Rather than have John and I release our consensus NEC individual awards, we decided to give each of us a say in who we would choose. As you’ll see, there was some disagreement for a couple of the categories, and we here at Big Apple Buckets support the First Amendment! Onto the five major awards…
NEC Player of the Year
Ryan – Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn: This was easily the biggest no-brainer of these individual awards. Once Olasewere stopped trying to shoulder much of the offensive load when Julian Boyd tore his ACL, the senior settled in for a fantastic final 15 games of the season. Olasewere’s statistical rates are terrific and he’s proven himself as a capable clutch performer in the absence of Boyd. If there’s any doubt in your mind about this selection, ask yourself this question: If you remove Olasewere from LIU’s roster this season, how many NEC wins would they have? Nine? Seven? Would they have even made the NEC playoffs? Possibly, but the versatile and explosive forward’s presense can not be overstated.
John – Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn: There’s no other choice that makes any sense at this point in the season. LIU lost last season’s NEC Player of the Year midseason and still managed to earn a home playoff game and the third seed in the NEC tournament. The reason it happened? Olasewere. He’s the NEC’s most athletic player and as the season continued he learned to harness those skills for the absolute maximum amount of benefit. Olasewere was the NEC’s most dynamic offensive player. There is certainly no tougher cover in the league. Olasewere could get any opponent (or himself) in foul trouble thanks to awe-inspiring drives. He also started rebounding this season. Quite a bit actually (38th nationally in defensive rebound percentage). With his hard-charging offense, reckless defense and improvement Olasewere embodied what the NEC was during the 2012-13 season. For that he deserves to be Player of the Year.
NEC Rookie of the Year
Ryan – Shivaughn Wiggins, Mount St. Mary’s: Mount St. Mary’s won 10 of their last 14 contests. While many will point to the improved play of Jamion Chrisitan’s wing trio of Julian Norfleet, Sam Prescott, and Rashad Whack as the reason for the Mount’s hot streak, the biggest factor for the surge was the emergence of Wiggins. In those 14 games, Wiggins averaged 14.7 points, shot 52.8% from the floor, and possessed an assist to turnover ratio of 1.7. Moreover, Wiggins’ contributions on the defensive end of the floor provided hidden value, as the fiery 5’10” guard made life extremely difficult for the opposition’s point guard. Basically, Wiggins was the major reason why Brickman, Gaetano, Dobbs, and others all struggled against Mount St. Mary’s. You can talk about Reed’s athleticism and presence in the lane all you want, but the fact is no rookie had a bigger impact on his team’s success on both ends of the floor then Shivaughn Wiggins.
John – E.J. Reed, LIU Brooklyn: There are two right answers to this question. You think Shivaugn Wiggins deserves to be the NEC ROY? Okay, I can’t argue too much. It’s easier as a guard to come in and contribute, but to come in and not expect to contribute and then find yourself playing a vital role as a freshman big man? That’s tough to do. Reed struggled with some of the obvious problems most young bigs have to come to grips with at the collegiate level. He fouled way too much (7.7 fouls per 40 minutes) and was inconsistent. There was essentially 1/3 of the conference season where he didn’t do much on the court. As the season progressed though those nights became fewer and further between. (As they did for Wiggins.) At this point picking between the two comes down to some nitpicking. I want Reed to learn to shoot free throws, but I think his contributions in the paint on the defensive end get him the nod by a hair over Wiggins.
NEC Defensive Player of the Year
Ryan – Kenneth Ortiz, Wagner: With all due respect to Russell Johnson, Jamee Jackson, and Mario Moody, Kenneth Ortiz should take home his second straight NEC Defensive Player of the Year award. The Southern Miss transfer has been more consistent across the board and has the ability to lockdown defenders all game long. His perimeter defense changes games, just ask Mount St. Mary’s. In their second meeting, Ortiz’s steal and coast-to-coast layup with less than a minute remaining guided Wagner to a much needed road victory over the Mount. I could go on and on with examples, but I’ll finish by siting Ortiz’s excellent 3.5% steal rate. He is one tough guard to penetrate by.
John – Russell Johnson, Robert Morris: Let’s get this out of the way first, nobody in the NEC played defense this season. Robert Morris held opponents to 0.99 points per possession during conference play and that’s considered impressive. There are some talented individual defenders, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked Johnson. Wagner had the second best defense in the league and I wouldn’t begrudge the NEC if they decided to give the award to Kenneth Ortiz again. He’s a supremely talented defender, but he benefits greatly from having talented shot blockers behind him. When Ortiz gambles it almost doesn’t matter there’s Mario Moody, Orlando Parker or Noafall Folahan protecting the rim. (By the way, I actually think Moody is the best defender in the NEC, but he played way too few minutes.) At 6’6″ Johnson has the ability to guard almost any position in the NEC. His steal percentage is amongst the national leaders and his block percentage is actually pretty darn good as well. I think that Johnson is the best defender on the league’s best defense and I think he deserves to be the NEC Defensive Player of the Year.
