Atlantic 10 Awards Announced

First Team

My First Team
Pos Player School
Pos Player School
G Tu Holloway* Xavier G Tu Holloway* Xavier
G Kevin Anderson Richmond G Kevin Anderson Richmond
F Justin Harper Richmond F Justin Harper Richmond
F Lavoy Allen Temple F Bill Clark Duquesne
C Andrew Nicholson St. Bonaventure C Andrew Nicholson St. Bonaventure

(* denotes Atlantic 10 Player of the Year)

The first team is almost perfect with one glaring exception, Lavoy Allen. Allen must have been selected because of his reputation. Allen is a good enough player. He’s a solid rebounder, quality passer, decent shooter and stout defender. Some rave about his defense, but I am not so sure. I think he’s good but Allen’s defense does not equate to an elite skill. Taken altogether Allen is not deserving of a first team all league selection. Nobody forms a game plan around stopping him. To fill his spot I was torn between Bill Clark and Delroy James. James, as I have stated previously, is a better version of Chris Wright. Initiallly I wanted to give him the nod, but then I thought about it. Rhody has better offensive weapons than I thought. Marquis Jones is one of the better true point guards in the league and Nikola Malesavic is an elite shooter who move well off the ball. Maybe, James did not need to dominate the ball as much as he did. Maybe his need for the ball has held back URI’s offense. That’s why I went with Bill Clark.

Second Team My Second Team
Pos Player School
Pos Player School
G Ramone Moore Temple G Ramone Moore Temple
G Tony Taylor GW G Tony Taylor GW
F Bill Clark Duquesne F Delroy James Rhode Island
F Delroy James Rhode Island F Damian Saunders** Duquesne
F Damian Saunders** Duquesne F Jamel McLean Xavier

(** denotes Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year)

The opening on my second team is filled by Xavier big man Jamel McLean. McLean has the kind of game that makes me swoon. He has a legitimate back-to-the-basket game and is the best rebounder in the Atlantic 10. The Xavier big man thrives in playing in the trenches and is one of the better post defenders in the league. When I play video games and I design myself as a basketball player the prototype is McLean.

Third Team My Third Team
Pos Player School
Pos Player School
G Juan Fernandez Temple G Scootie Randall Temple
G Anthony Gurley UMass G TJ McConnell*** Duquesne
G Mark Lyons Xavier F Nikola Malesevic Rhode Island
F Chris Wright Dayton F Chris Johnson Dayton
F Jamel McLean Xavier F Lavoy Allen Temple

(*** denotes Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year)

Now here is where the list gets thrown off. It seems that the voters were busy looking at the stats for some of these guys and plain reputation for others. Juan Fernandez does not to deserve to be on this list let alone anyone’s list. Fernandez is my favorite player in the league. As a high awareness guard with a smooth stroke and deft passing flare, he is my favorite for player of the year next season. This year the Temple guard never hit his stride and was further hindered by a knee injury. He’ll be back next year with a vengeance but 2010-11 was not his season.

Part time basketball player, full time circus freak Chris Wright joins Fernandez in getting on this list because of reputation. However, unlike Fernandez, he does not deserve the reputation that precedes him. Sometimes I wonder if the voters ever watch the games. How many games has Wright figured in prominently over his four years at Dayton? My guess is that one can count them with his or her fingers which is fortunate for Wright considering his basketball IQ. If his court smarts are any indication of his math skills he may have difficulty counting above ten. Gurley and Lyons are fine players and I don’t mean to denigrate them. I just like my guys better.

Randall is the most transcendent scorer in the league and Malesevic is my new man crush. I must have a thing for foreign guys. Perhaps I watch too much soccer. Malesevic is a nightmare for any team to guard. As a 6’7” swing forward, his height and shooting touch make him a fun sized Dirk Nowitzki. He is the second best shooter (Behind Harper) in the league making 47 percent of his threes. League be warned. Similarly, I always have had a soft spot for Chris Johnson. Johnson, I have always felt, has been underrated trapped behind the hulking shadow of fellow Chris and teammate Chris Wright. Johnson puts in much more effort, plays smarter and does more things than Wright. To me, that makes him the better player, but what do I know.

