The Big East Conference honored Red Storm seniors Justin Burrell and Dwight Hardy on Monday, with Burrell receiving the Sixth Man Award, and Hardy being named the conference’s Most Improved Player.
Averaging 17.9 points per game, up from 10.5 in his junior season, Hardy has been the catalyst for the Johnnies all year, putting up scoring performances of 20 points or more 13 times and reaching the 30 point mark four times.
“With so many great players in the Big East, it is a privilege to be considered the ‘Most Improved Player,” Hardy said. “I spent many hours in the gym working on my game, and this award recognizes the progress I’ve made. My coaching staff and teammates really believe in me, and have helped to make me a better player.”
Burrell, who has returned to the hard-nosed style of play on display during his freshman season, has been a rebounding and defensive force off the bench for the Red Storm.
Averaging 6.6 points and 5 rebounds per game on the season, Burrell was key in St. John’s 80-68 victory over Marquette February 15th, notching a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
He also had a big performance against #4 Pittsburgh, taking advantage when Pitt big man Gary McGhee was on the bench, tallying his second-best scoring game of the season with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
“This is really exciting, getting this award was one of the goals that Coach Lavin and I talked about from the beginning of the year,” said Burrell. “This could have never happened without my teammates and our unbelievable coaching staff. Coach Lav and Coach Dunlap have been with me from the beginning of the year, and they deserve the credit.”
As a team this week, following a loss to Seton Hall and a win over South Florida, the Red Storm fell from #15 in both polls to #17 in the AP Poll and #18 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
In Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, St. John’s is ranked as a #4 seed, slated to play a fellow metro-area team, Iona.
The Big East Tournament begins Tuesday and St. John’s will be watching, as they take on the winner of Seton Hall/Rutgers on Wednesday at 2pm.