Holtmann, Newsome and Strange Earn Postseason Big South Honors

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CHARLOTTE , N.C. – Gardner-Webb senior Tashan Newsome earned second-team All-Big South honors Sunday afternoon, and Chris Holtmann was named Big South Conference Coach of the Year.

Sophomore guard Tyler Strange earned a spot on the Academic All-Big South squad.

The postseason All-Big South Conference teams and awards were announced in advance of this week’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in Conway, S.C.

Holtmann garnered 16 first-place votes in the Coach of the Year tabulation and the result was well deserved. Gardner-Webb (20-11, 11-5) posted its first 20-win season since gaining full Division I membership and won as many league games (11) as it had overall when Holtmann arrived just three seasons ago.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs, picked fifth in the six-team South Division, closed out the regular season by winning 10 of their last 11 games – and seven in a row. Gardner-Webb led the Big South in total wins (20) and total defense (60.5 ppg allowed), and its late-season charge earned the ‘Dogs the No. 2 South seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

“Our league has a lot of very good coaches who I have a great deal of respect for, so this is quite humbling,” said Holtmann. “Given the hours our profession demands I want to thank my wife for her incredible support. I also certainly want to thank the coaching mentors and close friends who have helped me grow as a coach. Most importantly, I want to thank my outstanding staff – they are really good – and our players for a special year so far.”

Newsome (Albany, N.Y. / Colonie HS) was one of the league’s top all-around guards in his final season, averaging a team-high 14.0 points per game overall – and 15.7 ppg in Big South games. He posted six games with at least 20 points – and had a stretch of four consecutive games with at least 20 points to kickstart Gardner-Webb’s current stretch of 10 wins in its last 11 games.

Newsome, a preseason All-Big South second-team selection as well, has scored 735 points and pulled down 343 rebounds during his two seasons in Boiling Springs. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound standout has made eight game-winning buckets during that span as well.

Newsome is the first Gardner-Webb student-athlete to earn All-Big South Conference honors since Aaron Linn was selected in 2008-2009 – the program’s first season in the league.

“I’m proud of Tashan for his leadership and growth as a player and person,” said Holtmann. “He had a very committed offseason and it showed with an outstanding season. He helps our team in so many ways. I know he is excited about the challenge of the upcoming conference tournament.”

Strange (Leominster, Mass. / Notre Dame Prep) has been a steadying force at point guard for the Runnin’ Bulldogs this season, starting all 31 games and picking up his scoring effort during Gardner-Webb’s current stretch of success. Strange has dished off a career-high 128 assists with only 65 turnovers, and ranks second on the team with 50 steals.

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound sophomore is averaging 10.8 points over Gardner-Webb’s last four Big South wins, including 13 markers to go with five assists and just one turnover in Saturday’s home finale.

In the classroom, Strange carries a 3.02 cumulative grade point average as a business administration major.

VMI senior Stan Okoye was named Big South Player of the Year and High Point forward John Brown was named Freshman of the Year. Liberty’s John Caleb Sanders was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Gardner-Webb earned a first-round bye with its late-season success, and will play the winner of North No. 3 Campbell and South No. 6 Presbyterian on Thursday night at 6 p.m. at HTC Arena.