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COL HOOPS SPECIAL REPORT...TGS 2019-20 SUPERLATIVES

by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

TGS ALL-AMERICAN TEAM

OBI TOPPIN, 6-9 Soph, Dayton
VERNON CAREY, 6-10 Frosh, Duke
FILIP PETRUSEV, 6-11 Soph, Gonzaga
LUKA GARZA, 6-11 Jr., Iowa
UDOKA AZUBUIKE, 7-0 Sr., Kansas
JARED BUTLER, 6-3 Soph, Baylor
DEVON DOTSON, 6-2 Soph, Kansas
PAYTON PRITCHARD, 6-2 Sr., Oregon
MYLES POWELL, 6-2 Sr., Seton Hall
MALACHI FLYNN, 6-1 Jr., San Diego State
CASSIUS WINSTON, 6-0 Sr., Michigan State
MARKUS HOWARD, 5-11 Sr., Marquette

Due to popular demand, for the fifth straight year we have expanded our A-A team to a “full roster” of twelve players for this season!

TGS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Obi Toppin, Dayton...We’ll never get to find out if Dayton could have made a run all of the way in the Big Dance after taking a 29-2 SU mark into the A-10 Tournament before college hoops shut down in mid-March. But at 29-2, this was the Flyers’ chance, and they would have likely been seeded number one in the East Regional had the Dance commenced in a normal fashion. Along the way, Toppin dominated his conference (the A-10) more than any player in the country, and while he might not have been able to boss the paint as easily in the Big East or Big Ten, no player impacted proceedings as much this season. Toppin also had more flair than the normal post player as he posted eight double-doubles and scored in double digits all but one game this term.

TGS COACH OF THE YEAR: Brian Dutcher, San Diego State...Across the past two decades, San Diego State has had plenty of outstanding teams. But even those that featured Kawhi Leonard never scaled the heights as did this year’s Aztecs for Dutcher, who had already fostered a smooth transition from mentor Steve Fisher. With a transfer-heavy lineup featuring Gs Malachi Flynn (Washington State) and K.J. Feagin (Santa Clara) plus frontline Yannu Wetzel (Vanderbilt), SDSU hit the court running in November and stayed unbeaten longer than any team (into later February) while climbing as high as fourth in the polls en route. Along the way the Aztecs exemplified team-oriented basketball as the perimeter-oriented offense played an effective and aesthetically-pleasing style, helping SDSU pile up 30 wins. Though this 2019-20 campaign will always have an incomplete grade, for the games that were completed, Dutcher is a proper honoree after fostering such a seamless transition with so many new faces.

Honorable mention (in no particular order): Scott Drew, Baylor; Craig Smith, Utah State; Casey Alexander, Belmont; Anthony Grant, Dayton; Pat Kelsey, Winthrop; Leonard Hamilton, Florida State; Marc Turgeon, Maryland; Mark Few, Gonzaga; Bill Self, Kansas; John Groce, Akron; Eric Musselman, Arkansas; Joe Mihalich, Hofstra; Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State; Greg Ggard, Wisconsin; Kevin Willard, Seton Hall; Darrell Walker, Little Rock; Carmen Maciarello, Siena; Todd Golden, San Francisco; Mike Boynton, Oklahoma State; Greg McDermott, Creighton; Bobby Hurley, Arizona State; Frank Haith, Tulsa; Chris Mack, Louisville; Ed Cooley, Providence; Bon Richey, Furman; Andy Enfield, USC; Eric Konkol, La Tech; Chris Mooney, Richmond; Ritchie McKay, Liberty; Herb Sendek, Santa Clara; Grant McCasland, North Texas; Michael Huger, Bowling Green; Mark Pope, BYU; Frank Martin, South Carolina; David Richman, North Dakota State; Steve Pikiell, Rutgers; Jeff Linder, Northern Colorado; Niko Medved, Colorado State; Russell Turner, UC Irvine; Bob Huggins, West Virginia; Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s; Kyle Keller, Stephen F Austin; LaVall Jordan, Butler; Chris Jans, New Mexico State; Fran McCaffery, Iowa; Tony Bennett, Virginia; Leon Rice, Boise State; Dana Altman, Oregon; Penny Hardaway, Memphis; Donnie Jones, Stetson; Bruce Pearl, Auburn; James Jones, Yale; Juwan Howard, Michigan; Patrick Chambers, Penn State; Kelvin Sampson, Houston; Brad Underwood, Illinois; Shantay Legans, Eastern Washington; Mick Cronin, UCLA; John Calipari, Kentucky; Lon Kruger, Oklahoma; Tom Izzo, Michigan State; Jay Wright, Villanova.


