I was actually a little taken aback when I heard that local strongman Justin Greene was named MAC Basketball Player of the Year. It wasn't too surprising, because Kent State won the MAC regular season title (and Geno Ford hustled his way to MAC Coach of the Year) and the junior forward is no slouch in the post. They expected him to be the best player on the team and he was.
But ... is he Player of the Year material?
This includes a candidate pool with Xavier Silas and Brandon Bowdry, whose teams' records were terrible. Yes, Silas also missed a few games to injury, but he still scored more points this season than anyone except for Bowdry, who averaged more than 20 points a game and was very close to pulling down 10 boards a game, becoming the only D1 person this year to average 20/10. And then you have Julian Mavunga, who carried Miami to a first-round bye, Jarrod Jones out of Ball State, the inventive D.J. Cooper, and perhaps somebody on Western Michigan's team.
What we'll do is drop some hearty numbers on you. And just in case you know the per-game stats, we'll throw some efficiency percentages your way. These are all players who merit consideration, but bear in mind it is not an exclusive list.
I hope your head doesn't hurt yet. So, who'd you pick?
Well, if you don't like the advanced stats, then here are the basic per-game stats to which more people are accustomed. This might give it away if you've been paying attention (ex: "I wonder who has all those assists, detective!"), but here you are:
You had an opinion before this little test, and your thoughts still probably won't change. Case in point: Based on how he and his team finished, my choice for MACPOY was/is Mavunga, because of just how much he carried that team when they needed him to log minutes to counterbalance a thin bench. Yet the more I looked at the numbers — and for about five minutes I had forgotten who was whom — Player 6 looked pretty good to me. Even if that's Mavunga (and it's not), it really makes you think, and perhaps concluce that this race is a close one.
Anyways, here are the answers:
Player 1: Brandon Bowdry, Eastern Michigan
Player 2: Byron Mulkey, Buffalo
Player 3: D.J. Cooper, OHIO
Player 4: Demetrius Ward, Western Michigan
Player 5: Jalin Thomas, Central Michigan
Player 6: Jarrod Jones, Ball State
Player 7: Julian Mavunga, Miami
Player 8: Justin Greene, Kent State
Player 9: Xavier Silas, Northern Illinois
Here was the final human tally for MACPOY:
1. Justin Greene 7
T-2. Julian Mavunga 4
T-2. D.J. Cooper 4
4. Brandon Bowdry 2
T-5. Rodriquez Sherman 1
T-5. Xavier Silas 1
T-5. Flenard Whitfield 1
It's not an awful pick, but when acting team agnostic Greene wasn't the best player. He had a great season, and Kent State was the best team. So I understand the logic, and I even empathize with why they chose this. When the MAC isn't as strong as it used to be, the impetus is to hype up the glitziest team with the best record. Kent State has the best chance of getting a higher seed out of anybody in this field. That's why you also saw a vote cast for Sherman, although much of the late-season push was Michael Porrini (not pictured).
So this choice had no malovelent motives. But it does look a little goofy saying that Brandon Bowdry is the best player, then watch them lose by 23 at the team with the sixth-best conference record. So then, I guess, go blue and yellow and Greene! For the greater good!!