Big East Mid-season Awards

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by Doug Potter

The Big East has lived up to all the pre-season hype so far this year and look to continue their domination of the college basketball world. There’s only one problem: From here on out, they can only beat up on each other as Conference play is in full swing. With the exception of Louisville traveling to UCLA on February 7th, all Big East must get resume-improving wins against their own kind, but lucky for them, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so.

With the College Basketball season about half over, the Big East still has eight teams in the AP Top 25, which is a team down from last week (West Virginia dropped from the rankings). Here are my mid-season awards and recognitions for the Big East Conference:

MVP – Luke Harangody: The undersized (6’8”) and plump (251 lbs) forward for the 12-4 Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish has done pretty much everything and more for his squad. The Junior was fourth in the nation in scoring (24.8 PPG) before Jodie Meeks’ outburst last night and is grabbing every rebound for his team… Literally… He’s pulling in 12.7 RPG and nobody else on his team is averaging more than six. He’s a bigger, more physical version of Tyler Hansbrough: tough, mean, and gives 110% every play.

MIP- Dante Cunningham: The senior power forward came into this year averaging just 7.1 PPG but has drastically improved game. He leads Villanova in scoring with 17.4 PPG and 7.7 RPG thanks to his vast improvements he’s shown in his body control and he added 20 lbs of mass since last year. He is the main piece in Nova’s low post game in their guard-oriented lineup.

Best Team- Pittsburgh Panthers: One of only three undefeated teams left and on a roll. Levance Fields is finally healthy and has his team playing solid ball. Pitt has the experience and the athleticism to do some damage come March.

Most Disappointing Team- This is my choice by default. If you question this choice then please look at the Big East standings and find me a team who has been more disappointing. That’s not to say that the Irish have had a bad season, I would say average this far. But they can turn it around at any time as they are one of the most dangerous teams in this conference.

Sleeper Team- West Virginia: The Mountaineers (like many teams in the conference) can beat anyone on any given night. Bob Huggins can coach, and quoting our fellow writer, Greg Kincaid: “I don’t care how many DUI’s he gets, the guy can coach.” A 76-48 win on the road at previously undefeated Ohio State proves that. If the Mountaineers, who are very streaky, can get hot at the right times, they could make some noise.

Freshman of the Year- Greg Monroe: It’s hard to argue against Samardo Samuels, but I think Monroe means more to his team. They look to him a lot in the post and he uses his athleticism to be crafty around the rim and has tremendous ability finishing near the basket. His 6.3 RPG leads the team and is second in scoring (13.5 PPG)

Best Player Nobody’s Talking About- Deonta Vaughn: The Junior from Indianapolis, IN leads the Cincinnati Bearcats in scoring and assists with nearly 15 pts and 5 assists per game. He handles the ball most of the time and he’s their main source of offense. The Bearcats aren’t having a spectacular season (11-6) after starting 11-2, but Vaughn can will his team to a victory against any opponent.

9 Responses to "Big East Mid-season Awards"

  1. Casey   January 15, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Monroe’s interior passing gets overlooked. Yeah he is a solid rebounder and scorer, but his vision exceeds his years. The way he finds teammates cutting in the lane is awesome.

    Vaughn needs to score…A LOT because the Bearcats can’t generate much.

    It is amazing how Huggins has taken a Mountaineer team that was a finesse squad under John Beilein and transformed them into a rough and tumble group. West Virginia can rebound with ANYONE, and that makes them dangerous come March.

    Don’t forget both St. John’s and Georgetown have dates with Duke before the season ends.

    Only four teams will be playing in Detroit when it matters. I am willing to bet the ACC will have more teams than the Big East. 🙂

  2. Smitty   January 15, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Has anyone looked at the college basketball schedule for Saturday, 1/17??

    The games on tap that day is incredible!!! ‘Cuse vs. ND, G’town vs. Duke, Wake Forest vs. Clemson…. and that is just for starters…

    Outside of March Madness, this might be the best college basketball day of the year.

  3. Casey   January 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    It will be a great viewing day indeed. Don’t forget Miami at UNC.

    For me though the best hoops day of the year is the Saturday before Selection Sunday. The ACC, Big 10, and Big 12 all have conference semis and you have NUMEROUS conference finals on that day. The action usually begins in the a.m. and finishes after midnight …with Eric Clapton crooning. 🙂

  4. Smitty   January 15, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Sorry.. I should clarify that I include the Conference tournaments as part of March Madness for me.. Starts with Duke and North Carolina playing each other for the last regular season game at the beginning of March and just continues from there.

