Lamar Patterson was one of the best players on the team this season (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Fewer things are worth arguing about than season end team awards. I rarely pay attention to them and generally, the coaches try to divvy up the awards so that as many players as possible get recognized. But in looking at the list this year, a few things stood out.
First, the breakdown:
Most Valuable Player: Tray Woodall, Lamar Patterson
Most Improved Player: J.J. Moore
Best Defensive Player: Talib Zanna
Captains Award: Ashton Gibbs, Nasir Robinson, Nick Rivers, Tray Woodall
Team Free Throw Leader: John Johnson (86%), Ashton Gibbs (85.5%)
Team Rebounding Leader: Nasir Robinson (6.6 rpg)
Most Inspirational Player: Ashton Gibbs, Nasir Robinson
Coaches Award: Dante Taylor
Academic Excellence Award: Malcolm Gilbert
Jaron Brown Pursuit of Academic Excellence Award: Cameron Wright
I can understand the Patterson pick for co-MVP, but Tray Woodall? He got off to a good start, but missed a large chunk of the season. Pitt showed a spark when he came back and had they made the NCAAs in tailing off, I could have gotten behind that pick. Instead, as I've said repeatedly, Nasir Robinson was my MVP. He led the team in rebounds, and was second in points, second in steals, and third in assists.
Want an idea of how rounded Robinson was? He had more assists than Ashton Gibbs despite playing fewer minutes and fewer turnovers than Woodall, who played significantly fewer minutes. Nas was also durable, playing the entire season despite knee issues.
And man, if there were ever a more clear example of this being Little League where everyone gets a trophy - J.J. Moore as the Most Improved Player despite the fact that he shot worse from the field and wasn't really a factor until late in the year? Patterson clearly was the most improved and it isn't even that close. He went from being a little-used player to the team's go to guy down the stretch. His scoring shot up from 2.6 to 9.6 points per game and he finished third in rebounds and second in assists.
I get the fact that the staff wants to share the wealth when it comes to these awards, but players should also be rewarded when they play hard - and Patterson did this season.