When the end of the Big East's men's and women's basketball seasons rolled around, I figured I had until the start of the conference tournaments to make predictions as to who would win the end of year awards. That was not the case, and the yearly awards started to roll out within 24 hours of the end of the regular season.
With the men's lacrosse season ending on Saturday, I'm not going to get caught off guard like that again.
Taking last year's post season awards as a guide, I'm going to make predictions for five individual awards, including Coach of the Year, plus I'll take a swing at figuring out the all-Big East First Team.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Kieran McArdle, Attack, St. John's - The senior attacker broke the Red Storm school record for career points this season. McArdle is the only Big East player averaging more than 2 assists per game, and he averages three on the button. He has more than a point and a half per game lead over the next best guy in that category on the conference points leaderboard, and he trails Marquette's Tyler Melnyk for the goals per game lead by just 31 hundredths of a goal. In fact, the only reason that McArdle isn't leading all three scoring stats is because Melnyk's teammates held the St. John's star without a goal in their encounter this season. Still, credit where credit is due: He's the only player in the Big East with more than 50 points as I write this.
Defensive Player Of The Year: John LoCascio, Long Stick Midfielder, Villanova - This is not as easy as it looks. The Big East has named a Defensive Player of the Week 10 times and 10 different players have earned that award. Making things even more complicated, five of those players are goalkeepers, and they've got their own award. Luckily, the Big East's preseason Defensive Player of the Year is one of the remaining five. LoCascio was also on the Weekly Honor Roll four times this season, tied with McArdle and Georgetown's Tyler Knarr for the most in the conference. On top of all of that, LoCascio is currently fifth in the country with 2.33 caused turnovers per game. On top of that, he's fifth in the Big East in ground balls per game, and the best in the conference when you remove face off specialists from the ground balls list. Done and done.
Midfielder of the Year: Jeremy Noble, Denver - I could make an argument that LoCascio deserves this award, too, but in the interests of spreading it around, we'll give it to Noble. Plus, it almost seems rude to leave the team in the conference that's ranked in the top 5 in the country completely out of the individual awards. Noble has one nod as Big East Offensive Player of the Week and one Weekly Honor Roll slot this season. When I said that Kieran McArdle was the only Big East player averaging over 2 assists per game, I left out that Noble is the only other player averaging more than 1.4 assists per game. While Noble is fifth on the team in points, he's second on the Pioneers in ground balls with 36, trailing only the 37 racked up by Chris Hampton, Denver's top face off guy.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Dan Willis, Villanova - This would be a lot easier if Denver head coach Bill Tierney picked a goalie and stuck with him. Both Jamie Faus and Ryan LaPlante have goals-against averages under 9.00 and save percentages over .540, which would both lead the Big East if either them met the minutes requirement to land on the leaderboard. Instead, Tierney splits time straight down the middle between LaPlante and Faus, so I can't honestly give either of them the award. Instead, we go with Willis, the only full time goalie with a GAA below 10.00. Willis has a save percentage just under .500 on the season, but I can't justify giving it to Providence's Tyler Himes due to the Friars being 0-5 in league games and Joseph Danaher backstops a St. John's team that still hasn't qualified for the Big East tournament even though they're done with their Big East schedule.
Coach of the Year: Joe Amplo, Marquette - The Golden Eagles were picked to finish last in the Big East this season, and right now, they're 60 minutes of perfect lacrosse away from a share of the regular season title and the #1 seed in the Big East tournament. I'm a fan of rewarding coaches of great teams guiding their teams to be great, but what Amplo has done with his squad in league play - four one goal wins and one narrow home loss - in just their second season in Division 1 is NUTSO.
All Big East First Team:
Kieran McArdle, A, St. John's
Tyler Melnyk, A, Marquette
Colin Keegan, A, St. John's
Wes Berg, A, Denver
Scott Klimchak, A, Rutgers
John LoCascio, LSM, Villanova
Jeremy Noble, M, Denver
Erik Adamson, M, Denver
Joseph Nardella, FO, Rutgers
BJ Grill, D, Marquette
Chris Conroy, D, Villanova
Mark DiFrangia, D, St. John's
Dan Willis, GK, Villanova
McArdle, LoCascio, Noble, and Willis all earn their spots by way of their individual awards. Melnyk, Keegan, Berg, and Klimchak are in there for their scoring. Adamson is a wild guess being I felt we needed more midfielders. Nardella is the best face off guy in the country, Conroy and DiFrangia are the league leaders in caused turnovers, and Grill is a homer pick for getting a Big East Defensive Player of the Week nod for his job holding McArdle without a goal in the MU-SJU game.
Agree? Disagree? Fire away in the comments...