Trick-or-Treat: Burning Questions for Five Big East Teams, Part II

Posted by Joe Papandrea on October 30th, 2015

Happy Halloween! Yesterday Part I of our “Trick or Treat” piece was published where we asked and answered a burning question for five teams in the Big East. Today it’s time for the top half of the league, as projected by the conference’s coaches. Let’s get right to it!

Providence: Will the Friars find a sidekick to join their Batman Kris Dunn?

Ben Bentil might be that key player for the Friars to compliment their star. (Getty)

Ben Bentil might be that key player for the Friars to complement their star. (Getty)

Treat: Kris Dunn was ridiculous last season and he is a consensus preseason First Team All-American after spurning the riches of the NBA. He will be Ed Cooley’s Batman, but in order to punch a third straight NCAA Tournament ticket this season, the Friars will need a Robin to step into that number two role previously held by LaDontae Henton. The smart money is on Ben Bentil. The 6’9” sophomore averaged a modest 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last year, but showed flashes of being a force in the paint. The power forward had back-to-back double doubles in the Big East Tournament, going for 14 points and 13 boards against St. John’s in the quarterfinals and then 12/10 against Villanova. Look for that strong finish to carry over to this year and for Bentil to help alleviate some of the pressure off of his star point guard’s shoulders.

Xavier: Can the Musketeers find a point guard to replace Dee Davis?

Trick: Chris Mack has proved his worth at his alma mater in his first six seasons by boasting a 65.4 percent winning rate. Only once in his career has Xavier won fewer than 20 games in that span so it is foolish to bet against him. However, with Dee Davis’ graduation, this team is severely lacking a floor general. Davis played just under 33 minutes per game and averaged 6.0 assists to only 2.4 turnovers per game. This year’s squad will look to fill the hole with three guys: Myles Davis, Larry Austin Jr., and Edmond Sumner. Davis is a natural two, Austin Jr. only played 4.3 minutes per game last year; and Sumner missed 25 games with knee injuries. If Sumner, a former top 100 recruit, can stay healthy, he seems to be the best fit for Mack, but that is a big if when you are dealing with knee issues.

Butler: Will the Bulldogs be able to rebound enough to win games?

Trick: The Butler Bulldogs have built a brand in college basketball’s landscape by playing with extreme physicality on defense and on the glass. One of the prominent pieces of that puzzle has graduated in Kameron Woods. He was a glue guy and may not have received the headlines that Kellen Dunham or Roosevelt Jones did, but his importance cannot be understated. Woods averaged 9.9 rebounds a game last year and was not only one of the best rebounders in the Big East, but also the entire country. His presence also allowed Andrew Chrabascz, an undersized power forward, to flourish on offense without being exposed on the defensive end. This year the only players on the roster over 6’7” are sophomores Tyler WidemanJackson Davis and freshman Nate Fowler. Wideman is the most experienced, but still with only 10.9 minutes per game of experience. The lack of height may be too much of a deficiency for Chris Holtmann and his team to overcome in 2015-16.

Can D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead the Hoyas to national prominence? (USA TODAY Sports)

Can D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead the Hoyas to national prominence? (USA TODAY Sports)

Georgetown: Can D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead the Hoyas to national prominence?

Treat: When D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera made the decision to put off his professional career and return to the Hilltop for his senior season, Georgetown’s outlook for the year ahead became significantly altered. DSR is a clear alpha dog and an elder statesman on a team that is loaded with young talent. He was the leading scorer a year ago at 16.3 points per game and the only returning upperclassman to average more than five minutes per night. The freshman and sophomores on John Thompson III’s roster are supremely talented. Five were ESPN top 100 players, and all should have a chance to make serious contributions. Inconsistencies are part of the maturation of any young player, but they will be a lot easier to work through with a senior leader like Smith-Rivera around. Look for the sophomore trio of Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak, and Paul White to help Smith-Rivera turn the Hoyas back into a national force this winter.

Villanova: Will Jay Wright know how to handle his three point guards?

Treat: If there is one thing Jay Wright knows how to do right, it’s winning with guard heavy lineups. Recent Wildcat history has witnessed more traditional lineups, but Wright loves to play the best five players he has, regardless of position. So even though reigning Big East Co-Player of the Year Ryan Arcidiacono, McDonald’s All-American Jalen Brunson, and potential star Phil Booth all fit the mold of traditional point guards, they will likely share extensive time together on the floor in Wright’s system. There is loads of talent here, and the Wildcats should be able to play a fun, up-tempo style that will also continue to win them games.

Joe Papandrea (2 Posts)

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