TGS MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN TEAM

Another overlooked collection that we at TGS also believe warrants some extra attention, hence another expanded grouping...two teams worth, a full 24 honorees!

KEVON HARRIS, 6-6 Sr., Stephen F Austin
ANTHONY LAMB, 6-6 Sr., Vermont
AJ BRODEUR, 6-8 Sr., Penn
LOUDON LOVE, 6-8 Jr., Wright State
DOUGLAS WILSON, 6-8 Jr., South Dakota State
SCOTTIE JAMES, 6-8 Sr., Liberty
YOELI CHILDS, 6-8 Sr., BYU
PAUL ATKINSON, 6-10 Jr. Yale
NATHAN KNIGHT, 6-10 Senior, William & Mary
NIJAL PEARSON, 6-5 Jr., Texas State
TRAY BOYD III, 6-4 Sr., East Tennessee State
JALEN PICKETT, 6-4 Soph, Siena
JUSTIN TURNER, 6-4 Jr., Bowling Green
MILAN ACQUAAH, 6-3 Jr., Cal Baptist
ADAM KUNKEL, 6-3 Soph, Belmont
GRANT RILLER, 6-3 Sr., Charleston
JORDAN FORD, 6-1 Sr., Saint Mary’s
JERICK HARDING, 6-1 Sr., Weber State
COLBEY ROSS, 6-1 Jr., Pepperdine
EUGENE GERMAN, 6-0 Sr., Northern Illinois
DESURE BUIE, 5-11 Sr., Hofstra
JORDAN LYONS, 5-11 Sr., Furman
LOREN JACKSON, 5-8 Jr., Akron
MARKQUIS NOWELL, 5-7 Soph, Little Rock


TGS MID-MAJOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Nathan Knight, William & Mary...In the end if was another disappointment for the Tribe, which continued, along with St. Francis-NY, as the only school to miss out on every Big Dance since its inception in 1939 (yes, we know there was no Dance this season, but W&M had already eliminated itself by losing once more in the CAA Tourney...and we don’t think the Tribe was going to be on the at-large radar of the Selection Committee). W&M’s ongoing March agony aside, Knight was nonetheless one of the most-beastly performers in the nation, distorting Colonial defenses as he rampaged through the league as one of the rare serious post threats in the loop. Knight averaged a double-double, ranking among the nation’s leaders in scoring (20.7 pg) and rebounding (10.5 pg). Not to mention performing just as well on the stop end, where he was named the CAA’s Defensive Player of the Year. We suspect Knight would have also proven a load had he performed in the ACC or Big East.


TGS ALL-DEFENSE TEAM

An often-overlooked category, these workhorses are deserving of their own special honors.

YVES PONS, 6-6 Jr., Tennessee
TYLER BEY, 6-7 Jr., Colorado
TREVON SCOTT, 6-8 Sr., Cincinnati
MAMADI DIAKITE, 6-9 Sr., Virginia
OSASUMWEN OSAGHAE, 6-9 Sr., FIU
NATHAN KNIGHT, 6-10 Sr., William & Mary
DANIEL OTURU, 6-10 Soph, Minnesota
ROMARO GILL, 7-2 Sr., Seton Hall
MARCUS GARRETT, 6-5 Jr., Kansas
JABRIL TRIPP, 6-5 Sr., Pacific
MALACHI FLYNN, 6-1 Jr., San Diego State
JACOB GILYARD, 5-9 Jr., Richmond

