Big East Morning Five: 02.14.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 14th, 2012

  1. A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM RTC BIG EAST:  This is not a test. If you have any designs on watching your favorite team take part in their upcoming conference tournament, not to mention the NCAA tournament next month, and have yet to get a Valentine’s Day gift for your significant other, what are you waiting for dude? Are you crazy? Not to worry. This important RTC announcement should post around 8:00 am eastern, which gives you plenty of time to run to your local florist, jewelry store, or car dealership (depending on how badly you want to watch “March Madness” with your buddies) and take care of business. You are welcome.
  2. What a season Jack Cooley is having for Notre Dame. He has been a model of consistency as evidenced by his four selections to the Big East Honor Roll this season but this past week Cooley ascended from steady to spectacular, averaging 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in two big wins for the surging and surprising Fighting Irish to earn him Big East Player of the Week honors. Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston earned Rookie of the Week accolades by virtue of going ham on Providence. Pinkston posted career-highs in points with 28 and rebounds with 14 to lead his team back from a 19 point second-half deficit to overtake the Friars. Marquette’s Jae Crowder stuffed the stat sheet in typical fashion to the tune of 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 steals and earned a spot on the Big East Honor Roll. Rounding out the Honor Roll are Syracuse’s Kris Joseph who went for 29 in a big win over Georgetown; Georgetown’s Otto Porter who averaged 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds; South Florida’s Hugh Robertson who helped the Bulls to two wins by averaging 12.0 points and 3.5 rebounds; and Seton Hall catalyst Jordan Theodore who got the Pirates back on track by averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 assists in two much-needed wins.
  3. I did not watch the Grammy’s the other night but you can bet Mike Brey and his Notre Dame squad are singing a tune and dancing a jig after seeing their name in the rankings. Yes, the Fighting Irish (17-8. 9-3) are your #23 ranked team and let’s just shut down Big East Coach of the Year voting now and give it to Brey. No matter what happens the rest of the way, Brey has defied odds and expectations once again, and deserves all the credit in the world. Notre Dame’s inclusion gives the Big East five ranked teams now as Syracuse (24-1, 13-1) held firm at #2 while Georgetown (19-5, 9-4) went 1-1 but benefited from other upsets and jumped up two notches anyway to #10. Marquette (21-5, 10-3) vaulted a half-dozen spots to #12 after taking out DePaul and Cincinnati. Finally, surging Louisville (20-6, 8-5) popped up five to #19 on the heels of their fifth and sixth straight wins before dropping a heartbreaker to Syracuse last night.
  4. Things are not going so well in Storrs these days. Connecticut is under .500 in conference play (5-7) after dropping two in a row and six of seven. They are facing an NCAA tournament ban next year due to Academic Performance Rating issues that could also bring headwinds for years to come. Further, and perhaps most importantly, the Huskies have been without head coach Jim Calhoun for three games with spinal stenosis and it does not appear he will be back for Wednesday’s game at home versus DePaul.  The Hartford Courant reported yesterday that Calhoun is still in “significant pain” according to those who have visited him recently. Calhoun will continue to seek medical advice and may ultimately opt for surgery that could keep him out for the rest of the season. Long time assistant George Blaney has assumed the head coaching duties in Calhoun’s absence.
  5. Cincinnati came into this season with perhaps the highest expectations and biggest target on its back (save for Connecticut perhaps) of any Big East team. The Bearcats returned their top four scorers from last year’s 26-9 team that reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years, and notched a second round win while they were at it. However it is one thing to get up near the top of the Big East, and a whole other thing to stay there. This has been an up-and-down year to say the least for Cincinnati (17-8, 7-5), but the Bearcats remain in position to grab an NCAA tournament bid if they can finish the season strong. In order to get there head coach Mick Cronin thinks it is time for his team to realize they are now the hunted and no longer the hunters. “Last year, people didn’t respect our team, even though we really were good,” Cronin said. “I watch the way other teams prepare for us. You can tell when other teams think they have to play really well to beat us.” Given that the Bearcats are no longer under the radar, Cronin needs his team to adjust their preparation accordingly because opponents view them differently now. “I don’t think our guys understand that,“ Cronin said. “It’s a hump that we have to get over, and it’s nipped us. Our weakness is we try to be too cool.” Cincinnati hosts Providence on Wednesday.
Patrick Prendergast (74 Posts)

Twitter: @FriarFrenzy


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