SMU Defensive Player of the Year

The Pony Stampede staff makes their picks for SMU's defensive player of the year!

Billy: Sterling Brown

Sterling should have been starting from day one. I said it before the season and then Ben Emelogu and Keith Frazier get trotted out with out earning it in my mind. Ryan Manuel eventually replaced Emelogu in the starting lineup and for good reason, but not having Brown out there cost SMU in my mind. The team greatly benefitted on the defensive end from Brown’s physical play, versatility and ability to get steals. Brown could play down low or move out on the perimeter and with SMU having depth issues, that was key. Brown did get into foul trouble against UCLA, but he was the talk of the game defensively according to the two NCAA coaches I was sitting next to. High praise for the sophomore and a big reason why that pushed him over the top for my defensive player of the year.

Scott: Ryan Manuel

With the Mustangs losing both Shawn Williams and Nick Russell to graduation, there were questions heading into this season as to who would step in as a leader, and who would fill their defensive void. Ryan Manuel did both. The Mustangs really got rolling once Ryan Manuel was asked to start in place of Keith Frazier, and despite Manuel's lack of offensive consistency, his presence was always felt throughout games. Manuel was usually tasked with taking on the opponent's best offensive player, and always used his length and athleticism to his advantage. He wasn't the flashiest defender, but he more than got the job done when called upon. The more the season progressed, the more I started to see Manuel as Nick Russell 2.0. I had a hard time picking between Moreira and Manuel, but considering Moreira's bad habit of goaltending, I figured Manuel deserved the title.

Patrick: Ryan Manuel

Sterling Brown entered the season as the only truly dependable defender among guards, and while he was crucial in the early season, the lack of another dependable defender hurt SMU. When Ryan Manuel emerged, SMU's defense took off. The senior became SMU's best on-ball defender, a great perimeter defender and amiably filled in Nick Russell's role. He brought superb length at the two guard spot and could guard an opponent's point guard, shooting guard and occasionally an opponent's three man. While SMU size advantage in the paint helped keep opponents out of the paint, Manuel's sticky perimeter defense also kept opponents out of the paint and led to contested jump shots.

Hatts: Yanick Moreira

Looking past the goaltending calls, especially the final one, Yanick Moreira had a great year on the court defensively. Moreira finished the season with an average of 1.2 blocks per game and had almost a steal per game as well. Moreira also cleaned up the defensive glass at the end of possessions with almost 7 rebounds per game. Yes, throughout the latter portion of the season he had a problem with goaltending but he also altered countless other shots including late in games during some victories like SMU’s victory over Tulsa and in the conference tournament against Temple even though he didn’t have any blocks. Against Midwestern State earlier this season, Moreira showed just how much of a threat he could be on the defensive end when he finished with 9 blocks and 9 rebounds and almost had a triple double. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against that is impressive. The Angolan big men also had 2 blocks apiece in regular season wins over Tulsa, Memphis and Connecticut, as well as, 2 blocks against UCLA in the NCAA tournament. At times he was a little aggressive, but was also anchored the backline of the SMU defense.


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