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Robinson, Calipari deserve national end-of-season awards


With the NCAA tournament around the corner, it’s time to hand out some awards. The State Press took the time to figure out the frontrunners for the National Player of the Year and National Coach of the Year. Here’s who we think should take home this year’s awards.

 

National Player of the Year: Thomas Robinson (junior forward, Kansas)

This is clearly a two-man race between Robinson and Kentucky freshman forward Anthony Davis.

Davis helped lead the Wildcats to the top overall seed in the tournament, averaging 14.3 points and 10 rebounds per game. The SEC Player of the Year led the country in blocks with a little less than five per game. Kentucky was one of the best teams in the country with a 32-2 record, but they are much deeper than the Jayhawks, which is why Robinson deserves the nod.

Many prognosticators think Kansas would not be a national title contender without Robinson.

He’s the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double with 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The conference player of the year was undoubtedly the leader of the No. 2-seeded Jayhawks, who have a good shot to win the Midwest region in the tournament because of Robinson.

He came up with a clutch 3-point play to send Kansas’ last game against Missouri into overtime. In one of his best games of the season, Robinson dropped 28 points in the 87–86 overtime win over the Tigers.

Robinson and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor carried the load for the Jayhawks on offense all season. They were the only two players to average double-figures.

While Davis made a greater impact on defense for his team, the Jayhawks would not be nearly as good as they were this season without Robinson. It’s difficult to say the same thing about Davis, though both players will win their fair share of awards at the end of the season.

 

National Coach of the Year: John Calipari (Kentucky)

This race is more wide open than for Player of the Year. There are several candidates from the Big East and the Big 12, including Kansas coach Bill Self, who are worthy of the award.

But we’re going to the SEC and the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament for this one: Kentucky.

John Calipari proved once again he was able to produce one of the best teams in the country with a rotation of underclassmen. Along with Davis, freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and freshman guard Marquis Teague stepped in and played all 34 games. They each averaged over 30 minutes per game as well.

While the Wildcats didn’t win their conference tournament, they went an undefeated 16-0 in the regular season in SEC play. They were also 18-0 at home and 6-0 against teams in the Associated Press Top 25.

Kentucky has one of the best defenses in the country. It was ranked 10th nationally in scoring defense during the regular season, when the Wildcats allowed opponents to score just 58.5 points per game.

Kentucky is a deep team and with Davis at the helm, Calipari has a good chance to win his first national title on April 2.

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