Big East Hoops

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What Does the Future Hold for

March 20, 2013 9:03 am by Coach O

After much thinking over the many options we have here at, we have decided to continue our coverage of all the traditional teams in our conference this year. We will be looking at it as if there were 3 divisions of our teams. There will still be coverage of the teams joining the Big East Conference anew….. Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall, Marquette, DePaul, and Villanova as well as the new members. There will be coverage of the ACC division which will include Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville. And there will still be coverage of the yet unnamed league consisting of UConn, Cincinnati, USF  and the newcomers there.

Big East Tourney Memories

March 12, 2013 6:17 pm by Coach O

This is it. The final tourney with the teams we will remember as the Big East. Having traveled to the Big Apple for over 20 of these events I will miss it! I have seen so many of the memorable players and teams that composed one of the greatest basketball conference ever. I can think of so many great memories and here are my top 10.

1. Kemba Walker show. It was thrilling to see this diminutive guard advance the 9th seed UConn Huskies through the tournament to the championship.

2. Gerry McNamara show. He refused to let his team lose and had so many game winning shots enroute to the title.

3. Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Ed Pinckney and Raphael Addison in the 1985 tourney won by Georgetown.

4. Syracuse – UConn 6 overtime game in 2009. This game could have gone on forever!

5. The 2004 championship game when UConn led by Ben Gordon came back in the last minute to edge Pittsburgh led by Jaron Brown, Carl Krauser, and Chris Taft.

6. The clash between Alan Iverson and Ray Allen in 1996 as the Huskies edged the Hoyas 75-74 with Allen’s leaner in the lane.

7. Kerry Kittles leading Villanova through the field to win the 1995 tourney.

8. The 1986 tourney with Walter Berry and Mark Jackson leading the Johnnies over Pearl Washington and the Orange 70-69.

9. Lawrence Moten leading Syracuse over Alonzo Mourning and the Hoyas 56-54 in 1992.

10. The 2008 Pittsburgh win led by Sam Young over UConn. Pitt and UConn dominated the 1990′s and early 2000′s in the conference.

There are so many great memories. So many ….So sad that we won’t see it again.

Big East Mid Term Report Card

February 4, 2013 9:12 am by Coach O

We are now halfway through the last season of the Big East as we have come to know it. Let’s take a look at each team and the expectations we had and the work done by each team. Grades are the traditional A through F and only competition against conference teams are used to influence the grade given.

SYRACUSE (6-2) The Orange started the season with 6 wins in a row. Thencame the losses at Villanova and at Pitt. The Pitt loss does not bring the grade down and is balanced by the fine win over Louisville. A win over Cincinnati is not enough to make up for the loss to Nova. Seeing that both losses have come away from the Dome the effect is minimal. The backcourt has performed well and C.J. Fair’s rebounding along with Carter-Williams’ assist record are a plus. The bottom line is that when we look at the schedule we  saw SU to have only one possible loss at this point.   GRADE – B+

LOUISVILLE (6-3) Four wins in a row to start kept the conference favorite in the ‘A” category. Losses at home to Syracuse, and on the road at Villanova and Georgetown gave the cards a disappointing 3 game losing streak. The Cards have righted the ship with good wins at home over Pitt and Marquette. Still one of the favorites to win the crown, Louisville is riding the scoring of Russ Smith, rebounding of Gorgui Dieng and steady point guard Peyton Siva to what they hope is a 1 seed at MSG. GRADE – B-

NOTRE DAME (6-3) Two losses at home to UConn and Georgetown along with a road loss at St. John’s have really brought the Irish grade crashing down. Why Jack Cooley sat and watched the debacle with the Red Storm is still a mystery. He is the best hope of ND and was in the running for Player of the Year. The win at Cincinnati is the only one that can be considered a strong one. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Irish in the 2nd half. GRADE – C-

CINCINNATI (6-3) Picked along with ND as a top four finisher, the Bearcats lost two of their first three games to Notre Dame and St. John’s. The only loss since then has come at Syracuse by two points. Cincy is playing well right now behind the efforts of Kilpatrick and Wright. Quality wins over Pitt and Marquette and a manageable 2nd half schedule put the Bearcats in a fairly good position. GRADE – C+

GEORGETOWN (6-3) The Hoyas are bunched in with ND, Cincy, and Louisville a half game below the leaders. A hard team to figure out. Losses to Pitt and at Marquette are understandable, but a loss at USF ? Quality wins at Notre Dame and a home victory over Louisville can make up for the bad loss. A bigger loss is that of Greg Whittington. Can Otto Porter lead the Hoyas in a tough 2nd half which features 2 games with Syracuse and single games against Marquette and Cincinnati? That is the question. GRADE – C+

PITT (6-4) The resurgence of Pittsburgh is imminent. Only a bad loss to Rutgers is a blemish on the schedule. The other three losses are to ranked teams…. Marquette, Cincinnati and Louisville. Wins over UConn, Villanova and Syracuse boost the grade here. The emergence of Zanna along with the steady play of Woodall seem to have Dixon’s team headed in the right direction. Games at Cincinnati and at Marquette will be true tests to see if the Panthers can stay in the top four. GRADE – B

