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Schools of Thought: MVP, or not MVP?

February 16, 2009
By Bill Cain, The Leader-Herald

It's always fun to hear the back-and-forth chants between the Johnstown and Gloversville student sections when the two teams get together.

When the Gloversville boys' basketball team went to Johnstown Wednesday, the kids in the stands started up the "MVP" chant, both contingents letting the other know who got their vote for Foothills Council Most Valuable Player.

The Johnstown section was chanting M-V-P for Ian Yost. The traveling Super Fans countered by chanting for a Dragon who already has won a Foothills Council MVP award.

Matt Baldwin earned the award last season with 430 points (20.5 ppg), 62 3-pointers and a free throw percentage of 75.78 (97-for-128). In that season he topped 20 points 12 times, twice topping 30 with a high of 31.

Yost has been the Sir Bills' bread, butter, meat, potatoes and gravy. He scored 344 points, 17.2 ppg.

He'll be an all-star, but with the crop of big men in this season's Foothills Council, he's battling Scotia-Glenville's Jim Janson and Hudson Falls' Keven Donohue for one of probably two spots on the first team.

I don't know if I can say Baldwin is the MVP, either. He's easily one of the best players in the league, if not the best. He scored 429 points in the regular season and hit 59 3-pointers. He shot 84.8 percent from the free throw line (106-for-125).

He is deadly on the perimeter, can also take it on the bounce through the lane, rebounds, plays defense

But do the coaches vote for an MVP or a Most Outstanding Player/Player of the Year?

Baldwin would probably be my vote for Player of the Year, which is what many leagues choose when naming an MVP, but some still treat it as "Most Valuable."

Looking at the Dragons this season makes it hard to say Baldwin is the player in the league who was most valuable to his team. His team is stacked.

Malcolm Mathias is averaging double-digit scoring, Gabe Wells controls the glass and scores and Chris LeFever is a role player who, when called on, steps up. Jeremy VanAlstyne is usually good for a couple timely 3-pointers and Chad McCloskey showed in the Johnstown game that he can be more than a role player by dropping in a dozen points at key times in the game.

The MVP may go to Janson, without whose 6-foot, 10-inch frame and 336 points Scotia would not likely have earned a share of the Foothills title with Gloversville. Sure, the argument can be made that without Baldwin, Gloversville would have had a hard time earning a piece of the crown, but they would not have had as hard a time.

Donohue may be in the running with his 426 points. The 6-foot-6 has Ty Michaud for a teammate, but the loss of his size underneath would have greatly diminished the Tigers, who had the complement this season for the perimeter attack they have used for the last couple years.

Looking at the numbers, it's hard to deny Baldwin the top honor. My guess is he'll win MVP because he's arguably the best player in the league and that's what "MVP" has come to mean. It's just the help he's had raising the Dragons to the top of the league that causes my hesitation.



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