Big East Hoops

Archive for January, 2007

At the Halfway Point

January 31, 2007 2:23 pm by Coach O

Just thought I’d share a few observations at the halfway point of the conference season:

Biggest Surprises:

1. Notre Dame – picked by most at 10 or 11, this team seems to have found itself. A crucial road win over Syracuse and the tough win over Nova can spark this bunch. I feel that they have survived the KMac fiasco and have as good a backcourt with Falls, Carter and Jackson as anyone except Marquette.

2. Louisville – I know they are talented but they were talented last year too. They have a strong frontcourt and Sosa and Williams are more than adequate in the backcourt. Palacios and Padgett are at times outstanding. Granted they really have not beaten many big teams and their schedule from here on is a killer. I am still impressed with what they’ve done so far.

Biggest Disappointments:

1. UConn - I said after watching their first few non-conference games that they would be a force come February. Well, February is here and the only force they have is a negative one. No leadership is the biggest problem and free throw shooting is horrendous. Yes they may have talent, but it is all ‘POTENTIAL’. Potential is only a good term preseason, not midway through. The frontline is weak and the guards have vanished during conference games. The schedule does get better but if you can’t win a game with a first half like last Saturday, trouble will accompany you. Tonight at DePaul may make or break the season.

2. Syracuse – Sure losing GerryMac hurts. But the club is a veteran one and they play poor defense and get in trouble as the opponent is rolling it up. They face UConn twice more but also have to play Georgetown and at Nova.

Best Freshman -

1.Scotty Reynolds has really stepped up but must watch his control. He was totally out of control against Pitt Monday but has been scoring at an incredible rate.

2. Luke Harangody – A real bull. Typical of Notre Dame Centers in the past such as Laimbeer.

Best FrontcourtGeorgetown, followed by Providence.

Best BackcourtMarquette followed by Pitt and Notre Dame

All Big East – (I chose 3 forwards and 3 guards due to the fact that some teams use each)

Forwards – Hibbert (Georgetown), Gray (Pitt), Hill (Prov)

Guards – James (Marquette), Fields (Pitt), Carter (ND)

Big East Tourney WinnerGeorgetown. Too strong up front for anyone if Green and Hibbert are on their game. If not, Pitt is the most well rounded team in the conference.

Look-A-Like Team:

Gray (Pitt) – Wrestler Andre the Giant

Kendall (Pitt) – Elvis

Billmeier (SHU) – the Principal in Ferris Bueller

Honorable MentionChone Figgins (Anaheim Angels) – Mets manager Willie Randolph

ND 103 Syracuse 91

January 30, 2007 7:57 pm by Coach O

ND has finally won a road game. Harangody 21, Jackson 19, Carter 18, Falls 16, Hillesland 14 and Kurz did not play due to a foot injury. Good victory for the Irish and the ‘Cuse really seems to be reeling off 3 straight losses. Devendorf went 0 for the game. He needs to score if the Orange is to get back on track.

What kids are studying these days…

11:58 am by donald

One of my favorite parts of watching college basketball games on CBS is when a player goes to the free throw line, and CBS displays the player’s profile — Name, Position, Height, Weight, Year, and the kicker, his Major. It’s here where you learn that there are majors like “Parks & Recreation” at NC State and that practically every single Duke player is a Sociology major. If you’re listening to Dickie V, you might think that each Dookie also scored 1400 on his SATs. He’s wrong. At Duke, they get to bend the rules off the court by taking a large number of their credits as “independent study”. On the court, they catch some breaks, too (see here).

Yes, the state of educating college basketball (and football, for that matter) players is not a pretty one. Most “student-athletes” believe they’re in college to play basketball first, and second to get an education. The only thing class can do for them is to screw up their chance to play basketball. So it’s not surprising when you look at a college basketball roster, and most of the players are majoring in the same thing (a la Sociology at Duke). That major usually caters to the athletes. In the Big East, this phenomena is most prominent at the following schools:

  • Cincinnati: Criminal Justice. A whoppping 8 out of 13 players!
  • UCONN: Liberal Arts. Of the five non-freshman, five have this major.
  • Louisville, Marquette and Pittsburgh: the most likely major is Communications (actually, at Pitt, it’s called Communication and Rhetoric). Roughly a third of all their rosters fall under that major.

