After yesterday's historical twist on the All-ACC teams, UNC took three of the four postseason ACC awards.
John Henson has been named Defensive Player of the Year. Harrison Barnes is the Rookie of the Year and Roy Williams was named Coach of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
Henson received 49 out of a possible 74 votes for DPOY and finished well ahead of FSU's Chris Singleton who had 16. Henson averaged 3.1 blocks per game plus an untold number of missed shots from offensive players saying, "Holy crap! It's John Henson!" and throwing up a wild attempt that never had a chance. Henson also averaged 9.5 rpg and had a DR% of 25.1% which is 27th in the nation. The number of possessions by the opposing offense that ended with the ball in Henson's hands is fairly impressive. Oh yeah, the league's best defender is still missing from eight All-ACC ballots.
Barnes was named on 64 ballots with Kendall Marshall picking seven for rookie of the year. The fact Marshall got seven votes is impressive considering he did not start until mid-January. As for Barnes, it took him awhile to get it going but when he steps up it is impressive to watch. Our only beef is we wish he would do it more consistently. I don't think there was any doubt by last Wednesday night for most voters but just in case, the game winner vs FSU sealed the deal.
In the coach of the year voting Roy had 52 votes. Clemson's Brad Brownell was second with eight votes. The big push in the media(namely on ESPN) to hand Mike Krzyzewski the award garnered three votes. Until now, the 2006 team has been considered Roy's best coaching job since returning to Chapel Hill. This one takes the cake.
Just as a refresher, beginning last May, UNC lost Ed Davis, Marcus Ginyard, Deon Thompson, Davie and Travis Wear. UNC manages to bring in Justin Knox to fill one spot. In October, Will Graves was dismissed from the team which leads to some insane personnel choices like playing 6-4 Justin Watts at the four. UNC started the season with a lot of inexperience and lofty expectations with the latter crashing down around them at 4-3 with three losses to BCS conference schools. Harrison Barnes was nowhere near what anyone thought he would be. The offense struggled to produce points and only by the fact they played great defense did UNC have a prayer. At that point this team was ripe for a tailspin that could have easily ended with a 18-12 record and fighting for NCAA life this weekend in Greensboro.
While this is all going on, Roy had a steady hand on the wheel. He talked about the team's potential and deflected criticisms of Barnes. The team slowly came around and managed to win some tough, close games early in ACC play. There was also the blowout in Atlanta which like the 4-3 record could have been a gateway to a total tailspin. It was then Roy did what no one thought he would do and that was move Kendall Marshall to starting point guard. Four games later Some Other Kid quit the team. It was a loss that ultimately did not matter. Part of that was certainly the players on this team stepping up but I also think Roy has done a great job behind the scenes teaching these kids and keeping a steady hand on the wheel. After last season, Roy strikes me as more flexible in his coaching style, handling the media better and with SOK gone is really tight with every player on the team. This team is not like his other successful teams. They are more oriented to defense and still a tad suspect on the offensive end. Yet somehow it works to the tune of 24-6 and 14-2 in the ACC.
So hats off to Roy. For as bad as things were a year ago, I am not sure he could have asked for a better bounce back than what this season has been.