GREENSBORO, N.C. - Miami's Shane Larkin deserved to win ACC player of the year, but the culture of the ACC permitted otherwise. Now with 43 points and eight assists in two wins in the ACC Tournament, Larkin's putting on a show for the ACC faithful to take notice.
Virginia Tech’s Erick Green won 2013 ACC player of the year, having 38 of 76 votes cast in his favor.
Green’s numbers are stellar, no doubt. He led the ACC in scoring – he led the nation in scoring. He averaged 48 percent shooting from the field, and he probably could have equaled or passed N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown in assists per game, had his teammates made shots.
Had his teammates made shots, Virginia Tech wouldn’t have finished last in the league at 4-14. In Virginia Tech’s last regular season game, Green had a (tying) career high 35 points in a loss at Wake Forest.
In. A. Loss. To. Wake. Forest.
Since when is life fair? When your team finishes dead last in the ACC, in an admitted “down” year for the league, you don’t take home ACC player of the year honors.
The criteria for ACC player of the year isn’t blue and white…erhhh I mean black and white. So, rightfully, people (media) judge based on their own requirements.
How is winning not a no-brainer?
On Feb. 2 in Chapel Hill, the Hokies and Heels were tied at 55, and Green missed a shot with four seconds remaining in regulation that would have avoided an overtime loss. Virginia Tech was sitting in the middle on a nine-game conference losing streak.
Miami finished the regular season 24-6 and first in ACC play. Miami beat Duke, North Carolina (twice), and North Carolina State. The Hurricanes are ranked 9th in the nation and are headed to the ACC Tournament finals.
You have a Hall of Fame father sitting two rows behind your team bench, you’re the veteran leader on the ACC’s first-placed team, and you repeatedly shine when the lights are the brightest… and you play along Tobacco Road? Congratulations, you’re the ACC player of the year.
Take a look at head-to-head matchups. On Jan. 30, Larkin finished with 25 points/3 assists and Green totaled 30 points/3 assists. Miami won 73-64. On Feb. 27, Larkin had 22 points and 6 assists, and Green had 16 points and 2 assists in a 76-58 Miami win. Point being, they traded individual performances, but Miami won each time.
In three of Miami's closest conference games (at Virginia Tech, at Boston College, and at Florida State), Larkin averaged 18 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, and 4 assists per game in those three wins, while also making key free throws down the stretch.
In addition, Larkin not only was named to the all-ACC defensive team, but he finished runner-up as defensive player of the year to teammate Durand Scott.
In the ACC Tournament’s quarterfinal game against Boston College on Friday, Larkin stole a pass with two minutes remaining and knocked down a three-pointer. On the following Miami possession, he dished to Rion Brown for two giving Miami a seven-point lead with less than a minute remaining. Boston College responded with a three. Then, who else to answer than Larkin with a fast-break layup. Game over, and Larkin single-handedly willed Miami to the win.
In two games in the tournament, Larkin has 43 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
How does having a target on your back and continually rising to the occasion not count for something? It’s more difficult when the stakes are higher, is that something we call all agree on?
"He's so good at what he does," Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said after Miami’s quarterfinal win against Boston College. "A lot of times you'll see Larkin in the first half try to get the ball to (his teammates), and then the second half starts, he starts to pick his spots to attack and score or find the open man. We absolutely needed that."
Wouldn’t hosting Tournament MVP trophy up for all the ACC to see in Greensboro Coliseum be a little fun for Larkin and Larranaga? After all, the sophomore guard does shine brightest when all eyes are upon him.