Are there any Big East hoopsters hitting the books as hard as they hit the boards? In my research, I did find a single player majoring in something hardcore. I’m not talking about History, Economics, or even Biology. Nope, this dude is majoring in Computer Science! He’s also lived in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan for eight years of his life (and he’s not Asian). “Oh, he must be a walk-on”, you’re saying. Nope. He’s a starter and the second highest scorer on his team. A former teammate said he’s as athletic as Rudy Gay. I’ve mentioned him before on this blog as a major talent. Go ahead, make a guess. His name, after the cut.

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This weekend’s games (1/27-28)

January 26, 2007 3:52 pm by Big Willie Style

Saturday

Cincinnati @ Georgetown

Providence @ Connecticut

Seton Hall @ Rutgers

St. John’s @ Pittsburgh

Villanova @ Notre Dame

Syracuse @ Louisville

Sunday

DePaul @ West Virginia

Marquette @ USF

The most interesting games to me this weekend are Syracuse @ Louisville, Villanova @ Notre Dame and DePaul @ West Virginia.

Marquette and Pitt should both win again this weekend, and move further away from the field. And of course, expect Cincinnati, Rutgers and USF all to lose once again. PC @ UConn may be a good game, but with both teams struggling right now, chances are it’ll be ugly to watch. The first team to score 40 in that game may win it.

As for the key matchups, Syracuse and Louisville are a toss up so far, as noted by Mister D earlier, and with both teams competing for one of the final byes in the BE Tournament, this game could turn out to be highly important come March.

The last time Villanova and ND played a few weeks ago, they combined for 189 points. If this game is anything like the first, it’ll be a great contest.

And finally, with all this talk of West Virginia this week, I’m excited to watch the play again, and they should be tested by a streaky DePaul team who has a good perimeter.

Below is the updated bracket for MSG in March.

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Looking forward to the Big Dance

January 25, 2007 1:52 pm by Dan'l B

Last month, I boldly predicted that 9 beasts would earn NCAA tournament bids. Backing off from that prediction would be reasonable yet unforgivable, so what will it take to get there?

Pittsburgh, Georgetown, and Marquette (100% confidence)

  • Pitt doesn’t have any elite wins out of conference, but they’ve handled a tougher Big East start very well and are the class of the conference. The schedule will be harsh, so I foresee a 25-6 record (12-4 Big East) and a #2-3 seed depending on how the Big East tournament goes.
  • Georgetown started slow but has roared to the front in 2007. Their conference schedule only gets easier. They’ll be a cut behind Pitt at 21-8 (11-5) and a #3-4.
  • Marquette had a huge neutral-site win over Duke in November, and the Wisconsin loss is totally acceptable. They own the only conference win over Pittsburgh and are well on their way to 10+ wins in conference. Similar to Georgetown, look for a 24-7 (11-5) finish and a #4 seed.

Notre Dame, Villanova, and West Virginia (95%)

  • Notre Dame built an excellent out of conference record and started well in conference. How they respond to McAlarney’s suspension dictates the outcome, and I strongly believe they’ll move past it. Notre Dame’s exceptional start will translate to 22-7 (10-6) and a #5-6 seed.
  • Villanova is only .500 so far in conference, but they have many things going for them including several solid out of conference wins (Iowa, Okla., and Texas to name a few), an excellent win at Georgetown, and an easier conference schedule the rest of the season. I see 22-8 (10-6) in their future, good for a #6-7 seed.
  • West Virginia does not have the out of conference results — victory hosting UCLA next month would completely reverse this statement — but they’re a step above the rest of the Big East. If the rest of the Big East wasn’t also highly inexperienced, I’d fear a collapse is possible. The WVU philosophy may not generate NBA players, but it’ll get 9+ conference wins. 21-8 (10-6) will get them a #6-7.

