Monthly Archives: March 2010

What If Pujols for Howard Was Real? Who Would You Choose?

Who would rather have this guy playing first base...

When the headline came across ESPN last month you had to do a double take. It was one of the headlines that you and your friends sit around and discuss over a few beers and starts some heated arguments. It was a headline that made you shake your head and wonder all in the same motion. The Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals discuss trading Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols.

The decade’s best power hitter and the decades best player in a one for one swap. GM Ruben Amaro of the Philadelphia Phillies denied the deal saying “”That’s a lie. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but that’s a lie.” Ok let it be a lie, but stories like these don’t get leaked if they don’t at least get kicked around.

The reasoning behind the deal maybe the fact that the Cardinals might not be able to afford Pujols’s salary when he becomes a free agent next year. Pujols maybe looking for an A-rod type deal of ten years and over 250 million dollars, and with the Cardinals being a mid-market team that deal maybe too rich for their blood. So why not explore a deal for a. a player from the St. Louis area who, b. is a former MVP and c. can produce the same numbers however with more strikeouts (way more strikeouts. Howard’s career total? 878. Pujols? 570. Oh and Pujols has played in 3 more seasons).

However who’s to say Howard won’t command a salary of close to or above 20 million when he is a free agent next year as well? Ryan Howard is no Albert Pujols, then again no one is, but Howard has been a monster at the plate when he doesn’t strikeout. He has hit the most Home Runs in baseball in last four years in Major League Baseball. He was the 2009 NLCS MVP when he carried the offensive load for a slumping Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Even though he’ll strikeout 2 out of five times at the plate, Howard is still someone you don’t want to mess with at the plate.

... or this guy?

Yet and still he’s no Pujols. No one is. Albert Pujols is the best player in the game in all areas of offense and defensively he’s no slouch either. 3-time NL MVP, gold glove winner 2006, nine 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons consecutively, no one else has ever done that, DiMaggio, Bonds, Rose, no one. His numbers are quite possibly the silliest anyone has ever seen. He should have more MVP’s if not for Bonds questionable output at the beginning of the decade. Pujols is a once in a generation player. He transcends the way a batter hits for power and for average. He hits to all fields with precision and can knock a ball out of the yard with ease.

What bothers me is if St. Louis knows all of the facts stated then why sign Matt Holliday to a 7 year deal for 120 million if you know you can’t afford it, and have to pay Pujols later? The Holliday trade was necessary to get Pujols protection in the line-up, but it could prove costly in a two years when Pujols becomes a free agent and teams (eh, hem the Red Sox and Yankees) start throwing tons of cash at him.

I guess the question to be asked is who would you rather have on your team? No seriously don’t laugh, I’m serious. Would you rather have the best player in the world or the best home run hitter of the last decade?

When you look at the numbers they all favor Pujols in every category except home runs and RBI, however Pujols has a higher slugging percentage than Howard (.628 to .586). Pujols 162 game averages are .334/42/129 to Howard’s .279/49/142, with an on base percentage more than 50 points higher than Howard and 30 more hits than Howard. Pujols also has committed the same amount of errors as Howard at first base (64) in 3 more years of service. The stats all favor Pujols except when you break them down a little further.

Ryan Howard’s numbers in the second half sky rocket in every category. Batting average (.255 to .303), his on-base percentage jumps by 50 points, OPS by 200 points. He grounds into less double plays than Pujols and his total of intentional walks goes up while Pujols walks decrease. Pujols power numbers also dive in the second half. Of his career numbers he has 50 less homeruns in the second half of the season and drives in 120 runs less.

Take a look at last year late in the season. Pujols seemed to be dominant all year long, but in the second half of the year his walks dipped by 50 percent, his slugging percentage dived by 140 points and his homerun and RBI production was cut in half. Howard was equal across the board in most of his offensive categories, raising his average, slugging and on-base percentage.

You can say the dip in Pujols production was due to the arrival of Holliday, but how does Howard’s production go up with Utley and Jayson Werth in the line-up, who are both 30/100 guys? Howard is a slow starter to say the least, but once the calendar turns to August he ratchets his game up another notch. Also look at last year’s postseason production. Throw out Howard’s poor World Series and his stats were monstrous. He hit .385 in the NLDS with 6 RBI, .333 with 2 homeruns and 8 RBI in the NLCS and an NLCS MVP. Pujols only drove in one run while hitting a pedestrian .300 in three games where his back-up cast faltered down throughout the series. Howard shined in the big spots, Pujols shrunk.

