The Pac-12 conference handed out its 2013-2014 basketball awards this morning, including Player of the Year and the all-conference teams. Instead of handing out the traditional Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, House of Sparky wanted to do something different.
We wanted to give the readers some awards that they would not see elsewhere. So here are House of Sparky's 2013-2014 Pac-12 awards.
Team of the Year: Utah Utes (20-10, 9-9)
Yes you could easily give this award to Arizona or even UCLA, those would be the easy choices, but Utah's won just eight conference games in its first two seasons in the Pac-12. This year, the Utes won nine and finished with 20 wins for the first time since the 2008-2009 season. More impressive is that eight of Utah's nine conference losses this season came by single digits.
The Utes took both Arizona and Colorado to overtime and beat UCLA in their only meeting of the season. Despite their 20-10 record, Utah's RPI of 72 means they are likely looking on the outside of the NCAA tournament. However, Utah showed this season they can play with any team in the league and should be very good next season.
Confusing Team of the Year: Oregon Ducks (22-8, 10-8)
Most people say basketball is a game of runs. Well, Oregon's season was a season of runs. The Ducks started the season 13-0 and were ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation. However, over its next 10 games, Oregon went just 2-8, including losses to Oregon State and Washington.
The Ducks finished the regular season 7-0 with victories over Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State. There may be no Pac-12 team more dangerous in postseason play than the Ducks.
The "They are who we thought they were" Team of the Year: Oregon State Beavers (16-14, 8-10)
The Beavers were picked to finish 10th in the league in the preseason media poll, and the Beavers finished 10th in the final league standings. In the three-year existence of the Pac-12, the Beavers have finished the regular season 10th, 9th, and 11th. Oregon State is a team that you can count on to finish in the bottom third of the league year in and year out.
In six seasons as the head coach of Oregon State, Craig Robinson is nine games under .500. The Beavers have made the CBI tournament three times but never the NIT or the NCAA tournament. Oregon State is usually never terrible, but the Beavers have not won more than eight conference games in a season since the 1990s.
The "Program in sudden decline" of the Year: Washington Huskies (17-14, 9-9)
Unless Washington makes a run in the Pac-12 tournament, the Huskies will miss the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year. The Huskies finished the regular season last year with the same record as they do this year and the loss of C.J. Wilcox will not help things down the road. Lorenzo Romar is still a very good coach but it is strange seeing Washington in the middle of the conference.
Pac-12 MVP: Kyle Anderson, UCLA (14.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 6.6 APG)
Even though Nick Johnson won Pac-12 POY, there is little doubt in our corner that Anderson means more to his team than Johnson. The sophomore plays point guard, but at 6-foot-9, he finished fourth in the conference in rebounding and he led the Pac-12 in assists.
Anderson posted 13 double-doubles this season and even a triple-double against Morehead State. He was a matchup nightmare for Pac-12 guards all season and is the key to a UCLA team that won 23 games this season.
Best player who most people have never heard of: Roberto Nelson, Oregon State (20.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.7 APG)
Nelson led the conference in scoring while also leading his team in assists. The senior is one of the most underrated players in the conference as Nelson ranks 17th in the nation in scoring. Nelson posted his best games against the best competition, scoring 31 points against Maryland, 25 points against Arizona and 23 points against UCLA.
Most Improved Player: DaVonte Lacy, Washington State (19.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
Last season, Lacy averaged 10.5 PPG and 2.9 RPG. This season, Lacy almost doubled his scoring output, putting up 19.1 PPG and shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. Despite missing six games in the middle of the season because of injury, Lacy put up nine 20-point games this season.
Freshman of the Year not named Aaron Gordon: Nigel Williams-Gross, Washington (13.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.4 APG)
While Gordon ran away with the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award, Williams-Gross quietly put up a very good season at Washington. The Happy Valley, Oregon, native averaged over 33 minutes per game for the Huskies, finishing second on the team in points, tied for third in rebounds and led Washington in assists.
All-Underrated Team (Players who did not make 1st or 2nd team All-Pac-12)
G - Askia Booker, Colorado
G- Nigel Williams-Gross, Washington
F - D.J. Shelton, Washington State
F - Richard Soloman, California
F - Byron Wesley, USC
All-Name Team (Best names in the conference)
G - Wanaah Bail, UCLA
G- Tre'Shaun Fletcher, Colorado
G - Andrew Andrews, Washington
F - Olaf Schaftenaar, Oregon State
C - Schuyler Rimmer, Stanford