Early Thursday morning it was announced that Trey Burke of Michigan and Jim Larranaga of Miami won the awards for Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively. Both people are very deserving of the awards for their extremely successful seasons.
First, I am going to talk about the young Trey Burke. Burke received 31 votes from the panel, with Otto Porter Jr. coming in second followed by Victor Oladipo. The sophomore has currently led Michigan to its first Final Four in 20 years. On Saturday, Michigan will be playing 4-seeded Syracuse in Atlanta. During the tournament, Burke is averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 assists per game. There is no doubt in my mind that without Burke, there is no way that Michigan would have been where they are right now.
Throughout the season, Trey had great numbers, averaging 18.8 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. Burke also shot 46% from the field and over 35% from beyond the arc. One of his best stats is his assist-to-turnover ration (3.12), third best in the country. There is one attribute that cannot be measured with stats, leadership. Even though he is a sophomore, Burke has assumed the role as leader of the Wolverines. Just by watching a game, you can see that his teammates have the utmost respect for him and follow his leadership. Trey Burke without a doubt will be declaring for the NBA draft and be drafted in the lottery because of his fantastic season. Burke may have not had the best competition for the award, but he definitely deserved to be name Player of the Year.
Here are two examples of why Burke was deserving of the award. The first is a game against Michigan State. The game was tied 56-56 with 25 seconds left in the game. Burke was playing tough defense and stole the ball from the point guard and finished the play off with a two-handed slam. Michigan went on to win the game by a score of 58-57. The second play was against a one-seeded Kansas team with star Ben McLemore. The Wolverines were down by 3 with ten seconds left. Kansas missed a free throw and Trey Burke brought the ball up. With 5 seconds left, Burke chucked up a deep three and made it to send the game to OT. Did I forget to mention that this was during the NCAA tournament?! Michigan won 87-85.
I am not going to write as much about Jim Larranaga as I did with Trey Burke. But believe me, Larranaga deserves the same amount of publicity as Burke. Jim Larranaga brought his Miami team from the bottom all the way to the top. Like Drake’s song, “Started from the bottom, now we here ” (I know…pretty lame of me). Miami did just that. The Hurricanes started the season not even in the top 25. By the end of the season, Miami was in the top 10 and was once the number 2 team in the country. How is that for a team that wasn’t even expected to make the tournament in the beginning of the year. Miami finished their season 29-7, with a loss in the tournament to a strong Marquette team. During the regular season, Miami dominated the ACC. They finished with a 15-3 conference record, and Larranaga got Miami their first ACC regular season title and ACC tournament championship. Miami was led by their sophomore guard, Shane Larkin, son of baseball player Barry Larkin. Besides Larkin, Larranaga had an older team, mostly consisting of juniors and seniors. Jim was not expected to do much with his team, and he proved all the doubters wrong with one of the best, maybe the best season in Miami basketball history. Jim Larranaga definitely was the right choice for Coach of the Year.