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Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Player of the Year straw poll update

By Michael Rothstein

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson has been asserting himself against the Big 12 and writers around the nation are continuing to recognize that as the country starts to turn its full attention to college basketball with football signing day and the Super Bowl passing this week.

Robinson leads the second ESPN.com College Basketball Player of the Year poll, comprised of actual voters for the Wooden, Naismith, Associated Press and Robertson Awards given out the rest of the season.

For those who missed the first poll, which Robinson led as well, here’s a recap of how it all works: Each pollster sends us their top three. A first-place vote is worth three points, a second-place vote worth two and a third-place vote worth one. Every voter is granted anonymity.

Fifty-three voters submitted ballots for the second poll, up from 50 in the first ballot. Here are the results:


Poll analysis:
--For the second straight ballot, 17 players were represented. Those 17 players came from eight conferences (Big Ten, SEC, Big East, ACC, Big Sky, Missouri Valley, Mountain West and the MAC). Two schools, North Carolina and Kentucky, each had two players receiving votes.

--Four players are making their first appearance in the poll -- Stoglin, Moser, Ratliffe and Moultrie. Four players on the first ballot did not make the second ballot -- Baylor’s Perry Jones III, Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, California’s Jorge Gutierrez and Missouri’s Marcus Denmon.

--Robinson, the leader, made the biggest move. He went from 98 points in the first ballot to 130 in the second -- along the way increasing his first-place votes from 25 to 37. Sullinger had the biggest drop, falling from second to third and from 73 points in the first poll to 42 points in the third poll.

--Robinson was on all but four ballots -- by far the most of any contender for the award.

--This continues to be the Year of the Versatile Forward, as mentioned in the first poll. The top seven vote-getters are forwards.

--A big surprise, although in the four-year history of the poll this has usually held true, has been the lack of attention paid to high-impact point guards. A player like Iona’s Scott Machado, while is likely not a serious candidate to win the award, probably should be getting more attention as the nation’s assist leader.

--Four players not in the latest poll who should be getting more consideration: Siena’s forward O.D. Anosike, who is averaging 15.5 points and 12.9 rebounds and has posted 17 straight double-doubles; Seton Hall forward Herb Pope (15.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg), Saint Mary’s forward Rob Jones (14.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan (18.7 ppg, 47 pct 3-pt FG, 3.8 apg).

--Player on the poll who should be getting more attention: Scott. He does everything for Virginia, averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 57.4 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range. He is the main reason the Cavaliers are in the Top 25.

What comes next? Here are the top games for the top competitors from now until the next poll is released in two weeks.

Robinson has a chance to solidify himself even further as the frontrunner over the next week. Kansas travels to No. 4 Missouri on Saturday for a nationally televised game and then has a rematch against Perry Jones III and No. 6 Baylor on Feb. 8. He does well in those two games and he might be tough to beat.

Creighton sophomore Doug McDermott, who is in second place in the poll, could make statements in a road game Saturday at Northern Iowa and then on Feb. 11 against Wichita State. The big game for him will be Feb. 18 BracketBusters matchup with Long Beach State on ESPN2 -- it could be somewhat similar to the marquee showcase game Jimmer Fredette had a season ago against San Diego State on national TV.

Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger, in third right now, could make a big statement. The Buckeyes have six straight games on the ESPN family of networks, including marquee games against Wisconsin on Saturday and Michigan State on Feb. 11. Big games in those two could turn heads.

Similarly, four of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis’ next five games are on ESPN. The big ones, though, come Feb. 7 against Florida and Feb. 11 at Vanderbilt. Back-to-back big performances could help him make a move.

West Virginia senior Kevin Jones, in fifth, has one big game -- against Louisville on Feb. 11 -- between now and the next poll.

That said, they are all chasing Robinson right now.