TGS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Osasumwen Osaghae, FIU...This feels like a bit of a throwback selection, but the best friend of any defender is a fierce shot-blocker, and no one did that any better this season than Osaghae, who led the nation with nearly four swats (3.8) per game. For good measure, Osaghae was also named Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

TGS DISAPPOINTING TEAM OF THE SEASON: VCU...There are usually a few strong candidates for this ignominious award. And, certainly, North Carolina’s worst season in a generation meant the Tar Heels warranted strong consideration here. But this was hardly a vintage Roy Williams edition, and injuries helped disrupt the season in Chapel Hill. Defending A-10 champ VCU had a couple of injury issues, too, but we thought its performance was even more disappointing, as the Rams were still expected by almost all of the pundits to make a return trip, and their ninth in ten seasons, to the Dance. Yet even with almost everyone back in the fold from last year's crackling 25-8 VCU edition that ranked among the nation’s top defenses for HC Mike Rhoades (a Shaka Smart disciple who preaches the familiar “Shaka Ball” style in Richmond), the Rams stalled after a quick 6-0 break from the gate that included a home win over LSU and a spot in the national rankings. Until, that is, Thanksgiving week, when back-to-back losses to Purdue and Tennessee began to reveal cracks in the foundation. When the dust settled in March the Rams were a second-division team in their modest loop, one in which they couldn’t even get above .500 (just 8-10 in league play), and limping to the finish line with losses in 7 of their last 8 games before the opening-round game vs. UMass in the A-10 Tourney at Brooklyn was cancelled. In VCU’s case, that was probably a relief. Regression of sr. G Marcus Evans (who admittedly battled knee problems and missed action late on the season), a lack of offensive versatility, and sr. G De’Riante Jenkins leaving the team in late February to deal with a health matter all helped contribute to the slow finish. Though the Rams been undershooting for a while before their late skid.

TGS GAME OF THE YEAR:  Kansas 90-84 over Dayton in OT, Nov. 27 at Maui Classic...For the second consecutive season, we rate the Maui finale as our Game of the Year after Gonzaga's thriller over Duke won the honor last term. But the Jayhawks and Flyers might have matched the preceding Blue Devils-Zags classic from 12 months earlier with a breathless battle in Lahaina that featured 21 lead changes in regulation time and enough dunks and three-pointers to fill any ESPN highlight reel. After a see-saw affair, Kansas looked to have finally wrested control down the stretch in regulation when an 11-0 run stakled it to a 3-point lead inside of 2 minutes to play, but Dayton's Jalen Crutcher buried a 3-pointer from five feet behind the arc with 2.1 seconds to play to force the OT.  The Jayhawks never trailed in the added 5 minutes, but the Flyers had their chances, and after a Crutcher steal inside of 20 seconds, he missed a layup that would heve cut the lead to one point.  Instead, in the final 17 seconds, a few KU free throws, a couple of missed Dayton FTs and an errant 3-pointer by Crutcher helped stretch the final margin to 6, the biggest lead either team enjoyed during the Wednesday afternoon thriller.

In the end, Maui provided a platform for our eventual TGS Player of the Year, Flyer frotnliner Obi Toppin, to be introduced to the nation, though the star of the finale ended up being Kansas counterpart and Toppin's fellow TGS All-American, Udoka Azubiuke, with 29 points.  Eventually, this matchup proved even more poignant, as each were on course for number one seeds before the Big Dance was cancelled in March.  In retropect, KU-Dayton in Maiu might have been a preview of a Final Four or national title matchup that could have taken place this upcoming weekend in Atlanta. 

POINTSPREAD CHAMP: Hofstra (25-8). Other spread champs...South Dakota State 21-9, Georgia Tech 20-10.

POINTSPREAD CHUMP: Samford (8-21). Other spread chumps... Milwaukee 8-20, James Madison 8-19.


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