Thursday, February 4, 2010

Edgar Sosa for Player of the Year?

I'll give you a minute to catch your breath after the hearty laugh you're sure to have gotten from the title of this post. In yesterday's edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal, UL beat writer C.L. Brown published an article titled "Ssshhh! Edgar Sosa having nice Louisville basketball season." In the article, an attempt to paint one of Louisville basketball's most enigmatic figures in a positive light, Brown points out that Sosa is quietly having the best season of his four year career in red and white. His points, assists, and shooting percentages are all at career highs, although he clearly believes no one has noticed. "I think I'm playing the best I've played here at Louisville. I always think that I can play better and do more, but the funny thing is, I'm not being mentioned or talked about. When I measure up my numbers with the rest of the point guards in the country, our numbers are either the same or mine are better." Brown notes that he averages more assists per game than Scottie Reynolds, fewer turnovers than John Wall, is better from the field than Sherron Collins, and is better from behind the 3 point line that Kalin Lucas. If nothing else, I'm a numbers guy, and these are certainly positive stats. However, I'm also a realist, so let's look at some other numbers:

-1,2,3,5: The rankings of the teams of the point guards mentioned above
-Each of these point guards outscores Sosa by at least 2 points a game, and each has a better assist to turnover ratio.
-In head to head match-ups, Sosa has come out on the losing end, both in the record books and the stat sheets. Against Kentucky, Sosa had 11 points, 2 assists, and 6 turnovers. Wall had 17 points, 4 assists, and 5 turnovers. Against Villanova, Sosa scored 17 points to go along with 2 assists and 5 turnovers. Reynolds, although he did commit 4 turnovers without an assist, poured in 30 in the 2nd half on his way to a 36 point outing and an 8 point win for the Wildcats after trailing by as many as 17 in the 2nd half.
-5...Game winning shots I can think of off the top of my head by these players. Lucas has hit 2 in the last 2 weeks, Collins never fails in the clutch, Wall has hit at least 2 game-tying or game-winning shots in the final seconds this year, and Scottie Reynolds burned Marquette with a last-second 3-point play.

The point is, statistics can only go so far, and in Edgar's case, about as far as Samardo Samuels' vertical. While the 2009-2010 campaign may be his best in a Cardinal uniform, to compare him with the likes of John Wall, Scottie Reynolds, Sherron Collins, and Kalin Lucas, all legitimate Player of the Year candidates, is laughable. You would be hard pressed to find a human being on this planet that would take Edgar Sosa over any one of those players. Ask any coach, and they'll tell you they would take John Wall's 7 assists and 4 turnovers a game over Sosa's 4 assists and 2.7 turnovers any day. Sosa notched his season high in that category in Monday's win over Connecticut with 8, just higher than the average amount that John Wall dishes out on a nightly basis. The biggest difference between Sosa and the others is that Collins, Wall, Lucas, and Reynolds are LEADERS. Right now you might be saying, "Is he an idiot? Kalin Lucas was benched for lack of leadership earlier in the year!" Well, what's he done since? Hit game winners against Minnesota and Michigan, that's what. He also ran Sosa up and down the court in last year's Midwest Regional Final. Sosa has never, ever, shown the ability to put the team on his shoulders and will them to victory when their backs are against the wall, and the breaks are beating the boys-gotta love sports clich├ęs, huh? When their teams are struggling, the aforementioned stars almost always carry them. I would take any of them with the game on the line and feel reasonably confident that I would come out on top. With Sosa, that same confidence and faith has never been there, aside from a brief stroke of brilliance in last year's game against Kentucky. His career has been as full of ups and downs as a late-night Jersey Shore club scene, and that hasn't changed this year. I find it hard to believe that Kalin Lucas would have missed 4 of 5 free throws down the stretch at Pitt-I find it hard to believe Sammy Sosa would have. I know for a fact that John Wall and Scottie Reynolds have bested Sosa in head-to-head match-ups. And I know for a fact that no self-respecting basketball fan could argue that Edgar Sosa is having a better year, or is a better player, than Sherron Collins in any sense of the word. And, the most important fact of all, Kansas, Michigan State, Villanova, and Kentucky are all in the top 5.

Don't get me wrong, I am not one of the Louisville fans trolling the message boards calling for Sosa to be benched in favor of the freshman Peyton Siva to anyone who will listen. Sosa is absolutely having his best season as a Card. Last year, and the year before that, he would have never recovered from the Pitt game. He played his heart out against Connecticut and came up with some huge plays to ice the game down the stretch. He is as electrifying a player as has played for the Ville in the last several years. That being said, Sosa has been nothing if not infuriating in his 4 years in red and white. Next year, there won't ever be a time where I think, "Man, I wish Edgar Sosa were here right now, he'd get us out of this mess," the way that I do with Reece Gaines, Taquan Dean, Francisco Garcia, and Terrence Williams-the way that I think I will with Peyton Siva. Rick Pitino, the 4 year owner of the Edgar Sosa doghouse, in response to his point guard's comments, said: “I don't know what it's going to accomplish by looking at other point guards,” Pitino said. “A, it's not going to help us win; B, it's not going to help him get drafted; and C, it's not going to help him become a better basketball player.” Sosa needs to stop worrying about his own recognition and help his teammates to become better players, and help this team make a run at an NCAA at-large bid. When he does, this team has the potential to make a run in March. When he plays well, and starts doing some of the things that have earned other players such lofty praise, people will notice. As one who has seen it so rarely, I certainly will.

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