Amidst all the hullabaloo about conference tournament action this week, it might have been easy to overlook the major conference awards that were handed out earlier this week. We thought it would be a good idea to get them all in one place and see if anything weird happened. We’ll first list the teams from each of the BCS conferences plus the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West, and then add some quick thoughts after each one.
ACC All-Conference Team
Nolan Smith- Guard- Duke
Malcolm Delaney- Guard- Virginia Tech
Reggie Jackson- Guard- Boston College
Kyle Singler- Forward- Duke
Jordan Williams- Forward- Maryland
Player of the Year- Nolan Smith- Guard- Duke
Coach of the Year- Roy Williams- North Carolina
Freshman of the Year- Harrison Barnes- Forward- North Carolina
Quick Thoughts. We have no issues with these selections. It is interesting that North Carolina won the regular season title and had zero guys on the first team, although, the Heels put Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson on the conference’s second team, and Kendall Marshall on the third team (even though he didn’t start half the season). And as much as Barnes was criticized this year for not living up to oversized expectations, he still managed to win ACC FrOY and make the second team.
Big East All-Conference Team
Ben Hansbrough- Guard- Notre Dame
Kemba Walker- Guard- Connecticut
Dwight Hardy- Guard- St. John’s
Marshon Brooks- Guard- Providence
Ashton Gibbs- Guard- Pittsburgh
Austin Freeman- Guard- Georgetown
Player of the Year- Ben Hansbrough – Guard- Notre Dame
Coach of the Year- Mike Brey- Notre Dame
Freshman of the Year- Cleveland Melvin- Forward- DePaul
Quick Thoughts. An argument could be made that Kemba Walker should have been player of the year, but Hansbrough was the best player on a team that finished second in the conference; Connecticut finished ninth (notwithstanding his play this week thus far). An argument can also be made that Syracuse big man Rick Jackson deserved a spot on the first team, as he was an inside scoring and rebounding stalwart for the third place Orange. While Brey was probably the strongest candidate for coach of the year, it would have been reasonable to consider Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and St. John’s Steve Lavin.
It may not technically be March yet, but the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame ushered in college basketball’s biggest month on Monday when it announced its Class of 2011. In November, the Hall will enshrine Bob Knight, Ralph Sampson, James Worthy and Chris Mullin among its class of eight inductees.
Bob Knight, now a popular commentator for ESPN, racked up a Division I record 902 wins in tenures at the helm of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech. Collecting three national championships along the way, Knight also made waves internationally, leading Team USA to Olympic gold in 1984.
One of this season’s biggest storylines is the rebirth of St. John’s basketball, so it’s fitting to hear former Redman Chris Mullin included in this year’s class. Mullin was a three-time Big East Player of the Year for Lou Carnesecca, and led his team to the Final Four in 1985 including the personal honor of the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The all-time leading scorer in St. John’s history, Mullin went on to a successful career in the pro ranks and was a member of the original USA Dream Team that brought home the gold in Barcelona in 1992.
2011 inductee Chris Mullin was a dominant scorer in the early days of the Big East
Seven-foot four center Ralph Sampson enjoyed a college career at Virginia that left coaches in awe. A dominant player, Sampson is a three-time Naismith College Player of the Year Award recipient and two-time Wooden Award winner. With Sampson, Virginia won the 1980 NIT and took a trip to the Final Four in 1981. Though his pro career was limited by knee troubles after being selected as the top overall pick in the 1983 draft, he remains a collegiate legend as one of the best players to ever take the court for an ACC team.
Another ACC inductee comes in the person of James Worthy. Worthy led the 1981-82 Tar Heels to the national title, averaging over 15 points per game and sealing the championship by intercepting an inadvertent pass from Georgetown’s Fred Brown. Worthy left UNC after his junior year for a prolific life in the NBA, where he collected three titles and made the all-star team seven years in a row as a member of the Lakers’ “Showtime” dynasty.
Earlier this month the Basketball Hall of Fame announced its list of ten finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard, and created a minor controversy when it left off Wisconsin star Jordan Taylor. At the time, the ten finalists appeared to be deserving although some might question Jimmer Fredette‘s passing ability/frequency and Demetri McCamey‘s play recently:
Norris Cole, Cleveland State
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Jimmer Fredette, BYU
DJ Gay, San Diego State
Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Demetri McCamey, Illinois
Mickey McConnell, St. Mary’s
Nolan Smith, Duke
Isaiah Thomas, Washington
Kemba Walker, UConn
The Cousy Award committee eventually came to its senses on Taylor
Ok. Maybe this is a little bit later than most of the 2010 retrospectives that you have seen over the past month or so, but just consider our countdown very thoroughly reviewed. We decided to focus on the defining moments of the past year. These weren’t necessarily the most exciting moments, but the ones that made us hold our breath, run around our respective RTC-funded mansions, bury our head in our hands, or reflect on the sport. Even though we think we did a good job of reviewing the biggest moments of the year and ranking them appropriately it is possible that you may disagree with us on either the ranking or inclusion/exclusion of certain moments. If you feel that way, leave a comment and we will respond to you. If you have a strong enough argument we may even update the post.
