John's guest-hosting this week while Kyle's in Vancouver.
Which of course stands for the Temporary Help's Evaluation of Mid-Major Achievement
. Is it presumptuous to dish out awards from the Olympian (you know, that adjective is much more situation-neutral and less confusing 99 percent of the time) heights of The Mid-Majority when, not to put too fine a point on it, it's not really my site? Of course! Heck, Kyle could come rushing in any second now with a stern look and a "Young man, what
have you been doing?" attitude. So let's be about it, shall we?
Must be below the Red Line
, of course. In no particular order. Teams, players, stuff, all thrown into the hopper....My Favorite Player with an Ostentatiously Biblical Name
. Until "Job Eden" or "Ezekiel Corinth" takes to the hardwood, the winner of this award in each of the next three seasons figures to be one Isaiah Canaan
, who holds the added advantage of being an actual person. The Murray State
freshman garnered much pub this week for sinking a three-pointer from near half-court on one knee. No, it didn't happen during whacky game of H-O-R-S-E at practice. This took place in an actual game
with the shot clock about to expire and a loose ball being chased.
But Canaan is more than a YouTube flash in the pan. Here's what I said about the young lad
six weeks ago:
Canaan is a lil' A.J. Abrams, a 5-11 shooting guard who hits his threes while making a Jeremy Lin-like 62 percent of his twos. Coach Billy Kennedy uses a notably egalitarian Dana Altman-style rotation where no Racer averages more than 28 minutes. Still, there has to be more than 20 minutes available for someone this freakishly effective. Show Canaan the love, Coach!
Since that time Canaan's two-point accuracy has come down to earth (Lin's, incredibly, has not), but he's still notably efficient as a prominent offensive player, considering he's a freshman who is yet to start a game. And it would appear you stand a good chance of seeing him in the NCAA tournament. Along with Kansas
and the team in the next paragraph, Murray State is one of the nation's three remaining unbeatens in conference play.Excellence in Improving upon a "Power"-Conference Template
. I'm on the record as thinking that Butler
is, in effect, Notre Dame plus defense
. True enough: The athletically unprepossessing but wondrously efficient working Joe in the paint (Matt Howard
as 'Gody), the sharp-shooters surrounding said Joe who all shoot a ton of threes (speaking of doppelgangers, my personal theory is that Robbie Hummel
and Gordon Hayward
are the same human)--it's all there. But like a Keebler elf from the magic tree, Brad Stevens
adds just a pinch of that strange thing called defense.
The Bulldogs get a large share of their points from Howard's free throws and he can only shoot free throws, of course, if he himself stays out of foul trouble. That being said, it bears noting that while the selection committee struggles to seed this team correctly every March, this year's edition of BU is much improved from last year and indeed is really similar on paper to that 2008 group led by Mike Green
and A.J. Graves
. That year the Dawgs took power-conference doyenne Tennessee
to OT before falling in the second round.Primitive and Risible Per-Game Stats are Right for Once
. Behold Donald Sims
, a 6-1 junior who plays for 16-11 Appalachian State
. While the Mountaineers nominally sit atop the SoCon North, they may well find themselves on the outside looking in come NCAA tournament time, thanks to South heavyweights like Charleston
. In other words, we come to praise Sims and to do so quickly, while he's still here.
At first glance Sims is your classic "Star Watch" player, and when someone who has said "rebound margin must die
" says that, it's not necessarily a compliment. What I mean is that Sims scores 20 a game, while the next most prolific 'Eer records but 10 per contest. And given that Sims is not a particularly imposing physical specimen playing for a not particularly imposing team (a couple weeks ago they lost at home to D-II King College
by 11), one might expect that those 20 points are a function of a ton of shots, mostly misses.
One would be wrong. Sims is a monster of efficiency. Start with the 95 percent shooting at the line, then pause to gape at the 58 percent shooting inside the arc, and then note merely in passing that of course he's lethal from three-point range (42 percent). Sims doesn't merely shoot a lot, he riddles opponents with fusillades of made
shots. If this team only had a defense, well, who knows.
Lastly Sims reminds me a little bit
of Christopher Walken
as The Continental
. So there.The "It Bears Repeating" Award
. The name Kenneth Faried
is already synonymous
with "mid-major monster." But when you personally rebound very nearly 40 percent
of opponents' misses during your minutes at Morehead State
, you officially constitute an urgent challenge for player-evaluation geeks. No, the Eagles' opponents are not equivalent to what Faried would face in the NBA. But 40 percent? (OK, 39. You get the idea.) What might that translate to at the proverbial next level?Amazing Suspensions of Disbelief
. This award would have been a lot more timely 24 hours ago, but still: What Charlotte
has done this year in a conference as brutal as the A-10 deserves your amazement. True, the 49ers lost at home last night to Duquesne
. But up until that time Bobby Lutz
's team had been at the top of the standings in their dog-eat-dog league. This despite the fact, which some teams might find to be an obstacle, that Charlotte neither scores nor prevents the scoring of points very well. Going into yesterday's action the Niners boasted of the league's sixth-best offense and, symmetrically enough, its sixth-best defense (conference games only).
One mighty wind at Charlotte's back has been a league-leading (by far) ability to get to the free throw line. Aggressive and relentless paint-attackers Chris Braswell
and Shamari Spears
, I salute you!And in Closing, a Black-Letter Violation of the Red Line
. I know they don't qualify as a Mid-Majority-sanctioned mid-major in funding terms, but am I wrong to have celebrated East Carolina
's highly improbable win at Tulane
on January 24? The Pirates that day were playing their second game in a true Ivy/NBA-style back-to-back: Two games in as many days. Then again the key difference between Ivy routine and this singular CUSA occurrence is that ECU's opponent had not played the previous day. The Pirates were in fact playing hard on the heels of their 15-point loss at nearby Southern Miss
just 24 hours earlier in order to save on travel expenses. (Take that, snooty Red Line!)
East Carolina entered that game against the Green Wave winless in conference play. They'd lost the day before. They were tired and budget-conscious. They were on the road. And they won by 15.
I decree it the Mid-Majority Temp Help Win of the Year.