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McCrea Voted MAC POY

By Bob DiCesare

It’s no secret there was deep disappointment in the Javon McCrea camp when UB’s star forward failed to capture the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award as a junior. But by the end of his senior season there wasn’t much in the way of debate. McCrea today was named the conference’s top performer by an overwhelming margin in a vote of media members who cover the league.

McCrea, a native of Newark in central New York, received 20 of a possible 25 votes to outdistance Western Michigan guard David Brown, who placed second with three. WMU center Shayne Whittington and Toledo point guard Julius Brown each received a vote.

Steve Hawkins, who guided Western Michigan to the regular-season title and the top seed in this week’s MAC Tournament, was voted Coach of the Year, also by a substantial margin. Hawkins received 16 votes to four of Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery. Toledo’s Tod Kowalcyzk was next with three votes followed by UB’s Bobby Hurley with two.

McCrea became UB’s all-time scoring leader this season, a campaign during which he hit double figures in points and rebounds 15 times in the same game and in 10 of 18 conference games. He scored 25 points or more four times in the final nine regular-season games and struck for a career-high 34 points against Bowling Green on Senior Day Saturday.

“This is a very deserving honor for Javon who has meant so much to our program and to the league," Hurley said in a UB release.  "He has had a monster season and he is the most complete player in the MAC.  Playing at such a high level statistically and helping us win a MAC East Championship put him in a rare group of players that have achieved and accomplished what he has in his career and we are proud of him for that."

McCrea emerged as the leading scorer and rebounder in conference play, averaging 19.6 points and 9.6 boards. He was third in field goal percentage at 57.7 percent and, in testament to his excellent passing abilities, placed 10th in assists at 2.7 a game. 

No other active player in the nation can match McCrea’s career statistically diversity of at least 1,900 points, 900 rebounds, 200 blocks and 200 assists. McCrea is three points shy of 2,000 career and 25 rebounds away from 1,000. Among MAC players he ranks 14th al-time in scoring, 18th in rebounding and fifth in blocked shots.

As a junior McCrea averaged 18 points and 7.9 rebounds but saw the MAC POY go to Ohio guard D.J. Cooper who, like McCrea, was three-time first-team all-MAC and one of the most dominant performers in conference history. Cooper averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 assists last season and led the Bobcats to a 14-2 MAC record compared to UB’s 7-9.

UB placed third overall in the MAC this season at 13-5 and claimed an outright East Division title for the first time in school history. The Bulls open the MAC Tournament at 9 Thursday night in Cleveland with a quarterfinal game against tonight’s Eastern Michigan-Northern Illinois winner.

 McCrea is the third UB played to win MAC Player of the Year honors, joining Turner Battle (2005) and Mitchell Watt (2012). He is the second Big 4 player to win a conference POY away this season. Canisius guard Billy Baron was selected as the top player in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

MAC Embarrasses Itself

By Bob DiCesare

The Mid-American Conference named its Sixth Man of the Year today and the result is too comical to comprehend.

The award went to Akron's Jake Kretzer -- good player, I like him -- who missed the last five games of the regular season with a concussion and averaged less than 5 ppg while shooting 10 of 36 from the field in the seven games before that. So in Akron's last 12 MAC games Kretzer contributions were at best minimal.

Now contrast that with the last 12 games of UB freshman guard Shannon Evans: 129 points, 49 assists, 41 rebounds. Consider that over the entire conference schedule Evans was tied for fifth in assists while coming off the bench, fifth in assist/turnover ratio coming off the bench, 11th in steals coming off the bench, and 14th in free throw percentage. Coming off the bench.

This announcement, an embarrassment to the MAC in my book, came a day after the Bulls placed just one player -- Javon McCrea -- on the first three all-MAC teams. Josh Freelove was picked as honorable mention. Jarod Oldham, who was third in assists and second in assist/turnover ratio for the conference's No. 2 scoring offense, didn't even get a mention.

I asked UB coach Bobby Hurley about the slight's on this morning's coaches' conference call. Here's what he had to say.

"We've been pretty unselfish as a group, the guys have been," Hurley said. "We've been a real balanced team this year, sharing the basketball, leading our conference in assists. I'm not worried about our players in terms of individual honors.

"I feel with the season that we had and the level that we won at in our conference that we deserved to have at least two players on the first three teams, and that was really surprising. And I would say that Josh Freelove was deserving of consideration for third team as well as Jarod Oldam.

"It was disappointing, as was Shannon Evans not getting recognized today, sixth man or freshman of the year, because he's had a terrific year. But I guess like you said yesterday, we must be doing a heck of a job as coaches if our players aren't getting any individual awards."

The last statement was in reference to a tweet I sent out Monday: "I want my coach of the year ballot back. Now that I see how rest of MAC coaches regard UB talent gotta conclude Hurley must be COY."

The Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards are picked by the media. The remainder falls to the coaches. I'm not going to quibble with Ball State's Zavier Turner being named the top frosh, I even voted for him, in part because Evans seemed a shoo-in for Sixth Man.

