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Cincinnati 6. Marquette 7. West Virginia 8. Georgetown 9. Notre Dame 10. Villanova 11. Rutgers 12. South Florida 13. Seton Hall 14. St. John’s 15. DePaul 16. Providence Preseason Awards: Player of the Year Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh Newcomer of the Year Andre Drummond, Connecticut Coach of the Year Mick Cronin, Cincinnati First Team All-Big East Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh (POY) Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut Kevin Jones, West Virginia Yancy Gates, Cincinnati Second Team All-Big East Scoop Jardine, Syracuse Kris Joseph, Syracuse Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame Peyton Siva, Louisville Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut Third Team All-Big East Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati Augustus Gilchrist, South Florida Andre Drummond, Connecticut Maalik Wayns, Villanova Coaching Carousel: Providence fired Keno Davis and hired Ed Cooley (Fairfield) Conference Summary: The Big East Conference as a whole is in flux as we start the 2011-12 college basketball season, but all that realignment is still a year or more in the future. The strongest basketball conference in the country last year sent a record-setting 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament. The Darlings of the Dance were the Kemba Walker-led Connecticut Huskies who went on a tear winning five-straight games to capture the Big East’s automatic bid by winning the conference tournament. The Huskies went on to win six more games and win the National Title, defeating the Butler Bulldogs, 53-41. The 2011-12 Big East has many of the usual suspects expected to make national headlines with six teams ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Top-25. The defending national champions, UConn lead the way for the Big East opening the season ranked fourth in the nation. While the Huskies will be a threat to repeat as national champs, the Syracuse Orangemen are our pick to win the Big East Championship as well as the National Championship. Ranked No. 5 coming into the year, the Orange only graduated one starter, Rick Jackson, but have replaced him with two Rivals Top 30 recruits. Accompanying the Orangemen to the NCAA Tournament are a group of eight other teams – Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, West Virginia, Georgetown and Notre Dame. Team Profiles: 1. Syracuse Last Year: 27-8 overall, 12-6 Big East (T-3rd) Coach: Jim Boeheim (35th season, 856-301) Projected Starting Five: G: Scoop Jardine, Sr. G: Brandon Triche, Jr. F: Kris Joseph, Sr.
F: CJ Fair, So. C: Fab Melo, So. Key Departures: - Rick Jackson 13.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 35 mpg Inside the Numbers: -82% scoring returning -72% rebounding returning Key Additions: C: Rakeem Christmas, 6’8”, 200 – Rivals #27 G: Michael Carter-Williams, 6’4” 175 – Rivals #29 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/2 vs. (10) Florida Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 2/8 – 2-13 vs. Georgetown, vs. (4) Connecticut, at (8) Louisville Prediction: 1st in BE; 25+ wins; Final Four What to Expect: A lot, frankly. Syracuse only loses Rick Jackson off their 2010-11 roster and added two top-30 recruits in Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams. Ranked in the preseason poll at No. 5 in the nation, a talented and experienced Orange are national title contenders. The one knock on the Cuse last year was that despite being superior athletes in nearly every game, they sometimes played down to their competition. After an 18-0 start and rising to No. 3 in the rankings, the Orange lost six of their next eight games. The most frustrating part was when they decided to play, they could knock off anyone, including eventual National Champs, UConn. An upper-class-laden team, this looks to be Syracuse’s best chance for National Title since Carmelo Anthony was there. Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche and Fab Melo all should be NBA prospects and there is no telling how long they will stick around up-state New York. 2. Pittsburgh Last Year: 28-6 overall, 15-3 Big East (1st) Coach: Jamie Dixon (8th season, 260-60) Projected Starting Five:
G: Ashton Gibbs, Sr. G: Travon Woodwall, Sr. F: Nasir Robinson, Sr. F: Lamar Patterson, So. C: Dante Taylor, Jr. Key Departures: -Brad Wannamaker 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.1 apg -Gilbert Brown 11.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg -Gary McGhee 6.9 ppg 7.7 rpg Inside the Numbers: -59% scoring returning -55% rebounding returning Key Additions: F: Khem Birch, 6’10”, 210 – Rivals #9 F: Durand Johnson, 6’6”, 191 – Rivals #120 C: Malcolm Gilbert, 6’11”, 230 – Rivals #133 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/3 at Tennessee Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/14 – 1/21 at (21) Marquette, at (5) Syracuse, vs. (8) Louisville Prediction: 2nd in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament What to Expect: The Panthers begin and end with Ashton Gibbs. Our pick for BE Player of the Year is also in the running for a host of other honors that are sure to include the Wooden and Naismith Awards. Perhaps the best shooter in the country, Gibbs has no problem spotting up or creating his own shot coming off of screens. Despite returning Gibbs, their leading scorer from a year ago, the Panthers lost three starters to graduation meaning that younger guys are going to have to step into expanded roles. Travon Woodall should be an easy replacement for Brad Wannamaker. Although Woodall is not the scorer or rebounded Wannamaker was, his quickness and ability to get into the lane and finish or drop the ball off for easy buckets should prove to be sufficient. Other concerns for the Panthers come from replacing Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee, a couple of cogs in Pitt’s success over the last few years. Dante Taylor has been the manin-waiting to fill McGhee’s shoes and Lamar Patterson will have the tall task of taking Brown’s place. With a top-15 recruiting class, however, Jamie Dixon has a couple of guys that he can rotate in the frontcourt to keep the Panthers in the hunt for another Big East title.