#10. Izzo Sticks at Michigan State: In the universe of potential train-wreck decisions, Tom Izzo’s summer dalliance with the Cleveland Cavaliers ranks alongside Justin Bieber’s hair and Sarah Palin’s Alaska as near-misses of epic proportions. (Wha? you mean they actually exist? ughhhhh…) With his six Final Four appearances and a national title in the last twelve seasons, Izzo is already one of the best coaches in the game; by turning down the additional millions to coach Boobie Gibson and Mo Williams to twenty-five wins for the next several seasons, he has a great chance to cement himself as one of the greatest of all-time. Frankly, it was surprising to most that the fiery Michigander so strongly considered leaving East Lansing without a promise from LeBron James that he would stick around, but in the end, we believe Izzo’s choice to remain in the college game was the right one. After all, few coaches make the transition from college to pro successfully, and even among those who do (Larry Brown) there is a lingering sense that true greatness was never achieved in either domain. As for us, we’re happy to see Izzo stalking the sidelines in the college game again, and we’re quite certain that Michigan State fans are too.
#9. Hummel tears ACL and breaks Boilermaker Hearts…Again: Wasn’t it bad enough the first time? It’s not like Purdue fans had totally climbed out from under the fate-dropped anvil that landed on them on February 24th last season, 27 games into the schedule, ranked third and the holy month of March merely DAYS away, when Robbie Hummel‘s right ACL tendered its resignation and removed the Boilermakers from any discussion of likely title contenders. I mean, that’s just cruel, right? Sure, bad luck sometimes befalls even the best kids and eventually finds all teams. But there was always the NEXT year, because there’s no way that something else could happen that would ruin the 2010-11 squad, right? Um…sure. Even to basketball fans neutral toward the Purdue program, the news was hard to fathom on the Saturday morning after this year’s Midnight Madness night (or whatever) when it was announced that Hummel had torn the same damn ligament AGAIN. The very serious and justified championship talk had returned to West Lafayette as fall settled in. At least it was there was up until the morning of October 16th. By noon, it was all gone. That’s one season-changing moment.
#8. Pearls of Untruth: A lie, by definition, is not accidental. At some point, whether it’s a week or a millisecond before it happens, there is a decision point. There is that moment where you make the call to tell the truth or — usually because of something you stand to gain or lose — to deceive. Bruce Pearl was already under suspicion for his telephoning and party-hosting skills, which is what put him in the position to lie to NCAA investigators back in June while they were investigating his program. We don’t know when his decision point was, and it really doesn’t matter. When he deceived the NCAA, at that very moment he violated the trust of a huge sports-loving fan base, not to mention that of every player who hoped he could teach them something about being a being a better basketball player and a better man. Some people want to give Pearl a pass because he went back later and told the truth. But that’s like the moment in the outstanding film Quiz Show when, after Charles Van Doren confesses to the Senate that he lied to America and he receives kudos from various Senators for his courageous statement, the Senator from New York tells him that a grown man does not deserve praise for finally telling the truth. We are not saying Pearl is a bad person — just that he made some bad decisions here. We all do that, just as we all lie. And we all know that after the lie, there is usually punishment and a chance to learn from it. The hole Bruce Pearl has dug for himself only tells us a small something about him. It is whether or not he climbs out of it in the years to come that will tell us what we really need to know about this man.
This should make for some interesting in-game chants next season for opponents of the Duke Blue Devils, especially if Butler, Michigan State, or West Virginia is the opponent.
Of the squads taking part in the Final Four in Indianapolis this past March, three of them — Butler, Michigan State, and West Virginia — achieved Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores good enough to put them in the top 10% of all men’s college basketball teams, and therefore earn themselves an NCAA Public Recognition Award. Yes, you read that right. The only Final Four team not earning the award this time around: Duke.
