Big East Morning Five: 11.17.11 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on November 17th, 2011

  1. The St. John’s recruiting exodus continues.  Norvel Pelle is the latest player to de-commit from Steve Lavin’s program.  The news was initially reported by Johnny Jungle.com on Wednesday morning and confirmed by Pelle via Twitter later in the day.  The 6’10” Pelle originally signed with St. John’s as a class of 2011 recruit but was declared academically ineligible in September along with fellow highly regarded signees, small forwards JaKarr Sampson and Amir Garrett.  Garrett remains committed and is currently enrolled at Bridgton Academy (ME).  However, Sampson re-opened his recruitment shortly after being declared ineligible and re-enrolled at Brewster Academy (NH), the same prep school he attended last year.  St. John’s remains in the mix with Sampson but there is plenty of competition for his services, including Big East foes Providence and Pittsburgh.  St. John’s also recently lost a verbal committment from Ricardo Gathers, a top 2012 recruit. The loss of these players is an obvious blow to a team trying to build on a young core.  No reason behind Pelle’s decision has been confirmed but speculation exists that continued qualification issues played a role.  With regard to the multiple departures, there have been theories bandied about that Lavin’s battle with prostate cancer coupled with the instability of the Big East have played a role, but this can only be considered conjecture at the present time.
  2. Providence star guard Vincent Council was seen around campus on Wednesday sporting crutches.  Council injured his left ankle at the 9:20 mark of the first half of Providence’s last game, an 82-70 win at Fairfield on Monday.  With time running out on the shot clock, Council hoisted a deep three from the top of the key and appeared to roll the ankle when he landed on the foot of Fairfield defender Derek Needham.  At first the injury looked to be serious as Council writhed in pain on the floor for several minutes.  However, he was then able to leave the floor under his own power and checked back into the game at the 8:31 mark after a brief trip to the locker room.  The 49-second departure would ultimately represent the only game action Council would miss as he logged 39 minutes, tallying game highs in scoring (26 points) and assists (seven).  The 2-0 Friars next take the floor on Saturday afternoon when they host Florida A&M at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center as part of the South Padre Island Invitational.  While the crutches appear to be a precautionary measure, there were rumblings Wednesday evening that Council’s status for Saturday is questionable. Currently playing with just eight scholarship players, Providence can ill afford to lose Council for any period of time.
  3. Louisville, a team seeking reinforcements following injuries to Wayne Blackshear, expected to miss six-to-eight weeks while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, and Mike Marra, out for the season after tearing his ACL in Sunday’s win over Lamar, got news that they will be receiving help, although perhaps not soon enough but more on that in the next item.  As reported by ZagsBlog.com, 6’4″ guard Kevin Ware has been cleared to play with Louisville by the NCAA and can begin practicing on December 14.  It is anticipated Ware will suit up for Louisville’s December 17 home contest against Memphis at the KFC Yum! Center.  Ware’s recruitment has been fluid.  He originally signed with Tennessee a year ago but was released from that commitment when former Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl was fired.  Then Ware committed to Central Florida but got out of dodge last spring when the school came under NCAA investigation for a series of violations that ultimately led to the resignation of Athletic Director Keith Tribble and assistant football coach David Kelly, as well as a three-game suspension for men’s head basketball coach Donnie Jones.
  4. In related ankle and Louisville news (how’s that for a tie in of the last two items!), Louisville coach Rick Pitino has declared junior guard Peyton Siva (10.5 PPG, 6 APG) doubtful with a sprained ankle suffered in Monday’s practice when he landed on Elisha Justice’s foot.  The 2-0 Cardinals hit the road to face 1-1 Butler on Saturday and, if Siva cannot go, Pitino will have to mix and match at the point, citing a difficult match-up with Butler senior guard Ronald Nored, “the best defensive point guard in the country.”  Sophomore Russ Smith and junior Chris Smith have limited experience at the point but will also likely be called upon.  6’9″ junior forward Stephan Van Treese, a player who has been out with a knee injury, has returned to practice and is expected to play on Saturday.
  5. Notre Dame leading scorer Eric Atkins (20.0 PPG) was forced to miss last night’s game versus Sam Houston State due to illness.  This left the Fighting Irish down two starters as Tim Abromaitis continues to serve a four-game suspension for playing in exhibition games prior to his redshirt year in 2008-09.  It was also reported that starting guard Joey Brooks was battling a bug that appears to be making its way through the team.  Brooks started the game but left in the first half and did not return, although he did remain on the bench for the second half.  Fortunately the Irish were playing the Bearkats and not the Bearcats as they managed to squeak out a 74-41 victory despite being shorthanded in a game that was over by halftime. Freshman Pat Connaughton led the onslaught, scoring 17 first half points en route to a game high 24 (6-10 3FGs). Sophomore Alex Dragicevich started in Atkins’ place and contributed seven points, three rebounds, three assists and a block.  If this rash of illness continues, it could have a short-term impact as Notre Dame has two games over the next five days, including a match-up with #24 Missouri on Monday.  Irish Fans, your friends at RTC Big East are here to help!
Patrick Prendergast (74 Posts)

Twitter: @FriarFrenzy


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