Big East Hoops

Archive for November, 2008

The biggest. The baddest.

November 26, 2008 3:44 am by donald

Tonight’s results erased any doubt which conference is the best in the country.

Let’s also not forget that South Florida beat High Point 59-46. Those Panthers from High Point put up a fight.

Tomorrow’s UNC-ND game could not be larger. If things go the Beast’s way, we could see something that seems awfully unprecedented: four of the top five teams in the nation belonging to a single conference, namely the Big East. Currently, the top five teams in the country are: (1) UNC, (2) UCONN, (3) Louisville, (4) Pittsburgh, (5) Michigan State. It’s not crazy to think that if ND can beat (6) Texas and (1) UNC back-to-back that they’ll leapfrog Michigan State and Duke.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting, exciting time to be a Big East fan. Next week there will be eight Big East teams in the top 25. It’s early, but that’s downright sick.

One prediction from the Nostradonaldmus: by season end, Tory Jackson of Notre Dame will arguably be the best guard in the Big East. He’ll also have a small chance to go pro.

Are college basketball players dumb?

November 19, 2008 3:35 am by donald

At least at Arizona they are. They lost to UAB tonight in an absolutely pitiful fashion. The AP newswire does it no justice.

1. With 30 seconds left, and Arizona down two, an Arizona player steps to the line. He misses both free throws, but another Arizona player manages to grab the rebound and score. Tie ball game.

2. An Arizona player then intentionally fouls a UAB player, even though the game is tied. Big mistake #1.

3. UAB player misses the front end of a one-and-one. Arizona rebounds, goes the distance of the court, but misses a potentially game winning shot. UAB rebounds with three seconds left and starts dribbling down the court.

4. At this point, an Arizona player intentionally fouls again. That’s twice now that an Arizona player has fouled when the game is tied. UAB ends up winning the ball game on free throws.

I can’t imagine there’s an excuse for this sort of bone-headed play.

Update: Here’s some video of it.

November & December Games Have Extra Importance This Season

November 17, 2008 9:45 am by Big Willie Style

It’s not every year that one conference has the talent to make up about 1/6 of the NCAA tournament field, but that is what the Big East is this year. This is arguably the deepest group of teams in the history of conference play.

So, what does this mean?

It means that they’re all going to beat up on each other in conference play in January and February. It means that current Top 25 teams like Marquette and Villanova, and others on the brink like Syracuse and West Virginia, could easily lose 7, 8 or 9 conference games this season. That’s no knock on them, that’s a testament to the strength of the conference. That means the next month and a half is critical for Big East teams. They need to get their wins over the Mid Majors and position themselves so that they are able to handle quite a few losses in January and February. Come Selection Sunday, I cannot imagine the BE having 7 teams in the Top 25 because they will all be beating each other. So, this year, these early games, seem even more important, and an early slip up to a lesser team, could cost them on Selection Sunday.

The Rest…..

12:48 am by Coach O

The final six teams will not challenge for the title this year but they will pull some upsets during the season and keep the Big East from top to bottom as the toughest league in the USA.

Providence

Frontcourt – Geoff McDermott led the Friars last year in rebounding. That is not surprising. What is surprising is that he also averaged 4.9 assists a game. It’s rare for a big man to be such a good passer. McDermott will team with Randall Hanke and Jonathan Kale to form the PC frontcourt. Not a dominating cast of big men and at times McDermott will slide into the ’3′ position leaving Hanke and Kale down low. The strong frontcourts of the top teams should not have much of a problem with this group. Grade C

Backcourt – Point guard Sharaud Curry is back after missing most of last year. That should help cure the inconsistency that PC showed last year. Curry will have Weyinmi Efejuku and Brian McKenzie back as well as Jeff Xavier, who led the Friars in scoring last season. The backcourt will be improved but new coach Davis has to keep an eye on Efejuku who has games where he is totally out of control and hurts the team. Grade – B-

Coach – Keno Davis was named AP coach of the year at Drake last season. He has his work cut out for him in Providence. He has some talent, but not enough to challenge the top 5 teams. He is a solid coach who will be challenged to keep PC in the top ten of the Big East. Grade – B-

