Forty people vote for the All-Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball team. Each school gets four votes, one by the coach, media relations director, radio and beat writer. The honors are announced on Tuesday.
Rules prohibit voters from voting for players on the team they work with or cover (Coach of the Year an exception). That makes my job easier (no need to explain why I didn’t vote for your favorite Shocker) and harder (who is the ninth-best non-Shocker in the MVC?).
Here are my choices:
Player of the Year — Northern Iowa center Seth Tuttle. No explanation needed for the most important player on a team that didn’t make the post-season in 2014 and is ranked No. 10 on Monday morning. I would vote for Tuttle, even if allowed to choose a Shocker. Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are worthy choices, for reasons I’ve spent the past three years writing about. Tuttle’s production and importance to his team gives him an edge in 2014-15.
Coach of the Year — Indiana State’s Greg Lansing. I’ve developed a contrarian attitude in 10 years of covering the MVC on this one. The championship coach has won it every year except two (1997 and 2013) since 1994. You can’t argue that choice, but it’s not very interesting.
I voted for WSU’s Gregg Marshall in 2010 when he turned a 17-17 team into a 25-10 team that finished second behind a loaded UNI team. This season, Indiana State was a 4-8 mess in non-conference play and Lansing pushed them into third place in the MVC. Marshall and UNI’s Ben Jacobson did great things this season. I like Lansing’s mid-season rebuilding job. Loyola’s Porter Moser deserves votes based on his team’s improvement in its second season in the MVC, much of it done with star Milton Doyle on the bench with an ankle injury.
All-MVC — Beyond Tuttle, the Panthers are a hard team to vote for because of their depth. Washpun and Mitchell are difficult to separate,but they seem to make the Panthers go in many ways on offense and defense. Check out their three-point shooting in MVC play. I went with both.
Centers are harder to find than any other position, so I went with Big Mock on the first team. Somebody had to do some serious work to get Loyola out of the Thursday game without Doyle and that somebody is Christian Thomas. I try to reward winning teams over stats in close calls. Shooting percentage and turnovers are also good tie-breakers.
Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville
Wes Washpun, UNI
Deon Mitchell, UNI
Devonte Brown, Indiana State
Daishon Knight, Illinois State
D.J. Balentine, Evansville
Reggie Lynch, Illinois State
Christian Thomas, Loyola
Gary Ricks Jr., Drake
Newcomer of the Year - DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Illinois State
Freshman of the Year — Brenton Scott, Indiana State. Drake’s Reed Timmer made a late push.
Akoon-Purcell, Scott, Timmer, Paul Jesperson, UNI; Montel James, Loyola
Scott, Timmer, Josh Cunningham, Bradley; Jordan Caroline, SIU; Donte Ingram, Loyola
6th-man — Washpun
Defensive Player of the Year — Brown
Where would I have voted for Shockers, if allowed?
Baker, VanVleet and Tekele Cotton on first team with Tuttle and Mock. Darius Carter on the second team, bumping Balentine, Lynch, Thomas and Ricks. Could I really have not included Balentine? That would have been tough, because he is an excellent player. Finishing fifth with a 9-9 record, however, is a disappointment for the Aces.
I would have given Shaq Morris a hard look for All-Freshman. Cotton as Defensive Player of the Year is a no-brainer and at least VanVleet or Baker or Evan Wessel would join him on the All-Defense Team.