In a conference like the Big East, it is an incredible accomplishment if just one person from your program earns a conference honor. This year the Johnnies finished the regular season with several Big East awards.
Coach of the Year
Mike Anderson, a.k.a. Iron Mike, took home the hardware for Big East Coach of the year.
After being selected to finish ninth in the preseason polls Mike Anderson made it clear that he had other plans. He knew what he had with this team, and he proved very quickly that St. John’s is no longer a bottom feeder in this league. Anderson secured yet another winning season, making it 19 straight. This season was the first time in over half a decade that the Johnnies finished with a winning record in Big East play. The choice was clear for coach of the year and I’m glad that it was as clear to everyone else as it was to me. We are lucky to have a coach like MA in Queens.
Freshmen of Year & Defensive Player of the Year
Similarly to coach of the year, in my eyes this award the “Freshman of the Year” award was never a competition. Posh Alexander showed us from day 1 that he is a special player who was going to make a major impact in this league. He was the catalyst for the Johnnies all season long and fit like a glove into Mike Anderson’s “40 minutes of hell” style of basketball. Posh averaged 11.1 points, 4.4 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.6 steals. 2.6 steals per game was good enough for 7th in the nation. His relentless defensive energy and determination earned him Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Only three players in Big East history have won Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. Who are those players you may ask? Patrick Ewing, Alonso Mourning, and Allen Iverson. ELITE company and Big East royalty.
Side note: After missing the last two games of the regular season do to injury, Posh Alexander IS playing today vs. Seton Hall.
Most Improved Player
Freshmen Year: 9.9 PTS, 6.5 REB, 0.8 AST, 1.2 STL, 0.8 BLK
Sophomore Year: 19.9 PTS, 7.3 REB, 1.0 AST, 1.5 STL, 1.0 BLK
Julian also improved his three point percentage by a healthy margin going from 31% a year ago to 38%. He was able to improve his percentage while shooting four more threes per game. Coming into this season he spoke about how he put in a lot of time into his jump-shot in the off-season and it showed.
Aside from being named “Most Improved Player” Julian was also selected for All-Big East First Team.
Champagnie was a shoe-in for Big East First Team honors and there was a strong argument for him to be Player of the Year. In light of us having a game later this afternoon, I am going to keep karma on our side and I will not go on a rant about how the Player of the Year award was given out this year. Instead I will take the high road.
Over the next couple days it’ll become clear who the best player in the league is. Believe it!
Key’s to Beating Seton Hall…Again
Beating a team twice within the same week is never an easy task. However we can and will do it. After falling behind 18-0 at the start of the game, Mike Anderson rallied the troops and brought the team to within 10 points of the Pirates at the break. In the second half Julian Champagnie, Marcellus Earlington, and Dylan Wusu led the charge in what saw St. John’s out score Seton Hall 53-33 in the second half. This was easily the most impressive half of basketball that we’ve seen St. John’s play all year long and boy did it come at the right time.
When you evaluate the things that we’re doing on that run that made them so successful it really came down to two main things. Committing to slowing down Sandro Mamukelashvili and shooting efficiently from beyond the arc down the stretch. Mamukelashvili was one of the Big East Players of the Year this season. He is the motor that keeps Seton Hall moving. While it is almost impossible to slow him down, if we can hold him to 15 points like we did the other night, we can put ourselves in a very strong position for victory. Seton Hall doesn’t have a plentiful amount of scorers. It is vital that we don’t let their star forward get rolling. Back on March 6th when we beat Seton Hall, Marcellus Earlington scored 12 points on four 3-pointers. The junior forward was on fire from deep and helped to spark the massive comeback. As a team the Johnnies shot 45% from beyond the arc that night. They were extremely effective with the long ball and that played a major role in making them victorious.
MSG is our home court. Let’s take it to them. Go Johnnies.