Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Flashback: 2008-2009 Season Awards

Craig Moore is the Welsh-Ryan Ramblings pick for Northwestern's 2008-2009 MVP.

Here are Welsh-Ryan Ramblings awards for this season. The awards fit into two categories. The first is individual awards. It is in this category where awards such as MVP will be passed out. The second category is event awards. This category will feature awards such as play of the year.

Let’s start with the individual awards…

Most Valuable Player: Craig Moore
I thought long and hard about giving this award to Kevin Coble, but I take Most Valuable Player to actually mean Most Valuable Player. I know some people believe this award is really Most Outstanding Player, but if that is the award you want to give then I suggest you name it that (I'm looking at you Big Ten media members who didn't vote for Evan Turner for Big Ten MVP). The fact is that Craig Moore was the most valuable player for Northwestern this season. Moore had some bad games for sure, but those bad games show just how valuable he was to his team. When he overcame his struggles and hit a big shot or two NU won. When he couldn’t overcome those struggles, NU lost. The best examples of this came in East Lansing and yesterday against Minnesota. At Michigan State, despite the fact he hadn’t made a shot all day, Moore drilled a three to put NU back in the lead after Michigan State had gained a 1 point advantage. It was the shot which pushed the ‘Cats to victory. Yesterday, Moore had a shot which would have given NU a 5-point lead and all the momentum, but he couldn’t overcome his struggles and he missed. NU lost. Without a doubt, Craig Moore’s play was the most valuable to NU’s success (or lack thereof) in 2008-2009. Numbers wise he also deserves this award. Moore scored 14.2 points per game, set a school record with 105 three pointes, lead the team in free throw shooting, and finished second on the team in rebounding.

Newcomer of the Year: John Shurna
This was another award which I considered going a different direction on thanks to how much merely having the size of Kyle Rowley and Luka Mirkovic improved Northwestern. However, the fact is Rowley and Mirkovic have a ways to go before they really ready to receive awards. John Shurna is much closer. Shurna started every game this season, a tough task for a freshman, and despite disappearing at times still made an impressive statistical impact. He averaged 7.3 ppg (4th on team) and pulled down 33 offensive rebounds (1st on the team). He also shot 35.7% from three and 74.5% from the free throw line. All these statistical areas are spots where last year’s Northwestern team was lacking. If Shurna and his classmates improve in these areas over the next few years I have no doubt they can help take NU to the NCAA Tournament.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jeremy Nash
Kevin Coble led Northwestern in blocks and steals, but I seriously doubt anybody would debate the fact Jeremy Nash was NU’s best defensive player. Nash recorded 34 steals this year, but what was even more impressive were all the times he tipped balls at the top of the 1-3-1 and allowed his teammates to get steals. Those steals often resulted in points and Northwestern has to get points of turnovers to be successful. The next step in Nash’s improvement will be consistently getting to the point where he lockdown an opponent’s top scorer and keep them out the lane. If he can do so, it will give Northwestern more options on defensive.

Game of the Year (Individual): Kevin Coble at Michigan State
Kevin Coble’s overall performance this year was very impressive, but his play at Michigan State was history making. Coble scored 31 points that night on an array of remarkable shots. His shot where he banked a turnaround high of the class will make every Big Ten highlight reel for this season. If Coble turns in a few similar performances next year, he might become a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year.

Now we move to the event awards…

Game of the Year (Team): vs DePaul
Okay, DePaul was terrible this season, but still how often does Northwestern dominated a BCS-conference foe in such a manner. The Wildcats topped the Blue Demons 63-36 and I’m not sure it was really that close. Kevin Coble led the ‘Cats with 25 points and they also got 14 from Craig Moore. NU’s defense was very impressive that day as they held their intracity rival to only 24.1% shooting.

Play of the Year: John Shurna three pointer to beat Ohio State in Evanston
After losing two disheartening games to Illinois and Michigan, it looked like the season had taken a disastrous turn for the Wildcats. Thankfully, John Shurna overcame a serious flu bug to hit the game winner with 3.3 seconds left and keep the Wildcats in contention for a postseason bid. If Northwestern had failed to beat the Buckeyes that night, they very likely wouldn’t be making plans for additional games.

Dunk of the Year: Ivan Peljusic vs Florida State
Northwestern doesn’t have a lot dunks this season, but they had more than in past years. Besides, I wanted to compliment Ivan Peljusic for slamming home the ball a few times this season. His dunk against Florida State came in stretch where he scored 8 points in the game’s most critical minute. Peljusic got a little playing time yesterday against Minnesota and if Northwestern advances into the postseason I think we’ll see a little more of him. If we do, I hope he can once again ignite the Wildcats.


John said...

I think there could be a long debate about the merits of Kevin Coble vs. Craig Moore for Northwestern's MVP. Obviously I would take Coble - since I named him Chicago's top player and all. But I can understand your selection.

That said, I think all your other choices were spot on. Great job.

Ryan said...

Thanks, John. I really did think long and hard before picking Moore. You made a good case for Coble. Honestly, part of me wanted to have co-MVPs, but I thought that would kind of a cheat so I made Moore my pick.