Nothin’ but net with Nick

Postseason Awards


Story by Nick Erickson, Managing Editor

Alright, since all of the so-called experts sent in their nominations for end of the year awards earlier this week, I figured it would be a good time for all you avid readers to get mine. So buckle up.

Player of the Year: Jabari Parker, Duke. This simply isn’t an award for who is the most NBA ready, which Parker undoubtedly is in college basketball. This award is truly for the best player in the college game right now, and while many say Creighton’s Doug McDermott will win it in a landslide, I say not so fast.

Parker, the freshman phenom from Chicago, has 19.2 points per game and nine boards a night to his name. The points fall well shy of McDermott’s 26.5 output, but Parker’s overall game and meaningfulness to his team far outweighs the Creighton sensation.

The reason why is because Parker has had his best performances in big games. Against Kansas, he completely outshined Andrew Wiggins for the majority of the night by scoring 27 points. Against Syracuse, he had his best overall game of the season when he knocked in 19 points against the tenacious Orange defense. I believe once March rolls toward the end of the month, we will see McDermott fade against stronger opponents while Parker will thrive, making it clear who the best player is.

Coach of the Year: Greg Marshall, Wichita State. This one really shouldn’t even be up for debate. After taking his Shockers to the Final Four a year ago, this mid-major coach followed up with a perfect 34-0 mark. Say what you want about quality of opponents, but winning 34 games and losing zero of them means you’re doing something right as coach.

Most Improved Player: Nik Stauskas, Michigan. Now, I realize you’re probably thinking, “there goes Nick with his man crush again,” but seriously though. This guy was a role player on a Wolverine squad that made it all the way to the national title game a year ago, and now he’s the Big Ten Player of the Year for the surprising conference champions. His two-week stretch in January, where he was named National Player of the Week as well as Big Ten Player of the Week twice, was the best stretch of individual basketball all season and led the Wolverines to huge wins against Wisconsin and Michigan State to seal the Big Ten title.

Least Valuable Player: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin. Hate to say it about a guy on the team I live and die with, but I believe Dekker is solely responsible for about four of six Wisky losses, including Sunday’s at Nebraska. Why he stopped attacking the rim still baffles me. He shoots 31 percent from beyond the arc, yet he insists on staying out there to toss ‘em up. He’s been torched on defense, as shown on Sunday when Shavon Steele shredded him all night. The Badgers go as he goes. Unless he figures it out soon, I’ve got another quick exit for Bucky.

Most disappointing team: Oklahoma State, without a question. I have always loved Marcus Smart’s tenacity and determination on the court, but his emotions have gotten the best of him and his teammates several times, most notably his infamous three-game suspension that put the Pokes, a once top-5 team, on the bubble.

Best moment: Tyler Ennis’s buzzer beater, Syracuse at Pitt. This was at a time when the Orange were one of college hoops two unbeatens left, and just when it looked like rival Pitt was about to knock them off and storm the court, the little freshman that could heaved up a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull off the improbable win.

This has been the most unpredictable college basketball seasons in the past 10 years. There have been so many changes at the top, remarkable buzzer beaters, inspiring individual performances and lots of court storming. Now, we wait for the best three weeks of sports to roll in.