ACC Conversation: End of Season Awards

Posted by Brad Jenkins, Matt Auerback, Mick McDonald on February 28th, 2018

Rush the Court’s ACC microsite writers Brad Jenkins, Matt Auerbach and Mick McDonald chatted this week  about who they think should take home All-ACC Honors.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley Will Assuredly Find Himself on the All-ACC Team (USA Today Images)

Brad Jenkins: Last week we focused on teams. This week, we can discuss individuals. How do you guys feel the All-ACC first team will shake out? Mick, why don’t you go first.

Mick McDonald: Sure thing. In terms of how I *think* it’ll shake out, I’d be pretty surprised if it wasn’t Marvin Bagley III, Luke Maye, Jerome Robinson, Tyus Battle and Kyle Guy. Personally, I’m not sure I’d have Battle there and I would definitely have Devon Hall over Guy.

Matt Auerbach: From my perspective, I totally agree with Mick that the top three are locked in, as Bagley, Maye and Robinson’s individual prowess has far exceeded the rest of the conference. I think Battle has a ton of empty calories in his 19 PPG, so I’d opt for Joel Berry II in his stead. As for the conference champion’s representative, I’m with Mick. It may be Guy over Hall, but that is wrong. For me, Hall is the glue that holds the whole thing together on both ends of the floor.

Mick McDonald: Hall gets no love because he only averages about 12 PPG, but he has been insanely good. He ranks second in the ACC in Offensive Rating and fourth in Defensive Rating.  Also, he’s second behind Bagley in Win Shares. It would be insane to put Guy over him because he averages 2-3 more points per game.

Brad Jenkins: I think the fascinating thing to watch will be how the voters handle the Virginia players. They absolutely should get a guy on the first team, and I agree it should be Hall. The only statistic in which Guy is better is scoring, and that’s because he takes five more shots a game.

Matt Auerbach: Virginia is clearly a ‘whole is greater than the individual pieces’ example, but if you subtract someone from the squad and tell me that they’d really be worse off for it, I’d say without hesitation that player is Hall.

Mick McDonald: He’s also shooting 45 percent (!!!) from three-point range, much better than Guy’s 39 percent.

Matt Auerbach: And I agree, Brad — Virginia has nobody atop the chart in any of the traditional statistical measures, but they’ve dominated the league in a way that has to be a shock even to Tony Bennett. It would be unconscionable for the Cavaliers to not be represented on the first team.

Brad Jenkins: Another interesting thing to watch is this is the second year the media balloting is spread out so each school has equal number of area media votes. This came about because the non-North Carolina teams thought they didn’t get a fair shake because so many ACC media were based in the Tar Heel State. While I can see their point to a degree, we also lose out in denying more knowledgeable voters a say. For instance, Hall would be more appreciated the old way. I bet some Boston or Miami voters just look at points per game.

Mick McDonald: So it sounds like we all agree on four guys (Bagley, Maye, Robinson and Hall). Matt, you liked Joel Berry for the fifth spot. I wouldn’t hate that and could also see Battle given he’s so important to Syracuse… but can I make an argument for Wendell Carter?

Brad Jenkins: I would go with Berry too. I think he’s been in March form for a while now.

Is Joel Berry the Right Player to Fill Out the All-ACC Team (USA Today Images)

Matt Auerbach: Those poor souls — Wendell Carter was the next man up for me. He’s really come on of late, and for all the talk of how Grayson Allen has reappeared with Bagley on the sidelines, Carter relished the expanded role he took on in his absence as well.

Mick McDonald: Right. And the Carter/Bagley combo is what really makes Duke so tough. Carter has great advanced numbers (first in Offensive Rating, second in PER, third in Win Shares) and he showed he can also be the man when Bagley was out. I think I might lean towards him over the pseudo-career achievement award Berry would be getting.

Matt Auerbach: Ha, I’m not going to lie, Berry being a senior played a role for me in that selection.

Brad Jenkins: What about Player of the Year? Bagley seemed to have it wrapped up but missed four games. Should that be counted against him?

Mick McDonald: It’s still Bagley for me. He’s a complete force and even though he missed some games was still clearly the top player in the league.

