The Patriot League announced its all-league honors yesterday. Today it is our turn to introduce the 2007 version of our annual All-Hoop Time team.
The first year we picked an All-Hoop Time team, we explained the selection process like this:
Here is how our team has been selected. We began by choosing the starting five we'd most like to put on the floor. That meant paying attention to positions. No four guard lineups allowed. We then proceeded to fill out the rest of our 15-man roster. Again, we looked for balance. Depth at all positions was essential.We followed that same process last year and again this season.
The process produces a lineup quite different than the one selected by the coaches and SIDs, who tend to vote for the best five players, regardless of position. In a guard-heavy league like the Patriot, that process tends to come up with a list of good players, but a group that would be short, pardon the pun, on size and frontcourt types.
Our objective is to put together a team, not a list. We approach the selection process like a general manager approaches a draft, looking to put together all the components it takes to make a whole team.
Players selected to the All-Hoop Time team previous seasons are designated by (HT and the year they were picked). Members of the 2005 all-rookie team are designated by (HTR 05) (Note: we did not pick an all rookie team last season because we didn't feel there were five worthy choices)
Our starters are the first players listed at each position. The remaining picks are listed by position in no particular order.
2007 All-Hoop Time Team
Chris McNaughton 6-11 Sr. Bucknell (HT 05, 06) -- A three-time first team All-Hoop Time pick, McNaughton is simply the toughest player in the league to try to stop one on one. His 11.5 points per game ranked 11th in the league. His 5.9 rebounds ranked fourth and he was second in the league in field goal percentage at 55.7. Those numbers all suffer somewhat from McNaughton's slow start. Down the stretch he has been as good as he has been in his impressive career, helping carry the Bison to a share of the league title despite losing Donald Brown for most of the second half of conference play. You can't help but wonder what kind of numbers he might have put up if the officials called the game the same for him as they do for some of the league's top scoring guards. While the smaller guys go to the line for handchecks 20 feet from the basket, McNaughton spends most offensive possessions being mugged as the stripes let 'em play in the post
Tim Clifford 6-10 Jr. Holy Cross (HT 06, HTR 05) -- A Hoop Time All-Rookie pick in 05 and a All-HT choice last season, Clifford is the heir apparent to McNaughton as the league's top center. The Big Purple Dog, who suffers many of the same indignities as McNaughton, averaged 11.3 points per game while leading the league in blocks (1.8 per game). His 4.5 rebounds per game ranks 12th in the league, his 82.5 percent free throw shooting sixth. He also is in the top 10 in field goal percentage (No. 8 -- 46.5 percent).
Donald Brown, 6-6 Sr. Bucknell (HT 06) -- Last year's Sixth Man of the Year was having an incredible season when he suffered a broken hand in Bucknell's Jan. 25 win at Colgate. Despite missing seven games down the stretch, Brown still led the league in rebounds (6.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (58.2 percent) and ranked fourth in steals with 1.67 per game. His 11.8 points per game ranks No. 9 in the conference. His injury apparently cost him a spot on the league's officials first team All-Patriot squad. Simply put, that vote was a travesty. Name five better players in the league? If you've been watching, you won't be able to name more than two, three tops.
Darren Mastropaolo, 6-9 Jr., Bucknell (HTR 05, HT 06) -- Sent to the bench to make room for D. Brown at the four in Bucknell's starting lineup, Mastropaolo never complained. He just kept on doing the stuff he has done since he got to Bucknell -- setting screens, taking charges, defending the heck out of the post. Stat freaks complained when he was named to the team last season. We'll hear from them again this year. Interestingly, no coach has ever criticized Mastropaolo's choice. The luxury of having the league's two best guys at the position is why Bucknell kept winning after Brown got hurt.
