Search Results

Search Results for: sypher

Morning Five: 04.07.11 Edition

  1. Most of the news around college basketball yesterday was about players putting their names into the NBA Draft. Some were expected like Kyrie Irving while others were a bit more surprising like Scotty Hopson. Two teams–UNC and Kansas–appear to have done rather well yesterday as each saw a pair of players (John Henson and Tyler Zeller for UNC and Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson for Kansas) who many felt might put their names into the NBA Draft decide to stay in school for at least one more year. Both programs are still waiting for other players to announce their intentions, but should be on the short list of favorites to cut down the nets in New Orleans next April.
  2. Last week we mentioned the interest shown by Oklahoma in BYU coach Dave Rose although the Sooners subsequently signed UNLV coach Lon Krueger. It looks like the BYU administration took note as they signed Rose to a 5-year extension, which is an unusually long contract at the school for a basketball coach. BYU will not be the power it was this season in the near future, but it is seems like they are making basketball a priority and are trying to remain competitive in the post-Jimmer world.
  3. Yesterday, we expressed shock at the fact that Miami had not contacted Kansas State coach Frank Martin about becoming their head coach. As The Miami Herald notes money may be the reason they have not contacted Martin or Alabama coach Anthony Grant. The two coaches earn $1.55 and $1.8 million per year respectively, which is significantly above what Frank Haith made while he was there ($1 million per year). Miami has a history of low-ball offers for football coaches so we would be surprised if they broke the bank to get a basketball coach even he could turn around the program.
  4. You already saw our Way Too Early Top 25 and you will be seeing a many other similar rankings online in the next few weeks. Luke Winn and Jeff Goodman recently put out their pre-preseason rankings which are worth checking out to get a gauge on some lesser-known teams that you should keep an eye on for next season. Of course, you should realize that these are moving targets as players will be going in and out of the NBA Draft everyday so expect to see a lot of changes in the next month or two.
  5. Finally, you certainly remember Karen Sypher, the women convicted of trying to extort Louisville coach Rick Pitino after his very brief encounter with her. Yesterday she reported to prison in Florida, but her attorneys reportedly plan on filing appeals on her behalf so this probably will not be the last we hear of her.

ATB: Longhorns Make a Bold Statement Against Kansas

The Lede. Saturday afternoon was the first weekend day this year that the game had the sporting world to itself.  And man, was it worth it.  If five games featuring ranked teams playing each other wasn’t enough for you, you were also rewarded with the oh-so-brief return of Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl, several solid upsets, at least one RTC and, of course, another explosion from The Jimmer.  Sunday wasn’t nearly as exciting because most schools and media outlets avoided competing with the NFL playoffs, but the next two weeks are all ours, so lets enjoy it, shall we?

The Horns Hooked KU in Lawrence (AP/O. Wagner)

Your Watercooler MomentTexas Ends Kansas’ Home Winning Streak at 69 Games. On a weekend of impressive road victories, this was easily the most compelling.  In fact, a reasonable argument could be made that Texas winning in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time ever and breaking KU’s 69-game homecourt winning streak is the most impressive road win of the season.  Consider that there are second-semester seniors at KU who, until Saturday, had been attending games for nearly four years and never witnessed a KU loss — the looks of disbelief in the eyes of some of those Jayhawk students on Saturday surely told the tale.  We asked our Twitter followers that afternoon, even prior to Texas taking control of this game, who they thought were the teams with the greatest upside between now and March.  We think it’s fairly clear now that the top choice should be Texas — this is a team nobody will want to play in the postseason.  As much as the Horns disintegrated in a quagmire of finger-pointing and poor team chemistry last season, this year’s squad seems to trust one another.  Led by the scoring talents of Jordan Hamilton on the wing and a flypaper defense that holds teams under 40% from two and 30% from three, they have dominated the Big 12 through only four games of the conference slate (average margin of victory = 20.8 PPG).  The UT defense did something in Allen Fieldhouse that we’ve never seen occur — completely shut down the Kansas attack.  After an emotional 18-3 start (Thomas Robinson’s mother unexpectedly died on Friday night) where KU appeared on the verge of blowing out the Horns, Texas instead chipped away the rest of the half and ultimately finished the game with a 71-45 run of its own.  When was the last time anybody went +26 on Kansas in AFH?  Much of it was directly attributable to the work that Texas big men Gary Johnson and Matt Hill did on the Morris twins.  For the better part of this month, the Morrises have run roughshod over everybody in their way, averaging 38/19 combined while dominating the post — on Saturday, they combined to shoot 8-24 FG for a much more manageable 26/12, forcing the KU guards (including the still-struggling Josh Selby, who was 2-9) to beat them.  They could not, as one of the very best offensive teams in the country was completely stymied by the UT defense — there were no open looks as Bill Self’s team bricked its way to one of its worst home shooting games in years (36%).  Rick Barnes’ team is still figuring itself out, but the potential is there — the Horns already have wins at East Lansing, Lawrence and vs. UNC in Greensboro this season.  This Texas team could be scary good, but they have to continue believing in each other this time around and not let the demons re-appear; if they do so, they’re on the short list of teams capable of cutting the nets down in their home state –only 165 miles from campus in Houston — later this season.

