|Tu is head and shoulders above the competition|
Back near the beginning of the season, the 70-player list of Cousy Award finalists was announced with minimal fanfare. For those of you who don't know, the Cousy Award goes to the best point guard in the NCAA, regardless of in which division he plays. Obviously, the best players tend to gravitate towards D-1, so when the list was pared to 20 in January and it consisted of only D-1 players, nobody was that surprised. The A-10 had two players on that list: Richmond's Kevin Anderson and XU's own Tu Holloway.
On February 7th, the list was again trimmed, this time to 10. While nobody (that I spoke to) was surprised to see Anderson dropped, we here at the Examiner were somewhat stunned to see Tu had also be culled from the herd. Since I had planned to handicap Tu's chances of winning the award at this point (SPOILER ALERT: they're not very good now), I decided to take a deep breath, wipe the tears of indignation and rage from my eyes, and try to evaluate on an objective basis whether or not Tu's numbers are good enough to merit inclusion in such honored company.
For my semi-scientific quest, I took the standard stat line from ESPN.com's player pages for each player and threw it onto a spreadsheet. This gave me minutes, points, rebounds, assists, A/TO, steals, blocks, fouls, FG%, FT%, 3P%, and points per shot as categories by which to evaluate the players. I also added the team's strength of schedule rating from ESPN.com's InsideRPI to the formula for a control against a player putting up great numbers against fifth graders. I removed blocks and fouls from the calculation, weighted assists, turnovers, A/TO, and SOS to make them more valuable and rebounds to make them less valuable. The players evaluated were Tu, Kemba Walker (UConn), Micky McConnell (St. Mary's), Brandon Knight (UK), Jimmer Freddette (BYU), Norris Cole (Cleveland St.), DJ Gay (San Diego St.), Nolan Smith (Duke), Corey Fisher (Villanova), Demetri McCamey (Illinois), and Isaiah Thomas (Washington).
When measured against the players the Cousy Committee (or whatever they're called) believes to be the elite at the PG position, Tu acquits himself quite well. Only four players in the country get a larger percentage of their team's minutes, so it almost goes without saying that Tu leads the way in that category here. He would be fourth among the finalists in scoring and rebounding. His traditional PG numbers are near the bottom of the group: his 5 APG put him in seventh, his 3.7 TO are good for last, and his 1.4 A/TO is 10th. He does tie for third in steals per game though.
It is as a scorer as well as a ball distributor that Holloway's value is evident for X, and he stacks up nicely against the 10 finalists in that regard. We've already noted that his PPG is good for fourth among them. His FG% is eighth and his 3P% is seventh, but his .866 clip from the line would be good for third among the finalists, were he being considered. Nobody on the list gets to the line like Tu. He has attempted 205 FT on the year; Norris Cole is next closest with 183.
Owing partially to that knack, Tu is the most efficient scorer on the list. His 1.61 points per shot is better than any of the ten players still in the running for the award. Micky McConnell is second with an almost-as-impressive 1.59; Jimmer Fredette's 1.46 is good for third. Make no mistake about it: when Tu shoots, his contribution to his team is more than that of any of the other ten guys. And he does it all against a schedule tougher than the ones faced by six of the ten Cousy finalists left; McConnell comes dead last in that regard with an SOS of 151st in the nation.
Tu follows Drew Lavender - who once memorably told rivals.com what he thought of their Mid-Major Player of the Week award - and Lionel Chalmers in a line of very good Xavier point guards that stretches back through Gary Lumpkin. He is at the helm of a Xavier team that lost its best scorers on the perimeter and post from last year, then lost its best returning shooter and best incoming shooter before the season even began. Saddled with the thinnest roster in the nation, Tu has led X back to where they always are: leading the A-10 and positioned for a run into the second weekend of the tournament. According to the Cousy Award's website (www.cousyaward.com), "The selection criteria emphasize leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals as being critical parts for the game of basketball as a point guard." Tu Holloway embodies all of those for the Musketeers; his being left out of the final 10 was a mistake.