Men’s hoops year-end awards

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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Freshman of the Year: Melsahn Basabe, forward

As announcer Gus Johnson put it, Melsahn Basabe had a “curiously spicy” season.

The Glen Cove, N.Y., native averaged 13 points and 7.3 rebounds in conference games and became the first Big Ten player ever — yes, ever — to post at least 20 points, 10 boards, and five blocks in a single game. Basabe finished with 22, 13, and six against Ohio State on Jan. 4.

The only knock against the freshman is he needs to work on his consistency. He finished with four-straight double-digit scoring nights, but there were several outings throughout the year in which he simply wasn’t a factor. Case in point: In the five games from Jan. 23 to Feb. 5, Basabe scored at least 20 points three times and exactly four points twice.

If he works on his consistency and bulks up a little in the off-season, there’s no reason Basabe won’t be Iowa’s MVP the next three years.

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Most Improved: Andrew Brommer, forward

In his first two years with the Hawkeyes, Big Bromm didn’t live up to his lofty prep accolades. The high-school honorable mention All-American looked lost in Todd Lickliter’s game plans and averaged 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds.

Something must have happened in the off-season, though, because he was fantastic in stretches this season. He ran the floor well, played the best post defense on the team, and showed surprisingly soft hands on the offensive side of the court.

He probably won’t start next year, but don’t be surprised if Brommer continues to make big contributions.

Most Disappointing: Eric May, guard/forward

Watching May this year has been fascinating. He started well, posting a career-high 20 points against South Dakota State on Nov. 14 and finishing with double-digit points in eight of the Hawkeyes’ first 13 games. An injury kept him out of Iowa’s loss to Ohio State on Jan. 4, though, and his season fell apart.

May stopped making shots and eventually stopped taking them. Instead of looking for the basket, he started desperately looking for ways not to handle the ball. His scoring dropped from 11.2 points in the team’s first 13 games to 5.6 in the 12 games from Jan. 9 until he was benched on Feb. 19.

Everything adds up to an inexplicably miserable season for a player many assumed would blossom in Fran McCaffery’s offense. Still, May is a good enough player that once he finds his shooting stroke — and confidence — again, he’ll be fine.

MVP: Bryce Cartwright, point guard

In hindsight, it’s hard to believe Cartwright began the year on the bench.

Once original starter Cully Payne was sidelined with a sport hernia, though, Cartwright quickly established himself as the best point guard in the Big Ten. He assisted nearly 25 percent of Iowa’s total baskets and has dished out at least eight dimes on nine different occasions this year. He posted a stellar 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, led the conference in assists per game in league games, and was the nation’s second-leading assist man since Jan. 26.

The soft-spoken junior from Compton, Calif., has also proven to be Iowa’s most clutch performer.

He hit five first-half buzzer-beaters and converted the winning shot against Indiana on Feb. 5.

Essentially, he created a big play almost every time he touched the ball this year. Cartwright will enter the 2011-12 season as the front-runner for the starting point guard spot, and with good reason.

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