Men’s Big East Notebook

All-Big East First Team announced Sunday

Notre Dame senior guard Ben Hansbrough is the only unanimous selection to the All-Big East First Team, which was announced Sunday morning.

Joining the senior guard is Connecticut junior guard Kemba Walker, Providence senior wing Marshon Brooks, Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs, Georgetown senior guard Austin Freeman and St. John’s senior guard Dwight Hardy.

Hansbrough led the No. 4/4 Fighting Irish to a second place finish in the Big East and 25 total wins. He is averaging 18.5 points and 4.2 assists, both team highs, and is a candidate to win Big East Player of the Year, which will be announced today.

Walker led an inexperienced and supposedly rebuilding Connecticut team to 21 wins by averaging 23.1 points per game. The Huskies limped to the finish line, losing four of its last five contests, but that hasn’t put a damper on Walker’s memorable season.

Gibbs didn’t score in flashy ways but was still the leading scorer for the Big East champion Panthers, averaging 16.4 points while hitting 46.6 percent of his three-point attempts to lead the conference.

Freeman, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, did not disappoint in his senior season. He averaged 17.8 points, good for fifth in the Big East, and helped the Hoyas to 21 wins and an eighth place finish in the Big East.

Brooks, the best-kept secret in college basketball, averaged a league-high 26 points per game in conference games, including a Big East-record 52 points in a loss to Notre Dame. The Friars finished with just four conference wins, but that certainly wasn’t Brooks’ fault, as he also led the team with 7.2 rebounds per game.

St. John’s has been one of the biggest surprises of the Big East season, and one reason why has been Hardy’s play. He is averaging 17.9 points per game on the year, good for fourth in the conference.

Player of the Week: Jeremy Hazell

Barring a magnificent run in New York City this week, Seton Hall will not be dancing in March. But that didn’t stop Hazell from finishing the regular season on a strong note.

The senior forward put together two strong performances that resulted in two wins for the Pirates to close out the Big East season.

Hazell started the week on Thursday when he scored 31 points in an 84-70 win over St. John’s.  To follow that up, he posted 21 points on Senior Night in an 85-72 victory over Marquette Saturday.

Despite missing 13 games after he was shot and wounded under his right arm on Christmas, Hazell has averaged 19.4 points on the season. Sunday he was named to the All-Big East’s third team.

Game of the Week: Villanova vs. South Florida, tonight, 7 p.m.

Villanova enters the Big East Tournament the same way it did last season, and that’s not a good thing.

After losing five of seven games to finish the 2009-’10 season, Villanova has now lost four straight to end this year. The Wildcats will look to rebound when they take on South Florida, which won just three Big East games this season.

On Jan. 6, Villanova took down South Florida 83-71 in Tampa, Fla. Senior guard Corey Stokes led all scorers with 22 points, while Bulls junior forward Augustus Gilchrist countered with 16 of his own to lead his team.

West Virginia ends Big East season on the upswing

The college basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint. But West Virginia is speeding to the finish line.

Sitting at 9-7 in the Big East to begin the week, the Mountaineers took down two ranked opponents and earned themselves a bye in the first round of the Big East Tournament this week.

Wednesday night, junior forward Kevin Jones recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 65-56 win over then-No. 16/16 Connecticut.

Connecticut junior guard Kemba Walker finished with 22 points, but he shot just 8-of-23 from the field and as a team, the Huskies shot just 37.3 percent (22-of-59).

West Virginia senior guard Joe Mazzulla noted the team’s attention to detail in trying to shut down one of the nation’s best scorers.

“We wanted to make every shot difficult for them and make them work hard for everything,” Mazzulla said in an Associated Press story.

Mazzulla also added a career-high 18 points in the win, with 14 of those coming in the opening half.

Three days later, the Mountaineers were right back at it when they took down then-No. 11/11 Louisville at home, 72-70, to close out the Big East season.

West Virginia senior guard Casey Mitchell stepped up in a big way down the stretch, connecting on two 3-pointers in the final minute to tie the game. West Virginia then got some help from Louisville senior guard Preston Knowles, who inexplicably fouled junior guard Darryl Bryant with one second remaining.

Bryant made both free throws and gave the Mountaineers the win and the sixth seed in this week’s Big East Tournament.

“I just told Truck to take us home,” Jones said of Bryant’s free throws to seal the win in an Associated Press story. “I’ll put him at the line at clutch situations anytime. I know he’ll make them.”

West Virginia will play the winner of Providence and Marquette in the second round of the tournament Wednesday night.