Da'Sean and his 'Eer teammates are in the Top 10% of the NCAA's APR scores, which should silence some of Huggins' detractors. (K. Binder/Blueandgoldnews.com)
At this moment, if you’re a Duke fan, you are probably positioning yourself at your computer, ready to fire off to us what’s sure to be a nasty e-mail or comment, indeed. Well, sheathe your keyboards. The APR is one of the tools used by the NCAA to monitor academic progress of each individual student-athlete, but keep in mind that it’s not perfect. According to the linked AP article above from ESPN.com, each student-athlete earns a point for his program by simply staying at the school, and another point for doing well enough academically to stay eligible. Each graduating player also earns a point. The team loses a point for each player who transfers, and another for each player who leaves for the NBA, though we’re not sure what those things have to do with academic performance. If a player isn’t in good academic standing when they leave/transfer, that’s another point lost. All these points are then thrown into some mathematical formula, and every team in every sport is given a score. A score of 1,000 is perfect, and 925 is considered the “minimum level of academic success.“ Fall below 925 for a semester or two, and you could be facing a slap from the NCAA’s pimp hand of sanctions.
In a ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club earlier tonight, Ohio State’s Evan Turner was presented with the 2010 John R. Wooden Award as the men’s college basketball player of the year. With this one, he is 6-of-6 in player of the year awards, taking the Associated Press, Naismith, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News, and US Basketball Writers Association honors as well.
Turner, Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson and Kentucky’s John Wall were also in attendance at the ceremony, with the former two making an in-audience appearance on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Wall was also scheduled to appear on the show, but missed the taping due to an exam.
Here at RTC headquarters, we are big fans of fundamentals and appreciate things that the casual fans doesn’t care about (like defense). Having said that, we were shocked when we received an e-mail from the Big East informing us of their men’s basketball awards. Before I go on my rant, let me start by saying that I agree with Greg Monroe of Georgetown winning “Rookie of the Year” and Jay Wright of Villanova winning “Coach of the Year”. Fans of other Big East teams might criticize Monroe for not leading his team to a better performance this year (possibly the biggest disappointment in the nation), but I don’t think you can blame a freshman/rookie for that. I would think the blame for Georgetown’s disappointing season should be placed elsewhere (like John Thompson III). As for Wright winning the “Coach of the Year” award I don’t think you can argue with that one too much. Sure they “only” finished 4th in the conference, but his team had much lower expectations this season than any of the teams that finished ahead of them. Coming into the year, the Wildcats were a borderline top 25 team (23rd in the AP and 25th in the ESPN/USA Today) with 6 teams ahead of them (including two teams–Georgetown and Notre Dame–that probably won’t even make the NCAA tournament). Wright guided a team with 2 “stars” (Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds) to a #3/4 seed in the NCAA tournament and made them a darkhorse pick to sneak into the Final 4. And yes, I know they were helped by an unbalanced Big East schedule.
Big East Coaches Have Lost Their Minds - Blair is the Choice
Ok, now that we have the simple stuff out of the way I can move onto my rant. . .
When the coaches were asked to vote for Big East “Player of the Year” (they were not allowed to vote for their own players), they ended up splitting the award between DeJuan Blair and Hasheem Thabeet. I’m willing to admit that they are both great players and have a legitimate shot at being 1st team All-Americans when the 47 different organizations reveal their lists in the next 3 weeks. Over the course of the season, they had fairly similar numbers too. Having said that, did the coaches not watch what happened when these two matched up? Here’s a quick summary of their numbers in those games:
Blair = 15 PPG (on 54% FG), 15.5 RPG, 1 APG (1.5 TO/G), 2 Blocks/G, and 2-0
Thabeet = 9.5 PPG (on 44% FG), 5.5 RPG, 0 APG (3 TO/G), 3.5 Blocks/G, and 0-2
While it can be argued that Blair’s numbers are somewhat inflated by his 22 point/23 rebound tour de force at UConn on February 16th and that Pittsburgh‘s win over UConn on Saturday was more the result of Sam Young playing like a man among boys than Blair having an exceptional game, I don’t think anybody who watched either game can argue that Blair dominated Thabeet. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself who means more to their team. Despite all of Jim Calhoun‘s attempts to compare Thabeet to Bill Russell (the ultimate winner in team sports), the Huskies are still a very good team when Thabeet gets in foul trouble as they were able to beat a #4 seed (Gonzaga) in what was essentially a road game with Thabeet fouling out as well as picking up some big wins when he was in foul trouble (Notre Dame, Providence, Michigan, and Villanova). Compare that with what happened to Pitt when Blair got in foul trouble: a couple of wins (FSU, Rutgers, and West Virginia), but also all 3 of their losses this year Providence, Louisville, and Villanova).
As for my closing argument, I’ll let Mr. Blair’s actions do the talking. . .
The MAAC conference tournament gave us another buzzer-beater last night. Saint Peter’s guard Desi Washington rushed down the court and nailed a trey to eliminate Fairfield 65-62 on Washington’s THIRD game-winning buzzer-beater against the Stags this season.
Clown, thy name is UCSB fan. Although players and coaches alike are expected to behave professionally, fans also have a responsibility to contain themselves. Incidents like last night’s approach by a rabid UCSB fan are dangerous for everyone involved.