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Husky Men's Basketball

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February 3, 2009 at 9:11 PM

Mid-season awards time

Simple enough. Time to hand out some awards at the midway point of the Pac-10 season.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Lots of good candidates for this one — Arizona State’s James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, UW’s Justin Dentmon and Isaiah Thomas, USC’s Taj Gibson, Arizona’s Jordan Hill. Harden is probably the best overall talent in the league, and at the end of the season, could end up winning this.. But for today, my vote goes to UCLA PG Darren Collison. I’m sure most UW fans just did a double take remembering Collison’s five-turnover, 5-14, foulout game up here a few weeks ago. But if you look at it objectively, Collison’s numbers are hard to beat — he’s ranked among the Pac-10 leaders in scoring, FG percentage (the only guard in the top 10 in that category), FT percentage, steals, assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. In fact, he’s second in both assists (5.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6) despite the poor game here. He’s also shooting 52.8 percent despite his off game here (he’s at 56 percent in conference play if you threw that one out). He’s also the most important player for a team that is tied for the lead in the conference. And for all the thought that UCLA hasn’t been quite as dominant as everyone thought, the Bruins do lead the conference in scoring margin in Pac-10 games at 10.7.
COACH OF THE YEAR: This looked like Mike Montgomery’s to lose until a few weeks ago when the Bears fell to earth. Now it may be a two-man battle between Lorenzo Romar and OSU’s Craig Robinson. But as good a job as Romar has done getting the Huskies back to elite status, it’s hard to top what Robinson has done in turning OSU from what was the worst team in conference history a year ago to one that suddenly has post-season aspirations. The Beavers currently have the longest winning streak in the conference at four. And he’s pretty much doing it with the same crew that went 0-18 in conference play last year — his heavy personnel reinforcements don’t arrive until next season. The schedule turns for OSU a bit the second half of the year — five of their last seven are on the road. But if he gets the Beavers to seven wins, he’s a shoe-in for this.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Talk about shoe-ins. UW’s Thomas has this one right now in a Nixonian landslide, besting the likes of the more-heralded DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday. Thomas is getting up his share of shots — his 126 in Pac-10 play are more than even Harden has taken. But he’s also been smart about it. And he’s also fit himself into the framework of the team, getting his big numbers at the same time the team is winning.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: This is a new award the conference is offering this year, and it seems tailor-made for Dentmon, whose conference average of 19.6 is almost 10 points higher than his 9.8 overall average of last season. And Dentmon’s improvement is due in large part to just plain old-fashioned hard work. Knowing he had one last shot, he put in the time this summer to make the most of it. Another worthy candidate is Cal’s Jerome Randle, who often seemed out-of-control last season but led Cal’s early surge with his steady play and hot shooting and continues to lead the Pac-10 in assists and is fifth in scoring. Another candidate is Oregon State’s Calvin Haynes, who averaged 5.5 points last year and is up to 14.7 in conference play.
ALL-PAC-10 TEAM: We’ll do it the way the conference is apparently doing it this year — a 10-man first team and a five-man second team, replacing the five-man first, second and third teams of a year ago, which had replaced the long-held policy of just one 10-man team.
So for the first team: Collison, Dentmon, Thomas, UW’s Jon Brockman, Harden, Pendergraph, Hill, Arizona’s Chase Budinger, Randle, Gibson.
Second team: Haynes, Cal’s Patrick Christopher, WSU’s Taylor Rochestie, Stanford’s Lawrence Hill, UCLA’s Josh Shipp.
Feel free to pipe in with your own thoughts on these awards.

Comments | Topics: UCLA


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