Your Watercooler Moment, Part II. Big-Time Road Wins.  We mentioned this above, but Texas wasn’t the only team this weekend that had an impressive road win.  Villanova went into Syracuse and dropped bombs on the one-loss Orange; Ohio State stared down the Illini in Champaign and never blinked; BYU successfully navigated a trap game at Colorado State behind The Jimmer’s 42 points; and Wisconsin reminded Northwestern of the Big Ten pecking order by destroying the Wildcats in Evanston.  We’re all sophisticated enough to know that credibility as a title contender comes from winning on the road when every person in the house hates you with all of their being — each of these teams showed this weekend why they should be taken seriously.  In order to beat them, you’re going to have to play a fantastic game no matter where the venue is situated.

For our BGTD analyses of Saturday’s full slate of games, here’s Part I (early afternoon) and Part II (late afternoon).

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

  • Jared Sullinger as NPOY.  Much is being made about the outward confidence that Sullinger displayed in the huddle prior to Ohio State going on a 14-0 run in the second half of its game against Illinois on Saturday, but the bigger takeaway from that win is that Ohio State has a weapon that nobody else in the country has — a big man who can score at will inside.  Nobody can check this guy, as his 27/16/3 blks against the large front line of Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale attest.  When he doesn’t score off the catch, he forces a foul, drawing almost seven per game, and scores from the line (13-15 FTs Saturday).  The only way to stop him is to deny him the ball, but that will mean doubling him and giving up wide-open shots for his talented corps of teammates including Jon Diebler, David Lighty, William Buford and DeShaun Thomas.  Good luck with that strategy.  To compare him with another great OSU freshman post man of recent vintage, Sullinger isn’t the defender that Greg Oden was, but he’s far beyond Oden on the offensive end.
  • The Jimmer as Must-See Basketball.  It was the first sellout in seven years at Colorado State, but the Ram fans all came out to see and scream at Jimmer Fredette Saturday.  Not that it mattered much, as BYU scorched CSU for 65% shooting in the first half en route to a 55-40 halftime lead and kept a good distance the rest of the way.  With top five San Diego State coming to Provo on Wednesday and CSU playing well this season, this could have been a trap game, but Fredette’s 42/4/4 assts on 11-24 shooting ensured that wasn’t going to happen.  The nation’s leading scorer, now at 26.6 PPG, clearly relishes hostile environments to show his stuff — all six of his 30-pt games this season have been away from home.  Something tells us that might change on Wednesday night.

Two Minutes’ Hate: The RTC Rivalry Series — Kentucky vs Louisville

One of the best things about college basketball is the rivalries. Whether rational or not, rivalries usually manifest themselves through the players and fans of the involved schools in the form of true, unmitigated disdain for the other side. Because we love making trouble, and with apologies to Orwell, we give you the Two Minutes’ Hate, a series of posts in which we give fans/bloggers/writers of both sides of a given rivalry a chance to vent about the other side, with minimal but identical prompting from us. We encouraged them to cut loose and hold nothing back, and we’ll be doing this with various rivalries throughout the year as such games arise. If you want to nominate a rivalry or even offer a submission, email us at And remember, the published opinions are those of the respondents and not necessarily those of RTC, heh heh.

