Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BIAH Season Update: Postseason Awards Pt. II

Believe it or not, we are now about a quarter of the way through the regular season. With the pre-season tournaments in the past and conference season on the horizon, things are starting to slow down a bit as most schools are getting bogged down with finals. We at BIAH have had a chance to see all of the top teams and players in the country take the court, so here are each of our writers early, but educated, opinions on the Final Four, postseason awards, and the top 25.

Rob Dauster

Player of the Year:
Stephen Curry, Davidson

Playing on a team with at most one other high-major talent, Curry has led the Wildcats to an 8-1 record and wins over NC State and West Virginia. You know what you are going to get with Davidson. You know the ball is going to be in Curry's hands and you know he is going to be taking a majority of the shots (and damn near every single important one). He is averaging 31.3 ppg, 6.8 apg, and 2.9 apg, and while his turnover numbers are a bit high (3.6 per), it is to be expected when you play as many minutes as and have the ball in your hands as much as Curry does. Only one team has held Curry below 27 points in 9 games this season (Loyola MD), and they held Curry scoreless by playing a triangle-and-two ... with both of the two on Curry. If you ignore that game, Curry is averaging a shade under 36 ppg.

But it is more than just numbers with him. No matter how poorly Curry is playing, no matter how off he is shooting the ball, you just know that he is going to wake up when you need a big shot. Take the West Virginia game as an example. Curry played just about his worst game as a collegian. He was 5-22 from the floor (1-13 from deep) with eight turnovers as the clock ticked past five minutes to go in the game. West Virginia played flawless defense on him, getting him out of rhythm and making him have to force things. But in the last five minutes, Curry scored 13 points, including three three's (would have been four but he hit a pull-up with his toe over the line). Two of those were incredibly tough threes on the move with a hand in his face. And even though he was ice cold throughout, you just knew he was going to hit them. That's why he is the player of the year at this point. Not because he makes those plays, not because you expect him too, but because you would be surprised if he didn't.

First Team

Ty Lawson, UNC
James Harden, Arizona State
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Jordan Hill, Arizona
Hasheem Thabeet, UConn

Second Team

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Kyle Singler, Duke
Sam Young, Pitt

Third Team

Eric Maynor, VCU
Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga
AJ Abrams, Texas
Taj Gibson, USC
Tony Gaffney, UMass

I know what you are going to say. Tony Gaffney over Tyler Hansbrough and Luke Harangody? By the end of the year, there is no doubt that Psycho T and 'Gody will be all-americans, more than likely knocking Thabeet and Hill down to the 2nd team. But with Hansbrough's injury and Harangody's illness, and their subsequent missed time, I just simply do not think it fair to reward them at this point. And Gaffney has been as good as anyone in the country. He is averaging 12.4 ppg, 12.9 rpg (2nd in the country to Griffin), 5.4 bpg (2nd in the country), and 2.4 spg. He's done it against pretty good competition as well - Memphis (16, 19, 5), Kansas (6, 13, 4), Boston College (15, 18, 9) and Holy Cross (17, 11, 8).

Coach of the Year:
John Beilein, Michigan

We touched on this about a couple weeks ago, but John Beilein may be the most underappreciated coach in the country. Everywhere he has been, he has taken a struggling program and made it relevant. Nothing is changing this year, as this Michigan team has gone from a 10-22 campaign in '07-'08 to a 7-2 start with wins over Duke and UCLA. Beilein has always been a system coach that needs his type of player - either you can throw a back door pass and hit an open three or you can't. That's the offense and the style he coached at every one of his stops. That hasn't changed now that he is at Michigan, but he has added a few wrinkles to fit his roster, and those changes have greatly improved this team. The biggest one is that he is allowing Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims a little more freedom when it comes to penetrating and making plays. These adjustments, and the fact that he has his guys buying into the system, have vaulted Michigan into the conversation for the Big Ten title.

Freshman of the Year:
Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

I know the trendy picks (Greg Monroe, Tyreke Evans) and I know the sleeper picks (Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Singleton), but I think this kid has been the most impressive. This was not an overly talented freshman class, and most of the newcomers have slid into their roles along side stars. Not Landesberg. UVA has lost JR Reynolds and Sean Singletary the last two seasons, and outside of Landesberg does not really have anyone that can score this year. As a result, the Mickey D's all-american has been forced into the starring role and has faired pretty well. On the season, Landesberg is averaging 19.0 ppg and 5.7 rpg, although the Cavs have only gotten off to a 3-3 start. Landesberg is not a great shooter or a great athlete, but he is a smart player that is crafty with the ball and that has an excellent mid-range game.

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