Mike Sorensen: Could Jimmer Fredette win national player of year but not MWC?

Published: Sunday, Jan. 23 2011 10:22 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — BYU's Jimmer Fredette is getting plenty of love in the national press right now and is being talked about, not only as a first-team All-American, but as a possible National Player of the Year.

But is it possible that Fredette could be a top candidate for National Player of the Year, but not even be named Player of the Year in his own conference?

It's hard to fathom, but that's what could happen if San Diego State ends up winning the MWC title over BYU, a decent possibility considering that the Aztecs are ranked No. 6 with the nation's longest winning streak.

For the past seven years, the winner of the MWC player of the year has come from a team that won the league title or tied for it. It happened last year when Fredette was passed over as the MWC POY by New Mexico's Darington Hobson, despite enjoying superior numbers.

You have to go back to 2002-03 to find a player from a non-champion team that earned POY honors. That's when Utah and BYU tied for the MWC title, but Ruben Douglas of 4-10 New Mexico won the award after averaging 32 points per game in league play.

The year before, Utah's Britton Johnsen won the award over Wyoming's Marcus Bailey, despite the fact that Wyoming won the league title. That was the year, when Utah coach Rick Majerus famously said that Bailey deserved the award over his own player because he had played on the championship team.

Actually, I don't agree with the Majerus philosophy and think the best player should get the POY award regardless of his team's standing.

This year Fredette's main competition is San Diego State sophomore Kawhi Leonard, who leads the MWC in rebounding at 10.3 rpg and his third in scoring at 15.7 ppg.

There's still a long ways to go and Fredette can get a leg up on Leonard with a victory over the Aztecs Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.

CHOW TIME: Depending on your viewpoint, Utah's new offensive coordinator Norm Chow might be seen as an innovative offensive genius or a washed-up, over-the-hill has-been.

Utah fans are taking the former stance, while BYU fans probably believe in the latter. And they might both be right.

Chow has been an offensive coordinator for most of the past 30 years at four different places, where he has helped groom several quarterbacks including the likes of current NFL QBs Phillip Rivers and Carson Palmer.

On the other hand, he is 64-years-old and it's possible today's college game has passed him by a bit.

However, Chow's hiring seems to be a smart move by the Utes, who have a very young staff with inexperienced offensive coordinators the past couple of years in Dave Schramm and Aaron Roderick.

Not only does Chow bring more than 30 years of experience to his alma mater, but he should be valuable in helping the Utes make the transition into the Pac-12.

SIMMERING DOWN: The Fire-Jim Boylen talk has simmered after three straight double-digit wins by the Utah basketball team, which appears to be rounding into shape after a late-December slump.

Utah is still just 10-10, but if the Utes keep improving as they have since the start of 2011, Boylen and the Utes should be just fine and could even finish in the top half of the MWC after being picked sixth.

It just goes to show that you can't judge a team or program on a few games, but rather over the course of a season. Fans, in general, need to be more patient.

EVENING OUT: The same thing goes for the Utah Jazz, who are mired in a four-game losing slump.

But look at it this way. The Jazz won those four road games back in November that no one thought they'd win, so losing four straight road games last week, including a couple everyone thought they'd win, sort of evens things out.

In sports, you always remember the games you should have won, but forget the ones you probably shouldn't have won.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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