The votes are in, and apparently some Big East coaches have warped priorities. As you have undoubtedly seen, the six players on the all-Big East first team are all guards and wing players. Great talents, no doubt. All certainly deserving of recognition. But there is no real frontcourt presence among them. At 6′5″, Providence’s Marshon Brooks is the biggest guy on the team. He is listed as “G/F” but he mainly played small forward for them — and he did grab over 7 rebounds per game. But he’s the only guy who qualifies as a forward. Austin Freeman (officially listed at 6 feet, 3.5 inches - come on, Hoya Athletic Dept, is that half-inch really necessary?) was nominally the starting small forward for Georgetown but really he’s a shooting guard in their three-guard lineup. Then you’ve got Ben Hansbrough, Kemba Walker, Dwight Hardy and Ashton Gibbs — a bunch of high-scoring combo guards. And that’s it.
It doesn’t bother me that the Big East doesn’t force the coaches to pick the best player at each traditional position. Teams use so many different variations in their standard lineups, based on their personnel, that it doesn’t make sense to pigeonhole each player for voting purposes. (For example, is Hansbrough a point guard or a shooting guard? He leads Notre Dame in assists, but also in scoring and three-point shooting.) If the two clear best players in the league are both point guards, it doesn’t make sense to exclude one of them.
What does bother me is that there were some coaches out there who thought it was fine to list six guards in their top six spots. I did the math*, and it is theoretically possible that Rick got as many as 12 first-team votes. It’s more likely that he got 11 or 10. We know Boeheim can’t vote for Rick, but this leaves at a bare minimum three coaches, and more plausibly four or five, who didn’t think it was necessary to recognize the obvious top interior player in the conference with a spot on the all-conference team. Who didn’t think to themselves “Hmm, maybe I should at least put one big guy on there. I know we have a ton of dynamic guards in this league, but being a high-scoring guard is not the only way to be a great player. I should recognize Jackson too: he’s the league’s best post player, interior scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker.”
And that, to me, is bollocks. The Big East coaches should be instructed to fill out their ballots with at least some consideration of the different skill sets that go into putting together a complete team. Like I said, forcing a position-by-position ranking would go too far, but something like this year’s first team shouldn’t be able to exist either. Force the voters to put at least two forwards/centers and at least two guards on their list of six, with the other two spots totally flexible. That should result in a more well-rounded approach, and the winning group might at least faintly resemble an actual basketball team.
(My first team would start with Jackson, Brooks, Walker, and Hansbrough. Between Gibbs, Hardy and Freeman, you have high scoring averages but not much to speak of in terms of rebounds or assists. I’ll go with Gibbs based on his 47% three-point shooting — well above the other two — and his team’s success.)
* In order for Rick to have got 12 votes but still miss out on the first team, the 96 available first-team votes would have to be split as follows: 15 for Hansbrough [unanimous], at least 13 for each of the other five players who made the team, and 12 for Rick. That makes 92 votes, and the other four votes could have gone to anyone other than Rick [including boosting the totals of some of the other five guys from 13 to 14].