Basketball

Marshall’s Ryan Taylor Is Oscar Robertson National Player of Week

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IRVING, Texas – Senior forward Ryan Taylor of Marshall University was named Conference USA’s Player of the Week, the league announced Monday. Along with his C-USA honor, he was also named American Sports Network (ASN) Player of the Week and the “College Court Report” Player of the Week as well. Taylor is the third Marshall player to earn C-USA’s Player of the Week this season in the league’s voting, with junior guard Jon Elmore and senior guard Stevie Browning being the other two recipients.

UPDATE – On Wednesday, Jan. 11, Taylor was announced for an even bigger award. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USWBA) has selected Marshall forward Ryan Taylor as its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week for games ending in the week of Sunday, Jan. 8. The USBWA’s weekly honor is presented by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. With the award, Taylor becomes the first Marshall player in program history to have been named a National Player of the Week.

As the Conference USA Player of the Week, Taylor was nominated for the national award, which was chosen by a representative of the USBWA board of directors from a list of Division I conference players of the week. This is the eighth season that the USBWA has selected a national player of the week.

Since the 1958-59 season, the USBWA has named a National Player of the Year. In 1998, the award was named in honor of the University of Cincinnati Hall of Fame player and two-time USBWA Player of the Year Oscar Robertson. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player. At the conclusion of the regular season, the USBWA will name finalists for the award, which is voted on by the entire membership.

Robertson, who led Cincinnati to back-to-back year’s of being ranked No. 1 in the nation in his junior and senior seasons, beat the Thundering Herd of Head Coach Jule Rivlin twice. The Bearcats, hosting the Herd both games, beat Marshall and senior Leo Byrd – who scored 29.3 ppg that season (Robertson leading the nation this year again with 32.6 ppg this season, after averaging 35.0 as a sophomore and then scoring 33.7 ppg as a senior)  – in 1958-59, 106-86. Then in the following season of 1959-60, the No. 1 Bearcats beat the Herd, 102-61, as Marshall led by John Milhoan, who led the team with 23.3 points per game and Bob Burgess’ 15.5 rebounds per game.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, contact executive director Joe Mitch.

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the most comprehensive college basketball publication in the world, returns for its 36th season. Blue Ribbon – long-known as “The Bible of College Basketball” – gives its readers the most thorough, up-to-date and timely evaluations of every Division I team in the country. For more information about Blue Ribbon Yearbooks, visit blueribbonyearbookonline.com.

It is hard to believe this is the first time Taylor, a fourth-year player from Indianapolis, Ind., has received C-USA’s Player of the Week honor, although he won the C-USA Freshman of the Week Award twice. It is also the first time in school history where three different players have won C-USA’s Player of the Week during the same season. Marshall is also the first C-USA school to have three players honored in the same year since Louisiana Tech’s Alex Hamilton, Raheem Appleby and Kenneth “Speedy” Smith all were similarly honored in the 2014-15 season.

Taylor is coming off a week where he averaged a double-double (25.3 points and 13.3 rebounds), while also averaging 2.0 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals in three games. He earned three straight double-doubles for the first time since Feb. 5-14, 2015, his sophomore season, and now has six this year. His 33 double-doubles lead C-USA (and is fourth most in the league all-time), and for the league lead trails only Erik McCree of Louisiana Tech (8) and Michael Sessions of FIU (7) in total double-doubles to date by C-USA players.

“Ryan has really come along this past week,” head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “He is finally fully healthy (from an earlier calf injury), so we are able to see what he can really do on the court. Not only does he do well with scoring and rebounding, but he does a great job communicating while on or off the floor as well. He is really stepping up his play during conference games and we will need that.”

Taylor scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed a previous season-high 13 rebounds in the 89-73 victory at Florida Atlantic (Jan. 2). The senior also added two assists, made two steals and collected a block in 35 minutes of action as Marshall won it’s opening C-USA road sweep of both FAU (and on Saturday, Dec. 31, at FIU, two days earlier).

Taylor’s 21 points against Old Dominion helped Marshall become the first school to score 90 points on the Monarchs in 179 games (last time was also on the road, at Richmond, Dec. 20, 2011). The Herd was also the first school to score 70 points on Old Dominion this season. The Indianapolis native also made a career-high five blocks and pulled down 13 rebounds. His 24 points against Charlotte helped Marshall score 110 points in regulation for the first time since the 1996 season. To add on, he pulled down a season-high 14 rebounds, made one block and dished out three assists.

Taylor stands alone in Marshall history, as he is the only player in Marshall history with at least 1,500 points (1,535, tied with Tom Curry at No. 14, and 1,551 is No. 12 for both Damier Pitts and Charlie Slack), over 800 rebounds (834 is No. 6, and next up at No. 5 is 863 rebounds by Russell Lee)  and more than 250 assists (254 is No. 20, and 259 assists is next for No. 18 Chris Ross while teammate Jon Elmore is also at 255, at No. 19). Taylor is the only MU player in the Top 20 of each of those three categories (assists not kept until 1971-72 season). His 48.55% field goal shooting percent is No. 21 (with No. 20 being Greg Young at 48.61%) his 3-point shooting is just 29.32% (No. 23 is Corny Jackson at 35.5%) and his free throw percentage is 67.19% (Taylor will have to hit at least No. 35 Tyler Wilkerson, who hit 70.1% at the line).

He is moving up in all categories at Marshall, and his field goals made and attempted, are b0tu No. 14, 536 and No. 16th, 1,102 (Carlos “Bunny” Gibson next at 537-1,104, from 1975-79), 3-pointers attempted and made at No. 31, 78-No. 25, 266 (Scott Williams with 79 3s-made is No. 30, while Harold Simmons next in 3s-attempted with 271, No. 24), and free throws made and attempted with No. 6, 385-No. 5-tied with 573 and DeAndre Kane 573 also (next up No. 4 Skip Henderson has 625 free throw attempts; up next on free throws made is No. 5, Laverne Evans with 389). He is also moving up in total games played 110, tied for 27th with Charlie Jones. In games overall, the next group up is at No. 21 with 111 games played are players Joda Burgess, Chris Gray, John Humphrey, David Wade, George Washington and his teammate, Dr. Larry Watson, steals (94 to date, at No. 33, and up next are both Darryl Merthie and Greg White at 96 No. 31 all time (also is No. 30 is JR VanHoose with 97 and at No. 28 with 98 are both Ken Labanowski and Markel Humphrey) and blocks where Taylor is No. 11 with 95 blocks, and up next is the Top 10 for steals with Latece Williams having 99 for his career.

Up next, Marshall will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. Both teams are the only two undefeated sides left in league play thus far, and the Blue Raiders have been receiving votes in the Top 25.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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