Monday, April 11, 2016

2015-16 MBWA Men's Basketball Award Ballot

Tuesday night marks the annual MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner at the Westchester Marriott, and for the fourth consecutive year, this writer submitted a ballot to recognize the area's best.

Just as we did for the women's basketball awards, we will share our picks on the men's side with you. Among the items of note on Tuesday are whether the Big East, fresh off a national championship win for Villanova, will claim a third straight Haggerty Award after D'Angelo Harrison and Sir'Dominic Pointer brought hardware back to St. John's in each of the past two seasons, as well as how much recognition Monmouth garners after a 28-win season that set school records even though the Hawks did not make the NCAA Tournament.

So, how did I end up voting? Keep reading as I share my ballot below.

Haggerty Award: Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall (photo courtesy of The Bergen Record)
For almost the entire season, this award was going to go to Justin Robinson. Then, February happened. And within that month, Whitehead kicked his sophomore season into another gear as he drove the bus for Seton Hall through a stretch run that saw the Pirates celebrate a Big East championship for the first time since 1993, and culminated with South Orange celebrating its first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. With averages of over 18 points and five assists per game, Whitehead's maturation was evident in how he was able to gradually master the point guard position, conquering a new challenge with each passing game as Seton Hall fulfilled their longtime potential.
Also considered: Justin Robinson, Monmouth; Jameel Warney, Stony Brook

Rest of All-Met First Team, in alphabetical order:
A.J. English, Iona
Juan'ya Green, Hofstra
Rokas Gustys, Hofstra
Justin Robinson, Monmouth
Jameel Warney, Stony Brook

Before I go any further, allow me to explain Gustys on the first team. Through some colleagues that shared their votes shortly after the ballot submission deadline, something I did myself on Twitter, I saw that several placed Columbia's Maodo Lo on the first team, a deserving honor if the Lions' soon-to-be graduating senior indeed garners it. However, Gustys, who averaged 13.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game; AND shot 66 percent (!) from the floor in the ninth-strongest conference in the nation according to RPI, deserves the highest possible recognition despite being a sophomore. If Jameel Warney is a lock for first team honors, and I believe he is, why penalize Gustys; who posted better rebounding numbers in a much stronger league than Warney, for being two years younger? He has the better numbers in my opinion, hence his standing on my first team.

All-Met Second Team, in alphabetical order:
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Marcus Gilbert, Fairfield
Maodo Lo, Columbia
Shane Richards, Manhattan
Ameen Tanksley, Hofstra

All-Met Third Team, in alphabetical order:
Michael Carey, Wagner
Khallid Hart, Marist
Carson "Tre" Puriefoy, Stony Brook
Ryan Rhoomes, Fordham
Isaiah Williams, Iona

Rookie of the Year: Micah Seaborn, Monmouth (photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year and a third team All-MAAC honoree, Seaborn made quite the impact in his freshman season in West Long Branch, serving as Monmouth's second-leading scorer during the Hawks' banner year. The Texan showcased his ability to thrive in situations that required him taking the big shot, and did not shy away from pressure even as Monmouth played for their postseason lives down the stretch of a 28-win campaign that ended with a regular season title and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament.
Also considered: Joseph Chartouny, Fordham; Antwon Portley, Saint Peter's

Coach of the Year: Kevin Willard, Seton Hall (photo courtesy of the Asbury Park Press)
Willard entered the season on perhaps the hottest of hot seats in the New York area after how 2014-15 ended for Seton Hall, who went down in the flames of locker room turmoil caused by a perceived rift between Isaiah Whitehead and since-departed Sterling Gibbs over who was the true team leader. The former Rick Pitino assistant silenced his critics en masse, feeding off the precocious developments of his sophomore class and guiding the Pirates to a Big East championship and NCAA Tournament appearance when some wondered whether he had the ability to keep his players shielded from distractive influences. Assuming Whitehead, who is testing the waters with regard to entering the NBA Draft, returns, Seton Hall could easily be a Top 15 program next season, and Willard's calm, confident demeanor will be a major reason why.
Also considered: King Rice, Monmouth; Bashir Mason, Wagner

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