Archive for Thursday, March 13, 2008

The eephus pitch

March 13, 2008

When Tyler Hansbrough was named Sporting News's Player of the Year this week, I - a Jayhawk through and through - took exception.

Beasley will easily be the NBA's number one overall pick. He put up better numbers than Kevin Durant a year ago, and most experts thought Durant was the best college basketball player we'd seen or would see for years.

The whole thing reeks of East Coast bias. It's something that teams and players in this part of the country have suffered from countless times, with NCAA Big Dance seeds and awards like this one.

Will the lack of attaining this award cost Beasley? No, he'll still be the top overall pick in the next draft, but it's still unjust and a little bit insulting to the Big 12.

The factors that Sporting News listed were impact, leadership, performance in big games and success.

First of all, nobody impacted games like Beasley. Sporting News pointed to Hansbrough's performance when Ty Lawson went down with an injury, when he averaged 29 points. What they failed to notice was Beasley's performance in a season where K-State doesn't have a true big man. Beasley made up for that throughout the year, putting up big man numbers and holding his own down low on the offensive and defensive sides of the court when he's not a center.

And impact without a Ty Lawson? Beasley has Bill Walker and Jacob Pullen (sometimes). That's it. No one impacted games single-handedly this year like Michael Beasley.

For leadership, just look to K-State's upset of KU earlier in the season. K-State hadn't won a game in Bramlage against KU since before Beasley was born. He guaranteed it, then backed it up, although later he was proven wrong at Allen Fieldhouse. But I don't think a single K-State fan minds losing that game, so long as they got the one at Bramlage. Beasley was the reason his teammates played so well in that game. If that isn't leadership:

Now, I know K-State didn't play as many big games - and by big games I guess we're talking top-50 RPI teams, to coincide with Sporting News - as North Carolina. So in that regard it is hard to equate the two on this point, and maybe Hansbrough played against tougher opponents on the whole.

But against top-50 RPI teams, Beasley actually averaged more points than Hansbrough. And overall he edged out Hansbrough in points, blocks, assists and rebounds.

And lastly, there is success. North Carolina is 29-2 compared to K-State's 20-10. Success, for K-State this year, was getting into the Big Dance. It appears they will do so, and they have Michael Beasley mostly to thank for that.

He made the difference in an NIT team last year to a team that finished third in the Big 12 and seems poised to present some matchup problems for teams in the NCAA Tournament. He is the biggest reason for the turnaround.

I never thought I'd defend anything about this team and this school, but it seems this was an obvious injustice that brings to light the partiality that affects every Big 12 team.


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