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March 5, 2012

Column: Scott deserved better

That Mike Scott was one of five names announced on the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association's All ACC first team on Monday was not in any way, shape, or form a surprise. It shouldn't have been, at least. But then again, given the decision making of at least a couple members of ACMSA, you are left to wonder.

That two illogical or out-right blind voters left him off? To use a term Scott might use about something so ridiculous: It's tragical.

Scott, the 6-foot-8, 237-pound senior forward from Chesapeake, was joined by the North Carolina trio of Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Harrison Barnes and Duke's Austin Rivers on the first team.

That the conference's top team, UNC, placed its entire frontcourt on the All ACC first team? Not so surprising when you take into account that Zeller was the only unanimous selection to this group.

The 62 voters of ACSMA, of which I am one, got it right. Almost.

Much attention via Twitter and throughout the web has been focused on Scott's candidacy for the conference's player of the year honor. Essentially, it's been a two-horse race between Zeller (fifth in the ACC scoring at 16.3 per game and second in rebounding at 9.3) and Scott (active leader in points, rebounds, and double-doubles and shooting a league-best 57.3 percent).

But for people like the Raleigh News & Observer's Caulton Tudor to leave Scott off the first team (he admitted as much on Twitter last week and seemed to bask in his villainy in recent days) is just absurd and it brings into focus a staunch reality: Even people who are outrageously wrong get a vote sometimes.

Tudor's only points of contention? That Scott's numbers weren't as good against North Carolina, as if UVa only played a two-game season.

Again, it's one thing to make an argument that Zeller was the league's best and though I, backed by stats and a thing I like to call "reality" would disagree, it's not outlandish by any stretch.

But to not have him alongside Scott as a unanimous selection underscores a problem with voting for these kinds of things that fans are keenly afraid of: They always think we have ulterior motives. And Tudor is not just magnifying that belief in the face of facts but he's throwing high-octane fuel onto the fire.

Look, who makes the first or second or third team is, in many ways, irrelevant. But I believe players who have the kind of season Scott has had, for a team that plays the style Tony Bennett employs and with the issues he's had to coach around with depth and injury, is remarkable. As such, he deserves the honor that should of been his as a unanimous selection.

For as much as he's done, as hard as he's worked, and for as well as he's played, representing the University with class and dignity, it's a shame that outside influences can dim the shine of a spotlight that should be squarely on No. 23.

My brethren in the media like to scold society from behind our keyboards, telling you often of days gone by and waxing philosophical about the way it was. That the new players are so selfish. That they are so needy, with their tattoos and their baggy shorts and their inability to play the game the way it should be played. They don't understand how to play a team game, some will tell you. And they'll say egos are inflated because no one plays defense or all they care about is going to the NBA.

And then they turn around and tell you that stats are all that matter or that some stats (like those against a specific team) matter but the cumulative stats against a host of good teams (like, say, Zeller and Scott versus NC State in Raleigh, Duke in Durham, and Florida State in Tallahassee) don't.

Guys like Tudor think they know better when in reality, the whole world knows they're a relic of the All Carolina Conference that needs to find something else to do with their time. And people wonder why having the ACC Tournament in a state other than North Carolina is met with plenty of smiles and nods of approval throughout the league.

Fact is, Mike Scott was second in the league in scoring and first in shooting percentage while being in the top five in rebounding, free-throw percentage, and defensive rebounding. He came back for a fifth year after an ankle injury, was the consummate teammate, and helped revive a UVa program that hadn't done this well since a guy name Ralph Sampson was controlling the paint.

He deserved better from ACSMA. And I'm at least proud to say that I wasn't one of the fickle pair who left him off the first team. Shame that doesn't change it from being true. And shame that the stereotypical pro-Carolina ACC media did exactly what non-Carolina fans just knew they would.


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