Brayden Billbe, 6-10 Sr. American (HT 06) -- A repeat choice, Billbe gives you good size inside. His 7.6 points per game don't impress, but the 46.4 percent shooter (9th in the league) probably has the best short range jumper of any four man in the league. The fact that he pulls down 5.8 rebounds (5th in the league) and blocks a shot now and then (0.87 per game, No. 3 in the league) doesn't hurt
Keith Simmons, 6-5 Sr. Holy Cross (HT 05, 06) -- Simmons overcame last season's cramping problems to become the top player in the league as a senior. He was so much better than the rest of the league, even McNaughton's mother would have felt honor bound to name him on her ballot if she got a Player of the Year vote. The league's top scorer at 17.5 ppg, Simmons also ranks in the top five in rebounds (6.0 rpg, 3rd), field goal percentage (49.6 percent, 5th), steals (2.47 per, 2nd) and offensive rebounds (2.47 per, 1st). Simmons is also in the top 10 in free throw percentage, blocked shots and defensive rebounds. Without him, no way Holy Cross shares the regular season title. They might not even have finished second.
Greg Sprink, 6-5 Jr. Navy -- What's not to like about a 6-5 guy who averaged 17.2 points per game (2nd in the league) despite every Navy opponent game-planning to stop him. It's one thing to put up those numbers when you have guys like Torey Thomas and Tim Clifford to keep the defense honest. Sprink had no such luxury. He played on a team with no true post player and a fleet of solid, but unspectacular guards. Spink was in the top 10 in rebounding, field goal percentage and three-pointers made and ranked No. 2 in free throw percentage (86.2 percent).
Kyle Neptune, 6-6 Sr. Lehigh -- A rugged defender with good size who averages 9.4 points per game, rebounds (4.8 per game, 8th in the league) and shoots threes at a 41.9 percent clip. We'll take him.
Jarrell Brown, 6-2 Jr. Army (HT 06) -- Last year Player of the Year Charles Lee called Jarrell Brown the toughest guy to guard in the league. After Saturday's Bucknell-Army game, Abe Badmus echoed those comments. Brown has a knack for getting open, which is not hurt any by Jim Crews' scheme, which often seems to have the other four guys on the floor setting screens for Brown. His 17.1 ppg was No. 3 in the league, his 2.86 threes per game ranked first. He was fifth in 3-point percentage (41.5 percent) and in the top 15 in field goal percentage overall.
Andre Ingram 6-3 Sr. American (HT 05, 06) -- Fifth in the league in scoring at 15 ppg, Ingram ranked second in three per game (2.54 per) and 3-point shooting percentage (42.8 percent). Also ranked in the top 10 in steals (1.29 per game, No. 8 in the league) and his 82.6 percent foul shooting was fifth best in the conference.
Jose Olivero, Sr, Lehigh -- The league's No. 4 scorer at 16.6 ppg, Olivero also ranks in the top 15 in assists, free throw shooting, steals and three-pointers made.
Matt Bell, 6-0 Sr. Army -- A 14.9 ppg scorer (6th in the league), Bell shoots the three better than anyone else in the conference (51.2 percent). He also ranks in the top 10 in field goal percentage, assists and free throw shooting.
Torey Thomas, 5-11 Sr. Holy Cross (HT 05, 06) -- Despite a nagging knee problem that hampered him much of the season, Thomas was still Holy Cross' iron man, averaging better than 37 minutes per game. Watch him and you'd never have thought he was playing hurt. Thomas' 13.8 ppg average was eighth best in the league, his 4.77 assists ranked second. Thomas led the league in steals (2.8 per game)and was third in assist to turnover ratio (1.21). His 40.7 percent shooting from three-point range ranked sixth best in the conference. Perhaps the most impressive Thomas stat was his 4.7 rebounds per game (No. 11 in the league), not bad for a guy Ralph Willard says is actually closer to 5-9 than the 5-11 they list him at in the programs.
Abe Badmus, 6-0 Sr., Bucknell (HT 05, 06) -- Anybody who doubts the defensive abilities of the guy they call "The Glove" ought to watch film of the second half of the second Holy Cross-Bucknell game when he shut down Simmons. Or watch the BU at Lehigh game, where Olivero was a non-factor largely because of Badmus' defense. What some might find surprising is that Badmus was the best 3-point shooter in the league in conference games, knocking them down at a 51.7 percent rate. Ranked in the top five in assist to turnover ratio and assists, and the top 10 in steals and free throw percentage, too.