There are other factors that could play into a deal like this; though Howard is a St. Louis native, Pujols is a St. Louis guy, other than Derek Jeter no one symbolizes their team more than Pujols. Pujols is the face of the Cardinals franchise and that of Major League Baseball. His presence alone towers over anyone player other player. There are no hard feelings towards him, no bad comments, everyone loves the guy. He’s one of a small list of players that if he was found to have taken PHD’s it would devastate most fans in the game.

Howard on the other hand, though as great a player as he is isn’t even the face of his own team, that honor belongs to Chase Utley. In talking with a friend of mine who is a huge Phillies fan he believes that if the Phillies had to part with any player Howard should be the first guy to go because of the defensive deficiencies and the lack of plate discipline. This isn’t to say that Howard’s a bad guy, but in the grand scheme of things he lacks Pujols star quality and appeal.

Just take it all in and just let it marinate. Don’t get too carried away because it won’t happen. Both men will command Donald Trump money in 2011. The Joe Mauer deal set the bar for both players as a guy that just won the MVP award for his franchise, as compared to two title winners and former MVP’s who have finished one-two in three different MVP votes. So if he’s worth 23 million what do you think these two men would be worth.

Just look at it as one big what if. What if these two men traded places, cities? What impact would it have on the Phillies, the Cardinals and baseball? How cool would it be? Too bad we will never know, because as Ruben Amaro said “it’s just one big lie.” Too bad, it would have been one hell of a story

Big Time Butler

Yep Butler's in the final 4.

Thad Motta made them competitive. Todd Lickliter made them known. Brad Stevens has done something even more amazing, he’s turned the Butler Bulldogs into a national power.

No they’re not Duke, or Kansas, or even Arizona, but you can no longer call Butler a mid-major. Shed the mid, they are just major.

After beating Kansas State 63-56, Butler will now go to a place where only George Mason of the CAA has gone, the final 4 as a mid-major conference competitor. This wasn’t an overnight thing either. It started with Thad Motta in 2000-01 leading the team to a 24 win season and a second round tourney appearance. Then Lickliter came in and in 7 seasons pulled out a pair of Sweet sixteen appearances beating national powers like Florida and Maryland in the process. The bar for Stevens was set very high to keep the momentum going after Lickliter’s departure. All he’s done is reel off two 30 win seasons and bring Butler to within two wins of a national championship, and in the process they replace Gonzaga as the best team not from a major conference in the country.

Gonzaga never could shed the mid-major tag with their ridiculous runs in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Gonzaga was the school the always got close, but never could get over the hump. Butler however has found a way to go from a dangerous mid-major program, to becoming a player in the college championship race in the 3 seasons since Brad Stevens took over. His in your face man to man defense gave fits to some of the best players in the country and limited their effectiveness on the outcome of contests this year whether you’re Jacob Pullen, Wes Johnson or Derrick Caracter.

They did it with a team that most would consider to be half as talented as Kansas State or any other major conference team. A sharp shooting Gordon Haywood, and in your face Shelvin Mack and a threat down low in Matt Howard, who in this is junior season has deferred to the former two and become a great complementary player.

They did it by blowing through the Horizon league after a shaky start to the season where Butler lost 4 games before January and almost dropping out of the top 25 in the process. Coach Stevens at one point sat his team down and showed them their runner-up trophy from the Horizon league last year, which led to an early ousting in the NCAA tourney. He used it as a motivational tool to get his team going, boy did it ever.

After an embarrassing loss to UAB, Butler hasn’t lost since. They hold the nation’s longest winning streak at 24, mostly against foes from the Horizon league. However since Thursday night against Syracuse, a team picked by many to win it all just a month ago, the dogs proved the win streak was no joke. They shut down Wesley Johnson and controlled the tempo all game long making the Orange play into their hands all night. Similarly against the Wildcats Jacob Pullen and Dennis Clemente were non-factors going a combined 11-30 with Mack and Ronald Nored in their grills all night preventing any open looks. The Bulldogs beat up two of the nation’s top ten teams all year and when it counted, kept their composure late to stave off any late comeback attempts.

Now what awaits them is an eventual home game at Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday. The Butler campus is a paltry 6 miles away from the stadium, which means Tennessee or Michigan State can expect lots of blue and white in the stands for that game much like what North Carolina faced in the title game in Detroit last year. What everyone can also expect is every “Hoosiers” reference in the book over the next week. It doesn’t help that Butler plays in the same arena that housed the classic basketball film.

