Because I just can’t bring myself to write about Spring Training. Not yet, anyway.
It already feels like old news, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge it. Lorenzo Romar – kind of as expected – won the Coach of the Year award in the Pac-12. It almost feels like he won it by default, but who else were they really going to give it to? Ben Howland sure as shit wasn’t going to get it. Arizona is kind of having a down season. Cal completely choked when it mattered most (a sign of things to come for them?). And Colorado lost three of their final four games to fall into 5th place (meaning they’ve got to play in the Opening Round of the Pac-12 Tourney).
SOMEONE had to win it, and I still contend – even with the loss at UCLA – that Romar was easily the most deserving, for reasons I’ve already discussed.
In other awards news: Tony Wroten won Freshman of the Year in the Pac-12. So, yeah, this was pretty obvious, but let’s talk numbers anyway because they’re pretty impressive. He led the Huskies in scoring at 16.3 per game. He was fifth on the team in rebounding at nearly 5 per game. He led the team with 2.0 steals per game. He absolutely DESTROYED the team in free throws attempted and made (though his percentage left a lot to be desired).
Compared to the rest of the Pac-12, Wroten was a force. He was fourth in scoring (behind two Juniors and a Senior). The next-closest Freshman had 3 fewer points per game. He also led all Freshmen in assists (8th overall in the Pac-12 … FYI, Abdul Gaddy was 3rd in the Pac-12), steals (2nd overall in the Pac-12 behind Jared Cunningham), and I can’t be 100% positive, but I’m pretty damn sure he led the conference in free throws made & attempted as a Freshman (and maybe even overall).
The fact that Tony Wroten didn’t win Player of the Year is a testament to how good Terrence Ross is, as I’m sure he ended up stealing a lot of votes from his teammate.
It’s not CRAZY that Jorge Gutierrez won Player of the Year. He’s a great player on a great team. I’m sure if the Pac-12 had its druthers, the Player of the Year would be a member of the team that finished in first place. But, it’s damn near impossible to pick between Ross and Wroten! They’re both so damn good and in such different ways! Both guys are able to take over games, but one does it behind the arc while the other does it in the paint. Both guys have been dominant at times and both guys have disappeared at times. The fact of the matter is, Gutierrez never disappeared, because great defense doesn’t take a night off. In a world of 31 flavors, vanilla won. But, that’s all right. I know I have a hard time picking between Mint Chocolate Chip and Cherry Garcia. For some people, vanilla is enough. And there were enough vanilla lovers out there to give us what we’ve got here. I ain’t mad at ya.
I was pretty thrilled that Aziz N’Diaye made it onto the All Defensive First Team, I’ll tell you that much. I really wasn’t expecting it, but maybe I should’ve. After all, he was a major reason why we as a team led the conference in rebounding and offensive rebounding, why we were 3rd in blocked shots, and why we were in the top half in scoring defense. Aziz finished third in the conference in rebounds at 7.6 per game (expect him to average a double-double next season) and third in offensive rebounds at 2.79 per game. He was in the top ten in blocks per game at a little over 1 per game. I don’t know how his scoring defense fared, but I have to think he was one of the best centers in the conference. You’re talking about a 7-foot hulk in the paint. He may be uncoordinated, but at that size you don’t really have to be Mr. Finesse to get the job done.
Rounding it out, Terrence Ross did join Wroten on the All Conference First Team. Kind of a cop-out that they have a 10-man First Team; let it be known that if it were only five guys, Ross and Wroten still would’ve been on there (if the voters have any sense whatsoever).