Today’s Rivals: Louisville and Kentucky

Coaches Crum And Hall Might Be Smiling Here, But BOY, Do These Two Teams Hate Each Other.

First, speaking on behalf of the Cardinals, we have Mike from the excellent Louisville site Card Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter here. And you should, if for no other reason than because his bio describes him as the “fourth-ranked Chaucer scholar in the Ohio Valley.”

1. In your opinion, what was the Ville’s greatest win over UK?

The 1983 “Dream Game” without a doubt.

Even after Louisville had established itself as a national power, Kentucky refused to play them. The game finally happened in ’83 when the teams were paired in the same region and met in the Mideast Regional championship on March 26 in Knoxville. Despite a buzzer-beating shot by Jim Master to send the game into overtime, the Cardinals ran off 14 straight points in the extra period and prevailed, 80-68.

The U of L community erupted and quickly the governor, legislators and even the boards of trustees at both universities began to talk about a series between the two. Shortly thereafter, the announcement was made that Louisville and Kentucky would begin playing each other annually.

The game played a huge role in making the rivalry what it is today. If Louisville loses that day, the two might still not be playing annually.

2. What was the most painful loss?

Probably the ’04 game where Louisville led by 15 at half and as many as 18 before the Cats came all the way back and won it on Patrick Sparks‘ free-throws with less than a second left. Sparks walked twice. Neither were called. Louisville won the game.

Still, we went to the Final Four a few months later and UK didn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pearl, Pitino Succeeding Through Tough Times

We hate the off-season. The only college basketball there is to watch is whatever we decided to keep saved on our TiVOs or DVRs from the previous season, we’re coming down from the buzz of traveling to see games during the year, and we know there are certain friends we won’t hear from for about six months. Like the rest of college hoopheads, we rely on occasional stories from certain topics to get us through — recruiting, the buildup to the NBA draft, the musical chairs game in the coaching world, and so on. Still, every summer feels longer than the last.

This off-season was different. In addition to the above, we had a little conference realignment, a decision on the fate of the Tournament (specifically, the number of tickets to the dance), and a couple of big-time coaches dealing with scandals from which they’ll most likely never separate themselves. The specter of the Karen Sypher scandal haunted Rick Pitino for months, and Bruce Pearl is still in the middle of dealing with the recruiting scandal he’s heaped upon the Tennessee program.

Read the rest of this entry »

RTC Conference Primer: #2 – Big East

Rob Dauster of Ballin’ is a Habit is the Big East correspondent for Rush The Court.

Predicted Order of Finish

  • 1. Villanova (15-3)
  • T2. Pittsburgh (14-4)
  • T2. Syracuse (14-4)
  • 4. Georgetown (12-6)
  • T5. West Virginia (11-7)
  • T5. Marquette (11-7)
  • 7. Seton Hall (10-8)
  • T8. Notre Dame (9-9)
  • T8. St. John’s (9-9)
  • T10. Connecticut (8-10)
  • T10. Louisville (8-10)
  • T12. South Florida (7-11)
  • T12. Cincinnati (7-11)
  • T14. Providence (3-15)
  • T14. Rutgers (3-15)
  • T14. DePaul (3-15)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Corey Fisher, Villanova (13.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.8 rpg)
  • G: Kemba Walker, UConn (14.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 spg)
  • F: Austin Freeman, Georgetown (16.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 44.4% 3pt)
  • F: Kris Joseph, Syracuse (10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 spg)
  • F: Kevin Jones, West Virginia (13.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg)

6th Man

Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame (16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 42.9% 3pt)

Impact Newcomers

  • Fab Melo, Syracuse: Melo should have an immediate impact as the starting center for the Orange. Regarded as one of, if not the, best center in the class, Melo has more polish offensively than most bigs do as freshman, but his size in the middle of the Syracuse 2-3 zone may be more important.
  • Vander Blue, Marquette: Blue should step in and start immediately for the Golden Eagles. He’s everything you imagine when you think of a Marquette wing player. He’s tough, athletic, and can slash to the basket. He’ll remind some of Jerel McNeal.
  • Nate Lubick, Georgetown: With the Hoyas losing Greg Monroe to the NBA, they will have a gaping hole in the middle. Lubick has the skill set to be the high post forward of the future for John Thompson III, and he could immediately slide into the starting lineup.

