Hart wins Big East player of year; Holtmann, Patton honored

NEW YORK (AP) Josh Hart has been selected the Big East player of the year after helping lead Villanova to its fourth straight regular-season title,

Butler's Chris Holtmann was chosen coach of the year Wednesday and center Justin Patton of Creighton was freshman of the year.

Hart, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, averaged 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds for the defending national champions. He is one of only two players in Villanova history to amass 1,800 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals. The other player to do it was Kerry Kittles, who was the Big East player of the year in 1994-95.

''I have never been one who cares about numbers, honestly,'' Hart said. ''The only numbers I care about at the end of the day are the ones in the win column. That is about all I care about.''

Wildcats coach Jay Wright said Hart does all the little things, and puts the team on his shoulders when necessary.

''He is a complete player,'' Wright said, adding Hart should have a long NBA career. ''He can do whatever any team needs of him. He can score, he can defend, he can rebound, he can pass. He is just a complete basketball player that teams value.''

Holtmann led Butler to a 23-7 record, including 12-6 and second place in the Big East. Picked sixth in the coaches' preseason poll, the Bulldogs own a 6-2 mark against ranked teams with five of the wins coming against teams in the top 15. Holtmann's three-year record at Butler is 68-29 (.701).

''This was a tremendous year for coaching in the Big East, I really believe this,'' Holtmann said, ''To be recognized by your peers in this way is humbling and a tremendous honor. We had some incredible coaching jobs this year, and I think it is hard to pinpoint one particular season.''

Patton, a 7-foot center, averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 69.3 percent from the field, which is third in the country and on pace to set the NCAA record for a freshman. He has shot better than 54 percent from the field in 30 of 31 games this season.

''I am humble but I am confident in myself,'' Patton said. ''I thought I did enough to receive the trophy, and I did.''

The voting was by the conference's coaches.

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