Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Annual All-Star Slight of Freshmen Makes No Sense

Listen up coaches in the MAAC. You're about to be scolded.

We'll start with the supposition that freshmen who play on conference teams, either men's or women's, do actually compete in the MAAC. Their statistics, their contributions, are just as meaningful as those of sophomores, juniors and seniors, aren't they?

So, why is it that freshmen ... even clearly deserving ones ... are never selected by a vote of league coaches to the MAAC's top all-star team?

The latest "oversight" is 5-foot-11 freshman forward Joy Adams, a major contributor to the second-place Iona women's team.

Consider her stats: 13.2 points per game (6th within the league), a MAAC-leading 10.1 rebounds (she is the league's only player to average a double-double); and, she is second in field-goal percentage (49.5%).

Sixth in scoring, first in rebounding, second in field-goal percentage, her team finishes in second in the final regular-season standings ... and that's not good enough for first-team all-MAAC?

Guess not, since league coaches, in their voting, made her a second-team selection. Even after the league named Adams its Rookie of the Week 12 times during this past season, more than any other player (Rachele Fitz of Maryland won the weekly rookie award 11 times) in MAAC history.

But that's nothing new. In the 32-year history of the MAAC and its post-season awards no freshman women's player has ever secured first-team all-league honors.

Not even Loyola's Patty Stoffey, whose 16.4 points-per-game average during her freshman 1991-92 season remains the top per-game average for a freshman in conference history. She didn't even get picked for the second team that year when there wasn't yet a third-team level for all stars.

Not Damika Martinez of Iona, who averaged 16.0 points per game last season to become the first freshman to ever lead the conference in scoring. She was a second-team choice.

And, not Rachele Fitz of Marist, who averaged 14.9 points and 6.5 rebounds as a freshman and went on to become the second-leading scorer of all time (just behind Stoffey) in women's history within the league. She, too, was a second-team pick as a frosh.

The men's side is only just a little better, with just one freshman making the post-season first-team all-star squad. That was La Salle's Lionel Simmons in 1986-97 when he averaged 20.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest. Hard to ignore that when it came to voting for all-star honors.

But league coaches, last year, ignored Juan'ya Green of Niagara last season when the Purple Eagles' standout was a freshman and averaged 17.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. He was the second-leading scorer nationally among all Division I freshmen last season, yet was just a third-team all-MAAC pick.

League coaches also ignored Keydren Clark of Saint Peter's, who averaged a MAAC-leading 24.9 points per game as a freshman in the 2002-03 season, which was the sixth-best average nationally that season. Clark got relegated to second-team status.

Having conversed with enough coaches about this over the years, it has become evident that they look out for upperclass players. The philosophy is that the youngsters' time will come, as will higher all-star team honors, later in their careers.

But, the selections for these honors should be all about what players do on the court and how much they contribute to their respective teams. Class year shouldn't be a factor.

Yet it continues to be so, and coaches who continue to vote for less-deserving upperclass candidates over more-deserving freshmen (and, did so in past years) are, now, properly scolded.


speedboy said...

steve, thats not the only slight on that team ask yourslf what makes that car run? i said it before the pt.guards are solid, both of them approaching 100 assist. how many times has that been done in a season? how does aleesha powell go from preseason third team to not being selected with her stats and the team finishing second.anybody can put up numbers on a bad team combined with a weak schedule. iam just saying!

Steve Amedio said...

speedboy ... Powell isn't really the point guard. That said, I don't disagree with the sentient that she could have been a third-team pick. And, I did hint at that in the previw of Iona's upcoming tournament game.