Skylar Diggins, seen here guarding MU's Katie Young, is AE's pick for BE POY. - Maggie Casey/MarquetteImages.com
There's a very carefully guarded secret to how we go about scientifically predicting the conference awards around these parts, but it's proven to be very successful.
With the conference tournament starting tomorrow, we're going to apply that system to the women's basketball season to come up with our predictions for the postseason awards.
Player Of The Year: Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame. The senior guard finished third in the conference in scoring and first in assists. Diggins was named conference player of the week three times, more than anyone else, and was named to the weekly honor roll five times. On top of that, the Fighting Irish finished the conference schedule unbeaten, including two wins over Connecticut. Hard to argue with that resume.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown. Again, a senior guard. Go figure, huh? Rodgers led the conference in steals and finished ninth in rebounding. She also led the conference in scoring in her free time. Rodgers was named Player of the Week twice and included in the weekly honor roll six times. She was a close possibility for Player Of The Year, but Georgetown's record (5-11) came in to play.
Freshman Of The Year: Breanna Stewart, Connecticut. She's the leading freshman in both scoring and rebounding, and won Freshman Of The Week three times. Pretty simple there. I also considered Jewell Loyd from Notre Dame, who won FOTW four times, but Stewart's stats won me over.
Coach Of The Year: Quentin Hillsman, Syracuse. I've seen Quentin Hillsman coaching his team while at the Al McGuire Center, and let me tell you, it's is EXTREMELY disconcerting to see him smiling in not one, but TWO pictures on his official page on the Syracuse website. In any case, the Orange are sitting in third place, and considering that's behind undefeated Notre Dame and "only lost to Notre Dame" Connecticut, that's an accomplishment on its own. When you take into account that Syracuse was picked to finish seventh, it's even better. Now watch me be wrong and have them give it to Muffet McGraw for going undefeated.
All Big East First Team: Last year, the Big East inexplicably named 11 players, including Player Of The Year Skylar Diggins, to the All Conference First Team last year. That sure makes the shouting about the conference naming six players to the men's first team kind of foolish, doesn't it? In any case, who am I to argue with their decision?
Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame
Kayla Alexander, Syracuse
Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame
Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut
Dayeesha Hollins, Cincinnati
Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut
Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown
Andrea Smith, USF
Shenneika Smith, St. John's
Laura Sweeney, Villanova
There's the official AE predictions. Now we play the waiting game to see how accurate they are.