The 2010 NCAAB Player of the Year Debate – The Naismith Award Belongs to the Buckeyes’ Head-Turner

March 12, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Sports Geek and Loyal Homer.

The Naismith Award equals the NCAA Basketball Player of the Year award.

The NCAA Basketball Player of the Year equals the best player in college basketball for 2010.

The best player in college basketball for 2010 equals Evan Turner.

Statistically speaking, the 21-year old guard from Ohio State is the total package. Evan Turner, who is practically a walking double-double, averages 19.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game (both of which are FAR superior averages when compared to Turner’s toughest competition for the Naismith Award, John Wall). In addition to his Big Ten leading point and rebound average, Turner also provides 5.8 assists per game (putting him at second in the Big Ten in that category).

On both offense and defense, Turner’s presence on the court demands full and constant attention from his opponents. He possesses surprising speed for his size, 6-feet 7-inches and 210 lbs, which allows him to be successful at nearly every position on the court.

While Turner’s statistics make an extremely strong case for him as the Player of the Year, it was actually his time OFF the court which demonstrated just how important and impactful Evan Turner has become.

After suffering several broken vertebrae during a game in early December, Turner was forced to miss six games before he could return to the court. At the point when Turner suffered that injury, the Buckeyes were sitting at 7-1, but during the six-game period where Turner was unavailable, they played to a disappointing 3-3 record with losses coming against Wisconsin, Michigan, and Butler. The Buckeyes fell to 0-2 in the Big Ten, and 10-4 overall.

Upon his return, the Buckeyes found themselves once again rolling through their competition, as they would go on to win 14 of their last 17 games and finish on top of the Big Ten with a conference record of 14-4.

As good as Turner’s supporting cast of John Diebler, David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale, and William Buford are, their performance without Turner on the floor was very telling. During their loss against Butler, they were out-rebounded by the Bulldogs 45-32 (Turner’s 10 rebound average would have surely made a difference). Two weeks later in their loss to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes went 14 of 43 from the field, and tallied only 43 total points in the game (Turner’s 20 points per game would have made a HUGE difference in that performance). Finally, when they lost to Michigan four days after their game against the Badgers, Ohio State once again turned in a terrible second-half performance, shooting only 28 percent from the floor during the final twenty minutes of play (they were only 36.9 percent shooting overall that night).

Simply put, the Buckeyes would be a middle-of-the-pack team without Evan Turner, who is like the little Dutch boy plugging leaks in the dyke. His versatility allows him to fill any role that is needed on the court at any time, whether that position is point guard, shooting guard, forward, or anything else that may be required at a moment’s notice.

Had he not been able to return to play for Ohio State, they would have entered the Big Ten conference tournament with a bubble-team’s hope for reaching March Madness, and an NIT berth as a more realistic expectation. Instead, Evan Turner has almost single-handedly propelled the 24-7 Buckeyes into very serious consideration for a top seed in the national tournament (a case helped even more by the Syracuse loss in the early rounds of the Big East tournament).

There is simply not another player in the country as effective offensively AND defensively as Turner, who possesses the best all-around skills in the game today. It doesn’t matter what it is called – best player, player of the year, most valuable player – Evan Turner is the only logical choice for the Naismith Award in 2010.

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The 2010 NCAAB Player of the Year Debate – Cousins is the Real Kentucky Star

March 12, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan.

Obviously, Evan Turner’s journey has been well documented, and if you want more on Mr. Turner, read Bleacher Fan’s argument. John Wall has been heavily hyped from the start of the season, and he has helped lead Kentucky to an outstanding season and a likely #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. He is being highlighted by Sports Geek. However, I’= am going to step outside the box a bit and go a different direction. I believe that Wall’s teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, deserves serious consideration for college basketball’s Player of the Year.

Cousins, who was also heavily hyped himself coming into the season, originally was committed to Memphis, but when coach John Calipari left Memphis for Lexington, Cousins decided to join him in Wildcat Nation. I will admit that I am always a little partial to big guys over guards, and that is the main reason I am siding with Cousins over his teammate. It is a matter of preference, and it was actually addressed in an SEC teleconference this past Monday.

Cousins, who is a bulky 6-feet 11-inches and 270 pounds, is one of two SEC players averaging a double-double (Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado is the other). He is averaging 15.9 points per game with 10.1 rebounds per game and has had 18 double-doubles to this point. Not to mention that fact that he is fifth in the league in blocks at just under two per game, even though in every Kentucky game I have watched he has had a far greater impact on opposing shots than the numbers might indicate. On offense he is often impossible to guard. As Arkansas head coach John Pelfrey said, “Physically, one man can’t guard him.”

Just this week, Cousins was named to the all-conference SEC team, and was named SEC freshman of the year… and we can count on more hardware on the national level soon. This was not at all unexpected. In fact, many mock drafts have him being a high lottery pick in the 2010 NBA draft if he declares for the draft, as expected.

I am not going to pretend that I am a big fan of Calipari, because I am not. But he deserves some credit for molding this young team into a favorite for the national championship. Cousins is a huge part of that. Just have to ask yourself who is more valuable to the team, Wall or Cousins? Wall gets all the glitz and glamour because he plays the point guard position, but Cousins has a chance to dominate the game in the paint – and it is usually a chance he takes advantage of. If he gets in foul trouble, Kentucky is an entirely different team. Opposing teams gain an advantage in the paint when driving to the hole and also when crashing the boards. That is what makes him more important.

Solid cases can be made for Wall and Turner. But Cousins has come on strong down the stretch and deserves to be named the national Player of the Year.

