Monday, September 30, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: Georgetown Hoyas

Losto Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA 2nd Round

Head Coach:  John Thompson III - JT3 has been the coach at Georgetown since 2004.  He played at Princeton and was an assistant their before being the head man from 2000-2004.  JT3 has one Final Four under his belt but his Hoyas have been eliminated from the NCAA tournament the last 5 seasons by double digit seeds. 

NCAA History:

National Champion:  1984
Final 4:  1943, 1982, 1984, 1985, 2007
Elite 8's:  9, most recently 2007

Georgetown was national runner-up in 1982 & 1985, losing in two of the most famous games ever.  In '82, they lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels and Michael Jordan's late shot followed by Freddie Brown's turnover and in 1985 to fellow Big East member, Villanova who played a near-flawless game to beat the heavily favored Hoyas.  Last season, Georgetown became the latest 15-seed to lose as they were run off the court by Florida Gulf Coast.

2013-14 Glance:  Georgetown wasn't expected to be as good as they were last season, so it may be a bit unfair to criticize them too much for their loss to FGCU.  Still, five straight losses to double digit seeds leaves Hoya fans a bit antsy.  Losing Otto Porter probably doesn't help.  Porter was all-everything for Georgetwon last season but the cupboard is far from bare.

The Hoyas lost a lot of pieces from the 2011-2012 team and did just fine last season and should survive the loss of Porter.  They'll have SR. PG, Markel Starks back and his running mate in the backcourt will be SOPH D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera who averaged 8.9 ppg.  Smith-Rivera had a 33 point game against DePaul last season.  Shouldn't surprise anyone one if Smith-Rivera is a breakout player in the Big East this season.  JR Jabril Trawick will see plenty of time as well. 

SR. F Nate Lubick retuns to lead the frontcourt.  Lubick shot 59.1% from the field last year to go with about 5 boards per game.  Lubick is known more for his defense but may get more looks inside this year sans Porter.  He'll be joined by JR. Mikael Hopkins and Freshmen Reggie Cameron.  Also expected to see time will be SOPH Stephen Domingo and JR. Moses Ayegba.

Georgetown has two wild cars in UCLA transfer big man Josh Smith and JR Greg Whittington.  Smith was a productive player for UCLA as a freshmen but has battled weight issues the last two years.  If he's in shape, he can be a key player for the Hoyas.  Whittington was suspended at the beginning of Big East play and missed the rest of the season.  To make matters worse, he tore an ACL and his availability is uncertain and one would guess, his effectiveness.  Probably best case scenario would be rounding into form by the Big East tournamnet.

Most pundits are picking Georgetown in the top 3 of the conference.  Sounds about right and a battle for the top spot wouldn't surprise.  It'll be important for the conference moving forward that Georgetown is a factor and perennial contender.

Georgetown Basketball Blogs:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: Villanova

Lost to North Carolina in the NCAA 2nd Round

Head Coach:  Jay Wright - Doesn't seem like it, but Jay Wright has been the coach at Villanova since 2001.  Prior to coaching at Villanova, Wright was the head man at Hofstra.  Wright has one Final Four to his name taking the Wildcats to the Final Four in 2009.

NCAA History:

National Champion:  1985
Final Four:  1939, 1971 (vacated), 1985, 2009
Elite 8's:  12 in total, most recent in 2009

Villanova has been to the NCAA tournamnet 33 times, 8th most in NCAA history.  The Wildcats are most famously remembered for their 1985 win over Georgetown where they played a nearly flawless game in defeating the heavily favored Georgetown Hoyas. 

2013-14 Glance:  Depth is the name of the game this year at Villanova.  They are deep.  They may be missing a dominant post player and a true go-to-guy but they will be capable on a given night and should contend for a Big East championship.

The backcourt will be led by SOPH. PG Ryan Arcidiancono.  As a freshmen, he scored 12 ppg.  That was coming of major back surgery that cost him his senior season in HS.  Look for him to be one of Villanova's main players this season and one of the better players in the Big East.  His shooting guards will be Darrun Hilliard who averaged 11 ppg last season.  Rice transfer Dyan Ennis provides defense and someone that can score.  Tony Chennault provides d and depth.  Freshmen Josh Hart will also see time on the court. 

