Thanks to those who participated.
Let's talk post-season awards. Who deserves SEC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, and why?
-If we are going to include the SEC and NCAA tournaments, I think the Player of the Year is a tie between Chandler Parsons of the Florida Gators and Brandon Knight of the Kentucky Wildcats. Parsons no doubt deserves consideration, at least, for his consistent performance throughout the year. But Knight's heroics at the end of the season and the overall value he provided to a Final Four participant earns him serious consideration also. In the end, I can't really pick between them, so I am taking the easy way out and calling it a tie.
For coach of the year, I have said all along that this is easy for me, and it still is -- Anthony Grant of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Grant took a team that was considered to be a marginal NIT team and took them to the NIT finals, and to the SEC West regular-season championship. Grant is proving to be exactly the kind of hire I expected when Alabama tabbed him for the job -- outstanding.--A Sea of Blue
-John Calipari easily wins Coach of the Year. I didn't have much faith in his ability to coach a team of very good players to perform beyond the sum of their parts. I was wrong. Dead wrong. They looked like the best coached team in the NCAA tournament most of the time. His development of Josh Harrellson and use of his bench was fantastic. Yeah, I know it is easy to coach talent, but Coach Cal hasn't shown the ability to do that before in his career. He did this year and then some.
I'm torn about player of the year. It is easy to say Chandler Parsons or Brandon Knight or Terrence Jones and move on, but that is almost too simple. To me, I still say it was Vandy's John Jenkins. His FG and 3pt shooting were in the 40+% range, he never fouled out, he rarely turned the ball over. Just a strong, strong player.--A Bulldog in Exile
Which program was the most pleasant surprise? Why?
-Georgia. Coach Fox did a super job in getting the most out of this team. They had a great year in a tough division and an early NCAA exit. He has the ‘Dawgs poised for good things in the future as long as he can get the recruits in. For 2010, I did not give UGa enough credit and honestly thought USC would have a better year than them but we saw how that ended up. UGa surprised me.--Leftover Hot Dog
-Once again, this nod has to go to Alabama. Given my expectations for Alabama at the beginning of the season, which was basically a third or fourth-place finish in the SEC West, the Crimson Tide far exceeded my expectations, and most likely those of every other SEC basketball fan.
It would be one thing if Alabama had been in the top three overall -- that would have been a reasonable performance in excess of expectations. But to win the West regular-season championship and then get all the way to the NIT final is performance far in excess of most watcher's expectations.--A Sea of Blue
Which program had the most disappointing season? Why?
-Tennessee. Easy choice. Up and down all season. Never got much traction. Cookoutgate and Phonegate just distracted this talented team all season. Then the epic, soul-crushing non-sense of the tournament happened. I'm talking about Mike Hamilton's mouthrunning about Pearl's future at UT a mere 36 hours before his team tipped off. The 30 point beat-down at the hands of Michigan was really just a minor epilogue of the whole story.--A Bulldog in Exile
-Another easy one for me -- the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. Given the talent level in Starkville this year, the struggles of this MSU team were clearly chemistry-based and created from the inability of Rick Stansbury to get control of his team. The team fought on ESPN cameras and behind the scenes all year, and one must wonder if Stansbury is going to be able to get control of it as long as Renardo Sidney is there.
If there was a non-Coach of the Year award, Stansbury would be the runaway winner.--A Sea of Blue
Which coach's seat is hottest going into 2011-2012? Will he survive to see another season?
-Darrin Horn is on the hot seat. Yes, he is building a program but the way he has done it is not sitting well with the fan base. On top of that, results are not helping him. He has to make it to the NIT or NCAA in 2011-12 or it could fuel the cry for Hyman to write the check no matter how big it is. Horn has a solid recruiting class coming in so maybe improvements can be made over last season’s mess.--Leftover Hot Dog
-I have two. Darin Horn and Rick Stansbury.
Horn, for obvious reasons. He is in year four and his teams have regressed each season. Yes, they had some interesting wins, but overall, good basketball hasn't been played in Columbia. Put that in with playing in the SEC East, Horn needs to finish at least third in the East and make the NCAA next year to be assured a job in fall 2012. Fail to do either and he could be looking for a job.
Rick Stansbury for less obvious reasons. Mississippi State was very embarrassed when two of their starters got into a fracas in the stands during an early season tourney in Hawaii. Stansbury made the practical decision to keep the talented but troubled Renardo Sidney around after he and Elgin Bailey traded punches on TV. Bailey had been the instigator, but considering Sidney's history, it could have gone either way. The Bulldogs still finished 17-14 and not playing in a post season tourney for the first time in four years. Have that kind of player issues or worse yet have Sidney get into yet more trouble or another fight, while not making the post season, and Stansbury will be in deep trouble.--A Bulldog in Exile
The league will have two new coaches next year: Arkansas's Mike Anderson and Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin. What do you see in their futures?
-Cuonzo Martin and Mike Anderson have both impressed with their effort so far. I am concerned that Martin may not get a fair shake at Tennessee. In the first place, his style of play clashes with the Bruce Pearl style that the Tennessee Volunteers fans have come to love and admire. Just as Tubby Smith came under withering fire from the UK fan base from his more deliberate style when compared to Rick Pitino's pressing, three-point shooting game. I fear the same for Martin.
I am confident Mike Anderson will succeed at Arkansas. The fans have longed for the return of Nolan Richardson's success without his other baggage, and Anderson is as close to Richardson as it is possible to get. He plays a very similar system, and is a dynamic recruiter with a game that will attract high major prospects to Fayetteville. The Arkansas Razorbacks are likely to ascend up the ranks of the SEC very quickly under Anderson, although I do doubt that in the current environment that he can restore Arkansas to the height of its glory.--A Sea of Blue
-Anderson is a dream hire for Arkansas as he will get Arky back in the mix as an elite SEC team. Give him some time and he will have even Nolan Richardson smiling.
Martin is in a tough spot. He likely will not overcome the odds and not prove a success in Rocky Top. He could be a gap filler to ride out the sanctions, not ruin the program and give it up to someone of a bigger name in 3-4 years.--Leftover Hot Dog