Big East Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition
Posted by mlemaire on November 23rd, 2011
- On October 28, the Big 12 formally announced that it had accepted West Virginia into the conference. Three days later, West Virginia sued the Big East conference in hopes of entering the Big 12, which had already agreed to accept them, as early as next year. The Big East wasn’t about to let one of their premier schools leave without a fight, especially considering it would set a dangerous precedent for other defectors Syracuse and Pittsburgh, so the conference countersued, hoping to block the Mountaineers’ move until 2014. Well, West Virginia recognized that decision, and appears ready to blatantly ignore it. Over the weekend, Athletic Director Oliver Luck said he expected West Virginia to be in the Big 12 next year, and couldn’t resist kicking the conference while it was down as well. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports relayed this juicy quote in a column Monday, “We were fortunate to get out,” Luck told the Charleston Gazette. “We got out [of the Big East] when the ship was seriously going down. I mean, only the tip of the sail was showing.” Ouch Mr. Luck, that wasn’t very nice. It is hard to argue with the logic on either side here, which makes this defection all the more ugly. West Virginia wants to get out and move on so they can get a piece of that juicy TV contract the Big 12 signed with Fox. And the Big East isn’t keen on letting their best football program and a quality basketball program leave at what they feel is a moments notice, because it opens the door for more lawsuits and hasty exits. This has all the makings of a long and protracted legal battle, so strap in Mountaineer fans, it could get bumpy.
- In related news, CBS Sports reported last night that the Big East’s courtship of Brigham Young University has come to an end. OK, you may not think this is as juicy as Ashton and Demi but we do! The main point of contention leading to the break-up appears to be, yep, you guessed it…money! BYU signed a lucrative eight-year television contract last year with ESPN to broadcast home games and it appears control of these rights is where the impasse lies. While The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting the Big East – BYU relationship may ultimately prove stalled, CBS Sports is taking a firmer position saying that the conference is done with BYU and exploring its next option, which is to add San Diego State as a football-only member. The Aztecs would ostensibly be part of a plan to join fellow new football-only members Boise State, Air Force, and Navy along with soon-to-be-announced full members: Houston, Southern Methodist, and Central Florida. This would result in a 12 football and 16 basketball member Big East once all the Mayflower vans got done doing their thing. While the projected alignment arguably would create a better football conference than exists today, it would certainly result in a regression basketball-wise. To that end there have been some vocal proponents (see Rick Pitino) of adding two more all-sport, but basketball-centric members such as Temple and Memphis.
- After last week’s discouraging home loss to Long Beach State, Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon was glad to have six days off to rest his weary team and, according to him, “get the younger guys going”. The loss to the 49ers caused the Panthers to tumble all the way to #16 in the most recent AP poll heading into last night’s game against La Salle and the Panthers, while displaying a much improved defensive effort, got all they could handle from a tough Explorer team who took Villanova to overtime last week, and squeaked out a 73-69 win at the Peterson Events Center. While star senior guard, and preseason Big East Player of the Year selection, Ashton Gibbs struggled through a poor shooting night (3 of 15), it was one of the youngsters who keyed the defensive effort for Dixon’s squad. Freshman Khem Birch had an active 13 minutes, tallying four points, six rebounds, and three blocks. Birch spent some time at the center spot last night, and drew praise from his coach, “He was more effective there,” Dixon said. “He was playing both (forward and center) and we’ve got to get him more comfortable playing there.” Junior guard Travon Woodall logged a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists to pace the 3-1 Panthers. The 5’11” guard also registered three blocks, including a huge one down the stretch to preserve the victory.
- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun held sophomore forward Roscoe Smith out of a preseason game for missing a “team commitment” and it looked like the sophomore role player might cede his playing time to talented freshman DeAndre McDaniels. The problem, according to Calhoun and teammates is that Smith tends to sulk in the face of adversity when he should be doubling his effort. Currently his averages (6 PPG and 3 RPG) are similar to last year’s numbers and that’s not great. Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi are going to carry UConn all season, but the team needs a healthy, energetic, and upbeat Smith — whether it is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench — once they play fiercer competition. The linked article notes that Smith was better on both ends of the court against Coppin State, but Coppin State isn’t a Big East-caliber team, and that same pep will need to carryover to the conference schedule if the Huskies hope to repeat.
- As noted here yesterday courtesy of future Friar Ricky Ledo, Providence has been on the prowl for some front court help. We thought he meant for next year but as it turns out coach Ed Cooley may (and may is the operative word here) be getting a big for the second semester as 6’10” Daquan Brown announced via his Facebook page on Tuesday that he will be transferring to Providence. While it is not known yet if Brown will be able to play right away, the need for more immediate help is likely due to the fact the Friars have been playing with just eight scholarship players as red-shirt sophomore Kadeem Batts, perhaps their best big man, is serving an indefinite suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules and freshman guard Kiwi Gardner is out pending appeal of an NCAA academic eligibility ruling concerning his prep school curriculum. Brown, a New York native, is currently enrolled at Fresno State and on their basketball roster however he has yet to play there due to what appears to be his own indefinite team suspension. Out of Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School Brown appeared headed for Oklahoma State until academic issues redirected him to Barstow Community College (CA) where he averaged 12 points and ten rebounds per game. Brown visited Providence this past weekend and was in attendance for the Friars’ victory over Florida A&M.