Big East Hoops

Archive for October, 2007

PREVIEW – LOUISVILLE (24-10, 12-4)

October 31, 2007 11:19 pm by Coach O

The way Louisville began the season last year everyone thought that there would be a collapse here. But as the year moved along the Cards got stronger.They solidified themselves at every position and didn’t show many weaknesses. Well all five starters return and the bench is by far the strongest in the Big East.

Frontcourt – David Padgett (9.5ppg, 5.6rpg) is an outstanding man in the post. He is a notch below Hibbert, but who isn’t. Padgett will combine with Juan Palacios (8.9ppg, 5.5rpg) for the starting front line. Palacios can go to the hoop or shoot from long range. These two fine players are backed up by Derrick Caracter (8.1ppg, 3.9rpg). If Caracter can keep his weight down below 300 pounds and stay out of Coach Pitino’s doghouse there isn’t a frontline with the talent and depth that the Cards have. Freshmen Clarence Holloway and George Goode will lend minutes off the bench. Goode may challenge for serious playing time. GRADE – A

Backcourt – Terrence Williams (12.4ppg, 7.0rpg) had an outstanding year at SF. His backup, Jerry Smith (8.0ppg, 3.6rpg) posted starter’s numbers. And throw Earl Clark (5.9ppg, 3.8rpg) into the mix and there is incredible talent and depth here. Reginald Delk (9.5ppg, 2.0rpg) comes back to the SG position. Delk will be backed up by Andre McGee (2.6ppg, 1.1rpg). Edgar Sosa (11.4ppg, 2.6apg) became a strong presence at the point. He has to watch his passes and sometimes should dump off instead of forcing a shot. But most BE teams would gladly take Sosa to run their offenses. Will Scott (3.5ppg, 0.9rpg) can play at any of the backcourt positions. The backcourt doesn’t have the talent of the starters for Marquette, but they possess much more depth. GRADE – A+

Depth – No team has the depth that the Cards possess. Caracter down low with 8ppg, and the combination of Smith, Clark, McGee, and Scott outside give Louisville the opportunity of not losing a step in case of foul trouble or injury. The freshmen will have the luxury of playing for a few minutes a game and practicing against a team of this quality. GRADE – A+

Outlook – On paper, Louisville looks like an easy choice to win the Big East this year. They have a strong front line, a great backcourt, a plethora of depth at every position, experience in the NCAA’s and Rick Pitino. I was always a tough marker as a teacher and coach but this looks like one of those no brainer grades. GRADE – A+

PREVIEW – GEORGETOWN (30-7, 13-3)

10:58 pm by Coach O

The Hoyas are back and they are strong. Roy Hibbert is the preseason player of the year. Jonathan Wallace can fill it up from the perimeter, and Jessie Sapp is a reliable point guard. DaJuan Summers might have been the best rookie in the BE last year. That accounts for the four starters that return. The only one missing is Jeff Green. And he will be a tough act to follow.

Frontcourt – Roy Hibbert (12.9ppg, 6.9rpg) is the most dominating big man in the league. Hibbert should have his way in most games. He tended to get into foul trouble in the NCAA’s and must avoid that. DaJuan Summers (9.2ppg, 3.7rpg) was the surprise for the Hoyas last year. Summers had a wonderful rookie season and Coach Thompson is relying on him to step into Green’s shoes this year. Vernon Macklin (2.9ppg, 1.5rpg) can spell either big man and Freshman Nikita Mescheriakov will learn the BE ropes from the bench. GRADE – A

Backcourt – Sharpshooter Jonathan Wallace (11.4ppg, 2.7rpg) is the leader in the backcourt. Wallace is deadly from the 3 point range shooting 49% from long range. Jessie Sapp (9.1ppg, 3.5apg) is at the point. Sapp runs the team very effectively and he will be backed up by Jeremiah Rivers(1.4ppg, 1.3rpg) who has big game experience. Patrick Ewing wil probably earn the SF starting nod. Ewing was a backup last year to Jeff Green. Tyler Crawford (2.0ppg, 1.4rpg) provides depth on the wing. Three freshmen, Omar Wattad, Austin Freeman, and Chris Wright will look for some minutes. GRADE – A-