The frontcourt will have SR. James Bell likely starting at SF.  Bell averaged 8.6 & 4.2 boards per game.  Joining him willbe Jayvaughn Pinkston who is the Wildcats leading returning scorer and rebounder.  At C will be SOPH Daniel Ochefu who replaces Mouphtaou Yarou.  Ochefu isn't the presence but he played well as a freshmen.  FR. Darryl Reynolds will probably see some minutes as well.

Freshman Kris Jenkins should see some solid minutes, too.  Jay Wright thinks he could end up being the Wildcats best shooter.

Don't be surprised if Villanova wins the Big East this season.  They'll definitely be in the mix and should easily make their way into the NCAA tournament.

Villanova basketball Blogs:

Get To Know The New Big East: Xavier

XAVIER MUSKETEERS, 17-14 (9-7 A-10)

Head Coach:  Chris Mack - Mack is a former Xavier player who served as an assistant under both Sean Miller & the late Skip Prosser.  Xavier has become a bit of a cradle of coaches.  The previous coaches were Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Thad Matta and Sean Miller who all found success at Xavier.

NCAA History:

Xavier has not made a Final Four in its history but has made two Elite 8's since 2004 and 5 Sweet 16's since 2004.  They've been to 6 Sweet 16's overall and have won or shared 17 conference titles since 1981.  Xavier has been trending up for quite awhile and will give Cincinnati a challenger to best team in the Queen City.

2013-14 Glance:  2012-13 was a step back for Xavier who had been un a great run.  Graduation, player dismissals and ultimately ineligible players equaled Xavier not playing in the post-season for the 1st time in years. 

The new season has much more promise.  Returning SOPH G, Semaj Christian, 2013 A-10 Rookie of the Year, will be the go-to-guy for Xavier.  Last season, he scored 15.2 ppg to go with 4.6 assists per game. Joining him in the back court will be likely PG, Dee Davis.  Xavier was one of the A-10's least frequent 3pt shooting teams but redshirt FR. Myles Davis is expected to provide some lang range firepower.  He did have some minor knee surgery at the beginning of the month bnut is expected back shortly.

Up front, Xavier has some returning faces and some new ones that will be expected to contribute.  Returning are Isaiah Philmore and Justin Martin.  Both were good for 8 & 5 and 7 & 5 last year.  Joining them will be Western Michigan transfer, Matt Stainbrook who has two years of eligibility left.  Two years ago, Stainbrook averaged 11.4 and 6.8.  Another academic casualty from last year will be getting his first playing time.  That will be Jalen Reynolds.  Stainbrook should be a solid complement to Christian.

Xavier has a chance to get back to the NCAA tournament this season and will probably be in the mix to finish in the upper half of the Big East.  I'd imagine they'll fall into the 4-6 range and will be a tough game for all the Big East.

Xavier Basketball Blogs: (I'm looking for other suggestions)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get To Know The New Bog East: Butler

BUTLER BULLDOGS, 27-9 (11-5, A-10)
Lost in the 3rd Round of the NCAA tournament to Marquette

Head Coach:  Brandon Miller - Miller follows a long line of first time coaches at Butler and looks to recapture their magic.  Miller was on the 2003 Sweet 16 team and was a special assistant at Illinois under John Groce last season.  Miller came back aboard prior to Brad Stevens leaving.  Matt Graves probably would have gotten the job had he not taken the South Alabama job.

NCAA History:

Final Four:  2, National Runner-up in 2010 & 2011
Elite 8's:  Both those same seasons
Sweet 16's:  5

Butler has 17 NCAA tournament wins since 2001 alone.  That encompasses the coaching tenures of Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter & Brad Stevens.  Current AD Barry Collier was the coach prior to those 3 and is considered the father of the current successful run by Butler basketball.

