Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Poll: Who Should be Named Big East Coach of the Year?
This year, perhaps more than in recent campaigns, there is a spirited debate over who should be named Big East Coach of the Year.
At least three or four men could lay claim to the award, presented annually during the Big East Tournament each year at Madison Square Garden.
Under Jim Boeheim, Syracuse will win the Big East regular-season title after being chosen as the preseason favorite, along with UConn. Yet there was a time earlier this season — at the height of the Bernie Fine sex scandal — when it appeared Boeheim’s job might not be safe. Now that he’s weathered the storm and moved past the scandal, Boeheim is a candidate for Big East and National Coach of the Year honors.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey lost his best player, Preseason All-Big East First Team guard Tim Abromaitis, to an ACL tear in November, yet has the Fighting Irish at 20-9, 12-4 in the league. They had won nine straight — including a victory over Syracuse — before Saturday’s loss to St. John’s at the Garden. If Brey were to win Big East Coach of the Year honors, it would be his second straight and fourth in six years.
St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap has stepped in for head coach Steve Lavin while Lavin recovers from prostate cancer surgery. Despite being down to six recruited scholarship players and starting five freshmen for much of the season, the Johnnies are 13-16, 6-10 in the league. They have more league wins than five teams, including Pittsburgh and Villanova. Led by Big East Rookie of the Year candidates Moe Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison, the Red Storm have won three straight, including Saturday’s 61-58 victory over then-No. 20 Notre Dame.
South Florida was picked 14th in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, ahead of only Providence and DePaul, yet Stan Heath now has the Bulls at 18-11 overall, 11-5 in the league, good for a fourth-place tie with Georgetown. Depending on what happens in the final two games this week, USF could be in line for a coveted double-bye in the conference tournament.
Under coach John Thompson III, Georgetown was selected 10th in the Preseason Poll and are currently tied for fourth in the Big East at 21-6, 11-5. They are in line for a double-bye when the Big East Tournament begins March 6.
Seton Hall was chosen 13th in the Preseason Poll, but are now eighth at 19-10, 8-9 under second-year coach Kevin Willard. Had the Pirates beaten Rutgers at home Saturday, they would be in a good position to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Instead, the Pirates need to win at DePaul on Saturday and then possibly win a game at the Garden.
Marquette was selected sixth in the Preseason Poll, yet Buzz Williams currently has the Golden Eagles at 24-5, 13-3 in the league. Only Syracuse has more league wins than Marquette despite the fact the Eagles lost two big men — Chris Otule and Davante Gardner — to injury, forcing Williams to play a smaller, quicker lineup. Marquette has won 12 of its last 13 games.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.