With the regular season drawing to a fitting close in Columbus last night, it's now time to hand out post-season awards. And as athletes everywhere know, no honor is more prestigious, more respected, than that which is bestowed upon him by the staff of Boiled Sports. Here we go.
1st Team All-Big Ten
2nd Team All-Big Ten
I don't like the guy a whole bunch...but isn't that the point? While no one doubts the defensive prowess of his teammate David Lighty, Craft's active hands, quick feet and annoying persona make him the ideal replacement for Chris Kramer at this spot.
JJ's consistency and his ability to carry Purdue when no one else was stepping up was Herculean. Sure Moore has been great, but Moore had his worst stretch of his career in '11...and comparatively, Sullinger's supporting cast is filled with future (and current) pros.
I think Painter absolutely killed himself in the eyes of the media on Saturday in Iowa City...but it's pretty difficult to ignore what he did with this team. They were picked to finish 4th or 5th in the conference by most in the national media and hover in the high-teens in the polls. Instead, Purdue was in the top-10 for large chunks of the season, and Painter's defensive system sprouted into a formidable offense this season.
Letdown Player(s) of the Year
This one is a three-way tie- Demetri McCamey, Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis. Coming into the season, these three struck fear into most of the league. By the end of the season, they had rolled over more than the stars of the Westminster Dog Show and showed hardly any leadership in the process. This trio is still talented...and all three might still play in the NBA...that's what has to be so tough to swallow for the Illini faithful.
Players to Watch in '12
-Tim Hardaway Jr. ended his season very strong as the light seemingly went on about midway through the season. His supporting cast all returns as the Wolverines have literally no graduating players on the roster. Beilein's team should be at or near the top of the conference next season, and Hardaway will surely be part of the reason why.
-If William Bufford decides to return to aOSU, he'll be without Lighty, Diebler and Sullinger...plus, for the first time in a while, Matta won't have a guy on the roster who's supposed to be an instant-impact Freshman. Buford has been consistently graded well by scouts as a player that can play on the next level. Next season will be the year for him to show it a bit more.
-Rob Hummel's ability to get his game back to a high level is of utmost importance for Painter next season. It's tough to come back from one torn ACL, I'd think it'd be more-difficult to come back from two. That said, I think the biggest mistake his competition could make would be to discount his talent and importance to his team.
-From what I hear from my pals in Bloomington, Cody Zeller is seated at the right hand of our Lord...and being at such a place comes with expectation. He'll be the second-highest ranked recruit to enter the BT in '12...the question is how much difference will he mean to Tom Crean and Co?