Derrick Mercer, 5-9 Soph., American -- Our rookie of the year last season, Mercer was one of the last cuts from last year's team. We wrote then "His day will come." We'll use that line this year on Lehigh's freshman sensation Marquis Hall, the guy Mercer beat out for this spot. Mercer got the nod due to his league leading 4.79 assists per game. No doubt he could have scored more than his 9.6 ppg had that been his role. Mercer, who is even smaller than Thomas, is a fearless penetrator who seems right at home wheeling and dealing among the big guys in the paint. His 49.1 percent field goal shooting (6th in the league) is impressive, especially for a guard.
Marquis Hall, 5-11 Fr., Lehigh -- Victim of a numbers game at the point. Hall's day will come.
John Griffin, 6-1 Jr. Guard, Bucknell -- A true combo guard able to play both backcourt spots, Griffin averaged 10.5 points per game and is becoming another in a long line of outstanding defenders at BU. Griffin's free throw shooting and knack for hitting pressure shots makes him tough to leave off the roster.
Jon Simon, 5-11 Sr. Colgate -- Another outstanding guard in a league full of them
Alex Vander Baan, 6-8 Soph., Holy Cross -- Sixth in the league in rebounding, Vander Baan is solid in the Mastropaolo mode -- doing all the little things for the Crusaders. It was tempting to pick Billbe as a third center and Vander Baan as the third power forward, but Billbe is not good with his back to the basket. Ultimately the decision was to add a fourth off guard (Bell) instead, because as Emmett Davis could tell you, you can never have too many shooters.
Matt Betley, 6-4 Sr. Lafayette -- You wish you could find a spot for a guy like Betley, a slow-footed guard who moved to the four because Fran O'Hanlon had no other options and managed to hold his own, especially on offense, where he averaged 10.9 points per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field -- fourth best in the league. Also ranked seventh in rebounding, but he is only the fifth best power forward in the league at best.
Coach of the Year: Jim Crews, Army -- Picked by a lot of folks to finish last in the conference, Army won 14 games, finishing the season one game below .500. If not for two losses to Colgate by a total of 6 points -- including a 2-point OT loss -- the Black Knights would have finished even higher in the standings. They also took Holy Cross to overtime and played Bucknell to the final minute in a 5-point loss Saturday. Army's 14 wins were its most since the 1986-87 season and were just one less than the team won total in the past three seasons.
Player of the Year: Keith Simmons, Holy Cross -- It wasn't even close. Simmons was the league's best player all season long.
Rookie of the Year: Marquis Hall, Lehigh -- As Simmons was to the rest of the league, Hall was to the rest of the freshmen. No other rookies even came close to matching his performance. The latest in a long line of outstanding Lehigh guards, Hall stepped in to the starting job and played like a veteran, averaging 11 points and 4.23 assists (3rd in the league) per game. Hall was also in the top 5 in assists to turnover ratio (1.72) and in the top 10 in steals (1.47 per game). 3-point shooting (38.3 percent) and threes per game (1.63 per). He shot 42.5 percent from the field, 12th best in the league.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jarrell Brown, Army -- Most of what we mentioned above, Brown did coming off the bench. Crews said he was just more comfortable in that role, and hey, if it works, don't fix it.
Center -- Chris Walker, Army (the only legitimate freshman post player in the league this season)
Power forward -- Eric Meister, Holy Cross and Zahir Carrington, Lehigh (tie) (Meister is more of a banger, Carrington has more finesse, both have the potential to be very good)
Small forward -- Stephen Tyree, Bucknell (his emergence was one of the keys to the Bison turnaround)
Shooting guard -- Trey Stanton, Navy (yes, he is 6-10, but he plays the perimeter, not the post)
Point guard -- Hall, Lehigh