Even before this column makes it to print we will know whom the Big East Conference Player of the Year is. The winner of that award was announced between the two sessions of the opening round of the Big East Basketball Tournament yesterday. West Virginia University’s Kevin Jones led the Big East in scoring and rebounding this year, something less than a handful of players have ever done.
That statistic has earned Jones the label of being the favorite to win the award. The thing is, those in the media that do such labeling aren’t the ones that vote for the winner. That distinction goes to the 16 Big East coaches. The coaches vote for a variety of honors among which are the player of the year and the All Conference teams. A coach may not vote for his own players.
On Sunday the Big East released the all conference teams and it was no surprise that Jones was named to the first team, but there was a surprise contained within the release. There was an asterisk beside the name of Marquette’s Jae Crowder denoting him as the only unanimous choice among the vote getters. For the record, West Virginia’s Truck Bryant was named to the third team.
To put it bluntly, there is a foul odor emanating from somewhere within the Big East. Not that Crowder isn’t worthy of being a unanimous choice, he is, but how does any coach in the Big East leave the conference’s leading scorer and rebounder off of his first team ballot? That assumes that Jones’ name was omitted by just one coach, but who knows, it could be more than one.
My first question was who didn’t vote for Jones followed by why didn’t they vote for Jones? Chances are we’ll never know the answer to either question, because the Big East allows the coaches to vote in anonymity so any agenda driven coach can do what he wants without accountability. Just wondering out loud here, would Kevin Jones’ name been left off a first team ballot if the coaches votes were published?
Perhaps a coach held WVU’s suit against, and departure from the Big East against Jones. Whatever! This little snub serves as another reminder why WVU wants a new conference to play in. Hopefully enough coaches see fit to award the deserving Jones the Player of the Year award.
Be that as it may, the Mountaineers will have at least one more Big East game left to play. That game tips at noon today in the second round of the Big East Tournament. By virtue of West Virginia’s win at South Florida Saturday the Mountaineers avoided a Tuesday game and received a first round bye. They meet the winner of DePaul and UCONN. A win sends them against top seeded Syracuse in Thursday’s noon game.
Many observers feel that Saturday’s win, that gave the Mountaineers a 19-12 record overall and 9-9 in the league, was good enough for an invitation to the NCAA Tournament field. Others aren’t quite that confident and think a 20th victory today would calm the nerves for Sunday’s selection show.