Matt Auerbach: It could, and I couldn’t fault people, because the greatest ability is availability. With that said, I can’t take Robinson from a bottom-tier team and Hall’s numbers just aren’t that of a player of the year. So that leaves Bagley and Maye, and Bagley is just so far superior both by the numbers and jump-off-the-screen talent.

Mick McDonald: I agree Bagley and Maye are the only two options and I don’t really think it’s that close.

Brad Jenkins: I’ll be honest. If North Carolina wins at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night and Maye outplays Bagley, I’d think about it. On the other hand, if Boston College had gotten to .500, Robinson would be a worthy choice as well. What about Coach of the Year? Got to be Tony Bennett, right?

Matt Auerbach: One can make a case for your preseason pick and namesake Brad Brownell. But, for me, Tony Bennett should win it unanimously.

Mick McDonald: It’s Bennett and it’s also not close and allow me to rant for a second on this. Virginia was picked sixth in the preseason. Which is fine! I picked them sixth! But Bennett has done an amazing job melding this team together and they have completely run through the league. He’s an obvious Coach of the Year. However, I’ve seen media saying “Well, we know Virginia is always good, so Bennett is now like Coach K and Roy Williams where he shouldn’t win Coach of the Year.” No! You don’t get to say that, because you picked them SIXTH!

Tony Bennett Has Been Masterful This Season (USA Today Images)

Brad Jenkins: I absolutely concur. In a league this good, there will always be great coaching jobs. For instance, Roy Williams has done a great job even though he may not get a vote. You’ve got to go with the coach of the team that dominated conference play.

Matt Auerbach: That argument is specious and rings hollow. Tony Bennett is the Coach of the Year. I picked them ninth, Mick, so I win our clueless prognosticator of the year. A special mention to Roy Williams here as well. His team has truly improved to a point I don’t think many of us saw coming.

Mick McDonald: Exactly guys and that’s to take nothing away from some really great coaching jobs this year. You mentioned Roy Williams. Brad Brownell was fantastic this year and absolutely saved his job. Kevin Keatts showed what anyone who watched his UNC-Wilmington teams already knew. But Bennett is Coach of the Year.

Brad Jenkins: Bagley is obviously Rookie of the Year. What about Defensive Player of the Year? Isaiah Wilkins? And Sixth Man of the Year? DeAndre Hunter?

Matt Auerbach: Agree and agree.

Mick McDonald: Wilkins will probably win Defensive Player of the Year (and he deserves it) but Devon Hall should be in the conversation as well.

Matt Auerbach: Agree there as well.

Brad Jenkins: Unfortunately, many in the media look only at blocks and steals for their All-Defense team. I’d bet the coaches poll has Wilkins & Hall 1-2, as they should be.

Mick McDonald: And I think Hunter has to be the Sixth Man of the Year. He’s absolutely the x-factor for this Virginia team if they want to make the Final Four. Honorable Mention to Jack White.

Matt Auerbach: I feel as though Pittsburgh is being slightly underrepresented here.

Brad Jenkins: Should they even be allowed in Brooklyn?

Matt Auerbach: Brooklyn lets anyone in nowadays.

Mick McDonald: Kevin Stallings should win “Fan Interaction of the Year” for when he told the Louisville fan, “At least I don’t pay my kids 100 grand.”

Brad Jenkins: Haha. Speaking of Brooklyn, we’ll get together again next week to preview the ACC Tournament. Any other parting thoughts tonight?

Matt Auerbach: To state the obvious, I’m really looking forward to Saturday. Even with the loss to Virginia Tech, I think Duke’s improvement defensively has me believing once again that they’re a favorite to win it all. I’m curious to see how they respond against a red-hot North Carolina team.

Brad Jenkins: How about this – Bonzie’s back!

Matt Auerbach: As for Bonzie Colson, that adds an element of intrigue to that trip to Virginia this weekend, and obviously for what they can accomplish in Brooklyn.

Mick McDonald: Where do I sign up for five wins in five days for Bonzie and Matt Farrell in Brooklyn???

Matt Auerbach: I don’t think anyone would root or bet against that.

Brad Jenkins: OK. Great discussion, guys. Enjoy the rest of the final week of the regular season!

Mick McDonald (50 Posts)


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