No. 8 Moment of 2012-13: Tyler Ferguson joins elite club

Tyler Ferguson vs. Pitt-Greensburg
Tyler Ferguson

Over the next 10 weeks, Pitt-Bradford athletics will bring you the Top 10 Moments of the 2012-13 school year.

Each week a new moment will debut, featuring insight from coaches, players, and Sports Information Director Scott Elliott. It all leads up to the No. 1 moment in Panther athletics, which will be revealed the week of Aug. 5.

In every sport, there are milestones that distinguish the legacy of a special student-athlete. In the game of basketball, scoring 1,000 points in a career is no easy feat.

You break it down using some quick math-an average of 25 games a year over four years-and conclude a player must average 10 points a game to do so. Only you have to include variables: freshman year, injuries, playing time, coaches, etc.

The list is long of former Pitt-Bradford players on both the men's and women's side who have had solid careers in their Panther uniforms, but fell short of reaching such a milestone. This past year was one of those rare instances.

For circumstances out of his control, recently graduated men's basketball player Tyler Ferguson was thrust into a much bigger role midway through his sophomore season. Over the first 38 games of his Pitt-Bradford career, Ferguson managed to average only 5.9 points per game. However, his new role required him to be much more of a scorer, and score he did.

His breakout game came in a 29-point performance against Hilbert on Jan. 17, 2011. It was the start of three straight games in which he scored 20 or more points. Over the final 16 games that season, Ferguson scored at a clip of 17 points per outing.

He didn't slow down his junior season either. In 25 games, he ranked in the top 10 in the league in scoring with 15 points. He only scored 20 or more points in four games, an indicator of his consistency. It also included one of the best performances I have ever witnessed in my short time as an SID: his double-double of 34 points and 21 rebounds in a win over Mount Aloysius. More impressive, he had a double-double in each half.

Ferguson's ability to hit the mid-range jumper and attack the rim off the dribble made it difficult to guard him at 6'5" and that was with him playing out of position. He's a natural forward, but was asked to be the team's primary rebounder and often guarded the opposing team's tallest post player. He was a complete mismatch defensively for longer, slower-footed opponents, and he exploited it every time out.

The Phillipsburg, Pa., native entered his senior season needing only 122 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He started off strong, but experienced a slump to start conference play. Opponents routinely shagged off the Panthers' guards to help double Ferguson in the post. Teams designed their defensive sets around slowing him down, but he pushed through.

After scoring 10 points in a narrow defeat to Brockport on Dec. 29, he needed only 11 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau. The following day against Canton, he would become the 21st member in program history to do so.

Ferguson totaled seven points in the first half, pushing his career total to 996, and after scoring the first basket to open the second half, he was just two points shy. At the 15:56 mark, he grabbed the rebound off a missed shot and laid it in for his 999th and 1,000th career points. For the senior, it was a big relief.

"When I scored, it felt like a lot of pressure had been lifted," said Ferguson. "I knew I was close to getting it going into the game, and I just wanted to get it and not think about it anymore."

He also had some help throughout the game. Fellow senior Jesse DeLoof was tracking Ferguson's point total.

"I remember wanting Tyler to get his 1,000th point that game because his mom, grandfather, Whitney [girlfriend] and brother had made the trip to Brockport to watch him do it," said DeLoof. "I'm not going to lie I wanted to get the assist on it.

"Everyone knew he was close, but I was counting it down in my head so I'd know … when he finally did get it, I was extremely happy for him. It couldn't happen to a better guy. I looked at his family when he scored to see their reaction."

For Ferguson, it put him in elite company, and he was the first to achieve the feat since Dan Heisey did it in 2011.

"It was an amazing achievement," said Ferguson. "There have been some really great players who are part of the club, and it's just an honor to even be in the same club as them."

He would finish his career with 1,171 points, the 12th-most all-time in program history. He was honored prior to the start of the team's home game against Hilbert on Jan. 9.

In addition to his scoring prowess, Ferguson finished in the top 10 all-time in rebounding with 559 career boards.

The biggest surprise for Ferguson came in late April at the university's athletic department awards. He was named the Male Athlete of the Year, an award voted on by all the coaches.

"This was one of the biggest honors I've been awarded in my athletic career, if not the biggest," said the criminal justice major. "This past year all of our sports teams were loaded with great athletes, and I honestly did not think I would be awarded it.

"When some of my family actually told me they were coming to the banquet I almost begged them to not come, thinking it wouldn't be worth making the trip."

But he was wrong. He became the seventh men's basketball player to receive the award. It was no surprise for his coach Britt Moore.

"Tyler Ferguson had an outstanding basketball career here at Pitt-Bradford and his 1,000th point was among his many outstanding accomplishments," said Moore. "Tyler was our focal point offensively but always came up with big performances in big games. He was one of the hardest workers I have ever coached, and that perseverance showed in our team."

Ferguson was given an opportunity during his sophomore season, and he ran with it and ended up doing something special. It takes a different type of student-athlete to soar to such levels, and that's why his moment and the journey he took are appreciated by all Panthers.