It is time to pay homage to the Big East Conference, undoubtedly the best in college basketball this year.
The following are projections of the Big East awards, which will be announced Tuesday, March 11th...
Player of the Year: Notre Dame sophomore forward Luke Harangody
Harangody looks like actor Gary Busey. Like Busey played in the movies, Harangody is also a prototypical tough guy, but on the inside for the Fighting Irish.
Harangody averaged 23.3 points per game in Big East play to go along with 11.3 rebounds (he had twelve double-doubles in conference play).
Most Improved Player: UConn junior guard A.J. Price
Price had a solid year for UConn averaging 16.1 points per game and 5.9 assists. More importantly, Price provided leadership for his team, which started the year 11-5 overall and 2-3 in Big East play.
Price struggled in 2006-2007 (9.4 points and 3.6 assists) and before the season questions surrounded whether or not he would even be UConn’s starting point guard.
Also receiving consideration was Sam Young of Pittsburgh. Young averaged 18.0 points per game this year, up from 7.2 points per game during his sophomore year.
Defensive Player of the Year: Connecticut sophomore center Hahseem Thabeet
Thabeet set a Big East record for blocked shots in conference with 94 (previously held by Alonzo Mourning). Thabeet’s shot blocking seemed to improve over the course of the year as he averaged more blocks in conference games (5.2) then he did out of conference (3.7).
Newcomer of the Year: Jonny Flynn of the Syracuse Orange
Flynn had a tremendous overall impact this year averaging 16.8 points per game and 4.8 assists in conference play.
Donte Green, Dominque Jones (South Florida), and Dejuan Blair (Pittsburgh) all received strong consideration.
Coach of the Year: Jim Calhoun, Hall of Fame coach for the University of Connecticut
With his team 11-5 overall and 2-3 in conference, Calhoun never lost faith in his team. Also up for consideration: John Thompson III (Georgetown), Rick Pitino (Louisville), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Bob Huggins (West Virginia).
Luke Harangody (Notre Dame), A.J. Price (Connecticut), Joe Alexander (West Virginia), Kentrell Gransberry (South Florida), Sam Young (Pittsburgh), Roy Hibbert (Georgetown), Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Brian Lang (Seton Hall), Kyle McAlarney (Notre Dame), Deonta Vaughn (Cincinnati)
Also Considered for All-Conference
Scottie Reynolds (Villanova), Jerel McNeal (Marquette), Dominic James (Marquette), Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut), Jeff Adrien (Connecticut), Draelon Burns (Depaul), David Padgett (Louisville), Terrence Williams (Louisville), DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh), Donte Green (Syracuse), Dominique Jones (South Florida), Geoff McDermott (Providence), Anthony Mason Jr. (St. Johns), Paul Harris (Syracuse), Tory Jackson (Notre Dame).
Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Donte Green (Syracuse), Dejaun Blair (Pittsburgh), Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Dar Tucker (Depaul), Justin Burrell (St. Johns), Mac Koshwal (Depaul), Dominque Jones (South Florida), Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall), Corey Chandler (Rutgers).
The Big East Tournament begins on Wednesday at the Madison Square Garden. A Georgetown win could vault the Hoyas into a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Trust me, I have not been on the Georgetown bandwagon until recently, but they deserve consideration for being the overall Big East champions. Their win over Louisville on Saturday was not controversial, seemingly a first for Georgetown.
Overall, Georgetown is 25-4 (15-3 in conference), the class of the best league in college basketball.