Awards time, folks. You know, that one awkward Banquet, or whatever, at the end of the year for the big-money boosters. Yeah, it's kinda like that, but way better in every way, because no Banquet is involved. Only the internet.
Of course, Sherron won't be coming on to accept his award(s), so I suppose that kind of makes it worse. You can just get over it, though, yes?
In this edition, we'll be handing out the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Sherron Collins took home the honor last year, even on a nation-wide scale. This year, we weren't so strong. So, with that said, the winner is...
Sixth Man of the Year -- G Tyrel Reed (Soph.)
Coming into the season, I expected Tyrel to start. Sure, Brady was in there because of Self's fascination with D, but eventually Tyrel would pick his game up on the defensive end and his superior offensive ability would sneak him in the lineup. Problem is, Brady improved on offense. So much, in fact, that he never relinquished his starting slot.
This left Tyrel to come off the bench. He was nearly always the first body off of the bench, and would often replace Brady. This frequently left him matched up with the opponent's best player. As the season wore on, the gap decreased. He couldn't stay in front of Denis Clemente to save his life in Manhattan. But by the end of the year, he was just as effective.
But, that doesn't tell you the real value of Tyrel Reed. No, its his nickname, Relly Ice, that showcases his value. Being a young team, we didn't really have that killer instinct to close out opponents that those old, ex-coaches providing color commetary love to talk about so much. So, no matter the lead, it always seemed the other team would make a run, and tighten up the game. The pressure increased, the other team started slapping hands and Bill Self began calling timeouts to try and settle us down. And then, Sherron Collins would bring the ball down the floor, begin driving then find, wide open in the left corner or in the right corner or, sometimes, even on a wing and pass it off. And every time, or so it seemed, the shot would fall, the momentum would be back on our side, and we'd coast to victory.
Eventually, Relly Ice expanded his repetoire to end-of-half situations, as well. So much so, in fact, that I all-but-expected our shots to always, always fall to close off halves. And, more often than not, it was a called play for Relly Ice. Always the same one, too. Have him line up on a corner, have Cole come up and set a back screen for him, have Sherron dribble in at the wing on that side, then kick it on out to a wide open Tyrel Reed.
On a team that frequently struggled scoring outside of the Superstars, his threes were gigantic. When they weren't falling, we struggled to pull away from inferior opponents and beat equally-matched foes. When he was nailing them, we were one of the 8-or-so best teams in the country. All year long, I harpooned on the three-point issue. And, nearly always, it would come down to Tyrel Reed's long-range antics.
Next year, Relly Ice again figures to come off the bench. In fact, I doubt he ever starts a Kansas basketball again, save the obligatory Senior Day start. But he'll always be a contributor off the bench, with his ever-improving defense and three-point prowess.
And most importantly, he'll always be Relly Ice, the one who hits the shots when we need them most. Always behind the line, of course (except down in Lubbock, where he actually had to take a dribble off of a pump fake and take a 18-footer as the buzzer sounded).
Oh, and he'll always have the 2009 RCT Sixth Man of the Year Award to look back on, too. Don't underestimate its power.
Honorable Mention: F Markieff Morris (Fresh.)
Far too inconsistent to receive too much consideration, he was still a contributor. He should get much, much better in the coming years. But, this was Relly Ice's award, all along.
Next Up: Freshman of the Year (Saturday AM), Player of the Year (Saturday PM)
Previous Editions: Defensive Player of the Year