The Coaches' All-SEC Awards have been released, and here are the pertinent facts for Gamecocks fans:
Many of us will undoubtedly be disappointed to learn that Devan Downey did not win SEC Player of the Year. And indeed, Downey's statistical dominance--he led the league in scoring and steals and was high on national lists in both--and the MVP-like quality to his play give him a good argument. However, there are several factors working against him that I think we should all take off our garnet glasses and consider, factors that in my mind made DeMarcus Cousins or John Wall better choices. First of all, Downey's scoring numbers are at least partially the result of the fact that he oftentimes took 20-30 shots per game. Voters may have reasonably asked whether Downey would have scored that many points while playing for other teams, and they may have conversely reasonably asked if Wall or Cousins would have scored even more points if either played for us. Second of all, Downey's play fell off towards the end of the season, notwithstanding his stellar performance against the Vanderbilt Commodores. His per game and his shooting percentage both dropped, and he often failed to make the big shots late in games that we had become accustomed to seeing him make. Third of all and perhaps most importantly, Downey failed to carry his team to success. One element in deciding on a POY is always, and reasonably, I think, whether or not that player is able to lead his team to glory. We might have been as bad as the LSU Tigers if not for Downey, and he deserves credit for leading this team to the brink of an NIT bid. However, NIT bids will never translate to "glory" in the eyes of basketball coaches, and for that reason Downey lost a lot of credit with coaches. If we had won a few key games--Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama come to mind--this result might have been different.
A few other thoughts on these results after the jump.
- While I'm not too upset over the Downey snub, I'm not sure I agree with Wall over Cousins. Wall is a great player, but it strikes me that Cousins is the heart of that UK team, and while Wall has the more impressive scoring numbers, Cousins is overall more of a statistical standout with his double-double average. Heck, half of Wall's assists probably came via dropping the ball off to Cousins and watching the big guy do his thing on the block. I could do that. My general feeling is that the Wallmania that has surrounded UK's point guard blinded the coaches to the best choice here.
- I like that Kevin Stallings won coach of the year. John Calipari is a great recruiter and a good coach, but let's be realistic here. It's tougher to recruit at Vandy, and Stalings won big with what was on paper a much less talented squad. He deserves a lot of credit for his skill at putting together smart, effective teams and in particular the quality job he did this year. I should also note that I would have voted for Bruce Pearl over Calipari, too. This isn't a knock on Calipari, just my appraisal of the overall merits of their performances this year. Wins and losses aren't everything.
- I'm glad Sam Muldrow was honored for his play this year. If he can put on a few pounds and work on his post skills, he could be All-SEC next year.