I am trying to objectively digest last night’s official announcement that Marquette’s Jae Crowder has won the Big East Player of the Year Award over West Virginia’s Kevin Jones.
It is an announcement that leaked out on Monday night and has drawn the ire of WVU fans from across the state and nation.
First, let me say that the fact that Kevin Jones did not win the Player of the Year is not a huge surprise. Marquette’s Crowder had comparable numbers and is a tremendous player. Anyone who saw him play in Morgantown on Feb. 24, the night that Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams went dancing across the Coliseum floor after the game, realizes that Crowder is a stud. To use Marquette’s former nickname, Crowder is a "Warrior" on both ends of the floor. He is a strong, physical player with a soft shooting touch and a knack for scoring in traffic.
The bigger surprise is that one of the coaches left Kevin Jones off of their ballot for first team all-Big East. That situation smells a little fishy.
Second, on the Player of the Year Award, the skeptic in me feels that some of the coaches in the league may have slighted Jones because they are not happy with the way West Virginia is leaving the league. You know how it goes. If we have two deserving candidates here, then let’s go with the guy whose team is committed to the league, not the one on a team that is leaving.
However, the sportsman in me, and I can be a little like Pollyanna here, would like to think that is not the case. There may be more coaches who just felt that Crowder was a better player than KJ.
After all, The Sporting News did just name Crowder as a second team All-American while Jones was relegated to the third team. The perceived "Big East bias" should have nothing to do with that.
Also, Marquette had a better season than the Mountaineers as a team. Normally a conference Player of the Year winner does not come off of a team that finished in the middle of the pack of the league. There are exceptions, but that is usually the case.
In our state, the perceived snub of Jones is just another reason to be upset with the Big East as the Mountaineers are on the way out of the door.
It should be noted that since 1995-96, the fans in our state have enjoyed Big East basketball. In fact, it has been the best thing that ever happened to the college basketball fan in our state. In WVU history, we have never watched better basketball in Morgantown than what we have seen in the Big East. The fans in our state have loudly proclaimed, and taken pride in saying that the Big East is the best basketball league in the country.
But, it is odd how divorce can work. And this is a divorce. Now, the fans can’t wait to leave the league that has provided us with such incredible basketball.
So what is the truth? Did Jae Crowder win the award because the coaches simply felt he was a better player than Jones. Or was there some anti-WVU backlash here?
As in most cases, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.