Saturday, May 2, 2009
MVP Award: A.J. Price
No one knew what to expect out of A.J. Price coming into the 2009 season. His previous season’s bar was set high, ending the year as one of the elite point guards in the Big East, but he was coming off a major knee injury and had just finished a rigorous rehab program. It took a few games under his belt to knock off some of the rust and his frustrations showed early on, punching an opponent in the ribs during a game. He had to adjust his game more then any other player on the team with Kemba Walker earning time at the point. By the end of the year, he had become UConn’s most consistent offensive threat.
He showed drastic improvement from outside, hitting .369 last year and .402 this year. It was even more amazing considering that he was UConn’s only outside threat. With Austrie not able to find his range, teams made it a point to double team Price on the perimeter, but he was still able to get open and knock down shots. He was much better when receiving the ball then creating his own shot. As the season progressed, so did his legs. He started getting that first step that he had the previous year and found his way to the rim, but the zone tended to frustrate him. Though he struggled from the line throughout the season, he improved over his junior year, and ended with a .721 average from the line.
Although he had an M.V.P. like year, it wasn’t statistically better then his junior year. His assists-to-turnovers, free throws, and shooting percentages were all down this season. Much of that had to do with Dyson going down, so much of the backcourt scoring fell onto his shoulders, and with the ball not in his hands as much, he wasn’t the same player. He had trouble seeing the floor and turned the ball over in bunches. Even with all the knocks, he carried the team that had not won a tournament game in years and made a deep run into the Big Dance. Being the floor general that steadied the team through the toughest Big East conference in the history of the league and the player that wanted the ball in his hands in the closing minutes, Price became the leader of the team.
On a roster full of potential NBA caliber players, he by far was the most valuable and deserving of this award. If there was one word to describe Price, it would be perseverance. He has been through just about every conceivable obstacle on his pursuit towards his dream and he has met every challenge head on, never running, and has defeated it. He is the embodiment of a true Husky.