Award Tour: Doug McDermott, Steve Fisher Lead POY, COY RacesPosted by Jameson Fleming on January 10th, 2014
Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.
When you scroll down in a few moments, you’ll notice Michigan State is not represented in these Player of the Year rankings. It’s not for a lack of a star player. The Spartans are arguably the best team in the country and are many pundits’ midseason pick to win the national title. The difficulty Michigan State faces when it comes to having a Player of the Year candidate is who do you pick? Adreian Payne has been the dominant force in a frontcourt that lacks a second or third dependable option. Gary Harris is arguably the team’s best defender and the best pure scorer. Keith Appling is statistically one of, if not the best, point guards in the country. As Big Ten play rolls on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Harris emerge as the team’s top player, as he averages over 19 points per game in the Michigan State’s six toughest contest.
Player of the Year
10. Russ Smith – Louisville. Last Week: 6
2013-14 stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.8 APG, 113.4 oRTG
Russ Smith continues to fall in the rankings after a mediocre performance against Memphis. The Tigers held Smith without a field goal until late in the first half. Smith also missed a shot at a critical point in the game and committed five turnovers.
9. Casey Prather – Florida. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 17 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 121.5 oRTG
Casey Prather’s breakout season has him contending with Julius Randle for SEC Player of the Year. In Florida’s SEC opener, Prather was an impact defender and contributed 13 points in 18 minutes. He’s scored in double-figures in every Gators’ game this season.
8. Joseph Young – Oregon. Last Week: 8
2013-14 stats: 19.1 PPG, 1.4 SPG, 137.4 oRTG
Joseph Young is on a short leash with these rankings after he was a non-factor against Utah and struggled in Oregon’s first loss against Colorado. He contributed next to nothing besides his 25 points in two games and committed five turnovers.
7. Nick Johnson – Arizona. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 16 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 120.9 oRTG
Nick Johnson hit a shot with 1:25 left to give Arizona a lead it wouldn’t relinquish against UCLA. The Wildcats desperately needed the bucket after they blew a 13-point second half lead to fall behind the Bruins by one. Johnson also led the undefeated Wildcats in scoring with 22 points and threw down an emphatic dunk in the second half.
6. Tyler Ennis – Syracuse. Last Week: 7
2013-14 stats: 11.7 PPG, 5.6 APG, 125.2 APG
Bad news, ACC: If you dare Tyler Ennis to shoot, he’ll drain three-pointers over screens. Virginia Tech went under screens instead of hedging or going over the top. The result? The freshman point guard drilled a trio of trifectas. It was only the third time this season that Ennis hit multiple three-pointers. Add his seven assists to just one turnover and Ennis had a nearly flawless game against the Hokies.
5. Julius Randle – Kentucky. Last Week: 4
2013-14 stats: 17.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 115.3 oRTG
Mississippi State was able to contain Julius Randle offensively, but Randle still controlled the glass with 14 rebounds. A big part of Randle’s early success was his ability to get to the free throw line. He shot at least 10 free throws in five of Kentucky’s first six games, but Randle has only attempted double-figure freebies one time since then. Teams have adjusted to Randle’s physical play. His field goal attempts per game and two-point percentage have essentially stayed the same since the first six games, but the big difference has been in his inability to get to the line so easily.
4. DeAndre Kane – Iowa State. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 16.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 6.3 APG, 118.1 oRTG
There may not be a better two-way player in college basketball as good as DeAndre Kane. He’s a menace on the defensive end of the floor as he can turn a giveaway into a brilliant fast break on any possession. Kane had easily the best game of his season against Baylor with 30 points on just 18 field goal attempts, nine assists, eight rebounds, and five steals. Even though he’s a high-usage point guard, Kane has committed two or fewer turnovers in eight of 14 games this year.
3. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State. Last Week: 3
2013-14 stats: 17.5 PPG, 4.1 APG, 2.7 SPG, 111.2 oRTG
Despite a brutally cold stretch of shooting, Marcus Smart has continued to excel around the basket. He’s hit just 11 of his last 50 on shots outside the paint, but he’s still shooting over 56 percent on two-pointers. Against Texas, Smart took over the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds, six steals, five assists, a block and ZERO turnovers. He also got to the line 20 times.
