Big East Preview

I’ll give a rundown on predictions of leagues through the course of the rest of the summer, first up; the Big East.

It is a league this season, that could be wide open and at least ten teams should be excited about their potential this season.

1. West Virginia * – This is likely dependent on if Truck Bryant can play this season. I could careless about Mazzulla, Bryant emerged as a better player last season regardless. Butler and Ebanks is a great 1-2 punch on the perimeter and Butler at times last season was perhaps the best player in the league for stretches. Kevin Jones a talented sophomore should emerge this season and make that a three headed monster. A consistent outside shooter must emerge with the loss of Ruoff. Dalton Pepper and Dan Jennings are solid additions to go along with the rest of the cast that is returning.

2. Villanova – The most overlooked loss this season is Dante Cunnigham, the leader and best player of last seasons Final 4 team. Also the losses of Shane Clark and Dwayne Anderson should not go without notice. Who steps in patrols the paint, Taylor King? Mouph Yarou is a talented but still raw prospect who will be counted on a lot. However the back court talent is too much to ignore, and we’ve seen Coach Wright utilize that before. Reynolds, Stokes, Fisher, Wayns and Cheek. Quite a rotation.

3. Georgetown – JTIII gets lottery pick Greg Monroe back for another year, and should become the best player in the league. Chris Wright and Austin Freeman must make good on their talent, Freeman, if slimmed down can elevate this team to this status. Hollis Thompson, Jason Clark, and Henry Sims will all bring athleticism and a spark that was needed last season.

4. Uconn – Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker return. A talented trio at the 1-3. It will be up to the frontline consisting of Gavin Edwards and Alex Oriakhi to determine how far they can go. My guess is Calhoun finds a way to get enough out of this group to perform fairly well. It would not surprise me to see this team slip a little bit further down the list, but that talented trio should fare well.

5. Notre Dame – Following a hugely disappointing season, Notre Dame should be returning a more talented team. Led by Luke Harangody, the most important players will be transfers Scott Martin and Ben Hansbrough. Hansbrough finally offers a second ball handler next to Tory Jackson and Martin adds length and versatility to the team, something that has been needed. They’ll score a ton and still not defend a chair, they’ll fare well in the regular season but in March go nowhere, as usual.

6. Louisville – You don’t lose your top two playmakers and not skip a beat. Who scores the ball for Pitino this year or creates plays? It took both Clark and Williams a while to gain Pitino’s trust and find their games. While Jerry Smith, Samardo Samuels, Terrence Jennings, Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles and incoming standout Peyton Siva are all on the roster, I see a little bit of a fall off, but as long as Pitino is around they will find themselves in the top half.

7. Cincinnati – How many trios would you take over; Deonta Vaughn, Yancy Gates and Lance Stephenson? For me, not many. Cashmere Wright should be an added boost of an injury, resulting in a pretty talented backcourt. Gates will have to man the paint, something he is completely capable of doing. If Lance can buy into the team game, which he is capable of, UC can be a player in the conference.

8. Syracuse – A weird start to the offseason resulted in the losses of Devendorf and Harris, followed by star Jonny Flynn. A core of Andy Rautins, Arinze Onauku and Rick Jackson return. There has been high praise for Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, who it seems can put Carmelo and DC to shame if you ask Syracuse homers this summer. Brandon Triche is a solid incoming floor general, but replacing Flynn is just not possible.

9. Pittsburgh – Tough to find a team who has lost more key pieces than Pitt. Gone are Levance Fields, Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Tyrell Biggs. The only hold over in the starting line up is Jermaine Dixon, regarded as the weak link last season. The young players; Brad Wanamaker, Ashton Gibbs and Dante Taylor offer promise and Jamie Dixon is still on the sidelines, but the losses may be too much to overcome this season.

10. Seton Hall – Gonzo will finally have a good number of bodies on his team this year. He adds transfers Keon Lawrence and Herb Pope to a decent foundation. Jeremy Hazzel emerged as a big time scorer last season. Eugene Harvey once again returns to run the team and Robert Mitchell is a decent talent on the wing.

11. Saint Johns – Norm Roberts will get to coach his most talented Johnnie’s team this coming season. Everyone on the roster returns, including previously injured Anthony Mason JR. They also add Omari Lawrence, one of Roberts better pulls. Paris Horne is a solid talent, capable of keeping the defense honest. The development of Justin Burrell inside is important to how the team will fare in conference.

