Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Case for Derrick Byars

Excerpts from proceedings in the matter of: Vanderbilt Sports Line (Plaintiff) vs. SEC AP Voters (Defendant)

Please the court, I'll be brief. We all know Derrick Byars is a fantastic player. He is one of two players in the SEC who led the league in 8 statistical categories. He led a team picked in the preseason to finish no better than 4th and as far back as 6th in the East, to a 10-6 record, a 2nd place finish, and a first round bye in the upcoming tournament; to say nothing of an all but certain berth in the NCAA Tournament. Mr. Byars has been instrumental in his team's 6 wins over Top-25 ranked teams, leading the team in scoring in 4 of these games, and pacing the Commodores in rebounding twice and assists twice as well.

When compared to the player who won the award, Tennessee's Chris Lofton, Byars' season accomplishments are even more impressive by comparison. Unlike Lofton, Mr. Byars was not a pre-season All-SEC award winner. But that doesn't change the fact that, when compared to Mr. Lofton, Derrick's numbers are better despite having played in more SEC contests. Derrick Byars has averaged 19.1 points a game in SEC play, Chris Lofton averaged 18.5 points. In rebounding, Derrick is 18th in the league with 5.4 a game; Chris Lofton is not in the top-30. While Lofton is a respectable 12th in field goal percentage shooting 45.3%, you guessed it, Derrick is better, shooting 47.4% from the field, good for 7th in the league. There's more, Derrick is also among the leagues best in assists and steals; Chris Lofton is not the the top-15 in either.

Their teams have identical records, which is when the defendants counsel will stand up and say, "Yes, but Chris Lofton didn't play in 4 of those games, therefore he is the better player because had he played, they would have won some of those games and they would actually have a better record." But is that ready credible? I don't think so. In the 4 games Chris missed, Tennessee was 1-3. All 3 losses were on the road, including games at Rupp and Florida. Would Tennessee have won any of those games? I really don't know, but considering the teams they lost to (Kentucky, Florida, and Ole Miss) only lost a combined 3 games all season at home, I am not convinced Lofton's presence would have made a difference since the team was only 1-4 on the road WITH him. If Lofton's Volunteers hadn't collapsed when he went down to injury, only to "rebound" when he came back, Lofton would not have been the "savior" he is purported to be, especially when you consider it is very likely Tennessee's record would have been the exact same had he been in the line-up. To reward a player with this award for being injured and his team's subsequent poor play is lunacy. Furthermore, to punish Mr. Byars for not being "missed" because he played in all 16 SEC games is equally unjust.

So, where are we? Chris Lofton's team has an identical record to Derrick's despite being picked to finish as high as 3 spots higher in preseason polls; his statistics in SEC games are worse than Mr. Byars' despite having played in 4 fewer games; and Byars has led a team no one expected to be where they are, to where they are. But don't take my word for it, here is what Dave Climer the state of Tennessee's state media representative for the Wooden Award (an award Mr. Byars cannot win, a matter for another proceeding being argued down the hall) had to say about Derrick, "he’s helped steer this team to the cusp of an NCAA Tournament berth. In my book, he’s the SEC Player of the Year." I couldn't have said it any better myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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