Big East Morning Five: 11.21.11 EditionPosted by mlemaire on November 21st, 2011
- The biggest basketball-related story in the conference is still the allegations that Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine molested two former ball boys, but we would prefer to cover the reactions in more depth in a post to run later this morning. That said, it is worth noting that recruiting has already been affected as highly regarded Class of 2014 prospect and New York native, Isaiah Whitehead, dropped the Orange from his list of schools. It’s worth pointing out that Whitehead won’t be matriculating anytime soon, so plans could change based on how the story develops, but in reading the quote from Whitehead’s mother, she didn’t exactly leave the door wide open. Whitehead’s high school coach later told ESPN New York that Whitehead’s mother was confused and thought the allegations were about head coach Jim Boeheim. Regardless of the truth, the rumors and accompanying misinformation are indicative of the fact that Boeheim will have his work cut out for him on the recruiting trail as these allegations continue to swirl.
- It was a rough weekend in their home gym for Steve Lavin and St. John’s. Hosting the 2K Sports Classic, the Johnnies held Arizona to 41% from the floor but turned the ball over 17 times in an 81-72 loss to the Wildcats in the semifinal. Then, in the third-place game against Texas A&M, Lavin’s young club went just 22-38 from the free-throw line including two missed by Nurideen Lindsey with 2.3 seconds left that made the difference in a 58-57 loss. But the low point was undoubtedly having Anna Cate Kennedy — daughter of Aggies’ new coach Billy Kennedy — receiving her fair share of credit for the win for her ear-splitting screams during St. John’s free-throw attempts. The story is old by now so not much else needs to be said, but it can never be fun when the media only half-jokingly claims you were beaten by a seven-year-old girl.
- While some Big East teams have struggled against lesser opponents in the early going, Marquette has not been one of them. The Golden Eagles scored their third 30-point win last night, a 96-66 win over Mississippi in the Paradise Jam semifinals, to improve to 4-0 on the season. The hometown Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes head coach Buzz Williams in saying “we have struggled defensively.” I am not sure what numbers he is looking at, because the Golden Eagles currently rank No. 22 in defensive efficiency, but since they are No. 6 in offensive efficiency, I guess defense is the “problem.” The real issue will be deciding on a starting point guard, where Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan are battling for the majority of the minutes.
- As if the country needed any more proof about the ability of Connecticut sophomore Jeremy Lamb, the All-American candidate sprained his ankle in Saturday’s practice and still scored 25 points in 37 minutes against an overmatched Coppin State team. Coppin State is not very good, but Lamb was apparently touch-and-go for the game even as he arrived at the arena. There are still some doubters who think UConn can’t repeat without star guard Kemba Walker. Those people need to start watching Lamb because as good as he was last year, he is going to be a different player this year.
- There was lots of high praise for the Cincinnati Bearcats heading into the season. Letting an underwhelming Presbyterian team rally for a 56-54 win after being down 15 points with less than eight minutes to play is the kind of dud to make that praise look foolish. CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish gave the loss his “loss to hide from” this weekend and deservedly so. Mick Cronin‘s team better hope they don’t end up on the bubble when February rolls around, because that kind of embarrassing loss, even early in the season, won’t look great in the eyes of the tournament committee.