There is no rule that says the Missouri Valley Conference’s Defensive MVP must also be on the All-MVC first team.
There is also no rule that says the Defensive MVP, while playing for the MVC champion, must be on the All-MVC first team. In the mind of Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, that kind of thing should be self-evident in favor of senior guard Tekele Cotton.
“What do you say — a lot of people just look at stats,” Marshall said. “You have to value wins and, obviously, that wasn’t done.”
The MVC announced most of its post-season honors on Tuesday and in large part No. 8 Wichita State (27-3) received just rewards for its regular-season title and No. 10 national ranking. Guards Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet repeated as All-MVC selections and Cotton became the first Shocker to earn two Defensive MVP honors. Center Darius Carter received honorable mention and center Shaq Morris was named to the All-Freshman team. VanVleet joined Cotton on the All-Defense team.
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Cotton was named to the All-MVC second-team, a mild slight by voters that gave the Shockers a chance to stick up for their teammate and throw even more of a spotlight on his defense.
“I think he deserved to be on the list,” Baker said. “A player is defined by offense and defense. There’s players on the list that are offensive players, and Tekele does both for us.”
Northern Iowa senior center Seth Tuttle was named Larry Bird Player of the Year and joined Baker and VanVleet on the first team. Voters rewarded Evansville, which went 9-9 in the MVC and finished fifth, with center Egidijus Mockevicius and guard D.J Balentine on the first team. Mockevicius averaged 12 points and led the MVC with an average of 9.9 rebounds and ranked second with 2.3 blocks and 59 percent shooting. Balentine led the MVC in scoring at 19 points and averaged 3.1 assists, sixth in the MVC, while making 37.2 percent of his three-pointers.
Tuttle averaged 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and a team-leading 3.3 assists. He led the MVC by making 63 percent of his shots for No. 11 UNI, which finished in second place, one game behind WSU. Baker averaged 15.2 points and made 40.6 percent of his threes. VanVleet averaged 12.5 points and an MVC-leading 5.4 assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.29 ranks No. 11 nationally.
Cotton’s value is harder to see. He averaged 9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals. His shooting percentage slipped this season, from 45.2 percent and 37.1 from three-point range last season to 40.8 and 29.9. His value as a defender and ball-handler — he ranked second in the MVC with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio — are enough for his teammates.
“Does it bother me — if you ask my competitive spirit, yes,” Cotton said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really affect me too much. I’m not bothered by it. We’ve still got to go out there and win the whole tournament.”
Tuttle received 38 first-place votes and 123 total for Player of the Year. Baker, a junior, got five first-place votes and 71 total. VanVleet, last season’s Player of the Year, earned four first-place votes and 65 total. Forty-seven people vote, with a coach, sports information director, radio voice and beat writer representing each school. Seven people who work on MVC television broadcasts also vote.
Baker and VanVleet become the 15th and 16th Shockers to earn first-team honors more than once.
Cotton joins Dwayne Praylow (1989) and Jamar Howard (2003) as Shockers to win Defensive MVP, an award started in 1989. He is the fifth player to win twice, joining Southern Illinois’ Ashraf Amaya (1992, 93), Darren Brooks (2004, 05) and Bryan Mullins (2008, 09) and Illinois State’s Dan Muller (1996, 97).
The All-Bench and Most Improved teams are announced Wednesday. Coach of the Year is announced Thursday.
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Back to work —The Shockers returned to practice on Tuesday after two days off. They practice again Wednesday before flying to St. Louis on Thursday morning for the MVC Tournament.
"We won't go too long," Marshall said. "We'll break a sweat and we'll work on us."
The Shockers are in the pleasant position of not knowing their opponent. The top two seeds in the tournament play the winners of Thursday's games and WSU is the No. 1 seed or No. 2 seed for the sixth straight season.
Either No. 8 Missouri State (11-19) or No. 9 Southern Illinois (11-20) will play the Shockers on Friday. WSU will spend some time on both teams this week.
"It's more about getting better as a team," VanVleet said. "I think that's something we did well as a team coming down the stretch ...things that will translate against anybody. We get a couple days to get better and see how far we can go."
All-MVC and individual honors
C — Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa
G — Ron Baker, Wichita State
G — Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
C — Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville
G — D.J. Balentine, Evansville
G — Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois
G — Daishon Knight, Illinois State
G — Tekele Cotton, Wichita State
G — Devonte Brown, Indiana State
C — Reggie Lynch, Illinois State
G — Wes Washpun, Northern Iowa
G — Deon Mitchell, Northern Iowa
C — Darius Carter, Wichita State
F — Christian Thomas, Loyola
G — Gary Ricks Jr., Drake
Player of the Year — Tuttle
Newcomer of the Year – DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Illinois State
Freshman of the Year — Brenton Scott, Indiana State.
Sixth Man of the Year — Washpun
Defensive MVP — Cotton
Akoon-Purcell, Scott, Reed Timmer, Drake; Paul Jesperson, UNI; Montel James, Loyola
Scott, Timmer, Morris, Josh Cunningham, Bradley; Jordan Caroline, SIU
Cotton, VanVleet, Lynch, Mockevicius, Paris Lee, Illinois State