Co-Players of the Week: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, and Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The National Player of the Year debate has been whittled down to just two plays — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis — and this past week, both of them proved why they are in the center of the debate. It started Saturday afternoon with Anthony Davis, the nation’s most intimidating defense presence, who followed up a 13-point, 11-rebound performance against Mississippi State with 28 points (on 10-11 shooting), 11 boards and five blocks as the Wildcats knocked off Vanderbilt and clinched the regular season title in the SEC. The performance was enough to get my colleague Mike Miller to say “at this rate, Davis is going to be the top player taken in the 2012 NBA draft and snag the national Player of the Year award from Kansas’ Thomas Robinson.”
Oh, you didn’t think T-Rob had an answer? He did, lighting up Missouri to the tune of 28 points and 12 boards, including a number of big buckets in crunch time as the Jayhawks fought all the way back from 19 points down in the second half to beat Missouri and all-but seal up the Big 12 regular season title. It certainly helped that Robinson had this kind of performance in arguably the best game of the season to date when the nation’s attention was focused on him.
So who you got? Who is the player of they year? While Davis clearly has an advantage with what he brings to the table defensively as a shot-blocker, Robinson may answer that with the way that he cleans the defensive glass as Jeff Withey plays the role of rim-protector for the Jayhawks. Robinson also carries a bigger load for his team offensively, as Davis has much more talent surrounding him and, at times, is really only used to finish alley-oops offensively.
At this point, my honest opinion is that there is no winner. I think the award should be split, much the way that this weekly award is split. (See? It can be done.) But if I had to bet on who would win, my money is on Robinson. His story is just too inspiring.
The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:
– G: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: Marshall had what may be the most impressive performance from a point guard this season in UNC’s 86-74 win over NC State on Tuesday. 22 points, 13 assists, 7-8 from the floor, 4-5 from three and not a single turnover to his name. That’s unbelievable, and I don’t care how bad the Wolfpack is. While Marshall wasn’t nearly as impressive in the Heel’s win at Virginia on Saturday — one points, six assists, two turnovers — he did enough on Tuesday to warrant inclusion here.
– G: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin injured his ankle late in SDSU’s loss to New Mexico two weeks ago. It was bad enough that he was forced to miss the Aztec’s loss at Air Force last Saturday, but Franklin was able to return to the court this week. He started out slowly, finishing with just 12 points in an overtime win at Wyoming, helping SDSU erase a nine-point second half lead, before going for 31 points and 16 boards in a win over Colorado State. The MWC is tough this year, and those are two good wins.
– F: Jae Crowder, Marquette: Crowder is becoming a main-stay on this list and quickly making people rethink voting Kevin Jones Player of the Year in the Big East. Crowder was the model of efficiency against Rutgers on Wednesday, as he went for 27 points (on 11-14 shooting), seven boards, four assists, four steals and three blocks. That’s not a bad all-around game. He followed that up with 26 points, four boards, two blocks and two steals in a come-from-behind win over West Virginia where four different Marquette players were suspended for at least a half.
– F: Robbie Hummel, Purdue: It really should be no surprise that, as Purdue has made a run to get themselves into perfect position for the NCAA Tournament, Robbie Hummel has looked like the old Robbie Hummel. After going for 29 points and seven boards in a win over Nebraska, he followed that up with 19 points and nine boards as the Boilermakers knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor, giving themselves their first win of the season of a top team in the Big Ten.
– C: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies look like they’re peaking at the right time thanks to Nicholson, who is playing his best basketball of the season. After 30-point, nine-rebound performance in a win at Fordham, Nicholoson went for 25 points, 11 boards, three blocks and two steals. All of a sudden, their game against St. Joe’s to close out the regular season looks huge.