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Handing out the hardware

Awards in each conference, All-America team and POY

Posted: Tuesday March 7, 2006 12:05PM; Updated: Tuesday March 7, 2006 10:10PM
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Senior guard Randy Foye has scored at least 20 points in 17 games this season for a very well-rounded Villanova squad.
Senior guard Randy Foye has scored at least 20 points in 17 games this season for a very well-rounded Villanova squad.
Howard Smith/US Presswire
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March Madness has already begun with a wild finish to the regular season. As another bevy of league tourneys get ready to begin, I feel compelled to weigh in with my selections for the year-end awards in all the major conferences. As you'll notice, I am including the Missouri Valley in this group. If you would argue the Valley doesn't belong, you probably are not the kind of astute reader who usually visits this space.

Read 'em and debate:


Player of the Year: J.J. Redick, Duke.
Redick's recent shooting slump does not begin to undo one of the best seasons the sport has seen in years. He still led the league in scoring (28.1 points per game), 3-point shots per game (3.73) and minutes played (37.0). The only shock is that Redick finished second to Clemson's Shawan Robinson in free throw shooting, converting a career-low 88.6 percent from the line.

Freshman of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina.
Hansbrough even made a strong case for runner-up to Redick as the ACC's POY. He was third in the league in scoring (18.7), fourth in field goal percentage (.586) and seventh in rebounding (7.5). Sorry to report I'm hearing rumblings out of Chapel Hill that he might consider entering the NBA draft.

Coach of the Year: Roy Williams, North Carolina.
Another easy choice. No team in league history had ever lost its top seven scorers, but Williams still guided the Tar Heels to sole possession of second place in the conference. When the season began, I didn't think the Heels could even make the NCAA tournament, much less earn a No. 2 seed.

All-conference: Redick; Hansbrough; Shelden Williams, Duke; Craig Smith, Boston College; Sean Singletary, Virginia.

Big East

Player of the Year: Randy Foye, Villanova.
Hard choice between Foye and his senior backcourtmate Allan Ray, but Foye is a little more well-rounded and has been superb from day one. He finished second in the Big East to Rutgers' Quincy Douby in scoring (21.0), averaged 5.4 rebounds and made 37.8 percent of his shots from 3-point range. His 1.54-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was also ranked 11th in the conference.

Freshman of the Year: Dominic James, Marquette.
James gets the nod over another freshman point guard, Cincinnati's Devan Downey. The difference is James was phenomenal on both ends. He ranked third in the league in steals (1.88) and was fifth in assists (5.0). He was also ninth in scoring (16.4), 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.82-to-1) and 12th in field goal percentage (.455).

Coach of the Year: Jay Wright, Villanova.
Curtis Sumpter's knee injury forced Wright into using his unconventional four-guard lineup, but it has worked out for the better. This team is full of tough, experienced, smart players who have deftly combined aggressiveness and poise all year. That reflects their coach.

All-conference: Foye, Ray; Rudy Gay, UConn; Mike Gansey, West Virginia; Eric Hicks, Cincinnati.

Big Ten

Player of the Year: Terrence Dials, Ohio State.
Dials is still underappreciated nationally, but he has been an absolute stud down the stretch for the Buckeyes. He finished in the top 10 in the league in four categories: points (ninth, 15.3), rebounds (fourth, 8.0), field goal shooting (third, 58.1 percent) and blocks (fifth, 0.96). Ohio State has a lot of different players who can drill threes, but those guards wouldn't have had nearly as many clean looks without Dials' ability to draw attention from opposing defenses.

Freshman of the Year: Jamelle Cornley, Penn State.
The Big Ten had fewer quality candidates for this award than any other major conference, so Cornley gets the nod by default. He was third on his team in scoring (11.5) and second in rebounding (5.4) and was ranked 10th in the conference in field goal percentage (.513). The only other freshman who was nearly that significant was Illinois guard Jamar Smith.

Coach of the YearThad Matta, Ohio State.
Matta's relentlessly positive, high-energy approach helped will the Buckeyes to an improbable Big Ten title. He has been equally effective on the recruiting circuit, but this team has a lot of basketball left to play before Greg Oden & Co. arrive next season.

All-conference: Dials; Shannon Brown, Michigan State; Dee Brown, Illinois; Paul Davis, Michigan State; Greg Brunner, Iowa.

Big 12

Player of the Year: LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas.
Another tough choice here between teammates, but Aldridge's prowess on the defensive end gave him the nod over P.J. Tucker. The two players were tied for the Big 12 lead in rebounds (9.0), while Aldridge was first in field goal percentage (.604), third in blocks (2.03) and ninth in scoring (15.6).

Freshman of the Year: Brandon Rush, Kansas.
This one was a layup -- or in Rush's case, an open-court, gliding, cock-the-ball flush. KU turned the corner in late January when its guards turned up the defense, but somebody had to finish all those fast break opportunities. Rush was more than happy to oblige. He finished sixth in the league in field goal percentage (.495) and made a whopping 51.1 percent of his heaves from 3-point range. He was also fourth in rebounding (7.8), seventh in blocks (1.5) and 12th in scoring (14.6).

Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas.
I almost went with Texas' Rick Barnes here, but Self did a masterful job guiding one of the youngest rosters in the nation to a tie for first place. People talk about North Carolina's youth, but at least Roy Williams had three upperclassmen he could rely on. Much of the time, Self's lineup on the floor consisted of three freshmen and two sophomores.

All-conference: Tucker; Aldridge; Rush; Taj Gray, Oklahoma; Richard Roby, Colorado.