OVERALL - The Friars have the ability to play with the elite in the conference, but show too much inconsistency. Curry should be a settling influence and McDermott is a player. The Frairs will probably settle in from the 9-11 slot in the final standings. Grade – C-

Seton Hall

Frontcourt – Brian Laing will be sorely missed by the Pirates this year. The frontcourt is left with only John Garcia and Mike Davis as experienced players. Robert Mitchell, a transfer from Duquesne may fit into Laing’s open spot. Mitchell averaged over 16 ppg as a freshman. Grade D

Backcourt – Again, Jerome Nutter will be missed although the Hall has a little more here to turn to than down low. Eugene Harvey is a dependable player with two years experience and Jeremy Hazell took the league by storm last year with his outstanding long range shooting. Paul Gause is a defensive specialist and will fill the other guard position. Gause however doesn’t give the Pirates much in the way of scoring. Keep an eye on Frosh Jordan Theodore who should push for playing time. Grade – C+

Coaching – Bobby Gonzalez is a bundle of nervous energy. He will get a lot out of the players he has. But you can only do so much. His big men can’t play with the frontlines of other teams in the BE. But one can’t fault Gonzalez for trying. Grade – C+

OVERALL – Seton Hall will pull an upset or two along the way. They will have a night where Hazell can’t miss and stun one of the big boys. But this will not be the norm. The Hall wil struggle to win consistently in the league. Grade – C-

Rutgers

Frontcourt – JR Inman has been here forever it seems. And Fred Hill has recruited wisely in bringing in Greg Echenique (6-9 Fr. ) to join with Hamady Ndiaye down low. The Scarlet Knights will be stronger in the frontcourt but still a year away from being on a par with the leaders. Grade C+

Backcourt – Freshman Mike Rosario may be the star the Knights need to team with Inman. Corey Chandler and Mike Coburn were instant stars for RU. And Anthony Farmer lends experience in the backcourt. Jaron Griffin will return as a starter at the small forward position. The perimeter will be a strong point this year but the lack of a true point guard will continue to be a hurdle for the Knights. Grade – B-

Coaching – Fred Hill has done a wonderful job recruiting. He is slowly filling the needs for Rutgers. He is seeing the dividends of building a program while not having it be so obvious in the win column. Hill needs a few more years to have a roster with the depth of the Big east elite teams. Grade – B

OVERALL – The Scarlet Knights will be better than their 3-15 season of last year. But the climb is hard and the league is not forgiving. A 12-14 finish is to be expected. Grade – D+

DePaul

Frontcourt – Mac Koshwal made a big impression on the opponents he faced last year. His 10.7 ppg and 8.4 rpg were far and above his expectations. Matija Poscic will join Koshwal down low. kene Obi a 7-2 redshirt will push for playing time with Poscic. The Demons don’t really stack up with others in the Big East in the frontcourt. Grade – C-

Backcourt – Jabari Currie is steady at the point and Will Walker returns as 2 guard. But the main man on the perimeter is Dar Tucker. Tucker can rotate at the 2 or 3 position and provide a spark at either. He will be the player DePaul looks to for scoring. Grade – C

Coaching – Jerry Wainwright is a funny man. He will need his sense of humor to get through another tough Big East season. He will surely miss not seeing Draelon Burns out on the floor this year. But DePaul’s top players are young, and Wainwright along with Blue Demon fans have to be patient for a year or two. Grade C-

OVERALL – DePaul will fight for 12th or 13th place. Grade- D+

St. John’s

Frontcourt – Justin Burrell is a standout in the frontcourt. But the men down low with him are Tomas Jasiulionis (2.0ppg, 1.8rpg) and Dele Coker (1.7ppg, 2.4rpg). That is not nearly enough in the Big East. If Burrell can improve on his nearly 11 points a game, the Red Storm still will fall drastically short down low. Grade – D

