This was a very difficult award to decide. As late as the last week of the season, we were in disagreement over who was the true player of the year – not violent disagreement (by that point each of us had the other’s choice as our runner-up), but significant enough that we had composed relatively detailed arguments for and against the two candidates.
One option is to just go with the best player on the best team – and this year our choice coincidentally lines up with that approach – but what happens when your two finalists are teammates? As strongly as we feel that our Player of the Year is a truly special player, in several areas it’s extremely difficult to discern where his contributions end and OBW Rookie of the Year Jameel Warney’s contributions begin. The Seawolf defense, good as it was, wasn’t anywhere near this good before Warney’s arrival. Who’s primarily responsible for Stony Brook’s domination on the glass? When Stony Brook’s perimeter shooters get open looks, who deserves the lion’s share of the credit – is it the seemingly omniscient point forward who made the pass, or the obscenely efficient whose very presence on the low block sucks the defense in? We can observe all we want, but the very thing that makes basketball beautiful – the continual, fluid interaction among ten players across 94 feet of hardwood – creates a web not so easily untangled.
Jameel Warney is a magnificent player, a battering ram taken to an opponent’s defense. He is a devastating weapon, one which very few defenses have weathered successfully. But the guy who directs the ram into the wall – the guy who keeps the ram, and every other weapon at his disposal, functioning to the greatest possible effect (cue Alasdair Fraser begging for someone to -please- give him the ball during the last five minutes of a close game) – is our Player of the Year. (more…)