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Mayo, VanderMeer receive Horizon honors

MAYO LANDS ON ALL-LEAGUE 1ST TEAM

March 4, 2008

Photo: Steve Woltmann/UIC Athletics

UIC’s Josh Mayo (left) was All-League First-Team and Scott VanderMeer was named to the All-Defensive Team.

UIC’s Josh Mayo and Scott VanderMeer were honored by the Horizon League in a poll released Monday conducted by the conference, which included votes from coaches, sports information directors and selected media.

Mayo, a 5-foot-11-inch junior guard, was named to the All-League First-Team after an outstanding regular season in which he averaged 17.6 points, 3.4 assists and shot 49 percent from three-point range. For most of the season, Mayo led the nation in three-point shooter before tapering off a bit in the last couple of weeks.

VanderMeer, a 7-foot, 265-pound junior center, was named to the All-Defensive Team for the second straight season. VanderMeer blocked 80 shots in the regular season, averaging 2.7 per game. Most teams game-planned to stay away from VanderMeer in recent weeks as Butler and Milwaukee both shot 30-plus three-point attempts in recent games against the Flames.

Butler guard Mike Green was named Horizon League Player of the Year on 42 of 46 ballots as the 6-foot-1 senior guard led the Bulldogs in scoring (14.5 points), rebounding (6.4) and assists (5.1). Green was the glue to the Bulldogs’ 16-2 run through the conference this season as fellow backcourt mate (and Preseason Player of the Year) A.J. Graves struggled with his shot.

Butler freshman forward Matt Howard was awarded the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year award after putting up averages of 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest. Howard was the first true freshman to receive the honor since Northern Illinois’ T.J. Lux in 1996.

Coach of the Year honors were split between Cleveland State’s Gary Waters and Wright State’s Brad Brownell. Waters led Cleveland State out of the league’s lower echelon for the first time since 2001 as the Vikings finished the regular season at 20-11 overall and 12-6 in conference play. CSU seized the No. 2 seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Brownell led the Raiders to their second consecutive 20-win campaign as WSU was 20-9 overall and 12-6 in the league.

In two new awards, voted upon by only the league’s head coaches, Valparaiso senior guard Jarryd Loyd took the Sixth Man of the Year award and Green Bay junior forward Terry Evans was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Loyd, from Niles West High School in North Suburban Skokie, averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 assists per game. Evans often guarded the opposition’s best player and showed his athleticism with blocks and steals.

Following is a complete list with Horizon League honorees, along with Whoosh!’s official vote:

FIRST-TEAM ALL-HORIZON
League Poll How Whoosh! voted
Mike Green, Butler* Mike Green, Butler*
A.J. Graves, Butler Josh Mayo, UIC
J’Nathan Bullock, Cleveland St. Cedric Jackson, Cleveland St.
Josh Mayo, UIC Vaughn Duggins, Wright State
Vaughn Duggins, Wright State J’Nathan Bullock, Cleveland St.

*--- Player of the Year vote

Whoosh! photo

Butler senior guard Mike Green led the Bulldogs in the triple-crown categories of points, rebounds and assists.

Analysis: Graves was the league’s Preseason Player of the Year, but it was Green, who had the much better season. Green led Butler in points, rebounds and assists – and he’s a 6-foot-1-inch guard. Last year’s Newcomer of the Year was the Bulldogs’ undisputed leader and played well in the clutch. I nabbed four out of the five First-Team picks. I liked Cleveland State’s Jackson a whole bunch and voted from him over Butler’s Graves. In fact, I put Jackson third on my ballot behind Green and UIC’s Mayo. He was the on-court symbol of the Vikings’ transformation from doormat to contender. The transfer from St. John’s made an immediate impact defensively and was pretty darn good on offense, too. He averaged 14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Mayo made a big jump from his sophomore season to his junior year. I missed the boat on Josh and did not even vote for him on the preseason ballot, but the guard from Merrillville, Ind. quickly made a fool of me by posting 34 points on Bradley in the Flames’ opener. Mayo was deadly from the perimeter all season long and rarely took bad shots. Some coaches said that he even considered him the Player of the Year. Bullock, a holdover from the previous era at Cleveland State, continued his stellar play and proved to the pundits that he deserved his honor. The one-time high school gridiron great is a decent scorer and rebounder and is effective at getting to the free-throw line and then converting foul shots. Vaughn Duggins is Wright State’s best player and the sophomore guard continues to play like an upperclassman. He carried himself like a senior even last season and helped to fill DaShaun Wood’s shoes this season.

