Preseason Big East Player of the Year: the gift and the curse?
At Big East media day on Wednesday it was announced that the coaches selected Louisville senior point guard Peyton Siva as their preseason Player of the Year.
That’s quite the honor for Siva, who is coming off of a season in which he struggled with health early but once at full strength helped lead the Cardinals to a Big East tournament title and the Final Four.
Siva averaged 9.1 points and 5.6 assists per game in 2011-12, and he performed better in postseason play to the tune of 11.3 points and 6.0 assists in Louisville’s nine games (Big East and NCAA tournaments).
With the preseason honor Siva will now look to do something that hasn’t been done in the Big East in nearly a decade.
Not since the 2003-04 season has the preseason choice for Big East Player of the Year gone on to win the honor at the end of the season (UConn’s Emeka Okafor).
In fact, as Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard reported, league coaches have shown themselves to be pretty good at completely missing on the honor.In each of the last five seasons there’s been an example of a Big East Player of the Year winner not receiving any kind of honor in the preseason.
Last year, the coaches tab Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs as the preseason Player of the Year. However, the post-season award went to Marquette’s Jae Crowder, who in the preseason wasn’t on the coaches’ first or second all-conference teams.
The same happened in 2010-11. Georgetown’s Austin Freeman was the preseason pick, meanwhile the year’s eventual winner; Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough, was left of the coaches’ preseason all-league teams.
Ditto in 2009-10. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody was the preseason player of the year pick. Syracuse’s Wes Johnson would end up with the post-season hardware despite the fact that he wasn’t on either the first or second all-conference teams in the preseason.
In 2008, the coaches chose Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert for preseason player of the year. Harangody, just a sophomore, won the post-season award. Harangody had not been on the coaches’ preseason all-league teams.
In 2009 UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet, who was honored in the preseason, shared Big East Player of the Year with a player in Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair who was not.
The question for this season: if it isn’t Siva then which of the other players not named to the Big East’s first and second teams is most capable of rising to the challenge?
One player to keep an eye on: Notre Dame guard Eric Atkins. While Jack Cooley (first team) and Jerian Grant (honorable mention) had their names called on Wednesday Atkins did not.
The junior from Columbia, Maryland averaged 12.1 points and 4.1 assists per game last season, and while he was second on the team in assists (Grant) playing on a talented team that can win the conference could help Atkins’ case.
There’s also Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and James Southerland at Syracuse to take into consideration, and Cincinnati’s Cashmere Wright wasn’t named to a preseason All-Big East team either.
Siva’s a worthy choice for preseason Big East Player of the Year, but a look at the recent history of the honors shows that it may be someone not on the preseason radar who takes the trophy home in March.