3. Connecticut Last Year: 32-9 overall, 9-9 Big East (T-9th) Coach: Jim Calhoun (25th season, 605-228) Projected Starting Five: G: Shabazz Napier, So. G: Jeremy Lamb, So. F: Alex Oriakhi, Jr. F: Roscoe Smith, So. C: Andre Drummond, Fr. Key Departures: -Kemba Walker 23.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.5 apg 37.6 mpg -Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 5.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 16.6 mpg -Charles Okwandu 2.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 15.4 mpg Inside the Numbers: -53% scoring returning -70% rebounding returning Key Additions: C: Andre Drummond, 6’10”, 275 – ESPNU #2 G: Ryan Boatright, 6’2”, 165 – Rivals #42 F: DeAndre Daniels, 6’8”, 180 – Rivals #10 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 1/21 at Tennessee Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 2/6 – 2/18 at (8) Louisville, at (5) Syracuse, vs. DePaul, vs. (21) Marquette Prediction: 3rd in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament What to Expect: Despite losing their All-Everything floor general Kemba Walker, the defending National Champs might have even more talent in 2011-12 than they did on the title squad. Returning All-Rookie team selections Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, the Huskies also have big man Alex Oriakhi as well as a top recruiting class that expects to see major playing time right out of the gate. Andre Drummond, one of the nation’s top high school centers looks to be inserted into the starting line-up and Ryan Boatright should see some time as Napier’s back up. The
question in Huskie-land isn’t whether or not this team will be able to live up to last year’s accomplishments; it is if they can exceed them. The postseason runs through the Big East and NCAA Tournaments masked the fact that the Huskies were perfectly mediocre in conference play, ending at 9-9. With most of the championship team returning in 2011 as well as the influx of top recruits, folks in Storrs will be calling this a reloading year, not rebuilding. 4. Louisville Last Year: 25-10 overall, 12-6 Big East (T-3rd) Coach: Rick Pitino (11th season, 245-96) Projected Starting Five: G: Peyton Siva, Jr. G: Chris Smith, Sr. F: Kyle Kuric, Sr. F: Chane Behanan, Fr. C: Gorgui Dieng, So. Key Departures: -Preston Knowles 14.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg -Terrence Jennings 9.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg Inside the Numbers: -66% scoring returning -67% rebounding returning Key Additions: F: Chane Behanan, 6’6”, 250 – Rivals #21 F: Wayne Blackshear, 6’5” 210 – Rivals #36 C: Zach Price, 6’1”, 240 – Rivals #67 G: Kevin Ware, 6’4”, 167 – Rivals # 70 F: Angel Nunez, 6’8”, 190 – ESPNU #91 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game(s): 12/2 vs. (7) Vanderbilt, 12/31 at (2) Kentucky Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 2/23 – 3/3 at (22) Cincinnati, vs. (11) Pittsburgh, vs. South Florida, at (5) Syracuse Prediction: 4th in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament What to Expect:
One of the strongest recruiting classes in the nation gives the Cards more than enough to replace Preston Knowles and Terrence Jennings. As Louisville showed last year, they don’t have any real standout players, although Siva is on the cusp and Kyle Kuric showed on multiple occasions last season he can take over the game and win Homecoming king. Louisville’s depth give the Cards the chance to wear out their opponents running Pitino’s full-court press, creating turnovers and forcing tough shots late in the shot clock. With Siva and Kuric in the backcourt, accompanied by Chris Smith, the Cards will look down low to Gorgui Dieng. Dieng will take Jennings place on the low block and will act as the last line of defense if a team were to break the Cardinal pressure. Dieng’s length gives him the ability to alter shots around the rim, although Dieng, as well as the team as a whole, could benefit from picking up more boards. If the Cards can get past the idea of only having one ball between their dynamic playmakers, look for Louisville to make a run at a league and possibly, a national championship. 