The Big Sky awards were revealed a couple of weeks ago, and for the most part, I think they were good choices. However, I still wanted to go through and give my thoughts on the awards, who I'd choose, and the other top candidates.
Player of the Year
Actual Choice: Davion Berry, Weber State
My Choice: Davion Berry
Other Candidates: Kareem Jamar, Troy Huff, Derrick Barden
Comments: It was almost a foregone conclusion that Berry would win the award, as it usually goes to the best player on the best team, but should he have? Berry and Jamar are basically neck and neck, so neither would be a bad choice, but I pick Berry for a couple reasons:
- Statistically, a big edge for Jamar is that he grabs 17.9% of defensive rebounds, while Berry is at 12.8%, a big difference. However, Berry plays alongside an elite rebounder in Joel Bolomboy, while Jamar does not, which makes it easier for him to grab rebounds.
- They are about equally good shooters and passers. However, Berry is a little better from downtown, shooting 40% on threes compared to 34% for Jamar.
- Berry is better at getting to the free throw line which gives him more opportunities for freebies. Also, he is an 82% foul shooter compared to 71% for Jamar.
Either way, both guys would be good choices, but I would choose Berry. Derrick Barden would be another solid option for his efficient offense and rebounding, but I think Berry does more things at a high level. Similarly, Troy Huff is not a bad pick as he is a better rebounder than Berry/Jamar and led the conference in steals, but he loses some points for his offensive efficiency and the fact that he is a far worse passer than the other two guys.
Newcomer of the Year
Actual Choice: Quinton Upshur, Northern Arizona
My Choice: Quinton Upshur
Other Candidates: Kyle Richardson of Portland State
Comments: Upshur had an excellent debut season for the Jacks, and got better and better as the season went on. He has deep range, and shoots efficiently inside the arc as well. He pokes away some steals as well, with a 3.4 steal percentage. He is not a great passer or rebounder, but he is a very good scorer for them. Certainly a case could be made for Kyle Richardson of Portland State, who was really one of the best big men in the conference by the end of the year, but I think Upshur was the right choice.
Freshman of the Year
Actual Choice: Jeremy Senglin, Weber State
My Choice: Jeremy Senglin
Other Candidates: Jordan Wilson of Northern Colorado, Kris Yanku of Northern Arizona, Mario Dunn of Montana
Comments: Senglin had a steady debut season, showcasing some offensive skills (including 40% shooting on threes). He needs to become a better passer, but he showed he is capable of running the offense and should be slotted in for the Wildcats. He played almost 75% of the team's minutes and started from day one on the conference champ, which tells you what the coaches think of him. You could make a case for the other PGs as well. Dunn is the best defensive player of the group and will be an all-conference guy eventually. Yanku got better as the season went along and is perhaps the most important guy in NAU's program right now. Wilson was great for UNC as a freshman, showing some signs of good offense, as well as excellent on-ball defense. All four guys are worthy, and the fact that four PGs like this enter the Big Sky as freshmen is a great sign, but I would give Senglin the nod.
Sixth Man of the Year
Actual Choice: Jamal Webb of North Dakota and DaShaun Wiggins of Portland State
My Choice: Tim Huskisson, Northern Colorado
Other Candidates: Wiggins
Comments: Neither of the choices were bad at all. Webb was a steady guard off the bench, after starting the previous three seasons. Wiggins was even better... he was one of the best in the country at drawing fouls, and was a super efficient offensive players. He was a fine choice. However, my selection would be Huskisson, who started 12 of 32 games for the Bears. He was an efficient scorer and versatile defender. He still struggles at times with consistency, but he still has the ceiling of being a star.
Defensive Player of the Year
Actual Choice: Joel Bolomboy, Weber State
My Choice: Joel Bolomboy
Other Candidates: Jamal Webb, Derrick Barden
Comments: Bolomboy is an excellent anchor of the defense, with his size, quickness, and leaping ability. He gobbles up every rebound (28.2% DR%). His blocks were down, but he still impacted many shots. Bolomboy could be a POY as soon as next season in the Big Sky.
Coach of the Year
Actual Choice: Randy Rahe, Weber State
My Choice: Jack Murphy, Northern Arizona
Other Candidates: Rahe, Brian Katz
Comments: I can't argue with Rahe too much, as he is a great coach, but Murphy would have been my choice. It is simply about expectations vs actual results. Weber State was predicted first, and that is where they finished. However, NAU was predicted near the bottom of the conference, lost their best returner right before the season... and still finished third with a ton of newcomers. He did a great coaching job this season.
What are your thoughts? In the next week or two I should have time to go through and give my all-conference teams, and I suspect I will have a lot more differences compared to what the actual selections were than I do here.
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