h/t newsobserver.com and Ethan Hyman
After NC State’s 99-88 victory over Big 4 Rival Wake Forest on Saturday, Wolfpack fans all over were talking about the continued incredible play of Cat Barber. Barber had 38 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists against the Deacons in leading the team to its third conference victory of the season. It seems that finally people outside of WPN are noticing. I still don’t know how he wasn’t listed as one of the ten finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the best point guard in the nation.
One of the best point guards in the country and potentially the most outstanding player in the ACC was missing from the list of Bob Cousy Award finalists, released earlier this month. Absent from that selection process are the current ACC coaches, who can’t stop talking about the quick and nimble point guard from Newport News, Va. so appropriately named “Cat.”
Louisville’s Rick Pitino said that if Cat Barber is “not the premier backcourt player in college basketball, he’s one of the top three.” Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory said “you go to church and pray because you can’t guard him.” Both times Duke has played NC State they’ve thrown full court pressure at Barber with plenty of trapping and double-teaming just in hopes of wearing him down.
“He’s one of the best players in the country,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “The kid’s really good. We didn’t want him to come down and use his energy in the half court because you can’t guard him one-on-one.”
While things are surely moving quickly for Barber, there is no rush to end the season. He’s playing nearly every minute he can — no one from a major conference has a higher percentage of minutes played (95.9) — and spends every offensive possession with the ball in his hands. He’s doing everything for a team that needs a few quality wins to be eligible for any kind of postseason after the conference tournament next month.
There is a great opportunity on Monday night against Virginia, a team that will be angry after losing at Duke and have a specific plan to stop the man we’ve deemed “unguardable.” Standing across from another ACC Player of the Year candidate in Malcolm Brogdon with the national television spotlight will give Barber a chance to make his case as a name deserving of more mention in these player of the year conversations.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, if the ACC Player of the Year were an award based exclusively on individual, one-on-one dominance, it’s Barber and it’s not even close.
ESPN.com has Barber as a finalist for the national impact player of the week:
The comparison for ACC Player of the Year for a bottom half of the conference team is to a couple of years ago when Erick Green of Virginia Tech won the Player of the Year award, but I don’t remember any other great candidates that year from the upper-tier conference teams (although I could be mistaken).
If Barber can continue his stellar play and lead the team to some wins over the last few weeks, I would hope that he would be named ACC Player of the Year.