Finally I was torn once again between a Duke and someone else. Because I’m a homer I chose T.J. McConnell over Langston Galloway. While I have been impressed with Galloway’s performance as a rookie I agree with McConnell’s selection as freshman of the year. I like McConnell’s overall game, especially his defensive impact, when compared to Galloway’s superior offensive output. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing these players grow, with McConnell having the better career of course.


McConnell Named A-10 Rookie of the Week Again

Freshman point guard T.J. McConnell has been honored once again as the Atlantic 10’s top freshman. This is his fourth straight award, but what else is new.

For the fourth week in a row and fifth time this year, McConnell was named A-10 Rookie of the Week. The freshman guard averaged 14.5 points, 7.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals as Duquesne extended its win streak to 10 with home wins over Fordham and Dayton. McConnell, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., opened the week with his second double-double of the season and first in league play as he scored 14 points and registered 10 assists against Fordham. He became just the third freshman in school history, and first since 1993, to hand out 10 assists in a game. McConnell became the fifth student-athlete in the A-10 this year to perform the point-assist double-double. He followed that performance with 15 rebounds, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in a win over Dayton. McConnell shot 61.1 percent from the floor, while dishing out 14 assists and not committing a single turnover. He improved his assist-to-turnover ratio in league play to a conference best 14.7.

McConnell Honored as Top Rookie for 3rd Straight Week

T.J. McConnell keeps receiving accolades. It is impressive, how astute the voters have been in recognizing his impact despite not putting up gaudy stat lines. The buzz must be out on this guy in Atlantic 10 circles.

McConnell is honored as Rookie of the Week for the third week in a row and fourth time this year. The freshman guard had an overall solid week averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 steals, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while committing just one turnover in 56 total minutes. McConnell opened the week playing 30 minutes at La Salle scoring 13 points and adding five rebounds, four assists and four steals. He followed that performance with seven points and a career-high six steals in helping the Dukes remain perfect in league play with a victory over Charlotte.

T.J.’s ability to be a step ahead of everyone else is getting recognized, when usually this genre of awards are given simply to the top point scorers. 10 steals in two games does pop out at you, and as the write-up mentions, only 1 turnover. That really is remarkable. McConnell might be the smartest player in the league and he is only a Freshman. Who knows what the future will hold, but barring serious injury, it will be a joy to see T.J. don a Duquesne uniform for the next few years. Also, maybe his impact as a local kid will help bring more attention to the program, so I no longer get yelled at for standing in the last minute of a close game. A sincere congratulations must go out to McConnell and, perhaps more importantly to the voters who seem to have gotten their collective heads out of the box score and have actually been watching the games.

McConnell Named A-10 Rookie of the Week for Second Straight Week

Freshman guard T.J. McConnell is being recognized by the Atlantic 10 as a co-rookie of the week along with Dayton’s Juwan Staten. McConnell also received the same award the previous week.

For the second week in a row and the third time this year, McConnell was tabbed the A-10 Rookie of the Week as he led Duquesne to a pair of wins including a 12-point victory over No. 19 Temple. The freshman guard averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 assists as the Dukes extended their win streak to a league best six wins in a row. McConnell scored a game-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the win over Saint Louis. Against Temple, the Pittsburgh, Pa., native did a terrific job of taking care of the ball as he dished out a game-high tying four assists while committing just one turnover in 26 minutes of action. For the week, McConnell registered eight assists and one turnover.

This is the third time the freshman guard has received this award in the season. This is a strong year for A-10 freshman with Staten and Langston Galloway from St. Joe’s. McConnell has exceeded even the highest of expectations with his stellar play. In comparison to the other players, McConnell is a much more complete basketball player at his young age. Nationally, he is 15th in steal rate (steals divided by defensive possessions), 133rd in assist rate along with being 31st in effective shooting percentage with a 63.4 percent mark. On offense he is always a step ahead of everyone else and on defense he has active hands, puts in the effort baseline to baseline and cuts off passing lanes. There is a good chance that McConnell does not end up being rookie of the year, but if he keeps his performance at this level he is the best freshman in the league and will win player of the year by the time he graduates.