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2003-04 Big East Awards

The usual suspects, plus some newcomers, dominate the season

 by Raphielle Johnson



            Coming into the 2003-04 college basketball season, much of the talk surrounding the Big East was the fact that three programs were leaving for the ACC. There was also a program that many thought could field one of the best teams in the history of the game, as well as a powerful program that was replacing its head coach. Add to these two teams the defending national champion and you had the makings of an exciting year. Here are some of the top performers from this past season.


Player of the Year: C Emeka Okafor (Connecticut)

            There’s no dispute as to who should be the player of the year in the Big East. While battling back spasms throughout much of the season, Okafor carried the Huskies to a second place finish and Top 10 national ranking with his superior post play. The only other player that can argue with this choice would be Providence’s Ryan Gomes, who finished second in the league in double-doubles. Who was the leader in that category? Okafor.


Coach of the Year: Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh)

            There were two questions that pestered the Panthers at the start of the season: How would they replace PG Brandin Knight and how well would the players respond to their new coach? After losing Ben Howland to UCLA, the administration retained Dixon, who was an assistant to Howland, at the urging of the players. What resulted was an outright league title, and a Top 5 ranking through the majority of the season. Providence’s Tim Welsh could also make a case for the award, but the Friars lost their last two, including a home blowout to the Panthers.


Rookie of the Year: Chris Taft (Pittsburgh)

            No doubt about this one, given the role that Taft has played in the success of the Panthers to this point in the season. With the loss of Donatas Zavackas and Ontario Lett due to graduation, Pitt needed someone to step up on their imposing front line. Taft did that, and then some. Along with the emergence of PG Carl Krauser, Taft has been a major contributor for head coach Jamie Dixon.


All-Big East First Team

G Carl Krauser (Pittsburgh)

G Ben Gordon (Connecticut)

F Ryan Gomes (Providence)

F Hakim Warrick (Syracuse)

C Emeka Okafor (Connecticut)


All-Big East Second Team

G Andre Barrett (Seton Hall)

G Gerry McNamara (Syracuse)

F Bryant Matthews (Virginia Tech)

F Craig Smith (Boston College)

C Chris Taft (Pittsburgh)


All-Freshman Team

G Darryl Hill (St. John’s)

G Quincy Douby (Rutgers)

F Dwight Brewington (Providence)

F Josh Boone (Connecticut)

C Chris Taft (Pittsburgh)




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