Depth – The Hoyas aren’t very deep this year. But Rivers, Crawford and Macklin all have experience in some very big games, which counts for a lot. The four freshmen will have to step into some pretty big shoes when called upon. GRADE – B

Outlook – The loss of Green will hurt, a lot. He was the best player in this very tough league. But having four returning starters from a Final Four team gives them an edge on the rest of the league. Although I don’t think the Hoyas will win the league this year, they will be in the thick of things with the talent they have. Coach Thompson will use his disciplined offense and every opponent will have to be on lookout for their backdoor when playing GTown this year. GRADE – A

PREVIEW – MARQUETTE (24-10, 10-6)

9:49 pm by Coach O

On first look it might seem as though Marquette is loaded…… THEY ARE! All three of their sharpshooting guards are back, as is starting center Ousmane Barro and SF Dan Fitzgerald and Lazar Hayward. With Matthews, McNeal and James returning on top, David Cubillian adds some important experience. This looks like a team that can challenge for the Big East title if they stay healthy.

Frontcourt  – Ousmane Barro (8.1ppg, 6.9rpg) returns to the post position Barro improved last year as the season progressed and is tough down low. Starting SF Lazar Hayward (6.6ppg, 3.6rpg) also comes back. Hayward split time with Dan Fitzgerald (7.4ppg, 3.9rpg) and either can start. Lawrence Blackledge (1.7ppg, 1.4rpg) will give Barro rest time and Dwight Burke (0.8ppg, 1.8rpg) can spell the duo at SF. This is one of many strengths for the Golden Eagles. GRADE – A-

Backcourt – Dominic James (14.9ppg, 4.9apg) may be the best player in the league. He just has to be more careful with his shot selection. He is a reliable point man, but has to stay under control and out of foul trouble. Jerel McNeal (14.7ppg, 4.8rpg) returns at SG. If James were not here, he would be the one to carry the team. Probably the best defensive player in the BE, he doesn’t have a weakness. Wesley Matthews (12.6ppg, 5.3rpg) is the SF. Matthews would be a star with any team in the league. Here he has to share the limelight with James and McNeal. David Cubillian (5.5ppg, 1.6apg) is primarily a point guard but will see time at all three backcourt positions. GRADE – A+

Depth – The Eagles are really deep down low with either Fitzgerald or Hayward coming off the bench. Tom Crean has a ton of talent at the starting positions but can bring in one of the above down low and Cubillian on the perimeter. Maurice Acker, a transfer from Ball State was rookie of the year in the MAC two years ago will also be a plus off the bench. GRADE – B+

Outlook – Barring injuries, this team seems to have it all. What remains to be seen is how they will stack up against Georgetown and Louisvile. I see no reason why Marquette should have to play on Wednesday at MSG in March. They will be one of the top four seeds….maybe even #1. GRADE – A

PREVIEW – UCONN (17-14, 6-10)

12:23 am by Coach O

UConn’s prospects for this season can be summed up in two words – Hasheem Thabeet. If Thabeet improves on 2006-7 (and there was nowhere to go but up), the Huskies can move into the top 5 or 6. Jerome Dyson is dynamic. Jeff Adrien is a load down low. Stanley Robinson has to take a more active role. There are a lot of ifs here. But if Thabeet continues to make poor shots and not catch the ball, the Huskies are in trouble. Add to that there must be improvement on their 63% free throw shooting.

