Well folks the 2012-2013 regular season has finally come to an end today, which means only one thing: it's tournament time. But before the Mid-American Conference tournament begins this week, let's take a look back at the season.
From Northern Illinois' historically bad outing, to Akron's 19-game winning streak and Top-25 ranking to D.J. Cooper's historic run there certainly wasn't a shortage of story lines for the MAC this season.
But rather than spend all-day talking about the conference as a whole, the point of this post is to name the best of the best. I present to you the regular season awards.
First up the three major individual awards.
|Player of the Year||Coach of the Year||Newcomer of the Year|
|Javon McCrea, Jr. Buffalo||Keith Dambrot, Akron||Majok Majok, Jr. Ball State|
For the second year in a row the MAC player of the year is a member of the Buffalo Bulls squad. I know some people might argue Zeke Marshall, D.J. Cooper or any other number of impressive players on better teams, but bad-team aside, McCrea was the conference's best. His team struggled at times yes, but hardly ever because McRae failed to dominate. Often he was the only reason the Bulls weren't blown out this season.
He was top-3 in points-per-game and rebounds during MAC play. McCrea's big-game heroics willed the Bulls to a victory in the game that snapped Akron's winning streak. Other guys were good, but McCrea was just better. So bad team aside, McCrea was the player of the year.
The coach of the year is a no contest. Seriously, it's not even a discussion. Dambrot and the Zips were hands-down the best team in the MAC this year. Despite their slip-ups at Buffalo and against Kent State to end the regular season there's no denying this was an amazing regular season for the Zips. But with Alex Abreu's recent arrest, it's unlikely the run will continue into the post season.
I know what you're thinking, no freshman of the year has to be a joke right? Normally I'd agree, but why not show some love to a "freshman" to the MAC? Majok Majok, though a junior in academic standings, made his MAC debut this year and didn't disappoint. He might have saved head coach Billy Taylor's job as well, despite the disappointing season.
All-MAC East Team:
Guard: D.J. Cooper (Sr., Ohio) Cooper capped off his incredibly productive career with an impressive senior season. He cracked the NCAA's Top-25 All-Time assists and steals leader boards. He also became the first player in NCAA history to finish his career with more than 2000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals. He's had an incredibly steady career and didn't disappoint this year. His points, rebounds and steals were all down but his assists number rose dramatically over last years 5.4 per game clip. He was probably the best all-around player in the conference again, and likely is many people's POY.
Guard: Alex Abreu (Jr., Akron) - This one was tough. Jordan Crawford had a phenomenal season but Abreu out-did him in almost every statistical category except for points-per-game which was largely due to Crawford taking nearly 15 shot attempts a game. Abreu helped lead the Zips to a Top-25 ranking and led the team to two come-from-behind wins over Ohio and a first place finish in the MAC. He out dished MAC assists leader Cooper in both head-to-head meetings as well. Abreu knew his role and executed it perfectly this year. Sadly though, Abreu's season--possibly career--is likely over after his recent delivery.
Forward: Chris Evans (Jr., Kent State) - His points-per-game and rebounds-per-game almost doubled his previous year averages. Evans shined as he led the Golden Flashes to a No. 4 seed in the conference tournament and five straight wins to end the season. Though teammate Randal Holt certainly helped, Evans was an all around complete stud in MAC play. Finishing in the top-five in conference scoring didn't hurt either.
Forward: Javon McCrea (Jr., Buffalo) - Not even a contest. McCrea is easily the MAC player of the year as mentioned earlier. He dominated in MAC play and was near the top in the conference for points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. He showed up in big games and was a difference maker all season. His offensive skill set is the best of all big men in the MAC and he's no slouch on defense either; his nearly 3 blocks-per-game back that claim up.
Center: Zeke Marshall (Sr., Akron) - This is a no brainer. Marshall really came into his own in his senior season. He was in the top-five in the nation in blacks-per-game and offensively held his own. While his rebounding numbers were still disappointing considering his 7-foot frame, there is no competition for the man who inspired Akron's "Think Bigger" campaign in the East. He'll have to step up even more though if the Zips want to carry their magical season further after Abreu's arrest.
All-MAC West Team:
Guard: Jauwan Scaife (Sr., Ball State) - This one was tough. both Scaife and Central Michigan's Kyle Randall had phenomenal seasons individually, but Scaife led the conference in scoring and helped lead his team to five straight wins to end the season. In his last five games Scaife has averaged 24.4 points-per-game. Including 34 points against Randall and CMU in a 95-90 shootout. His hot hand helped secure the Cardinals the No. 5 seed in the MAC tournament and a first round bye.
Guard: Rian Pearson (Jr., Toledo) - Toledo's season was over before it even began, but that didn't stop last years stellar new-comer from continuing where he left off. Fifth in the conference in points-per-game, seventh in rebounds-per-game and tied for sixth in steals-per-game, Pearson is a complete player. Despite the complete ban from post-season play, Pearson helped lead the Rockets to the third best record in MAC play. Next season this guard is a candidate for player of the year especially with J.D. Weatherspoon joining the fold to make guarding Toledo's scorers that much harder.
Forward: Majok Majok (Jr., Ball State) - This newcomer easily wins the best name award for the MAC but he also proved an impressive force on the court. Majok² lead the MAC in rebounds by a decent margin and finished his debut season with a double-double. Only fitting for a guy with the same first and last name. Though not the most feared offensive presence he held his own on the offensive side of things. He came up in crucial moments, including this buzzer-beating dunk. Yes, that's right a buzzer-beating dunk. Enough said.
Forward: Darius Paul (Fr., Western Michigan) - Sorry Eagles and Huskies fans but this is going to the frosh. Besides Majok², the forwards in the West weren't impressive. Glenn Bryant wasn't bad for Eastern Michigan but wasn't spectacular either. Abdel Nader put up decent numbers, but he plays for Northern Illinois and his sub 35 percent shooting percentage and high turnover rate disqualify him. Paul was above average for the Broncos as a freshman. He averaged better than 10 points-per-game for the season and added another six boards to help the Broncos take the West. He should be a name to watch for the Broncos over the next few seasons.
Center: Shayne Whittington (Jr., Western Michigan) - The 6-foot-10 inch big man had to step up this season for the Broncos, and he did. He was a force on the boards and held his own offensively. Whittington helped the Broncos take the MAC West (even though it was incredibly weak) and made himself a player-to-watch for next year. His more than nine rebounds-per-game and 13.6 points-per-game were crucial to the Broncos success this season in the MAC. Even though Zips fans might not agree, Whittington is a better complete center than the shot-blocking Marshall, the numbers prove that.
So there you have it folks, the best of the best in the MAC this season. Sure there are some guys who likely could have made this list, but that's what the official MAC awards with their first, second and third All-MAC teams are for. Now that the awards are out, and the regular season has officially ended, throw everything out. Let the MAC tournament play begin.