For the first time in the history of this blog, I have been given a vote for the All-ACC teams and end of year awards by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Let me first express appreciation to the ACSMA for extending the voting privilege to non-traditional forms of media. Secondly, the ballot submitted was done in collaboration with Chris and Doc to ensure we submitted a solid ballot. Without further ado here is Tar Heel Blog's ballot for the All-ACC teams and awards.
Let's deal with the one choice here that will generate accusations that we are complete homers, which is four Tar Heels on the first team. The inclusion of Tyler Zeller and John Henson along with Virginia's Mike Scott was easy. Those three have been locks for a few weeks now. Kendall Marshall stated his case by putting up big scoring and assist numbers versus NC State then Duke in the season finale. That left the fifth spot which we decided to fill with Harrison Barnes instead of Maryland's Terrell Stoglin or Duke's Austin Rivers. For the in-depth explanation I turn it over to Chris:
Well, let's look at the two players who would be most likely to challenge Barnes for the 5th spot: Terrell Stoglin and Austin Rivers. Both of these players average more than 4 mpg more than Barnes does, so if we look at P40 scoring, Stoglin still leads at 25.8, but Barnes is much closer at 24.7 (Rivers is a distant 3rd at 18.6). But Barnes has been a more efficient player than either, as his ORtg (112.2) is significantly better than either Stoglin's (108.8) or Rivers' (105.0). Additionally, Barnes has been a better shooter than either player (3P%: 39.3; Stoglin: 37.0, Rivers: 38.3), rebounder (OR%/DR%: 7.5/10.4; Stoglin: 1.8/9.8, Rivers: 1.8/9.1) and defender (Blk%/Stl%: 1.2/2.0, Stoglin: 0.3/1.0, Rivers: 0.0/1.6). Oh, and he also turns the ball over less (TO%: 13.4 Stoglin: 13.4, Rivers: 17.5). (Note: If you go with "ACC Only" numbers, the only thing that changes is Barnes takes a slight backseat in 3P% and Stoglin gains a small advantage in TO% over Barnes. Essentially, there is no difference.)
Looking at this objectively, the only reason not to vote for Barnes is because you have some sort of belief that one team should not have four 1st-Team selections, and honestly, that is ridiculous. A team going 14-2 and winning the ACC Regular season and getting 4 1st-Team members is no more outrageous than a team going 14-2 and win the ACC Regular Season and have ZERO 1st-Team selections.
In the end we thought Barnes numbers and impact were enough to warrant the selection over Rivers or Stoglin, who both had excellent seasons.
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Obviously Duke's Austin Rivers and Maryland's Terrell Stoglin are locks for the 2nd team. Beyond that we toyed with multiple options.
Chris: For the second team, what about Bernard James? In ACC play he leads the conference in FG%, eFG%, and TS%, is 2nd in Floor percentage to Zeller, and 7th in ORtg. He is also a terrific defender and ranks 4th in the conference in blocks. I think I would put him on the team over Andre Young.
Brian: I think so. I was looking at Terrell Stoglin, Austin Rivers, Michael Snaer, Lorenzo Brown and Bernard James on the 2nd team. Is there an argument for C.J. Leslie here over Brown? Brown is averaging 6.0 apg in ACC play to go along with 12.7 ppg, 1.5 spg and has played 34.5 mpg. Leslie has averaged 15.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg and has 1.3 bpg. I think Brown goes before Leslie but could you argue Leslie over Snaer?
Doc: Kind of like the last spot on the 1st team, there are plenty of candidates for the last spots on the 2nd team. For the last two, I was looking at 5 guys: Green, Young, James, Leslie, and Brown. I was swayed by Young's defense. You can definitely make a case for James and I think Leslie was playing his best down the stretch.
I do think Snaer makes 2nd team along with Stoglin and Rivers, but after that I think you can put the next 5 in any order and be just fine.
Chris: I agree with Doc. Snaer has to be 2nd team. He's had a good season and all the big shots he hit seals the deal, in my opinion.
Brian: Then I think we go with Stoglin, Rivers, James, Snaer and Brown since he is the 2nd best point guard in the ACC, he probably should be on the 2nd team.
After NC State beat Virginia Tech with C.J. Leslie going for 18 points and 11 rebounds I decided to flip him to the 2nd team and move his teammate Brown to the 3rd team.
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By the time you get to the 3rd team you realize there are plenty of good players still out there and some of them will be left off completely. None of these are going to raise much controversy though you could argue Miami's Durand Scott or Duke's Mason Plumlee deserve a look on this team.
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The all defensive team is probably the toughest to choose because there are not many stats to go on. Obviously Henson and James are on this team due in part to their shot blocking and defensive rebounding. Snaer is part of that very tough Seminole defensive unit. Clemson's Tanner Smith leads the league in steals and Virginia's Jontel Evans is simply a solid perimeter defender.
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I don't know if this is a bad sign for the future of the ACC, but the All-Freshman team is less than impressive. Not that the choices weren't fairly obvious just a little underwhelming once you get past Austin Rivers and Ryan Anderson.
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We have enumerated our reasons why Tyler Zeller is the ACC Player of the Year. Here is how the two compare in the major statistical areas:
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If you take the overall stats, Scott comes out a little better than Zeller however in ACC play this is not even a debate. Taking league games only, Scott is ahead in ppg and defensive rebounds per game. Zeller owns the rest of them, including an offensive rating in ACC play of 123.9 compared to Scott's 111.6. Not only was Zeller better on the offensive end but had over a full block and half a steal more per game than Scott. Zeller also had a stop percentage of 70.5% vs Scott's 60% in ACC play. It should not go without noting that after UNC's 15 non-conference games, Zeller was averaging 13.9 ppg. In ACC play he was almost 5 ppg better meaning he stepped up his level of play in the games that mattered the most. And if head-to-head means anything Zeller had 45 points and 15 rebounds in two games between UNC and Virginia versus 24 points and 13 rebounds combined for Scott.
Austin Rivers for ACC Rookie of the Year was a no brainer as was John Henson for his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. In voting for Coach of the Year, we tried to move away from the convention of simply picking a coach whose team made a big jump in the standings from its predicted preseason finish. NC State's Mark Gottfried took over a program in shambles. The Wolfpack under Sidney Lowe had been horrid for a five year period and it was clear even the basics of running a college basketball program, not to mention some sense of organization were missing. Enter Gottfried who took multiple parts, began to break them of bad habits and made NCSU look like a college basketball team for the first time in years. Or as an NCSU fan friend told me, he is yelling at his TV again during basketball games. NCSU finished tied for fourth with a 9-7 mark with essentially the same group from last season which couldn't string together anywhere close to the effort we are seeing now.
The ACC will announce the All-ACC teams on Monday with the individual awards to follow on Tuesday.