Northeast Conference Awards: Matt's Version
The regular-season is over, and it's time to hand out some awards. Below are my All-NEC selections, not my predictions for what they will be when the official awards are announced on Tuesday (I think).
Remember; I'm primarily a numbers guy. Sure, you probably watched a player 28 times this season and think he deserves it more than the guy you watched twice. But guess what? I didn't watch every one of every NEC teams' games this season, so I'm letting the data do the work for me, while also factoring in some of the narrative.
Have a bone to pick? Drop me a line on Twitter; I'm happy to have a conversation about it! I can promise you, I've thought about these picks plenty and I have a reason for each selection. Maybe you don't agree with my reasoning, which is cool, but rest assured I did not do this quickly.
Player of the Year: Isaiah Blackmon, Saint Francis
If you think anyone else should have won this award, you weren't paying close enough attention. Yes, his teammate Keith Braxton won it last year, but Blackmon was by far the best player in the league. He finished 2nd in scoring at 19.2 ppg, chipped in 5.4 rpg (he's listed at 6'1"!), was 4th in steals (1.7 per game), and shot a ridiculous 43% from three.
However, he wins because he led the league in almost all of the advanced metrics; his Box =/- of 5.9 far surpassed anyone (Hall Elisias was 2nd at 4.2), his PER was 25.7 (Anosike was 2nd at 25.1), his PORPAGATU! was 4.7 (Braxton was 2nd at 3.5), and he finished 2nd in Win Shares with 4.9 (Anosike led with 5.3). Put up those kind of numbers on a team that finished tied for 2nd, and you're the guy.
Who I expect to win it: Blackmon, though Braxton and Anosike will steal a few votes.
Rookie of the Year: Michael Green III, Bryant
This one is all about what's your favorite flavor. I like me a point guard, which is why Green gets the nod here; he averaged 9.2 ppg and 3.2 apg and really keyed Bryant's stretch run as the primary point man. The advanced metrics didn't love him thanks to his 91.1 O-Rating, but a 24.4% usage is heavy for a freshman, as is 62.4% of minutes at the '1'. Factor in his reputation as a strong floor general and solid perimeter defense, I picked him over St. Francis-Brooklyn's Rob Higgins, who had a great first season in his own right.
Who I expect to win it: Higgins, since he led all freshman in scoring by a fairly wide margin (11.4 ppg) and minutes played (72.4%). However, I could see a scenario where Green and Higgins share the award. Charles Pride might pick up a vote or two as well.
Defensive Player of the Year: Juvaris Hayes, Merrimack
He broke the NCAA record for steals in a career. Enough Said.
Who I expect to win it: Hayes, unanimously. It's worth noting that Jare'l Spellman would be a deserved runner-up, and Hall Elisias from Bryant may have made this one interesting if he hadn't missed time due to injury.
Coach of the Year: Joe Gallo, Merrimack
Take a team transition from Division 2 and win the outright league title? Again, enough said.
Who I expect to win it: Gallo, unanimously. Anthony Latina, Rob Krimmell, Jared Grasso, and Andy Toole deserve some recognition. But it's Gallo all the way this season.
Most Improved Player: Dante Treacy, Robert Morris
Treacy went from a bit player as a freshman (just 30.4% of minutes) to one of the best point guards in the Northeast Conference, and a guy who was crucial to Bobby Mo's run at the #1 seed. He finished 4th in the league in assist rate (26.5%), 2nd in Assist/Turnover ratio (2.3:1), and carried a solid 51.7% eFG%. He improved his O-Rating from 78.7 on 15.2% usage to 105.6 on 17.7% usage. Not bad at all.
Who I expect to win it: Treacy, though Deniz Celen, Myles Thompson, and Aaron Clarke could get some recognition as well.
First-Team All Northeast Conference:
Isaiah Blackmon, Saint Francis
E.J. Anosike, Sacred Heart: Led the league in Win Shares (5.3), and averaged a double-double (15.9 ppg, 11.6 rpg).
Keith Braxton, Saint Francis: Played nearly 91% of minutes, 3rd in PORPAGATU! (3.5), switched to PG and played well.
Juvaris Hayes, Merrimack: Best Player on the Best Team, led the country in steals and led the league in assists (6.4 apg), 3rd in Box +/-.
Jahlil Jenkins, Fairleigh Dickinson: Played nearly 86% of minutes, 107.4 O-Rating (23.3% usage), 4th in PORPAGATU!
Second-Team All Northeast Conference:
A.J. Bramah, Robert Morris: 3rd in PORPAGATU! during conference play (3.5), had a 110.8 O-Rating (23% usage), averaged 13 points and 8.3 boards per game.
Damian Chong Qui, Mount St. Mary's: tied for 4th with 3.8 apg, was 6th with 2.7 PORPAGATU! in league play, and 8th with 3.5 Win Shares.
Raiquan Clark, Long Island: Led the league in scoring (19.9 ppg) and usage (28.6%), also averaged 7.6 rpg.
Ty Flowers, Long Island: 2nd in the league in rebounding (9.9 per game), 3.8 Win Shares (6th), 1.8 bpg (3rd), 14.2 ppg.
Josh Williams, Robert Morris: 53.9% eFG% (6th), nearly 81% of minutes, 2.8 Box +/- (4th).
Third-Team All Northeast Conference:
Kaleb Bishop, Fairleigh Dickinson: 13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 2.1 PORPAGATU! (11th).
Deniz Celen, St. Francis-Brooklyn: PER of 23.7 (4th), 60.2% eFG% (4th), 2.4 Box +/- (6th).
Aaron Clarke, Sacred Heart: Stepped in when Parker went down, had 2.5 PORPAGUTU! in league play (7th), 106.5 O-Rating (21.3% usage) on the season.
Adam Grant, Bryant: Averaged 16.4 ppg and had a 24.1% usage. Played nearly 83% of minutes.
Jare'l Spellman, Sacred Heart: The advanced metrics don't factor in defense (much), but Spellman changed the game with his 2.7 bpg, and was efficient offensively (52.7% eFG%) while finishing 7th in rebounds (7.8 per game).
All-Rookie Team: Yes, there are 6 guys. I couldn't decide. It's my blog.
Michael Green III, Bryant
Rob Higgins, St. Francis-Brooklyn- Led all freshman in scoring (11.4 ppg) and minutes (72.5%).
Benson Lin, Bryant- Had 1.6 Win Shares (3rd), and averaged 8.7 ppg (4th).
Charles Pride, Bryant- Led all freshmen in Win Shares (2.1) and was 3rd in PER (16.3). His 5.1 rpg also led all freshmen, and he was one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Greg Outlaw, Central Connecticut- Led all freshmen with 1.1 spg, and chipped in 8.8 ppg and 3.5 rpg while playing 57.7% of minutes.
Jamir Reed, Central Connecticut- 2nd in minutes among freshmen (70.6%), and carried a 49.3% eFG% while chipping in 4.6 rpg.