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Johnnies earn awards

The Red Storm’s resurgent season has been rewarded; earning three major league recognitions.

Dwight Hardy was named to the All-Big East First Team, despite receiving no preseason all-team votes, after leading St. John’s to their most regular season wins since the 1999-2000 season. He was also named the Big East Most Improved Player.

“It’s a real honor to be named to the All-Big East First Team. Obviously some of the best players of all-time at St. John’s, in the league, and in the NCAA are in that company, and I’m very fortunate to join them,” said Hardy. “I want to share this award with my teammates, because you don’t get awards like this without being on a great team.”

During the season, Coach Steve Lavin said that Hardy’s great season was a compliment to his supporting cast of players and the cohesive brand of basketball they play.

But that is not to take anything away from the special season Hardy has enjoyed.

“The dominating performance and leadership Dwight has provided over the course of his senior year has been a catalyst in St. John’s successful season,” said Lavin.

On winning 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.”

Hardy led the Johnnies in scoring, free throw percentage and minutes. Leading the Johnnies to six wins over ranked opponents – including the game winning lay-up against then #4 Pitt – Hardy was named conference player of the week three times as well as making two appearances on the weekly honor roll.

Hardy ended the regular season fourth in the conference in scoring (17.9 ppg), topping 30 points four times and 20 points 13 times.

Hardy opened the season slowly, shooting under 30 percent and averaging just over 10 points a game. From then on he took off, averaging just under 20 points a game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor.

Hardy’s the first Red Storm player to be named to the team since Lamont Hamilton in 2007. He is also looking to become the first Big East Player of the Year since Walter Berry took home the award 25 years ago.

During the senior night introductions on Saturday, Hardy was showered with an “MVP” chant from the crowd.

Senior forward Justin Burrell was named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year. Burrell provided energy and strength inside off the bench, as well as being one of the emotional leaders of the team. Playing just over 21 minutes a night, he grabbed the second most rebounds on the team (5.0 rpg) while shooting over 51 percent from the field.

“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.

The awards are voted on by leagues coaches.

Hardy is joined in the first team by Ben Hansbrough, the only unanimous selection, of Notre Dame, Kemba Walker of Connecticut, Austin Freeman of Georgetown, Ashton Gibbs of Pittsburgh and Marshon Brooks of Providence. These were also the six top scorers in the conference and one of these players will be named Big East Player of the Year.

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