Backcourt – The prospect for the perimeter is much brighter. Anthony Mason Jr. will give coach Roberts much more than he did last year when he missed 8 games due to injury. D.J. Kennedy has experience and averaged almost 8 points in his freshman year. Malik Boothe is a competent point guard at 5’9″ and Quincy Roberts is there to spell all three. Grade – C+

Coaching – Norm Roberts has won 42% of his games in 4 years for the Johnnies. In league play his percentage drops to 30%. Not nearly good enough to suggest a huge improvement this year. Grade – C-

OVERALL – Not enough for much improvement. Mason will lead along with Burrell, but will the rest help out enough to better the 5 league wins of a year ago. Don’t think so. The Johnnies will fight to keep out of the basement of the league. Grade – D

South Florida

Frontcourt – Stan Heath must start by finding a replcement for Kentrell Gransberry. He was a force that will be missed for USF. Gransberry leaves a void of 16 ppg and 11 rpg. Mobolaji Ajayi averaged 3.9ppg and 2.9rpg last year. Aris Williams only saw limited action last year. The real hope rests with Gus Gilchrist, a freshman transfer from Maryland. Although he never played with the Terps, the NCAA has not ruled on whether he must sit out this year as a transfer player. Alex Rivas-Sanchez is a Juco transfer who might get some minutes. Grade – D-

Backcourt – Dominique Jones was a freshman sensation last year. Jesus Verdejo can score at an 11 ppg pace and Chris Howard lends his 8.4ppg and his senior experience. Mike Mercer is a transfer player from Georgia. Mercer averaged 12.2ppg in two seasons for the Bulldogs. The perimeter looks to be in pretty good shape for the Bulls. Grade – C+

Coaching – Heath inherited a pretty big task when he arrived at USF last year. He did make some strides as the Bulls improved and gave some of the top teams a lot of trouble. It remains to be seen if Heath can continue the upward climb for USF. Grade – C

OVERALL – The Bulls will keep up with almost everyone from the outside. It’s just a matter of how badly they will fare inside that will tell whether they can make it out of the 15-16 place slot that looks correct right now. Grade – D-

 

 

The Second Five

November 11, 2008 10:39 am by Coach O

the first five teams are all serious contenders for the Big East title. That doesn’t mean that the next group should be counted out. Each of the 2nd five could rise up to challenge UConn or Louisville for the championship.

6. Syracuse –

Frontcourt – The loss of Donte Green will take its toll on the SU frontline. Arinze Onuaku was a pleasant surprise in the low post for the Orange. He averaged 12.8 ppg and 8.1 rg and played tough in the paint. The other man in the frontcourt is still in doubt. Because of the plethora of guards available, Boeheim may use 6-5 Paul Harris as the power forward. A voracious rebounder and a 14.5 ppg scorer, Harris also averaged over 8 boards a game. The problem with that is a lack of height. If Harris moves to the ’3′ position, Krostof Ongenaet has starting experience and is 6-8. Grade – B

Backcourt – Jonny Flynn was Big East co-rookie of the year last season. He is a proven point man and also contributed 15.7 ppg. Eric Devendorf is back and will try to continue his 17 ppg average that he had when he went down last year. So now with Devendorf and Flynn that should be enough, right? No….. Andy Rautins, a sharpshooting small forward is returning after a year off with injury. So a backcourt of Flynn, Devendorf and Rautins would force a move of Harris to the ’3′ position. Grade – A

Coaching  – Jim Boeheim still gets the most out of his players. He is a Hall of Fame and National Championship coach and has a very talented group here this year. Grade – A-

OVERALL  – SU can give some teams fits this year and have the talent to make a run at the title. Will they miss Donte Green? Probably. Will they miss his crazy shot selection and defensive indifference? Not at all. If the orange can improve their defense this season they will finish higher than 5th. If not, I see them in 6th place. Grade B+

 

Villanova

Frontcourt – Dante Cunningham had a solid season last year. he averaged in double figures and over 6 rpg. Antonio Pena and Shane Clark are adequate post men and Casiem Drummond will backup both post positions. All major players down  low are 6-8 except Drummond who is 6-10. The Cats hold their own down low but will have trouble with the frontlines of the top rated teams. Grade – B-

