BYU junior point guard Jimmer Fredette had the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year award locked up months ago.
Or so it seemed.
Apparently, he left the back door open, and the trophy seems to be headed for a new home.
There is a commonly uttered phrase in sports, typically used in reference to the fickleness of fans, writers, team owners, athletic directors, and all others with a vested interested in the success and prosperity of an organization.
What have you done for me lately?
The honest truth is, Jimmer Fredette has done very little.
Perhaps a feeble immune system is to blame. Perhaps Fredette wolfed down a few pregame spoonfuls of tainted funeral potatoes. It could have been some bad Jell-O or a questionable batch of fry sauce.
Maybe the emergence of Michael Loyd Jr. has caused the change in tides. The excellent play of the former third string point guard has allowed BYU coach Dave Rose to keep an energy-sapped Fredette glued to the pine.
Darington Hobson of New Mexico might be the real culprit. He has been very good all season, but has elevated his play to a brilliant level of late in leading the Lobos to a conference championship. He might even have outplayed a healthy Fredette.
As recently as three days ago, I was still proclaiming Fredette the MWC’s best player and most deserving candidate for conference POY. I referenced his impressive overall body of work, his consistency, and his importance to his team.
I was willing to give him an injury/illness mulligan for his struggles in the biggest game of the season.
I can’t do it anymore.
I have jumped off board the Good-Ship-Jimmer.
I’m hitching my wagon to Darington Hobson’s star.
Flip-flopping aside, in the last week, Hobson put both hands firmly on the award and wrestled it away from Fredette’s illness weakened grasp.
In the last two games, Fredette has played just 35 minutes, hit 4-of-14 shots, scored 14 points, recorded two assists, and turned the ball over four times.
In his last two games, Hobson has played all but four minutes, hit 16-of-33 shots, scored 40 points, recorded 11 assists, and turned the ball over 11 times. He grabbed 28 rebounds.
Hobson also made a spectacular, victory-preserving blocked shot in the final seconds at BYU, as Fredette watched helplessly from the bench.
Throw the season stats out the window. They are a virtual wash anyway.
Fredette scores a lot more points. Hobson grabs a lot more rebounds. Fredette has a few more assists and a few less turnovers. Hobson is a better defender.
Both have had a spectacular year.
The bottom line provides a colossal boost to Hobson’s case:
Darington Hobson played magnificently down the stretch, led to his team to a victory in an insanely hostile and difficult environment, and secured the first outright conference championship for New Mexico since 1994.
Jimmer Fredette quietly faded.
Is it fair? Perhaps not.
We’ll never know with any degree of certainty how things would have turned out if Fredette’s digestive system had cooperated.
Ultimately, it didn’t.
A healthy Hobson capitalized.
Cougar fans will be left feeling ill themselves as Hobson walks away with the hardware they thought their guy had in the bag.
If Fredette gets sick again, that empty bag could come in handy.