Big East M5: 03.12.13 EditionPosted by Will Tucker on March 12th, 2013
- The Big East named Kadeem Batts and Michael Carter-Williams co-Most Improved Players in the conference yesterday. Though Vincent Council was the only Providence player to receive Preseason All-Big East honors, it was ultimately the explosive development of his teammate at center that buttressed the Friars’ best Big East record since 2009. The embattled junior revamped a flagging college career in dramatic fashion, becoming his team’s second-leading scorer (15.2 PPG) and rebounder (7.4 RPG) after his production dipped across the board in his sophomore campaign. Batts scored 14 or more points in seven of the Friars’ final eight regular season games, and his 20-point performance in last month’s victory over Notre Dame had drawn an emphatic nomination from Mike Brey for the league’s Most Improved Player.
- Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti reiterated his support for Mike Rice yesterday, and confirmed that Rice will return to coach his fourth season despite struggles on and off the court in 2012-13. Rice is 16-38 in the Big East in his three seasons in Piscataway, with a list of reprimands that includes an ejection in Louisville last season and a three-game suspension levied by Pernetti in December for prior abusive behavior towards his players. But Pernetti told The Star-Ledger (NJ) that he was impressed with the response from Rice, who claims he’s “grown up a lot and learned a lot about what it means to be a better coach, a better person and a better leader” after the humbling experience. Pernetti conceded his program’s progress this season hasn’t manifested “in the win-loss column,” but insisted “you can definitely see us getting better.” Rice will enter the fourth season of his five-year contract in 2013-14.
- With UConn’s final game of 2012-13 in the books, The Hartford Courant’s Dom Amore evaluates the inaugural year of the Kevin Ollie era as an “unqualified success.” With the specter of impending NCAA penalties finally lifted from the shoulders of next year’s team, “any rationale for losing also disappears.” The toxicity of Storrs last year scared away transfers, exacerbated a tenuous coaching transition, and disincentivized talented players from eschewing the NBA for one more year. Suddenly, Amore contends, those bleak conditions have given way to long-term coaching stability, optimism on the recruiting trail and an opportunity to persuade UConn’s draft prospects to return to compete for a national championship next season.
- Despite the alarm surrounding Syracuse, Jim Boeheim believes it’s “very possible” his team can still regroup in the Big East Tournament and salvage a strong postseason performance. After losing seven of their final 12 and failing to eclipse 40 points in the final game of a heated rivalry, the coach admitted that the Orange are “not a good Tournament team.” But he also insisted that a couple of games in Madison Square Garden and the week of practice beyond pose valuable opportunities for the Orange to locate signs of life on offense. The Post-Standard’s Bud Poliquin points out that since starting 18-1, the Orange have shot less than 39% from the field in eight of 12 games, concluding with a 15-of-47 (31.9%) outing in the Georgetown debacle.
- Steve Politi’s Sunday column in the New Jersey Star-Ledger contains some great anecdotal history from the Big East Tournament’s humble inception. To put this week’s highly orchestrated, sold-out event in perspective, consider the following. In 1981, the second year of the tournament, four ticketless Georgetown fans entered the bowels of the Carrier Dome donning various animal costumes, including a penguin suit. Each told oblivious security guards –– who had no clue what a Hoya was supposed to look like –– that he was the official school mascot. And astonishingly, it worked, which merely underscores how many of the league’s most intimate modern rivalries were predated by striking unfamiliarity, and forged only through time and competitiveness.