With conference play on the horizon, now is a good time to hand out some phony awards from a guy who isn't within 1100 miles of a current ACC school. We are celebrating the good and the bad of the ACC to this point of the season.
Player of the Year: Mason Plumlee, Duke. This is pretty much a no brainer. He is the best player in the conference right now. Plumlee is second in the ACC in scoring (18.8 PPG) and leads the league in rebounds (11.2). His shooting percentages have increased as well. He's shooting 63% from the field, and 69% at the free throw line, which is a 17% improvement over last year. He's a big reason Duke is undefeated right now.
Coach of the Year: Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech. I remember watching the Yellow Jackets play Presbyterian in the second game of the season, and they struggled mightily to beat them. I thought they were doomed for another disappointing season. But the freshman on this team have really been a key factor in the team's 10-2 start. Robert Carter has been playing really well as of late. Over the last five games, Carter has shot 62.5% from the field, and is averaging 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Marcus Georges-Hunt, another freshman, is the team's leading scorer. He's scored in double digits in nine of the team's 12 games.
Biggest Surprise (Player): Akil Mitchell, Virginia. The front court was a big question mark for Virginia coming in to this season, and Mitchell has emphatically answered those questions. He already has five double-doubles on the season. He's second on the team in scoring, and leads the team in rebounds. It's mind blowing how much his stats have improved from last season to this one. Earlier, I mentioned Mason Plumlee's free throw percentage has increased by 17% this season. Mitchell's free throw percentage has improved 22% this season. He's also tripled is points per game average, and doubled his rebounding average.
Biggest Disappointment (Player): Kenny Kadji, Miami. Going in to the season, I though Kadji would be a dark horse candidate for ACC Player of the Year. His shooting has been a big time letdown for him. His field goal percentage has dropped five percent, and his three point percentage has dropped 12%. His point per game average has increased this year, mostly because he has shot free throws a lot better this year. His rebounding has been better, but I thought he could approach 10 rebounds per game. Maybe he still can if he plays more inside with Reggie Johnson out for a while.
Biggest Surprise (Team) Georgia Tech. They really don't have a schedule that will impress you. They have one quality win, which is against St. Mary's, but being 10-2 at this point is a far better improvement than a lot of us expected this year. It will be interesting to see how well these freshmen play as they start to play teams more on there level.
Biggest Disappointment (Team) Florida State. This team should be a lot better than the 8-5 record they have right now. I can't explain to you how they have lost to South Alabama, Mercer, and Auburn, plus getting destroyed by Florida at home. One big reason is Michael Snaer isn't even shooting 40% from the field. He's also turning the ball over a lot more this year as well. I'm not sure if this team can right the ship during conference play. This could be a pretty disappointing season for the Seminoles.
Biggest win: Duke 76, Louisville 71. This was in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. For all we know, this could end up being a rematch in the latter part of the NCAA Tournament. Louisville was ranked second at the time, and to this point, is their only loss on the season.
Worst Loss: Bryant 56, Boston College 54. Yeah, I don't get this one either. Bryant won this game despite shooting 32% from the field. This stands as the highest profile win in the school's history. It should be noted as well that Boston College has won six of their last seven since this game.