12. Marquette- The guard trio is finally gone, and should cause for quite a fall for Marquette. Lazar Hayward is a very talented player, but can he handle a #1 role? The incoming recruiting class appears to be solid. Led by point guard Junior Cadougan. Jimmy Butler was decent last season, but will have to provide more down low this year. We’ll see exactly how good of a coach Buzz Williams is or can be with his own guys.

13. Rutgers – Fred Hill has an emerging college star in Mike Rosario, who may score enough to steal a few wins on his own this conference season. Defensively, Rutgers was not horrible last season, 63rd in the nation according to kenpom.

14. Providence – The Friars have lost a ton, but it appears Keno Davis is a keeper and should keep his team out of the cellar. The trio of Sharraud Curry, Marshon Brooks and Brian McKenzie return. Brooks is an intriguing prospect with his length and offensive ability. The recruiting class coming in has a lot of quantity but the quality remains to be seen. Nonetheless the future appears to be a little brighter now in Providence.

15. South Florida – A team I could see finishing higher up than this slot, but they’ve given hardly any indication of doing so since entering the Big East. Jarrid Famous is a talented juco transfer who should provide athleticism down low next to Gus Gilchrist. Dominique Jones is a talented wing player that must learn what is a good shot. It has been a team lacking of discipline recently, something Stan Heath must improve on.

16. Depaul – Losing their best and most talented player early in Dar Tucker does not bode well for an awful DePaul team. They return Mac Koshwal and Will Walker. Tony Freeland is a decent incoming freshmen, but DePaul will be lacking on talent in a big way. Head Coach Jerry Wainwright will continue to struggle.

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9 thoughts on “Big East Preview

  1. RP says:

    Wow… Yarou is raw? Never heard that one before. How bout missing Reggie Redding who will be one of the better players in the Big East this year. Nova is #1 and it isn’t even close.

  2. alleninxis says:

    Yarou is very talented. and to a lesser extent as is armwood. but they are freshmen..

    yarou is no dante cunnigham as a senior. is he going to fill in and give 30-35 productive minutes a game? not likely. there is a process with 95% of freshmen. he’ll look great at times and struggle at others

    Redding is a solid ROLE player. one of the best players in the conference? no.

  3. JB says:

    Good rankings and descriptions for each team. I think 1 & 2 are the only solid favorites, but I wouldn’t be surprised if neither team finished 1 and 2. I think the 3-7 could be predicted in a variety of orders we really have no idea right now with those teams they either lost a lot of players or are banking on new additions. The BE will be interesting this year nonetheless.

  4. alleninxis says:

    I agree, that grouping is interchangeable. tough to decide on.

  5. Nick says:

    haha you must be smoking the good stuff if you’ve got Seton Hall at #10…they finished 11th last year and lost one player. Jeremy Hazell is the nation’s returning leading scorer and a BE POY frontrunner, Rob Mitchell averaged 15 and 8 last year, Harvey 13 and 5…and they add Herb Pope, Keon Lawrence, Jeff Robinson, Ferro Hall, Jamel Jackson, and Mel Oliver…not to mention John Garcia and Jordan Theodore. Both SHU and Cincy are underrated, I’d put both of them in the top 5. Sorry bro but you don’t know wtf you’re talking about if you put the Hall at 10.

  6. alleninxis says:

    Luke Harangody is the leading returing scorer, not Hazell.

    And I’d expect those guys to get numbers when the SHU bench was non existant.

    I will stop doing this blog if seton hall finishes in the top 5.

    Let’s take a look at Seton Halls wins last year..

    Georgetown
    Rutgers
    sju
    rutgers
    depaul
    usf
    cincy
    usf

    keon is a talent. pope has always been talented but unproven

    oliver is overweight. jeff couldn’t find the court at all at memphis.

  7. Nick says:

    BTW, in terms of overall scoring Hazell is the leading returning scorer, but in PPG, you’re right, it’s Harangody…the Hall played one more game.

    But look at this team:
    PG Harvey, Sr.
    SG Hazell, Jr.
    SF Mitchell, Jr.
    PF Pope, So.
    C Garcia, Sr.

    PG Theodore, So.
    SF Robinson, So. (if and when he gets med. waiver)
    SG Lawrence, Jr.
    SF/PF Hall, Fr.
    SG Jackson, Jr.
    C Oliver, Fr.

