With the season at a close and next year beginning as we speak, The Can Ball Report is pleased to present the first annual NC-Double-Eh All Canadian Awards. We think you'll be pleased, and a little surprised, with our selections. It was a great year for the Canuck and all players deserve to be congratulated on a job well done stamping that Canadians can ball. So check who won what right here ...
Most Outstanding Player – Andy Rautins, Syracuse
Now is there really any debate with this one? If you really need to know why here it is: In his senior season he was the glue guy that helped propel a team that lost three key members (Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf) of a team that went 28-10.
Think about it. He was the steady hand on a team that projected to finish in the middle of a very tough Big East Conference this year with the losses. All he did was keep the offense running smoothly (sorry Scoop), helped anchor the ‘Cuse match-up zone, be that vocal presence and leader on the floor. Now don’t get me wrong, the team ran well with Rautins not on the floor but it ran great with him on it.
For those of you who may have not been watching him over the years, take it from me he has dramatically improved in his senior season. He went from being a good shooter to a great shooter. He went from having suspect defense to being a very good defender. He went from weak freshman to strong senior. His improvements were vast, particularly since he suffered a major knee injury playing for the Canadian National Team two summers ago. Whether you care to admit it or not Andy’s improvements had everything to do with Syracuse’s success this season. Other players may have better numbers, other players may even be the center of their respective teams but carried their teams like Rautins hence the nods for All Big East Second Team and Honorable Mention All America.
Runner-Up: Andrew Nicholson, St Bonaventure – Nicholson had an incredible year and this could have been his spot but you just can’t deny Rautins’ overall impact on arguably the best team in the best conference this season. Nicholson was an All Atlantic 10 Second Team selection this year.
Newcomer of the Year – Murphy Burnatowski, Maine
After a slow start former NEDA player Murphy Burnatowski a vital cog in Maine’s near 20-win season. He began coming off the bench but would end the year as a starter and earn America East All Rookie honors in the process. The do-everything wing forward averaged a very solid 6.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 apg and spg while shooting 33.3% from behind the arc. His best game came against Maine-Presque Isle where he had 13 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals in 23 minutes of action. Let’s hope that this is all just a prelude to bigger and better things for Burnatowski next year.
Runner Up: Bryson Johnson, Bucknell – he came out of nowhere to be first the best bench scorer for the Bison. He was then inserted into the starting lineup late in the season and flourished there too.
Defensive Player of the Year – Andrew Nicholson, St Bonaventure
Coach Schmidt remarked this season in an interview that big men needs a year or two to fully develop physically. When Nicholson develops physically, he may be a better defender than he already is and that prospect is a little scary for his opponents. In an always tough Atlantic 10 Conference that was littered with bruising frontcourt players this season, he more than held his own. Despite being outsized nightly by bigger, stronger players, Nicholson used his speed and quickness to anchor the Bonnies defense to the tune 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He is down almost a block a game from last season simply because teams are aware of him now and know to avoid him. He placed 10th in rebounding and 5th in blocks while largely being the only true frontcourt player on the floor for the Bonnies at times. Widely seen as a player with great potential, expect more accolades as he begins to fill out.
Runner-Up: Rob Sacre, Gonzaga – there is really no other candidate for this award. Sacre is a defensive force, period.
Most Improved Player – Rob Sacre, Gonzaga
There was a lot expected of Rob Sacre for the 2009-10 season and for the most part he fulfilled all the expectations. Having to replace the production of Josh Heytvelt and current Detroit Piston Austin Daye, the Zags needed big contributions from everyone and Sacre did his part. For a team without a real interior presence, he provided that. The team was without a real shot blocker (in forever actually), Sacre provided that putting up 1.9 bpg. For a team that seemed to lack toughness, Sacre provided that too being the Oakley type in the paint. He also displayed a better offensive game to the tune of 10.3 ppg on 52.6% from the field. He ranked in the Top 15 in the conference in rebounding (12th), offensive rebounds (12th), defensive rebounds (15th), and blocked shots (2nd) while starting every game and being in games at crunch time. Though most people feel he could have rebounded more, I included, he seemed to get better at it as the season went on but his overall improvement was spectacular especially after he was coming off a major knee injury. I can’t wait for Sacre 2011.
Runner-Up: Kris Joseph, Syracuse – Joseph went from average freshman wing to heir apparent to the Lottery wing spot Wesley Johnson will vacate this summer.
