Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Big East Honors and Snubs

The Big East has come out with their post-season awards... real awards, not the ones I give out. Let's take a look...

BIG EAST Player of the Year
Wes Johnson, Syracuse

I was hoping Scottie Reynolds would win it, but if there's one player I could understand winning it over Scottie, it's Wesley Johnson. He's the best player on the best team in the conference, and he really does do it all. He leads the Orange in scoring at 15.7 ppg. He leads the team in rebounding at 8.5 rpg, which is especially impressive, considering he is 6'7 and competing for boards with 6'9 Arinze Onaku and 6'9 Rick Jackson on his own team. He averages 2.4 assists per game and almost 2 blocks and 2 steals per game. His shooting percentages are good as well (48.7% FG, 78.6% FT, 38.1% 3PT). The only knock on Wes is his decline in scoring and shooting accuracy over the past few weeks, but he is playing with an injured hand.

In the case of Scottie Reynolds, you have to take into account how much better he has played in Big East games. Wes Johnson was still very good, but his numbers did drop in conference games. Reynolds, on the other hand, improved his scoring to 19.9 ppg, field goal percentage to 50%, 3-point shooting percentage to 42%, and free throw percentage to 84%. After all, this is the BIG EAST Player of the Year Award, not the Big East Player in Non-Conference Games Player of the Year Award. The biggest thing going against Reynolds is his team's poor play to close out the season. Villanova went 4-5 in their last nine games, which included a loss against Syracuse and Wes Johnson. Had Nova finished with a better record over those last nine games, I think it would have swayed some votes in Scottie's favor.

Finally, I know the award is technically only for this season, but you can't help but notice Scottie Reynolds' body of work over his four-year career at Villanova. The key word there being FOUR years. These days in college basketball it's rare to see a player as good as Reynolds stay in school for his senior year. And unlike other seniors who have had great careers (cough-Harangody-cough), Reynolds' Villanova teams have achieved major success. He's been to a Sweet Sixteen, a Final Four, and has made countless big shots along the way. Scottie Reynolds is battle-tested and proven. Is Wes Johnson? No one knows, because he's never been there before. Ironically, Reynolds' success is probably being held against him. He's been so good for so long that opposing fans joke that it seems like he's been in school for six years. People have gotten sick of Scottie, so they move along to look for the next new star. It's the same reason Jordan lost the '97 MVP to Karl Malone. There's no doubt Wesley Johnson is a great player, but it would have been nice to see Scottie Reynolds begin his collegiate career with a Big East Rookie of the Year Award and end it with a Big East Player of the Year Award.

BIG EAST Rookie of the Year

Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

Stephenson's season was somewhat erratic, but he didn't really have any competition for the award. He has a great handle for his size, and he is so strong that he's almost unstoppable when driving to the basket. It's just a shame that he takes more jumpers than Samuel L. Jackson. Sorry, even I can't believe I just made a reference to a movie that bad.

BIG EAST Coach of the Year
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

I tend to believe any coach of the year award should go to the coach on the best team, just on general principle. I can't make an exception here, although Buzz Williams, Jamie Dixon, and Stan Heath all deserve credit for what they accomplished with their respective teams this season. At least Boeheim will never beat Jay Wright in a best looking or best dressed coach of the year award.

BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athletes Of The Year
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

"Abromaitis will receive a $2,000 scholarship, which may be applied to graduate or professional studies." That's enough for about 1/4 of one class. How considerate of them.

BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
Hamady Ndiaye, Rutgers

Ndiaye averaged 4.5 blocks per game, and he had one 10-block game and two 9-block games. That's impressive and all, but it didn't seem to have much of an effect in the win/loss column. You need to look a little deeper than block and steal numbers to measure defense in basketball. Also is it just me, or do you think of this song every time you see Hamady's name. Warning: if you click that link, you WILL start dancing.

BIG EAST Most Improved Player
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh

Gibbs went from scoring 4.3 points per game in '08-'09, to 16.2 this season. That's certainly a big improvement, but what does this award really mean? Austin Freeman improved (11.4 to 17.3 ppg), and so did Tim Abromaitis (1.7 to 17.2 ppg), Jamine Peterson (4.7 to 19.6 ppg), Kevin Jones (6.3 to 13.5 ppg), Gavin Edwards (3.8 to 10.7 ppg), Kris Joseph (3.4 to 11 ppg) and Antonio Pena (5.1 to 10.8 ppg). What's the real criteria here? Whoever sucked the most the year before?

BIG EAST Sixth Man Award
Kris Joseph, Syracuse

Another bogus award. I'm glad Corey Fisher won it last year, but in most cases, like Manu Ginobili with the Spurs and even Fisher last year, the sixth man is actually better than the fifth man on their own team, and the only reason they come off the bench is because of some quirky coaching strategy that may or may not work.

BIG EAST Sportsmanship Award
Tory Jackson, Notre Dame

And I thought the other awards were contrived and pointless.

Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Dominique Jones, USF
Wes Johnson, Syracuse
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

No complaints here. See above for my thoughts on Wes and Scottie. I love a center who can dish out 12 assists in a game (Monroe). Butler and Jones can go off for 30+ points any night. And as much as it pains me to see Gody's name here, 23 points and 10 rebounds every night is pretty darn impressive.

Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Lazar Hayward, Marquette
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
Andy Rautins, Syracuse

You gotta love Hazell, a classic chucker like Costanza. He has attempted over 10 3-pointers in a game 15 times this season, highlighted by a 4-19 shooting performance from behind the arc when he scored 41 points against West Virginia.

Jerome Dyson, Connecticut
Kemba Walker, Connecticut
Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

If Fisher didn't make Third Team, I would have had to make a personal visit to the houses of some Big East coaches to straighten them out. Scottie gets all the publicity, but Fisher has been just as valuable to Nova's success this year. Also, can we retract Dyson's name after that stink bomb of a game he had against St. John's? (4 points, 9 turnovers)

Jimmy Butler, Marquette
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame
Jamine Peterson, Providence

Why only three honorable mentions? What about Chris Wright, Mike Rosario, Mac Koshwal, DJ Kennedy, Will Walker, Sharaud Curry, and Edgar Sosa? Check that, the last word I would use to describe Edgar Sosa is honorable.

Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut
Vincent Council, Providence
Dane Miller, Rutgers
Brandon Triche, Syracuse
Maalik Wayns, Villanova

Congrats to Maalik. And you thought I was lying when I said Lance had no competition for Rookie of the Year. Oriakhi averaged under 5 points per game and made the all-rookie team.

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