2013-14 Glance:  The off-season started with a bang for Butler as they began their transition into the new Big East.  Just two years ago, they were playing in the competetive but less glamorous Horizon league but were a very attractive program to incorporate into the new conference.  Then Brad Stevens left.  Stevens had been courted by nearly every opening in the last few seasons but was seemingly waiting for possibly one of the Tobacco Road jobs or maybe Indiana should it ever open.  Instead, he jumped to the NBA and the Celtics who could be the worst team in the NBA this season.  Following that, Butler's leading returning scorer, rebounder and assist man, Roosevelt Jones was lost for the season to injury.  To add insult to injury, beloved Bulldog mascot, Blue II passed away.

Jones was expected to be the Bulldogs all-everything but they still have some pieces to play with.  SOPH G Kellen Dunham returns and reports are he looks stronger than he was last year.  He scored about 10ppg and hit 34.5% from deep, a number that will need to improve.  Also in the backcourt with him wiill be JR. Alex Barlow.  Of all the Butler newcomers, Elijah Brown looks the most ready to contribute according to reports and should see time in the backcourt rotation.  As was an issue last year, who will run the point needs to be addressed.  Butler's biggest issue last season was ball control.  If we recall, VCU hounded them when they played taking advantage of that Butler weakness.

Despite losing Andrew Smith, Butler should have decent production out of their frontcourt.  JR. Khyle Marshall returns.  Marshall scored 9.6 ppg last year and shot 56.6%.  You should see his scoring increase this season.  Joining him will be seniors Erik Fromm & Kameron Woods.  Woods got 4.9 boards per game in 17 minutes per game.  More will be expected of him this season. 

The Jones loss is big. It's hard to know what they have in Brandon Miller but the Bulldogs have seamlessly transitioned from hot commodity to assistant the last 4 coaching changes.  The hire was largely received as a positive move.  Their 3 leading scorers are gone and the level of competetion, like for Creighton, will be better but that hasn't bothered the Bulldogs in the past.  We just don't know how this group will respond.  Even if Jones is healthy, Butler was probably going to finish in the lower half of the conference.  Miller will be challenged to recruit at a higher level while he gets his feet wet as a head coach.  A challenge awaits Butler this season and in the future.  Look for them to likely finish 7th or 8th this season.

Butler Basketball Blogs:;

Get To Know The New Big East: Seton Hall

SETON HALL PIRATES, 15-18 (3-15)

Head Coach:  Kevin Willard - Willard begins his 4th season at Seton Hall and prior to a week ago, was squarely on the hot seat (We'll get to that later).  A disappointing 2012-13 beset with injury and followed with Aaron Cosby's defection is into the past and Willard looks to begin anew.  He was an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville for 6 years before taking the Iona job and helping turn the Gaels around.

NCAA History:

Final Four:  1, 1989
Elite 8's:  2, 1989 & 1991
Sweet 16's:  4, most recently under Tommy Amaker in 2000

Seton Hall's greatest success came under P.J. Carlesimo who guided the Pirates to the 1989 title game and 3 of their 3 Sweet 16 appearances.  Since then, Seton Hall has been up and down while mostly muddling in the middle behind a variety of coaches.

2013-14 Glance:  Despite the aforementioned departure of Aaron Cosby, the Pirates do return swingman Fuquan Edwin who is their best player.  Edwin played nearly every spot on the court last season as the Pirates were ravaged by injury, largely in their frontcourt.  Edwin averaged 16.5 ppg and 5.8 boards per game while shooting 41% from beyond the arc.  He should play the 2 for the most part this season and will be SHU most dynamic player.

Joining him in the backcourt will be the twosome of Sterling Gibbs who has bounced around the nation from Maryland-to-Texas-to the Hall and FROSH PG, Jaren Sina.  Big things are expected of the local product Sina who also had an offer from Indiana and was Northwestern bound until Bill Carmody was let go.

The frontcourt was a mess due to injury last season as 3 of the 4 key players in this year's rotation missed time due to injury.  Returning at C is Gene Teague who put up a respectable 11 & 7 last season.  In 25 games last year, F Brandon Mobley averaged 9 and 5.5 on 49.6% shooting but missed time with a seperated shoulder.  SR. Patrik Aura should give the Pirates plenty of minutes after playing only 5 games last year with a broken foot.  Swingman Brian Oliver figures to see time as well. 