What gives? It's no secret Hurley has rubbed a lot of his peers the wrong way in his rookie season with his ultra-intense sideline manner and the fact he's constantly riding the officials. I get that. I've seen it coming. Hurley's made enemies. What's hard to comprehend is the backlash being so severe that grown men are taking it out on his players.

Kretzer over Evans is preposterous. Especially since -- get this -- Kretzer was a starter in seven of the 15 MAC games he played.

I imagine the media will take a less biased view of things and recognize McCrea as Player of the Year. But who knows? We'll find out soon.

UB, the East Division champs and No. 3 MAC Tournament seed, gets back to the court in Cleveland Thursday night against the winner of Wednesday's Eastern Michigan-Northern Illinois game. 

 

Mack wins Lambert Award

By Bob DiCesare

UB linebacker Khalil Mack received some more hardware for the trophy case with today's annoucement that he's the winner of the Jack Lambert Award presented annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the nation's premier linebacker.

The award comes two days after Mack was named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year and about a month after he became just the second player in UB history selected to participate in the Senior Bowl. Mack also is a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award, with announcement of that winner coming on or before Tuesday. The Butkus Award also goes to the nation's top linebacker.

Mack is the first MAC linebacker to capture the Lambert Trophy, created in honor of former Kent State standout Jack Lambert. The award has a storied history. Past winners are:

 

2012 Jarvis Jones Georgia
2011 Luke Kuechly Boston College
2010 Von Miller Texas A&M
2009 Ronaldo McClain Alabama
2008 James Laurinaitis Ohio State
2007 James Laurinaitis Ohio State
2006 Patrick Willis Ole Miss
2005 A.J. Hawk Ohio State
2004 Derrick Johnson Texas
2003 Jonathan Vilma Miami (FL)
2002 E.J. Henderson Maryland
2001 Rocky Calmus Oklahoma
2000 Dan Morgan Miami (FL)
1999 LaVar Arrington Penn State
1998  Dat Nuygen Texas A&M
1997 Andy Katzenmoyer Ohio State
1996 Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern
1995 Simeon Rice Illinois
1994 Derrick Brooks Florida State
(tie) Dana Howard Illinois
1993 Trev Alberts Nebraska
1992 Marvis Jones Florida State
1991 Eric Anderson Michigan

 

The Lambert Award will be presented to Mack during the Touchdown Club of Columbus awards dinner Feb. 8.

Mack set one NCAA career record and tied another during a standout senior season that has vaulted him into the upper tier in many NFL Draft projections. He set the record for career forced fumbles (14) when he produced three during UB's late-season victory over Miami (Ohio. He tied the career mark for tackles for loss (75) in the regular-season finale against Bowling Green and presumably will get a chance to take sole possession of the record in a postseason bowl game. UB expects to learn its bowl fate no later than Sunday night.

 

UB's Mack: "I'm Blessed"

By Bob DiCesare

UB senior Khalil Mack displayed his customary humility today in reacting to the announcement he's been named one of five finalists for the Butkus Award presented to college football's top linebacker.

Mack gave credit for him making the cut to his teammates and coaches while attending coach Jeff Quinn's weekly news conference at UB Stadium today. Mack has maintained all season that his success has been a product of those around him, especially Quinn and defensive coordinator Lou Tepper.

"It’s a blessing," Mack said. "It’s a tribute to coach Quinn, coach Tepper, all the coaches that have made it happen. I’m blessed. I can’t say anything other than I’m blessed. And thankful."

Mack is the only one of the five finalists who plays outside a BCS AQ conference. Also in contention for the award are Anthony Barr of UCLA, C.J. Mosley of Alabama, Ryan Shazier of Ohio State and Shayne Skov of Stanford. Shazier, a junior, is the lone non-senior in the group.

The winner is scheduled to be announced on Dec. 10. The award panel consists of 81 coaches, scouts and journalists.

 

WNY College Sports Chat -- 3 p.m.

Mack Receives All-American Nod

By BOB DICESARE

UB linebacker Khalil Mack, widely projected as no worse than a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has been named a third-team All-American by Phil Steele's College Football Preview. Mack is one of five Mid-American Conference players cited.

Kent State RB Dri Archer is first team on special teams, while Toledo WR Bernard Reedy and Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch are second team on special teams. The only other non-special teams player honored from the MAC was Kent State DL Roosevelt Nix, a member of the fourth-team defense.

Lyncn and Archer were identified as "all-purpose" players.

Ohio State, UB's opponent in this year's opener, put LBs Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby on the first team defense and QB Braxton Miller on the second team offense. Baylor, UB's Week Two opponent, has a first-teamer in OG Cyril Richardson and a third-teamer in RB Lache Seastrunk.

On the baseball front, Collegiate Baseball newspaper's Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team includes two Bulls, reliever Ben Hertz and 3B/DH Tyler Mautner. Mautner batted .295 with 23 doubles and 35 RBIs. Hartz had six wins and a 2.01 ERA (UB's lowest since 2000). 

