Judgment Week: BYU's Jimmer Fredette Controls His MWC POY Destiny
ESPN has dubbed this "Judgment Week," as teams on the bubble beat each other up to attempt to lock up the final at-large berths in the NCAA Tournament.
For teams like BYU, who have already sewn up such a spot, what is left to be judged besides seeding? Postseason awards, that's what.
As the season nears completion, BYU's Jimmer Fredette is in the driver's seat to claim the award bestowed upon him in the preseason: Mountain West Conference Player of the Year.
What about UNLV's Tre'Von Willis or New Mexico's Darington Hobson? Don't they have any say in the matter?
Each are fine players and would be deserving of the award, but a combination of UNLV's foibles and BYU's remaining schedule put the ball squarely in Fredette's court (Pun somewhat intended).
The Case Against Willis
Willis' claim to the award looked strong after the Rebels' 88-74 home shellacking of BYU, in which he scored a career-high 33 points. Fredette, meanwhile, scored 21 points but never got into a groove offensively, shooting just 4-of-15 from the field.
Just when Willis and UNLV were at their peak, three straight losses brought the team (and Willis' award hopes) to their knees.
In the first two games of the slide (against New Mexico and San Diego State), Willis struggled from the floor, shooting 9-of-28 and scoring just 30 points.
He found his shot against Utah, finishing with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting, but no other Rebel made it into double figures.
In UNLV's final three games (TCU, at Air Force, Wyoming) Willis will considerably pad his stats, but the lack of a marquee matchup means his performances will fall largely on deaf ears.
The Case Against Hobson
In an ironic twist, Hobson played his junior college ball at the College of Eastern Utah, just under two hours away from the Marriott Center, where the MWC title (and possibly this award) will likely be decided Saturday.
Even if Hobson and the Lobos leave Provo with a win, he may still fall short of the POY honor.
Both BYU and New Mexico have four players who average double digits in points. However, Hobson (15.5 PPG) is much closer to the Lobos' second-leading scorer (Roman Martinez, 13.8 PPG) than Fredette (21.5) is to BYU's (Jackson Emery, 12.3 PPG).
The team play clearly doing wonders for the Lobos overall, but it doesn't help an individual like Hobson stand out and be recognized.
Further, Hobson does not yet have the head-to-head advantage against Fredette that Willis has. Sure, New Mexico beat BYU on Jan. 27, but Hobson finished with five points on 1-of-11 shooting along with 14 rebounds.
Fredette also wasn't sharp from the field (8-for-21) but still finished with 27 points and seven assists.
Hobson will have his chance to outshine Fredette on Saturday, but a performance against the Cougars similar to that of Jan. 27 would likely push him out of contention.
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