5. Cincinnati Last Year: 26-9 overall, 11-7 Big East (T-6th) Coach: Mick Cronin (6th season, 87-77) Projected Starting Five: G: Cashmere Wright, Jr. G: Dion Dixon, Jr. G: Sean Kilpatrick, So. F: Justin Jackson, So. C: Yancy Gates, Sr. Key Departures: -Rashad Bishop 8.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.7 apg -Ibrahima Thomas 5.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg Inside the Numbers: -66% scoring returning -64% rebounding returning Key Additions: F: Shaquille Thomas, 6’6”, 165 – Rivals #81 F: Jermaine Sanders 6’4”, 205 – Rivals #131 G: Jeremiah Davis, 6’3”, 195 – ESPNU Pos. #43 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/10 at (15) Xavier
Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/18 – 1/23 at (4) Connecticut, at West Virginia, at (5) Syracuse Prediction: 5th in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament What to Expect: A lot of how the Bearcats do this year is dependent on Yancy Gates and his “want-to.” Gates has been hit-or-miss in his time in Cincinnati, playing up to his potential at the end of last season has given Bearcat fans the hope that he will continue his upwards trend. However, Gates’ mid-season dismissal for lack of effort looms in the back of the minds of Cincinnati fans. Returning four starters from last year should help the Bearcats continue their trend of regaining national prominence. Sean Kilpatrick has a lot of expectation to carry this year. The sophomore is touted as UC’s microwave, giving Cincinnati an outside threat to balance Gates on the inside. Coach Mick Cronin has handled predicament well over the past six years at the helm, taking some hits along the way, the Cincinnati native has once again brought the Bearcats into the preseason rankings with the belief that 22nd is the lowest they will be ranked all year. A solid starting five and a talented young bench should help the Bearcats build on their second-round dismissal from the NCAA Tournament a year ago. 6. Marquette Last Year: 22-15 overall, 9-9 Big East (T-9th) Coach: Buzz Williams (4th season, 69-36) Projected Starting Five: G: Junior Cadougan, Sr. G: Darius Johnson-Odom, Sr. F: Vander Blue, So. F: Jae Crowder, Sr. C: Chris Otule, Jr. Key Departures: -Jimmy Butler 15.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg -Dwight Buycks 8.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.4 apg Inside the Numbers: -62% scoring returning -66% rebounding returning Key Additions:
F: Juan Anderson 6’6”, 200 – Rivals #61 G: Derrick Wilson, 6’0”, 205 – ESPNU Pos. #32 G: Todd Mayo, 6’3”, 190 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game(s): 12/3 at (14) Wisconsin, 12/29 vs. (7) Vanderbilt Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/7 – 1/16 at (5) Syracuse, vs. St. John’s, vs. (11) Pittsburgh, vs. (8) Louisville Prediction: 6th in BE; 20+ wins; Second round of NCAA Tournament What to Expect: Marquette, coming off a roller-coaster season that ended with a loss to UNC in the Sweet 16, should have a solid core returning that could make the Golden Eagles a threat to make a little run in the NCAA Tournament again this year. Despite losing Jimmy Butler and Dwight Buycks, Marquette has guys like Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder and Junior Cadougan who can fill the void. DJO and Crowder will be the primary scorers for Marquette as Cadougan will be pegged as mainly a facilitator. Look for DJO and Crowder to flourish as Buzz Williams mixes in Vander Blue, Oregon transfer Jamil Wilson and Derrick Wilson, giving the Golden Eagles plenty of options to have a solid year in the BE and possibly make some noise in the NCAA. 7. West Virginia Last Year: 21-12 overall, 11-7 Big East (T-6th) Coach: Bob Huggins (5th season, 101-42) Projected Starting Five: G: Jabarie Hinds, Fr. G: Truck Bryant, Sr. F: Kevin Jones, Sr. F: Kevin Noreen, Fr. F: Deniz Kilicli, Jr. Key Departures: -Casey Mitchell 13.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.1 apg -John Flowers 9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg -Joe Mazzulla 7.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg Inside the Numbers:
