounds while going for a dig.

He missed the dig because a teammate tipped it in the air before he got to it. But the deflection goes straight to Troy who, from his seat, kicked the ball over the net.

USC eventually won the point. Not only was it an amazing play, but that effort gave USC set point at 25-24.

Honorable mentions: Robert Woods’ falling-out-of-bounds touchdown catch against California and freshman women’s soccer player Autumn Altamirano’s game-winning goal against UCLA in front of a record-setting crowd in the Coliseum.

Dishonorable mention: Any time the USC defense was on the field in the final two minutes of a football game.

Upset of the Year: Men’s basketball win over Texas. This not only won a Kenny for Upset of the Year, but also for WTF Moment of the Year, and the Why Can’t You Play Like This Every Time? award.

Just to set the record straight: In December, USC, which has lost to the likes of Rider, Bradley and just about every Pac-10 school, beat — no, slaughtered — Texas, which is about to become the No. 1 team in the country, 73-56.

The Trojans dominated in every phase of the game and even made 79.3 percent of their free throws. I’m still convinced Texas sent its B team.

Honorable mention: This one just blows everything else out of the water.

Dishonorable mention: The Purdue women’s golf team for beating USC by one stroke for the national title.

The Aron Ralston Courage Award: Women’s basketball player Jacki Gemelos. Gemelos would’ve received a Kenny back in 2006 for Top Recruit, if the Kennys had existed then.

As a freshman, she came in as the No. 1 recruit in the nation and hopes were high for USC women’s basketball. But then she tore her ACL.

After redshirting and months of grueling rehab, she was ready to get on the court the next season.

Then she tore her ACL again. After another eight months of therapy, she got back to practice only to tear her other ACL.

I just tore my ACL and am scared to go through one bout of rehab.

But Gemelos never quit, and finally, three and a half years after she was supposed to get on the court, played her first collegiate game Feb. 4, 2010 and hasn’t looked back. I’ll buy her a beer for that (don’t worry Jacki, you still get the Kevin O’Neill bobblehead too).

And the last Kenny award of the night goes to…

Best Montenegrin to play USC basketball: Nikola Vucevic. I was going to give this to Donte Smith, but then I realized he wasn’t Montenegrin. Who knew?

That’s all the Kennys I have for this year. But if you still want a Kevin O’Neill bobblehead, and I know you do, go to the men’s basketball game Feb. 24. You will not be disappointed.

“Spittin’ Sports” runs Fridays. To comment on this article e-mail Kenny at klegan@usc.edu or visit dailytrojan.com.