The Big East men’s basketball regular season ends today, Saturday, March 9th. As such, we here at Anonymous Eagle brought out the ol’ ballot box and voted on who should win all of the most important postseason awards. We’ve got Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year, and a five man All-Big East Team.
Ready to dive in? Here we go.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Markus Howard, Marquette (unanimous choice)
This shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Tops in the league in scoring in both league play and overall, tied for sixth in assists overall and seventh in league games only.
Ben Snider: If you disagree, go swallow a wasp.
Besay: Undisputed. No doubt about it. Check his highlights on the internet and tell me he’s not the most ELECTRIC player in college basketball this year. He’s scored 53 and 45 twice this season. Enough said.
Broadway Brown: Markus Howard has been unreal all season. He was brutal [against Seton Hall] but averaging 25 a game should definitely be enough to secure POY. I was a bit upset my preseason pick, Shamorie Ponds, isn’t gonna win [Editor’s note: it was a blind vote.] because he’s my guy, but you gotta give credit where credit is due Markus has been incredible all season. Myles Powell is my runner up.
Pistol Brad: Both Marquette and Howard have stumbled a bit down the stretch but his offensive efficiency combined with his improvements earn him this award.
Connor Lagore: Lol
Patrick Leary: As much as the last few games have tainted Marquette’s season, I still have to go with Markus. KenPom still has him number one and so do I.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: James Akinjo, Georgetown (four votes)
Also receiving votes: Joey Hauser (three votes), Saddiq Bey (one vote)
I was kind of surprised that this went this way given the number of times that Joey Hauser has been named Big East Freshman of the Week, but it makes a lot of sense.
Ben Snider (Saddiq Bey): Yes I know Joey Hauser exists, you can stop throwing things at me. Since the start of conference play, Joey’s Offensive Rating has dropped by 5.9 (116.4 to 110.5), while Bey’s has risen 1.4 (113.6 to 115). Joey has also really struggled on defense. He just doesn’t have the strength to body up the forwards that he’s guarding. Bey has been one of the few bright spots for Villanova’s defense. If you were to ask me who will have the better college career my answer is Joey in a heartbeat. Saddiq just had the better year.
Broadway Brown: Joey Hauser has been pretty solid all season and has won Freshman of the Week like 6 or 7 times [Editor’s Note: 5 times, more than anyone else]. James Akinjo will probably come in second.
Besay (James Akinjo): As much as I would love to go with our very own Joey Hauser, it’s unlikely the voters will nominate two players from one team for the postseason awards. But hey, I DARE YOU. Anyhow, this stud is pretty freaking good with a stat line of 13/3/5.5 if you round up. Oh and he leads the Big East in assists per game. He’s been the catalyst for the Hoyas offense this season, so much so that they find themselves on the bubble entering the Big East tourney.
Pistol Brad: It was close between Akinjo and Joey Hauser. Akinjo edged him out due to a higher usage and leading the BE in assist rate. Hauser led him in “in conference” three point percentage but not by enough to take the award.
Connor Lagore (James Akinjo): As far as I know, Akinjo isn’t a 2019 NBA Draft guy, which means Marquette will have to play him next year at the very least. That’s concerning to me.
Patrick Leary: He’s leading the conference in assists (6.06 per game in league play, tops the league in assist rate at 33.2%). Georgetown had the volume available for him to win this.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette (five votes)
Also receiving votes: Travis Steele (two votes), Jay Wright (one vote)
Ben Snider: Marquette was the best team this year. I hate the nonsense of “Which team surprises us the most?” as the only basis for this award. It implies that the coach had absolutely nothing to do with the roster construction when he in fact built it himself. Just give it to the guy who coached the best team overall and be done with it. ”Sir, this is a Wendy’s”
Broadway Brown: I’m gonna say Wojo because this team had the chance to win the Big East outright up until [the Seton Hall game] and they’ve been really good up until last couple games. Kevin Willard is my runner up.
Pistol Brad: Marquette stumbled down the stretch but the defensive leaps they made from last season reflect well on Wojo. If they clean up their turnover issues they could in in line for a deep tournament run.
Besay: I’m sure you won’t disagree with this one. Your favorite coach and Matt Damon look alike is poised to capture his first ever Big East Tournament title. He’s on the Naismith Coach of the Year top 15 watch list and has led the Golden Eagles to their best season under his leadership. Marquette has made huge strides this season and look completely differently defensively (top 50 in KenPom) than last year. Couple that with a top 50 in offensive efficiency rating and Wojo has got Marquette running like a well-oiled machine. We knew this team had talent, but Wojo has been able to put the pieces together and make the Golden Eagles very scary come the Big Dance.
Connor Lagore: This is, uh, ill-timed based on recent events, but Wojo isn’t the one throwing errant passes or dribbling off players’ feet. He’s had the gameplan to win these last few games. Even if he is to blame, he’s far surpassed my, and many of our expectations this year. This team was in the top 10! They likely won’t finish there, but the fact that they even sniffed it is enough for me.
Patrick Leary: Not a lot of compelling cases here, but Steele staved off disaster to salvage what will end up being a decent season given the circumstances for the X-Men.
ALL-BIG EAST TEAM
Also receiving votes: Eric Paschall (two votes), Sam Hauser (one vote), Kamar Baldwin (one vote)
Howard, Ponds, and Powell were all unanimous choices.
Ben Snider: I BARELY picked Govan over Sam Hauser for defensive reasons. I do think that Sam has made tremendous strides on defense this year and is a legitimate reason that the defense overall has improved the way it has. Govan is just...better. And he’s constantly having to clean up James Akinjo and Mac McClung’s messes since they both seem to think that college basketball is the real life version of the classic 2006 videogame AND 1 Streetball. I think that difference barely makes up for how much better Hauser’s offense is.
Broadway Brown: I chose two bigger guys (Paschall & Hauser) because I feel like the first team should have big guys but the five best players in the Big East have probably been guards this season.
Connor Lagore: These are very clearly the best players in the conference. There’s a second tier with guys like Alpha Diallo, Sam Hauser, Kamar Baldwin, etc., but these guys are all on another level. Booth is the only one I’d hear an argument for swapping out because he’s not as overwhelming as the other four, but he might also be the most consistently good. He’s also probably the best defender. Howard and Ponds I would imagine will be on the official All-Big East first team unanimously, and the other three wouldn’t shock me either.
Besay: It’s a 3-guard lineup but the Big East had so many great guards this year that I had to make some tough decisions. I think Howard, Ponds, and Powell will go 1-2-3 in the Player of the Year voting and Paschall is the best forward while Govan is far and away the most dominant center. Also, I like to factor in team success and well ‘Nova and Marquette are first and second, while St. John’s, Georgetown, and Seton Hall are part of a 5-way logjam for third. In the latest projections, “wise sensei” Joe Lunardi has MU, VU, and SJU safely in, with SHU in the first four and GU on the bubble. We’ll see how the Big East Tournament shapes out but I’m confident that these players will continue to come up big for their respective teams. Honorable mentions: Phil Booth, Kamar Baldwin, and Sam Hauser