In choosing an all-City 6 men’s hoops team, you try not to grade on any curves. Picking five first-teamers and five second-teamers, production matters more than school affiliation. We’re choosing it now since this is the last City 6 observations column. Obviously, there is still time for players to have great games in the biggest games, changing the equation.
That said, the first team hasn’t changed much in my mind since early in the season. The best players have been consistently so … in wins and losses. (Full disclosure: I don’t vote for all-Big 5 teams or any other. This is it for me.)
So let’s get started, in City 6 observations, Vol. 16.
It came down to two players, both from Villanova. Sophomore forward Saddiq Bey and junior point guard Collin Gillespie both have had terrific seasons, glue guys in addition to being chief scoring threats. That’s the combo that turns good players into special players. Bey often had the toughest defensive assignments. Gillespie usually had the ball in his hands. If those two qualitative factors evened each other out, let’s go to the numbers to decide.
On a most superficial level, adding up points, rebounds and assists per game, call it a draw, since Gillespie averaged 23.5 a game in those three categories, to 23.3 for Bey, in the same playing time, 33.9 minutes a game for each. Bey has been the far more effective shooter, however (47.2% to 40.8%). That maybe goes down as the tiebreaker.
Let’s go one step further. Check out who had more effective games when it came to offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com ratings. We’ll go game by game, separating into two categories: those decided by single digits and double digits. Bey has had the higher offensive rating in 16 games, to 13 for Gillespie. In games decided by single digits, it’s eight for Bey, six for Gillespie. More interesting, when Gillespie has been the more efficient offensive player in close games, Villanova won five out of six, to five out of eight for Bey.
Maybe that makes Gillespie the bigger X-factor for Villanova, but it doesn’t change the fact that Bey has the slight edge, making him our City 6 player of the year. (So far.)
If you want to argue that Ryan Daly deserves player of the year, we’ll allow it, since the St. Joseph’s Hawks forward was often spectacular, doing anything and everything. We won’t even accept the argument that his numbers were inflated by being on a bad team. That goes both ways, since opposing defenses could throw all available resources at Daly and most couldn’t stop him. Add to that his assist rate stands 43rd in Division I, so there’s been nothing selfish about his 20.2 points a game. His efficiency and shooting numbers just don’t quite stack up for player-of-the-year honors, and a 6-23 Hawks record so far has to factor in.
Early in the season, I was convinced Penn’s AJ Brodeur would take citywide player-of-the-year honors. The senior post player is a do-everything center, Penn’s offense going through him. While he has had another strong season, it’s tough to argue that leading Penn to a fourth-place finish so far in the Ivies warrants overall consideration over the Villanova stars. He’s an automatic first-teamer, though.
Those first four spots really haven’t changed since December. The last spot has been up for grabs, with three strong candidates in the end. By the numbers, Temple’s Quinton Rose might not quite have it, except we’ll argue that Rose does have it, that his advancement as a senior made him worthy of the last spot, as he leads Temple in points, assists, steals, and blocks. His improvement as a free-throw shooter kept his scoring average up even as his shooting percentages from the field dropped.
Drexel’s James Butler has a completely legitimate case for being a first-teamer, averaging 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds. If that kind of production had led Drexel to the upper reaches of the Colonial Athletic Association, we’d have put Butler on the first team. But eighth place in a 10-team league means a top spot on the second team.
The other legitimate choice for first-team consideration is Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who should not have points deducted for being a freshman. He rarely played like one. His rebounding tenacity was a huge factor in Villanova’s staying in Big East contention this season. His combination of high free-throw rate and high free-throw percentage once he got to the line (82.6%) was a big part of Villanova’s effectiveness. In the end, his shooting percentage (.447) probably cost him a first-team slot. He was rookie of the year, though.
Drexel gets a second spot on this second team since point guard Cam Wynter was so important to the Dragons, leading in scoring, assists, and steals. The lineup card says Wynter is a sophomore, but he’s rarely played like one.
Another easy choice for second team is Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels. The junior forward is the definition of a glue guy, and he leads ‘Nova players who are in for at least half the minutes in two-point shooting percentage. Given that all the other teams in the City 6 probably wish they had a Samuels, he’s an automatic for this team.
So one spot left. … We still don’t have a La Salle player, or a second player from Penn, Temple, or St. Joe’s. La Salle’s Ed Croswell had a shot, but he’s not with the Explorers anymore, so it’s hard to put him on this team. Even if Croswell hadn’t left the team last week, his competition would have been tough, coming down to Penn’s Devon Goodman and Temple’s Nate Pierre-Louis.