Biggest Surprise – Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Even though Joseph could have easily been given the Most Improved Player spot, I think it serves better to place him in this one. Why you may ask? Well, as I mentioned above, he went from average wing to potential First Round wing in a year. Joseph is a very talented player and I guess his freshness coupled with the log jam of talent last year at the ‘Cuse helped to bury him on the bench despite him having some very productive outings. This season, he broke out in a major way prompting NBA Mock Draft boards to place him among the first 30 picks. Joseph tripled his scoring (3.4 to 10.8), doubled his rebounding (2.4 to 5.5), assists (.5 to 1.7) and his minutes (13.5 to 27.8) from his freshman campaign and was a major player on a very good team. He could have easily been a starter on any other high major program but he played his role perfectly for the Orange a la Michigan State Morris Peterson circa 1998 becoming arguably the best player off the bench in the NCAA. He was the Big East Sixth Man of the Year which says a lot for how good he had gotten in a short year. One thing for sure, there will be no surprises by K-Jo next year.
Runner-Up: Marc Trasolini, Santa Clara- after leading scorer Kevin Foster went down with a major injury Traz was asked to shoulder the burden. While doing so he showed that he has the makings of a very good player for next year.
Biggest Disappointment – Harouna Mutombo, Western Carolina
This was not exactly the season that we expected from Mutombo and really to call it a disappointment does him an injustice. Let’s rephrase that by saying he didn’t have the type of year we thought he’d have. He didn’t fall off by any stretch as his numbers would indicate but teams honed in on him this year and the stats show it. He had been in and out of the starting lineup throughout the year and also had inconsistent minutes in between. He was not the star of this team like in his freshman campaign but he was still very productive: 9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.3 spg. There is now shame in Mutombo’s game at all. He was projected to be the conference player of the year by some publications and he didn’t quite make it, this time. I’ll just attribute this season to the sophomore jinx. Expect Mutombo to hit the gym hard this summer and come back with a chip on his shoulder as a junior.
Runner-Up: Junior Cadougan, Marquette – I only put Junior in this spot because everybody and their momma knew that he would be a major part of serious NCAA run. And then he blew out his Achilles.
Could Have Used More Minutes – Shamar Coombs, Texas A&M- Corpus Christi
If there was a guy who suffered from diminished roll syndrome it would be Coombs. Last season, he was a starter averaging 8.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 24.7 minutes. This year, he had his minutes cut by ten and thus produced less, cutting his numbers in half: 4.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg and 1.2 apg. It seems odd that a team that had won just about as many games as the year before would do that to a starter without a coaching change. Anyway, Coombs was an effective player who definitely could have used more minutes and maybe could have helped the team win more.
Runner-Up: Ryan Wright, Oklahoma – After a slow start to the season he seemed to come into his own playing better down the stretch. Too bad he can’t improve on that since he’s out of eligibility.
Fade to Obscurity – Ryan Wright, Oklahoma
Wright may serve as a cautionary tale for some of our finest ballers coming up in Canada. Five years ago, he was the best high school player coming out of Canada and he was heading to powerhouse UCLA. After two season of little court time, Wright transferred to Oklahoma. Now at both schools there was a logjam of talent, particularly at his position (the names Mata, Aboya, Mbah a Moute at UCLA and Tiny Gallon, Taylor and Blake Griffin come to mind at Oklahoma) and he just never really got a chance to play in games. When he finally hit his stride this year, the season was in the tank and there is no next year. He at least will be leaving with his education.
Runner-Up: Will Archambault, Davidson- I loved him as the guy who came off the bench and filled it up in bunches from long range during that magical NCAA run a couple of years back. Unfortunately, that’s what he was best at and seemed to suffer a little as a starter this year. C’est la vie Will.
All NC-Double-Eh First Team
Andy Rautins, Syracuse – 32.5 mpg, 12.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.9 apg, 2 spg, 81.5 FT%, 40.7 3-PT%, 98 made threes
Andrew Nicholson, St Bonaventure – 30.2 mpg, 16.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 56.2 FG%, 76.0 FT%
Kris Joseph, Syracuse – 27.8 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 49.0 FG%, 7.8 FT%
Jared Mintz, Lafayette – 27.7 mpg, 14.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 53.7 FG%, 87.3 FT%
Rob Sacre, Gonzaga – 25.3 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 52.6 FG%, 62.3 FT%
All NC-Double-Eh Second Team
Marc Trasolini, Santa Clara – 29.3 mpg, 13.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 53.2 FG%, 78.2 FT%, 35.2 3 PT%
Maurice Joseph, Vermont – 29.2 mpg, 13.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 84.8 FG%, 37.4 3 PT%, 77 made threes
Kyle Johnson, Long Island – 30.2 mpg, 6.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 75.0 FT%, 34.7 3 PT%, 66 made threes
Olu Ashaolu, Louisiana Tech – 28.0 mpg, 10.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 53.4 FG%
Kai Williams, South Dakota State – 28.0 mpg, 11.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 52.3 FG%, 73.2 FT%, 37.7 3 PT%