  5. crossword pete   January 15, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Now for my college BB story, part of which Casey has heard. Not as good as Maris, and a bit lengthy, but enjoy if you can endure it.
    In April 1992 we headed South on Spring break. Among other things, we were going to stop and see Duke campus. My oldest was a HS freshman and a big Bobby Hurley fan. We rolled into Durham after braving a terrible rainstorm all night as we drove from DC, where we had dropped off my parents to visit with old friends. By mid-morning we were wheeling into the parking lot near the Duke football stadium. As we rounded a corner in the lot we nearly ran into a young female student in her Jeep/SUV (whatever they were back then). After parking I noticed the same young lady walking toward campus, so I approached her to apologize for my near-errant driving. From there my wife got chatting with her and told her we were there to look at campus and “stalk” basketball players. Turns out she was sixth man Marty Clark’s girlfriend. She told us that Hurley showed up at Card (the auxiliary gym) at 1:00 religiously to play in a pick-up game and that all the player’s checked in at Coach K’s office at around 3. WOW! We know knew where to be when. We had a few hours to spend, so we walked campus. While on the main quad, I noticed a tall black athletic looking young man. I said to my kids “That’s Grant Hill.” They were doubtful, so I approached him, reached (way) up to tap him on the shoulder and as he looked down at me I asked, “Are you Grant Hill?” He said simply “No.” I apologized and left with my tail between my legs to listen to choruses of “I told you so” from my family. At 12:45 we headed to Card (the aux gym) to begin our Hurley vigil. Didn’t last long; at about 12:55 he came careening into the parking lot on 2 wheels in his Jeep, giving a prelude probably to the accident that would end his pro career several years later. He hopped out and headed right for the gym; we followed. Sure enough a gang was there already, including fellow teammate Brian Henderson and a game got immediately underway. We sat on rolled up mats in a corner and watched transfixedly to some very good basketball action. At one point Hurley pulled his “playmates” into a circle and talked to them briefly, glancing our way once or twice. We can only surmise that he was apologizing to them for the geeks that had come to watch him. They got back on the court and barely noticed us again. When 3 o’clock rolled around, we headed to cCameron Indoor. We waited in the foyer near Coach K’s (Krzyzewski?) office and sure enough the players start trickling in. At some point Antonio Lang moseys in, goes to coach’s office and then returns to the foyer to chat with friends and teammates. I finally approach him and say “Antonio, can I have your autograph?” He looks down at me and says, with a big smile, “Oh yeah! This morning I was Grant Hill”. My family was rolling on the floor. But he was so nice and obliging, as was Hill when he showed up. The only one who didn’t make it was Laettner. We were in front of Cameron lamenting his absence when a young lady who overheard us introduced herself to us as Laettner’s girlfriend. She was waiting for him to pick her up and they were headed to Winston-Salem where he was planning on playing in a structured pick-up game. We waited for awhile, but he didn’t come. she asked us to stay while she went and looked for him. She came back moments later with him in tow; he had been waiting on the other side of the building for her. He was as aloof as you can imagine, and we got only one autograph, afraid to “bother” him for one each as we had the other players. That was the day that Laettner moved into the “Roger Maris category” for me. The day ended with us telling Marty Clark to thank his girl for all her help (he probably scolded her). It was a neat experience. As an aside, on the way home I said to my oldest, “Duke is a beautiful place and such a good school. I can see you going here.” She responded “Too far away.” I said “Not much further than Notre Dame. ” To which she replied without blinking; :That’s different.” That’s when I knew that my kids would choose to follow in Mom and Dad’s footsteps, whatever it took. And fortunately, all 3 did graduate from ND. Sorry for the length. Hope some of you find the story enjoyable.

  6. Rey   January 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Samardo Samuels has disappeared in many games this season. Seth Davis says when he is matched with guys equally built as him, he struggles.

    I think the two most important role players for the rest of conference play will be Louisville’s Edgar Sosa and Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku. Sosa has to find his niche. I don’t think he needs to put up numbers that jump of the page, but he has the ability to be a playmaker more than what he is doing. If he can be the floor general for this team and perhaps inch closer to 10 and 5 (assists)instead of 6 and 2, the Cardinals will be legit.

    Onuaku stunk it up last night at Georgetown. He was flat footed in the middle of that zone and watched Monroe and Sims pass circles around him. I know the perimeter defense was not helping, but he has to be more of a nuisance down low. No way Syracuse will get through without him being more consistent on both ends in my opinion.

  7. crossword pete   January 16, 2009 at 5:55 am

    I want to apologize to Doug specifically and to the site as a whole. Doug’s excellent post on BE BB was not the proper arena for my rambling story. Threads might have been a better choice. I wouldn’t be surprised if Casey took some private e-mails complaining about my “comment”. Sorry guys.

  8. Doug Potter   January 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Not a problem at all. Don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal. I enjoyed it actually! 🙂

  9. crossword pete   January 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    You’re too kind Douglas. Mrs. Mont always told me you were the best. I guess she wasn’t lying to me on that one.

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