The Big Ten’s official year-end awards and all-conference teams will be announced on a special show tonight at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network, but Inside Indiana wanted to get out ahead of the fun.
With that in mind, Zach, Ed, Alex and Ken each knocked in their ballots for six different honors. Each was asked to provide the following: an all-conference first team, an all-conference second team, a player of the year, a coach of the year, a rookie of the year and a defensive player of the year. What followed from that voting is below.
A couple of quick notes:
+Players were given three points for a first-team vote, and one point for a second-team vote.
+Unanimous selections for either all-conference honors or individual awards are noted with an asterisk.
+Any tie in total points was broken by the total number of ballots, first- or second- team, a player appeared on.
Without further ado, Inside Indiana’s picks for the 2013 all-conference teams and awards …
Four of the five were unanimous selections here, and quite frankly, the first team wasn’t too hard to figure out. It’s tough to argue with Burke, Oladipo, Zeller or Thomas, as all were in their own ways quite good this season.
Burke scored 15 or more points in every single Big Ten game, Oladipo was perhaps the conference’s most complete player, Thomas was its leading scorer and Zeller its No. 1 post threat and the scorer of the game-winning basket that gave Indiana its outright Big Ten title.
Craft makes the list after helping guide Ohio State to a strong end-of-season run and the No. 2 seed in this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament. His appearance on every ballot, first- or second-team, broke a points tie with Trevor Mbakwe.
G Gary Harris, Michigan State (2)^
G Andre Hollins, Minnesota (2)^
G/F Tim Hardaway Jr. (4)
F Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota (6)
F Jared Berggren (3)
F Christian Watford (2)^
^Denotes three-way tie
OK, so we cheated a bit. There was no easy way to break the deadlock at two points apiece between Harris, Hollins and Watford, and in truth, all three were deserving in their own right.
Harris was a revelation as a rookie, even better than expected and a major contributor and second-leading scorer for Michigan State. Hollins helped steer a Minnesota offense that needed his guard play nearly every night, and Watford was, for much of the season, a beacon of consistency for the Hoosiers.
Berggren and Mbakwe were two of the toughest post defenders and rebounders in the league, finishing with 7.1 and a conference-leading 8.7 boards per game, respectively. Not to be overshadowed by his talented teammate, Hardaway was one of the Big Ten’s most effective wing scorers over the course of his junior season at Michigan.
Player of the year
Victor Oladipo, Indiana
(Also receiving votes: Trey Burke, Michigan; Cody Zeller, Indiana)
The results tonight might be different, but our four-man staff picked Oladipo in a narrow vote over Burke and Zeller, who each received one tally themselves.
It would be hard to argue against any of the three. Oladipo was an all-action presence for Indiana, turning in some of his best performances when they were needed most, including Indiana’s four wins against the two Michigan schools.
His averages for the season were remarkable: 13.7 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game, 2.2 steals per game, 61.4 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from behind the arc, a jump of more than 25 points from a season ago.
Additionally, he was the conference’s most versatile defender, and a staple guarding its best players. He made Burke shoot 45 times to score 45 points in two meetings during the regular season, and he was feared and respected as a game-changing presence at both ends of the floor.
Defensive player of the year
Victor Oladipo, Indiana*
This choice was not hard, as Oladipo was a unanimous pick. Craft certainly deserves some mention here, as perhaps the most consistent on-ball defender in the conference for at least the last two years. But in his junior season, Oladipo took another big step forward from determined athlete to technically sound defender.
In addition to his important offensive presence for IU, Oladipo was much improved as a defender. He cut down on his fouls-committed-per-40-minutes average while significantly upping his block percentage and steal percentage, and he was excellent rebounding the ball for his position — or most positions, really.
Couple that with highlight-reel plays, like this block against Ohio State, and you have yourself a unanimous defensive player of the year (at least according to us).
Coach of the year
Tom Crean, Indiana
(Also receiving votes: Bo Ryan)
Thad Matta might have deserved some credit here too, and it’s sort of strange to give this award to a coach who won the Big Ten with the preseason favorite, but in a year of unbelievably high-level parity, Crean managed to win the best conference in the country outright.
There were rough moments, like the collapse at Illinois and the bully sessions against Minnesota and Ohio State, but Indiana never suffered a crippling loss either, a la Michigan at Penn State or Wisconsin at home to Purdue.
Indeed, when the Hoosiers lost, they seemed to recover better for it each time, and Crean has clearly kept his team developing throughout the season. He’s our pick for coach of the year.
Rookie of the year
Gary Harris, Michigan State*
There was no quibbling here. Harris was the second-leading scorer on the No. 3 team in the conference, and he was an offensive difference maker for a team that desperately needed a backcourt foil for Keith Appling.
Harris has so much room to grow as a player, and he will under Tom Izzo, but he’s already among the conference’s elite, in a very good-to-great season for the Big Ten. He gets rookie of the year, and none of us would argue with the distinction.
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