Big East Morning Five: 12.22.11 Edition
Posted by mlemaire on December 22nd, 2011
- In honor of the holiday, our good friends at Ballin’ is a Habit put together a Christmas Wish List for Louisville and as is the norm with those guys, there is lots of good analysis to go around. I have no idea who Claire Bennett is because I don’t watch Heroes and personally I would have chosen Wolverine if I was looking for an example of the powers of regeneration, but the point is salient. The Cardinals need to get healthy and stay healthy. But perhaps the most intriguing bit of analysis was about the subtle decline in some of their key players’ three-point shooting percentage. I knew the Cardinals weren’t play as uptempo as last year, but I admit I didn’t realize so many players were struggling from beyond the arc. This is something that can probably be rectified as the season continues, and with the way Louisville plays defense, they will have a chance against whomever they play. But if they want to be considered legitimate title contenders, they will need to find some true scorers and having guys shoot the three-ball better will certainly help.
- Those same friends also tipped us to the short story of how Connecticut‘s star freshman Andre Drummond basically refused to take a scholarship away from redshirt freshman Michael Bradley when he enrolled early with the Huskies. The story is that, for now, Drummond counts as a walk-on as long as the financial aid he receives is non-institutional, and Bradley is back on scholarship. The school deferred to the wishes of Drummond and his family, who made the classy and selfless move to essentially pay his own way, although, as Ballin’ is a Habit pointed out, his future earnings will mean he probably won’t worry about student loans the same way most regular college students do. In a year where criticism of coddled freshmen and their handlers has run rampant, it is nice to hear that perhaps the most ballyhooed freshman in the entire class is staying grounded and refusing preferential treatment that a teammate so selflessly offered him. So Bradley gets to continue using an athletic scholarship he earned, and a future star who has had everything handed to him is showing maturity beyond his years. Great story all around.
- This note should cheer up some Villanova fans who are wondering whether their favorite program is on the verge of falling back to mediocrity. The Philadelphia Daily News wrote that despite their struggles this season, the Wildcats can basically pick and choose top local talent much to the dismay of other Big 5 programs like Temple and Saint Joseph’s. The reasons are pretty obvious: recent success, larger fan-base, and national media exposure. None of the other teams in the immediate area can boast of those traits and that’s why the article says the recruiting gap has widened in recent years. There have been rumbles from the fans about whether Jay Wright should be on the hot seat given the team’s last two seasons and to that I say pump the brakes folks. This guy has 12 NCAA Tournament wins since 2005 and his recruiting prowess in both Philadelphia and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic corridor is one of the primary reasons why. That said, the current team is underwhelming to say the least. Check back tomorrow for more in-depth analysis on why.
- A good quick hitter from the folks at CBS Sports on the development of Louisville sophomore Russ Smith, who helped spark the Cardinals comeback against College of Charleston last night. The most relevant point is hidden near the bottom and it is that star guard Peyton Siva still has not recovered fully from a bone bruise in his ankle and his play this season seems to indicate the bruise is affecting him more than anyone is letting on. Siva was 0-5 from the field last night and is averaging less than 10 points per game on the season, which would be a problem for any other team in the country that has a star suffering through a scoring drought. For Louisville it just means that Rick Pitino gets to look down the bench, find his next unheralded guard, plug him in, and expect consistent and solid play from him. Just like that. Smith was a three-star coming out of high school and now he is a sophomore with a big role on both ends of the floor for one of the ten best teams in the country.
- Did anyone else notice the building feud between West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and his second-leading rebounder Deniz Kilici? Okay so it isn’t exactly a building feud, it is more of a one-game disagreement between the junior and his coach, but I still love the brutally honest evaluations of his players that we have come to expect from Huggy Bear. It is also telling to see that no matter how badly Huggins lays into Kilici, the big man still loves his coach and wants his approval more than anything. Huggins is extracting the most out of Kilici, who has doubled his scoring average and has become a more consistent and physical interior presence. This only proves that with Huggins tough love is effective.