What has felt like an inevitability for the last few weeks was crystallized into truth and fact on Wednesday: Marquette has the best basketball coach in the Big East.
By vote of the league’s coaches, Marquette women’s basketball head coach Megan Duffy was named Big East Coach of the Year. It is Duffy’s first season on the Marquette sidelines, and she inherited a team with just five returning players and six freshmen. The Golden Eagles were picked to finish ninth by the league’s coaches, finishing just one point ahead of 10th place, but ended up going 13-5 and securing second place in the Big East all to themselves by a two game margin. The Golden Eagles have already cleared 20 wins on the season, marking the fourth straight season with at least that many victories, which is just the second time in program history that Marquette has done that. It’s also the second time that MU has had double digit wins in conference play in program history.
The first time that all of those things happened, Terri Mitchell did it with two of Marquette’s best ever together on the same court for four straight years. Megan Duffy did it with a team that she didn’t recruit and that none of her peers thought she could do it with. Tip of the cap to you, Coach.
Duffy wasn’t the only Golden Eagle earning notice from the Big East. Junior guard Selena Lott was named to the All-Big East Second Team, while Camryn Taylor was included on the Big East’s All-Freshman Team.
Lott earns her first career postseason award after thriving in a veteran role and leading the Golden Eagles with 15.0 points per game in BIG EAST play and overall. The Troy, New York native was second in the league dishing out 5.9 assists in conference games and shot 51.9 percent from the floor. She doubled her scoring average from last season and averaged 34.2 minutes per game.
And again for Taylor:
Taylor made a strong impact in her first season wearing Blue and Gold averaging 9.6 points during BIG EAST play, which was the fourth-best mark among freshmen. The Peoria, Illinois product led MU in rebounding three times this season and led in scoring twice. She recorded double figures in scoring 10 times this season, including her first career double-double in a win over Seton Hall.
I’m particularly impressed with Taylor getting the all-freshman nod. That sometimes tends to be reserved for freshmen who end up in starting roles for their team for whatever reason, and Taylor came off the bench in all 28 of her appearances this season. She plays with a tenacity and style that led me to dub her “Budding Fan Favorite Camryn Taylor” during the season, and the sky’s the limit for the Illinois native now that she’s gotten used to playing at the collegiate level.
Let’s turn our attention to how the rest of the balloting for awards and teams went, as it turns out that the league’s coaches and I do not see eye to eye.
Player of the Year: Jaylyn Agnew, Creighton
Freshman of the Year: Madison Siegrist, Villanova
Defensive Player of the Year: Chante Stonewall, DePaul
Most Improved Player: Sonya Morris, DePaul
Sixth Woman Award: Leilani Correa, St. John’s
Okay, so there’s the individual awards. Siegrist was my pick for that one, and she was a unanimous choice, so no questions asked there. I didn’t make a pick in the other ones, so I just want to spend a second on Agnew as POY. My pick was DePaul’s Kelly Campbell, but only because I figured that the Big East coaches wouldn’t want to go with a POY on a team that was finishing four games out of first place and ultimately as the #5 seed in the conference tournament. At least not while there were two perfectly viable candidates on the roster of DePaul, the regular season champions. On top of that, Agnew missed four games of the league schedule, and the coaches tend to favor in-league reasons when it comes to voting for these things.
In any case, Agnew as POY is a perfectly reasonable choice, I’m just surprised she got enough votes to get the trophy. I mostly just wanted to bring up my pick of Kelly Campbell as POY.........
All-BIG EAST First Team
Kristen Spolyar, Butler
Jaylyn Agnew, Creighton
Chante Stonewall, DePaul
Madison Siegrist, Villanova
Mary Gedaka, Villanova
All-BIG EAST Second Team
Kelly Campbell, DePaul
Sonya Morris, DePaul
Selena Lott, Marquette
Qadashah Hoppie, St. John’s
Shadeen Samuels, Seton Hall
All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Temi Carda, Creighton
Lexi Held, DePaul
A’riana Gray, Xavier
BIG EAST All-Freshman Team
Oumou Toure, Butler
Camryn Taylor, Marquette
Leilani Correa, St. John’s
Mya Jackson, Seton Hall
Madison Siegrist, Villanova
.........BECAUSE KELLY CAMPBELL DIDN’T EVEN MAKE THE ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM.
That is some insane pro-scoring nonsense. Kelly Campbell is #3 in rebounding in this league, one of three women to average eight rebounds per game in the regular season. Campbell led the conference in assists this season, and finished the regular season as the only Big East player to average at least six assists per game. Yes, Campbell doesn’t score much for the Blue Demons, averaging 8.3 points per game. But she’s got more than twice as many assists as any of her teammates and nearly 100 more rebounds.
The lack of respect for what Campbell brings to the table for the Blue Demons is made even wilder by the fact that there are two — count ‘em, two — Villanova players on the First Team. That is bonkers. That is a 17-12 team that went 11-7 in league play. Because they don’t have any tiebreakers that favor them, officially, Villanova is tied for third in the Big East this season.... but they will be the #7 seed in the conference tournament this weekend. You’re trying to tell me that the seventh place team in the conference deserves TWO First Team all-conference players? Miss me with that.
Am I slightly miffed about Selena Lott missing out on the First Team in favor of Siegrist and Gedaka? Yeah, I am, and not just because she was on my all-Big East team. It’s kind of bonkers that three of the five teams tied for third in the league grabbed up four of the five First Team spots, while the two teams that finished two and four games ahead of them in the standings combined for one. That’s just totally insane.
Let’s wrap up, shall we?
The Big East tournament starts on Friday with a DAYTIME BASKETBALL~! doubleheader at Wintrust Arena. Georgetown plays Providence at 11am Central, and then Xavier plays Villanova at approximately 1:30pm Central. Both games will be streamed on the Big East’s YouTube channel. The Golden Eagles will get the winner of that Villanova/Xavier game on Saturday, with tipoff on FS2 set for 6pm Central.