Obviously, I disagree with Gregg Doyel's column .
I love Gregg.
I wish I was as muscular as him.
But I disagree with the idea that Tyler Hansbrough has to be a first-team All-American. That's why I made him a second-team All-American. And if you understand my criteria -- which Gregg does, and I appreciated him acknowledging it -- then you know that this decision came down to me selecting DeJuan Blair or Tyler Hansbrough, because I'll put no more than two bigs on any All-America team, and I wasn't leaving off Blake Griffin.
So really, that's the debate: Hansbrough or Blair.
Gregg thinks it should be Hansbrough.
That's a reasonable opinion.
But to me, Hansbrough has not had a better season this season than Blair has had this season.
Sure, Hansbrough is averaging more points per game (21.1 to 15.6). But Blair is averaging more rebounds (12.4 to 8.1), and he's doing it while playing 3.3 fewer minutes per game than Hansbrough (30.0 to 26.7). Also worth noting is that Blair simply doesn't get the opportunities Hansbrough gets on the offensive end, which is why his points aren't comparable despite the fact that Blair actually has a higher field goal percentage (59.6 to 52.5).
Understand, Hansbrough takes 12.96 shots per game and shoots 8.42 free throws to get his 21.1 points. Blair takes 10.90 shots per game and shoots 4.23 free throws to get his 15.6 points, which means Blair takes roughly two fewer shots and four fewer free throws than Hansbrough per game, and if you consider Blair's percentages from both the field (59.6) and free throw line (69.2) it's clear he'd average more points than Hansbrough if he had the same opportunities.
(Please, just stay with me; this is going to be good.)
If Blair took the same number of shots (12.96) and free throws (8.42) per game as Hansbrough, and if Blair made those attempts at the same rate he currently makes his attempts, then Blair would make 7.72 field goals and 5.83 free throws per game. Multiply the 7.72 field goals by two (for two-point baskets) and the 5.83 free throws by one (for one-point baskets), and what you'll find is that if Blair took as many shots and free throws as Hansbrough he'd average 21.27 points per game, which is slightly better than the 21.12 points Hansbrough is averaging.
(Jesus, my head is hurting.)
So that's that.
I think Blair has been just as dominant as Hansbrough, but he's done it more efficiently and for a team that has accomplished just as much. Basically, that's why I went with Blair, but I did feel sick about it, because I love Hansbrough and think all the anti-Hansbrough talk is insane. If you hate Tyler Hansbrough, something is wrong with you, not him. But for these purposes, I had to look for the two bigs who are having the best seasons in this particular season, and in my opinion -- with apologies to Gregg Doyel -- that's Blake Griffin and DeJuan Blair.
As for some other controversial decisions, I'll address them quickly.
Where's Jodie Meeks?
If you look at my All-America teams you'll see that every guy I have listed is projected by Jerry Palm to play in the NCAA tournament, except for Davidson's Stephen Curry. That should show you how much emphasis I put on winning, and how much I disregard players posting big numbers for bad teams. I mean, lots of guys post big numbers on bad teams (UCF's Jermaine Taylor comes to mind). So while I do think Meeks is great and one of the most fun guys to watch in college, the reality is that he's posting big numbers for a bad team, one that is especially bad by Kentucky standards.
For that same reason, I left off Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, too.
Simply put, I like impact players on successful teams.
Let the world be warned.
So how do you justify Stephen Curry?
I don't think Curry was on a bad team. I think he was on a conference champion that got caught in the semifinals of the Southern Conference tournament, and now he'll pay the price for that. Is Davidson as good as a good Big East or ACC team? Of course not. But relative to Southern Conference teams, the Wildcats are very good, which means Curry was succesful by any reasonable measuring stick, just not when you have to be in a one-bid league, unfortunately.
And why can't you have three bigs on the same team again?
Think of an All-Pro football team.
They don't just take eight quarterbacks when they do those.
They take a quarterback, a few receivers, a kicker, a couple of safeties, so on and so forth. I like that because it better resembles an actual team , and that's my thought process on not having three traditional bigs (like Griffin, Blair and Hansbrough) on the same team, because there's no way those three would ever actually get on the court together at the same time, I don't think.
If you want to know the truth, I believe there are eight players worthy of first-team All-America status.
They are ...
- Ty Lawson
- Stephen Curry
- James Harden
- Blake Griffin
- DeJuan Blair
- Tyler Hansbrough
- Hasheem Thabeet
- Sherron Collins
That's my top eight, regardless of position. So what I did was take a point guard (Lawson), a shooting guard (Curry), a wing (Harden) and two bigs (Griffin and Blair) from that list, and I called it a day. It really was that simple. And I hope that makes some sense, though I'm sure it won't to some.