There's still nine games left to play in the Big East women's basketball schedule, but I learned the hard way last year that the conference will start slinging award press releases around like crazy as soon as the season ends. So, we take this opportunity, one day before the end of the regular season, to try to predict how the Big East coaches will vote to decide the postseason awards.
Player of the Year: Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
The senior guard was named the Player of the Week five times this season, more than anyone else. The Blue Demons are on top of the table heading into the final weekend, and Hrynko guides the most potent offense in the league. DePaul averages nearly 12 more points per game than any other team in the Big East, so we're not talking about a slight function of efficiency to make them pretty flippin' great. Hrynko is the top individual scorer in the Big East at 20.4 points per game, although it's possible that Aliyyah Handford (20.3 ppg) could overtake her by Sunday night. She's also second in the league in assists at 5.2 per game, tops in steals at 2.7 per game, and she cans 37% of her three point attempts, too.
Freshman of the Year: Sydney Lamberty, Creighton
They've handed out a weekly version of this award 15 times this season, and only four players have won it. Lamberty got it six times, Dorothy Adomako from Georgetown snagged five of them, Marquette's Kenisha Bell snuck in to get three of them, and somehow, Alex Louin from Villanova was awarded the final one. So, I'm willing to believe that Adomako could win this. But Lamberty's Bluejays have a much better record (16-11, 9-7) than Adomako's Hoyas (4-24, 2-14), so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. The freshman from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, ranks 22nd in the league in scoring and 12th in assists.
Coach of the Year: Tony Bozzella, Seton Hall
I'd be willing to listen to votes for Kurt Godlevske, Butler's first year head coach. Butler was picked to finish dead last in the Big East this season, and while the non-conference section of the schedule was not great for the Bulldogs, they've rallied to go 10-6 in league play heading into the final weekend. That's got them in third place right now, although they could dip depending on how things shake out.
But no, my vote goes to Bozzella in his second season on the Pirates sideline. SHU was picked to finish fifth this season, and heading into the final weekend of league play, Bozzella has the Pirates holding all the cards. If they end up in a tie with DePaul when the dust settles, Seton Hall gets the #1 seed in the Big East tournament. The Pirates have been in and out of the Top 25 rankings all season, and no one in the Big East saw this kind of success coming for them this season.
All-Big East Team
Aliyyah Handford, St. John's
Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
Marissa Janning, Creighton
Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Seton Hall
Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall
Ijeoma Uchendu, Butler
Hrynko's a lock for her POY status. Simmons and Richardson-Smith both won multiple Player of the Week awards this season, so those seem likely. Uchendu is just 0.2 rebounds away from averaging a double-double for the surprising Bulldogs team. Handford did pick up one POW award and was on the Weekly Honor Roll a record nine times this season. Janning is my last choice, and I almost went with her teammate, Alexis Akin-Otiko instead. Janning was the preseason Player of the Year, picked up one POW award, and landed on the Honor Roll four times. She's also 7th in the league in scoring and sixth in assists. Akin-Otiko got my attention because she picked up seven Honor Roll appearances. That's more than anyone but Handford and Uchendu, so it's tempting. Ultimately, she's only 15th in the league in scoring and 11th in rebounding, so I can't really go in that direction.