UConn’s Whaley, St. John’s Alexander share Big East D-award


NEW YORK — Connecticut forward Isaiah Whaley and St. John’s point guard Posh Alexander have been named co-winners of the Big East Conference’s defensive player of the year award.

The league also announced Monday that the most improved player award was shared by St. John’s guard-forward Julian Champagnie and Xavier forward Zach Freemantle.

Tyler Polley of UConn was the winner of the league’s sixth man award and Mitch Ballock of Creighton received the conference’s sportsmanship award.

The league’s head coaches selected the awards. They were not permitted to vote for their own players.

The Big East will announce its player, coach, freshman and scholar-athlete of the year awards Wednesday, the opening day of the tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Whaley was second in the conference in blocked shots with 2.7 per game and added an average of 6.0 rebounds. The Huskies’ defense led the league, allowing an average of 65.2 points.

Alexander led the Big East in steals, averaging 2.6, which ranks eighth nationally. St. John’s led the league in forcing turnovers (16.5).

Champagnie went from averaging 9.9 points last season to leading to the league with a 19.5-point average. Freemantle went from averaging 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds to averaging 16.3 points and a league-leading 9.0 rebounds.

Polley, a 6-foot-9 senior forward from Miramar, Florida, has averaged 7.6 points, while coming off the bench.

Ballock has started a league-record 74 regular-season league games over the past four years. He is the only player in Creighton history to have more than 300 3-pointers and more than 300 assists.

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