Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Conference Reset, Part 2

After taking a look at the teams on Monday, let's take a closer look at the players that could make up awards teams and award winners, as we head into conference play. These are my predictions for the first two all-conference teams.

First Team:
- Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington - As we enter Big Sky play, Harvey looks like the favorite for the POY. He plays for the best team, and he has continued right where he left off last year as a dynamic scorer. He is averaging 22.8 PPG, but that only tells a little bit of the story. He is shooting a touch under 50% from three point range on the year, and doing it in nine attempts per game, which is almost ridiculous. He takes great care of the ball, and scores efficiently inside the arc as well. He is a star.
- Mikh McKinney, Sacramento State - I give him the slight nod over Garrity because he does more things well. He is a good distributor, and he is third in the league in Assist Rate. He has shot over 60% on two-pointers, and is a good enough outside shooter to keep you honest. He has also been a menace defensively, with the second best steal rate in the nation, swiping the ball 3.3 times per game.
- Venky Jois, Eastern Washington - Jois has cooled down a little after a scorching start, but he has shown a lot of improvement this year, averaging 19 and 8 per game. He is shooting over 60% from the floor, and has gotten better from the stripe. Though the total rebound number is a little inflated due to the fast pace of EWU, he is a good rebounder, and one of the best shot blockers in the conference. Jois does it all for the Eagles.
- Martin Breunig, Montana - Before the year, an insider told me that Breunig would be the best big man in the conference, and so far you could make the argument that is the case. His raw numbers of 16.7 PPG/6.4 RPG aren't as high as Jois, but he has been very good. He is shooting 64% from the floor, and 74% from the line. He's helped to turn around a lot of the rebounding troubles the Grizzlies have had the past couple years, and can block some shots as well. Foul trouble has limited his minutes quite a bit, but when he is on the floor, he's as good as any big man in the conference.
- Joel Bolomboy, Weber State - He hasn't been the offensive player we wanted him to be yet, shooting 44% on two-pointers against DI competition (he has feasted in two games against non-DI opponents), and hasn't rebounded it quite as well as his otherworldy rate from last year. But he still has the talent level to do that, and it should come together as the year goes on. No big man can match his athletic prowess.

Second Team:
- Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State - Garrity has really evolved in his career, but a playmaking freshman who led the conference in assists, into a senior who has to be one of the most feared shooters in the nation. He is a lethal weapon from the outside. He falls to the second team here because he has become more of simply a shooting specialist then he was in the past, but he could climb up to the first team.
- Mike Scott, Idaho - I have talked a lot about Scott this year, and he is a guy that has been efficient scoring 15.5 PPG (shooting 44% from three), while being one of the best distributors in the conference. He is second in the Big Sky in Assist Rate, which he has done while maintaining a minuscule turnover rate. He has been the most improved player in the conference.
- Drew Brandon, Eastern Washington - Brandon is the often forgotten third cog for EWU, a PG who does it all. Though not a great scorer (though he has been very efficient when he hasn't been shooting threes), he also averages 7 RPG from the PG position. Jim Hayford's offense needs a good PG, and Brandon has been that guy this year.
- Quinton Upshur, Northern Arizona - It's reasonable to wonder if we saw Upshur's peak last year, but he is a very productive guy that is capable of carrying their offense in some situations. Though not shooting the ball quite as well as last year, he gets a lot of respect from deep. One thing that could help him is if he can get a little better at the line, where is shooting just 59% this year, baffling for a guy with his shooting ability.
- Dominique Lee, Northern Colorado - Lee was excellent in a reserve role last year, but has been even better with increased minutes so far this year. He is super efficient, and has put up better rebounding numbers than anyone in the conference. He is a guy that brings a lot to the table, but doesn't take much off. He has to play the five spot more than you would like, but that doesn't diminish how good he has been.

Let's hear any snubs or your thoughts...

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  1. Wiggins from Portland St playing quite a bit better than some of these. Solarin in the mix with Colbert from Montana ST.

    1. No doubt, all of those guys are playing extremely well... Been really impressed with how Colbert has progressed, and Solarin is one if my favorite players. Good choice.

  2. Another gem Jon, well done. I don't know enough about other teams to comment there, but having McKinney 1st team and Garrity 2nd team seems right to me. There have been times when McKinney has absolutely carried this team offensively (see Portland). Hell of a tandem for the Green and Gold.

  3. Drew Brandon is a solid 2nd team choice, but if he doesn't get healthy his shooting won't improve enough to be there at the end. He's been dealing with a back issue since the Eastern Oregon game and is averaging just about 6pts, 5 asts, 7 rebounds since then. He was at 12 pts, 5 asts, 6.5 rebounds before that.

  4. Could you explain to me why Mike Scott was not on the 1st team and why Connor Hill was snubbed.

  5. Sure... I have consistently praised Scott all year, I just want to see him continue his play. I was doing these as predictions for how things will look at the end of the year... Scott has been so far above his previous level (which wasn't bad, but not as great as he has been so far), that I couldn't yet justify putting him over Bolomboy, who has been the worst so far of the guys I selected as first-team guys. But so far, he has been one of the top five players in the conference.

    Hill, you could make a case for him, no doubt. He has been better than Upshur so far, but I think Upshur will be better over the course of the year, and they are totally different players. Drew Brandon also does so many things that I think he will be a bit more valuable, though that could change if he doesn't get out of his shooting slump.

    Both guys have been excellent so far, but when looking at 5-10 players, there will always be arguments for other guys.

  6. Ok thanks Jon. I was under the assumption that you did this by looking at this season so far and not as a prediction. I understand your points now.

  7. Gonna shoot it to you all very straight...even though it hurts me to admit it...but, Quinton Upshur has been missing in Flagstaff for 2 and 1/2 months. His stats will tell you he has been around, but trust me, the Q of last year is long lost (at least offensively). If he doesn't show up soon, NAU will almost certainly be looking on the outside in come tournament time. #1NAUFan