- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The vernacular is filled with plenty of words that are oh-so-easy to parse. Probably. Questionable. Potentially. Heck, a sitting president even found a way to make “is” a dicey proposition less than a decade ago.

But “unanimous” doesn’t have the same qualities. Unanimous tends to be viewed as well, unanimous, as in everyone agrees on something.

The ACC had three unanimous all-conference selections this week: Florida State’s Al Thornton, Boston College’s Jared Dudley and North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough. All are fine players, quite obviously among the top six in the conference this season (along with Virginia guards Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds and Virginia Tech guard Zabian Dowdell).

Funny thing is, I can confidently say Hansbrough was not a first-teamer on every ballot. Maybe every ballot but one. But not every ballot. Not mine.

I was perplexed by this disparity when the results were announced Monday, and after weighing it a few days, e-mailed John Justus, the president of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and a man who does a fine job helping to run that organization.

It seemed sensible the ballot might have been lost amid 105 others, which certainly didn’t appear impossible. Trying to tabulate 100-plus votes Sunday night and Monday morning — and rechecking the results — can’t be easy.

As it turns out, “unanimous” doesn’t exactly mean “unanimous” after all, for some rather intriguing reasons. Here was Justus’ prompt reply:

Your vote was counted and the players you voted for first-team were duly noted and the appropriate point totals recorded. However, as has been done in the past with the Board’s approval, if a particular player is one or two votes shy of being a unanimous selection, we have designated that player as being a unanimous pick. All ballots per our by-laws can be made public if requested, so we do this in order to avoid possibly singling out the one or two people who did not vote for a particular player. We feel that is the best policy and avoids any un-needed distractions in the overall process.

At times in the past, I’ve tried to contact voters to let them know that this was being done, but this year with the large number of votes that I had to count Sunday evening, there simply wasn’t time.

If you would like the Board to consider changing this policy, please let me know.

None of this is to disparage the Tar Heels’ fine center. He enjoyed a solid year, leading the conference’s top-seeded team in scoring and rebounding. Those are solid credentials — certainly enough to earn plenty of first-team votes — but the other five guys weren’t bad either.

No one is arguing the inclusion of Thornton or Dudley (well, maybe they are; we really don’t know). But Singletary was the conference’s best point guard, Reynolds averaged 20 points in conference games and was vital to the Cavaliers’ midseason surge from 9-6 mediocrity to NCAA lock and Dowdell was equally important to the Hokies’ rise from doormat to No. 3 seed.

In short, all these guys have a legitimate case. Given the voting outcome, it’s clear most voters decided to take one player per team and leave off Reynolds (who received 20 first-place votes; for the record, Maryland’s D.J. Strawberry also earned two votes). It’s certainly a valid approach, and quite obviously the voice of the majority.

But it isn’t unanimous, no matter what anyone tells you.

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