Big 4 players honored by NABC

Niagara's Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason, Canisius' Billy Barron and UB's Javon McCrea were all named to the NABC Division I All-District teams which were announced today.

Green and Baron were named to the District 1 first team with Iona's Lamont Jones, Siena's O.D. Anosike and Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton. Mason was on the second team with Loyola's Erik Etherly, Boston University's D.J. Irving, Fairfield's Derek Needham and Stony Brook's Jameel Warney.

McCrea was on the District 14 first team along with Ohio's D.J. Cooper, Akron's Zeke Marshall, Toledo's Rian Pearson and Kent State's Chris Evans.

---Rodney McKissic

Postseason Hoops Honors

Catching up on some postseason honors that have been doled out while awaiting the start of the UB women's second-round MAC Tournament game against Miami here in Cleveland:

Ohio senior guard D.J. Cooper was named MAC Player of the Year today and Akron's Keith Dambrot was named Coach of the Year. I voted for both of them.

I was extremely high on UB's Javon McCrea but when the Bulls failed to finish .500 in conference I couldn't bring myself to cast the vote. And Cooper won me over with that go-ahead 3 he hit from Getzville in Ohio's 72-69 win at Alumni on March 5. Plus, Cooper will go down as one of the best guards in MAC history. It seemed kind of crazy he might leave never having won the award. So I'll admit it. Career achievement factored into my vote.

As for Dambrot, when you win the conference and put together a 19-game winning streak you don't leave much room for debate. Plus, I admired the way he responded to the Alex Abreu arrest that's probably going to cost the Zips an at-large if they don't win it all here.

The All-MAC first team consists of McCrea, Cooper, Akron center Zeke Marshall, Kent State forward Chris Evans and Toledo guard Rian Pearson. I believe that's exactly how I had it on my preseason ballot although ultimately Evans didn't make the preseason first-team.

UB's Jarryn Skeete was on the all-freshman team.

On the women's side, UB had two players receive honorable mention: freshman Mackenzie Loesing and sophomore Christa Baccas. Loesing also mad the all-freshman team.

* * * * *

In the MAAC, Coach of the Year Joe Mihalich is one of 20 finalists for the Skip Prosser Award given by collegeinsider.com. The award was initiated in 2008 and goes to a coach who achieves success on the court and demonstrates moral integrity off the court.
Western New York native and former ECC and Canisius coach John Beilein of Michigan also is a finalist.

Also from collegeinsider.com, Niagara's Juan'ya Green and Billy Baron of Canisius were tabbed as MAAC co-MVPs.

-- Bob DiCesare

McCrea named first-team All-MAC

UB junior Javon McCrea and freshman Jarryn Skeete were honored this morning by the Mid-American Conference. McCrea was named to the All-MAC first team while Skeete made the All-Freshman team.

First Team
Zeke Marshall, C, Akron
Javon McCrea, F, UB
Chris Evans, G/F, Kent State
Rian Pearson, G, Toledo
D.J. Cooper, G, Ohio

Second Team
Tree Treadwell, F, Akron
Jauwan Scaife, G, Ball State
A'uston Calhoun, F, Bowling Green
Kyle Randall, G, Central Michigan
Shayne Whittington, F/C, W. Michigan

Third Team
Majok Majok, F, Ball State
Randal Holt, G, Kent State
Walter Offutt, G, Ohio
Reggie Keely, F, Ohio
Juice Brown, G, Toledo

Honorable Mention
Alex Abreu, G, Akron
Jordon Crawford, G, Bowling Green
Glenn Bryant, F, Eastern Michigan
Will Felder, F, Miami
Nate Hutcheson, F, Western Michigan

All-Freshman Team
Jake Kretzer, G/F, Akron
Jarryn Skeete, G, UB
Chris Fowler, G, Central Michigan
Nathan Boothe, C, Toledo
Darius Paul, F, Western Michigan

---Rodney McKissic

Watt, McCrea 1st-Team All-MAC

Player of the Year Mitchell Watt is joined by UB teammate Javon McCrea on the first-team All-MAC squad announced this afternoon. Rounding out the first team were Justin Greene of Kent State (last year's Player of the Year), Miami forward Julian Mavunga and Ohio guard D.J. Cooper.

The second team consists of Akron's Zeke Marshall and Alex Abreu, Ball State forward Jarrod Jones, Bowling Green forward A'ustin Calhoun and Toledo guard Rian Pearson. The third team was Akron's Nik Cvetinovic, Bowling Green's Scott Thomas, Central Michigan Trey Zeigler, Eastern Michigan's Darrell Lampley and Kent State's Michael Porrini.

Honorable mention nods went to Kent's Randal Holt and Carolton Guyton, Ohio's Ivo Baltic and Walter Offutt, Toledo's Curtis Dennis, and Flenard Whitfield of Western Michigan.

Akron's Marshall was named Defensive Player of the Year and teammate Quincy Diggs was Sixth Man of the Year. Toledo point guard Julius Brown is the Freshman of the Year.

 

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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