MARQUETTE (6-2) We did not seeMarquette at the top of the standings at the midpoint of the season. Early wins over UConn, Georgetown and Pitt opened our eyes. Both losses were on the road to teams ranked in the top 25, Cincinnati and Louisville. Vander Blue and Davante Gardner have pushed the Eagles to new heights. The remaining schedule looks manageble with a rematch against Pitt and an encounter against Syracuse the biggest challenges. GRADE – B+

USF (1-8) Can’t think of a bigger disappointment this year than USF. The only win was an upset over Georgetown. Losses to Rutgers and Seton Hall illustrate the depths that the Bulls have fallen into. Anthony Collins is the lone bright spot and that is for his assist average. If the current trend continues, the Bulls might end up with 3 or 4 league wins. GRADE – D-

UConn (5-3) All things considered the Huskies have done a fine job. No tourneys to look forward to and mass defections after last year did not bode well for this season. The backcourt has carried UConn to a winning record seeing that there is no help down low on the boards. Napier and Boatright are bona fide stars. Losses to Marquette and Louisville were to be expected. And the loss to Pitt turns out to be not so bad. The schedule coming up has Cincinnati twice and Syracuse. A big win over Notre Dame could be their best of the season. GRADE – B

ST. JOHN’S (6-4) Wins over Cincinnati and Notre Dame have highlighted a good first half. Two of the losses were to Georgetown, along with losses to Rutgers and Villanova. As it turns out, only the Rutgers loss brings the grade down. D’Angelo Harrison and Jakaar Sampson have been outstanding. A tough 3 game stretch against UConn, at Syracuse and at Louisville will show us how far the Red Storm have come back. GRADE – B-

RUTGERS (3-6) Only an opening game win over Pitt has kept the Scarlet Knights above the failing mark. The schedule does get a bit softer in the second half and we expect Rutgers to better their record. A split with St. John’s is understandable, and a win against USF helps. But if one looks at the losses, they have been against top competetion. Eli Carter has been the leader but at times has seen a lot of bench time. GRADE – D+

VILLANOVA (4-5) What a week Villanova had in defeating the top two teams.  But losses at ND and home to Providence have sunk the Cats back to the bottom half of the standings. Pinkston, Hilliard and Yarou have to bear down and be more consistent to raise the stock of this team. Even though Nova gets high marks for the Louisville and Syracuse wins, the two losses to Providence show that Jay Wright still has a long way to go. GRADE – C-

DePAUL (1-7) With two quality players like Young and Melvin, this team should be better than 1-7. The win at Providence was nice but to be honest they have had anumber of ugly losses. Don’t see much improvement in the 2nd half of the season. GRADE – D

PROVIDENCE (3-7) Picked to occupy the basement the Friars have shown they have some moxie. They have beaten Villanova twice and won at Seton Hall. Cotton, Batts,Council and Henton have given PC fans someting to build on. They do have USF, Rutgers and Seton Hall in the 2nd half which could lift them out of the cellar. GRADE – C+

So that’s the league as we see it now. Should be interesting to see who makes the honor roll at the end.


December 17, 2012 8:28 am by Coach O

On Friday morning I was putting together my thoughts for a post about the death of the Big East Conference. A once proud and dominating conference was tearing itself apart. But before writing I had a few errands to run. And so at 9:45 I got in my car to drive to my cousin’s home about 10 minutes away east on Route 34.

While driving on Rte 34 a Connecticut State Police cruiser flew by me travelling west at what seemed like 100 miles per hour. Crazy, I thought, there must have been a car accident nearby. Then another cruiser, and another, and three more. All forcing me to pull over on a narrow two lane highway. At that point I realized that this was not just a bad accident but a terrible, probably life threatening one. When I arrived at my cousin’s place he informed me that there was a possible shooting at a school in Newtown, 7 miles west on Rte 34. As the day unfolded more and more reports on the shooting surfaced. The first report was that one person was shot in an elementary school, injured with a gunshot to the leg. Then came the report of a school principal and psychologist killed. Having been a teacher for 37 years and attended many PPT meetings I remembered many parents becoming irate about programs outlined for their child. I assumed that some parent must have done this, and the two administrators were attacked in the heat of a meeting. But what about the teacher? A student’s teacher always attended a PPT meeting with the principal and psychologist.

As more reports were released it was obvious that I was way offbase in my thoughts….. 14 kids shot…. a teacher shot….. now 18 students killed. How could this be in Newtown? The town next to us. Many of my friends live in Newtown. 26 dead in the school…. Lockdown….. brought back so many memories of my teaching days. I remember the lock down drills….. close the door….. doors lock automatically from the outside…. cover the windows….. turn off the lights…. huddle the children in a corner not visible….. SILENCE !!!!!  Don’t answer the door even if they say they are police…. I couldn’t believe it…… still can’t.

I haven’t been able to watch any basketball this weekend. Haven’t thought much about the future of the Big East. It’s really not that important. I have been glued to the television this weekend. But all I keep seeing is stories about these poor little first graders. They have no future. And the teachers…. so young…. so professional…. lost their lives to protect their kids….. They have no future.

When I retired five years ago I had a nice chat with my Superintendent of Schools. She said she was jealous that I was retiring and she still had to get up for work the next morning. She wished me well. You see my Superintendent was a woman named Janet Robinson. Janet is now the Superintendent of Schools in Newtown. She looks devastated in the interviews I have seen her do on tv. My heart goes out to Janet and all her staff and students in the Newtown school district. Maybe next week I will feel like writing about basketball again. Maybe not. It’s really not that important.

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.