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The 2009 BCS Championship Sleeper Debate – LSU Tigers are Ready to Roar in the Bayou

August 28, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that Notre Dame is a potential BCS sleeper and Bleacher Fan’s argument that California is a BCS sleeper.

It is quite obvious that Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma are obvious picks to make it to the BCS National Championship game. It has been well documented on this website that they are each led by outstanding quarterbacks.

Today, we are going to go outside the box and take a look at teams outside of the AP Top 10. The current AP rankings lists some quality teams ranked from 11th to 25th, and after taking a closer look I think that the LSU Tigers have a chance to be a BCS sleeper.

After winning the BCS national title two years ago, the Tigers knew they were in rebuilding mode last year. Did they anticipate falling to 8-5? Probably not! But it was hard to overcome the loss of guys like defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and quarterback Matt Flynn.

Despite the struggles at times during last season, head coach Les Miles (who gets a lot of grief, yet is one of Loyal Homer’s favorite coaches) and his team come into the season riding a wave of momentum following an absolute whipping of Georgia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The Tigers’ 38-3 victory over the Yellow Jackets (which I witnessed personally) was one of the more impressive victories of the bowl season last year.

Returning from that team is senior running back Charles Scott. It is very hard to stay under the radar at a high profile school like LSU, but nationally Scott is underrated. He finished last year with 18 touchdowns, including three in the bowl game. He did get some love from SEC coaches last season. So, if LSU does well this season he might get some love from the rest of the nation.

For me, the key to the season lies in the hands of quarterback Jordan Jefferson. After rotating between Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch last year, Jefferson took charge late in the season. He had a solid bowl game and LSU is looking for him to take a big step this season, just his sophomore season. Early signs from Tiger headquarters are that Jefferson is showing some strong leadership skills, and if he can transfer that to the field, the rest of the SEC – and maybe the nation – better look out.

One thing going against the Tigers is the schedule. They have to make conference road trips to Georgia, Alabama, and Ole Miss. And look who comes to Baton Rouge on October 10 – the mighty Florida Gators! You can bet that if LSU gets by UGA the week before, the buildup to that game will be tremendous. That game has been on Loyal Homer’s radar since the official schedule was released months ago.

Do I think the Tigers are a little overrated in the pre-season poll? Absolutely. Coming off a five loss season, I did not think they warranted a top 15 ranking. But, the opportunity is there for the Tigers to not only prove that pre-season ranking, but also climb higher and maybe, just maybe, sneak into that BCS championship picture.

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The How to Judge a College Player Debate – What’s the Best Way to Judge a College Football Player’s Success?

August 19, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that performance at the collegiate level is the measure by which college athletes should be rated and evaluated, and Loyal Homer’s argument that the players potential to perform in the NFL is a better standard by which to gauge and evaluate them.

When the media’s pre-season All-SEC team was announced at the beginning of the month, there was no surprise seeing Tim Tebow’s name. There was some surprise, though, in the fact that he was NOT the name on top of the list. Somehow, there was another player in the SEC who garnered more of the 64 votes than Tebow did (granted, it was only one more vote, but it was enough to cause a buzz!). That person was defensive back Eric Berry of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Berry’s place at the top of the list is not without justification. He was a unanimous All-American last year, and is expected to set a new NCAA record for interception return yards very early in the 2009 season. The surprise lies in the fact that Tim Tebow, a favorite to win the 2009 Heisman Trophy award (which would be his second) and the leader of the reigning national champion Florida Gators, has been a dominant presence in the media since becoming the first player in NCAA history to both rush for AND pass for at least 20 touchdowns in the same year, 2007. He was expected to receive the most votes.

When considering the accomplishments Tebow has already racked up, add to those accomplishments the expectations for Tebow and the Gators this year – I do not think anyone would have disagreed if Tebow was named a unanimous selection. So you can imagine our surprise when he not only fell short of the unanimous vote, but also was not even the top vote getter on the list!

It made us wonder what, exactly, was the criteria these voters were using when they cast their ballots?

There can be little doubt that Tim Tebow is one of the most accomplished players in college football history. He has two national championships, has one Heisman award, and is a favorite this year to add to both of those totals. Eric Berry cannot boast a resume like that. What Berry CAN claim, at least in many media circles, is that he has a greater likelihood to move on and be successful in the professional ranks.

Berry is already considered to be a top prospect for the NFL Draft next year. His head coach at Tennessee, Lane Kiffin, is a former NFL head coach and agrees that Berry will be a very likely success at the next level. For Tim Tebow, on the other hand, expectations are not as high. Many believe that Tebow will move on to the NFL, but few expect him to continue as a successful quarterback once he leaves the college game.

So the question posed to Sports Geek and Loyal Homer today is:

Which is the better criteria by which to evaluate a college player, college success or pro potential?

NCAA Football is generally considered to be a feeder system into the professional ranks. Does that mean that a player’s potential to take the next step should be the key benchmark by which to rate their success? On the other hand, is a players ability to produce and succeed within the college game the better standard, even if that player is not likely to see continued success once they move on to the professional game?

Sports Geek will argue that the better measure is the player’s collegiate resume. While the NCAA football programs are viewed unofficially as a feeder system into the NFL, they are NOT minor league organizations. NCAA football is a separate entity from the NFL, and accomplishments and credentials garnered while in that game should be evaluated on their own merit, not how they would translate into a professional game.

Loyal Homer will argue that a player’s professional potential is the better barometer for evaluating their talent. Athletes at the highest level of college football are expected to move on to the NFL, so that naturally should be the standard by which those players are evaluated and compared against one another. If fans and the media expect those players to move to the next level of the game, then the best method for rating those players is to determine their likelihood of success.

As for me, I’m going to try and answer the question of what happened to Tim Tebow’s shirt?

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