However, don’t confuse this team with Hickory high school. This is a magical run by a team not many people picked to be here, but it is also a team with enough bite to scare all opponents from the Horizon to the big East and the Big 12. These guys are small in budget and funds only, like Kanye West said, “Come on homie we major!” Butler most definitely is.

The Valiant Vols

January 1, 2010 was supposed to be the end of the Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball program. In one day a team considered by many to contend for the SEC title was left shorthanded thanks to poor judgment by Brian Williams, Melvin Goins, Cameron Tatum and the team’s best player Tyler Smith. Smith was removed from the team, Goins is still suspended, and Williams and Tatum were eventually reinstated. The Vols were toast. They had only 6 scholarship players and to walk-ons to get through the rest of the year before the return of Williams and Tatum. They had a tough SEC schedule, breakdowns on offense and very little identity as a team. Yet here they are 3 months later on the cusp of their first final four in school history.

After a long hard season, Tennessee is one game away from the final four.

After beating Ohio State 76-73 the Volunteers are a win over Michigan State away from playing for the games most coveted prize, the national championship. It’s amazing to consider what this team has been through over the last 3 months to think that they would even be remotely close to playing for a title.

Props of course goes to Bruce Pearl for pulling this thing together. He could’ve folded up his tent and started prepping for next year using the lack of talent on his team as an excuse. Instead, Pearl dug in and produced one of the best coaching jobs in recent memory.

After the arrests, Pearl led his shorthanded team to wins over top ranked Kansas, Kentucky, and Florida leaning heavily on seniors Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince and getting consistent production from Scotty Hopson and Bobby Maze who was forced into the starting point guard role after Smith’s dismissal. He received help from walk-on Skylar Mcbee, whose clutch shooting helped to sink Kansas.

It’s Chism who deserves most of the credit for finally jumping out of other players’ shadows and accepting the responsibility for carrying Tennessee in the second half of the season. Looking at his performance against Ohio State you saw Chism at his best, which was rarely a sight in his first three years in Knoxville. His wide bodied, athletic frame dominated Dallas Lauderdale to the tune of 22 and 11 and helped the Vols score 46 points in the paint including a tip-in by Brian Williams which was the eventual game winning shot. Chism’s play in the paint overshadowed another amazing performance by Evan Turner who likely played his last game in scarlet and grey.

Then there was Prince, who was the most tired man on the floor chasing around Evan Turner and disrupting Jon Diebler all game long. After the game he admitted to being heavily fatigued and dedicated most of his time to defending Turner. “I said on offense, ‘They’ll take care of it; I’ll save it all for defense,'” Prince said. “That’s all I did. I knew that last two minutes I was going to make them work no matter what. I know nobody wanted it more than I did.” After he blocked Turner’s last second prayer, you could say his dedication to defense was worth the price of being tired.

If it ends Sunday, it still was a great ride for Tennessee, but how can this team not win one more game and advance to the final four. Now that all of the mid-majors have been ousted, it is clear to see the Tennessee is the true Cinderella of the tournament. Left for dead in January, grinding hard to a title in March, how can you not root for these guys? Whatever happens, Bruce Pearl will be ready no matter the circumstance. He survived and conquered this far with a slim roster and a ton of skeptics, what makes you think he won’t do it one more time?

A Sign Of The Times In Minnesota

The Twins opened up their wallets to keep their franchise star and hometown hero.

Look who found some money in their wallets. The team that didn’t pay Johan Santana, because it didn’t have the funds, came up with 184 million big ones to keep Joe Mauer away from the evil Red Sox and Yankees next year. So stop all of your talking about how small market teams can’t compete with the big boys because they can’t pay their big players. Take that Cleveland, Florida and all you other schmoes…

Okay that came out a little smug. To be honest with you I’m happy that Joe Mauer is staying in Minnesota. He’s a Minnesota guy. He is the Twins franchise player and is staying that way. It’s become common place in the last few years for big name players from the Marlins, A’s and other teams to jump ship to the East Coast powers that be for big bucks. Jason Giambi did it, Santana and Josh Beckett were traded there, C.C. Sabathia told the Brewers to kick rocks. Yet the Twins finally bucked the trend. They decided that Joe Mauer was a player that was too good to let walk away to the AL East monsters or the Angels or Dodgers.

