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Halfway Home Big East Awards

Sure the majority of teams in the conference have played nine or ten games, but three of them have only played eight so I think dishing out mid-season awards right now is completely justified.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dominic James, Marquette

James started off slower than most had anticipated, but he's still averaging 16 points and four and-a-half assists for the second best team in the league.


Not going to lie, I liked you way more as a freshman

What separates James from contenders like Russell Carter, Herbert Hill and Curtis Sumpter is the way he's been able to step up when his team has needed him the most. He almost single-handedly beat Louisville by scoring 11 of his 18 points during a decisive stretch in the second half, he dropped 25 on Duke as MU handed the Blue Devils their first loss of the season, and he put up 23 on Jan. 21 when the Golden Eagles gave Pitt their only Big East blemish to date.

COACH OF THE YEAR: John Beilein, West Virginia

Before the season, the Big East coaches voted West Virginia as the 12th best team in the conference, and it was justified.

The Mountaineers were coming off of consecutive appaearances in the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but Beilein's 2006-2007 team was losing 83% of its scoring production from a year ago. Only Cincinnati was hurt more by graduation and other defections.

Beilein's name might not carry as much weight as many others in the league, but he's proven this year beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is one of the top basketball minds in the Big East.

The Mountaineers are 7-3 in the conference and a dazzling 18-4 overall. They own wins over Villanova, NC State and Depaul, and have been competitive in each of their losses sans an 81-63 drumming at Marquette.


Guess this wasn't taken in March of '05; BOOM!
Whoa ho, yeah baby....Yeah, I'm sorry that
was a low blow, we're cool Beilein.

What Beilein's done to this point has been remarkable, but his toughest weeks are definitely ahead of him. On Wednesday West Virginia will enter a seven-game stretch that includes two matchups with #7 Pitt, a game against #5 UCLA, and road games at Georgetown and Providence.

Still, the Mountaineers are going to have a respectable seed in the Big East Tournament, and should be at least on the NCAA Tournament bubble this time next month, two feats unfathomable last October.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

Reynolds was all set to head to Oklahoma until he saw Jay Wright's club play late last Winter and decided he liked their style. When Kyle Lowry announced his intention to leave early for the NBA, a scholarhsip opened up and Reynolds made plans to head for Philly.


Thanks for the dagger ass-hat

The 6-2, 195 lbs. Reynolds has exhibited many of the symptoms of an immature point guard at various points over the course of the year, but just as often he's displayed flashes of brilliance which leave Wright with no choice but to keep him on the floor.

Reynolds scored 27 and 26 in huge back-to-back wins for the Wildcats over Notre Dame and Texas. He played 75 out of a posssible 80 minutes in those games, and more than made up for the absence of injured 'Nova star Curtis Sumpter.

Now, later in the year, Reynolds has also shown the mature ability to get the ball into the hands of other players when his shots aren't falling. On Saturday against Louisville, the freshman hit just two field goals, but his team won in large part because of his season-high 10 assists.

Eugene Harvey of Seton Hall was a very close runner-up here.

MOST SURPRISING TEAM: West Virginia

See Beilein.

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: Connecticut

2005-2006 Louisville reincarnated.

BEST GAME: Marquette 77, Pitt 74 (OT)

Marquette squandered an 11-point lead late, but Dominic James hit two late free-throws to send the game into overtime where the Golden Eagles outlasted the sixth ranked Panthers.

James scored 23 points and Dan Fitzgerald and Wesley Matthews had 14 as MU gave Pitt what still is their only conference loss to date.

The two will meet again on March 3 in a game that could decide who gets the top seed in conference tournament.

ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM

G Dominic James, Marquette
F Russell Carter, Notre Dame
F Curtis Sumpter, Villanova
F/C Herbert Hill, Providence
C Aaron Gray, Pitt

ALL-CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM

G Levance Fields, Pitt
F Demetris Nichols, Syracuse
F Jeff Green, Georgetown
F Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
C Roy Hibbert, Georgetown

ALL-CONFERENCE THIRD TEAM

G Mike Nardi, Villanova
G Jerel McNeal, Marquette
G Sammy Mejia, Depaul
F Geoff McDermott, Providence
F Frank Young, West Virginia