It is time for All-ACC awards again and while we, here at THF, do not have a vote in the media awards, I thought it would be fun if C.Michael, Doc and I published our votes. First of all, there were standards. We used conference only stats for our voting because these are All-ACC awards and those stats, while not completely level due to the imbalanced schedule, are close as we are going to get to it. Also, we voted based on the following positions: Lead guard, two wings players, two interior players for each team. In our opinion you cannot simply pick the best 15 players and rank them, if are going to call it a team then the makeup has to be such that you can actually put it on the court. So without further ado, here are the picks.
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There are probably three choices that will need extra justification. The first is Harrison Barnes over Kyle Singler. I will just state this simply: in the ACC, Barnes was better than Singler. While Barnes only had a slight edge in ORtg (105.68 - 104.66), he also bested Singler in points per game, eFG%, true shooting %, and floor % and finished 3rd in the conference in points per 40 minutes (Smith and Shumpert). More importantly, while their first meeting was played to a draw, Barnes clearly won the second matchup, and in to the victor go the brownies. Barnes is the 1st Team pick.
The second "controversial" pick was the decision to relegate Jordan Williams to the 2nd team. This really came down to a decision between Williams and John Henson, as Tyler Zeller (5th in points per 40, 1st in floor %, 4th in eFG%, and 2nd in true shooting %) was arguably UNC MVP for the season and needed to be a 1st team selection. Choosing Henson really came down the fact that Henson was a much bigger factor on defense (block %: 11.95) than Williams was (block %: 3.89) and Henson (and North Carolina) closed the season much stronger (9 straight double-doubles) than did Jordan Williams (or Maryland). There is also a bit of a symbolism to this vote, as I feel strongly that UNC has the best frontline in the country, so it is only fitting that they all be placed on the 1st Team.
The last choice that needs justification, and the one that will surely be the most unpopular on this site, is my decision to leave Marshall completely off the roster. This really ended up being a numbers game, as there was a lot of good guard play in the ACC, and all 6 of the guards I chose over Marshall had better ORtgs and higher possession percentages, and only Malcolm Delaney had a lower floor percentage (50.83) than did Kendall Marshall (51.54). And all were much more prolific scorers than was Marshall. Yes, Marshall did lead the ACC in assists, but so did Larry Drew last season, so I am careful not to put too much weight on that. I do think that had Marshall averaged the 10 ppg and 8 apg that he has averaged since Drew left for the entire ACC season, then he would have been an easy inclusion. But the fact is he did not, and I can't really justify voting on what could have been.
I would have picked this differently if I were not ranking by position. For example, I think Joe Trapani deserved to be 2nd team as much or more than his teammate Reggie Jackson, but I could not rate Trapani ahead of Jeff Allen or John Henson. Yes, Jordan Williams may have faded down the stretch but his overall body of work merits 1st team. Speaking of sliding, Kyle Singler may make still make 1st team as a career achievement award, but Harrison Barnes was every bit his equal down the stretch and joins him on my 2nd team.
Roy has probably locked up COY with the win over Duke, but I would make the point about the tiger changing his stripes. The Hansbrough-era teams were offensive juggernauts with little concern for defense. The fact that this team is very, very good defensively is a testament to Roy's ability to coach 'em up and play the hand he was dealt. Also, the graphic that Fox ran during the Maryland game showing that 53 weeks prior, UNC had 5 completely different starters, was a huge selling point as well.
At this point I think there is merit to the concept practiced in the Big East of naming a list of ten players as all-conference. This would be easier if you simply named the top seven players as All-ACC since you could probably argue at least three members on the 2nd team could be first team picks. And no I am not talking about Kyle Singler. You can make cases for Iman Shumpert, Jordan Williams and Harrison Barnes on the first team. I opted to go with Zeller and Henson on the interior. Zeller is UNC's best offensive option and Henson has a string of double-doubles to close the season that UNC could not survive without. Nolan Smith is an obvious choice for first team and POY. I thought Malcolm Delaney and Reggie Jackson did enough in carrying their teams to warrant first team choices.
If anything, the voting by the three of us proves there are just too many good choices. C.Michael went with three Heels on the first team and provided solid reasons anchored in stats lest someone call him a homer like this guy. Doc only had Zeller on the first team and I split the difference with two Tar Heels. As for the rest of the awards, we all had the same individual awards and all-defensive team. I was tempted to put Barnes instead of Strickland because I think his defense has been good, especially on Singler in two games versus Duke. However, Strickland plays over 30 mpg for a reason and it is not his offense as gregrustin reminds us every single day. However, UNC's identity as a defensive team is based in one part on Henson but also on Strickland on the perimeter.
Now have fun tearing them apart.