THROUGHOUT THE years, the Gazette has earned a reputation for its work uncovering voter fraud.
Perhaps today the staff should investigate the Big East, because the coaches' selection of Marquette's Jae Crowder over West Virginia's Kevin Jones as player of the year cannot be right.
As a journalist, my job is to step back and examine the big picture. To point out, for instance, the award is for the player of the year and not most valuable player.
It is to point out that Crowder is indeed a fine player. The reason he won probably has to do with the strong finish of the Golden Eagles, spurred by Crowder.
Marquette won 13 of its last 15 games and is ranked No. 9 nationally. Going backward, Crowder had 26 points and 14 rebounds against Georgetown; 17 and 12 against Cincinnati; 26 and four against WVU when the Golden Eagles were hurt by suspensions; 27 and seven against Rutgers; 29 and 12 against Connecticut; and 23 and six against Cincy in Milwaukee.
But while the award is not for the most valuable player, it is also not for the player of the month. It is for player of the year.
And it's a damn shame Jones did not win the honor.
If you're into conspiracy theories (and what true West Virginian isn't?), you're undoubtedly screaming that Jones was snubbed because the Mountaineers unceremoniously dumped the conference and are bolting for the Big 12.
There might be a smidge of truth there. The conspiracy theory doesn't rise to the level of those pinned to Roswell, the JFK assassination, global warming and the Apollo moon landing, but it would also be naive to think some coaches aren't ticked with WVU's Dear John letter to the Big East.
Proof? Check out the all-conference voting. Jones is one of only three players in league history to lead the Big East in overall scoring and rebounding in the same season. Both - Walter Berry of St. John's in 1986 and Notre Dame's Troy Murphy in 2000 - were named players of the year. Yet Jones, stunningly, wasn't even a unanimous first-team pick. There's no rational explanation for that. None. So draw your own conclusion there.
Here is the fact though: Jones outplayed Crowder this season. Period.