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.