Jay Wright has Villanova in the driver’s seat, with Pittsburgh nipping at the Wildcats’ heels. (AP/Michael Perez)

What You Need To Know

As much as it pains me to say it, the Big East is going to be down this season, especially near the bottom of the league. The two best players in the conference are probably Austin Freeman and Corey Fisher, and while I don’t want to take anything away from those two — I love the way that both play — they are a long way from being lottery picks. Providence, Rutgers and DePaul are as bad as any three teams at the bottom of the power conferences, which is saying a lot considering what the cellar of the Pac-10 and SEC have to offer. Now think about this: If the Big East wants to get more than six teams into the Big Dance, the teams that will likely be fighting for the last couple of at-large bids this season are Seton Hall, St. John’s, Notre Dame and UConn. And that assumes that Marquette and West Virginia are dancing. Yuck.

Predicted Champion

Villanova (NCAA #2 Seed): I like Villanova a lot more than other people do. I think Corey Fisher has a chance to become a star this season as he steps out of the shadow of Scottie Reynolds. I think Maalik Wayns has a chance to come into his own as well. Corey Stokes and Dominic Cheek should provide some size, athleticism, and versatility on the perimeter, while Jayvaughn Pinkston and Isaiah Armwood provide the same along the front line. The trio of Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou and Maurice Sutton is one of the better front lines in the conference. More than anything, however, I think that Jay Wright has answered the biggest questions his team had last season. Without a doubt, Villanova will be better inside with Yarou healthy, Pinkston on the roster, and Armwood and Sutton a year stronger. They should also be better defensively without Reynolds and Fisher sharing the floor. This team has a great mixture of size, athleticism, youth, experience, and versatility. They remind me quite a bit of the Villanova team that made the 2009 Final Four.
Read the rest of this entry »

Morning Five: 10.21.10 Edition

  1. Yesterday was ACC and Big East Media Days, and there were no major surprises coming out of either, unless you count some buffoon giving North Carolina a #1 vote in the ACC over Duke a surprise (more like insanity, but whatev).  The Devils received 61 of 62 first-place votes in the ACC, while Pittsburgh received 12 of 16 first-place votes (from the coaches) in the Big East (Syracuse with two, Villanova and St. John’s received the others).  The preseason all-conference team went like so: ACC — Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech), Kyle Singler (Duke), Nolan Smith (Duke), Tracy Smith (NC State), Chris Singleton (Florida State); Big East — Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh), Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall), Corey Fisher (Villanova), Kevin Jones (West Virginia).  ACC writers will regret leaving UNC’s Harrison Barnes off that team around mid-December, guaranteed.
  2. At said Big East Media Day in NYC, Louisville coach Rick Pitino chose the opportunity to announce that he would no longer be doing his weekly television show on WHAS-TV.  It’s no secret in the River City that Pitino was unhappy about the channel’s coverage of the Karen Sypher trial over the summer, so this may be his way of expressing his disdain.  Pitino scoffed at that suggestion, pointing out that he still plans on talking to the local newspaper this season even though he was unhappy with their coverage as well.  Nevermind that the Courier-Journal is the only newspaper of record in the Louisville area, while there are multiple local television channels there.  We’re sure that has nothing at all to do with the decision.
  3. Some injury news:  Virginia’s Sammy Zeglinski will miss at least eight weeks after Tuesday surgery to his knee to repair some cartilage damage.  Assuming he can get back quickly, the best-case scenario might be having the junior guard back at 100% for ACC play in early January.  Steve Lavin got some bad news with the word that senior forward Justin Burrell broke his hand in a practice, putting St. John’s in a precarious spot in the frontcourt for the next month or so.  As for Robbie Hummel, he told the assembled media on Wednesday that he plans on coming back next year better than ever — let’s hope that’s the case.
  4. Luke Winn analyzes how Purdue will cope with the loss of Hummel, which at this point could be as much of a mental hurdle as a physical one. Fanhouse’s Matt Snyder gives a reasoned analysis as to why he’s dropping Purdue from preseason #2 down to #10 and thinks that the Boilermakers will still be a factor in the Big Ten race.  Can’t say we disagree — after all, Purdue is used to playing without Hummel by now.  He missed parts of his sophomore season and junior season due to injuries, yet the Boilers still made it to the Sweet Sixteen both years.  For anyone to seriously sell this team short really isn’t paying attention to how this game tends to work.  They’re not a Final Four favorite anymore, but they’re most definitely a contender.
  5. Jim Calhoun: “I am not a crook.”  Or, that’s what it sounds like as the venerable old UConn coach said yesterday that he was not going to be held responsible for anything other than “mistakes” that were made.  And over a thousand emails and text messages were made, so we’re not really feeling a lot of sympathy these days…

