Where are the guards?
The Associated Press All-American team is composed of the five players who receive the most votes, regardless of position, and this year the AP first team is unlikely to include a guard.
Check out any list of player-of-the year candidates and it will include Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and/or John Henson.
Somewhere down around the eighth or ninth spot, you may find a guard – Missouri’s Marcus Denmon.
Last year, guards Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and Nolan Smith were the top three in AP’s player of the year voting. The year before it was guards Evan Turner and John Wall. Guards have dominated the landscape for a while.
Suddenly, we’re returning to days of the big man, when Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton, Ralph Sampson, Patrick Ewing, Danny Manning and Tim Duncan ruled the game.
Although point guard has become the predominant position in college basketball, there is no point guard in sight on the player of the year list, and many of the top point guards this season reside in the non-major conferences.
Top 10 point guards (team’s record):
—Isaiah Canaan, Murray State (28-1)
—Damian Lillard, Weber State (23-4)
—Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (25-4)
—Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas (25-5)
—Scott Machado, Iona (24-6)
—Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (24-7)
—Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin (21-8)
—Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall (19-10)
—Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary’s (25-5)
—Tu Holloway, Xavier (18-10)
Coach of the year: With so many ways to measure a coach’s value in a given season, the award should be divided into five categories, with a coach of the year in each:
—Creating greatness coach of the year – John Calipari, Kentucky – Wildcats rank No. 1 with four new starters. (Notable: Bill Self, Kansas, No. 3 with four new starters).
—Exceeding expectations coach of the year – Frank Haith, Missouri – Tigers are No. 7 with just seven scholarship players. (Notable: Steve Prohm, Murray State, No. 12 after being unranked in preseason.)
—Overcoming setbacks coach of the year – Mike Brey, Notre Dame – Irish third in Big East after losing best player, Tom Abromaitis, early in the season.
—Improving through the season coach of the year – Bruiser Flint, Drexel – After starting 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference, Dragons have won 17 in a row and captured Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title..
—Building a program coach of the year – Gregg Marshall, Wichita State – Shockers went from 11-20 (4-14 in conference) his first year to 17-17 (8-10) to 25-10 (12-6) to 29-8 (14-4) to this season’s 24-2 (16-2) and No. 15 ranking. (Notable: Tommy Amaker, Harvard, 8-22 first year, 24-2 this season).
Stat of note: Indiana is unbeaten with 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh as its team manager. The Hoosiers are 1-0, having beaten North Carolina Central last week when Harbaugh, the brother-in-law of Indiana head coach Tom Crean, brought out the chairs for players during timeouts.
Just a question: What does it say about the NCAA Tournament if Connecticut, which is in 10th place its conference and has lost nine of its last 12 games, makes it into the NCAA Tournament field as an at-large team? (Joe Lunardi of ESPN Bracketology fame, had the Huskies in the NCAA field as with room to spare before Tuesday’s loss to Providence, which was 3-13 in the Big East before beating the Huskies.)
NCAA streaks in trouble
Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Villanova and Texas A&M presumably will see their run of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances end unless they win conferences tournaments, and Texas and Xavier need to finish strong to keep their streaks alive.
The top 12 active streaks of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (and their 2011-2012 record):
22 — Kansas (25-5)
16 — Duke (25-4)
14 — Michigan State (24-5)
13 — Gonzaga (24-5)
13 — Texas (18-11)
13 – Wisconsin (21-8)
10 – Pittsburgh (15-14)
7 – Villanova (11-17)
7 – Tennessee (16-13)
6 – Xavier (18-10)
6 – Marquette (24-5)
6 – Texas A&M (13-15)