-45% scoring returning -47% rebounding returning Key Additions: G: Jabarie Hinds, 6’0”. 160 – Rivals #93 F: Tommie McCune 6’7”, 185 – Rivals #102 G: Gary Browne, 6’1”, 185 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/23 at (12) Baylor Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 2/11 – 2/22 vs. (8) Louisville, at (11) Pittsburgh, at Notre Dame Prediction: 7th in BE; 20+ wins; Second round of NCAA Tournament What to Expect: West Virginia will have a tall task ahead of them if they want to return to the NCAA Tournament. Losing three starters, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla, Huggins will look to Kevin Jones to be his go-to guy. Jones struggled last year to score at times, but in typical Huggins fashion, their defense kept them in most games long enough for someone to hit a shot. Familiar faces Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilicli, two players who can take the load off of him scoring-wise, will join Jones in the starting five. Bryant will play more two-guard this year in order to concentrate more on scoring than assisting. Freshman Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne will take over point guard duties for the Mountaineers. Hovering around the middle of the road in the BE, Huggins will need to do a solid coaching job to get this hodge-podge group of players into the Big Dance. 8. Georgetown Last Year: 21-11 overall, 10-8 Big East (8th) Coach: John Thompson III (8th season, 159-66) Projected Starting Five: G: Markel Starks, So. G: Jason Clark, Sr. F: Hollis Thompson, Jr. F: Nate Lubick, So. C: Henry Sims, Sr. Key Departures: -Austin Freeman 17.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 apg
-Chris Wright 12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.3 apg -Julian Vaughn 7.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 apg Inside the Numbers: -43% scoring returning -63% rebounding returning Key Additions: F: Otto Porter, 6’9”, 200 – ESPNU #42 C: Mikael Hopkins, 6’8”, 210 – ESPNU #78 G: Jabril Trawick, 6’5”, 200 – ESPNU #80 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game(s): 11/21 at (13) Kansas, 12/1 at (17) Alabama, 12/22 vs. (9) Memphis Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/28 – 2/8 at (11) Pittsburgh, vs. (4) Connecticut, vs. South Florida, at (5) Syracuse Prediction: 8th in BE; 20+ wins; NCAA Tournament berth What to Expect: The Hoyas lost their two leading scorers, Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, but reloaded with the No. 15 recruiting class according to ESPNU. Although we don’t project any of the newcomers to start right away for the Hoyas, don’t be surprised to see Otto Porter, Mikael Hopkins or Jabril Trawick play some significant time for JT3. Georgetown isn’t doing itself any favors with their non-conference schedule, playing three top-25 teams before opening the Big East with Louisville on Dec. 28. The last time we saw the Hoyas, they were getting in a little skirmish with a Chinese team, but perhaps that fight could do something for the chemistry of the young team. Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark will be the leaders of the team with Clark finally getting his time to shine. Thompson is one of those long swing guys who can cause match-up nightmares for opposing coaches. Sophomore guard Markel Starks could become the facilitator that the Hoyas lacked after Wright’s wrist injury last year. As usual, JT3’s boys will have the athleticism and talent to beat any team on a given day. 9. Notre Dame Last Year: 27-7 overall, 14-4 Big East (2nd) Coach: Mike Brey (11th season, 238-120) Projected Starting Five: G: Eric Atkins, So.
