December 20, 2011
My last post ignited an interesting debate of who could possibly be the Summit League's premier player — and it's intriguing how the players have answered by dueling it out on the court.
Since my league's "10 players to watch" post, which I struggled to separate South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters or Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton as the conference's most exciting player to watch/hypothetical best player heading into league play, the two have split two of the last three Summit League player of the week awards — and the only player to thwart the duo's plan for league domination was my No. 3 guy, Alex Young and his NCAA season-high 43-point performance last week.
At this point Wolters has three league player of the week awards; Hamilton has two. They're the only two with multiple awards and they're the only two to split a week. They also are the only two to win the award during league play.
It wouldn't be farfetched to believe it could be a trend, too, at this current rate; both have been extremely phenomenal running the point for their respective teams.
On Saturday, Wolters scored a season-high 34 points, as the Jackrabbits trounced Washington at the Huskies' building, snapping UW's 32-game non-conference home court winning streak in convincing fashion.
Although I'm sure Hamilton was surely impressed, he wouldn't allow himself to be beat out by that performance, and subsequently dropped a career-high 41 in an 82-80 victory over Valparaiso. Oh, and he was that two point difference — drilling a 15-foot runner at the buzzer to stun Valpo's fans.
Highlander taught us there can only be one, but that may be as far from the truth as possible. This could be an interesting arms race as we slowly drift back into league play next week.
Let's start with both team's offenses. Oakland leads the league with 80.2 points per game, while SDSU is second at 78.2 points per game. The Golden Grizzlies are also dead last and the Jacks are sixth in stopping scoring. It's just how they are — they want to win shootouts, which should be interesting head-to-head matchups on Dec. 30 and Jan. 26.
Both have different style scoring too. SDSU lives and dies by one of the best 3-point shooting/3-point defenses in the country, while Oakland would rather settle for inside the 3-point line. But both embrace the most important part in winning games, which is not to turn the ball over. Oakland is first; SDSU is third in turnover margin.
Then we go into individual performance.
Hamilton is the conference's leading scorer at 22 points per game; Wolters is close behind at 21.5 points per game. Both are also in the top 10 in assists: Wolters is first with 6 dimes per game; Hamilton is seventh at 4.2 per contest. Both are in the top 10 in steals, too. Wolters plays more minutes than Hamilton; Hamilton scores more per minute.
As you can see, it's not going to be easy to sort out at this junction of time.
So we now look at both player's performances in the one week of league play this season.
Wolters averaged 24.5 points, with games against IUPUI and Western Illinois; Hamilton scored 17 per game, with contests with South Dakota and UMKC. And while there's a lop-sided tale in those numbers, that's not what's important. Both led their teams to victories, both are 2-0 in league play and both ran the point extremely well.
So, it's left to the final stretch to figure out if there really can only be one, because right now we're looking at co-Summit League player of the year awards. It's definitely not a stretch to believe that could happen. It's another reason why the Summit League has been unique and fun to watch this season.