NBA All-Star Weekend Awards

NBA All-Star Weekend Awards

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MVP: San Antonio Spurs G Tony Parker– Your eyes do not deceive you. Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, nor Kevin Durant is the front-runner for MVP half way through the season. The Frenchman is having the best season of his storied career, even with Spur’s F Tim Duncan sidelined due to injury.  Parker is averaging career-highs in assists, free throw average and 3-point field goal percentage. The Spurs have the best record in the NBA, and TP is by far the best player on the team. Over the last three games, the star guard has scored totals of 29, 31 and 31. Although he isn’t in an attractive, sexy market, Parker is worthy of the award.

 Defensive Player of the Mid-season: Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah– With Derrick Rose still recovering from an injury he sustained last season, Noah has become the team’s best and most valuable player. The Bulls big man is averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds at the break. I expect Noah to elevate his play with Rose’s return, as the Bulls look to make a push for the No. 1  spot in the east.

Most Improved: Orlando Magic C Nikola Vucevic– Saying the Magic haven’t been a great team this season would be a serious understatement. Devoid of any legitimate scoring threats, Vucevic has become a reliable source on both ends of the floor. The second year center has raised his scoring average from five points per game in his rookie campaign to 12.5 this season.

Sixth Man of the Year: Los Angeles Clipper s G/F Jamaal Crawford– It’s Jamaal Crawford people… need I say more?

Rookie of the Year: Portland Trailblazers G Damian Lillard- The young floor general has provided the Trailblazers with youth and explosiveness. Lillard’s patience and pacing in the game rivals his more experienced counter-parts. It is Portland’s thin bench that is holding them back from being contenders because Lillard, F Nicolas Batum, and F/C LaMarcus Aldridge make a formidable group.

Rising Star Award: Indiana Pacer G Paul George, Golden State Warriors G Stephan Curry– The Pacer’s talented wingman has filled a scoring void for the Pacers —left by Danny Granger. He has also been stellar on the defensive end and active on the glass (7.8 rpg). Curry is also putting together an impressive first half. The fourth year pro is averaging a career best 20.9 points per game. Curry is the most essential part of a well balanced Warriors team.

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Scrappy Illini

Scrappy Illini

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The University of Illinois basketball team (17-8, 4-7) has had an interesting season thus far, to say the least. After losing four of five games, which started with a loss against Northwestern at home, the Illini were looking like they had lost their identity and confidence.

UI head coach John Groce must have had one amazing pep talk to deliver to the team after being defeated by Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, because his troops rallied to beat the No. 1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers. Normally, teams who lose in-conference games against opponents they are considered to be more talented than usually fold under the pressure of a big game like that.

The Illini remained calm and collected to upset IU in Assembly hall, and then they beat a ranked Minnesota team in the next contest. Perhaps U of I is really as good as they have been tabbed, or maybe they are as bad as they looked against Northwestern. Whatever the case, the rest of the season should be very entertaining for the orange and blue.

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Southern Illinois defeat Wichita State in upset fashion

Sarah Gardner-Daily Egyptian
Sarah Gardner-Daily Egyptian

http://dailyegyptian.com/salukis-end-losing-streak-in-wsu-upset/#axzz2KFSy6WJN

My article on a huge Southern Illinois basketball upset of the Wichita State Shockers. Senior T.J. Lindsay scored a team high 14 points coming off the bench. “We’re not in the game if T.J. doesn’t hit those three at the end of the first half,” said SIU coach Barry Hinson. The energy and excitement in the SIU Arena was intense and the game had the feel of a playoff game.