Big East Hoops

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The End As We Know It…..

March 12, 2013 8:06 am by Coach O

So this is the way the Big East as we know it ends. A final tournament at MSG with the teams we have come to know and cheer for over these many years. Except….. No UConn! Yes they did not meet the NCAA standards for progress to graduation. But when so many players have left to sign multi-million dollar contracts with NBA teams, isn’t that what a college education is all about? Doesn’t college serve as a highway to becoming successful and getting a good job? Isn’t a career in the NBA a good job? My point here is that as an educator all my life I am strongly commited to education. I agree that if a student-athlete leaves school early a school should be taken to task for not doing its job. But in this case, the UConn players who have left early to start a lucrative NBA career should not be counted against the progress to graduation rule. Granted they did not graduate, but they sure did use the college experience to become a successful adult. So shame on the Big East for not allowing the school with the most National Championships and the most NBA players to be at the final celebration of this once proud conference. UCONN SHOULD BE IN NEW YORK THIS WEEKEND !!!!!

As for the tourney this week…. here’s how I see it…..

ALL BIG EAST TEAM – Otto Porter (Georgetown) Player of the Year, Russ Smith (Louisville), Shabazz Napier (UConn), Gorgui Dieng (Louisville), Jack Cooley (Notre Dame)   …….FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – Jakaar Sampson (St. John’s)

COACH OF THE YEAR – Ed Cooley (Providence)

NCAA Bids – (7) Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Villanova

TUESDAY GAMES – USF over Seton Hall, Rutgers over DePaul

WEDNESDAY GAMES – Providence over Cincinnati, Syracuse over USF, Villanova over St. John’s, Notre Dame over Rutgers

THURSDAY GAMES – Georgetown over Providence, Pitt over Syracuse, Louisville over Villanova, Marquette over Notre Dame

FRIDAY GAMES – Georgetown over Pitt, Louisville over Marquette


Catholic Basketball Schools Contemplating Leaving

December 13, 2012 2:20 pm by Coach O

Word should be coming in a day or two concerning a decision by the seven non-FBS schools to depart the Big East and form a Catholic basketball only conference. This would be the final blow to a once powerhouse basketball league. If this happens the league should just disband and those schools with football programs (Cincinnati, UConn, USF, UCF, Memphis, Temple, SMU, Hoouston etc.) should either look for a new conference home or start their own tier two conference. More to come on this ever-changing story.

Louisville Invited to ACC

November 30, 2012 8:59 am by Coach O

There was a feeling that when Maryland decided to leave the ACC and join the Big 10 that UConn would be leaving the Big East soon to take the Terps spot in the ACC. Once again we learned that one cannot predict anything in the crazy world of NCAA conference realignment. No, UConn, you are not going to the ACC where the football money of more than $17 million per year for each school dwarfs the $3.2 million Big East schools get. Why????

Louisville was invited because they sell out their bowl game tickets. UConn lost almost a million dollars when their fans didn’t buy tickets or hotel rooms for their Fiesta Bowl fiasco against Oklahoma. Louisville was invited because they sell out their home football games. UConn does not. Louisville was invited because their basketball fans fill the seats for home games no matter the opponent. UConn had maybe 10000 empty seats last night at home for a men’s basketball game at the XL Center. Uconn has claimed that their academic record is far superior to Louisville’s. There seems to be one Big East team right now that is prohibited from any post season games and it is not Louisville. I would agree that Louisville’s reputation of basketball players actually being students is not that of Duke, or Notre Dame. But UConn is being punished because the players didn’t go to class. The players didn’t graduate or even make progress toward graduation. No claims of academic success at UConn can be believed at this time. We hope that changes,  but don’t crow about something while being punished for not displaying it. Sure, UConn’s football team played in a BCS bowl. So too will Louisville’s this year. Louisville was the better choice and the ACC acted on it.

While harping on the NCAA progress toward graduation rules, I really think there should be one change. I fully believe that college athletes should attend class and graduate, but …….. A school should not have a negative mark if a player leaves early to accept millions from the NBA. I always thought that college was to prepare one for a successful career. When a player leaves UConn early for the NBA they have achieved what college is all about. I have a problem with the one year rule, it should be three years like in football. And any player who leaves early should be made to pay the school back the amount of the entire 4 year scholarship. In many cases that would be more than $100,000. Even someone signing a huge NBA contract will think twice before taking a chance on making the NBA team against paying six figures for leaving early. And if they leave early and don’t get an NBA contract…oh well…. they’ve got a huge student loan to pay back like most college students. That might result in more players staying in college for 3 or 4 years instead of one. But blame the NBA too. They could follow the NFL and not take college players until after their Junior year.  Oh, well, just saying !

