If I had a vote for the NSIC postseason awards (I don’t, they’re picked by the league’s coaches), I wouldn’t have much trouble filling out my ballot for the women’s awards.
Minot’s Carly Boag finished second in the league in scoring (18.1), and first in rebounding (by a wide margin) with 11.9 per game. She also ranked third in the league in FG percentage (.561), second in steals (2.73) and fifth in blocks (1.15).
Minot may not have had a big year as a team (13-13, 9-13 in the league), but Boag’s numbers are too good to ignore.
Concordia coach Paul Fessler took the Golden Bears from 8-14 in NSIC play to 19-3 and the conference title. No brainer.
Carly Pagel averaged 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds for Upper Iowa, making her an easy pick for top freshman.
Boag is a strong candidate for defensive honors, but Mary’s Shaunna Knife was easily the best defender I saw all year, combining the size of a post with the skills of a guard to lead the league in blocked shots by a mile (2.46 per game).
On the men’s side it’s a lot tougher.
To me, MVP is pretty much between Augie’s Cam McCaffrey and Winona State’s Clayton Vette. McCaffrey edged Vette for the league scoring title (20.807 to 20.75), while Vette finished second in rebounding (8.1) and McCaffrey was fourth in assists (4.4).
Here’s a more complete breakdown.
Cam: Played in all 26 of his team’s games, averaging 33.9 minutes. 20.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
Shot .453 from the floor, .348 from 3-point range (47 makes), .880 at the line. Vikings finished 19-7, and Cam led them in scoring in 24 of 26 games.
Vette: Played in 28 of team’s 29 games, averaging 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block per game. Shot .580 from the floor, .275 from 3-point range (11 makes) and .724 from the line. Warriors finished 23-6, and Vette led them in scoring in 21 of the 28 games he played.
This is pretty much a toss-up. The fact that Cam is a point guard and Vette is a post makes it kind of hard to compare the stats, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either choice.
I suppose the fact that I cover Cam regularly makes me somewhat biased, but I think he deserves it. McCaffrey took a team that started three freshmen and a sophomore to 19 wins and the a likely berth in the NCAA tournament, a berth that, frankly, I didn’t think they had a remote chance at when the season started. With no disrespect to the Viking underclassmen, who exceeded expectations, there was really only one way for Augie to reach the tournament this year, and that was for Cam to put them on his back and take them there, and that’s exactly what he did. He was the Vikings leading scorer in 24 of their 26 games. He was responsible for quarterbacking the offense from the point and scoring most of their points. At times it was actually kind of exhausting watching him when you considered how much responsibility he had. And while he’s not a defensive stopper, he’s probably the Vikings’ best backcourt defender.
Not to undercut what Vette accomplished this year, but he’s got the help of several other seniors/upperclassmen, and he can count on them to set him up, feed him the ball, attract attention away from him, etc. Sure he still has to produce, and he did so better than anyone in the league, but Cam largely had to create for himself and set up his teammates/make them better.
I suspect Vette will win the award, and he’s not undeserving. But if you take Vette off the Warriors, they’re still pretty good. Take Cam off the Vikings and you can count their conference wins on one hand.
Coach of the Year is another tough one. Tom Billeter’s Vikings went 17-11 with a veteran team last year, and came back this year with two seniors and a handful of true freshmen. Instead of rebuilding, they’ve gone 19-7 and likely clinched an NCAA tournament berth. This has been easily the best coaching job I’ve seen from Billeter in the near-decade I’ve been covering him.
But Brian Dolan’s work taking Upper Iowa from 10-16/7-15 to 18-10/14-8 is impressive, too, especially considering Upper Iowa has to be a much tougher place to win than Augie/Mankato/Winona, etc.
And yet, I still think the nod has to go to Matt Margenthaler of MSU-Mankato. Sure, the Mavericks winning the NSIC is nothing new, but it’s easy to forget that they slipped to 13th place (out of 14) last year, going 7-19 overall and 6-16 in the league. For a lot of teams, getting things turned around might be a lengthy process, but not only did Margenthaler get the Mavs turned around in just one year, they won the conference, playing in the much tougher South Division. The Mavs went 22-4 and 18-4 in the league. Margenthaler gets my vote.
Augie’s Dan Jansen is a pretty easy choice for top freshman. He averaged 11.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and shot .524 from the floor, and unless I overlooked someone, no other freshman really came close to those numbers.
Defensively, I’ll give the nod to MSU-Mankato’s Zach Monaghan (league-leading 2.54 steals per game) over MSU-Moorhead’s Alex Novak.
MVP: Cam McCaffrey, Augustana
Coach of the Year: Matt Margenthaler, MSU-Mankato
Freshman of the Year: Dan Jansen, Augustana
Defensive Player of the Year: Zach Monaghan, MSU-Mankato
MVP: Carly Boag, Minot State
Coach of the Year: Paul Fessler, Concordia-St. Paul
Freshman of the Year: Carly Pagel, Upper Iowa
Defensive Player of the Year: Shaunna Knife, Mary
All-NSIC Men’s Team
Cam McCaffrey, Augustana
Anthony Tucker, MSU-Moorhead
Terez Van Pelt, Concordia-St. Paul
Clayton Vette, Winona State
Collin Pryor, Northern State
All-NSIC Women’s Team
Whitney Kieffer, Upper Iowa
Ali Collins, Mary
Ali Wilkinson, MSU-Mankato
Anika Whiting, Concordia-St. Paul
Carly Boag, Minot State
Feel free to tell me how wrong I am, about my All-NSIC teams and other stuff, at today’s live chat at 2 p.m.