Our Big Ten Awards: Top Players, Coaches, Freshmen
By Ozone Staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was a wild season in the Big Ten, which came down to the final day of the regular season before a champion could be crowned.
William Buford’s dagger at the buzzer in East Lansing gave the Buckeyes a share of their third-straight B1G championship. It also gave Michigan a share of its first conference title since 1986.
The three co-champions are among five Big Ten teams ranked in the top-15 at the end of the regular season, with Indiana also enjoying a resurgence this season. The Hoosiers had three huge victories in Bloomington this season, including an upset of No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Ohio State.
The Big Ten may very well have been the best conference in the country, as Thad Matta has regularly suggested over the past month. With the conference awards set to be released, we take a look at our choices for the top players and coaches in the Big Ten for 2011-12.
B1G Player of the Year: Draymond Green (Michigan State)
Green finished in the top ten in the Big Ten in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals, and shot 41% from three-point territory to boot. He is always a near-impossible matchup for opposing defenses because of his skill and versatility. He is clearly the B1G Player of the Year this season, edging out Jared Sullinger.
B1G Coach of the Year: John Beilein (Michigan)
Beilein's system needs upperclassmen to develop over time, and then produce when called upon. Michigan has done that this season, but has also integrated freshman Trey Burke into their plans. Together, it all worked very well for Beilein and the Wolverines.
Runner-Ups: Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Tom Crean
B1G Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Craft (Ohio State)
Typically this award goes to a big man who blocks a lot of shots and plays strong interior defense for one of the better teams in the Big Ten. That is the only way to explain how David Lighty did not win the award, but it might be even more outlandish for it not go to Craft. Nearly every coach in the B1G has praised Craft’s defense this year and Tom Izzo called him the “best on-ball defender he has ever coached against.” That might be a little hyperbole from the Michigan State coach, but it’s still high praise for the sophomore PG who led the Big Ten in steals, with 2.4 a game this year.
Runner-Ups: Meyers Leonard, Tim Frazier, Ralph Sampson III
B1G Freshman of the Year: Trey Burke (Michigan)
There have been times throughout this season when Burke has appeared to be the conference's best point. His calm demeanor does not fit his age, and his ability to hit clutch shots portends a very successful future in Ann Arbor for both him and his team.
Runner-Up: Cody Zeller
B1G Sixth Man of the Year: D.J. Byrd (Purdue)
Byrd has only started four games this season, but he is the fourth-highest scoring (8.5 ppg) player on Purdue's team. He made 25-47 (53%) of his threes in February, which helped the Boilermakers go 5-2 in the month. Interestingly, however, he went 10-14 (71%) from three in their two losses (Indiana, Ohio State).
FIRST TEAM ALL B1G
Draymond Green (Michigan State, Sr.) — We don't really know what position Green actually plays, but I know that I can find room for him on my team.
Jared Sullinger (Ohio State, So.) — Sullinger is as skilled a big man as the Big Ten has seen in years. Which is why it's okay to foul him constantly.
John Shurna (Northwestern, Sr.) — Shurna led the conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game, and with the hideous form on his shot, that is simply amazing.
Tim Frazier (Penn State, Jr.) — Frazier was second in the league in scoring (18.6 ppg) and first by a wide margin in assists (6.3 apg). He has scored in double figures in all but two games this season.
Robbie Hummel (Purdue, Sr.) — It’s hard to put into words what Hummel has meant to Purdue this season. He finished fourth in the B1G in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg) this season, and was the primary reason Matt Painter’s team finished in the top half of the conference instead of in the bottom three.
SECOND TEAM ALL B1G
Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin, Sr.)
Cody Zeller (Indiana, Fr.)
Trey Burke (Michigan, Fr.)
Meyers Leonard (Illinois, So.)
Aaron Craft (Ohio State, So.)
THIRD TEAM ALL B1G
Matt Gatens (Iowa, Sr.)
Drew Crawford (Northwestern, Jr.)
Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State, So.)
Keith Appling (Michigan State, So.)
William Buford (Ohio State, Sr.)
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