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MARCH ONLINE SPORTS EDITION
Knight and Howland receive
Big East Honors
The Big East player of the
year award must go to a player who if he did not exist, his team would not be
very successful. Of course his team has to be very successful for him to be
considered so that eliminates Michael Sweetney and Troy Bell from consideration.
So that leaves four players
in my mind Connecticut’s Caron Butler, St. John’s Marcus Hatten, Notre
Dame’s Chris Thomas, and Pitt’s Brandin Knight.
Thomas cannot win the award
simply because he may not be the best player on his team, even though he
probably is more valuable than his teammate Ryan Humphrey.
Marcus Hatten is also a
terrific player, but he has disappeared on several occasions and his team is a
bubble team. So that leaves the best players on the conferences two best teams.
Knight averaged 15.6 points and 6.9 assists per game and Butler averaged 19.6
points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Butler is the most versatile
player in the conference and has been the conference’s most dominating player
in the past month. If the Big East Player of the Year is defined as the guy who
steps up when it’s crunch time, then Caron Butler should walk away with the
award, according to Uconn coach Jim Calhoun.
Knight is the only player on
Pitt capable of running the team for nearly 40 minutes each night. Knight is
always making clutch plays down the stretch as well and he controls the game and
leads his team in a leadership manner much more than Bulter does
“Look at what he means to
us,” Howland said. “Butler has better talent on his team with (Johnny)
Selvie, (Emeka) Okafor, (Ben) Gordon and (Tony) Robertson. It’s not even
close. Brandin makes us so much better, he makes everyone better.”
Both coaches make a terrific
case for each player, so this is why I am proud that the award went to both
Caron Butler and Brandin Knight. There is no player in the conference as
talented as Bulter, but there is no player more valuable to his team than
As far as freshman of the
year, Chris Thomas may receive every coach’s
vote except his own (because Mike Brey cannot vote for his own player). Thomas
can take over a game for Notre Dame with his poise, defense, and his clutch
shot-making ability. Emeka Okafor of Uconn should get Mike Brey’s vote because
his ability to change a game with his shot-blocking talents.
Coach of the Year is again a
no contest award. Ben Howland of
Pitt is one of the favorites for National Coach of the Year and he is proving
that Pitt will need to at least double his salary to pay him fair value for his
Howland has turned a
disgraceful program into a developing jewel and he has done more with the talent
of his players than any coach in the conference could so he deserved the Big
East Coach of the Year honors.
Gary Waters of Rutgers
certainly did a good job in his first season at Rutgers, but nothing compares to
what Howland did with Pitt this season.
In a final note, Providence
guard John Linehan deserves some type of
recognition for his Big East career. Linehan set the all-time NCAA mark for
steals in a season this year and every Big East coach will be glad that he will
never create hell for their team again. Hopefully the NBA will look past his
small stature and draft one of the best defenders the NCAA has ever seen.
Photo by Ramesh C.Reddy
Brandin Knight, 3rd player from left received Big East co-player of the year award and his teammates gather around each other. Coach Ben Howland, not pictured here, received Big East Coach of the year award. Panthers finish the regular season with a 25-4 record and 13-3 in the Big East.
Jon Sobolewski is also the editor of an online College Basketball website http://sobeball.i8.com.