Four national college basketball tournaments continue through busted brackets, and all our Palmetto State teams have to show for their participation are parting gifts.

But what a season.

Surprises and slides. Streaks and peaks and sneak peeks.

The highlight show:

Play of the Year: Antwaine Wiggins soared in from nowhere to block All-America Stephen Curry's 3-point attempt at the buzzer and give the College of Charleston a victory at Davidson before an ESPN2 television audience and Dick Vitale.

Best Team Performance Over 40 Minutes: Still hard to believe Clemson clobbered Duke, 74-47. But Coach K failed to destroy all the evidence of proof.

Coach of the Year: Ed Conroy should be national coach of the year for leading The Citadel to the second 20-win season in school history one season removed from a 1-19 Southern Conference record.

Fans of the Year: South Carolina's grassroots, tie-dye "Garnet Army" jumped on the Darrin Horn bandwagon early.

Disappointment Duo: Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina each had 20-loss seasons. Furman finished 6-24 but with a young team and more excuses.

Class Act Award: Cougars head coach Bobby Cremins frequently praised arch-rival (and good friend) Ed Conroy. "Every year there are always special stories in college basketball, and they're a special story," Cremins said.

Shot of the Year: Andrew Goudelock's 20-foot jumper sent the Cougars into overtime with South Carolina at Carolina First Arena on Nov. 28. College of Charleston went on to win, 82-80.

'We had no chance'

The Bluegrass Blues Domino Theory: Kentucky having such a lousy season messed things up along the South Carolina food chain. Embarrassing home losses by Billy Gillispie's Mildcats early (VMI) and late (Georgia) wounded Kentucky's RPI enough to dilute the importance of South Carolina's sweep of Kentucky (keeping the Gamecocks off the NCAA Tournament bubble), Charleston's upset of South Carolina (keeping the Cougars off the NIT bubble) and The Citadel's sweep of Charleston (keeping the Bulldogs off the College Basketball Invitational bubble). Gee, thanks, Billy.

Home-and-Home Series of the Year: S.C. State and Idaho. The Bulldogs and Vandals split their games in sister cities Orangeburg and Moscow, each team winning at home.

Player of the Year: South Carolina's Devan Downey, 19.8 points per game and more. The Gamecocks built around his speed and durability.

Individual Performance of the Year: Many South Carolina and Clemson fans were gone to Florida on bowl trips, but Downey on Dec. 30 in Columbia scored 37 points and had five steals in South Carolina's 98-87 loss to Clemson when both teams were playing well.

Best streak: The Citadel won 11 games in a row after averaging 8.1 wins per season over the previous six years.

Worst slide: Clemson in parts of February was projected as a No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed opening Big Dance play in Greensboro but wound up as a No. 7 seed, losing to No. 10 Michigan in Kansas City.

Fast Finish: S.C. State won five of its last six regular season games under second-year head coach Tim Carter.

Signee of the Year: Milton Jennings of Pinewood Prep in Summerville is a state championship-winning McDonald's All-American headed to Clemson, an in-state recruiting coup.

Game of the Year: College of Charleston's 77-75 win at Davidson on ESPN2 in which the Cougars snapped the Wildcats' 43-game Southern Conference win streak.

Quote of the Year: "We had no chance of winning this game," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after losing at Clemson, 74-47.

The underrated

Best Upset Win: College of Charleston should have been ready the second time around but The Citadel completed a two-game peninsula grill with a decisive 72-58 road victory on Valentine's Day.

Worst Upset Loss: Clemson's 85-81 debacle at lowly Virginia on Feb. 15 exposed some wounds that never healed.

Freshman of the Year: Energetic John Brown did little things and big things to keep the Citadel glory train chugging along.

Assistant Coach of the Year: Dr. Ron Bradley quietly helps Clemson rank among the best player development programs in college basketball.

Underrated Team: Wofford went 12-8 in Southern Conference games, and if not for The Citadel, would have been the surprise story of the league. For good measure, the Terriers swept the Bulldogs.

All-Underrated Players: Dustin Scott, Charleston; Demontez Stitt, Clemson; Jonathan Brick, The Citadel; Charles Corbin, Winthrop; Jamarco Warren, Charleston Southern.

Mr. Consistency: Big, bad Trevor Booker led Clemson in rebounding 11 times over the Tigers' last 12 games.

Facility of the Year: Carolina First Arena, better known as The House That John Kresse Built, made an auspicious debut. Meet me on Meeting Street next year when the Cougars play host to defending national champion North Carolina.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at or 937-5593.