We've tallied up the votes and the 2013 Syracuse Orange Blogger (S.O.B.) Awards have been decided. Let's honor the players, coaches, fans and moments from the 2012-2013 Syracuse Orange basketball season (and we'll honor our contracts as well).
Tongue-in-cheek votes for walk-ons aside, the award for Best Junior instantly comes down to either C.J. Fair or Baye "Matrix" Keita. Both made significant strides this past season and were integral parts of our run to the Final Four. But who was more integral? A look at some numbers that may add up to some conclusions:
Carl's Jr. Fair: Consistency. Clutch-ness. Efficiency (sorry, no more Cs to be had). From start to finish, Fair appeared to be the total package for Syracuse this year, providing a very dependable 14.5 points and seven rebounds per game. His player efficiency rating (PER) climbed up to 20.4 (from 18.9 last season), and most notably, his accuracy from three-point range spiked from 25 percent to 47 percent, year over year. Contrary to the norm, this increase in efficiency also came with an increase in usage (percent of plays a team uses a player while he's on the floor) from 17.2 percent last year, all the way up to 21.7 this season. Given all that, it's no wonder he also led Syracuse in win shares with an impressive 6.5 (third in the entire Big East).
Baye "Matrix" Keita: Following a rough sophomore effort, Keita appeared to rebound quite nicely as a junior, becoming a much more effective presence on the defensive end of the floor, while also putting himself in better position for easy baskets on offense. Total blocks, steals and rebounds were all up year-over-year, as were points (nearly double last year's output) and win shares too (2.9, compared to 1.6 last year). Most importantly (to me, anyway), his improvement at the free-throw line came at just the right time and was a critical factor in Syracuse's Final Four run. Despite hitting just 60 percent of his free throws during the season, Keita nailed 21 of his final 28, starting with a big seven-for-seven effort against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament. Considering how cold everyone else was from the line (don't get me started), it's tough to see how we get as far without him.
Now that we're past opening arguments, how did the rest of the TNIAAM community feel with regards to these two standout juniors?
Dan Lyons cites consistency as the main reason to go with Chrysanthemum Juniper Fair:
C.J. Fair - He was SU's most consistent player all year, which was vital during the dog days of 2013; when Syracuse couldn't buy a bucket for a month, Fair was always there with a savvy lefty kiss off the glass or a mid-range jumper or a corner three. Assuming he sticks around for his senior year, C.J. has a great shot to be the next Syracuse All-American, and should contend for ACC player of the year honors.
Similarly, Andy Pregler gives more praise for Christmas-in-July Fair:
CJ Fair- The MVP. You knew he'd give you 16 and 5 and he'd make it look easy. I hope the headband is back.
As does Sean, while sharing the same hope we all do that he'll return next year:
C.J. Fair - The most complete basketball player on the team. If he comes back, he's got All-American potential.
Over on the Baye side, there are two very compelling cases to be made as well. From Jared:
Baye Keita -- I am choosing "The Matrix" because I believe in one award per player (you can assume who my player of the year is now). Keita was magical during March and did all the little things right. He may not be able to handle a basketball, but he sure the hell can stroke clutch free throws, block shots and make the little-big plays that can spark a team to the Final Four.
And of course, from 721 Comstock in the comments section:
Is there a SOB Award for Best Face? Becuase Baye would 100% own that. His expressions are amazeballs.
Unfortunately for Baye, however, he could not amass enough amazeballs to beat out Cryptography Junction Fair, who along with carrying the staff vote, also raked in 91 percent of the community vote as well. Keita would finish second, with just four-percent of the vote, while walk-on Russ DeRemer was third with two-percent.
So congratulations to Captain Jack Fair for winning the S.O.B. Award for Best Syracuse Junior. You, your consistency and your headband were some of our favorite parts of the 2012-13 season, and for the love of God, please come back next season!!!
Look for more S.O.B. winners today and through the week...