Panthers honored with all-conference awards

UNI sophomore A.J. Green was named the 2019-2020 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. Green is the fourth Panther player in history to win the Larry Bird trophy.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

In what has been a terrific season for the UNI Panther men’s basketball team so far, Tuesday night was filled with a plethora of individual accolades for Panther players as the Missouri Valley Conference announced its all-conference awards for the 2019-20 season. Sophomore AJ Green took home the Larry Bird Player of the Year, senior Isaiah Brown was named Defensive Player of the Year and both Green and sophomore Austin Phyfe were named to the MVC all-conference first team. Trae Berhow was also named to the MVC’s Most Improved team.

It was a stellar year for Green, as he led the Valley in scoring at 21.8 points per game. He also led the league with an average of 3.3 made three pointers per game, a nearly 94% free throw percentage and almost 37 minutes per game. His 88 made three-pointers this season were third all-time at UNI, as well as his 591 total points this season is good enough for seventh at UNI. Green is the fourth Northern Iowa player to take home the Larry Bird trophy, along with Jason Daisy in 1997, Adam Koch in 2010 and Seth Tuttle in 2015. He is also the third sophomore in Valley history to win the award, along with Creighton’s Doug McDermott in 2012 and Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet in 2014.

Brown has been a superb defender throughout his UNI career, and was finally recognized this season. He is the second UNI player to take home the MVC’s Defensive Player of the Year award, along with Kwadzo Ahelegbe in 2011. Brown recorded 28 steals and 12 blocks this season, but much of his defensive efforts came outside of the box score. He was routinely matched up with the opposing team’s best offensive player game in and game out, and helped lead the Panther’s to holding opponents to an average of just 42% from the field per game, second lowest in the league.

Phyfe missed the majority of last season due to injury, but came back this season in a big way. He was the Valley’s best offensive rebounder, with 98 total on the season. He averaged eleven points and eight rebounds per game, while finishing third in the entire NCAA with a 68% field goal percentage.

Berhow improved vastly from the 2018-19 season. He improved his points per game from 7.7 to 13, shooting percentage from 42% last year to 50% this year, while shooting 45% from three-point range this season. He has become an integral part of UNI’s offense this season.