Cousy snub raises Taylor's profile

You won't hear Jordan Taylor gripe over missing the latest cut for the Bob Cousy Award. And why should he? The omission might be the best thing that could have happened to Taylor as far as national publicity.

As much as Wisconsin's point guard has flown under the radar during his tremendous junior season, he is no longer underrated. Taylor is now officially a known force. Fresh off a remarkable destruction of Michigan State (30 pts, 69% FG, 6 assts), Taylor was one of several deserving candidates left off the Cousy list when it was pared down to ten finalists on Monday. The uproar that followed -- which I may or may not have helped ignite -- was loudest over Taylor's exclusion.

Nobody got more virtual ink nationally (CBS - NBC - Yahoo) or Twitter love (TSN - Fox) than Taylor. The level of support and recognition of Taylor's skills exemplify just how far the Bloomington, Minn., native has come in two years. After first slowly gaining respect from play-by-play announcers and TV analysts, I think "The Jordan Taylor Show" has finally tipped.

Consider this the definitive tale of the tape for why Taylor's snub from the Cousy sweepstakes is absurd. Taylor has the highest offensive rating of any player who uses at least 24% of his team's possessions and his team is ranked 13th in the land. Playing out of one of the top conferences, Taylor also leading the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.88).

Even prior to this season's great strides offensively, Taylor was already reknowned for possessing the leadership and intangibles essential in a great point guard. That is something that should be a requirement of the ten finalists, but does not appear to be (ahem, McCamey). But intangibles by nature cannot be quantified.

So let's look at what can be quantified for each finalist and the notable exclusions, Taylor and Xavier's Tu "Don't Call Me Terrell" Holloway. Below I compared some important tempo-free statistics like true shooting percentage, assist rate and turnover rate. Taylor fares well across the board.

2011 Cousy Award Candidates

stats though Sunday, Feb. 6, via KenPom.com (explanation)

Player Class Team ORtg TS% ARate TORate Stl% OR% / DR% 2P% 3P% FT% %Min
Norris Cole* Sr. Cleveland St. 112.7 55.8 36.8 15.9 4.0 3.1 / 15.1 47.2 34.1 84.0 86.2
Corey Fisher* Sr. Villanova 112.7 54.8 31.6 15.7 2.7 2.0 / 7.6 46.2 34.4 79.2 83.3
Jimmer Fredette* Sr. BYU 119.7 61.7 28.0 14.5 2.2 4.2 / 11.5 51.5 41.3 89.6 85.5
D.J. Gay* Sr. San Diego St. 118.9 55.6 16.9 12.4 1.6 0.9 / 6.1 46.6 38.7 66.7 86.1
Tu Holloway Jr. Xavier 113.4 60.9 28.9 20.1 2.4 1.9 / 13.2 50.3 34.7 86.6 93.9
Brandon Knight* Fr. Kentucky 108.0 58.8 21.3 21.9 1.1 1.9 / 10.8 49.4 41.7 78.2 87.7
Demetri McCamey* Sr. Illinois 114.4 59.0 39.0 20.7 1.6 1.7 / 9.9 42.3 48.5 73.5 81.5
Mickey McConnell* Sr. St. Mary's 133.4 68.3 29.9 17.0 1.6 2.0 / 7.6 55.2 48.1 89.3 90.3
Nolan Smith* Sr. Duke 118.3 58.6 32.3 16.5 2.5 4.2 / 11.5 52.7 35.0 83.2 83.3
Jordan Taylor Jr. Wisconsin 131.8 60.4 29.3 8.7 1.7 3.2 / 13.3 48.8 41.3 86.6 88.2
Isaiah Thomas* Jr. Washington 114.2 56.7 30.9 18.9 2.4 2.4 / 10.8 51.0 34.3 74.8 76.5
Kemba Walker* Jr. Connecticut 117.2 53.5 27.0 10.4 3.2 4.1 / 11.1 46.5 33.8 79.6 89.6

* Denotes Bob Cousy Award Finalist

My conclusion? Taylor and Holloway should have replaced D.J. Gay and Brandon Knight as Cousy finalists. Maybe we should be talking about Taylor deserving to win the award rather than just be included in the final ten.

One thing we know for sure: the bar has been set pretty high for Taylor now. His current season is being compared to Devin Harris' junior season. There may come a time, maybe some time next fall, when a lackluster game even leads to whispers that Taylor is *gasp* overrated. Remember the hype surrounding Kalin Lucas heading into last year? Such is life with big-time sports and human fickleness.

With such a level head on his shoulders, however, I'm guessing Taylor will be able to block out most of the chatter or simply turn it into motivation to take another great leap next season. I wish him continued health and success. He's been fun to watch.

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