This year, we’ll beat the traditional media to the punch, and announce our selections the same night regular season play is complete. Here are your honors:
Player of the Year: Toney Douglas, Florida State
No shortage of great players in the ACC this season, but one player stood clearly above the rest. Florida State won 10 ACC games, more than any other “one man band” in the league. And Lord, did Douglas ever carry the Noles. His offensive exploits were so legendary (easily the ACC’s leading scorer during conference games, and 10th in assists), it’s easy to forget his defensive prowess. I discussed POY candidates with a Duke friend this week, and he rightly noted that Douglas would be the only ACC player on an offensive and defensive first team list. That’s the complete package we expect to see in an ACC Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year: Al Skinner, Boston College
COY boiled down to a two-man race (with master scowler Leonard Hamilton), and ultimately hinged on Rakim Sanders’ fall-away jumper yesterday. I had long pledged to vote for Skinner if he managed to get 9 wins out of this ragtag bunch, and he did it – even with Tyrese Rice faltering somewhat in the second half of league play. The Eagles were reeling at the end of last season, and most observers (especially me) expected them to hang out with Virginia, Georgia Tech, and NC State in the ACC cellar. Instead, they came out and punched UNC in the mouth to open league play. Skinner’s job getting his team to believe they could go into Chapel Hill and win is worthy of hardware.
Rookie of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
Most observers will give the nod to UVA’s Sylvan Landesberg, but in the games I saw, Landesberg seemed like a guy who scored alot because somebody had to score for the hapless Cavaliers. On the other hand, Aminu was a key cog on a very strong Wake Forest team, bringing elite athleticism and strong rebounding to the Deacon frontcourt. Going into tonight’s game, Wake ranked 2nd in FG defense, rebounding, and blocked shots – and Aminu gets the nod for his work building those stats.
First Team All-ACC:
Toney Douglas, Florida State
Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Gerald Henderson, Duke
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
James Johnson, Wake Forest
The first four picks were easy, but I struggled with the fifth. In the first half of the season, I would have put Teague and Rice on the first team, ahead of Henderson and Johnson. Until the last week of ACC play, Jack McClinton made my list. But down the stretch, I don’t think anyone was playing any better than Henderson and Johnson. Johnson had a huge second half in tonight’s comeback win against Clemson, which the Deacs needed to secure 2nd place. And you know he’s drooling at the possibility of playing NC State again on Friday.
Second Team All-ACC:
Trevor Booker, Clemson
Jack McClinton, Miami
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech
Tyrese Rice, Boston College
Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
You know it’s one hell of a strong year in the ACC when the second leading scorer (McClinton) and runaway leading rebounder (Booker) are only second team. Neither one was a big enough factor down the stretch, though – and Miami and Clemson both sort of limp into the ACC tourney. Rice and Teague each fell off dramatically in the second half, and Teague’s lackadasical defense and overall inconsistent effort almost dropped him to third team. Malcolm Delaney might be your early leader for 2009-10 POY, assuming everyone expected to go pro actually does so.
Third Team All-ACC:
Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
Kyle Singler, Duke
Danny Green, North Carolina
A.D. Vasallo, Virginia Tech
K.C. Rivers, Clemson
Like the first team, the first four selections were pretty easy. All told, Rivers had a disappointing year. But he’s still a very good defender, solid rebounder, and reliable shooter. He just edges out Jeff Allen and Wayne Ellington.