Big East Afternoon Five: 01.31.12 EditionPosted by mlemaire on January 31st, 2012
- We start our belated end-of-the-month Morning Five by talking about Stan Heath and his South Florida Bulls. Despite boasting a 6-3 conference record, very few actually believe the Bulls will still be in the thick of the Big East race by the end of the regular season, and they are probably right. Heath’s team has exactly zero quality wins and the schedule will get much more difficult down the stretch, but let’s give credit where credit is due. South Florida is not a premier program, and now they have won six conference games for just the second time since 2006, so Heath deserves a fist-pound, even if he probably won’t get a long-term contract extension.
- Kudos to Mike Vaccaro for first sniffing out the story that Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim went to school at the same time that New York Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin did, because now we know that Boeheim was actually Coughlin’s resident assistant. This is the type of story with absolutely zero sporting implications but tons of fun anecdotes. For example, Boeheim thought Coughlin would end up being a middle school math teacher. Can you imagine the terrified eighth-graders that had to learn fractions while Coughlin cursed them out? Yeah, I think football coach is probably a better fit.
- Postgame locker room videos have become an Internet staple in recent months and while Notre Dame‘s Mike Brey‘s speech after his team beat Connecticut wasn’t quite as inspirational, it was still fun to watch. We have already done it in this space plenty, but let’s give Brey just a little bit more praise for the way he has coached an undermanned team to the top half of the Big East. Every year it seems like Notre Dame has less talent than other teams in the conference, yet every year Brey has this team exceeding expectations. There is a lot of basketball left to play, and of course its entirely possible the Fighting Irish fade and fall off the bubble, but I won’t count them out as long as Brey is on the bench.
- Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is rapidly becoming one of my favorite columnists if only because there are few columnists in the country who pump out quality college basketball columns as often as Cook does. You had to know he would be back at it today after the Pittsburgh Panthers won their third straight conference game and are on their way to reclaiming some of the respect they had lost when they lost their first seven. If you didn’t notice the theme, it is that the Panthers are going to keep fighting despite the fact that the NCAA Tournament is still a longshot at this point. We will take a closer look at Pittsburgh’s postseason chances either tonight or tomorrow, so make sure to check back.
- The good folks of The Hartford Courant decided to state the obvious — Connecticut needs to right the ship, and they need to do it quickly. The Huskies have five games left on their schedule against teams ahead of them in the conference standings and don’t look too closely but Jim Calhoun has had some recent success in helping his team get back on track quickly. The difference is that last year’s team had a clear leader in Kemba Walker, but the current version of the Huskies are really young and in need of a steadying influence on the court. Plenty of people in Storrs are hoping they find it quickly.