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2023 C-USA MBB Superlatives

The league announced the post-season superlative awards and all-conference teams. These are voted on by the “league’s coaches, sports information directors and a media representative from each school.” CUSAREPORT is not in any of the mentioned groups so do not blame me for this list.

Player of the Year: Tylor Perry, North Texas
Freshman of the Year: Arturo Dean, FIU
Coach of the Year: Dusty May, FAU

Defensive POY: Jamarion Sharp, WKU
Newcomer of the Year: Kai Huntsberry
Sixth Player of the Year: Johnell Davis

First Team:

  • Jelly Walker, UAB
  • Denver Jones, FIU
  • Alijah Martin, FAU
  • Tylor Perry, UNT
  • Johnnell Davis, FAU

All-defensive team:

  • Rubin Jones, UNT
  • Teafale Lenard, Jr, Middle
  • Trey Jemison, UAB
  • Arturo Dean, FIU
  • Jamarion Sharp, WKU

Freshman team:

  • Arturo Dean, FIU
  • Dashon Gittens, FIU
  • Jordan Crawford, La Tech
  • Mehki Mason, Rice
  • DJ Richards, UTSA

What It All Means

The big surprise, or at least discussion yesterday, was about the player of the year voting. Tylor Perry is deserving of the award. Jelly Walker was not “snubbed.” I don’t know the voting rationale or how close it was overall but my guesstimate is the following:

Tylor Perry played in 20/20 conference games, including 697 total minutes to Walker’s 15 games played and 511 minutes. Walker took more shots, made more shots but Perry made more of the shots he took. Walker is shooting .374 from three on about 13 threes per game (all per/40 minutes). Perry is shooting .420 on about 15 per game. So Jelly was putting up about 26 points per game while Perry had about 19.2 (all per 40). Essentially, Perry was more efficient on a slower-paced team. Walker can obviously score, but so can Perry.

Sports Reference had Perry at 125.1 ORtg per 100 possessions and 100 DRtg. Jelly was at 113/106.7 on his per-100 possession numbers.

In short, it seems the voters liked Perry’s availability, team success (NT beat UAB twice and had a better record) and efficiency. Again, both could have won it, but simply looking at the points-per-game is a little old-school. We have other and more numbers to measure that help justify the eye-test. To my eyes, Perry was so important for North Texas and his consistent production on a team that has limited offensive possessions is incredible.

The Other Stuff

Arturo Dean was a deserving freshman of the year. That is without controversy, but the Defensive Player of the Year is not. Ask a MTSU fan, and you will hear the resume of Teafale Lenard, Jr (96.7 DRtg on SR). Ask a North Texas fan and they will laud Rubin Jones’ ability to cover 1-4 (94 DRtg on SR). Talk to a UTEP guy, and they will go on about Soloman, or Shimar Givance (99 Drtg on SR). Jamarion Sharp blocked a ton of shots — (4.2) — but also had a defensive rating of 93.2 on SR per 100 possessions.

The real controversy is in how you measure defense and how valuable it is. Whereas there is only one ball, and measuring the person who puts the ball in the hoop is easy, it is not easy to assess the value of someone who is making it harder for his man to score. The game’s best defender can be bypassed if his teammate is the game’s worst defender. It is on defense where the team nature of the sport really shines. For me, that means either someone from North Texas (Jones), which had the number one scoring defense or UTEP (Soloman or Givance) which was the third best defensive efficiency team according to kenpom or maybe someone on FAU, which came in second in defensive efficiency but also won the league.

The Rest

Here is a screen grab of the full list of team selections including honorable mention.

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