G: Pat Connaughton, Fr. F: Tim Abromatitis, Sr. F: Scott Martin, Sr. C: Jack Cooley, So. Key Departures: -Ben Hansbrough 18.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.3 apg, 35.4 mpg -Carleton Scott 11.2, 7.4 rpg, 31.2 mpg -Tyrone Nash 9.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg Inside the Numbers: -50% scoring returning -56% rebounding returning Key Additions: F: Eric Katenda, 6’8”, 210 – Rivals #118 F: Patrick Connaughton 6’5”, 175 – Rivals #127 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game(s): 11/21 at (25) Missouri, 11/30 at (23) Gonzaga Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 12/27 – 1/7 vs. (11) Pittsburgh, at (22) Cincinnati, at (8) Louisville Prediction: 9th in BE; 20+ wins; NCAA Tournament berth What to Expect: After a surprising 2010-11 campaign that saw the Fighting Irish improve after losing Luke Harangody, Notre Dame is looking for a repeat performance, but it could be a little harder this time around without BE Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash all lost to graduation. The silver lining for Notre Dame is fifth-year senior Tim Abromaitis is still around. Abromaitis will miss the first four games of the season because of some exhibition games he played in three years ago, but the Irish should handle that stretch without any problems. When they get into BE play, that’s when some of ND’s weaknesses may be exposed. The main concern for the Golden Domers will be how Abromaitis’ supporting cast comes together. Scott Martin and Eric Atkins played significant minutes last year, but Pat Connaughton and Jack Cooley will have to prove that they can hang in the Big East. The gelling of the rebuilding Irish squad will prove to be the key if they want a trip back to the NCAA Tournament. 10. Villanova
Last Year: 21-12 overall, 9-9 Big East (T-9th) Coach: Jay Wright (11th season, 224-110) Projected Starting Five: G: Maalik Wayns, Jr. G: James Bell, So. F: Dominic Cheek, Jr. F: Maurice Sutton, Jr. C: Mouphtaou Yarou, Jr. Key Departures: -Corey Fisher 15.6 ppg, 2.8, rpg, 4.8 apg, 33.4 mpg -Corey Stokes 14.9, 3.3 rpg, 33.0 mpg -Antonio Pena 9.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 32.8 mpg Inside the Numbers: -43% scoring returning -56% rebounding returning Key Additions: G: Tyrone Johnson, 6’3”, 185 – Rivals #52 G: Achraf Yacoubou, 6’3”, 200 – Rivals #126 C: Markus Kennedy, 6’9”, 270 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/6 at (25) Missouri Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/25 – 2/5 at (8) Louisville, vs. (21) Marquette, at (11) Pittsburgh Prediction: 10th in BE; 20 wins; NCAA Tournament Bubble What to Expect: Villanova is flying under the radar in the Big East coming into 2011 mostly because of the departure of the Coreys – Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. The Wildcats also said goodbye to Antonio Pena. Losing three of their top four scorers as well as Isaiah Armwood (transfer), Nova will rely heavily on Maalik Wayns and Mouphtaou Yarou to carry the load. Welcoming in four new recruits, Villanova does not have a senior on scholarship on their roster. While the future of basketball in Philly, Wildcat fans should rest assured that Jay Wright should have his team overachieving this year.
Aside from Yarou and Wayns, look for Maurice Sutton and Dominic Cheek to play a lot of minutes. The only question in the starting line-up is who will man the two-guard spot. James Bell looks to be getting the early go-ahead, but incoming freshman Tyrone Johnson and Achraf Yacoubou could be inserted into the lineup as the year goes on. 11. Rutgers Last Year: 15-17 overall, 5-13 Big East (13th) Coach: Mike Rice, Jr. (2nd season, 15-17) Projected Starting Five: G: Myles Mack, Fr. G: Austin Carroll, So. F: Dane Miller, Jr. F: Gilvydas Biruta, So. C: Austin Johnson, Jr. Key Departures: -Jonathan Mitchell 14.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg -James Beatty 8.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg -Mike Coburn 8.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg Inside the Numbers: -33% scoring returning -46% rebounding returning Key Additions: G: Myles Mack, 5’9”, 155 – ESPNU #63 F: Kadeem Jack 6’8”, 210 – MaxPreps #77 G: Elijah Carter, 6’2”, 170 – Rivals #114 C: Greg Lewis, 6’9”, 225 – Rivals #139 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/29 vs. (10) Florida Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/7 – 1/14 vs. (4) Connecticut, at (11) Pittsburgh, at West Virginia Prediction: 11th in BE; 17+ wins; NIT berth What to Expect: Rutgers made some serious strides last year as the scrappy Scarlet Knights played hard night-in and night-end, turning some heads in the process and making people recognize that they are no longer a gimme win.