And is it a magical year in South Bend? 12-0 and #1 in football and the basketball team goes out and destroys NCAA defending champ Kentucky last night! Kinda cool to see Manti Teo and the rest of the football team there leading the cheers for their basketball classmates. Now isn’t that what college sports should be like?


Weekend Picks

January 28, 2012 11:26 am by Coach O

This weekend has some intersesting games to pick. With the way the league has been unfolding this year no pick is a safe one but we will try to shed some light on the games today and Sunday.

West Virginia @ Syracuse

The Orange rebounded nicely from their loss to ND last weekend with a win over Cincinnati. The Mountaineers were routed by St. John’s at the Garden on Wednesday. Go with the Orange to take this one at home.

Georgetown @ Pitt

Although Pitt was able to pull out their first BigEast win against Providence and look better with Trey Woodall scoring 17, the Hoyas have been very consistent this year and will edge the Panthers in this one. If GTown can force Pitt to be careless with the ball they may have an easy win here.

Louisville @ Seton Hall

The Hall has been determined to fire up too many 3′s and cut Herb Pope out of their offensive plan. Pope seemed to lose interest against Notre Dame Wednesday and fouled out with 3 points. Louisville was able to hang on in a tough game against Villanova. The Cardinals will prevail in this one.

Marquette @ Villanova

Nova has been getting better and gave Louisville all they could handle for 30 plus minutes this past week. They should be tough at home but Marquette is on a roll and should be able to pull this one out. Look for Jouhnson-Odom and Crowder to overpower the Cats in a tight contest.

Cincinnati @ Rutgers Cincinnati is coming off 2 losses in a row but Rutgers lost to DePaul Wednesday night after leading for most of the game. Even though the Knights are tough at home they may not be able to stay with the Bearcats in this one. Look for Yancy Gates to have a monster game against Biruta and Cincinnati to take the victory here.

Notre Dame @ UConn

The Irish are coming off two big wins including the home victory over #1 Syracuse. The game against Seton Hall was ugly and the Irish jumped on the cold-shooting Pirates in the second half. ND has already lost to UConn at home and don’t figure to do much better here. If the Husky guards get into foul trouble the Irish have a chance. If not take the Huskies by 10 or so.

Providence @ USF The Friars are the worst team in the league. USF has been using outstanding defense to gather some wins including 5 of their last 7. USF will have much too much for the hapless Friars in Tampa.

Credit UConn, Blame Someone Else

April 5, 2011 10:08 am by Dan'l B

Should UConn and Butler somehow be blamed for the low quality of offense last night? Absolutely not. If you need to find a culprit, blame these contenders who failed days or weeks ago: Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Pitt, ND, SDSU, UNC, Florida. UConn and Butler knocked out these teams or their vanquishers and earned the right and chance to become “champions by default” if that’s what you need to call the winner.

I’ve watched most of UConn’s last 11 games and can say this about Butler: last night’s defensive scheme against UConn was the best I’ve seen in these 11 games. Given that UConn’s only been at their best for the last month, it’s reasonable to say Butler defended them better than anyone did all year. They tended to rely on two tactics (by the way, credit Brad Stevens for successful ideas that pundits didn’t predict), (1) shut down Jeremy Lamb–Nored was featured on Lamb for large stretches, not Kemba as expected–and (2) contain Walker with other guards and plenty of double-team help. UConn was forced to score through Oriakhi and Okwandu or via jumpshots from players not named Lamb or Walker. Seems like a simple defensive plan, but the key is Butler executed it. No one else has been able to do the same. Calhoun made some adjustments, and UConn willed themselves to more points in the 2nd half, but Butler’s execution defensively did not waver much.

When you compare and contrast the 2010 and 2011 championship games, only one key difference emerges: Butler couldn’t make shots this time. Offensively, UConn and Duke were not so different. Both games were slow: 60 possessions in 2010 and 57 last night. Duke shot better; UConn rebounded better. Duke managed 1.01 points per possession to UConn’s 0.92 ppp. That difference is all of two made baskets in 40 minutes. An argument can surely be made that Butler is a year older, a year wiser, and two buckets better defensively than they were last year, even without Hayward. That’s a reduction, but the point is, last year’s “seal-of-approval” champion only scored marginally better against Butler than this year’s “worst-ever” champion.

It would be easy to reduce UConn’s postseason to this one ugly game. It’s also easy to watch the last five minutes of movies. Neither act is fulfilling. The story of UConn 2011 can only be understood from the full-season perspective. Credit a bunch of freshmen for filling big shoes and making this a complete team. Credit Kemba for willing his team to victories and his teammates to maturity. Credit Calhoun for his finest coaching in some time. If you only saw UConn’s last few games, you won’t understand.