Big East Morning Five: 12.29.11 EditionPosted by Patrick Prendergast on December 29th, 2011
- As discussed here yesterday, Rick Pitino made headlines when he stated he would not continue coaching once his contract expires after the 2016-17 season. We linked to the ESPN story in that post and have done so again here because it is important to highlight Pitino’s quote. He said, “My contract’s going to run out in 2017. I’m not coaching anymore after that.” Yes, we have to break out the Lee Corso voice here…”NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!” Just a day later on ESPN’s air during Louisville’s game against Georgetown, announcers John Sciambi and Dick Vitale discussed the matter, saying they spoke to Pitino about it prior to the game. According to Sciambi, Pitino said his comments were “misconstrued,” and that they were a “tongue-in-cheek type of thing.” Further Sciambi said Pitino indicated he “never alluded to retirement” and “in no way was he implying that we was going to stop coaching.” OK then. While his backtracking is not a surprise, his explanation is a bit of a head scratcher. Either Pitino was misquoted by just about every news outlet in the world the other day, or he as a great future in politics whenever he does decide to hang up the whistle.
- In a continued homage to Lee Corso, when # 4 Louisville dropped its first game of the season, a 71-68 home loss to #12 Georgetown, Cardinals’ freshman Chane Behanan was rendered incorrect. Behanan predicted an undefeated Louisville season a week-and-a-half ago following an eight-point victory over Memphis. Behanan said at the time, “We’re the number one team in the country in my eyes. We’re going undefeated. Point blank, period.” Clearly no one, including us, took Behanan’s comments all that seriously, nor was anyone holding him to his bravado. He must have been somewhat convincing though. Two people actually bought in and gave Louisville first place votes in this week’s Associated Press Poll. In a related story, RTC’s crack team of investigators is reviewing Behanan’s family tree for college basketball writers. However what Behanan, his teammates, and the Louisville faithful may have been guilty of last night is complacence. Louisville has a huge game coming up on New Year’s Eve at #3 Kentucky, and dare we say they may have looked past Georgetown a bit? There was even a comment during the ESPN broadcast that the KFC Yum! Center seemed somewhat low key. Whether Louisville let down their guard a bit or not, take nothing away from the Hoyas (12-1). They are rolling. Since their four-point loss to #17 Kansas on November 21, Georgetown has won nine in a row including three over teams that were ranked at the time.
- While West Virginia won its game on the court last night (83-69 over Villanova) they lost a decision in the court on Tuesday. Providence (RI) County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein said “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND” to the university’s desire to have decisions regarding the timing of their official defection to the Big 12 rendered outside of Rhode Island. ” (Hey, it may be lame, but it’s a theme. At least I did not emerge and put on one of those old colonial judge wigs. See… you chuckled just then.) Rhode Island is the location of Big East headquarters, and a darn fine state in its own right. The court also denied West Virginia’s request that a suit filed against them by the Big East be rejected. Big East bylaws stipulate that any school electing to leave the conference must wait 27 months before it can formally do so. West Virginia filed suit against the conference challenging the rule, as it wants to enter the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season. The Big East then quickly filed the aforementioned countersuit saying that West Virginia’s suit is baseless and they must abide by the rules they previously agreed to.
- Fab Melo’s development and credibility took a nice leap forward last night as he notched his first career double-double, hitting career-highs in scoring with 12 points and blocks with 10 in a 75-49 rout of Seton Hall. The 10 blocks also set a Syracuse record and he missed a triple-double by just three rebounds. As noted here yesterday, a key indicator in the maturation of Melo would be his performance against the type of frontcourt competition the Big East brings night in and night out. So far, so good. Seton Hall came into the game at 11-1 with some nice wins over the likes of Virginia Commonwealth, St. Joseph’s, Auburn and Dayton. Check. Seton Hall has Herb Pope who is a beast and came into the game averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per contest. Pope finished last night’s game with four points, nine rebounds and six turnovers. Check. It has been well documented that Melo came into this season in much better shape, which is helping him to stay on the floor and concentrate on basketball over fitness. With the fitness hurdle cleared, his confidence is growing which can only help. “I wasn’t surprised,” Melo said after the game “I’ve put a lot of work in. I’m still working hard to get better and I’m sure you’ll see better things from me. You’re going to be more surprised.”
- When the schedule came out, Rutgers fans certainly had today’s date circled on their calendars as the Scarlet Knights will be hosting #10 Florida tonight. While it is always great to welcome one of the country’s top programs into your arena for a non-conference game, the cherry on top in this one is the return of Mike Rosario. Rosario starred at Rutgers for two years, scoring over 1,000 points in a Scarlet Knight uniform before transferring to Florida. He is a hometown kid who played for legendary coach Bob Hurley, Sr., at Jersey City’s equally legendary St. Anthony’s High School. Despite Rosario’s individual success at Rutgers, as a fine Star-Ledger/NJ.com piece by Brendan Prunty points out, he did not see a near-term opportunity to win in Piscataway. That, coupled with the departure of Fred Hill, the head coach who recruited him, prompted Rosario to explore his options and ultimately head south to Gainesville. Rosario (9.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG this season) has missed the Gators’ last two games with a nagging back injury and his status for tonight’s game is questionable, but he says he is ‘100 percent right now’ and will play in the game.