What a year it was for college hoops in New York City. Both Iona and LIU Brooklyn qualified for the NCAA tournament and Stony Brook also won the regular season title. A number of players were named to their All-Conference teams and garnered postseason awards. In fact, those awards are still coming in. Here I’d like to name my New York Mid-Major teams for the 2011-12 season.
When I did this exercise back at the start of 2012 after non-conference play there were a few debates about who should be where. I think the Player of the Year award has been basically wrapped up for weeks. That said, there has been some movement between the First and Second teams as conference play continued.
The most controversial selection is probably Brian Barbour for the first team over George Beamon and Chris Gaston. As a junior Barbour stepped into the void for Columbia and delivered All-Ivy League First Team results. While using 26.2% of the Lions’ possessions while on the court he still managed to put up a respectable 108.4 offensive rating and a solid assist-to-turnover ratio. There were times where he was Columbia’s offense. Beamon was slightly more efficient on slightly more possessions, but the MAAC was also an easier league to play in than the Ivy League this season. Gaston took on a huge burden in the Fordham offense, but he just wasn’t as efficient as Barbour. In my mind, Barbour’s ability to get his teammates easy shots equals the work that Gaston did on the boards. All three are outstanding players and all three will be back next season for what should be excellent senior seasons.
Player of the Year: Scott Machado, Iona (Sr., G) — Quite simply Machado was brilliant all season. He consistently flirted with triple-doubles and made everyone on Iona better. The Gaels were an NCAA tournament team this season because of how he developed into the team’s leader. The stats back it up too. Machado finished with a 121.0 offensive rating (sixth best in the nation) and a 44.2% assist rate (fourth in the nation). He’s the classic do-it-all point guard and he’ll be missed in New Rochelle.
Coach of the Year: Glenn Braica, St. Francis (NY) — A lot of coaches in the New York City area did amazing jobs in 2011-12. Jim Ferry, Steve Pikiell and Tim Cluess each had a target on their teams’ backs from Day 1 in conference play and still managed to deliver outstanding results. Dan Hurley continued Wagner’s rise and Steve Masiello did great things in his first season in the Bronx. This award though goes to the coach who managed to outpace expectations the most and develop a young group of players well ahead of schedule. Braica took a team selected to finish 11th in the NEC to a home game in the conference quarterfinals. While every team deals with injuries, he did it while losing his starting point guard just games into the season. The Terriers flamed out a bit towards the end of the season, but NEC play was an incredible example of how coaching can make or break a team.
Defensive Player of the Year: Rhamel Brown, Manhattan (So., F/C) — If Brown played 40 minutes a night he’d be challenging Anthony Davis for the national lead in blocks, that’s how special a force he is on the defensive end. Brown doesn’t have to score to impact a game and it showed, as he was named the MAAC’s Defensive Player of the Year as well. The two top candidates for this award besides Brown were Kenneth Ortiz of Wagner and Tommy Brenton of Stony Brook. Brenton changed the game in a number of ways defensively. In America East he’s able to guard any position and it shows with rebound and steal rates amongst the national best. Ortiz is a gritty on-ball defender that made every player in the NEC work for their points. He’s also a phenomenal rebounder for a guard. But Brown did everything asked of him. He rebounded on both ends of the court and finished first in the nation in block percentage at 14.9%.
Scott Machado, Iona
Brian Barbour, Columbia (Jr., G)
Mike Glover, Iona (Sr., F)
Julian Boyd, LIU (Jr., F)
Mike Moore, Hofstra (Sr., G)
Moore is on this list because, despite what the NCAA tournament selection committee said, the CAA was the best league that any area team played in and he thrived in it. He used a ton of possessions and still managed to be an efficient scorer, the most efficient on the team in fact. He also managed to stay on the court and get quite a few steals without fouling. Boyd was the NEC Player of the Year for a reason. He does everything you’d want a forward to do on the court. Glover was a fantastically efficient scorer on the interior, his 63.7% shooting from the field was amongst the best in the nation.
George Beamon, Manhattan (Jr., G)
Jamal Olasewere, LIU (Jr., F)
Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook (Sr., G)
Isaiah Wilkerson, NJIT (Sr., G)
Chris Gaston, Fordham (Jr., F)
Wilkerson was the Great West Player of the Year. He probably could’ve been a first or second team honoree in almost any mid-major league in the area. He’s certainly a unique player and his low turnover rate and strong rebounding skills make him a unique player at the guard position. The flip side of Wilkerson is Olasewere, a forward that often looks like a guard driving towards the hoop. Finally, Dougher took on the scoring load for Stony Brook this season and did a good enough job that the Seawolves could win the outright America East title. His field goal percentage is held down by the fact that nearly 2/3 of his shots came from beyond the arc, but Dougher wasn’t a compiler, he was actually incredibly efficient.
Honorable Mentions: Tommy Brenton (Stony Brook), Jason Brickman (LIU), Momo Jones (Iona), Nathaniel Lester (Hofstra), Tyler Murray (Wagner), Stefan Perunicic (SFNY), Latif Rivers (Wagner)