Notre Dame may be picked to finish in the middle of the pack in Big East men's basketball this season, but individually, the Irish have the top player.
Notre Dame senior forward Luke Harangody, who returned after flirting with the idea of entering the NBA draft, was selected the Big East preseason player of the year for a second time at the Big East men's media day in New York on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-8 forward was also the preseason player of the year last season, and he joins former Georgetown standout Patrick Ewing to earn the honor more than once. Harangody was also the Big East player of the year as a sophomore.
Harangody led the Big East in scoring (23.3 points per game) and was secnod in rebounding (11.8) last season, and he is also a member of the preseason first-team all-conference selection. Other first-team selectons were Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn, Marquette's Lazar Hayward, Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler and Georgetown's Greg Monroe.
The Irish were picked to finish eighth in the 16-team conference by the coaches. Villanova edged West Virginia by three points for the top spot.
Along with announcing the preseason teams and conference coaches' poll, the Big East and Madison square Garden extended their postseason tournament deal five years, keeping the Big East tournament in New York through 2016.
The Big East women's basketball media day is Thursday.
All-Big East awards, teams
2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
2009-10 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame (Player of the Year), F, Sr., 6-8, 255, Schererville, Ind.
Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati, G, Sr., 6-1, 190, Indianapolis, Ind.
Greg Monroe, Georgetown, C, So., 6-11, 247, New Orleans, La.
Lazar Hayward, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-6, 225, Buffalo, N.Y.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-2, 195, Herndon, Va.
Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-7, 225, Newark, N.J.
Jerome Dyson, Connecticut, G, Sr., 6-3, 190, Potomac, Md.
Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, So., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.
Samardo Samuels, Louisville, F, So., 6-9, 260, Trelawny, Jamaica
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, G, Jr., 6-5, 185, Bronx, N.Y.
Dominique Jones, USF, G, Jr., 6-4, 205, Lake Wales, Fla.
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia, F, So., 6-9, 210, Long Island City, N.Y.
a tie in the balloting created six positions
Stanley Robinson, Connecticut, F, Sr., 6-9, 210, Birmingham, Ala.
Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse, C, Sr., 6-9, 275, Lanham, Md
|1. Villanova (10)||218|
|2. West Virginia (5)||215|
|3. Connecticut (1)||185|
|8. Notre Dame||132|
|10. Seton Hall||110|
|11. St. John's||82|
Harangody picking up preseason honors is really no shock. The Big East went from a veterans league to a rookie league with graduations and players leaving early.
Harangody is what makes Notre Dame a middle of the pack team, because the rest of the Irish are unproven. Notre Dame has plenty of upperclassmen but most of those veterans haven't been called on to play big roles.
This year, they will, and it could lead Notre Dame to a surprise run to, if not the top, at least near the top of the Big East.
The Irish did take a hit when they lost transfer Scott Martin, who sat out last season when he came over from Purdue, to an ACL injury, but they have plenty of options to fill in for a guy who hasn't suited up for Notre Dame yet.
Last year, Big East teams seem to settle on letting Harangody get his points and rebounds and for the rest of the Irish to make the difference. With a new cast of characters surrounding Harangody, expect teams to follow that philosophy again until someone besides Harangody steps up to beat teams.