Michigan may not have been able to capture the Big Ten’s regular season crown, but the league took notice of the Wolverines nonetheless.
Senior LaVell Blanchard, freshman Daniel Horton and junior Bernard Robinson were all honored yesterday when the All-Big Ten teams were announced.
Blanchard was named first team All-Big Ten for the first time in his career by both the media and coaches. The Ann Arbor native has enjoyed a stellar final campaign, averaging 16 points and 6.9 rebounds per game – good enough to have him in position to finish his career as the first Wolverine to ever lead the team in scoring and rebounding for four straight years.
“I am very happy and proud to see LaVell Blanchard, being a senior, was able to make first team all-conference,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “I think that is a significant achievement.”
“It’s definitely an honor,” Blanchard said. “But I would trade all the individual awards in for a Big Ten championship.”
Horton walked away with impressive accolades as well. Michigan’s point guard was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and also grabbed a spot on the conference’s second team.
Horton has been rewriting the Michigan record books, setting the Michigan freshman record for most 3-pointers made and attempted in a season, 73 and 211, respectively. He is also just 11 assists away from breaking the Michigan freshman mark for a season.
Starting all of the Wolverines’ 29 games this year, Horton has averaged 15.7 points per game – highlighted by a 31-point performance in an upset victory at Purdue – and has also added 4.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per contest.
“It feels good,” Horton said. “There are so many other freshman players in this league, to be honored as one of the best is special. It just shows how hard we worked as a team and how hard I have worked throughout the year.”
Amaker, expectedly, was also thrilled that Horton was recognized with one of the league’s highest honors.
“I think it is tremendous for one of our players to be named Player of the Year in any capacity. I think with Daniel Horton being Freshman of the Year, it is obvious that was an honor well deserved by a youngster who had a tremendous first year here.”
Robinson wrapped up Michigan’s honors, being voted to the All-Big Ten third team, the first time Robinson has been honored by an All-Big Ten team.
The junior has posted 11.6 points and a career-high six rebounds per game while also fulfilling the role as Michigan’s defensive stopper all season.
Said Amaker: “(This year) was an opportunity for (Robinson) to make his mark with the play he has displayed, especially on the defensive end, which is probably one of the main reasons he was able to become an all-conference player.”
Illinois’ Brian Cook, Purdue’s Willie Deane, Wisconsin’s Kirk Penney and Minnesota’s Rick Rickert rounded out the coaches’ selections to the first team. Jeff Newton of Indiana replaced Rickert in the media’s choices.
Cook, to the surprise of no one, walked away with the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year, an award that Amaker was thought to be one of the main contenders for, was given to Wisconsin head man Bo Ryan, who led the Badgers to the outright conference championship.