NEC Most Improved Player of the Year
Ryan & John – Earl Brown, St. Francis (PA): We are in full agreement here. When deciding our most improved player selection, the rising star needs to have greatly exceeded expectations. In Brown’s case, there were no expectations, mainly because the 6’8” forward was coming off a freshman campaign where he played less than 20 minutes per game. For the first seven games of the season, Brown continued on that mediocre pace, until instantly exploding with seven straight double-doubles. I don’t quite understand Brown’s stark improvement, but the statistics don’t lie nonetheless. If you’re a top five rebounder in the NEC (8.1 rpg) and the Red Flash’s second leading scorer (10.1 ppg), then you are absolutely worthy of our Most Improved Player vote.
NEC Coach of the Year
Ryan – Tim O’Shea, Bryant: O’Shea’s Bulldogs made the most substantial jump from the NEC Preseason Coach’s Poll, and really, they were a tiebreaker away from landing in second place this regular season. Given the lack of talent and depth Bryant had to deal with during their arduous D-I transition period, a ton of credit must be given to O’Shea for turning around Bryant in year five. Recruiting and signing transfers Dyami Starks and nephew Joe O’Shea was a coop and provided immediately stability to the infant D-I program. For the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Bulldogs also deserve credit for knocking off Lehigh on the road (with C.J. McCollum) and for upsetting Boston College in Chestnut Hill. As much as I love the job Jamion Christian did in Emmitsburg, let’s face it, the coach he replaced brought in some talented transfers in Sam Prescott and Rashad Whack. The cupboard was far from bare. In O’Shea’s case, getting 19 wins out of a club that didn’t even win that many in their previous three seasons combined is reason enough to hand the NEC Coach of the Year to Tim O’Shea.
John – Jamion Christian, Mount St. Mary’s: Why do I think Christian deserves the award over numerous candidates? Because as a rookie head coach he was dropped into a situation and managed to make the most of it. Mount St. Mary’s was 8-21 and 6-12 in the NEC last season. This season? They’re 16-13, 11-7 and the team nobody wants to play in the quarterfinals. Almost as impressive is the fact that Christian brought some respect back to his alma mater. Knott Arena is now one of the hardest places to play in the NEC. The Mountaineers went 10-2 there this season. It wasn’t always easy. Christian brought a new system and had to integrate some new players, including potential NEC Rookie of the Year Shivaugn Wiggins into the program. Now they’ve won seven straight in conference. For that Christian deserves to be Coach of the Year.
2 thoughts on “Our NEC Individual Awards for the 2012-13 Season”
REGARDING YOUR PICKS FOR COACH OF THE YEAR I BELIEVE THAT BASHIR MASON OF
WAGNER COLLEGE DESERVES CONSIDERATION. HE INHERITED A TEAM OF GREAT
PLAYERS AT THE YOUNG AGE OF 28 FOLLOWING COACHING ROYALTY OF THE HURLEY’S.. THIS TEAM AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR HAD NO OUTSIDE SHOOTING
THREATS ,THEREFORE THEY SAW A LOT OF ZONE DEFENSES.WHICH MADE IT HARD ON THE INSIDE SHOOTERS ON THE BLOCK. ELEVEN DIFFERENT STARTING LINEUPS UNTIL INJURIES ON STARTING TEAM HEALED. WHEN THE TWO SHOOTERS RETURNED THEY PLAYED AT ABOUT 70%. IN THE PROCESS KEN ORTIZ GREW INTO THE POINT GUARD THAT WAGNER NEEDED.GREAT DEFENSE, FINALLY LEARNED HOW TO DISTRIBUTE THE
BALL TO TEAMATES ON THE BREAK, GREAT FOUL SHOOTING AS COMPARED TO PRIOR YEAR.,GREAT REBOUNDER FOR HIS SIZE,. THERE ARE SO MANY TALENTED PLAYERS HOW TO KEEP EVERBODY HAPPY WITH THEIR MINUTES. I FEEL HE DID A GREAT JOB
FINDING ROLES FOR EACH PLAYER TO FORGE A WINNING TEAM. EIGHTEEN WINS
DIDN’T COME EASY. IN THE EARLY STAGES HE RELIED ON DEFENSE AND TURNOVERS
TO GENERATE OFFENSE. IN MID YEAR CHANGES AT CENTER TO GET SOME OFFENSE
LED TO LESS FOCUS ON DEFENSE. I BELIEVE WAGNER MUST RECOMMIT TO PLAYING
THAT GREAT DEFENSE WHICH LED TO MANY CLOSE VICTORIES. CAN THEY WIN THE NEC TOURMENT YES ONLY WITH THAT GREAT DEFENSE WHICH DEFINES THIS TEAM.
.GREAT JOB DONE BY THE COACHING STAFF ON THE FLY HOPE ALL WORKS OUT FOR