Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Player Awards

Second Annual OMACs - One Man's All Conference

First team, in reverse order:

5 - James Gist, Maryland. This was a very tough decision. I felt there were four very clear cut first-teamers, and about 8 guys who could be second-team. Finding a fifth for the first team was not an easy task. My hunch is, when the awards come out, Greivis Vasquez will hold this spot. But I simply couldn't give the award to a guy who, while doing a tremendous amount to help his team, also does so much to hurt it. Briefly, Vasquez made just 27% of his threes in conference play, but took over 40% of his shots from outside (and that's a lot of shots - he led the Terps in attempts). He also had the second-highest turnover rate of anyone in conference play. So that bumped him. So that left Gist. The Terps power forward averaged 17 and 8.5, posting 5 20+ point games and finishing 9th in block rate. He and Osby formed a fearsome duo down low who were extremely difficult to score on - opponents shot just 45% from 2 on the season. And he did far, far less to hurt the team than Vasquez. It's not a ringing endorsement - and this is not to sell Gist short, because he had a superb season - but as I said, there were only 4 clear first-teamers to me. So congrats James - best of the rest gets you a first-team spot in my books.

4 - DeMarcus Nelson, Duke. Nelson was the rock for the Devils on the season, shouldering the scoring load, drawing the opponents' best perimeter player on defense, and grabbing more boards than any other guard in the ACC. Nelson showed substantial growth this season, improving on passing out of the drive and finishing inside when he did decide to go all the way to the hoop. He had the best EFG% of any regular Blue Devil (.573, good for top 5 in the conference), and was the unquestioned leader on the court. Nelson's signature game this year came at Maryland, where he scored 27 points, picked up 7 boards, and 4 assists as he helped Duke storm back from a halftime deficit to pick up the road win.

2a and 2b - Sean Singletary, Virginia; Tyrese Rice, Boston College. Rice and Singletary are essentially the same player - high scoring point guards playing with sub-par teammates who were dangerous enough to keep their teams in most games, but not quite superb enough to carry them over the top. Rice scored a few more points, but the assist and turnover numbers were essentially equal, as was their shooting percentages and their ability to get to the line. They were 1 and 2 in percentage of team scoring in the conference on the season. If pressed, I would give the edge to Singletary - I think his supporting cast was worse and I think he does just a little more to make his teammates better. For Rice, the signature game was his 46-pointer against UNC, during which he hit 8 threes and scored 34 points in the first half. It was the highest scoring game of any player in conference this season. Singletary's shining moment came at Miami, where he dropped 41 on the Canes, plus 9 rebounds and no turnovers. Of course, their respective teams lost both games.

1 - Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina. Hansbrough was the heavy favorite for this award at the start of the conference season, but struggled a bit out of the gate. He shot better than 50% from the field only once in the first 7 games, and his 20/game over that stretch was not extraordinarily efficient. But Psycho T locked up the award for good during Ty Lawson's absence - 6 games, averaging a 29 and 10.7 double double, and carrying the Heels to 5 wins out of 6, including great escapes against Clemson and at Virginia. He's the most difficult post presence in the country to deal with, because he's mastered the completely awkward and off-balance shot, he has terrificly soft touch, he grabs lots of rebounds, and he shoots free throws very well. The signature game was the double-OT home win over Clemson - he went for 39 and 13 and shot 12 more free throws than the entire Clemson team. He was the most dominant player in the conference, and the biggest reason why Carolina's offense didn't miss a beat with Lawson out.

Second Team - normal order

6) Greivis Vasquez - yes, he's a terrible outside shooter and a turnover machine. But he's a dangerous play-maker and a fierce competitor who averaged 17.6, 7 assists and 6 rebounds on the season. He also finished second in conference in minutes played.

7) Kyle Singler, Duke - Singler was the most versatile Devil, who could score inside, outside, off the dribble, off the pick and pop, and even with the occasional sky-hook. He often had to guard the opponents' center (despite never matching up in size), and easily took more cuts and scars than anyone else on the team.

8) Jack McClinton, Miami - McClinton was again the best player on a surprising Miami team, and this year he was even a more efficient scorer. Jack finished 4th in percentage of points scored, and was Miami's best outside shooter. Plus he hit 91.8% of his free throws, making him a hugely valuable asset on the court at the end of games.

9) Cliff Hammonds, Clemson - KC Rivers shouldered more of the scoring load, but Hammonds was the glue holding this team together. He played more minutes than any other Tiger, and was the team's most efficient scorer, shooting over 60% from 2. Add in a healthy assist rate (20.6%) and a relatively low turnover rate (3.3%), and Hammonds brought consistency to Clemson.

10) Greg Paulus, Duke - I will be accused of blatant homerism for this, and so be it, but I think Paulus was one of the 10 most valuable players in conference this season. He hit countless big threes, leading the team at 41.7% from outside, and was always willing to take a shot in a pressure situation. But equally important, his defense and ball-handling, while not all-world, were vastly improved. He had a very low turnover % and the third best A/TO in conference, and also finished 4th in steal rate.

Third Team

11) James Johnson, Wake Forest
12) AD Vassallo, Virginia Tech
13) Wayne Ellington, UNC
14) Toney Douglas, Florida State
15) KC Rivers, Clemson

Honorable Mention - in no particular order

Jeff Teague, Wake Forest; Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech; JJ Hickson, NC State; Courtney Fells, NC State; Danny Green, UNC; Trevor Booker, Clemson; Jon Scheyer, Duke; Jason Rich, Florida State; James Dews, Miami; Gerald Henderson, Duke

All-Rookie Team

1) Kyle Singler, Duke
2) James Johnson, Wake Forest
3) Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
4) Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech
5) JJ Hickson, NC State

Honorable Mention: Terrence Oglesby, Clemson; Landon Milbourne, Maryland; Rakim Sanders, Boston College

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