Seton Hall will likely finish in the bottom 3 of the Big East this year.  Luckily for Kevin Willard, he was able to secure the services of Isaiah Whtehead, a top SG out of NYC.  He was believed to have been St. John's bound but Whitehead committed to SHU instead.  Didn't hurt his coach got an assistants job with the Pirates.  Whitehead is expected to try and bring a top-level big with him.  Willard had already reeled in a pretty impressive class before that, so the future is brighter.  Just don't expect great things this season.

Seton Hall Basketball Blogs:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: St. John's

ST. JOHN'S RED STORM, 17-16 (8-10), NIT

Head Coach:  Steve Lavin- Lavin is most remembered for his stint at UCLA where he took over for ousted Jim Harrick.  Despite some success at UCLA, Lavin never took them to a Final Four despite some very talented teams.  Lavin cut his teeth under Gene Keady and considers Keady a mentor.  This is Lavin's 4th season at St. John's.  In his first season, he took St. John's to their 1st dance in nearly a decade,  He missed most of his 2nd season with prostate cancer but was back on the sidelines last season.

NCAA History:

Final Fours:  2 (1952 runner-up & 1985)
Elite 8's:  6, most recent in 1999

The legendary Frank McGuire coached St. John's to a national runner-up in 1952 before leaving for North Carolina.  The most famous face of St. John's or sweater some might say is Lou Carneseca.  Carneseca won 6 Big East titles between 1980 & 1992.  His most famous team was the 1985 team that went to the 3 Big East Final 4 behind Walter Berry & Chris Mullin.  Overall, St. John's ranks 7th all-time in total NCAA basketball wins.

2013-14 Glance:  St. John's has been getting a lot of love from some of the talking heads at ESPN and the east coast basketball media.  Part of me thinks part of this is Lavin's time at ESPN and a bit of a desire by east coast media members to see a rejuvenated St. John's and NYC college basketball scene.

Setting that aside, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the Johnnies.  Lavin returns a lot of talent.  Can Lavin piece it together and find success?  Failure to do so and you'll hear some of he whispers about his coaching acumen you heard at UCLA.  His most talented pice is probably SOPH G D'Angelo Harrison who Lavin had to suspend for the last 6 games of last year.  A motivated and interested Harrison could be a devastating player.  Harrison has averaged 17 points per game his first two seasons.  

Other returnees include swingman and do everything Sir'Dominic Pointer.  Pointer led the Johnnies in assists, steals and fg%.  If things work out correctly, Pointer shouldn't be the lead assist man again.  St. John's has plenty of options at PG.  JR's Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch return and will be pushed by St. John's most heralded newcomer, Rysheed Jordan.  Jordan is probably the most talented of the 3 but Greene and Branch will see plenty of court time.

The Red Storm have plenty of bodies on the interior.  SOPH JaKarr Sampson returns along with his 15 & 7 per game.  Sampson could be an all-conference type player in his second season.  Fellow SOPH, Chris Obekpa provides a menacing presnce averaging 4 blocks per game last season.  They have depth with SOPH big man Christian Jones and SR. redshirts, Orlando Sanchez and God'sgift Achiuwa.  Again, can Lavin get the most he can out of this group?

Just looking at the talent, reading about the talent, you can see why St. John's fans and pundits have reasons to be excited.  With a year of experience under their belts, this team should be better in 2013-14.  It really could go either way, contend for a title or fall in the middle of the Big East and be on the bubble.  St. John's has two early season games worth paying attention to.  First, they play Wisconsin in South Dakota in a game that should show what type of maturity they have or don't have given Wisconsin's style and a game in the Garden against Syracuse.  I'm sold on the talent, not sold on it playing together well.  Big challenge for Steve Lavin.

