2012-13 Rush the Court National AwardsPosted by KDoyle on April 4th, 2013
As we move into Final Four weekend, it’s time for us to reveal our National Player, Freshman and Coach of the Year Awards. As mentioned in yesterday’s RTC All-America teams, we tend to believe that the postseason is an integral part of a player and team’s overall season, so unlike the other awards, we include everything up to this point. This season, our NPOY and FrOY awards were near-unanimous choices, but our COY selection had some dissent. Here are the choices:
National Player of the Year
Trey Burke, SO, Michigan (18.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.1 A/TO). After a promising freshman campaign when he averaged 14.8 PPG and 4.6 APG and was unanimously named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team and voted by the media as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, expectations were high for Trey Burke and Michigan heading into the 2012-13 season. Compound a strong nucleus of returning players with a talented incoming freshman class, and the Wolverines were picked by many as a preseason Top 10 team. For Burke individually, there certainly was unfinished business to take care of as he struggled in Michigan’s opening round NCAA Tournament loss to Ohio as a #4 seed shooting just 5-of-15 from the field and hitting only two long-range attempts. As Burke goes, so does Michigan, and the Maize and Blue have produced a 30-7 season and advanced all the way to the Final Four this year thanks in large part to his masterful play. He has scored in double figures in every game this season except Michigan’s opening game against South Dakota State in the NCAA Tournament, and his offensive rating and assist rate both rank among the nation’s top 50 players. Burke will be most remembered this year for his clutch play in the waning minutes against Kansas in the South Region semifinals, though. Michigan trailed 74-69 with just over a minute remaining in regulation, and Burke scored 13 of the Wolverines’ next 18 points to lead the team to the Elite Eight, and ultimately, to its first Final Four in 20 years. Not only does Burke have all the tools to excel at point guard, but he also has the “it” factor. No player has arguably meant more to his team than he this season, and he is an appropriate choice for the 2012-13 RTC National Player of the Year.
Others Receiving Votes: Russ Smith, Louisville.
National Freshman of the Year
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (15.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 3.0 SPG). Many knew that Marcus Smart would be a key player for Travis Ford’s team as a freshman — he garnered a vote in the preseason for FrOY honors for a reason — but little could have projected the kind of season Smart would have. From the get-go it was clear Smart was a special player; he announced himself to the nation in just his fourth game with the Cowboys as he led them to a dominating upset of then #6 NC State by going off for 20/7/7 — oh, not to mention, four blocks and four steals, too. With Smart leading the way, Oklahoma State had its best season since 2004-05 when the Cowboys advanced to the Sweet Sixteen under longtime coach Eddie Sutton. While this year ended abruptly with a disappointing opening round loss to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament, Smart raked in the hardware. He was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and made the all-conference First Team. In a league boasting talented guards such as Ben McLemore, Rodney McGruder, and Pierre Jackson, among others, it’s quite impressive how Smart was able to take the Big 12 by storm. The big question now for Smart is whether he will enter the NBA Draft. He has already accomplished so much in just a single season at the collegiate level that nobody could blame him for taking his talents to the professional ranks. A combo-guard of his all-around abilities certainly has a bright future.
Others Receiving Votes: Ben McLemore, Kansas.
National Coach of the Year
Jim Larranaga, Miami. Some would say it’s been a long time coming for Jim Larranaga. After spending 25 years coaching at mid-majors Bowling Green and George Mason, Larranaga received the opportunity to coach in the limelight when Miami hired him after Frank Haith left for Missouri — this move worked out pretty well for the ‘Canes. Larranaga had been teased as to what basketball at the power conference level was like after taking George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 — he led the Patriots to five NCAA Tournaments in 13 seasons — but coaching in the ACC trumps anything that the CAA or MAC presents. It didn’t take long for one of the classiest and most respected coaches in the sport to elevate Miami to new heights into the top five of the polls after beginning the season 22-3 with blowouts against Duke and North Carolina. For the first time in school history, Miami won the ACC regular season championship and the conference championship (something ACC teams other than Duke and North Carolina do not often achieve), and many believed they deserved a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as a result. While their season came to a disappointing end in the Sweet Sixteen to Marquette, Larranaga still could say that he had led Miami to perhaps their best season in program history.
Others Receiving Votes: Buzz Williams, Marquette; Mark Few, Gonzaga; Gregg Marshall, Wichita State.