Louisville, Syracuse, and Connecticut (60%)

  • Louisville barely traveled in 2006 and didn’t win anything significant, so their 4-2 start comes as a surprise. It’s the product of beating teams with which they are competitive (USF, Providence, DePaul, and UConn) and losing to the better teams (ND and Marquette). The road gets harder from here out and a 5-5 finish would be appropriate. That would send them to MSG at 19-11 (9-7) and a tournament win might be a must to get an NCAA bid. Unfortunately, finishing 5-5 or thereabouts provides a reason to doubt their tournament worthiness. The seed would be anywhere from #8 to #12.
  • Syracuse and Louisville might as well swap jerseys. The Orange barely traveled and lost to 3 of the 4 Top 100 schools in their out of conference schedule. All of those games were played in the Dome or MSG (Oklahoma St.). In conference, Syracuse has done well to beat Marquette and Villanova, particularly the former on the road, but they should have handled St. John’s better. The rest of the conference schedule is at least as nasty as Louisville’s. They’ll do well to go 5-5 and head to MSG with the same goal: add a conference win to a 19-11 (9-7) finish and earn a seed from #8-12
  • UConn was not prepared for conference play, and the record shows. They ran through 11 non-conference games as efficiently as anyone in the country, but all of those games were at home against inferior competition. The rest of their out of conference schedule takes place in 2007. Losing to LSU was reasonable on the road, and UConn showed promise hosting Indiana. In conference, losses to WVU, Marquette, and Pittsburgh look reasonable. The loss to Louisville really hurts their chances. Unlike Louisville and the Cuse, UConn has a favorable schedule left. They play six of 10 conference games at home where they’ve been much better all year, and the competition is mostly equal or inferior. If they can turn it around and finish 7-4 the rest of the way, 20-10 (9-7) will give them a reasonable shot at a bid around #8-12.

Providence and DePaul (20%)

  • Providence’s season hinges on their next five — four nasty road games sandwiching a visit by Cincinnati. UConn, Marquette, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame will host the Friars and are all moderate favorites to win those games. If the Friars fall to 4-7 or worse in conference, they won’t have enough to claw back into position against several other teams vying for the same tournament bids. I project a 17-12 (7-9) finish and a journey through the NIT.
  • DePaul traveled far and often early in the season. Had they won a few of those games, they’d be in great shape. Their performances have been up and down, so they have a shot against most of the Big East. Five of nine remaining games are at home, plus three of the last four should be easy victories. I think DePaul will get to 8-8 in conference for a 17-13 finish and an NIT bid. Despite the level of difficulty, all of the early season losses will take their toll unless they make a long Big East tournament run.

The Rest (5%)

  • Seton Hall’s preseason was unimpressive, and the rest of the season will be harsh. They’ll do well to stay above .500 overall (15-14) and perhaps get an NIT bid.
  • St. John’s has three decent conference wins — DePaul, Syracuse, and Notre Dame — all at home. There’s lots of road games left on the schedule. 15-15 would be a fine finish.
  • Cincinnati stole one from WVU. That and a victory over Xavier might be this year’s highlights. 14-16 would be a solid finish.
  • South Florida…yikes. They’ve been mostly helpless and are staring at a 13-17 season.
  • Rutgers gets another one with Cincinnati on February 10. Perhaps that’ll get them to 2-14 in conference. The challenge will be to steal one more, because 10-19 is much more aesthetically pleasing than 9-20.

Add up all the odds and it looks like an eight bid year again, but I’ll hold out hope. In December, I foresaw a conference with zero elite squads, 9-11 good squads, and 5-7 poor ones. That trichotomy has become more evident six weeks later, but the conference as a whole did not fare well enough in November and December. Last year, the Big East was among the very best conferences and 9-7 was an excellent result. I fear that 10 wins will be a prerequisite for an NCAA bid this time.