Diogu led the Pac-10 in scoring and rebounding, while Stoudamire was the best player on the league's best team. In the pas the best player on the best team usually got the nod, but not this year.
"I thought they were going to do ‘Co.' (Co-Players of the Year)," Stoudamire admitted. "It's okay, life continues."
His coaches seemed equally surprised.
"You know what my feeling has been, that the team that wins the league title wins it," Lute Olson said. "I guess it is ‘Player of the Year', not ‘Most Valuable Player.'
His teammates were also in his corner.
"I feel like he deserves the most awards he can get for the things he has done for this team," Channing Frye said.
Frye would not flat out say that Stoudamire deserved it over Diogu, but pretty much hinted at it. He was pressed for a definitive statement, but would not give one.
"I don't want to get in trouble," Frye said of his rare lack of candor. "There are a lot of opinions I'd like to say, but I don't because I don't want them to become bulletin board material."
Olson actually thinks Frye's stellar season may have been a reason that Stoudamire did not get the award.
"I heard some people that mentioned they thought that Channing needed to be looked at for that position as well" Olson said. "So I don't know if that had some affect, if any votes were split. It is certainly not a case where you could feel like Ike was not one of the people who did not deserve the award."
Stoudamire had a different thought on why he did not win the award. When asked if a few inconsistent games had an affect, he offered up a different reason, his appearances in Olson's doghouse.
"I think it is just the rep that I have and coaches are taking that into consideration," Salim said.
Stoudamire usually downplays individual accolades and he tried to do so again, but let it slip that he wanted to win, at least a little bit.
"I don't care about that," he said of the award. "I don't need someone to reassure me that I've done well. I have confidence. I know down inside my heart that it should be me. Considering the numbers I displayed and I led my team to the No. 1 seed in the conference."
For now his attention is turned to Cal and their tough guard Richard Midgley. Last year they had an altercation that led to one of Stoudamire's worst games and he feels that could be the strategy again.
"I know that Midgley is going to try to beat me up on Thursday, but I'll prepare myself mentally today," Stoudamire said. "He's always grabbing and holding."
Asked if he thrives on the extra attention, Stoudamire did not hesitate to answer.
"Yeah, but I won't force anything," he replied. "I use that to my advantage by attracting a lot of attention and let other people work out."
He's no longer worried about accolades or honors. He just wants to win. In his mind he has nine more wins on his wish list.
"I don't care if it is by one point or a blowout, I just want to win."