St. John's Basketball Blogs:

Get To Know The New Big East: Creighton

CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS, 28-8 (13-5, MVC Tournament Champ)
 Lost in 3rd Round of NCAA Tournament

Head Coach:  Greg McDermott -  McDermott begins his 4th season as head coach at Creighton having found success early this century at Northern Iowa, taking UNI to 3 consecutive NCAAs.  He left his alma mater to become head coach at Iowa State where he found less success.  He has taken the BlueJays to 3 straight tournament appearances.

NCAA History:

Creighton has never advanaced past the Sweet 16 and haven't made it that far since 1974 and have a total of 3 Sweet 16's in their history.  Prior to McDermott's arrival, Dana Altman helped set Creighton on its course to the Big East making numerous NCAA tournamet appearances.  Creighton has made 7 dances since 2000 and have made the tournament in 9 of the last 15 years out of the competetive Missouri Valley Conference.

2013-14 Glance:  Creighton jumps to a much tougher conference but will still be one of the favorites heading into the season.  Returning for his SR. season is All-American Doug McDermott.  McDermott averaged 23 points and 8 boards per game.  Can he repeat this numbers in a tougher conference and without big man Gregory Echenique?  There's little reason to think he can't as he has a lot of good players returning to help him.

The NCAA granted G Grant Gibbs a 6th year of eligibilty and he should run the point along with JR Austin Chatman.  Gibbs averaged nearly 6 assists per game and Chatman was 3rd in the MVC, with 4.2 per game.  Rounding out the backcourt will be SR. SG Jahenns Manigat.  Avery Dingman provides another shooter and some depth.

Coming off the bench for Creighton will be sharp-shooter Ethan Wragge.  Wragge shot 44.6% from deep last year, making 78 3's overall.  Creighton's issues will be in the frontcourt next to McDermott.  McDermott could rely on Echenique as a defensive presence.  Who will step up to replace him this season.  Creighton will look to JR. big man, 6'11' Will Artino and 7' SOPH C, Geoffrey Groselle to try and bring the defensive intensity Echenique did and help clean the glass.  6' 9" FROSH Zach Hanson should get a look as well.

Creighton should compete for the regular season league title and Doug McDermott will probably make his way into POY discussions.  Most national writers are cautious on just how well Creighton will do.  Bus trips to Wichita and Carbondale will be replaced with plane trips to NYC and Providence.  Not knocking the Valley, but Creighton will have a uch tougher league schedule this season.  They have some inexperience and questions in the frontcourt but solid guard play and the all-everything McDermott should help ease those growing pains.  Creighton could very well win the league title and should finish no worse than 5th. 

Creighton Basketball Blogs:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Get To Know The New Big East: DePaul

DePaul Blue Demons, 11-21 (2-16)

Head Coach:  Oliver Purnell - Purnell enters his 4th season as head coach of the Blue Demons.  When he was hired, it was viewed by some as a bit of a head-scratcher.  He had success at Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson prior to taking the DePaul job but locals thought they might get someone that could connect with Chicago recruits.  Depending on what happens in this current recruiting cycle (DePaul is in on a package deal for two of Chicago's top HS players) and on the court, Purnell needs something good to happen.

NCAA History:

Final Fours: 2, 1943 & 1979
Elite 8's:  3
Sweet 16's:  10, none since 1987 and no NCAA appearance since 2004

DePaul was where the first great big man of basketball played, George Mikan.  DePaul was coached for decades by the legendary Ray Meyer.  Meyer took the Blue Demons to the Final Four in 1979 lead by Mark Aguirre. His son Joey Meyer had some success but recent history hasn't been so kind to DePaul.  A program once great, looks to recapture past glory.

2013-14 Glance:  You'd like to think things can only get better but most pundits are picking DePaul to finish last in the new Big East.  The top two players returning are SR. F, Cleveland Melvin who averaged 8 boards per game and SR. G Brandon Young.  Young averaged 16.7 ppg and 4.7 assists per game.  Purnell is looking for more contributions from JR. G's, Charles McKinney and Jamee Crockett.

