Your Team Sucks: Midseason AAC Awards

#goAAC - David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Something old, something new, something transferred and a TWEETCAP appearance

We're just past the halfway point of the conference basketball season, so I got together with Scott, a CC member who runs Bearcats Blog and also writes at Run The Floor, and we collaborated to give you a midseason awards post for your favorite conference. If you hate this post, please hate-follow us on Twitter for more: @cardscott5 and @ULhothot. And as always, your team sucks. Enjoy:

MIDSEASON ALL-AAC TEAMS

FIRST TEAM:

G Sean Kilpatrick, CIncinnati

G Russ Smith, Louisville

G Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

F/C TaShawn Thomas, Houston

F/C Markus Kennedy, SMU

SECOND TEAM:

[this space intentionally left blank]

FRESHMAN TEAM:

G Terry Rozier, Louisville

F Chicken Knowles, Houston

F Chris Perry, USF

F Ben Moore, SMU

C John Egbunu, USF

ULhothot (hh): Is it fair to say Kilpatrick, Napier and Russ have played on a different level than the rest of the league? Kilpatrick brings it every night on both ends, Shabazz does everything for his team and Russ is one of the most efficient scorers and full-court defenders in the country.

While Russ' jump-shooting and shot selection have improved greatly, the one glaring difference when comparing the 3 is Smith's declining FT%--he's hitting just 70.5% of his FTs in conference play down from his 85% mark last season. By comparison, Napier and Kilpatrick are hitting 93% and 85% of their FTs respectively in league play. 70% is the average mark for FT% at the college level for going some 50+ years, but when you're a senior guard who's elite at drawing fouls, it's a little disappointing to see that percentage regressing to the mean.

As for Thomas, it's easy to dismiss his guady stats since he plays for a struggling Houston team, but you really have to watch him take on other big men to appreciate his skill set. Kennedy had been killing it in league play but his relative disappearance against Cincinnati this past weekend is worrisome. Is Kennedy the least likely player on this midseason all-AAC team to make the final version?

cardscott5 (cs5): Definitely. I could actually see Kennedy or Thomas lose their spot to Isaiah Sykes of Central Florida. I discounted Sykes because watching them play few times, he comes across as a gunner for his numbers. He is very good at offensive rebounding. Kennedy scores, rebounds and gets steals at a rate you wouldn't expect from a big guy. He has as many as Joe Jackson right now. Speaking of Joe Jackson, he was the toughest ommision from the list. He's played very well, but who's spot does he take? Do you go 4 guards? Maybe that's how Jackson ends up on the first team and Kennedy does not.

PLAYER OF THE MIDSEASON: Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

Sean Kilpatrick currently leads the American in scoring. A large part of the reason why is that he's gotten to the free throw line at the best rate of his career. It's the reason why his scoring has improved from 16 to 20.6 points this year. His assists are up and so are his steals. Along with being the top scorer in the league, he's the best player on what's been the best team. Kilpatrick has also outplayed the other contenders, Russ Smith and Shabazz Napier, which also helps. ~cs5

FRESHMAN OF THE MIDSEASON: Chris Perry, USF

We debated 5 candidates for this and couldn't decide between them, so Mike Rutherford of Card Chronicle stepped in to make a decision for us because he's good at making decisions. Perry leads his peers in AAC Weekly Rookie Awards with 5. He plays for USF. I would write more here but it's USF. Sorry, USF bros. ~hh

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MIDSEASON:

Justin Jackson is the most intimidating post presense in the league because he's a shot blocking machine. Jackson is the only player in the league averaging over 3 blocks. He get a lot of them help as a help defender. When you add in steals, Jackson gets 1.8 a game, it seals the deal. If there were defensive teams like in the NBA, Jackson would make a list. Part of Cincinnati's success is that Jackson erases mistakes and forces teams out of the lane. ~cs5

COACH OF THE MIDSEASON: Larry Brown, SMU

The "oldest player on Team X wasn't born when Larry Brown last coached in college" jokes are already played out. I don't care, it's still amazing to me he's built SMU into a Top 25 team in two seasons. When you do that and you beat the only undefeated team in conference play by 21, you deserve the midseason coach of the year trophy, no matter your age or pedigree. Do you remember what Markus Kennedy looked like at Villanova? Now he's on our midseason all-conference team. Crazy. Like most, I'm pretty anxious to see what lies ahead for SMU this March and when Brown gets his hands on 5-start talent Emmanel Mudiay. I sense a regression coming this season but I also sensed I'd be a professional athlete when I was a teenager. ~hh

BEST FRONTCOURT: Cincinnati

Cincinnati's frontline is highlighted by Justin Jackson, but it's been secretly led by Titus Rubles. Rubles is the do everything guy. He scores a litte, 6.7 points, leads the team in boards with 7, is second in conference play in assists and blocks and third in steals. Shaquille Thomas and Jermaine Sanders, along with the newly healthy Jermaine Lawrence, add in a rebounding and defensive punch. Plus, Thomas is one of the rare Bearcats that can create his own shot. Sanders is a solid three point shooter. In those 4 players, you really have it all. ~cs5

