What were you doing in 2011? Our Pac-12 Fridays miniseries on basketball in the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions and its Midwest partners, the B1G, hopefully will trigger a memory or (three). This was the last season of the then-Pacific 10 structure, and combined the 11-member B1G and the 10-member Pac-10 sent 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament. In fact, one of our teams discussed finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country, although the squad fell short of the Final Four in the end. Boo!
2011 Pac-10 PoY: Derrick Williams, F, Arizona (original, confirmed)
Arizona won the regular-season crown by one game for UCLA, and then third-place Washington ended up winning the conference tournament. The vote at the time went to Wildcats forward Derrick Williams, who posted 7.9 WS to lead the league by more than a full win share. Our other contenders, on the surface, are Bruins F Reeves Nelson (4.3) and a trio of Huskies (all who finished in the conference Top 9 for WS). That eliminates the Washington players, including guard Isaiah Thomas (5.5) of future NBA fame.
Overall, that gap between Williams and Nelson is huge, as it suggests Nelson was the best player among a lot of good players, while Williams was a dominant, leading player among a lot of average players. That’s how to carry a load, for sure, as Arizona went 30-8, losing in March Madness to eventual national champion Connecticut (and G Kemba Walker) in the Elite Eight. Williams was the right winner of this one.
2011 B1G PoY: JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue (original, confirmed)
The Ohio State Buckeyes, the No. 1 team in the national polls in March, won both the regular-season and the conference-tournament titles, so we will start there—although only players from Purdue and Wisconsin will be considered, otherwise. Every other team in the league failed to post a winning record in round-robin play. Boilermakers F JaJuan Johnson (7.2 WS) won the vote at the time, even as the league’s Top 10 board tells many interesting stories. Here is how we’ve unpacked it.
Tops in conference was Buckeyes F Jared Sullinger (8.7) and Badgers G Jordan Taylor (7.8). So, which player had the best support? A cursory look shows us four Ohio State players in the Top 9, and only two Purdue players and two Wisconsin players, total. So, the lowest player is Johnson’s teammate, which means that in our estimation, Johnson shouldered more of a burden than anyone else in the conference, specifically Taylor in this final analysis.