Let me start this off by saying that I love Markus Howard. He’s a fantastic player and a joy to watch. And he’s probably going to win Big East Player of the Year barring some deity interferring.
But I think we need to start talking about Phil Booth not only being in the race, but even besting Howard in some important metrics. And that is pretty crazy considering the type of season Howard is putting up.
Let me make one distinction - I do think Big East Player of the Year should be the most outstanding player in conference games. There are multiple National Player of the Year awards and All-American lists for full year impact, and Howard is rightly on many of them.
If you want to take into account everything that happened in the non-conference portion of the schedule, I’ll concede that there isn’t really a debate here - it is Howard and Howard alone courtesy of some stellar nationally relevant performances.
But if you want to look at conference-only stats, this looks like a Booth/Howard race, and a good one at that. I’d include Shamorie Ponds as well, but St. John’s is pulling their usual dumpster fire act and that’ll likely take Ponds out of the spotlight as we near the second half of the conference schedule.
Here are all three’s per 40 minute stats from Sports Reference - it’s important to use these instead of per game because of Howard’s injury vs. Georgetown that limited him to 3 minutes - with Marquette playing one more game their minutes are currently right in line with one another.
Conference-Only Per 40
Per 100 posessions - Booth’s 130+ offensive rating on that type of usage is pretty fantastic. Worth noting that Howard’s defensive rating is better. Not something I thought I’d be typing, but he is a much better defender than he gets credit for and Booth’s regression has been well-documented here.
(Editor’s Note: The stats updated post-Seton Hall and have Booth now ahead - but Howard isn’t far off. Thanks for the heads up phillyorbust)
Conference-only per 100 possessions
And here are their advanced stats, also from SR. Booth’s PER and Win-Shares are very, very good. That eFG% is [fire emoji].
We’re 7-8 games in, so this is a small sample size. If the Player of the Year is all about scoring points then this should be a Howard/Ponds race as the media has portrayed it for most of the year.
Dig a bit deeper and you’ll see just how absurd Phil Booth has been during the first half of the conference season. He fully deserves to be mentioned as a contender in the race.
Will he ultimately win it? Probably not. But that won’t stop me from campaigning for him if he continues to play like this.
And best of all, we’ll get to see these guys go head-to-head twice. Maybe that will settle it!