BEST BACKCOURT: Louisville

This was a tough one. Feel free to call me a homer for picking Louisville because both Memphis and Cincinnati are just as talented but we had to pick one, so here we are. It starts with Russ Smith, but Chris Jones and Terry Rozier are capable on both ends of the court as starters and you have guys like Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock who play more like backcourt players than frontcourt on offense and can step into those roles when necessary. Cincy compares very well defensively but their guards not named Kilpatrick struggle more on offense than those not named Russ for Louisville. Memphis' guards are better on average across the board and while Joe Jackson is very good, he's not on Russ Smith's or Killpatrick's level. This is the point of the season where Louisville made their run last year, we'll see if this group is able to lead them through March again. I have my doubts but it's not the backcourt I'm concerned about. ~hh

SIXTH MAN AWARD: Michael Dixon, Jr., Memphis

It doesn't matter how many minutes a player plays, it matters when he plays those minutes. I'm sure that's what Michael Dixon Jr. tells himself. Dixon is picking up where the left off last year at Missouri. Dixon is putting up 12.8 points on 47.7% shooting, second the team in league action by the way. On a team not known for their long range shooting, Dixon is hitting 44.2% in American play. Dixon also gets others involved, 2.7 assists, rebounds alright, 2.4 boards. What he's done the best is gets steals. He's got a career high 1.5 a game. Dixon has been able to be a Swiss army knife guard, which is working out pretty well for him. After all, he's a prestigious award winner. I'm sure Michael will be tweeting this out to his twitter followers. Fingers crossed. ~cs5

TOP TRANSFER: Nic Moore, SMU

Unless you follow SMU basketball, you've never heard of Nic Moore. Just a sophomore, the Illinois State transfer has started every game for the Mustangs, averaging 32.5 minutes per in AAC play. He turns the ball over a little more than you like for your point guard, but he's on the court a lot because he's been very efficient at what he's asked to do: distribute the ball, make open shots, deny the 3 and hit your FTs. When looking at his box scores, he's consistent in what he does (14 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 1.5 steals), but he's more liable to go for 20 points and 6 assists than disappear into a 5 points, 5 turnover rut and lose a game for you and that's the type of skill set you want in your point guard. That's me speaking for all of you. I'm glad you agree. ~hh

UGLIEST COURT: UCF

I mean really, have you seen this court? There is trying something different, which is great. There is thinking outside the box, which should be applauded. There is picking something unimaginably awful looking and making it your court. For the season ticket holders sake, I hope it's better looking in person. It is hard to mess up a court with great accent colors like black and gold. I think the charcoal would look better inside the 3 point line, Northwestern-style. Only one court makes people go "Oh lord, what the hell is this?" It's this one. ~cs5

WORST HOME ATMOSPHERE: Houston

Someone compared Houston's Hofheinz Pavillion-which has the second smallest seating capacity in the AAC at 8,500-to a Medieval Times restaurant on Twitter the other night and there's nothing I can write here that will top-wait what's that? OMG, IS THAT TWEETCAP'S MUSIC? (Yes, it is): ~hh

BEST WORST THING: USF uniforms

[TWEETCAP 808s STILL BUMPIN'] ~hh

(C-C-C-C-COMMMBBBBOOOO TWEET)

WORST LOOKING SHOT: Zach LeDay, USF

Zach LeDay's shot makes Joakim Noah's jumper look like Ray Allen's. ~cs5


WORST AAC GAME: USF at Cincinnati

Like slow paces? Like horrible offense where neither team averages a point per possession? Like games when the teams combine to go 5 of 28 from three? We have the game for you. It was Cincinnati at home against South Florida on February 2. When the Bearcats and Bulls meet, you can throw offense out the window. The most points a loser has scored in the last 3 years of the series is 54, which USF did this year. Just to show how comically inept this game was, USF had a chance to tie late. The guys that shot their 3 pointers? Zach LeDay, the guy with the worst shot in the league who was 2-8 from three all year until that shot. The other three was taken by Sheiye McLendon. McLendon still hasn't made a three all season. An ugly ending to an ugly game. Cincinnati has played a couple of stinkers this season. The fact this one isn't the worst says a lot. ~cs5


BOLD AAC TOURNAMENT PREDICTION: 4/5 seed beats the 1

I recklessly predicted on Twitter that Temple has the look of a team that wins 1 game during the AAC regular season but rips off two wins in the conference tournament. Scott and I talked about this (more accurately: Scott made fun of me) and agreed the safer bet is the 4/5 seed beating the 1 in the AAC tournament, so that's what we're publishing in this space. Because we're cowards. More so because the league is balanced and things happen on neutral courts. But really though, beware the Owls of March. More specifically Dalton Pepper and Quenton DeCosey stroking 3s on your groggy, overconfident 1-seed. ~hh

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