Blair, Thabeet share Big East award
On Tuesday, they were close again, this time accepting trophies as co-players of the year in the Big East Conference.
The centers had two great individual battles this season when Blair's Pittsburgh team swept Thabeet's Connecticut team as they finished tied for second in the conference behind Louisville.
"It's all about respect and we have a lot of respect for each other," said Blair, who at 6-foot-7 is 8 inches shorter than Thabeet. "On the court, it's all business, off the court it's a different story."
Blair averaged 15.6 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds while shooting 59.6 percent from the field.
Thabeet, the Big East's defensive player of the year the past two seasons, averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks.
"To think of where I was three years ago, this is unbelievable," said Thabeet, a native of Tanzania, who attended prep school in Texas. "It's great being here with DeJuan. He deserves it. He is one of the best players in the country. Every day you step on the court in this league you are going to be with the best."
The centers were chosen in a vote of the conference's coaches and Monday's tie was the fifth in the 30-year history of the league, the last in 2002 between players from the same schools, Caron Butler of Connecticut and Brandin Knight of Pittsburgh.
Jay Wright, who led Villanova to a school-record 25 wins, was selected coach of the year for the second time.
"To be selected by the coaches in this league means the world to me," said Wright, who also won the award in 2006. "I look around and see (Connecticut's) Jim (Calhoun) and (Pittsburgh's) Jamie (Dixon) and I say. 'What am I doing with this award?"
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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