We have a slight change to the Big East in lacrosse for 2015. Rutgers moving from the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten has allowed the Big Ten to form their own lacrosse league for the first time ever. The Scarlet Knights remained in the Big East for lacrosse in 2014, but they're gone now, leaving the league at six teams, the exact number needed to maintain an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
I don't think the league is in any danger of losing one of their six teams, but I think it would be really super if someone out of Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Seton Hall, or Xavier got off their cans and started a program. A matching women's team would also be nice, but that's a discussion for a different time.
But back to the six teams that we have. Let's take a swing at figuring out who the preseason honorees are going to be.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Wes Berg, Denver
Sometimes picking these things aren't hard. Berg was a all-Big East First Teamer a year ago, and that was an easy decision, too. He finished third in the Big East behind seniors Kieran McArdle and Tyler Melnyk in both goals per game and points per game. Thus, he's the best scorer in the Big East that's coming back this season, and the obvious choice for this preseason honor.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: BJ Grill, Marquette
I'm as surprised as you. But look: Last year's Defensive Player of the Year, Villanova's John LoCascio, was a senior, as was Nova's Chris Conroy. That leaves Grill and Denver's Christian Burgdorf as the returning defensive players on last year's postseason all-Big East First Team. When in doubt, go with the older player, and Burgdorf was a freshman while Grill was a sophomore. You could make arguments for Denver's Carson Cannon (preseason all-conference last year) or Mark DiFrangia from St. John's (all-BE second team last year, senior this year), but I'm going to stick with the guy that held Kieran McArdle without a goal last season.
All-Big East Team
Wes Berg, A, Denver
Jack Bobzien, A, Denver
Zach Miller, A, Denver
Erik Adamson, M, Denver
Peter Conley, M, Georgetown
Kyle Whitlow, M, Marquette
BJ Grill, D, Marquette
Christian Burgdorf, D, Denver
Liam Byrnes, LSM, Marquette
Chris Hampton, FO, Denver
Ryan LaPlante, GK, Denver
So, uh, yeah. Denver's really good. I'm not even going to try and pretend that I need to even this list out for the courtesy of spreading awards around a little bit more. The four Pioneers on the attack and midfield slots are the four leading returning point scorers in the Big East. The rest of the list is lifted straight from last year's postseason all-conference teams, with the exception of Hampton, who is the best face off man in the conference that's coming back this season.
Order of Finish
5. St. John's
Denver's a strong candidate as a national preseason favorite, so DUH they're the pick to win the Big East. Marquette squeaked together enough 1 goal wins last year to finish second, and while they're losing the program's all time leading scorer in Tyler Melnyk, there's enough returning to make them a strong second place choice. Villanova and Georgetown are nice teams, and St. John's and Providence have both just lost way too much from last year to be considered for the top half of the conference.