Frontcourt – Jeff Adrien (13.1ppg, 9.7rpg) can hold his own with any of the big men in the Big East. He stepped out to the foul line way too much last year. He has to stay down low. Thabeet is big. But had no hands and threw air balls from 3 feet out. He will be the key. Gavin Edwards (2.0ppg, 1.9rpg), Curtis Kelly (2.7ppg, 2.5rpg)  and Jonathan Mandeldove(0.9ppg, 0.9rpg) will lend support in the low post. If the wings can shoot it, then Adrien won’t feel as though he has to do it all like last year. GRADE – B

Backcourt – Jerome Dyson (13.8ppg, 3.6rpg) can play either guard position and the latest word is that he is at the point. Dyson is a dynamic player who carried the team for long stretches last year. If Dyson is at the point, then Marcus Johnson (5.5ppg, 3.0rpg) will step in as the SG. Johnson was a huge disappointment last season. he is a slasher but must be able to hit the 15 footer. Stanley Robinson (5.1ppg, 4.4rpg) may be the most talented player on the team. He will start at SF and will share time there with Johnson if the Huskies can find a true point guard. A.J. Price (9.4ppg, 3.6apg) could be that man. Price had trouble in BE games but did have some fine performances. He needs to step up and take the PG position to free Dyson to go back to 2 guard. Craig Austrie (5.8ppg, 2.2apg) is steady at the point but may not be quick enough for Calhoun’s up tempo plans. Doug Wiggins (6.8ppg, 2.1rpg) can play either position but must stay out of the coach’s doghouse. He is extremely fast and may fit the plans for a quicker transition type game. Freshman Donell Beverly will lend support up top. GRADE – B+

Depth – The Huskies are deep. Really deep. But is the depth quality? That can’t be answered off of last years performance. Edwards and Mandeldove along with Kelly back up down low and Wiggins, Price, Austrie and Johnson can alternate outside. If a staring lineup is solidified the bench will be there to help. GRADE – B

Outlook – Talent is everywhere here. But what the Huskies showed last year was potential. Not a good word when you are talking about the whole team. Only Dyson and Adrien could be relied upon. If UConn shoots 63% again from the foul line they could end up 8th to 10th. If Thabeet improves and others step up the Huskies should by around the 5th-6th place. GRADE – B

PREVIEW – SYRACUSE (24-11, 10-6)

12:00 am by Coach O

The front line has graduated. Nichols, Watkins, and Roberts will be sorely missed. The backcourt is solid.The coach is a hall of famer. What does this add up to? A lot of ???????? for the Orange. Eric Devendorf will be the leader this year. Hopefully he can keep his temper under control.

Frontcourt – The Orange will be starting with only Paul Harris (8.6ppg, 7.1rpg) having experience up front. Harris can leap and is a great rebounder but needs work on his outside shot. The center will be Arinze Onuaku. Onuaku sat out last year with an injury. Behind him will be Devin McBride (0.8ppg, 0.3rpg) and Freshman Sean Williams. Donte Green is real talent and even though he is only a freshman may be a force inside. Rick Jackson and Kristof Ongenaet (0.0ppg, 0.0rpg) provide support. GRADE – C+

Backcourt – Eric Devendorf (14.8ppg, 2.7rpg) can take over a game. He has done it in the past. His problem has been that he tends to play out of control, taking bad shots and turning the ball over too much. Josh Wright (6.6ppg, 3.8apg) is an adequate pont guard who will be challenged by freshman Jonny Flynn. Flynn starred for the Under 19 World Champions. Andy Rautins tore up his knee this summer and probably will be redshirted. That leaves frosh Antonio Jardine to fill in. Either Jardine or Flynn will probably have to move into a starting slot. GRADE – B

Depth – If Rautins were available, Flynn and Green would probably be eased into the lineup. Now one of them or both will be forced to contribute immediately. Behind them there is not too much. GRADE – C+

Outlook – Boeheim didn’t make the Hall of Fame for nothing. With Rautins he had a squad that could make a run at a bye at MSG in March. Now it looks like the Cuse will be playing on Wednesday. Devendorf, Flynn, Green and Harris will be looked on to carry the load. The Orange just lost too much through graduation and injury. GRADE – C+