Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hosed and a Half: Lofton Edges Byars for SEC Player of the Year

Ladies and Gentleman, the Vanderbilt bias cannot be ignored on this one.

Despite the key role in six victories over top-25 opponents. Despite leading the league in 8 statistical categories. Despite all the efforts of DeFKA and the VSL to campaign for him, Derrick Byars finished second today to Chris Lofton in the SEC Player of the Year voting.

By one vote.

Voice your frustrations and anger here. I'm enraged.


Seamus O'Toole said...

This is an outrage of gargantuan proportions, yet I'm not even remotely surprised.

Just like in football, everyone wants to be proven right. Lofton was on EVERYONE'S preseason All-SEC first team, and MANY preseason All America teams. DB was on no one's. If he had gotten any preseason love, he wins the POY award.

Also, does someone need to remind the Associated Press that when choosing a conference player of the year you're supposed to focus on CONFERENCE games? Let's look at the stats when it comes to conference play:

2. Byars - 19.1 ppg
3. Lofton - 18.5 ppg

Byars (5.4 rpg) - #18
Lofton - NOT IN THE TOP 30

Field Goal %
Byars (.474) - #7
Lofton (.453) - #12

Byars (3.44 apg) - #11
Lofton - NOT IN THE TOP 15

Byars (1.44 spg) - #11
Lofton - NOT IN THE TOP 15

What's sad is not so much that the AP can look at all these key stats and (with a straight face) actually pick Lofton over Byars, but rather that no one would expect anything less hoserly from them.

Stanimal said...

At the risk of going over our line here at VSL, I am going to say that this is f**king bulls**t. If that's inappropriate, then I'll delete and re-post this comment.

Seamus statistical analysis is right on the money. Plus Lofton was hurt for four games so his point totals are even higher, having played fewer games than Byars.

Another factor which I'm sure weighed into this are Vandy's struggles in the final stretch of the regular season. It certainly couldn't help that we lost to Tennessee and Arkansas. There is no doubt that the media has cooled down on us since the Florida game, as evidenced by our dropping out both polls.

Just because our coach doesn't go on national TV and paint his body like the rest of the Volunteer morons doesn't mean that our star player who outperformed the winner this year can't get the award. If that can't be understood, then the Player of the Year Award should be renamed to the "Best Player On a Popular Team" award.

Bobby O'Shea said...

I think DB coming, seemingly out of no where, to lead his team to a #2 finish in the East (ahead of UT, if I am not mistaken) really hurts him. Polls and awards like this are inherently biased because those who vote on them want to be proven right. In that sense, they are self-sustaining and self-perpetuating.

3 pre-season 1st teamers were also so honored on the post-season team (Davis, Lofton, and Horford). By not being recognized in ANY of the pre-season polls, Derrick Byars was at a severe disadvantage. Seamus' point is a very good one in that, in league play, Byars was a more productive and effective player than Lofton. For me, what sealed the deal for Lofton is his injury and subsequent return. If UT hadn't gone in the tank when he went down, only to "rebound" when he came back, I don't know that he wins. He was essentially aided by being injured and his team's poor play because of it. Byars, on the other hand, played all 16 SEC games, leading his team to 10 wins, but because he wasn't "missed," he gets edged out.

Let's look at the games UT lost while Lofton was out. UT went 1-3 while he was out of the line-up, but all three losses were on the road at Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Florida. UT only won one game on the road all season (@Georiga), so I am not convinced that Lofton's presence would have really mattered that much since they were 1-4 on the road WITH Lofton. I would argue, given UT's struggles on the road, that the Vols' record would have been the same with Lofton in the lineup for all 16 games as it was without him for 4.

It is not my intention to dump on Lofton because he is a very good player and had a great year. My point with the with/without Lofton record is to underscore just how important Derrick was to Vanderbilt's success this season. Does anyone think Vanderbilt is a #2 seed in the SEC Tournament with 10 wins without Derrick Byars? No chance. Derrick Byars, statistically, had a better season than Lofton during SEC play--that much is clear. And, it's worth mentioning, Byars played in more games so there was a greater opportunity for an "off-night" to effect his numbers. Derrick led the team in scoring 10 times in SEC play, led the team 4 times in rebounding, 5 times in assists, and 3 times in steals. Vanderbilt was a consensus pre-season pick to finish 5 th in the east…they were 2nd because of Derrick Byars. UT was a pre-season 3…and look where they ended up: in 3rd. I guess the writers only look at the preseason polls and awards they want to.

Seamus O'Toole said...

I agree completely with that analysis.

It's worth also mentioning that, while I don't know who the AP voters for the SEC POY Award were, Dave Climer is Tennessee's state media rep for the Wooden Award (which, as Bobby O pointed out, Byars is not a finalist for). Here's what he had to say about Byars on Feb. 25:

Byars beware: He’s the SEC’s best
by David Climer

For my money, there are several worthy candidates for SEC Player of the Year.

Tennessee’s Chris Lofton is the conference’s leading scorer and the kind of offensive threat that cannot be ignored.

LSU’s Glen “Big Baby” Davis has been a bright spot in a dismal season in the Bayou.

Mississippi State’s Jamont Gordon is a do-everything talent at point guard.

And of Florida’s collection of NBA stars-in-training, the least spectacular of the bunch — Al Horford — has been the most consistently productive.

But with one week remaining in the regular season, I’m declaring the race over.

Give the trophy to Derrick Byars of Vanderbilt.

His numbers are worthy — 19.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in conference games — but it is Byars’ overall game and his ability to elevate others that make him the clearcut choice.

You need look no further than his game against Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. After a slow start, he delivered crucial plays on both ends of the court when the Commodores needed them most in the second half.

Unlike earlier in his Vanderbilt career, Byars has learned to assert himself. He no longer waits for others to take key shots. He wants the ball in the clutch.

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.

Unknown said...

Don't apologize, Stan, it is complete f**king bulls**t. I think y'all hit the nail on the head with your analysis of this, and I don't have anything more to add except that this Dore is outraged and incredibly frustrated at this terrible (yet sadly expected) turn of events.

Woody said...

Personally, I'm speechless. I agree with everything said, even stanimal's deep analysis, "this is f**king bulls**t".

Why not gather up all this statistical analysis, of which it's obvious the AP ignored, and send it to someone, anyone, somewhere? It can do no wrong, and albeit distant, there is a chance that some favorable publicity would come from it. Who knows?