Big East M5: 01.22.13 EditionPosted by Dan Lyons on January 22nd, 2013
- Rick Pitino was pretty upset after Louisville’s loss to Syracuse on Saturday, but the Cardinals players seem ready to move past the game and prepare for tonight’s showdown with Villanova: “This team is not devastated by the loss, I was devastated for them… They came back the next day. They were the same old group, it didn’t bother them one bit.” It makes sense. Louisville’s a veteran squad coming off of a Final Four run last season; they’ve been through the wars and have just about reached the peak of the college basketball mountain. A longer stretch with the #1 ranking would have been cool, but luckily for college basketball fans, it really doesn’t mean much come Tournament time.
- As for Syracuse, the starting backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche has emerged as the key to the Orange’s success. Against Louisville, an 18-point first half outburst by Triche kept Syracuse in the game during an awful stretch by his young running mate, but it was MCW who made the clutch plays in the last five minutes to clinch the victory. In a second straight close win against Cincinnati, Carter-Williams was a steady presence throughout, finishing with 16 points and seven assists, and he and Triche again combined to make the game’s most crucial plays. Triche’s veteran presence and newfound consistency has really made him a nice counter-punch to Carter-Williams’ brilliant though frequently frenetic play.
- Lenn Robbins’ has taken notice of the parity in the Big East this season, and contends that it is making for a great “final” season for the league as we know it. Following close games between Notre Dame and Rutgers, Syracuse and Louisville, and Marquette and Georgetown, Robbins spoke with a few different Big East coaches, and the resounding theme is that teams shouldn’t take any wins for granted: “‘You can’t blink in this league this year,’ Rutgers coach Mike Rice said, ‘or you’re going to lose two, three games in a row and you’re going to fall down in the standings.’’’ While the league seems to be breaking up into a few tiers, its not all that easy to define them yet (after Louisville and Syracuse at least), and with pretty much every team still involved and jockeying for position heading into the meat of the schedule.
- Because UConn hasn’t had enough bad things happen to it yet this season, Shabazz Napier is currently dealing with a shoulder injury as the Huskies have dropped two straight games. Napier sustained the injury against Louisville, and although he played and ‘was 100-percent’ against Pittsburgh, according to Kevin Ollie, it was apparent to those who watched that Napier wasn’t himself. While the UConn faithful can add this injury to the long list of excuses for poor play from the Huskies, Ollie isn’t having any of it: “We’re banned from the NCAA Tournament but we’re never banned from heart. We’re never banned from having determination. We’re never banned for excelling. We got a lot of things to play for, and we got the pride of UC on our chest. UConn is a special place and we’re never banned from that. We’re never banned from going out here and showing our family and our friends what we’re made out of.”
- Pittsburgh’s Dante Taylor has never really lived up to expectations; the senior was a McDonald’s All-American in high school, but he has only started 20 total games in his four years with the Panthers. However, to his credit, he has stuck with the program and is currently a key contributor to a team that seems to have bounced back from a rough 2011-12 season. His stat lines may not blow many people away, but Taylor is able to make the key little plays that end up going a long way towards Pitt victories. In the Panthers’ recent win over UConn, Taylor was huge down the stretch: “In the final four minutes — after UConn had rallied to tie the score at 58 — he dished out the game‘s biggest assist, grabbed his fifth offensive rebound and hit two free throws and a basket to ensure Pitt‘s third victory in the past four outings.”