Morning Five: 09.22.10 Edition

  1. Shaun Assael of ESPN’s The File Blog (Insider) published the complete 208-page transcript of Rick Pitino’s courtroom testimony from the trial of extortionist Karen Sypher back in July.  Even if you don’t have time to read all of it (and really, who does?), he gives a nice rundown of what Pitino the Man faced in the spring of 2009 at the time he first received extortion demands from Sypher, while Pitino the Coach was trying to win the Cardinals’ first-ever Big East title on the court.  Interesting primary source material there.
  2. While we’re on the subject of litigation, Tubby Smith may have saved himself a quarter-million bucks — well, the Hennepin County justice system may have — as the monetary damages awarded to Jimmy Williams from the trial against Smith and Minnesota was lowered from $1.25M to a cool $1.0M.  You may recall that Williams successfully sued Smith and the University of Minnesota for misrepresentation based on Smith offering Williams an assistant coaching job that led him to resign from Oklahoma State.  When UM athletic director got spooked by Williams’ association with prior NCAA violations at Minnesota, the school rescinded its offer.  Williams was left high and dry, and thus, the verdict went in his favor.  Minnesota isn’t satisfied yet, though, as the school plans to appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in an effort to vacate the verdict completely.
  3. The Big 12 took the initiative and announced monetary settlements with Colorado and Nebraska on Tuesday that will allow both schools to become members of their new conferences — the Pac-10 and Big Ten, respectively — on July 1, 2011.  So what is the going rate for a conference buyout these days?  Try $6.863M for the Buffs and $9.255M for the Huskers.  Nebraska has a provision in its settlement that will allow it to reduce its penalty by $500k if the school is invited to a BCS bowl this football season.  Initially both schools were taking the stance that they owed nothing because the league was on the verge of dissolution, but saner heads prevailed and ultimately the fans of both sides (schools and conferences) will be better off for it.
  4. It’s down to Duke, UNC or Kansas for Rivals #1 player Austin Rivers.  Just over two years ago Rivers committed to play for Billy Donovan at Florida, but the nearby Gators are now officially off of his list in favor of three of the biggest names in the game.  He plans on visiting all of his finalists in October, including UNC (Oct. 8), Duke (Oct. 15 – Midnight Madness) and Kansas (Oct. 22).  Carolina is so juiced for his visit to Chapel Hill that they’re already writing haikus about the kid.
  5. In case you missed it, yesterday our very own columnist Andrew Murawa released the first of an eight-part series called In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level, a tremendously informative overview of the difficulties that mid-major coaches and athletic staff face by virtue of limited resources and restricted budgets.  It’s not often that we promote our own stuff (note: this is not true), but the insights Murawa weaves from the voices of those at the mid-major level is well worth a read.  In Their Words will release every Tuesday morning for the next two months.