While the Scarlet Knights lost three starters from last year’s team, Dane Miller and Gilvydas Biruta are left over to pass on coach Mike Rice’s style of play. The two big men will move Rutgers’ scoring threats primarily down low, but incoming freshman Myles Mack should make an immediate impact from the perimeter. Austin Carroll will be the Scarlet Knights premium outside scoring threat in an effort to stop teams from closing in on Biruta and Miller in the post. A solid recruiting class has Rutgers looking like they have the tools to build for the future, the question is whether or not they can compete while waiting for their new talent to assimilate. 12. South Florida Last Year: 10-23 overall, 3-15 Big East (15th) Coach: Stan Heath (5th season, 41-54) Projected Starting Five: G: Blake Nash, So. G: Shaun Noriega, Jr. F: Victor Rudd, So. F: Ron Anderson, Jr., Sr. C: Augustus Gilchrist, Sr. Key Departures: -Jarrid Famous 8.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg -Shaun Noriega 6.4 ppg Inside the Numbers: -77% scoring returning -77% rebounding returning Key Additions: C: Jordan Omogbehin, 7’2”, 285 – ESPNU Pos. #30 G: Anthony Collins, 6’1”, 175 – ESPNU Pos. #70 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/3 at (13) Kansas Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 2/19 – 2/29 at (11) Pittsburgh, at (5) Syracuse, vs. (22) Cincinnati, at (8) Louisville Prediction: 12th in BE; 17+ wins; NIT berth What to Expect: After a disappointing 2010-11, the Bulls aren’t much better off going into 201112. Their stud, Augustus Gilchrist is one of the most talented big men in the BE, but his
run-ins with coach Stan Heath cost him some games last year because “philosophical differences.” Still, there are some guys to look forward to. Jawanza Poland will return to the team in December after he recovers from back surgery and Shaun Noriega can hit from anywhere in the gym if he’s feeling it. The additions of transfers Ron Anderson, Jr. (Kansas State) and Victor Rudd (Arizona State) will give Gilchrist some help of he is up for it. The chemistry is all off with South Florida, however. They seemed to have the pieces to repeat their bubble-bursting 2010 campaign, but they never got on track. That will be the theme this year as well as Stan Heath tries to put his guys together to reach their potential. 13. Seton Hall Last Year: 13-18 overall, 7-11 Big East (12th) Coach: Kevin Willard (2nd season, 13-17) Projected Starting Five: G: Jordan Theodore, Sr. G: Fuquan Edwin, So. G: Aaron Cosby, Fr. F: Patrick Auda, So. F: Herb Pope, Sr. Key Departures: -Jeremy Hazell 19.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 35.3 mpg -Jeff Robinson 12.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 31.7 mpg Inside the Numbers: -46% scoring returning -55% rebounding returning Key Additions: C: Kevin Johsnon, 6’9”, 225 – ESPNU Pos. #26 G: Aaron Cosby 6’2”, 190 – ESPNU Pos. #39 G: Freddie Wilson, 6’2”, 275 – ESPNU Pos. #83 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/10 vs. Wake Forest Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/28 – 2/4 vs. (8) Louisville, at (21) Marquette, at (4) Connecticut Prediction: 13th in BE; 15+ wins; NIT berth
What to Expect: Seton Hall caught some bad luck last year with Jeremy Hazell and Herb Pope missing significant time due to non-basketball related injuries. Hazell was shot and Pope had a heart problem. The Pirates lose Hazell and second leading scorer Jeff Robinson, but Herb Pope showed signs at the end of last season that he could become the double-double machine he was as a sophomore. Helping Pope out with be senior PG Jordan Theodore, who anchored the backcourt last season while Hazell was out. Seton Hall also has a host of newcomers who can make an impact, including Aaron Cosby and Freddie Wilson who will likely see playing time as the first guys off the bench. The Pirates will lean on Pope and Theodore heavily for their team’s success. 14. St. John’s Last Year: 21-12 overall, 12-6 Big East (T-3rd) Coach: Steve Lavin (2nd season, 21-12) Projected Starting Five: G: Nurideen Lindsey, So. G: D’Angelo Harrison, Fr. F: Sir’Dominic Pointer, Fr. F: Moe Harkless, Fr. C: God’s Gift Achiuwa, Jr. Key Departures: -Dwight Hardy 18.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg -Justin Brownlee 12.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.9 apg -DJ Kennedy 10.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 apg Inside the Numbers: -4% scoring returning -2% rebounding returning Key Additions: G: D’Angelo Harrison, 6’3”, 186 – Rivals #40 F: Moe Harkless, 6’6”, 180 – Rivals #41 F: Sir’Dominic Pointer, 6’5” 200 – Rivals #44 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game(s): 11/17 vs. (16) Arizona, 12/1 at (2) Kentucky Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 12/31 – 1/11 at (4) Connecticut, vs. (8) Louisville, at (22) Cincinnati, at (21) Marquette
