Thrill of Victory

How the All-SEC team should have looked

The fun thing about dissecting all-conference teams is picking them apart; finding the players who were on the team and shouldn’t have been, and the players who were wrongfully omitted. When the Southeastern Conference released its all-conference basketball team yesterday, it gave fans plenty of ammunition for that.?

So, guess what’s the subject of today’s blog? But first, let me explain a few differences in how I pick my team, and how the SEC does its.

First, unlike the SEC (which evidently forgot that only five players can fit on the court at once), my teams are five players each instead of the eight that the SEC names.

Second, each “team” is composed of a lineup of players that you could reasonably play together. I always want to have a point guard on each team, and always want to have a couple of guys who can play in the post, and a couple of guys who can play on the wing. I don’t get too hung up on the differences between shooting guards and small forwards, or power forwards and centers, which is more or less in line with how the game is now played, anyway.

Third, efficiency is a big thing. I’d rather have a guy who shot 55 percent from the field and scored 12 points a game than someone who got 18 a night on 40 percent shooting. (Incidentally, it appears that the SEC coaches, who picked the team, apparently paid little attention to the efficiency with which players scored.)

Finally, defense counts. It’s interesting that guys appeared on the all-defensive team, and then didn’t make an appearance on the league’s all-conference team. Last time I checked, half the game was defense.

Anyway, enough bashing of the coaches; on to the selections.

First team
PG – Trevor Releford, Alabama

G – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia

G – Elston Turner, Texas A&M

F – Erik Murphy, Florida

F – Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee

This is one of the least star-studded first teams I can ever remember. The coaches named Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as their player of the year; his 52.7 effective field goal percentage is good, but not great, and he had more assists than turnovers. But try finding anybody else that fits the bill; Releford might be the next-best bet for his defense and his efficient scoring, but he didn’t really have top-shelf assist numbers that you’d hope your point guard would have.

As for the rest… Turner’s a big-time scorer with good (but not great) percentages and nice assist numbers. Murphy was remarkably efficient as a scorer but just so-so in a lot of other areas. Stokes didn’t score with the efficiency you’d hope for out of an all-star post player, but he was the league’s best rebounder on both ends of the floor.

Second team
PG- Scotty Wilbekin, Florida

G- Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss

G – Kenny Boynton, Florida

F – Nerlens Noel, Kentucky

C – Patric Young, Florida

Wilbekin was one of the most glaring omissions on the coaches’ team (he didn’t make either team), leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio, scoring (though not a lot) at a nice efficiency. He made the coaches’ defensive team and some thought he was the key to UF’s suffocating defense.

Noel, had he stayed healthy and continued putting up the numbers he was compiling, might have been the player of the year if he’d upped his scoring a bit. He was easily the league’s best post player when he played, but didn’t play after mid-February due to injury. Truthfully I don’t really know how to factor that in, but I had a hard time making a guy a first-team all-league pick (which is where I originally had him) when he missed over a third of the conference season.

Outside of Caldwell-Pope, I had a tough time distinguishing between my wings and who should make what team. I put Henderson here because, even though he shot his teams out of games, he won a few as well and wasn’t really poor at anything else. Boynton didn’t shoot particularly well but was solid everywhere else.

Young’s defense and scoring efficiency landed him here, as I also struggled with which post players to put on which teams.

Third team
PG- Phil Pressey, Missouri

G – Keon Bell, Missouri

G- Jordan McRae, Tennessee

F – Laurence Bowers, Missouri

F – Murphy Holloway, Ole Miss

It was hard to know what to do with Pressey; he led the league in turnovers and did not shoot well, but also led the league in assists (by a mile) and ranked seventh in steals. His teammate, Bell, got little press but was the league’s most efficient back-court shooter. Bowers had a case to go higher, but missed some time.

Some will take issue with McRae’s being this low, and they may have a point because he had more court time than any player in the league. However, his efficiency numbers (51.2 percent effective field goals) weren’t tremendous, and he had 23 more turnovers than assists.

Fourth team
PG – Anthony Hickey, LSU

G- Mike Rosario, Florida

F – Marshawn Powell, Arkansas

F – Alex Oriakhi, Missouri

C – Reginald Buckner, Ole Miss

Hickey led the league in steals and took care of the ball, though he shot poorly. Bucker (another all-defensive team pick) was a great shot-blocker and shot quite well from the field and the line, though he didn’t score a lot. Rosario did a lot of things well on a great team.

I had a hard time knowing what to do with Oriakhi (11 assists, 93 turnovers, didn’t rank in the top 25 of the league’s scorers) but he did everything else well, and I figured that should count for something.

Left out
LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant made the coaches’ first team, mostly because he ranked fourth in the league in rebounding and busts his tail on both ends. But he doesn’t block shots or get steals, his assists are about half his turnovers, and he doesn’t shoot well from the field. Sorry, but good-but-not-outstanding raw rebounding numbers shouldn’t be enough to justify a first-team selection.