Yesterday, the Big East Conference kicked off its annual postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden. Along with the tip-off at the Garden, Big East officials also handed out some hardware. During a press conference yesterday afternoon, Marquette’s Jae Crowder was awarded the Big East Player of the Year Award while St. John’s freshman Moe Harkless and USF head coach Stan Heath won Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively. A big congratulations to all three of these gentlemen.
From the Big East:
A 6-6 senior, Crowder has been one the BIG EAST’s most productive and versatile players. He finished the regular season with a 17.6 scoring average which ranks third in the league. Crowder’s 7.9 rebound mark is ninth in the BIG EAST. He is ninth in field goal shooting, making 51.2 percent, and second in steals with a 2.4 average. A native of Villa Rica, Ga., Crowder saved his best for the end of the regular season, averaging 23.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.0 steals over the last seven games, keying Marquette’s second-place finish in the BIG EAST standings. He posted seven double-doubles in BIG EAST play. He has 982 points in two seasons at Marquette and may become only the fifth player in school history to score 1,000 points in two years. Crowder is the first Marquette player to receive an individual award in the BIG EAST.
Harkless was chosen from a very strong BIG EAST rookie class. He was the league’s second best scorer among freshmen, averaging 15.5 points, which ranks 11th in the BIG EAST. His scoring average is sixth nationally for freshmen. Harkless’ 8.5 rebounding mark is second among freshmen and seventh overall in the league. He is only the second St. John’s player to be chosen BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. In 1979-80, the first year of the league, David Russell won rookie honors.
Heath has led the USF Bulls to a 12-6 BIG EAST record and a tie for fourth place in the regular season. The 12-6 mark is the first winning record for the Bulls in their seven seasons in the BIG EAST. In the coaches’ preseason poll, the Bulls were picked 14th.USF will be the No. 6 seed in The BIG EAST Championship. Heath is in his fifth season directing the Bulls program and his 11th year as a head coach. His career record is 182-166. Heath’s award is the first conference individual award for USF in the BIG EAST.