Handing out the midseason WCC awards

William Mancebo

Tyler Haws appears to be this year's champ - so far at least.

We are halfway through the season, and so far it has shaken out like most people thought it would. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are sitting on top of the WCC, because well, this is our house until it burns to the ground. Saint Mary's are the annoying neighbors staying up too late, and BYU were the neighbors staying up too late until they got evicted.

One thing is for sure this year -- the WCC isn't half bad. Before someone inevidently points it out, I'm well aware that this isn't the Big 12. The WCC is ranked ninth in conference RPI, but that beats out the Mountain West Conference! The thing that is looking nice is that for once, the best talents in the WCC aren't a bunch of seniors about to send this conference back to the stone-age after graduation. The WCC is good this year, and it will be better next year.

So without further ado and terrible teleprompt reading - let's get to the midseason awards as I see it.

Player of the Year: Tyler Haws

As far as I'm concerned, this is Haws award to lose this year. He leads the WCC in any category involving points and is one of the more exciting scorers in the league nation. His 23.6 points per game are good for best in the WCC and fourth best in the nation. Also, let's be honest, he is close to being the only player capable of this shot in the conference.

The reason why I think he'll be a runaway winner is the position BYU has dug so wholeheartedly into. BYU needs to win out the conference, and, most likely, the conference tournament to have any dream of sniffing March Madness. They'll need Haws to carry them kicking and screaming, and he is the one player capable of it.

Newcomer of the Year: Jared Brownridge

Brownridge gets the nod over others because he is a freshman. He came onto Santa Clara to shoot the ball, and that is what he has done. He has also done that better than everyone in the conference. He leads the WCC in three point field goals made and has shot them at a clip of 45 percent. He is fourth in the conference in points per game and second in effective field goal percentage. This kid will be good, and he still has three more years to mash that in our faces. Don't be surprised to see him lead the Broncos to a victory over Gonzaga during his tenure.

Defensive Player of the Year: Przemek Karnowski

Here is the thing about Karnowski, say what you will about the kid, but he has really improved his game this year -- especially on the defensive end. Karnowski is third in the league with blocks per game at 1.7. He is first in the conference in defensive rating. He has figured out how to limit his foul trouble (for the most part) that plagued him at the beginning of the year and is now a force that alters shots down low. He is the only player in the WCC that can instill this fear, and I think he'll do it more often as he gets more comfortable.

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Coach of the Year - N/A

I'm taking the easy way out, because honestly I don't think any of the coaches are really that deserving of this award. In the end, it will go to the coach that takes his team to the NCAA Tournament. If I had to choose, I might say Eric Reveno from Portland because of the BYU and Gonzaga wins. But, and no offense against Reveno, he isn't a good X's and O's coach...at all. Portland has its big wins and that is all they will get this year. I would say Rex Walters because of the turmoil surrounding his team lately, but if the rumors are true then he doesn't deserve me typing these words.

All-Conference Team

Tyler Haws junior BYU
Anthony Ireland senior LMU
Jared Brownridge freshman Santa Clara
Kevin Bailey junior Portland
Kevin Pangos junior Gonzaga
Johnny Dee junior San Diego
Sam Dower senior Gonzaga
Brad Waldow junior Saint Mary's
Ryan Nicholas senior Portland
Stephen Holt senior Saint Mary's

The thing most exciting about all of this is the lack of seniors in that list. Traditionally, the all-conference team has been a bunch of seniors and then the random Gonzaga players interspersed. That has been the talent differential in the league. We are finally achieving parity in the WCC! Granted, that comes at the expense of GU coasting throughout, but I'll take a good WCC with a good Gonzaga team any day of the week.

Honorable Mentions:

Stacy Davis sophomore Pepperdine
Cole Dickerson senior San Francisco
Kyle Collinsworth sophomore BYU
Thomas Van der Mars junior Portland
Christopher Anderson junior San Diego
Brandon Clark junior Santa Clara
Matt Carlino junior BYU
Sama Taku senior Pacific
Gabe Levin freshman LMU
Przemek Karnowski sophomore Gonzaga

I had a hard time figuring out what Gonzaga player would end up there. For now, Przemek gets the nod because of his defense and the fact that he has played all season. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gary Bell there, or on the all-conference, by the end of the year.

All-Freshman

Jeremy Major Pepperdine 10.8 pts, 3.3 rebs, 4.1 ast
Gabe Levin LMU 14.0 pts, 7.5 reb, 1.2 ast
Evan Payne LMU 14.6 pts, 2.4 reb, 1.2 ast
Eric Mika BYU 13.0 pts, 6.3 reb, 1.1 ast
Jared Brownrdige Santa Clara 17.2 pts, 2.3 reb, 2.4 ast

I don't know about y'all, but I've had a blast watching the increased competition against our beloved Gonzaga Bulldogs squad. Granted, this increased blast level has also corresponded with increased gray hairs and pulling of eyebrows (or insert your favorite nervous tic here), but the reality of the situation is that eventually everyone was going to start catching up with Gonzaga. And if they weren't catching up, they were closing the gap. Either way, the WCC is hardly the doormat it used to be. In the long run, for this Gonzaga squad, this is only a good thing.

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