Thursday, February 28, 2013

Has Otto Porter Run Away with Big East Player of the Year?

Last year’s Big East Player of the Year race was hard-fought by three players: Kevin Jones of West Virginia and Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom of Marquette. While Jones had the best statistical season of the three, it was Crowder’s well-rounded play and Marquette’s success that earned him the prize in the end.

This year, the Preseason Player of the Year Award went to Peyton Siva. And at the halfway mark of the season, or the transition from non-conference to conference play, it looked as if the player of the year recognition was going to be someone from the group of: Russ Smith, Michael Carter-Williams, Jack Cooley or Sean Kilpatrick.

But now, with a week and a half left in the regular season, it looks as if Otto Porter has already locked it up.

Russ Smith, Michael Carter-Williams and Sean Kilpatrick all had monster first halves, and while they all continue to play well and put up gaudy statistics from time to time, none have had the consistency or thrived in multiple big spots like Porter has. And Siva, whose presence on the court is invaluable, has underwhelmed when it comes to a statistical stand point.

And while you can still formulate an argument for the stated players above, the only player I would be okay with receiving the award over Porter is Jack Cooley. While Cooley’s rebounding prowess has cooled off a bit (he was the only player in the country pulling down more than 20% of both available offensive and defensive rebounds for a while, but his offensive rebounding has slipped to 18.6% - still second best in the nation), he still is the only player in the Big East averaging a double-double. And yet he still goes un-talked about and seen as underrated somehow.

But Cooley does not possess that one shining moment that Porter has. In Notre Dame’s biggest game of the year to date (their five overtime thriller vs. Louisville), Cooley fouled out with more than five minutes to go in regulation. The Irish almost played an entire game without him and still won. In Georgetown’s biggest game of the year to date, Porter dropped 33 points at Syracuse and singlehandedly willed the Hoyas to victory.

In the games leading up to the ‘Cuse showdown there were whispers beginning of Porter even creeping into the National Player of the Year race, and upon that performance he firmly cemented himself in that discussion. He further proved is worthy-ness last night when he converted the winning basket in double overtime at Connecticut – a strong but fluent drive to the rim that finished with a layup with 8 seconds remaining.

Porter is averaging 18 points and 7.5 rebounds in conference play and has Georgetown on a 10-game winning streak. The Hoyas, now 12-3 in the conference, who were picked to finish 5th in the preseason, now have a one game cushion with three to go. There are a bunch of factors that go into team success, and as a team Georgetown has become great defensively (currently second in the Big East behind Louisville), but if it weren’t for the play of Porter on the offensive end, this team would not be sitting at 22-4. And while the Syracuse game will likely be his defining moment, he has put the team on his back multiple times throughout the season and has been very successful doing so.

Otto Porter for Big East Player of the Year is a lock (but please vote to the left and leave a comment below for who you think it should/will be).

Twitter:  @soupTOOnuts

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