SECOND-TEAM ALL-HORIZON
League Poll How Whoosh! voted
Matt Howard, Butler Mike Schachtner, Green Bay
Cedric Jackson, Cleveland St. A.J. Graves, Butler
Jon Goode, Detroit Paige Paulsen, Milwaukee
Mike Schachtner, Green Bay Matt Howard, Butler
Paige Paulsen, Milwaukee Jon Goode, Detroit

Whoosh! photo

Detroit guard Jon Goode led the Horizon League in scoring, but that did not translate into many Titan victories this season.

Analysis: I correctly picked four out of the five Second-Teamers and nabbed all 10 of the All-Conference players. Graves did not quite deserve first-team honors this season as he struggled for most of the conference season with his shooting and offensive production. However, Graves did enough good things to land here, in my opinion. Green Bay’s Mike Schachtner is one of the league’s best shooters and most versatile players, though his numbers dropped off a bit in the second half of the season. Milwaukee’s Paulsen was the best of a Milwaukee lot that was decimated by roster defections. Paulsen was one of the reasons the Panthers ended the season in a fourth-place tie after averaging 13.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game and often guarding players taller than him. Howard had a great freshman season and is my second newcomer on the All-Conference Team. My final pick went to Detroit’s Goode, who was the shining star in an otherwise forgettable year for the Titans. Goode led the conference in scoring at 19.3 points per game and scored 20 or more points on 15 occasions before a season-ending injury. The Titans’ last-place finish cost Goode a spot on the First Team. Other players under consideration were Valparaiso’s Loyd and Shawn Huff, Youngstown State’s Byron Davis and John Barber, Wright State’s Todd Brown, Loyola’s J.R. Blount, UIC’s VanderMeer and Green Bay’s Evans and Ryan Tillema.

HORIZON ALL-NEWCOMER TEAM
League Poll How Whoosh! voted
Matt Howard, Butler* Cedric Jackson, Cleveland St.*
Cedric Jackson, Cleveland St. Matt Howard, Butler
Rahmon Fletcher, Green Bay Rahmon Fletcher, Green Bay
Deonte Roberts, Milwaukee Vytas Sulskis, Youngstown St.
Vytas Sulskis, Youngstown St. Bryan Bouchie, Valparaiso
*---Newcomer of the Year vote

Whoosh! photo

Butler freshman forward Matt Howard was the consensus choice for Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, edging Cleveland State’s Cedric Jackson.

Analysis: Again, Jackson was the top on-court reason for Cleveland State’s comeback to the upper tier of the Horizon League. He epitomized the Vikings’ more aggressive defensive style. Howard, who was the consensus choice for the award, was not far behind in my book. Howard had some of his best games against teams from the so-called major conferences, scoring 23 points against Ohio State and posting a 12-point, 12-rebound performance against Michigan. Green Bay’s Fletcher is the only freshman starting point guard in the conference and averages 10.0 points and 3.2 assists per game. Youngstown State’s Vytas Sulskis started every game except one this season. The 6-foot-7 freshman guard showed some of his range this season. Maybe the fact that Sulskis averaged 22.0 points in two games against UIC is a strong reason why I liked him so much. I disagreed with one pick as I selected Valparaiso’s freshman forward Bryan Bouchie. He averaged 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and had a team-high 22 blocks for the Crusaders. The consensus went with Milwaukee’ Deonte Roberts, which wasn’t a bad pick. Roberts averaged 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists while starting 24 games as a freshman. Others in my consideration included UIC freshman guard Robert Kreps and Loyola senior guard Justin Cerasoli. Kreps had a nice stretch of seven straight double-figure scoring games, but he dropped off in the second half of the season.

