Award Tracker

If things keep up this way, Penn basketball will have some nice hardware on its mantle. (Photo credit: penngazettesports.com)

Player of the Year

The Forgone Conclusion

1. Zack Rosen

The senior guard did it again.

First he scored Penn’s final 16 points in a narrow victory over Dartmouth, and then he followed that performance by tallying the Quakers’ final nine points in a colossal road upset of Harvard. I don’t know how Rosen will top his most recent display, but I don’t doubt that he will. He’s a superhero. He’s making red hair cool again. I spent 10 minutes brainstorming

ways that the Penn captain could lose Player of the Year in the next three games. Could he poop into his hand and throw his feces at a referee for three straight games and still take home the POY title? Probably. Let’s just say I couldn’t think of any.

The Runner-Up

2. Greg Mangano

In truth, if Yale could have taken one of two against Harvard like the Quakers did, the Bulldog center would probably still be in the discussion for Player of the Year. He’s averaged 18 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last two weekends (16.8 and 8.6 overall in Ivy play), and he’s played his best against the top competition. But while Rosen’s competitive fire and crunch time heroics have won him admirers among even opposing fans, Mangano’s surly demeanor has done little to endear him to spectators. Given this dearth of goodwill and the Elis’ outside track to the Ivy title, Mangano will likely be always a bridesmaid, never a bride with this piece of hardware. Most other years he’d win, but this year he’s not even the best ginger.

 

Rookie of the Year 

The Contenders

1. Shonn Miller

After cooling off from his torrid start in conference play, the Big Red freshman broke out for 17 points and nine rebounds against Brown. The next night, however, he went two-for-10 in a 31-point loss to Yale. On net, he did little to separate himself in a Rookie of the Year race that’s coming down to the wire. Miller ranks second among freshmen in scoring, third in rebounding, and first in steals, blocks, and field goal percentage. His work on the defensive end of the floor earns him a slight edge over the competition this week, but the award will likely be decided by the final two games.

2. Jvonte Brooks

Like Miller, the Dartmouth forward had highs and lows over the weekend. He tallied 12 points and nine rebounds in a near upset over Penn, and then he scored two points on five shots in a blowout against Princeton. Over the course of the Ivy slate, Brooks has had three real stinkers, but aside from those, he’s sustained a higher level of production than any other rookie—in seven of 12 games he’s scored in double figures, in eight he’s grabbed eight or more boards. The leading scorer and second-leading rebounder among freshman, if Brooks can close out the season with two solid showings, he could nip Miller at the finish line.

The Long Shot

3. Gabas Maldunas

The other Dartmouth big man, putting up 8.8 points and 8.1 rebounds a night, does not quite have the same resume as his teammate or Miller, but he’s within striking distance of the award. After fading slightly, the Lithuanian has found his second wind of late, averaging 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game over the last two weeks. If he could post another 23-point, 11-rebound game like his showing versus Yale, the Rookie of the Year picture suddenly becomes very cloudy.

 

Defensive Player of the Year

The Frontrunner

1. Keith Wright

The Defensive Player of the Year basically has to come from Harvard, which is by far the best defensive team in the conference. The Crimson has two worthy candidates for the honor: Brandyn Curry and Keith Wright. Curry’s impact is not readily apparent in counting stats—he’s not among the top 10 in the league in steals (surprisingly he cracks the list in blocks)—but advanced metrics show that he’s the biggest difference maker in the league on the defensive end of the floor. He certainly passes the eye test by forcing five-second calls and challenging perimeter shots without fouling. However, my gut says Wright will take home the hardware. He blocks and alters shots without fouling and grabs over a quarter of defensive rebounds, thereby limiting opponents’ possessions to one look. I also think voters casino online will want to reward his commitment on defense at the expense of his POY numbers on the other end of the floor and he might get a sympathetic vote or two as a graduating senior.

The Dark Horse

2. Reggie Willhite

Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite anchor the second-best defense in the league. And while Mangano racks up blocks and rebounds (and, like Wright, could win DPOY as a consolation prize), Willhite is the Bulldogs’ real defensive weapon. He is an absolute animal, and his combination of size, strength, and speed means no offensive player is safe, as he can match up in the post or on the perimeter (two weeks ago, I watched him chase Rivard around for a half and then switch onto Curry in the second frame, and both Crimson players were absolutely paralyzed). The senior ranks first in the

league in steals (he had seven last game against Columbia) and fifth in defensive rebounding, totals that are indicative of his presence all over the court.

The Future

3. Shonn Miller

No freshman has ever won Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year (in all of three years), and I have a hard time seeing one winning this season. But Miller has filled up the stat sheet with the second-most blocks, sixth-most steals, and sixth-most defensive rebounds in the league. His foul rate could stand to drop, especially as his minutes rise going forward, but the rest of the Ancient Eight is on notice: Miller will continue to be an elite stopper in the years to come.

 

Coach of the Year

The Favorite

1. Jerome Allen

If the criterion for this award is getting the most out of your players, then the Quaker coach has to be the guy. Allen has taken a two-man offensive show (down to one since Tyler Bernardini came up lame) and led it to within a half-game of first place. Four of the last five games have come down to the final possession, and each time Penn has tasted victory. Rosen deserves much of the credit for carrying his team in these moments, but so does Allen.

The Others

2. Bill Courtney

The Ivy League has never been tougher, and yet this inexperienced bunch from Ithaca is right in the thick of things. Courtney bucked the plodding styles of his compatriots for an up-tempo team that has earned wins over Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. Cornell is 4-1 at Newman, where it hosts Harvard on Saturday and can really make a statement by shaking up the Ivy title race.

3. Tommy Amaker

The Harvard coach was in a no win situation entering the conference schedule. Anything less than a perfect record and some people would say that he underachieved. The reality is that Amaker has helped the Crimson navigate one of the toughest Ivy gauntlets ever and his squad is only a few wins away from securing its second banner and first Tournament bid since 1946.

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