It's what you've all been waiting for. The much anticipated CougCenter Pac 10 conference awards! Grady, Nuss, and myself all spent way more time than we anticipated on this (If you haven't, try doing it, it is a lot harder than it would seem initially). Twelve pots of coffee, two fist-fights, one trip to the emergency room, and an apology ice cream cake later, we were able to hash out our differences and come up our selections for the best of the best during the Pac 10 season.
We decided to toss away the official format (a ten man first team, why?) and go with first, second, and third teams. Additionally we doled out awards for Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, All-Defensive Team, and the All-Freshman Team.
EDIT 9:40 p.m.: You can see how each of the bloggers voted at this link.
We'll start with the individual awards.
Coach of the Year- Craig Robinson
Grady and I were in agreement on this one. Nuss went with Lorenzo Romar initially, but after a satellite phone call from a certain brother-in-law who pointed out that the Beavs probably should have won ZERO Pac 10 games this year, Nuss works for CougCenter and Romar coaches the Huskies, and that Robinson offered hope and change for all agricultural/engineering colleges across the country, Nuss was convinced.
Player of the Year - James Harden
There is really no debate on this one. Harden also takes home the gold in the "beard of the year" category.
Defensive Player of the Year - Taj Gibson
We didn't disagree on this one, but none of us really felt great about it. He led the conference in block% and was 6th in defensive rebounding%. Still, it seems there was no guy you could point to this year and say, "he is the best lock down defender in the Pac 10," like Kyle Weaver last year. Oh yeah, he didn't win the award.
Most Improved Player - Jerome Randle
He no longer had Ryan Anderson to attract the attention of defenses so it was hard for him to find open looks right? Wrong. He improved leaps and bounds in nearly every statistical category. Someone pull some strings and get this guy into the NBA next year, so the pack defense no longer has to deal with him.
Freshman of the Year - Isaiah Thomas
Thanks to johnnycougar for pointing out the ommission. He did a great job with the voting across SBN. You can see his poll results here. We are tired of talking about this guy on this site.
The Best of the Second Best (When ranked by Ken Pomeroy)
The hardest thing about putting together these teams is making them into a group of players that would actually be a viable combination for a coach during a game. The first team (which consists of five players, you know, because that's how many play on the court for a team) is full of guys who played well and were key reasons why their respective teams will be dancing come tourney time.
|James Harden||G/So.||The most dynamic offensive player in the conference. No one is more important to his team's success. Top five pick in the NBA draft come April.|
|Darren Collison||G/Sr.||Fantastic player of both ends of the floor. Top 10 during conference play in offensive rating, assist percentage, and steal percentage.|
|Jerome Randle||G/Jr.||He's 5-10 and third during conference play in eFG%. Also in the top 10 in assist%. The biggest reason that Cal will be in the field of 64/65|
|Jordan Hill||F/Jr.||A freak athlete. Added some post skills and a short range jumper this year. Tough to deal handle defensively and offensively. Lottery pick for sure.|
|Jon Brockman||F/Sr.||Best rebounder in the conference on both ends of the floor. Took a hit in his own personal statistics this year to benefit the team as a whole.|
For the rest of the awards, click the link to make the jump. Don't worry, we are all smarter than Pac 10 coaches, and Aron Baynes will not be left out!
The Second Best of the Second Best
|Taylor Rochestie||G/Sr.||He. Is. Awesome.|
|Justin Dentmon||G/Sr.||Close second for most improved player. One of the best shooters in the Pac 10. That's enough about him.|
|Chase Budinger||G/Jr.||Pretty unstoppable when he gets it going. Tough to match up with at the guard position with his length.|
|Taj Gibson||F/Jr.||Your aforementioned Defensive Player of the year and USC's most effective offensive option. Tough matchup because of his quickness.|
|Aron Baynes||C/Sr.||Best part about Baynes this year, those twenty pounds he lost. So much quicker off his feet making him a terror down low for the Cougs opposition.|
The Third Best of the Second Best
|Josh Shipp||G/Sr.||Seems like he has been around forever. Dangerous shooter from the outside.|
|Calvin Haynes||G/So.||Easily the scariest scoring threat on the Beavs offense.|
|Alfred Aboya||F/Sr.||Good offensive numbers. Only a 17.4 shot % though.|
|Jeff Pendergraph||F/Sr.||Led the conference in eFG%. Making layups is harder than it looks (ask the Cougs)|
|Roeland Schaftenaar||C/Jr.||Have to love a center who has the #8 assist rate in the conference.|
Honorable Mention (guys who received votes, but didn't make the cut):
Anthony Goods, Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter, Patrick Christopher
|Venoy Overton||G/So.||He grabs and pulls, but he knows how to get away with it.|
|Darren Collison||G/Sr.||The closest thing to a lock-down defender the conference had this year. (can't wait for Casto and Capers next year!)|
|Jordan Hill||F/Jr.||Gets off the floor quick, can block shots and bother offensive players with his long arms.|
|Taj Gibson||F/Jr.||I think we've said enough about him.|
|Aron Baynes||C/Sr.||He. Is. Awesome.|
Honorable Mention: James Harden's Beard, James Harden
The New Guys
|Isaiah Thomas||G||See past articles. No more needs to be written about this guy on this site.|
|Klay Thompson||G||Ask Mitch Johnson how awesome Klay is.|
|Jrue Holiday||G||Didn't quite live up to his billing, but UCLA will probably benefit from that having him stick around for a few more years.|
|DeMar DeRozan||F||A guy so good he's worth two scholarships and four capital letters.|
|Michael Dunigan||F||Dunigan is such a fun name to say. Also, solid rebounder and shot blocker. Played more minutes and took more shots than Casto, that's the main reason he is on here.|
Honarable Mention: DeAngelo Casto
There you have it. Blood, sweat, and tears went in to creating this. Please feel free now to tear us apart and tell us why we are wrong, we can take it, as long as there is ice cream cake.