Big East: Blair = Thabeet?Posted by nvr1983 on March 10th, 2009
Here at RTC headquarters, we are big fans of fundamentals and appreciate things that the casual fans doesn’t care about (like defense). Having said that, we were shocked when we received an e-mail from the Big East informing us of their men’s basketball awards. Before I go on my rant, let me start by saying that I agree with Greg Monroe of Georgetown winning “Rookie of the Year” and Jay Wright of Villanova winning “Coach of the Year”. Fans of other Big East teams might criticize Monroe for not leading his team to a better performance this year (possibly the biggest disappointment in the nation), but I don’t think you can blame a freshman/rookie for that. I would think the blame for Georgetown’s disappointing season should be placed elsewhere (like John Thompson III). As for Wright winning the “Coach of the Year” award I don’t think you can argue with that one too much. Sure they “only” finished 4th in the conference, but his team had much lower expectations this season than any of the teams that finished ahead of them. Coming into the year, the Wildcats were a borderline top 25 team (23rd in the AP and 25th in the ESPN/USA Today) with 6 teams ahead of them (including two teams–Georgetown and Notre Dame–that probably won’t even make the NCAA tournament). Wright guided a team with 2 “stars” (Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds) to a #3/4 seed in the NCAA tournament and made them a darkhorse pick to sneak into the Final 4. And yes, I know they were helped by an unbalanced Big East schedule.
Ok, now that we have the simple stuff out of the way I can move onto my rant. . .
When the coaches were asked to vote for Big East “Player of the Year” (they were not allowed to vote for their own players), they ended up splitting the award between DeJuan Blair and Hasheem Thabeet. I’m willing to admit that they are both great players and have a legitimate shot at being 1st team All-Americans when the 47 different organizations reveal their lists in the next 3 weeks. Over the course of the season, they had fairly similar numbers too. Having said that, did the coaches not watch what happened when these two matched up? Here’s a quick summary of their numbers in those games:
Blair = 15 PPG (on 54% FG), 15.5 RPG, 1 APG (1.5 TO/G), 2 Blocks/G, and 2-0
Thabeet = 9.5 PPG (on 44% FG), 5.5 RPG, 0 APG (3 TO/G), 3.5 Blocks/G, and 0-2
While it can be argued that Blair’s numbers are somewhat inflated by his 22 point/23 rebound tour de force at UConn on February 16th and that Pittsburgh‘s win over UConn on Saturday was more the result of Sam Young playing like a man among boys than Blair having an exceptional game, I don’t think anybody who watched either game can argue that Blair dominated Thabeet. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself who means more to their team. Despite all of Jim Calhoun‘s attempts to compare Thabeet to Bill Russell (the ultimate winner in team sports), the Huskies are still a very good team when Thabeet gets in foul trouble as they were able to beat a #4 seed (Gonzaga) in what was essentially a road game with Thabeet fouling out as well as picking up some big wins when he was in foul trouble (Notre Dame, Providence, Michigan, and Villanova). Compare that with what happened to Pitt when Blair got in foul trouble: a couple of wins (FSU, Rutgers, and West Virginia), but also all 3 of their losses this year Providence, Louisville, and Villanova).
As for my closing argument, I’ll let Mr. Blair’s actions do the talking. . .