On Monday, following the conclusion of the final regular season games, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference unveiled their All-Conference teams.
The first team consisted of Fairfield's Marcus Gilbert, Manhattan's Shane Richards, Iona' A.J. English, Monmouth's Justin Robinson and Siena's Brett Bisping. English, Robinson and Bisping, were all unanimous selections.*
Let's not overlook the seasons Gilbert, Richards, and Bisping all had, outstanding in different ways. Gilbert averaged more than 15 points and five rebounds in conference play, while leading the Stags to an 11-7 conference record, their best mark since their inaugural MAAC season in 2011-12.
Richards averaged more than 16 points per game in conference play, while leading the conference with a 91.3 percent mark from the charity stripe.
Bisping was the best of a balanced Siena group that finished third in the conference, finishing with more than 17 points and 10 rebounds per game in MAAC play, including a league-high nine double-doubles.
All three of those players had great seasons, but Robinson and English were on another level this season.
Robinson and Monmouth captivated the college basketball world before conference play even began with wins over UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, and Georgetown. They then proved those wins were no fluke by grabbing the No.1 seed for the MAAC Tournament, going 8-1 against the 2-5 seeds in conference play. Robinson finished conference play second in points per game (19.5), first in steals (2.0), and seventh in assists (4.0).
English better his marks set during the 2014-15 season when he had 18 points per game (2nd in MAAC), 5.3 rebounds, and 5.2 assists (MAAC leader). This season he lead the league in scoring (22.4 ppg) and assists (6.2) while improving his rebounding numbers to 5.5 per game.
So, what does all of that mean?
MAAC Player of the Year Prediction: (TIE) Justin Robinson and A.J. English
Giving the award to one over the other would be punishment to the loser, and in this head-to-head battle, why does there need to be a loser? Both players were amazing within the conference.
During the nonconference slate, Robinson dominated English. In 11 games, Monmouth went 8-3, including those four big-name wins. In those 11 games, Robinson averaged more than 21 points, three rebounds (remember he's 5-8), and 2.2 steals a game. English played only five nonconference games before suffering a hand injury and missing Iona's final five nonconference games.
In MAAC play, beyond the season-long averages listed above, there were two additional metrics I looked at: their stats in their two head-to-head match-ups, and their stats against the rest of the top 5 MAAC teams (Siena, St. Peter's, Fairfield), the only teams to finish above .500 in league play.
Head to head, the two went 1-1, with each winning on the other's home floor. English averaged 38 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and four steals in the two games, while Robinson averaged 25 points, six rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 steals.
Against the rest of the league's top five teams Robinson averaged 26.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.1 steals in the eight games, while English averaged 29.1 points, five rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.9 steals in the eight games.
If out-of-conference and in-conference play were weighted equally, Robinson WOULD win the award, by virtue of both staying healthy all season long, and putting up fantastic numbers against power conference teams. However, English was more dominant in conference games, the more important criteria.
For the first time in the nearly 40 year history of the MAAC, there should be Co-Players of the Year.
* See the full list including second and third team honors.