Wichita State junior Ben Smith
Eight players stood out as possible All-MVC types – the five who made it, plus Missouri State’s Jermaine Mallett, Creighton’s Antoine Young and Indiana State’s Jake Odum. I can’t complain about any of the top five – MSU’s Kyle Weems, WSU’s J.T. Durley, Kwadzo Ahelegbe of Northern Iowa, Bradley’s Andrew Warren and Creighton’s Doug McDermott. Warren is the choice who will raise some debate. He had a fabulous season for a bad team. The fact Bradley went 5-3 in February helped his candidacy with me. He did more than just score, so I like him on the first team.The next tough choice came with the final two or three spots for second team (I couldn’t vote for WSU players, so I’m speaking unofficially). WSU’s Toure Murry is one of several players with flaws who fit in that category. Murry’s strongest numbers are his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3, fifth-best in the MVC) and 5.0 rebounds. His shooting percentages are his biggest issue. Compare them to some of the other second team and honorable mention picks before judging. I think he’s deserving of second-team honors for his work as point guard (running one of the MVC’s best offenses for most of the season), his rebounding and defense. You can argue his inclusion, for sure. Once you get to numbers 8-15, many arguments are valid. It would not have been an outrage for Murry to be honorable mention.Murry likely helped himself by doing an admirable job of dividing up his weaker performances. He struggled in both games against Missouri State. Against the other eight teams, he had at least one good performance to balance a bad. For example, he went for 15 points and nine rebounds at UNI after a four-point-no-rebound clunker in the game in Wichita. At Creighton, he turned in 12 and 10 and three assists. In the home game – three points and two rebounds. In the home game against Evansville, he scored 10 points and ran WSU’s offense with seven assists and two turnovers. At Roberts Stadium, he had four turnovers and three assists. So everybody in a voting bloc had at least one good impression of Murry (except for the MSU voters).The player with the biggest gripe is Indiana State guard Jake Odum. I had him No. 6 on my ballot and I considered him a lock for the second team. Coach Greg Lansing turned his team over to a redshirt freshman and Odum guided the Sycamores to third place. He shoots, rebounds and runs the team efficiently. Lansing raves about his leadership and spirit. I think he’s a better second-team choice than Evansville guard Colt Ryan.WSU’s Ben Smith stood out all season for his efficiency and willingness to fit in. I remember one bad shot Smith took all season. He never forced things, never tried to do too much. Often you see junior-college transfers who are used to starring come in and struggle with a lesser role. Not Smith. In the end, he was rewarded with Sixth Man of the Year honors.McDermott swept the Newcomer and Freshman of the Year awards. Up until the team’s closed scrimmage against Colorado, he was a redshirt candidate.Durley is the third Shocker to earn All-MVC honors since 2000. That’s not many when you think about the success WSU has enjoyed in that time. Jamar Howard earned All-MVC in 2003 and 2004. Paul Miller did it in 2006. Clevin Hannah was voted in last season.
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