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Mid-Season Awards

February 6, 2002 Columns No Comments

A Mid-Season’s Dream

by Bill Thayer

I recently read in an article in a North Carolina paper that one writer was glad to see that we have passed the midway point in the season because he was sick of reading mindless awards lists. That reminded me, nobody in Hoopville had awarded anything yet, so without any further adieu, here are my 2001-02 Mid-Season awards!

All-American Team

G: Jason Williams, Duke
The leader on the number one team in the nation continues to wow as he leads Duke in scoring. When the Devils need a big basket, Williams will either score or create an opportunity for a teammate.

G: Juan Dixon, Maryland
One of the most unheralded defenders in the nation is one of the most dangerous scorers. Like Williams, Dixon makes big plays in the clutch. He may have the quickest hands in college basketball and is tremendous at scoring off the dribble.

G: Steve Logan, Cincinnati
Logan fueled the Bearcats fast start as he essentially ran both guard positions early in the season. He is a dangerous outside shooter but has run the point at times this season.

F: Drew Gooden, Kansas
The one player who could end up stealing national player of the year honors from Williams. Gooden is the most athletic big man in the country. His ability to get up and down the court has helped Kansas’ up-tempo game and he is a monster on the glass.

C: David West, Xavier
West is a nasty rebounder but has gone unnoticed in the Atlantic Ten. West can defend any big man thanks to his size and agility. He quietly racks up double-doubles seemingly every night.

Second team:
G: Dan Dickau, Gonzaga
G: Duane Wade, Marquette
F: Jared Jeffries, Indiana
F: Mike Dunleavy, Duke
C: Udonis Haslem, Florida

All Mid-Major Team:
G: Dan Dickau, Gonzaga
G: Jerry Green, UC Irvine
G: Keith McLeod, Bowling Green
F: Theron Smith, Ball State
C: Corsley Edwards, Central Connecticut State

National Player of the Half-Year: Williams
Runners Up: Gooden, Dixon

National Newcomer of the Half-Year: Wade
Last season, Tom Crean said Dwyane Wade was the best player in practice. He is one of the best rebounding guards in the country and steps it up in big games, just look at what he did in leading the Eagles to a win over Cincinnati. At 6’4″ he’s a tough matchup as he’s too quick for some big men and too strong for most guards.
Runners Up: TJ Ford, Ebe Eri

National Freshman of the Half-Year: T.J. Ford, PG, Texas
When Chris Owens went down with a season-ending injury, the Longhorns season seemed to be over. However, Ford stepped up as the team’s on-court leader and has Texas in great position to make the NCAA tournament. On a team with no true go-to player, Ford’s ability to find open teammates has helped him lead the nation in assists.
Runners Up: Dajuan Wagner, Chris Thomas

National Coach of the Half-Year: Jim Harrick, Georgia
While Kentucky and Florida garner most of the attention in the SEC, it’s Harrick’s Bulldogs who are atop the SEC East standings. Harrick has quietly built a solid team in Athens, helped by transfers Jonas and Jarvis Hayes. Very few expected the Dawgs to compete after losing the nucleus of last year’s tournament squad. It’s time to hand it to Harrick, he wins wherever he goes.
Runners Up: Dan Monson, Bobby Knight

Game of the Half-Year: Duke/Kentucky, Jimmy V Classic

Disappointment of the Half-Year: Saint Joseph’s
With Marvin O’Connor and Jameer Nelson, the Hawks should run roughshot over the Atlantic Ten. The Hawks have looked uninterested in many games this season, including a nationally televised blowout loss against Villanova and an embarrassing loss to Eastern Washington.
Runners Up: Providence, the Big Ten

Surprise of the Year: Pittsburgh
Last year the Panthers made an incredible run to the finals of the Big East tournament. However, after losing Isaac Hawkins and Ricardo Greer, nobody thought the Panthers would be able to build on that momentum. Ben Howland has this team playing well though, led by junior Brandin Knight. Julius Page is quietly emerging along side Knight. Barring a collapse, this team will be in the dance come March.
Runners Up: Ohio State, Texas Tech

Five teams to watch in the second half:
1. Stanford
I’ve said they are a disappointment, but Casey Jacobsen is starting to warm up. Any time you have a player that can score at will, you stand a chance in March. Look for this team to get a low seed, due to taking some losses in Pac Ten play, but make a run in March.

2. Wake Forest
They are quietly the third best team in the ACC, but since they are behind two of the three best teams in the nation, they don’t get much notice. Josh Howard is an explosive wing who will cause matchup problems late in the season.

3. Iowa
With Luke Recker and Reggie Evans, the Hawkeyes can’t miss the NCAA Tournament, right?

4. Southern Illinois/Creighton
These two teams are the class of the Missouri Valley Conference. Southern Illinois won the first meeting (in Omaha) by two this past weekend. The Salukis are more known, thanks to their win over Indiana, but Dana Altman’s Bluejays have been known to turn it on late in the year. It’s looking like the Valley will only get one, so this is a race to keep an eye on.

5. Pepperdine
While Gonzaga gets all the press, it’s the Waves who are atop the West Coast Conference. Pepperdine owns wins over UCLA and USC as well. This is a team that has shown it can win and will be dangerous matchup in March.

Five players to watch in the second half:
1. Terence Dials, Ohio State
Dials has replaced Ken Johnson in the middle of the Buckeye defense. With plenty of talented guards, O’Brien has options on the perimeter. It will be up to Dials to control the lane. The freshman has held his own thus far.

2. Tim Szatko, Holy Cross
American has emerged as the team to beat in the muddled Patriot League standings. Szatko, the defending conference player of the year, must emerge if the Crusaders hope to knock the Eagles off their perch and make a second straight tournament appearance.

3. Jannero Pargo, Arkansas
Pargo is the most dangerous weapon in the Hogs offense. Nolan Richardson’s 40 minutes of hell seems to be back, but the Hogs are barely staying above .500. They played a deadly non-conference schedule, which should help them slide into the dance. When push comes to shove, it will be up to Pargo to hit the big baskets.

4. Clarence Gilbert, Missouri
Quin Snyder has handed the reigns over to his senior guard. Gilbert has been known to hoist his share of bad shots. When he’s hot he is a dangerous scorer, but when he’s off he will kill the Tigers. Gilbert will need to make wise decisions and do a better job of finding the open man if Missouri hopes to make any noise in March.

5. Ruben Douglas, New Mexico
It’s been a messy season in Albuquerque. When Marlon Parmer left the Lobos, he left a big hole in the backcourt. Douglas will need to take on more responsibility in the Mountain West tournament. Utah looks like a lock to go dancing, but the conference tournament will be wide open. Douglas is the type of player that could turn it on and lead his squad to the NCAA Tournament.


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