    You don’t think that the backcourt of Harvey, Hazell, Keon, Theodore, and Jamel at the end is a top 5 Big East back court? Robert Mitchell, at 6’6 and 180 pounds – they don’t call him Stix for nothing – averaged 15 and 8 last year playing the 4 in the best league in the nation. He’ll be spotted at times by JRob and Hazell at the 3. At the 4 we have Pope, “talented but unproven.” You’re right, but you put Georgetown at #3 by expecting that their unproven players will suddenly show up big…and I’ve seen Pope play alot, he is a great player. He passes out of the post really well. John Garcia is one of the most underrated centers in the Big East – he’s averaged over 60% from the field for the past three years, grabbing 7 rebounds per game in the process. He’ss play better with less minutes. Him and Pope will make a killer backcourt.

    And BTW…you’re right about Oliver. He’s overweight. But he’s lost over 60 pounds since last November, and is well on his way to losing more. He’s only a freshman. I’ve seen him play (and played against him) in a ton of pickup games at the rec center…and I can say that he is one of the best centers I have EVER seen play, and I’ve been to a lot of games. He is easily the most talented player on the team. He has this ridiculous pair of soft hands…he just catches the basketball and puts it in effortlessly, has this amazing flick shot. He’s big, but he’s strong as hell…he’s got more muscle than fat. Every minute (they’re saying 10-15) he’s in will be a very productive one…the dude’s a revelation.

    I guess the best argument I can make though is this: Look at what Seton Hall loses next year and what it adds, and compare that to the rest of the league and their terrible losses. How the hell do they only move up one spot? We already know that Gonzo can coach…the talent is there and more.

    IMO the final standings will look like:

    1. Villanova
    2. West Virginia
    3. Connecticut
    4. Cincinnati
    5. Seton Hall
    6. Notre Dame
    7. Georgetown
    8. Louisville
    9. Pittsburgh
    10. Syracuse
    11. St. John’s
    12. Marquette
    13. Providence
    14. Rutgers
    15. South Florida
    16. DePaul

  8. alleninxis says:

    i would agree seton hall has a lot of talent this season, certainly the most gonzo has had.

    but it is a mixed bag of players and personalities.

    I guess I am saying i have to see it first all come together, what roles each player will assume. Roles on other teams already are set for the coming year, not so much with SHU.

    They have the ability to certainly climb this list, but I will take the more proven programs ahead of them right now.

    thank you for the feedback, it’s definitely appreciated.

  9. Nick says:

    What are the two main advantages of transfers over HS or JUCO recruits?

    The first is that they already have experience playing on D1 teams. The second is that for a full year they practice with their team, unable to play, but at the same time they learn the system and work with the rest of the rosters. In a sense, through their prior experience in D1 play and extensive playtime with the rest of the team before their debut, coaches have more of a sense of the roles transfers will play than for any other player.

    Let’s disregard that for a second, though. Gonzo has been criticized for two main things over the past few years, almost exclusively at Seton Hall:

    1. His ‘volatile’ personality, i.e. Tom Crean or Calipari without the success…if he wins it will be called ‘wearing his heart on his sleeve,’ ‘coaching with passion.’
    2. His lack of success in recruiting local players.

    There has never been any concern with his coaching ability or the unity of his team. Coaching a team to 17 wins in the big east with only 6 players who could actually play, two of whom playing on one leg, is a feat to be admired. There’s a reason why Seton Hall has been the ‘best of the worst’ in the Big East – while we have been able to pretty much routinely beat any team that is within our talent level due to our discipline and unity, once we face any team that can simply outmuscle us – which was the majority of teams in the Big East – we lose. Playing smart only gets you so far.

    As you have noted, now we have the bodies and talent to compete, and we’re experienced together. As is evident to anyone following our team for the past few years, chemistry is not and never has been an issue. There is nothing to suggest that we will lack chemistry other than pure, unbridled speculation.

    You note Seton Hall for not having ‘set roles’ while we lose only one player…that seems to me more stable than any other program in the Big East. And yet, at the same time while you chide Seton Hall for not having ‘set roles,’ you put Georgetown at #3 despite their astonishing lack of chemistry and finish last year – as I remember, Seton Hall beat Georgetown last year and finished ahead of them in the Big East. The Pirates also add more and lose less…of course, that means that Georgetown goes up to #3. I could go on…but Georgetown is the most obvious example.

    Look, just look for the Pirates to have a very good season this year. You’ll look very smart if you pick them to go deep this year.

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