With two regular season games remaining, here’s my view on Big East postseason awards.
BIG EAST COACH OF THE YEAR
The Leader: Kevin Ollie, UConn — No coach in history has dealt with a postseason ban, a seven-month contract, a mass exodus in the frontcourt and, oh yeah, the task of filling a Hall of Famer’s shoes. If UConn gets to 21 wins, this award should go to Ollie.
Still alive: John Thompson III, Georgetown — Big John was a three-time winner. JT3 is in search of his first. The Hoyas are the hottest team in America with 11 straight victories.
Buzz Williams, Marquette — At 13-4 in the league, Marquette has surpassed all preseason expectation. Usually, the award goes to the coach of an overachieving team.
Ed Cooley, Providence – If PC knocks off UConn in the regular season finale, it finishes with a 10-8 conference record. In the preseason, this was pegged as one of the league’s worst teams.
BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Winner: Otto Porter, Georgetown — The 6-foot-8 sophomore may very well win National Player of the Year, too. A 33-point performance against Syracuse and the double-OT heroics at UConn sealed his status as POY in the Big East.
Runner-ups: Russ Smith, Louisville — At times, he looks like the best guard in the country. At others, he looks like…well, he’s killing his own team. He was the favorite early in the season.
Shabazz Napier, UConn — His value has been evident in wins (overtime heroics against Quinnipiac, South Florida, Cincinnati, Providence) and losses (Huskies offense struggled mightily without him in last Saturday’s loss at Cincy).
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse — Tied for second in the nation in assists, Carter-Williams makes Syracuse go.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame — The Irish are 11-6 in the conference and Cooley averages 13.8 points and 10.7 rebounds.
Bryce Cotton, Providence — The league’s scoring leader (20 points per contest) has been key for the red-hot Friars, winners of seven of their past eight.
BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
The Winner: JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s — This is Sampson’s race to lose. Barring something wild down the stretch, this honor belongs to the 6-foot-8 Sampson, who sports averages of 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Runner-ups: Omar Calhoun, UConn — After a so-so start, Calhoun has come on strong, converting enormous 3-pointers against Providence, Syracuse and Georgetown. He’s also developed well as a defender and rebounder.
Chris Obekpa, St. John’s — It’s difficult to win freshman of the year when you average 3.7 points per game, but Obekpa’s presence on defense — he’s tied for second he nation with 4 blocks per contest— makes him a shoo-in for the All-Rookie team.
Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova – Shooting just 35.8 percent from the field, Arcidiacono has had some big games for the Wilcats, including a 23-point effort in last Sunday’s overtime loss to Pitt.