Villanova players, from right, Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard II, JayVaughn Pinkston and Josh Hart celebrate with the Big East Conference regular sason championship trophy after an NCAA college basketball game against St. John's, Saturday, March 7, 201
Matt Slocum
March 11, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Dunn were unselfish with the ball all season, so it figured they would have no problem sharing the Big East Player of the Year award.

Two of the league's top play-making point guards were co-winners Wednesday during a news conference at Madison Square Garden. Just hours before the Big East Tournament began, Arcidiacono and Dunn shook hands while walking up to the podium and then posed for pictures on stage.

Sure, they split the vote - but each nabbed a trophy of his own.

''I just want to say it's an honor to be up here sharing this award with Ryan. He's a great player and an even better person,'' said Dunn, the Providence dynamo who became the first player in Big East history to lead the league in assists (7.4 per game) and steals (2.8) in the same season.

''I think every coach would want a player like Ryan. He knows how to run the team. He's very gritty, he plays both ends of the floor - offense, defense - and like they said, he is clutch. He's had a lot of clutch moments throughout his career, so he deserves to win an award like this.''

Villanova's Jay Wright was chosen Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, and Seton Hall freshman Angel Delgado took Rookie of the Year honors.

While Dunn filled up the stat sheet, Arcidiacono was rewarded in large part for his leadership in orchestrating the balanced and efficient offense that carried Wright's fourth-ranked Wildcats (29-2) to their second straight regular-season championship.

''I wasn't really expecting it,'' said Arcidiacono, a junior averaging 10.7 points and 3.6 assists per game. ''I have to accept this on behalf of my whole team.

''One thing I always try to do is just try to be the toughest guy on the floor anytime I play, and hopefully I can just look myself in the eyes after the game, look my teammates in the eyes and they know I gave it all for them.''

The winners were picked by conference coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.

''I think they recognize a guy's impact on the game. They recognize a guy's value to a team. They don't get caught up in the hype of how spectacular a guy is or how flashy a guy is. It really shows to me the character of the coaches in our league, that they can see who's a guy that really leads his team and impacts his team and is the most valuable to his team,'' Wright said.

''What we all I think looked at is, who really impacts the game in so many different ways? Both of these guys can put up numbers, they can put up points, they can make everybody around them better - but they're also tough defensive players, both of them. And they're winners. They make plays to win games. And I think it speaks highly to the basketball IQ of our coaches that picked both of them.''

Dunn, averaging 15.5 points per game, had a triple-double Jan. 29 against DePaul - the league's first in six years. The sophomore also shared the Defensive Player of the Year award with St. John's forward Sir'Dominic Pointer and became the first Big East Player of the Year from Providence, a charter member when the conference formed in 1979.

''He's an all-around player. There's not much Kris doesn't do right,'' Arcidiacono said.

Among the veteran stars Dunn beat out was senior teammate LaDontae Henton, who led the league in scoring at 20.1 points per game and ranked eighth in rebounding (6.3).

Dunn overcame shoulder injuries that sidelined him for nearly all of last season and part of the previous one. Arcidiacono, slowed early by a wrist injury, picked up his numbers as the season wore on and averaged 12.9 points in conference play.

It's the seventh time two Big East players have shared the award.

Delgado, a forward from the Dominican Republic, pulled down 9.9 rebounds per game - joining Notre Dame's Troy Murphy (1998-99) as the only freshmen to lead the Big East in that category.

Wright, in his 14th season at Villanova, also won the Big East Coach of the Year award in 2006 and 2009, giving him four in all. That ties Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun for the most in conference history.

Butler guard Alex Barlow was a repeat winner of the Scholar-Athlete award.

You May Like