Tuesday, March 10, 2009

INJURED LAWSON ACC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Sometime after the Tar Heels 0-2 start in ACC regular season play, point guard Ty Lawson connected all the dots. He’s played brilliantly since playing a critical role in North Carolina’s regular season ACC Championship.

So today, while his injured toe is creating anxiety all over Tar Heel Nation and uncertainty with his coaches and teammates, Lawson became the 13th Carolina basketball player to be named Player of The Year.

The speedy and sauvvy junior earned 31 of 76 votes from Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association members, becoming only the second point guard to win the award along with Tar Heel legend Phil Ford in 1978.

Florida State's Toney Douglas finished second with 27 votes after helping the Seminoles finish fourth in the regular season. Reigning league and national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough was third with 13 votes.

Lawson who declared for the NBA draft last year before returning to school has always had the speed to blow by any defender while directing coach Roy Williams' fast-paced offense. But this year, Lawson has had an all-around game that made him almost impossible to stop – especially in crunch time during close games.

The only question about him these days is his health. He played through an injury to his right big toe in Sunday's win against Duke. On Tuesday, Williams said Lawson's toe was badly swollen, making it unclear whether he'll be at full speed or unable to play at this week's ACC tournament in Atlanta.

Lawson ranked among the league leaders in scoring (15.9 points), steals (2.0) and field-goal percentage (53.8 percent) while ranking first in assists at 6.5 per game. He's also shooting nearly 47 percent from 3-point range. All those numbers are the best of his career.

(Getty Images and Reuters Photo)

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