Backcourt  – Scottie Reynolds will win some games for Nova. He will also lose some. Sometimes Reynolds needs to involve teammates when his game goes south. He is one of the most talented and exciting guards in the country. Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes will split time at the point. The problem here is that Reynolds controls the ball most of the time and the point guard occasionally gets involved in his offense. Dwayne Anderson will start at the ’3′. His outside shooting won some key contests for the Cats last year. When Anderson and Reynolds are on their game, Nova can beat anyone. Reggie Redding lends experience behind Anderson. Grade A-

Coaching – Jay Wright is a great coach. He has shunned the NBA and isenjoying his stay in Philly. He will get the most out of his group and probably lose some hair when Reynolds gets out of control. Grade – A-

OVERALL  – Nova is a dangerous team. They went to the Sweet Sixteen last year and did not lose any key players from that team. But they will also lose a game or two that should be easy wins. Grade – B

Georgetown

Frontcourt – Roy Hibbert will be missed. His steady play (and 3 point shooting) was a plus for the Hoyas. But DaJuan Summers is a talented player and can take his game to the outside if necessary. 6-10 Greg Monroe looks to start at center but he is a Freshman. FSU Transfer Julian Vaughn and Henry Sims (Fr) will backup down low. Grade C+

Backcourt – Jesse Sapp returns after averaging 9.7 ppg last year. Austin Freeman had a great freshman year and brings experience on the perimeter. Chris Wright recovered from his injury to get valuable minutes last season. But Jonathan Wallace will be sorely missed by GTown this year and no one will immediately take his leadership place. Grade – B

Coaching – JT3 was the media darling two years ago when he led the Hoyas to the Final Four. Last year was more of a struggle as teams worked on getting Hibbert into foul trouble. This year there are some question marks. Can Summers lead this team into the top 5? Don’t think so. Losing Wallace and Hibbert may be too much to overcome. 7th or 8th looks about right. Grade – B-

West Virginia

Frontcourt – Year two of the Huggins reign is here and Joe Alexander is gone. Good news and Bad News. Da’Sean Butler returns, but at 6-7 he is more a swing player than low post presence. Wellington Smith, John Flowers, and Cam Thoroughman are names that really don’t strike fear in opponents eyes down low. Devin Ebanks is a freshman that may make an impact. Grade C-

Backcourt – Alex Ruoff returns and will be a top long range shooter for the Neers. Joe Mazzulla should take over the point after logging impressive minutes last year. That leaves the ’3′ where Butler should play if he is not needed at the power forward. Grade – B-

Coaching – Huggins didn’t take long to get WVU going last year in his style. It makes sense that they should be familiar with the new tough man to man D and hard-nosed offense. He always has his teams playing hard. Grade B+

OVERALL – Losing Alexander and Darris Nichols may be too much to overcome in this tough league this year. WVU should be in the top 10 in the BE but barely. Grade C+

Cincinnati

Frontcourt – Mick Cronin has done a marvelous job taking a team with only a handful of scholarship players two years ago and making them a respectable foe last year. Mike Williams transferred from Texas and then was injured all last season. He is expected to anchor the low post in the absence of John Williamson. Anthony McClain and Kenny Belton will man the center position but neither has shown any flashes of brilliance thus far. Yancy Gates is a freshman who may break into the starting lineup during the season. Grade C-

Backcourt – Deonta Vaughn is one of the most exciting players in the league. Vaughn won some games on his own last year and may have to do the same this season. Larry Davis has experience but brings a 4.3 ppg average which doesn’t compliment Vaughn too well. Rashad Bishop should be the small forward this season after starting 20 games last year. Grade B

Coaching- As said earlier, Cronin has to be admired after what he has done to bring this program back from the disaster of two years ago. He shows enthusiasm on the bench and that translates to his players. He has also been successful in his recruiting efforts. Grade – B

OVERALL - Vaughn will draw most of the attention from opponents and will have to work for every point he gets this year. There is some talent here but not enough to compete with the big boys at the top of the conference. Top 10 finish will be a struggle. Grade – C