That’s Debatable: Mid-Season AwardsPosted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2011
That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude. Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people. We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season. We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week’s Topic: Unbelievably, we’re already halfway through the regular season. Who are your mid-season award winners for POY, COY and FrOY, and who is your surprise team for the second half of the season?
Brian Otskey, RTC contributor
I still have to go with Kemba Walker for POY at this point. The Connecticut guard just about single-handedly won the Maui Invitational for the Huskies and poured in 20+ points in every game from November 17 to December 31. Big East teams undoubtedly are going to defend him better but if the season ended today, he’s my choice. Staying in the Big East, my mid-season COY is Notre Dame’s Mike Brey. The Irish coach, now in his eleventh (!) year in South Bend, has made a contender out of a team picked to finish seventh in the league. Notre Dame has a great chance for a double-bye at MSG in March and has already knocked off Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown and Connecticut. Freshman of the year has to go to Jared Sullinger and it’s not even close. Sorry, I’m not taking Kyrie Irving who’s missed almost half of Duke’s games (through no fault of his own mind you). I just can’t do it. As for my sleeper, I’m with Seth Davis. Watch out for North Carolina in the second half. Provided they stay healthy, the Tar Heels will roll to second place in the down ACC and get back in the top 25 at some point.
Kellen Carpenter, RTC contributor
Half-way through and I feel like things have barely even started. That said, the season could last until May and I still doubt I would change my mind about Jared Sullinger. I just love watching him get crafty around the basket. He is a rare talent and the clear choice in my mind for Player of the Year, and I guess that means I have to give him Freshman of the Year too. Sorry, Kyrie: just bad luck. As for Coach of the Year, I’d give it to Steve Donahue. Though Boston College’s defense has gotten worse, he has supercharged the offense and when the players are rolling, it is a thing of terrifying and undeniable beauty. Seldom have I seen a team so completely and suddenly transformed. And for the second half of the season, I’d urge everyone to stay up a little bit later than usual and take in some Arizona games. Don’t let the loss to Oregon State fool you: This team is for real. Derrick Williams is a terrific player and I have a feeling that the Wildcats are going to be dangerously underestimated in March.
Matt Patton, RTC contributor
Player of the Year is totally up in the air, but right now I like Jon Leuer from Wisconsin. Without him the Badgers are a low-end Big 10 team with a good point guard (think Penn State with Talor Battle). With him they’re a sleeper contender and top 25 team. I think I’d give Coach of the Year to Mike Brey of Notre Dame with San Diego State’s Steve Fisher coming in a close second. I think Brey has taken a team with very little buzz to a place not many people outside South Bend were expecting. He’s done a terrific job getting the most out of his players so far, and after their win over Georgetown I think the Fighting Irish are for real. Freshman of the Year goes to Jared Sullinger. Kyrie Irving would have a shot if he wasn’t hurt, but with him sidelined and Terrence Jones’ recent struggles I think Sullinger is a no brainer. He makes Ohio State a truly elite team and is arguably the most polished interior force in college basketball.
Tom Wolfmeyer, RTC contributor
The half-season POY is Kemba Walker at Connecticut, with Duke’s Nolan Smith, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger closing fast. The reason that he’s the guy right now is that he’s made what was essentially a bad NIT team relevant pretty much all by his lonesome. The other teams would all still be damn good, but UConn would be nowhere without Walker. My COY is Steve Fisher at San Diego State. His 15-0 start represents the best in the program’s history, and he’s put a commuter school in an apathetic sports environment all over the college basketball map this season. The top rookie has been Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, and that might have been true even if Kyrie Irving hadn’t gotten injured. His efficient post game offers OSU a dimension that nobody else in the country can boast, and he’s on the short list for NPOY candidates. My surprise team for the second half of the season will be Vanderbilt. The ‘Dores are already the second-best team in the SEC but they’re barely ranked — expect to see Vandy moving up into the top 10 by the end of this season.