The Newcomers:  There is a fair amount of turnover on theroster.  FROSH G's RJ Carrington and Billy Garrett, Jr. are expected to contribute immediately along with big men Tommy Hamilton, Jr. and Forrest Robinson.  DePaul also adds JUCO transfer big man Greg Sequele and Purdue grad transfer, Sandi Marcius.  Marcius provides depth.

There's some interesting pieces on this team.  Can Purnell piece it together and take a step forward?  Best case scenario for DePaul appears to be a NIT bid and that seems generous.  DePaul hasn't won more than 12 games in the last 5 years.  Off-court happenings are brighter.  As I mentioned earlier, if Purnell can add Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle, it all but assures he'll be back next year.  Chicago also appears to be going forward with a new arena for the Blue Demons that is quite spectacular looking.  Given the mausoleum they play in now, it would be a massive upgrade.  It is designed to hold 10,000 fans but to get them, DePaul needs to become relavent again in Chicago.

DePaul Basketball Blogs:

Get To Know The New Big East: Providence

This is the first in a series of 10 looking briefly at the new Big East.  I'm pretty stoked about the new conference despite its big losses.  No one can say with a straight face taking Syracuse, Pitt, UConn, Cincinnati and Louisville off your schedule helps you but with the realities of TV and the college sports landscape, the Big East did well in re-positioning itself as a basketball only conference.  It isn't as good as what it was but what it will be is one of the best conferences in the nation when it comes to basketball.  One or two schools will have to become the new face of the conference.  One will have to rise up and become the most hated school, ala, Syracuse of the old Big East.  And we'll get to see it from its birth to where ever it may go.  First up, the Providence Friars.


Head Coach:  Ed Cooley -Ed Cooley was the head coach at Fairfield for 5 seasons and was an assistant under Al Skinner at Boston College before taking the Providence job prior to the 2011 season.

NCAA History:

Final Fours:  1973, 1987
Elite 8:  4 times, most recently in 1997
Sweet 16:  5 times, most recently in 1997

Providence found enormous success under Dave Gavitt, 1st Big East Commissioner, during the 70's, making a Final 4 behind Marvin Barnes and Ernie DiGregorio.  The 1987 team was coached by Rick Pitino and lead by Billy Donovan, making a Final 4 run as a 6 seed.  The 1997 team almost made a similar run under Pete Gillen losing in the Elite 8 in overtime to Arizona in a wild contest.

2013-14 Glance:  Heading into this season, Providence has been viewed as a tournament team by some, while others see them finishing as low as 8th.  I'm a bit more bullish on this team than most.  Providence had a small chance at reaching the tournament last year but finished the season losing at UConn and then getting trounced in the Big East tournament in the second round.  They needed a run in the Big East tournament but after starting the season 1-4 in conference play, they rebounded nicely.

They never had the services of Ricky Ledo who eventually entered the NBA draft and lose their PG Vincent Council but have quite a bit of last year's team back to go along with a few newcomers.  The frontcourt is in the solid hands of SR, F Kadeem Batts and JR. F ladontae Henton.  Batts averaged 15 & & and shot 48% from the field.  Henton added 13 and 8 and should be a bruising duo.  The Friars also add Wake Forest transfer big man, Carson Desrosiers.  The 6'10" big man, listed at 7' in some spots, was a 4* recruit coming out of high school.

In the backcourt, the Friars return last year's leading Big East scorer, Bryce Cotton.  Cotton scored 19.7 ppg.  Cotton had an effective fg% of 54.7% while shooting 36.4% from 3.  Cotton likely won't lead the conference in scoring again but will be a dynamic scorer.  SOPH Josh Fortune should see more playing time as well.  SOPH G Kris Dunn will take over the point guard duties and has big shoes to fill.  He missed time last year due to injury but expectations are high for him.  His play will be something to watch for the Friars.

Top frosh newcomer is a 6'6" Philadelphia native Brandon Austin. 

I can see Providence finishing as hig as 3rd in the Big East this season and as low as 7th.  Look for the Friars to be in serious discussion to return to the dance for the first time since 2004.  The Friars are trending up in the new Big East.  Cooley has demonstrated solid recruiting ability and now it's time for his collection of talent to produce. 

Providence Blogs:,