2. Jabari Parker – Duke. Last Week: 1
2013-14 stats: 19.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 113.3 oRTG
Odds are Jabari Parker will be the Player of the Year and he’s probably still the front-runner, but he’s getting punished for his recent benching. The current No. 1 on this list won’t be someone who gets pulled with 3:35 in a close game that his team ultimately loses. Mike Krzyzewski had seen enough out of Parker, who finished 2-of-10 with two turnovers against Notre Dame. The super freshman hasn’t snapped out of his mini-slump yet as he struggled against Georgia Tech later this week for 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
1. Doug McDermott – Creighton. Last Week: 2
2013-14 stats: 24.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 120.2 oRTG
Doug McDermott avoided a bad shoulder injury, but after Grant Gibbs went down for four weeks, McDermott might have to shoulder the load even more than he already does (I’m so sorry for that pun). Gibbs is a very good distributor which means McDermott and others (I’m looking at you, Ethan “completely rely on others to create my shot” Wragge) to create their own scoring opportunities. For McDermott, it’s almost impossible for him to increase his contributions more than he already does. See below.
Coach of the Year
5. Fred Hoiberg – Iowa State. Last Week: 4
Iowa State completely dismantled Baylor in the second half Tuesday night thanks to another monster performance from DeAndre Kane. One of the keys to Fred Hoiberg’s success has been his ability to develop bench players. There was no denying that Hoiberg would have a solid starting five, but he’s turned Naz Long (1.4 PPG last year) and freshman Monte Morris into dependable sixth and seventh men.
4. Jim Boeheim – Syracuse. Last Week: 3
Could Jim Boeheim be on the prowl for his next bench player turned star? In 2010, it was Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine, followed by Dion Waiters in 2011, C.J. Fair in 2012, and Jerami Grant in 2013. Grant was supposed to play that role again this year until DaJuan Coleman’s injury. It’s not often a Syracuse freshman earns more minutes throughout the season, but Boeheim gave Tyler Roberson critical run in the first half against Villanova. He notched 14 more minutes against Eastern Michigan and 13 against Virginia Tech. Odds are Roberson won’t be a factor in ACC play, but it’s worth noting he might be bucking Boeheim’s trend by entering the circle of trust instead of falling out of it. He could turn out to be the Orange’s breakout star next season.
3. Bo Ryan – Wisconsin. Last Week: 2
How much has Bo Ryan adjusted to the new officiating rules? Wisconsin scored 95 points in a Big Ten game. How unusual is that? The last time the Badgers even scored 80 points in a league game was 2011. Wisconsin scored those 95 points with the help of only FIVE offensive rebounds, and Bo Ryan’s club only turned it over four times in 71 possessions. Wow.
2. Sean Miller – Arizona. Last Week: 1
Like Jabari Parker, Sean Miller earned himself a caveat to keep him out of the top spot this week. His team allowed UCLA to go on a 13-0 run to tie the game up late in the second half. Arizona eventually prevailed on Thursday night, but its shocking collapse falls partially on the shoulders of Miller. Luckily for Miller, winning games can sometimes be easy if you have players who make plays like this.
1. Steve Fisher – San Diego State. Last Week: Not Ranked
It’s not unusual for a major conference team to reload year after year with top freshman talent and transfers. But when a team from a non-power conference like San Diego State does it, you can call that team Gonzaga. Unlike Gonzaga, San Diego State is built to win games in the NCAA Tournament. The Aztecs defend as well as anyone, suffocating teams inside the arc. Steve Fisher’s squad lost Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, James Rahon, and Deshawn Stephens from last year’s team, and after losing a close game early to Arizona, San Diego State turned right around and beat up on Creighton, Marquette, and a bunch of cupcakes. It wasn’t until Fisher took down Kansas and Boise State for everyone to notice the Aztecs as a real threat, and Fisher truly deserves a spot (for at least a week) atop the Coach of the Year rankings.