AAC Midseason Awards

Posted by Mike Lemaire on January 8th, 2015

Conference play is underway and its time to hand out some fictional hardware that we reserve the right to confiscate and redistribute to more deserving recipients at the end of the season. Here we go…

Player of the Year: Ryan Boatright, UConn

UConn's Ryan Boatright Will Be A Key Player To Watch In Tonight's Contest

UConn’s Ryan Boatright Has Improved His Game In All Facets This Season

Give Ryan Boatright credit: He has definitively improved his game this season. He is attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line at a career-best clip while his shooting percentages have remained in line with his career averages. The result is a more efficient offensive player who is also a more willing distributor and one of the best rebounding and defensive guards in the conference (if not the entire country). He is also the unquestioned alpha dog and best player for the conference front-runner. Despite all of that evidence, it still feels like Boatright wins this midseason award by default and that is in large part because the pool of contenders is so uninspiring. SMU‘s Nic Moore is the better offensive guard, but any coach worth his salt would rather have the Husky. Moore’s teammate Yanick Moreira has been solid, but he doesn’t scare anyone on either end of the floor. And don’t even try talking us into anyone on Cincinnati. It would actually be good for the conference if UConn steps up and Boatright runs away with this award because the AAC could use some brand-name recognition this season.

Coach of the Year: Fran Dunphy, Temple

Congrats to Fran Dunphy on His 400th Victory

After Just One Rebuilding Season, Fran Dunphy Has Temple Back On Top

Let’s say it all together now — never doubt Temple’s Fran Dunphy. The Owls’ formerly mustachioed leader not only has his team atop the AAC standings with a road win over UConn in his pocket, but Dunphy has the team well-positioned for an NCAA at-large bid thanks to no truly bad losses and a dominant win over Kansas. The Owls finished 4-14 in the AAC last season and were the conference’s worst defensive team, but now they are just one win away from matching last season’s league win total and have become one of the best defensive teams in the country. Temple has plenty of individual talent, but if the awards were handed out today, none of the players would be likely to make an all-conference team. That interesting fact has Dunphy’s fingerprints all over it as well. Tulane’s Ed Conroy is a viable candidate for this honor as well, but give me the coach who might take his team to the NCAA Tournament over a coach whose team is merely exceeding expectations.

Newcomer of the Year: Adonys Henriquez, UCF

My money is still on Temple’s Jesse Morgan running away with this award by the end of the season, but he hasn’t played in enough games to qualify for the midseason honor. “The Brothers B.J.”, both Taylor at UCF and Tyson at ECU, are two of the better freshman scoring guards in the conference, and Houston’s Devonta Pollard has good numbers that come with the cost of inefficiency. Heck, Temple transfer Jaylen Bond is leading the conference in rebounding, so his name should be in the mix as well. Despite all of that, the 6’6″, 210-pound Adonys Henriquez has been the best freshman and one of the more skilled and well-rounded players in the league this year. He is shooting better than 40 percent from downtown and almost 60 percent on his twos, while also proving to be a capable rebounder and slick passer. As he continues to develop, he will get plenty of looks from NBA scouts because he has all the tools to become an excellent point forward who can stretch the floor.

Disappointment of the Year: Memphis

From 2005-09 under the direction of John Calipari, the Tigers lost three home games; yet Saturday’s home loss to Tulane was the Tigers’ third home loss this season. I am admittedly cherrypicking that time span as Calipari lost a handful of home games in 2004-05, but only a fool would think that Memphis will not lose another home game this season. Josh Pastner has shouldered a lot of the blame for his team’s disappointing start, but that’s not entirely fair as any number of the Tigers’ players will make you shake your head multiple times during games. Still, losses at home to Tulane and Stephen F. Austin is totally unacceptable for a program with so much resources, history and tradition. If the Tigers want to salvage any hope of making the NCAA Tournament in March, they need to beat SMU and Cincinnati in two of their next three games and they must avoid any further letdown games at home or anywhere to bad teams.

mlemaire (324 Posts)

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