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Why The Horizon League Player of the Year Was So Hard to Call

The Horizon League Player of the Year race was apparently very close between Detroit's Ray McCallum and Valpo's Ryan Broekhoff. But just how close was it when you break down the numbers?


Earlier today the Horizon League awards were announced and they went pretty much as expected. The first team all-conference didn't seem as if it could have been anyone else, not given the way this season went.

And the Player of the Year race? Well, we said you could have tossed a coin to pick, that was how close it was between Detroit's Ray McCallum and Valparaiso's Ryan Broekhoff.

According to tweets from the Horizon League's Bill Potter, it was a really close vote that eventually handed the award to McCallum. Even as I type this, I am not sure who I would have voted for if I had been allowed to choose between the two obvious choices for the award.

So I ran the numbers for the two stars, using our good friend HOOPWAR. Too bad that didn't make things any clearer.

You might view the Player of the Year in the conference as the player who did the most within the league games. After all, that makes logical sense.

When you look at the 16 games that made up the Horizon League slate, it is very close, but the slight edge goes to Broekhoff.

I can't say that the rounding error isn't there for HOOPWAR, so the actual advantage by the Valpo big man might actually be negligible. His 16-game HOOPWAR score was 4.8, while McCallum tallied only a 4.5 (theoretically, a 16.0 would be the highest you could get here. Practically it is probably something like 6.0, so in other words, these two did darn good.)

A push? A slight nod to Broekhoff? He definitely had the better defensive numbers, 21 DEF100 to just 13 and change for McCallum. But McCallum's offensive stats were better, given his scoring and assists.

Too close to call.

But what if you look at the Player of the Year as an award for the player that represented the conference the best over the entire season? So we ran the full numbers for the season for both players.

This time McCallum takes it, but again, only slightly. His HW30 score (used because of the discrepancy in games played) was 8.4, while Broekhoff had a 7.7. To put it in perspective, last season, Anthony Davis scored a 12.9, the highest on the season.

Broekhoff earned a 9.2 last year, while McCallum was worth "just" 5.6.

That is a lot of numbers, which probably says more about McCallum's maturing than Broekhoff. Broekhoff had an amazing season last year, greater than anyone would have expected out of him. It might have been destiny -- although we didn't see it happening -- that there would have been some regression back to the pack.

In this case, it is a pack of one, the one guy in the conference that could seriously challenge him for the league player of the year.

This full season battle is less of a wash, more in the favor of the Titans star. But Valparaiso might have logged the better season overall, at least according to the computer numbers.

Either way you look at it though, this was a close battle and one where you couldn't fault a voter for going in either direction given the cold numbers.

And no, even after this, I still don't know which way I would have gone.