It was imperative that the Twins re-upped Mauer when they did. Mauer would have easily commanded a 10 year deal in between 20-25 million per year. Granted you never know the timeline for catchers due to wear and tear on the knees, but Mauer has more than proven his worth during his time with the Twins.

Even though he missed two months last year, Mauer was the Twins best player by leaps and bounds. He led the team in batting average and could’ve easily lead the team in home runs and RBI if he weren’t injured. His presence on the team brought them back from fourth in the AL central to being the champions of the division, this despite not having Justin Morneau, another left-handed bopper, for the last two months of the year. His MVP award was well deserved and Mauer has placed himself in the discussion of being the best player in the game with Albert Pujols and Tim Lincecum.

What’s even more important is that another small market team has a big name player to keep them relevant against teams like the Sox and Yankees. It has become increasingly hard to recognize some of the small market franchises due to the lack of appeal and buzz around them. That’s why it’s important that guys like Mauer, Ryan Braun and Adrian Gonzalez stay where they are to keep the appeal wide spread and not so one sided.

Long gone are the Tony Gwynn’s, Ozzie Smith’s and Cal Ripken’s. The men that were the face of their franchises and were synonymous with everything within the organization have been replaced by players who are just waiting until arbitration ends so they can receive a big pay day from John Henry and Hal Steinbrenner. It’s shifted the balance of power and makes the viewer, and fan of the sport as a whole, seem less interested in all but 7 or 8 teams.

It also keeps the Twins in contention for years to come even though they struggle to find consistent pitching (especially now with Joe Nathan on the shelf with Tommy John surgery). Keeping Mauer in addition to the Morneau and Michael Cuddyer deals gives the Twins a 3-4-5 as tough as any in the AL. it’s a nightmare for opposing pitchers to face three lefties who hit for average and power. Mauer himself could be considered one the league’s best hitters as he is able to hit to all areas of the field as well as knocking a few over the wall.

It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved. With the new Twins stadium opening this April, having a top 5 player on your roster, as well as a hometown guy, will definitely help to sell tickets for the next 8 years and maybe longer. It’ll also hopefully send a message to all small market teams with players that they feel they won’t be able to pay like the Yankees and Red Sox will. Open up you wallets and stay competitive. Your fans and the league deserve it. Trust me, the Twins are about to receive a huge pay-off for a huge pay-out.

Gotta Love The Madness In March

Northern Iowa was one of the many surprises during the first week of the tournament.

That’s March madness for you. Upsets, parody, and nothing going as its supposed to, ask Kansas, Villanova, Georgetown and others this weekend.

The last few NCAA tournaments went according to plan to well. Last years the team that was supposed to win did, two years ago there was straight chalk in the final as no one could stop UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina or Memphis (though according to the NCAA they were never there).

This tournament however has more than made up for the boredom of the last two tourneys. Look at the unheard of upsets:

Ohio over Georgetown 97-83, and it wasn’t that close. Ohio, a team that wasn’t even a NIT team two weeks ago dominated a team that was once in the top ten and hailed from the mighty Big East conference (more on that later).

St. Mary’s over Villanova 75-68, which honestly we should have seen coming given how pathetically, Villanova played down the stretch. St. Mary’s has been on a roll since the WCC tournament with wins over 3 ranked opponents (plus let’s not forget Omar Sanham. He’s averaging 30 points a game and shooting 67% in the tournament, if Duke does beat Purdue they better pray that Sanham isn’t waiting for them).

Cornell over both Temple and Wisconsin, and those games weren’t even close. Cornell looked like a nationally ranked power instead of a meek academic school that doesn’t even offer athletic scholarships.

Murray State over Vanderbilt 66-65. Honestly though, we all know that Vandy was overrated at a 4 (while Tennessee was at a 6, really?) but Murray State came out and beat up Vandy in a game that on paper seemed like a cakewalk for the SEC power.

Cornell easily swept its way to the sweet 16.

Then there was Northern Iowa beating Kansas, how many of you ripped up your bracket after that devastating loss? It seems like a huge deal to most people, but let’s be real; Northern Iowa was on everyone’s radar all year. They were picked to be a bracket buster before the start of the year, and finished off the regular season 28-4 with a few stints in the top 25, this wasn’t Morgan State beating Iowa State or Santa Clara beating Arizona, this was an actual legitimate competitor that had an honest to god shot at beating Kansas. What happened to Kansas is what was truly weird. There was no cohesion, no sense of urgency, and no consistency. Sherron Collins, who saved the Jayhawks bacon all year long, was a no show, the Morris twins were ineffective and Tyshawn Taylor had no business being on the floor after awhile.

