At this point it’s a two horse race for the B1G Player of the Year between Vince Edwards of the #3 Purdue Boilermakers and Keita Bates-Diop of #22 Ohio State. They are both the alpha dog on the two teams that have most pleasantly surprised in the league this season. Even in the off-night he had tonight at Northwestern, Bates-Diop still almost had a double double.
His 10 points and eight rebounds effort ended a stretch which saw him become the first Ohio State player to score at least 25 points in three straight games since Michael Redd in 1998.
Bates-Diop is the current reigning Big Ten Player of the Week for the past two weeks.
Following the 71-65 win at Northwestern, Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann said that he couldn’t believe KDB was left off the midseason Wooden Award watch list. He also extolled the virtues of his 6-7 senior, calling him one of the best players in the country, and becoming as animated as he’s been in a press conference all season.
“Tonight may not have been his best night offensively, but he will learn from it. You cannot expect a kid to be shooting and playing at the level that he has played,” Holtmann responded when I asked him about the development of Bates-Diop.
“No one in the country that I have seen has went through the kind of stretch that he has had in terms of efficiency, offensively. If they have, I don’t follow college basketball maybe enough.”
“I hope we have a full appreciation for how good he has been in this stretch. I think he is an elite player and I think he is one of the best players in the country.”
Meanwhile, the night before saw Vince Edwards tally his fifth 20-point game with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in a 78-50 laugher over Wisconsin. Over the last three games, Edwards is 10-of-14 (.714) from three point range. In 19/20 games this season, Edwards has scored in double figures.
The blowout of the Badgers marked the 15th career 20-point game for Edwards. For Purdue, it was their 14th consecutive win, with the last two coming by a combined 62 points. It’s easy to see why the Boilermakers are shooting up towards the top in all rankings, polls and metrics.
While those rankings all have a very subjective, arbitrary human element to them, let’s take a look at the boolean values, the binary truths that surround what the Purdue Boilermakers have achieved up until this point. Purdue is 17-0 in games played on American soil (1-2 during the Battle4Atlantis in Bahamas).
(Oh and hey, why not just spell “for”? Nothing at makes sense with “4”, there are more than four teams in the tournament. It’s another corporation trying too hard, whoops I mean 2hard, to be “street” or “edgy” like when they pluralize with Zs, instead of Ss).
Purdue’s 18 wins, and 11 wins by 25 or more are the nation’s best this year. We bring up the Purdue team accomplishments in a discussion about individuals because really you could put a handful of the Boilers’ best players into this discussion. You could easily swap out Vince Edwards with Carsen Edwards, or Isaac Haas, or a couple of the other Boiler big guns and put them into this discussion.
“Our coaches do a good job of keeping us grounded and coming into practice every day with a focus to get things done and don’t let losing be the reason why you’re competitive and sharp and on edge,” Vince Edwards said after the rout of Wisconsin.
“Let winning be enough. Let success take its course but also be able to handle success and keep playing. And Coach Painter does a tremendous job of that.”
Painter’s crew perfectly conveyed Tuesday night how the team can still play at a high octane level, even when some of their most critical pistons aren’t firing. The Boilermakers are a complete team, which doesn’t always lend itself easily to the individual POY of the discussion, but at the same time, an individual player from Purdue must be at the top of the conversation because they are the most complete and consistent team in the B1G.
We’ll go with Vince Edwards, for now, but Bates-Diop is right up there with him. Obviously you can throw another Boilermaker or two into this debate, and also you have to consider Michigan’s Moritz Wagner and Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy in the conversation as well.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.