Jonny Flynn gets Big East MVP nod

Sunday, March 15th 2009, 6:08 PM

Jonny Flynn found himself in an unfamiliar position over the final minute of Saturday night's Big East championship game, slouching in a chair on Syracuse's bench. The sophomore guard cradled his head in his hands, unable to watch Louisville run out the clock on a 76-66 victory and its first Big East title since joining the conference four years ago.

No one could blame Flynn if he used the opportunity to catch a quick nap.

Flynn was on the floor for nearly every minute of Syracuse's four games over the past four days, leading the Orange to victories over Seton Hall, Connecticut and West Virginia before falling short against the Cardinals Saturday night at the Garden.

He logged 67 out of a possible 70 minutes against UConn in an epic, six-overtime battle in Thursday's quarterfinal round, and played all 45 minutes a night later in another overtime game against the Mountaineers.

He scored 11 points, had six assists and was on the floor for 34 minutes Saturday night before Jim Boeheim took him out for good, conceding defeat with 1:19 left and the Orange trailing by a dozen points.

Flynn left the court to a standing ovation, and the applause was just as raucous after the game when he was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He averaged 19.8 points and 9.3 assists over the four games, and became just the fourth player from the losing team to win the award in the tournament's 30-year history.

"I would trade that trophy to win the Big East Tournament any day," Flynn said. "A lot of people are going to remember who won the tournament, not who won this award."

Flynn's trademark smile faded as fatigue set in down the stretch, though he still managed to knock down a few jumpers, including one from the right elbow to make it a seven-point game with 2:19 left to play.

He was still showing fight in the postgame press conference, speaking proud words that seemed to belie the obvious.

"I wasn't even too tired out there on the court today," he said. "I wasn't that fatigued."

Running on empty, the Orange couldn't keep up with Louisville's full-court press, which Flynn likened to "being chased by pit bulls ... you don't have a chance to stop." Shots consistently fell short, passes lacked their typical crispness and jogging back on defense sometimes seemed as hard as preseason wind sprints.

"Sooner or later your legs are going to give out," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of Syracuse. "But they played brilliant throughout the stretch."

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