If you watched Kansas at all this year then you would know that this is how they play, they fade from time to time such as games against Cornell and Texas A&M, but they wake up just in time to pull it out. This time however, that was not the case. Northern Iowa was dominant all game and just when it seemed like the Jayhawks would do the inevitable, a guy named Ali Farokmanesh put his name alongside Tyus Edney, Bryce Drew and others. That 3 he took was not only stupid, and untimely, it was gutsy as hell. 30 seconds, up one, and attempting a 3 pointer? If he missed that shot he might as well should’ve stayed in the arena and not gone back to campus, but he made it, and here we are.

Now that Kansas is gone the question is who is the favorite? That would lie in Kentucky’s favor after two fantastic performances this weekend with Syracuse second and Ohio State third.

Syracuse is intriguing because of the status of Arinze Onuaku (though you wouldn’t have known it after that Gonzaga dismantling). The Cuse have been a favorite since late January, but they’re now a 6 man team with Onuaku inactive. The most dominant team in the Big East is possibly looking at a Big 6 free run to the final 4 if they beat Butler and Xavier beats Kansas State. A Syracuse appearance in the final four would help the Big East lick their wounds after an embarrassing showing in the tourney.

(which reminds me, how embarrassing was this tournament for the super conference? They were the premier conference in the land, coming off a year where they had 3 No.1 seeds, two final four teams, be and had a handful of players up for player of the year honors and all-American consideration. Then look what happened: Scottie Reynolds developed an acute case of scariness that will cost him in the draft; Luke Harangody was a shell of his Player of the year self against Old Dominion, and Louisville forgot it had a game against Cal and got ran out of the building. In order for the Big East to regain some type of respectability Syracuse and West Virginia have to make the final 4 and finish strong in those games. If not then next year the Big East becomes the big joke in college basketball.)

Then there is Ohio State or as I call them Evan Turner and the Buckettes. It’s a one man gang with a bunch of tag-alongs, yet here is Ohio State, two games away from the final four. Problem is Tennessee, their next opponent, is tougher than Georgia Tech mentally. The Vols shouldn’t even be in the tournament following the drama behind Tyler Smith and the regular season, yet here they are still standing and ready for war. Wayne Chism might be a little too much for Dallas Lauderdale to handle, but no one in the country is as good as Evan Turner. Turner, who should be player of the year, can carry this team as far as it can go and that might be all the way to Indianapolis.

Whatever happens next week, it better be a hell of an encore, this weekend brought the Madness back to March. Guys like Dale, Sanham and Farokmanesh are heroes while highly acclaimed guys like Damion James, Greivis Vasquez and Derrick Favors are now afterthoughts. Who knows what to expect starting Thursday, just know it’s going to be even more intense with final four spots at stake, and the national title up for grabs.

Revised final 4: Ohio State, Syracuse, West Virginia, St. Mary’s (yeah I know, but it could happen)

Violence and Hockey

Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard gives another black eye to the sport.

Hockey is a different breed than most sports. It’s been said that they players resemble linebackers on skates, dishing out pain whenever it is necessary. Fighting has been part of the game since its inception, it is the only sport where fighting is not only allowed but encouraged. It is in game policing. I hit your best player you send out your “specialist,” whap, bam, boom, problem solved. Guys like Scott Stevens, Tie Domi and Ken Danyeko made millions from open ice hits that left your best player in shambles and gathered large ooh’s and ah’s.

Yet the lines of physicality and dirty play can be blurred sometimes. Take for instance the hit Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins received from Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins last Saturday. Cooke laid out Savard with a shoulder check that gave Savard a concussion and left him sprawling on the ice. Cooke was neither penalized during the game by referees or after the game by NHL officials. The hit was a blindside check where Cooke came from behind and hit Savard in the head while Savard attempted a shot. It looked as if was following through with a check and inadvertently caught Savard in the head. No matter the intention of the hit, Savard is done for the season and a huge debate has begun about what is and isn’t safe as far as these type of hits are concerned.

