Big East Morning Five: 01.13.12 EditionPosted by Patrick Prendergast on January 13th, 2012
- Dude, did you eat a bad pierogi at halftime or something? Pittsburgh is down and Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is not about to let anyone forget it with his ‘piece’ yesterday. One that featured gems like, “Really. Practice some more. Or maybe less.” He also referenced one of Pitt’s players (yes, an amateur, college player) as being “awful.” Yes, it was written fresh of an embarrassing 62-39 home loss to Rutgers. Yes, it was the Panthers’ fifth straight defeat. Yes, it was a game where Pittsburgh had just four baskets in the first half, a stat Collier pounced on. “Pitt made four field goals in the first half. Let me dive on the floor for some perspective on that. If you selected five Pitt students at random, subjected them to zero coaching, let them practice by themselves once a week, kicked each of them in the shins as they walked onto the court, they might get four baskets in 20 minutes.” OK, Gene we will take you up on that and do you one better. Grab four of your buddies, if you can find four, and roll over to The Pete. Try not to kick too many dogs along the way. The clock is set at 20:00. Let’s see if you can get four buckets against the Panther team you are ripping. They’ll be waiting, as will Jamie Dixon and his 227-66 (.774) overall and 98-42 (.700) Big East record. I just hope I can be there to write about it.
- Many tout Syracuse as the deepest team in the country. Well, Jim Boeheim added to his team in preparation to face a different bench as he has hired an attorney to defend him in the slander lawsuit brought by the alleged Bernie Fine sexual abuse victims. C. James Zeszutek, a managing partner with Pittsburgh’s Dinsmore & Shohl law firm who holds three degrees from Syracuse (including his law degree), will represent Boeheim. The plaintiffs, Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, brought the defamation suit against Boeheim in indicating that they had ulterior motives in their molestation accusations against Fine. Zeszutek has expansive experience defending a number of college coaches, including the likes of Jim O’Brien and John Calipari when they were accused of NCAA violations at Ohio State and Memphis, respectively.
- Speaking of Syracuse’s depth, for how many teams would Dion Waiters start? Um, most of them? One of the few exceptions happens to be the team he’s currently on. After something of an adjustment to a reserve role, the scoring, stealing, sophomore guard is excelling and feeling just fine about his role off the bench. Waiters confessed, “It used to mess with me a little… I was one of the top 15 players in the country coming out of high school. I expected to start as soon as I got here.” Well, he did not, playing in 34 games as a freshman and starting none (6.6 PPG, 16.3 MPG). Further, in his second year, he still does not. Waiters has come off the bench in all of the undefeated Orange’s 18 victories to the tune of 22.3 minutes, 12.9 points and 2.9 assists per contest. He is clearly comfortable with his role, as it has not deterred from his production. His averages in points and assists are good for second on the team, while his 2.2 steals per game lead the way.
- We talk a lot about unheralded players here at RTC Big East, and it is finally Davante Gardner’s turn. Before going further however, an apology is in order. How could we have missed this guy? He’s 6’8”, 280 pounds! In all seriousness, Gardner, in fact, has been on the radar. We have touched upon the aspects of his assuming a bigger role in the absence of injured teammate Chris Otule. Well, after after career-highs in points (22) and rebounds (15) in Wednesday’s win over St. John’s, Gardner now commands our full attention. In some ways Gardner (9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG) is a microcosm of his program and his coach. Who gushes about #25 Marquette (13-4, 2-2) and Buzz Williams? Yet, all they do is beat you time and time again. As Williams very appropriately stated on Gardner and his team, “His [Gardner’s] energy level on a daily basis and our team’s energy level on a daily basis determines a lot for us. Energy and attitude say a lot in life and say a lot in basketball.” Gardner, who came off the bench in the Golden Eagles’ first eight games, has started seven of the last nine for the Golden Eagles, averaging 11.6 points and seven rebounds per game.
- It is Friday the 13th and, as luck would have it, a slow news day at time of writing so let’s have fun with numbers and take a look at ESPN’s latest power rankings from a Big East perspective. Guess what? Syracuse (18-0, 5-0) tops the list. The Orange certainly sit head and shoulders above the rest of the Big East, and they seem to be inching away from the national pack as well. Similar to the national polls, ESPN’s Top 10 consists of no other Big East teams. Georgetown (13-3, 3-2) checks in next at #13. The Hoyas have been bitten of late, and are riding a two-game losing streak. Connecticut (13-3, 3-2) is sitting right behind Georgetown at #14. The Huskies were rolling before back-to-back Garden State spoilings by Seton Hall and Rutgers before getting back on track with a victory over West Virginia. At #24, Marquette (13-4, 2-2) rounds out the Big East power ranking presence. The Golden Eagles, who are treading water with a 3-4 record over their last seven, have what could be perceived as a softer stretch coming up. Their next five opponents consist of Pittsburgh, Louisville, at Providence, South Florida and at Villanova.