The Envelope, Please ...
***Take the leaders in five key categories (scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, steals and assists) and give them points for their ranking (i.e., Luke Harangody was first in scoring, so he gets 30 points; Chris Wright was 30th in scoring, so he gets one point).
***Reward players for being in multiple categories with five points per extra category (Harangody ranks in two categories so he gets five points, Terrence Williams ranks in four categories so he gets 15 points).
***Then add a point total to each player equaling their team’s wins (Louisville’s Williams gets 16 extra points, Notre Dame’s Harangody gets eight, DePaul’s Will Walker gets the bagel).
Did I have too much free time at the airport today? Maybe. But it's pretty tough picking a Big East Player of the Year this season. Using this formula, here are the point totals for POY candidates:
Terrence Williams, Louisville – 73
Jerel McNeal, Marquette – 70
DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh – 67
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame – 63
Earl Clark, Louisville – 59
Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – 53
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse – 53
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall – 51
Dante Cunningham, Villanova – 50
Jeff Adrien, UConn – 49
I’m sure there are some flaws here. Should Jeremy Hazell be ahead of Dante Cunningham or Jeff Adrien? Probably not. Shouldn't Thabeet be higher up? And where’s Husky-killer Sam Young? 45 points.
Still, I can live with Terrence Williams as Big East player of the year. The official POY will be named on Tuesday around 5:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden, in between sessions of Day One of the Big East tournament. Also named at that time will be Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Scholar-Athlete. Tomorrow, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player and Sportsmanship Award winners get named.
Here are my picks:
Player of the Year: Terrence Williams, Louisville. Best player on the regular-season champions. One of two players to rank in four of the five above listed categories (Georgetown’s Greg Monroe was the other). Didn’t score a whole lot (13.2 ppg) but did enough of everything else to warrant this award.
Gotta admit, it is tempting just to give this to Luke Harangody. All he did was back up last year's POY award by winning the league's scoring and rebounding crowns -- again. But the Irish are NIT-bound, so giving him the award would be akin to giving Andre Dawson MVP in 1987 while with the Cubs, or A-Rod MVP in 2003 with Texas (ummm ... OK, bad example on the last one).
Coach of the Year: This is even tougher to pick than Player of the Year. You really can make a strong argument for Jim Calhoun. Yes, the Huskies were picked to win the Big East and wound up finishing tied for second. But did anyone really expect them to go 15-3 overall and 8-1 on the road in league play? And consider two of those losses came to one of the top four teams in the country, both times without Jerome Dyson.
Still, Calhoun takes himself out of the running since they were picked as league champs, so we will, too. Really, not many teams exceeded expectations this year. The biggest surprise is probably Providence, which was picked to finish 10th and wound up tied for seventh with 10 wins. But the Friars may not even make the NCAA tourney, so I won’t go with Keno Davis.
Rick Pitino won 16 games and Jamie Dixon won 15 in the best conference in America. Still, their teams were picked to finish second and third, respectively. I think I’ll go with Villanova’s Jay Wright, whose Wildcats finished fourth after a nice late-season surge and appear to be a team that can really do some damage in the Big Dance.
Rookie of the Year: It was all downhill after he housed Hasheem Thabeet for 16 points on a variety of shots in his Big East debut, but Georgetown’s Greg Monroe gets the call. Monroe was among the league leaders in scoring (12.9), rebounding (7.2), blocked shots (1.0) and, most surprisingly for a 6-10 center, steals (1.94). He beats out West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks (barely), Rutgers’ Mike Rosario and Louisville’s Samardo Samuels.
Scholar-Athlete: I have no idea. Not smart enough to figure this one out.
Defensive Player of the Year: The biggest no-brainer of all: a Thabeet repeat.
Most Improved Player: Villanova’s Dante Cunningham upped his scoring average from 9.7 a year ago to 16.0 this season by adding some shooting range to his game.
Sportsmanship Award: No idea on this one, either – but I’m pretty sure it won’t be DeJuan Blair.