Cotton wins MVC Defensive Player of the Year, left off MVC First Team

Sports Editor

Five Wichita State men’s basketball players were honored by the Missouri Valley Conference Tuesday.

University of Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle came away with the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year award. That’s something Shocker junior Fred VanVleet won last year. Missing out on the award doesn’t affect VanVleet, though.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” VanVleet said. “I didn’t expect to win it last year, it happened. It was a blessing and a great accomplishment, and I’m sure [Tuttle] feels the same way this year. I don’t know him personally, but I bet if you ask him, he would’ve traded me that trophy for the win on Saturday, so I’ll take the championship any day.”

VanVleet was joined by teammate Ron Baker on the MVC’s First Team.

Tekele Cotton, the MVC’s Defensive MVP back-to-back years now, was left off the first team and relegated to the league’s second team.

The MVC awards are decided by 47 voters. Each school gets four votes. The coach, media relations director, radio play-by-play and beat writer get one vote each. Each voter cannot vote for their own school’s players. There are also seven voters from an MVC panel, which is new this year.

Lyndal Scranton, Missouri State’s beat writer, chose Cotton for first team. Once the awards were announced, Scranton tweeted his displeasure for Cotton being left off of the first team.

“Inexplicably, Wichita State’s Tekele Cotton left off all-MVC first team,” Scranton tweeted.

“MVC voters who chose Balentine over Cotton for first team should have paid a little closer attention,” he continued in another tweet.

Defense wins championships, but it doesn’t win awards, inexplicably, as Scranton put it. Cotton’s defense can hold the Valley’s leading scorer, D.J. Balentine of Evansville, to eight points in a game on 20 percent shooting, but it can’t give him a spot on the first team?

Balentine made the MVC First Team. He averaged 19 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the field and to reiterate, Cotton held him to 8 points and 20 percent shooting from the field. In the first WSU and Evansville matchup, Balentine was held to 16 points and 35 percent shooting from the field.

“What do you say?” head coach Gregg Marshall asked. “A lot of people just look at stats. That’s it. I think you have to value wins, and obviously that wasn’t done.”

Coach Marshall is right, and defense dictates wins.

I don’t know who the voters voted for, but the one’s that didn’t vote Cotton made a major mistake. Some voters (mostly beat writers) tweeted who they voted for, probably for transparency.

Apparently being Defensive Player of the Year isn’t worthy of being a first teamer. It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it. You’re good enough to shut down the opposing team’s best player game in and game out, but not good enough to be mentioned on the first team with a player (Balentine) you shut down twice this year.

Which one is more important: The guy that can score 20 points most nights or the guy that can shut down the guy scoring 20 points any night?