The NHL does not outlaw hits to the head, which in itself is very shocking due to the violent nature of the game. Mike Richards of Philadelphia Flyers was not suspended for a similar check on Florida Panthers forward David Booth earlier in the year which knocked Booth out for 45 games. When looking at both hits though, Richards check was much worse that Cooke’s in my opinion. Richards came up high on Booth at full speed while Cooke just seemed to tap Savard in the jaw. The main issue here is why are these hits considered clean checks?

The NHL has looked into changing the rulebook and outlawing hits to the head like the Cooke and Richards checks. Why it hasn’t happened yet continues to puzzle me. If the league that infamously made a mid-playoff change in honor of Sean Avery and his antics against Martin Broduer can do that, why not change this rule now. Guys like Booth and Savard were important to both the Panthers and Bruins playoff chances and both have been put in jeopardy while Richards and Cooke continue to help their teams make a push.

Bill Guerin, Cooke’s teammate, spoke out about the need for the league to start outlawing these hits, “If a guy gets hurt like that with a shot to the head, there’s got to be something. Actions happen. Guys don’t mean to hurt each other, but they do. You got to pay a price for that.” Guerin is exactly right. These types of hits take away from the quality of the game, and give the game a bad name from the standpoint of senseless violence of behavior.

But can the NHL eliminate these kinds of hits? Guys still skate into the defensive zone with their heads down and leave themselves open to huge checks like the ones mentioned. As back checkers, you are taught from youth hockey to lay out anyone with their head down. Yet as the game has evolved players are bigger, faster and stronger making the checks a lot harder and more dangerous.  The framework of a new rule against these types of hits is in the works and should be in place by the beginning of next season. However, will it be enough? Even as I’m writing this, Alex Ovechkin was ejected from a game against Chicago for boarding Brian Campbell who had to be wheeled off of the ice. Who knows what’s going to happen to Ovechkin. It’s the way the NHL is; hard, fast and physical. It’s going to be hard for anyone to change it.

Evan Turner Should Be P.O.Y.

Take this into consideration college basketball fans, I know John Wall has had all of the hype for player of the year, and its well deserved. He has played big in big moments such as that amazing performance against UConn in December, and just last night against Alabama when the cats were on the ropes. However, he is not the player of the year in college basketball, that distinction belongs to Evan Turner of Ohio State.

No, I am not just shamelessly plugging him because I go to OSU or because I am biased. When you take a look at both teams it is clear to see that Turner means more to the Buckeyes than Wall does to the Wildcats.

John Wall isn’t even the best player on his own team (that distinction belongs to Demarcus Cousins). Wall’s performance all season has been stellar, but sometimes he has been outshined by guys like Eric Bledsoe, Pat Patterson and Cousins, who have equal to better talent than Wall. You can think of several instances this year where Wall has not been the best player on the court for Kentucky and was outplayed by opponents; against South Carolina he struggled to keep up with Devan Downey all game long, he was held down in two tough wins against Vanderbilt and in the last game this season and against Florida he was a non-factor throughout a tough tilt. He also has had bouts with immaturity this season in clashing with Coach John Calipari. His statement-retraction of “not really listening to coach” raised some eyebrows that maybe the 19 year-old still has a lot to learn before he reaches the next level.

Player of the year? You're looking at him.

Turner on the other hand has been the best player on the floor at all times for Ohio State and has had to be. The Buckeyes only go 6 deep and Turner finds himself on the floor playing all 40 minutes sometimes guarding the best player on the opposing team every night all while making factors out of streaky Jon Diebler and the underachieving David Lighty. Turner is the only player on his team that can create his own shot and makes plays regularly to keep Ohio State ahead in close games while his teammates stand and watch. His 23 in the second half against Purdue in January was a testament to his explosive capabilities and how he is really the only player that can be consistent on his team. He is the point guard; go to guy and best defender of his team.

When he was absent for 6 games in December with a back injury you saw just how much the Bucks struggled without him. They were embarrassed by Wisconsin and Michigan (14-18 Michigan mind you) and let Delaware State hang around almost all game before putting them away. With Turner they are a title contender and a two-seed in the NCAA tourney, without him they are an NIT team. You can’t say that for Kentucky. Without Wall they are still a 20 win team with a shot at an elite eight appearance maybe more. They are better with him, but without him they are still a forceful opponent.

In the end it doesn’t matter because they will both be the top two players taken in the NBA draft. Whoever drafts them will reap the benefits of their amazing talents almost immediately. As for right now though its no contest who means more to their team on a nightly basis. Evan Turner is that man, and for that he should be the national player of the year hands down.