Morning Five: 08.18.10 Edition

  1. It was unsettling kind of day, as two lawsuits involving high-major coaches were settled yesterday.  Perhaps they saw Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s fifteen seconds of infamy and decided to hedge their bets, but former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and current Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy both settled their ongoing lawsuits yesterday.  Gonzalez was embroiled in a wrongful termination suit with Seton Hall after getting the axe in March on the heels of a  public blowup with the law school dean, claiming he was owed two more years of salary.  Kennedy settled his defamation suit against a cab driver and valet over a dust-up in 2008 where the pair accused the coach of using racial slurs because the cabbie wouldn’t allow the five people in Kennedy’s group into his vehicle (the max is four).  Details of both settlements were not released, which is just as well for everyone involved.
  2. While on the topic of lawsuits, the Pitino/Sypher saga won’t die in Louisville.  Defense attorney James Earhart now claims that he has new information that specifically leads him to believe that some of the prosecution’s witnesses perjured themselves while under oath.  He’s asking for a 45-day extension to further research these allegations and believes that it will ultimately lead to a mistrial on appeal.  Maybe this is Earhart’s way of saying that it might have been a good idea to call some witnesses who could have impeached their testimony during the trial?
  3. The legacy of John Wooden will live on in the form of the contents of his den — all the hundreds of pieces of memorabilia that the Wizard held onto over the years — which will be moved en masse over to the UCLA campus for fans to enjoy as a virtual Wooden terrarium.  We’ve already got plans to visit UCLA’s JD Morgan Center later this year to see this.
  4. We had the privilege of seeing all six of Butler’s NCAA Tournament games live last year, and in each game more than the last, we came away impressed with the poise and abilities of the Bulldogs’ Shelvin Mack.  Luke Winn writes that Mack, more than any other player on the summer circuit of camps and USA Basketball, has elevated himself to the point where he’s getting rave reviews from veteran guards in the League.  Case in point: Mack was chosen over quite a few big names for his spot on the USA Select team, players such as Scoop Jardine, Scotty Hopson, Jacob Pullen and Jimmer Fredette.  Could Mack, Ronald Nored and Matt Howard propel Butler toward another Final Four next year?  They may be closer than conventional wisdom says even after losing star forward Gordon Hayward.
  5. Fanhouse put together a cool idea — figuring out who should make up the College-Forever team.  Using the general criteria of great collegiate players who barely earned a cup of coffee in the NBA (or none at all), who would populate your top three teams of the modern era (1985 to present)?  We only saw one major omission, and that was Arkansas’ Scotty Thurman, who despite a brilliant college career never logged a single second in the NBA.  Nevertheless, he was an absolute assassin for Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” Razorbacks, winning multiple games with his smooth stroke in late-game situations, most notably from the wing over Duke in 1994.  He should have been on the first-team over Ed Cota, and at worst second-team.  Cool concept, though.

Summer School in the Big East

Rob Dauster of Ballin’ is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Around The Big East:

  • NCAA Sanctions: From a basketball perspective, the biggest story in the Big East this summer was up at UConn. The Huskies received a notice of allegations from the NCAA in May, informing them of eight major violations in the recruitment of Nate Miles. UConn will find out its final punishment from the NCAA in October, but the violations have already cost them two assistants — Beau Archibald and Brad Sellers, the son of former Husky star Rod Sellers. Jim Calhoun avoided the heavy artillery — getting grazed with a citation for “failure to monitor” the program, which is ironically what the best coaches need to do to succeed.
  • Coaches: The NCAA infractions weren’t the only reason Calhoun was in the news. Ailing health as he nears 70, impending NCAA sanctions, a team that is going to need some rebuilding, and the fact his contract was up made many believe Calhoun would hang ’em up this summer. Wrong. He signed a five-year deal instead.  Calhoun had far from the worst summer for coaches in the Big East. Rick Pitino let the world — and every single opposing student section — know about his 15-second tryst on a restaurant table with one Karen Sypher. Bob Huggins fell, a result of being in Vegas the medicine he took on an empty stomach making him light-headed, and broke seven ribs. Fred Hill was run out of Rutgers, in part because he lost it on the Pittsburgh baseball team’s coaching staff. Through all of that, perhaps the worst summer was had by Bobby Gonzalez, who lost his job at Seton Hall, had the entire episode come out in the New York Timessued his former employer, was unable to receive credentials at the NBA Draft, and then find himself arrested for attempting to steal a $1,400 man-purse satchel. The three new coaches to the conference: Oliver Purnell left Clemson for DePaul; Mike Rice left Robert Morris to fill in for Hill at Rutgers; and Kevin Willard left Iona and took Gonzo’s spot at Seton Hall.
  • LOIs: Three Big East teams made headlines for issues with recruits signing LOIs. DePaul initially refused to release Walter Pitchford, Jr., from his LOI. He signed with Jerry Wainwright, who was at DePaul before Purnell was tabbed. After appealing both the school and the NCAA, DePaul finally released Pitchford. The same thing is currently happening to Joseph Young at Providence, who as of this writing has not yet been granted a release by the Friars. At MarquetteDJ Newbill was dropped from his LOI when Buzz Williams had the opportunity to bring in former top 100 recruit Jamil Wilson, a transfer from Oregon. All in all, Big East members did not shine bright this summer.
  • Back to Providence: Man oh man, did they have a rough summer. Two freshmen kicked out of school for beating up a student. Their star, Greedy Peterson, thrown off the team. Another player arrested.  Did Keno Davis have this much trouble in mind when he took the job two years ago?
  • Seton Hall Didn’t Fare Much Better: Aside from their coach being kicked to the curb, the Pirates had their best big man spend nearly a month in the hospital because he collapsed after finishing a workouts and saw Robert “Sticks” Mitchell get arrested for (get this) robbing eight people at gunpoint just two days after being kicked off the team.

