I may be biased, but Shane Larkin as the clear runner-up? I just don't see it.
OK, so, last week I got in several Twitter discussions about Erick Green and his viability as a player of the year candidate (as in, I did not think he was). At the time, I compared his game to Terrell Stoglin primarily on the basis that he is a volume shooter who is the only viable scoring option on a crappy team. Both comparisons are valid, but do not tell the whole story. It was quickly pointed out to me that Green's offensive efficiency numbers far exceed those of Stoglin, which is true and a fair point. In addition, I went back and looked at JJ Reddick's numbers from his unanimous-vote 2006 POY campaign and found them reasonably comparable. It's also a pretty rare and impressive feat to average over 24 points per game. Only 3 ACC players outside of Reddick and Green have done it since 1980 (Walt Williams in 92, Rodney Monroe in 1991 and Dennis Scott in 1990) and of those only Williams did not win POY (Christian Laettner took it that year). This could potentially be used to counter the (justifiable) outcry that players from last place teams shouldn't win this award, which I've heard quite a bit. I am inclined to agree with this sentiment, but I can sleep at night with Green taking home the hardware, though it's disappointing.
What I absolutely can not wrap my head around is how distant Mason Plumlee was from the second place vote-getter, Shane Larkin. I mean, it's not as patently absurd as Michael Snaer receiving a vote, but still, it seems pretty ridiculous to me.
I watch a lot (probably too much, really) of basketball people, and, while there are surely plenty of folks out there in the blogosphere and elsewhere who know more than I, I ain't no dilettante. And I just don't get the Shane Larkin lovefest that has broken out amongst the media. He's good, don't get me wrong, and the eyeball test certainly tells me and everybody else that he was probably the best PG in the ACC this year. But POY?? No. Way.
No player since 2000 ( which is as far back as I could find stats) has finished outside the top 3 in all of the major statistical categories ( PPG, APG, RPG) and received more than a single vote for POY ( Singler got 1 in 2010-2011). Larkin finished tied for 12th in scoring and 4th in assists per game and got 23 votes. For comparison, here are Larkin's stats next to Quinn Cook's :
Larkin 13.7 ppg 4.4 apg 3.8 rpg 73% FT 2.2 TOpg 2.0 spg 40% 3pt. 48 %fg 36 mpg
Cook 12.5 ppg 5.3 apg 3.9 rpg 87 %FT 2.3 TOpg 1.5 spg 42% 3pt. 44%fg 33mpg
Larkin (ACC) 13.8 ppg 4.8 apg
Cook (ACC) 13.6 ppg 5.1 apg
Now, you can stats-don't-tell-the-whole-story / eyeball -test me to death, but I'm not buying it, at least not to the tune of a 23 to 12 vote difference . Mason Plumlee finished in the top 5 in 5 major statistical categories, Larkin in only 3.
Some argument can be made for overall value to team. Mason accounted for about 20% of Duke's points and 32% of Duke's rebounds. Larkin scored 20% of his team's points and accounted for 40% of their assists. (Quinn, for comparison, accounted for 15 % and 40%). But surely there's not enough there to justify the vote discrepancy.
Andy Katz tweeted today that Larkin was his ACC POY based on value to his team, and how they wouldn't have won the ACC without him. How does he or anyone suppose Duke have fared this year without Mason Plumlee, who was effectively the only serviceable post player on his team for 13 games during which they went 9-4 ?
So, I'm all ears. If someone would please offer me a plausible explanation or justification for this, I would greatly appreciate it.