Prediction: 14th in BE; 15+ wins; NIT Bubble What to Expect: Steve Lavin came into Queens and turned a lot of heads with an impressive first year at St. John’s. The Red Storm were a little slow out of the gate, but after dismantling Duke at Madison Square Garden, the Johnnies took off, winning nine of their next 11 games. This year doesn’t promise to be as exciting for St. John’s as they practically lose their entire team to graduation. Lavin did unbelievably in recruiting, bringing in ESPNU’s third-ranked class, but with no senior leadership, it looks to be a rebuilding year for St. John’s. Another blow came when Lavin was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the coach has had surgery and hopes to be back for the start of the season. Regardless, not much can be expected from a team starting three freshman and two JuCo transfers. 15. DePaul Last Year: 7-24 overall, 1-17 Big East (16th) Coach: Oliver Purnell (2nd season, 7-24) Projected Starting Five: G: Jeremiah Kelly, Sr. G: Brandon Young, So. F: Cleveland Melvin, So. F: Tony Freeland, Jr. C: Krys Faber, Sr. Key Departures: -Jimmy Drew 6.4 ppg. 3.3 rpg, 2.1 apg -Mike Stovall 5.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.2 apg -Devin Hill 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.0 apg Inside the Numbers: -80% scoring returning -78% rebounding returning Key Additions: G: Shane Larking, 6’0”, 170 – MaxPreps #68 G: Charles McKinney, 6’4”, 190 – ESPNU Pos. #51 C: Derrell Robertson, 6’9”, 215 – ESPNU Pos. #56
Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 11/24 Minnesota Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/1 – 1/8 vs. (5) Syracuse, vs. (11) Pittsburgh, at Villanova Prediction: 15th in BE; 10+ wins What to Expect: DePaul returns a good and young core of last year’s team that showed flashes of possibly things to come. Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin enter their sophomore seasons after gaining quality experience in the freshman seasons, playing the majority of the games for the Blue Demons. Senior PG Jeremiah Kelly who led the team in minutes played and steals last season will aid Melvin and Young. Krys Faber will be the Blue Demons man in the middle and give Oliver Purnell’s team the big body they need. Tony Freeland will round out the starting five after averaging nearly 10 ppg last year. Purnell is installing his system of full-court pressing that showed it could keep DePaul close against Louisville, West Virginia and Villanova last year, but unfortunately for Blue Demons fans, it looks like it will take a few more years to realize Purnell’s dream of building the success he enjoyed at Clemson. 16. Providence Last Year: 15-17 overall, 4-14 Big East (14th) Coach: Ed Cooley (1st season, 92-69 at Fairfield Univ.) Projected Starting Five: G: Vincent Council, Jr. G: Gerald Coleman, So. F: LaDontae Henton, Fr. F: Kadeem Batts, So. C: Bilal Dixon, Jr. Key Departures: -Marshon Brooks 24.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 36.5 mpg -Duke Mondy 7.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg Inside the Numbers: -56% scoring returning -60% rebounding returning Key Additions:
F: LaDontae Henton, 6’6”, 215 – ESPNU Pos. #47 G: Kiwi Gardner, 5’8”, 155 – ESPNU #55 Schedule: Toughest Non-Conference Game: 12/1 at South Carolina Toughest In-Conference Stretch: 1/10 – 1/25 vs. (8) Louisville, at (5) Syracuse, vs. (21) Marquette, at (11) Pittsburgh Prediction: 16th in BE; 10+ wins What to Expect: The Friars are coming off an underachieving season that saw standout Marshon Brooks head to the NBA and coach Keno Davis chased out of town. Bilal Dixon and Vincent Council remain as the elder statesmen that plan to take Providence into the Ed Cooley era. Council will be the leading scoring threat for the Friars this season, but Gerald Coleman should start in the backcourt and give him some offensive help. Down low, Dixon will pair with Kadeem Batts and either LaDontae Henton or Bryce Cotton. Providence had no problem scoring last season, but their inability to stop a thing is what brought in Cooley and his defensive mindset. It may take some time for Cooley to get his run-and-gun team to buy into the defense-first philosophy, so don’t expect too much from the Friars this year.
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