As a fun exercise last week, I tried to make the case for players not named Doug McDermott to be named Big East men's basketball Player of the Year. It's going to take a heck of an effort for anyone to overtake McDermott, so it was mostly just for the sake of doing it.
But on the women's basketball side of things... hooooo boy.
They've handed out 13 Player of the Week awards, and there have been 11 different winners. Two players have won the award twice, and somehow, neither of them plays for St. John's, the team that's currently in first place at 9-1 in league play and just moved into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since November of 2012.
So with 31 games left on the schedule, let's take a crack at this league and see if we can identify some possible contenders for the crown of best in the Big East.
1. Aliyyah Handford, St. John's
We're going to start with the best player on the best team in the league right now. The sophomore guard leads the Red Storm in scoring (15.8 ppg) and is their second leading rebounder (5.8 rpg) as well. However, she ranks eighth in the league in scoring and 15th in rebounding. Handford is fifth in the Big East in steals, averaging just short of two per game, but she averages over 3.5 turnovers, too. She's one of the 11 to win POTW, but she's only been on the Weekly Honor Roll three times. She's the engine that makes St. John's go, but she's not doing it through a statistical dominance of the league.
2. Katherine Plouffe, Marquette
Purely on statistics, Plouffe is an obvious candidate. The Edmonton native is second in the Big East in both scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.7 rpg). She's also in the top 10 in the conference in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage. She's been Player of the Week twice, and has been on the Weekly Honor Roll twice. This is a solid profile for the end of the year award. Unfortunately, Marquette is 6-5 in league play, and it's hard to say the best player in the conference is on the fifth place team.
3. Andrea White, Georgetown
Ok, if you're the one of two players to be Player of the Week twice, you have to go on this list. Also helping White's case is her five Weekly Honor Roll appearances, and that she is currently the reigning Player of the Week. The senior forward has boosted her game in conference action, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds overall and 19 points and 10 rebounds just in Big East games. She's fifth in the league in scoring and third in rebounding. But if you open up the book on the Hoyas, she's in even more trouble than Plouffe. Georgetown is 8-16 overall and 2-10 in the conference standings, and they've lost 13 of their last 15 games.
4. Natalie Butler, Georgetown
The freshman center is averaging a double-double, the only player in the Big East that can claim that status. That has her ranked 10th in scoring and 1st in rebounding. She also averages the most minutes played in the Big East. Now go re-read the last two sentences on her teammate. Butler has been named Rookie of the Week nine times, so she's a shoo-in for that end of the season award.
5. Marissa Janning, Creighton
With no clear cut favorite, we have to consider the player leading the league in scoring. Janning has an average of 18.2 points per game, and holds the single game mark of 38 points. In a slightly strange occurrence, Janning actually shares that single game mark with teammate McKenzie Fujan. Janning is ninth in the Big East in assists, and is fifth in the league in three point field goal percentage. It is worth noting that Janning has the second most three point attempts out of everyone in the top 15, trailing DePaul's Megan Rogowski by just one attempt, 165-164.
6. Jasmine Penny, DePaul
I might be able to make the strongest case for Jasmine Penny. she has one Player of the Week award and five Weekly Honor Rolls while averaging 16//6/2/1/1. Fifth in scoring, 17th in rebounding, 15th in steals, 13th in blocks, and she's got the best field goal percentage in the conference, draining a borderline ludicrous 59% of her shots. Working against her: 1) teammate Brittany Hrynko was named preseason Player of the Year and 2) DePaul was picked to win the league, and they currently sit in second place behind St. John's.
Those might be the six best candidates for player of the year. I could have gone to seven and tried to extol the virtues of Providence's Alexis Harris, a junior forward with five Weekly Honor Roll appearances, but let's be honest: the Friars are 6-17 with just one win against conference opponents.
Who did I leave out? Or is this really the best list right now?