Travis Diener, who has taken the team on his back this season with the departure of Wade in the backcourt, has led his team in scoring with 17.5 points and 6.8 assists. Coach Tom Crean has always said Diener is a born leader and is one of the most fearless competitors in college basketball. While his mark into the 1,000th point category puts him into the record books, Diener will be more remembered as the "floor general" and one of the best point guards in the country.
Many of the top teams depend on their star guards to carry them--Devin Harris at Wisconsin, Jameer Nelson at St. Joseph's, and Chris Thomas at Notre Dame. When Diener was carried off the court on a stretcher in Charlotte two weeks ago, the future of the team's season looked dim for the Golden Eagles. But Travis showed his courage when he wanted to stay at the game to support his team even though he was in tremendous pain. However, under Crean's orders, he was taken to a nearby hospital for examination. Just days later, Diener began rehabilitation on his neck and made a miraculous comeback to help his team defeat DePaul just a week later. Though he could not even turn his neck from left to right without feeling pain, he still scored 15 points and had 9 assists. Crean said after the game that a sign of a great player is when he can adapt to any situation, which is what Diener did that game. "Travis did not force any shots. He did a great job of getting his teammates involved by moving the ball and, most importantly, showed his team how dedicated he is to its success by choosing the play after sustaining such an injury."
Diener is considered on the top 30 candidates to win the 2004 John Wooden Award. If he continues to play like the fearless competitor he is, he may become a finalist.