COACH OF THE YEAR
League Poll How Whoosh! voted
Waters, CSU/Brownell, WSU Gary Waters, Cleveland St.

Whoosh! photo

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters brought an intensity back to the Vikings that hadn’t been seen for almost a decade.

Analysis: In my mind, there was little doubt that this award should have gone to Waters, and Waters alone. The Cleveland State bench boss, in his second season at the school, has already changed the losing culture that has haunted the campus since 2001. His recruiting and his defensive philosophy made a huge impact as the Vikings started out 7-0 in league play. Even after a mid-season slump, CSU finished out strong, reaffirming my choice for Waters. Brownell, a terrific coach who could be headed for Indiana after the season, helped Wright State get along just fine without graduated superstar Wood. If it weren’t for Waters’ amazing performance, I think that I would have leaned toward Milwaukee’s Rob Jeter. The Panthers lost several players, including All-Conference caliber talents in Avery Smith and Torre Johnson and highly-regarded freshmen Tim Flowers and Kevin Johnson. When it appeared Milwaukee was headed for the abyss, Jeter orchestrated a six-game winning streak at mid-season, pulling the Panthers back into contention for a high seed in the Horizon League tournament. Kudos also go out to Butler’s Brad Stevens, who oversaw a seamless transition from Todd Lickliter and led the Bulldogs to 27 wins.

HORIZON ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

Only head coaches can vote for this team

League Poll
Mike Green, Butler
Drew Streicher, Butler
Cedric Jackson, Cleveland St.
Terry Evans, Green Bay
Scott VanderMeer, UIC

HORIZON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Whoosh! photo

Green Bay forward Terry Evans was electrifying, especially on defense.

Only head coaches can vote

Terry Evans, Green Bay

Analysis: Evans seemed like a deserving pick for this honor. He’s been a coaches’ favorite on defense since he walked on the Green Bay campus. The 6-foot-5 Evans’ athleticism gives him the versatility to defend guards and forwards alike. UIC’s VanderMeer was someone that coaches often planned to stay away from. The Flames’ hulking center altered many shots and many offensive game plans. Butler is always a beacon for good defense and Streicher was very much a deserving choice after not making the team last season. He often defends centers and guards in the same game. Green was also a solid choice. Of course, Jackson was unbelievable in leading Cleveland State’s transition to a more aggressive defense.

HORIZON 6TH MAN OF THE YEAR

Only head coaches can vote

Jarryd Loyd, Valparaiso

Analysis: Loyd was an excellent pick by the coaches. No UIC fan will forget his half-court shot on Jan. 24 that helped swing that contest to the Crusaders. The only other strong candidate was Butler senior forward Pete Campbell, who after starting a few games at the beginning of the season, returned to his role as the gunner of the Bulldogs’ bench.

In other recent news:
VanderMeer lifts Flames to No. 4 seed (at Milwaukee) (3/2/08)
UIC's last-second loss puts home game in peril (at Green Bay) (2/29/08)
Bush leads Flames' balanced attack (at N. Iowa) (2/24/08)
Three spree helps Butler escape UIC (2/21/08)
Raiders steal victory from Flames (at Wight State) (2/17/08)
Bad night for Flames, Goode for Titans (at Detroit) (2/15/08)
Stewart helps put Flames in cruise control (vs. Valpo) (2/12/08)
Flames heating up, finish up sweep of Ramblers (2/10/08)
Hoops still close to Granderson's heart (plus Loyola preview) (2/8/08)