BASKETBALL MEDIA DAY Braswell, Sweetney Honored At Big East edia Event Georgetown Picked To Win Western Division By Tim Sullivan Hoya Staff Writer

Tim Llewellyn/The Hoya Georgetown men’s basketball Head Coach Craig Esherick, shown here at Georgetown Media Day, spent time with reporters in New York at Big East Media Day.

NEW YORK – Georgetown’s men’s basketball team was overwhelmingly picked by Big East coaches to win the conference’s West Division last week in New York, and two of its returning starters were named to pre-season all-conference teams.

The Hoyas received 12 of the 14 first-place votes and 90 points overall, good enough for first in the West Division. Syracuse finished second in the preseason poll and received the other two first-place votes, followed by Notre Dame, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Rutgers.

Senior guard Kevin Braswell was selected to the preseason All-Big East first team along with fellow guards John Linehan of Providence, Troy Bell of Boston College, Connecticut forward Caron Butler, Miami forward Darius Rice and Syracuse forward Preston Shumpert.

For Braswell, receiving the preseason honor is a validation of his performance in past seasons – recognition long overdue.

“It means everything,” Braswell said of the selection. “I’ll make sure that I’m on the first team at the end of this year.”

Last season, Braswell said, he was disappointed to be named to the preseason team but not the postseason team.

Sophomore forward Mike Sweetney said that Braswell’s leadership is important to the rest of the team.

“He knows, in pressure games, what to do, what not to do, how to control himself on and off the court,” he said.

Sweetney was named to the preseason All-Big East second team along with Miami forward John Salmons, Notre Dame forward Ryan Humphrey, Seton Hall guard Darius Lane and Villanova guard Gary Buchanan.

“It’s not too much pressure,” Sweetney said. “I think I still have a lot of room for more improvement.”

Praise for Sweetney came from even the most unlikely sources, such as Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim.

“He can play. He’s a very, very, good player,” Boeheim said.

Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey echoed Boeheim’s praises of Sweetney.

“Sweetney’s a great player. He’s the best post player in the league,” Brey said. “I don’t know if we can guard him with one guy.”

Georgetown Head Coach Craig Esherick said that being chosen as the preseason favorite in the division is a “tremendous sense of pride,” for a program that until last season hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1997.

“I can remember being in a position where no one thought we were going to do anything, and I like this position much more,” he said.

Esherick said that since last season, when the team made it to the Sweet 16 before bowing out to Maryland, he has been inundated with support from former players and alumni.

“Alonzo [Mourning (CAS ’92)] called me the day before we played Maryland in my hotel room in California to say how happy he was, how proud he was, of the job that I had done, and that meant a lot to me,” Esherick said.

He also said that the new pressures associated with being the favorite do not intimidate him or his team. “I didn’t become the head coach at Georgetown being afraid of pressure. I don’t want to run from it.”

Last year’s surprise team, Boston College, was picked to win the conference’s East Division, garnering six of the 12 first place votes and 81 points overall. They slightly edged Connecticut, who received four first-place votes and 78 points overall. UConn was followed by Miami, Providence, St. John’s, Villanova and Virginia Tech.

Last week’s media day also marked the debut of three new Big East coaches, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Seton Hall’s Louis Orr and Rutgers’ Gary Waters. Wright is a former Villanova assistant and the former head coach of Hofstra. Waters comes to Rutgers from Kent State, where he worked since 1996. Orr left the head coaching job at Siena to come to the Pirates and is the first head coach in Big East history to have played in the league.

Also at media day, Boston College guard Troy Bell was announced as the preseason Big East Player of the Year following his 20.4 points-per-game average last season. He was also chosen as the league’s co-Player of the Year at the end of last season along with former Notre Dame star Troy Murphy.

West Virginia freshman guard Jonathan Hargett was tabbed as the league’s preseason Rookie of the Year.

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