Big East Hoops

Archive for January, 2009

Around the league

January 31, 2009 1:25 pm by donald
  • The Quad: This just in, Zach Hillesland of Notre Dame writes for The Quad, New York Times’s blog of all college sports. Zach gives the lowdown on his teammates, including this gem about Luke Zeller:

    “Do: engage in a freestyle rap battle. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Big Smoof is known (at least on our team) as the Matisyahu of the Christian faith. If you really want to do battle, you better bring your Webster’s and a copy of the New Testament.”

  • Black and Green: The folks over at Black and Green rank the coaches in the Big East. I actually agree with every single selection, except for ranking Boeheim at two over Pitino at three. Calhoun comes in at one, and his stats are indeed impressive — “Two national titles, six Big East championships, 21 NCAA appearances at two different schools” — especially when you consider that UConn has never had a half-court offense.
  • Robert Churchwell’s Revenge: On Wednesday, the newest Big East blogger laments the upsets of Wednesday and the state of affairs:

    What a rotten night. You can’t enjoy a Syracuse loss at Providence when it comes 20 minutes before a Hoya loss at Cincinnati.

    Syracuse loses three in a row and four out of five, and you can’t enjoy it because…holy crap, the Hoyas have lost four in a row and six out of eight and are in a stone-cold free-fall with a trip to Marquette coming Saturday.

    We’ve been tracking these so-called “bad losses,” in which teams from the supposed Top Nine lose to teams in the supposed Bottom Seven. For the first four weeks of conference play, there was only one of these — Notre Dame’s loss at St. John’s on Jan. 3. But in the last four days, there have been three more, two by Georgetown (at Seton Hall and Cincinnati) and one by Syracuse (at Providence).

    This could be a symptom of burnout. It could be a sign that the conference isn’t as deep as we thought it was. But it’s definitely a sign that those “Top Nine” and “Bottom Seven” designations aren’t set in stone. Right now, Providence and Pitt are in a tie for fourth place. Cincinnati is alone in ninth. Georgetown and Notre Dame are tied for 10th. Those nine NCAA bids for the Big East look like a pipe dream right now, and even if they got them, they wouldn’t go to the nine teams everybody thought they would.

    I don’t think we should lament those losses. Rather than being a sign that the conference isn’t as deep as we thought it was, it could be a sign that the conference is incredibly deep — that teams like Cincinnati and Providence are really quite good. The losses are inevitable — the real question is whether Syracuse, Georgetown, and ND can finish the season strong.

    In fact, I don’t really think of the league as being “Top Nine” and “Bottom Seven”. Indeed, I think what the season has shown is that there’s a top three/four, a middle seven/eight, and a bottom five. Watching Louisville and Pittsburgh today, it’s evident that UConn, Louisville and Pitt are currently monsters in the league — head and shoulders above the rest (I’m not quite ready to put Marquette there because (a) I haven’t seen them play much, (b) their strength of schedule thus far. PItt just put on the afterburners against ND. I’m impressed — but that’ll be for another post.

  • Pitt Blather: This just in, Chas over at Pitt Blather is unable to live-blog the game because his daughter, um, yakked all over his bed. Ahhh…parenthood.

Weekly Weekend Choices

January 30, 2009 7:40 pm by Big Willie Style

It’s Super Bowl weekend, but as a native New Englander, it’s awful hard to be excited about this year’s contest. So for me, it’s Big East hoops or bust this weekend.

I’ll take Louisville over West Virginia.
Georgetown will brake its slump and hand Marquette its first conference loss.
Rutgers will take care of DePaul at the RAC.
UConn historically struggles against the Friars, but they beat Providence Saturday.
Pitt will defeat Notre Dame by 10-15.
Villanova will defeat Cincinnati in a nailbiter.
St. John’s will notch a win against the Bulls.

Go Tar Heels!

January 26, 2009 5:42 pm by Big Willie Style

As a Big East fan, I think it may be in our best interest to root for North Carolina.

OK, hear me out:

Personally, I fear UNC much more than either Duke or Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament. If Carolina finishes as the second or third ranked team in their conference, couldn’t you see them earning a two seed in the east or south region? Who would be the one seed in that region? Maybe Pitt, UConn or Louisville.

Yea, this is way down the road. However, it’s something that I could see happening. There’s going to be at least one NCAA bracket this year that will contain 1 and 2 seeds made up of Big East and ACC teams, and they’re the one, which I’d like our teams to avoid. Could I actually cheer for them? Not likely.

Any thoughts on this?

Alum Report: Ray Allen, 33, still doesn’t suck

January 25, 2009 4:16 pm by Juice

When the Celtics acquired Ray Allen, UConn’s first legitimate NBA superstar, they figured they knew what they were getting: a perimeter offensive threat, a defensive liability, a guy who was at the tail end of his career.

He surprised everyone (me included) with his defensive competence in last year’s playoffs, and though he slumped early on offense, he ended big. Nevertheless, there were a lot of questions about the Celtics this preseason, mostly having to do with age, and Ray was probably the biggest reason for that: he’s 33, which is about 250 in NBA years.

So the Celtics surprised everyone again with an utterly dominant start to the season. When they came back down to earth, losing 7 of 9 to bracket the new year, the same old questions arose.

Yet they’ve turned things around once again, and, biggest surprise of all, it seems like Ray Allen is the reason. He never seemed as integral a part of the Celtics as Pierce, KG, or even Rondo. But here he is, putting up monster numbers (some of the best of his career) over their most recent 8 game winning streak: 60-89 FG (67%), 26-39 3PT (67%), 18-18 FT (100%), while averaging 20.5 PPG.

It’s easy to dismiss a perimeter shooter who relies on picks rather than his own athleticism to create most of his shots. (18 free throws in 289 minutes is pretty pathetic, it’s true.) But as old age looms, and athleticism declines, it looks more and more like Ray Ray is playing it smart — contrast with Allen Iverson, another Big East alum, just as old, and struggling mightily to match his already-inefficient career stats. Denzel would be proud.

I realize it’s winter…but long sleeves?

12:59 pm by Mister D

The windchill factor outside today is 4 degrees Farenheit.

Looking at Oklahoma’s Tony Crocker, you’d think it was that cold in the arena.

The junior guard has garnered a good deal of attention on the blogosphere (Vent About Sports, Sports Illustrated) because of the white, long-sleeved undershirt he wears beneath his jersey.

Tony Crocker wearing a long sleeved undershirt, drives to the hoop.

Citing a “condition that slows his ability to stay warm,” Crocker has been wearing the long sleeves for a majority of the season. Perhaps Crocker does have a medical condition. Hyper-cooling of the human body could be caused by a metabolic deficiency, nutrition imbalance, or something else entirely. But whatever the cause, I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything from the NCAA brass regarding a waiver, as Crocker’s undershirt choice is a clear violation of NCAA rules.

Rule 3, Section 5, Article 11 of the official NCAA basketball rules states that while an “undershirt is considered part of the game jersey” it must conform to certain guidelines, including the provision that “both sleeves shall be of the same length and not extend beyond the elbows.”

This rule begs a few questions, not the least of which is: why did the NCAA promulgate a rule like this in the first place? Do they believe that wearing a long-sleeved undershirt created some kind of unfair advantage and therefore they sought to ban the practice? Could it be that Crocker, who in his first 10 games this season averaged 7.9 ppg, and in his last 10 averaged 13.3 ppg, is somehow benefiting unjustly?

I certainly doubt it. I really can’t think of any reason why a long-sleeved undershirt would enhance a player’s performance.

But maybe you can…