Danny Spewak, RTC contributor
Player of the Year. Jimmer Fredette, BYU. In typical Fredette fashion, the pre-season All-American rebounded from a rough start Wednesday night to light up UNLV for 39 points. It was a brilliant performance… and it surprised nobody. Fredette has now topped 30 points four times this season. Freshman of the Year. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State. The Buckeyes haven’t played an especially grueling schedule, but Sullinger’s dominance is already obvious. He embarrassed Florida and South Carolina in the non-conference and is averaging a double-double through his first two Big Ten games. Coach of the Year. Rick Barnes, Texas. With a younger, revamped roster, Barnes’ players have forgotten about last year’s second-half slide by racing to a 12-2 record and a top-15 ranking. Another collapse is possible, sure, but this Longhorns team is fresh, full of energy, and defending better. Surprise Team. Dayton: Don’t ask me to explain how Cincinnati held Dayton to 34 points or why the Flyers lost at home to East Tennessee State. Just trust me: this team is still Temple’s main challenger in the Atlantic 10. Freshman sensation Juwan Staten has lived up to the hype by averaging nearly seven assists per game.
Ned Reddick, RTC contributor
When the season began there was a lot of talk about a freshman (Harrison Barnes) being named to preseason All-American teams. It turns out that the voters were right to select a freshman as an All-American, but they picked the wrong freshman. My current “Freshman of the Year” is Jared Sullinger and he is also my current selection for “Player of the Year.” Sullinger hasn’t wowed me with his low-post moves, but he finds a way to score thanks to his size, strength, and touch around the basket. If not for a toe injury, I would have gone with Kyrie Irving who in early December had firmly established himself as the best player on the best team in the country that was looking like a heavy favorite to repeat as a national champions. My coach of the year would have to be Jim Boeheim, who has taken a Syracuse team that was expected to be very good with a significant contribution from Fab Melo and to this point made them a great team with almost no contribution from Melo. The Orange are just starting Big East play, but their early results (including big wins over Michigan State and Notre Dame) indicate that Boeheim has the Orange ready for the rigors of conference action. My surprise team of the year is UCF. They haven’t played the toughest schedule in the nation by any means, but they have some pretty solid wins against UF and Miami. I doubt they will continue to live up to their top 20 ranking, but they could challenge Memphis for the Conference USA title.
Andrew Murawa, RTC contributor
POY: Kemba Walker – What can be said about the guy that hasn’t been said. He has carried his Huskies to great wins with very little help, and has done it in an insanely efficient manner, regardless of the recent losses. COY: Matt Painter – He’s down arguably his most important star, and has still folded in enough pieces around E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson to have this team defending like crazy and still playing good enough offense to be right in the thick of things in the Big Ten. FrOY: Jared Sullinger – Is this going to be unanimous? If Kyrie Irving was healthy, we’d at least have a discussion here, but Sully is among the best rebounders in the nation, has a polished offensive game and has meshed perfectly with the veterans already on the OSU roster. Surprise team: Gonzaga – the Zags slipped coming out of the gate and were written off by most, but they’ve now won six in a row, Elias Harris is finally starting to look healthy again, and the Zags look poised to rip through the WCC.
Kevin Doyle, RTC contributor
Although they have lost three straight and have begun their Pac-10 play with an 0-2 record, the Washington State Cougars would be nowhere near the position they are currently in if it were not for player of the year candidate Klay Thompson. The senior is averaging a league best 22.2 points per game, as well as getting it done on the glass with 4.6 boards and dishing out assists with 4.0 a contest. Currently, Steve Fisher is, for me, a no brainer for the coach of the year award. After an impressive run to the NCAA Tournament last year, much was expected of San Diego State this year, and the 60-year old has delivered with a perfect 16-0 record. If Jared Sullinger does not garner POY, then he is probably a shoe in for Freshman of the Year. The big man from Ohio State has demonstrated leadership qualities behind his years in leading the Buckeyes to a 15-0 mark, and averaging 18.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. There are many teams throughout the nation that had solid performances in the non-conference and have the ability to surprise during conference play, and the Boston College Eagles are one of these teams. First year coach Steve Donahue has made great strides with a young squad who regularly plays a walk-on in Danny Rubin as BC went 10-4 in the OOC and are already 1-0 in the ACC. With the ACC having one of their worst years in recent memory, BC can certainly do some damage with the brilliant Donohue at the helm.