MORGANTOWN — Let us, for a moment, play the devil’s advocate, the Devil being those who selected the winners of this year’s Big East Conference individual awards handed out Tuesday in New York.
Let us say fine, Syracuse was the league’s most dominant team, so it is understandable by Wes Johnson was selected the conference’s Player of the Year and why Jim Boeheim was selected Coach of the Year.
But let us also make a parochial case for the local entrants from West Virginia University, for Da’Sean Butler in the player category and Bob Huggins in the coaching category.
Interestingly, both were hurt in the voting by the fact that they were expected to do what they did while Boeheim’s Syracuse team came out of a ninth-place selection in the pre-season voting and Johnson came off a year when he sat out after transferring from Iowa State.
How often is it that those who do the unexpected, whether or not it was those doing the preseason judging were wrong in their original opinion, seem to have their performances magnified while those who only accomplish what was expected of them are greeted with a ho-hum approach, even though it is sometimes harder to be at the top when you are wearing a target on your chest.
Around these parts there will be more disgust over Boeheim winning simple because Boeheim is Boeheim, the man with the perennial sour look upon his face, than over the slight at Butler, yet it is far less certain that Butler’s accomplishment didn’t match Johnson’s.
Johnson averaged 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds, both highs at Syracuse. That was a nice year.
Butler averaged 17.2 points a game at West Virginia and 6.3 rebounds. While the rebounding edge goes to Johnson, he was a forward while Butler spent much of his time at guard for West Virginia.