March 5, 2013
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, IL - The Missouri Valley Conference will unveil the All-Conference team later today, and as has been my custom, I will make my ballot public in advance of the announcement. Feel free to let me know where you agree or disagree. Each school gets four votes (Head coach, SID, radio announcer, beat writer). A refresher on the rules -- voters must rank individuals in order of preference and cannot vote for their own.
Doug McDermott, Creighton Colt Ryan, Evansville Cleanthony Early, Wichita State Jake Odum, Indiana State Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State Anthony James, Northern Iowa Tyler Brown, Illinois State Walt Lemon, Jr., Bradley Ben Simons, Drake Grant Gibbs, Creighton McDermott is one of the top five players in college basketball, and the only question about him is what his address will be next season. Ryan had a superb career at Evansville and was consistently one of the best players in the league throughout his four-year, 2,000-point career. Early was the best player on the MVC's second-best team, and will be the early favorite for Player of the Year next season if McDermott does not return. Odum is the most cerebral player in the league and the conference's best point guard. Carmichael kept getting better throughout his four years, and in a league not known for its post players, he was the MVC's top center this season.
My second team begins with James. After watching UNI lose to Southern without the senior guard, you can see how much he means to the third-place Panthers. In terms of pure talent, Brown is as gifted as anyone in the league. His team finishing sixth kept him from being a first-teamer on my ballot. Lemon, Jr., had a fine season for the Braves on both the offensive and defensive ends. Simons is Drake's best player and just a solid, if not spectacular, performer. Gibbs gets the final spot on my All-Conference ballot because Creighton won the league, and he was their second-best player, leading the team in assists and putting up good offensive numbers in league games.
Anthony Downing, Missouri State Gregory Echenique, Creighton Carl Hall, Wichita State Dyricus Simms-Edwards, Bradley Manny Arop, Indiana State Downing put up good numbers for the Bears, but his team lost a lot of games, and I just felt Gibbs deserved the vote for what his team accomplished. Echenique can be dominating at times, but was just ok during the conference season, averaging about eight points. Hall is a solid player and might have found a spot on my ballot had he not missed five conference games due to injury, plus he averaged just 10.8 points in MVC games. Both Simms-Edwards and Arop were good players for their teams, but their shooting numbers were just average.
You must rank three coaches on your Coach of the Year ballot.
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State Greg McDermott, Creighton Paul Lusk, Missouri State Marshall took a Wichita State team that lost four starters and was picked to finish fourth in the league, and the Shockers won 24 games and will likely make the NCAA Tournament. McDermott is second on my ballot, and even though he had the best team, it's never easy to win a conference championship when your team is the target every night out. My third-place vote went to Paul Lusk, whose Missouri State team was picked ninth but finished seventh. After going winless in non-conference play, he somehow coaxed seven MVC wins out of a Bears team that was filled with freshmen.
Here's my All-Newcomer team in rank order:
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State Tyshon Pickett, Bradley Marcus Marshall, Missouri State Chris Hines, Drake Here's my All-Freshman team in rank order:
Marcus Marshall, Missouri State DJ Ballentine, Evansville Gavin Thurman, Missouri State Joey King, Drake Matt Bohannon, UNI You were allowed to select two individuals for Sixth Man of the Year, and my picks were Ethan Wragge (Creighton) and DJ Ballentine (Evansville).
My top two defensive teams were Wichita State and Northern Iowa.
We'll see how these picks stack up to the actual voting later today.