It's that time of year...the regular season is over, conference tourneys are upon us and Selection Sunday is just around the corner....hooray! So, of course, we all must look back and reflect upon the college basketball season that was. I've created some of my own awards, because this is my blog and I wanted to. Hope you enjoy!
The "Wow, I was REALLY Wrong About That Team" Award
Tie between Michigan and UConn. I remember in my season preview I thought UConn with its guard play and veteran postplayers would lead the Huskies to the top of the Big East....FAIL. Perhaps part of the implosion was from missing Coach Jim Calhoun, who took a medical leave of absence midseason. They showed some resurgence upon his return, but it's safe to say this season is one they'd rather forget. Good thing their women's team is unbelievably awesome. Michigan was in my category for teams that would improve this season and it looks like they've done the opposite. It's strange that Belein had the same group of players and a worse record...I don't really understand how that works but something didn't quite click for the Wolverines this year. Ouch.
The "No One Saw Them Coming" Award
The Syracuse Orangemen!! Who else?!?! A team that began the season unranked yet won the outright Big East title, spent some time as #1 and now is being talked about as a championship favorite...of course, with my inexplicable love for Syracuse, this makes me happy. A group of unselfish guys that play hard--a mix of veteran leadership and young talent with a breakout star in Wesley Johnson--definitely a formula for success! Somewhere, Jonny Flynn is smiling.
The "Sucks to be You" Award
Robbie Hummel of Purdue. The poor kid has battled through injuries his first two years, is having a strong, healthy season, the media's loving his team, people are talking Final Four and then he goes down at the end of February with a torn ACL. **Insert the dreams of Purdue fans everywhere crashing down here** A serious bummer. Luckily, he still has another (and hopefully injury-free) year.
The "Congratulations, Your Success is Completely Irrelevant" Award
Cal and/or whoever wins the Pac-10 tournament. Normally there are a lot of comments about the West Coast not getting enough attention, teams from the region surprising everyone...and this year held true to that, but it was mostly because everyone was surprised at how bad they were. Normally, winning your conference is cause for celebration. Not this year. A perfect example as to why the NBA and the NCAA need to figure out a better solution to the one-and-done rule.
The "Biggest Crash and Burn" Award
Texas Longhorns...you might be asking why I didn't put North Carolina here. Don't worry. We'll get there. But the difference is that no one was really talking about UNC winning another title. Texas was something of a golden child this year. They started out so strong, cruised to a #1 ranking and had the tournament been played in December and early January, they probably could have taken home some hardware. But it's not--and for whatever reason, Texas fizzled while everyone else got better. To go from Final Four hopes to hoping to make the tournament is never a good time.
The "Nobody Feels Sorry for You" Award
North Carolina, I'm talking to you!! Has anybody noticed that in almost every game this year, Roy Williams looks like he's going to cry? "Wah, my team is struggling, WAAAAH" "WAH, Duke kicked our tail" "WAHH it's so hard...just like the earthquake in Haiti" And understandably, fans are upset too. They had a national championship and now probably won't make the tournament. If that was my team, I'm sure I would be disappointed. But guess what?!?! You've had 3 Final Fours and 2 national championships in 5 years. SUCK IT UP. Quit whining. You're a perennial powerhouse and you're having a down year--it happens to everybody. Deal with it.
The "6th Man of the Year" Award
My man, Draymond Green!!! I'm sure you could argue that there are other players who mean more to their teams, but I disagree. Green has stepped up for MSU all year, being a co-captain as a sophomore, scoring when he needs to, crashing the boards, being a vocal cheerleader, coming up with bonding ideas (i.e. the sleepover at Breslin) and winning the hearts of fans because of his effort. He went from playing just 11 minutes a game last year to over 25 this year, grabbing almost eight rebounds a game (third in the Big Ten) and scoring 10 points. He also did enough to garner conference 6th Man of the Year honors, so I feel there's some support to my statements. Also, the fact that a 6'6, 235 pound guy is nicknamed "Day Day" just makes me love him even more.
And now....drum-roll please.....the unveiling of the...
2009-2010 ALL WIGS TEAM
Last year I had a lot of big guys, these year was all about the guards. Again, these aren't "the best players" in the NCAA, just my personal favorites.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Quick, clutch, composed. Reynolds is currently chasing the all-time leading scorer record at Nova and here's hoping he gets it. Reynolds has grown up so much in his time under Jay Wright, becoming a team leader and an all-around better player. He's tough, he's competitive--in short, everything you want in a guard. Me = Big fan.
John Wall, Kentucky
My fasination with him has been well-documented. He has had a few freshman moments this year--arguing with his coach, thinking he knows better, pouting because he hasn't played well--but overall, he's remained unselfish, always looking up the floor, sharing the ball and using his incredible quickness and explosive energy. Watching him play is always fun. It will be interesting to see how his youth and the youth of his team plays out in the tournament...but hopefully we have a lot to look forward to from him.
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
Of COURSE I was going to include someone from Michigan State. If you had asked me a month or so ago, I might not have picked Kalin. But watching him respond after being injured won me over. I think sitting on the bench watching his team without him really ignited a fire and a passion in him to be the leader Izzo needed him to be. The lightbulb is on and he has the talent to really go far. I love watching him slash through the lane and I love that he's the one that wants to hit the big shots. You can tell the effort is always there now and he wants it bad.
Evan Turner, Ohio State
The kid broke his back and now might be Player of the Year. Need I say more? I have so much respect for his talent, I'm not sure I can really put it into words. The kid just gets it done.
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
I think I'm going to let his numbers speak for themselves on this one...
Johnson was named Big East Player of the Year this week, surprising a lot of people who assumed it would be Scottie Reynolds. But Johnson "has started all 31 games this year after transferring from Iowa State. The junior leads Syracuse in scoring (15.7 ppg), rebounding (8.5) and minutes played 34.5). He has scored in double-digits in 28 of 31 games and posted 11 double-doubles."
That's the list...Happy MArch Madness!! :)