Villanova stumbled towards the finish line last season. This year, Jay Wright’s troops are Rob Dauster’s favorites to take the Big East in 2010-11.

Power Rankings:

  1. Villanova: While the Wildcats lose All-American Scottie Reynolds, Jay Wright‘s club (as always) will be more than fine in the backcourt. Corey Fisher, fresh off an alleged 105-point performance in a Bronx summer league, and Maalik Wayns will be as dynamic as any backcourt in the country and should be able to thrive in Scottie’s absence. Corey Stokes is still going to be a lights out shooter. Dominic Cheek and James Bell will be dangerous on the wings. Up front, the five-man rotation of Antonio Pena, Mouph Yarou, Isaiah Armwood, Maurice Sutton, and JayVaughn Pinkston gives Villanova a very deep, very talented roster for the upcoming season. The Wildcats should compete for the Big East title and, depending on how well some players develop (Armwood, Cheek, Wayns, Yarou) and how good a couple of freshmen are (Bell, Pinkston), Nova could very well make a run at the Final Four.
  2. Pittsburgh: The Panthers were the surprise of the Big East last season, and with the majority of their roster coming back this season, its tough to envision Pitt falling off. Pitt has almost reached the level of a Wisconsin — no matter who is on their roster, this is a team that is disciplined and well-coached to the point that they are always going to be competitive. As always, expect a gritty, defensive-minded team from the Panthers. An already-solid back court of Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, and Travon Woodall will be bolstered by the addition of freshmen Isaiah Epps, JJ Moore and Cameron Wright, as well as Lamar Patterson finally getting healthy. Gilbert Brown, who missed the first half of last season due to academic issues, will be back at the small forward spot. Brown had an inconsistent season in 2010, but showed flashes of some serious potential. Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson will bolster the front line, but the real x-factor on this team is going to be sophomore Dante Taylor. Taylor was one of the most highly-touted recruits last year, but it took him awhile to adjust to the Big East. If Taylor can live up to his promise, Pitt is a potential Final Four team. If not, this is still a club that will be competing for a league title.
  3. Syracuse: It is easy to look at the Orange and think that, with the players they lost (Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku), they will be down next season. Well, they might not win a Big East title, but they certainly will be in the mix atop the conference standings. Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine will anchor the backcourt, with freshman Dion Waiters providing an offensive spark as an off-guard. Kris Joseph should blossom into a dangerous weapon as a slasher on the wing, and if he can add some strength and a jumper this summer, could very well be in the running as a first-team all-Big East selection. Rick Jackson will be paired with Fab Melo, who Jim Boeheim has been raving about (he raved about Johnson last summer, and look how that turned out), in the frontcourt. With guys like CJ Fair, Mookie Jones, James Southerland and DaShonte Riley providing minutes off the bench, there is no doubt Syracuse will be a good team. How good — borderline top-25 or a potential Big East champ — remains to be seen. Read the rest of this entry »

Morning Five: 08.09.10 Edition

  1. Jim Calhoun has to appreciate the support shown by many of his former players as the cloud of an NCAA investigation looms over Storrs, support that was evident on Saturday as many of his UConn family showed up to play in a benefit game for the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Center.  Heck, we’d pay $20 to watch Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Caron Butler and Rudy Gay in an alumni game, especially for a good cause.  The word “family” above is not used lightly, as Butler can attest to in speaking about his coach: “I’ll just sum it up like this.  He’s the closest thing to a father that I’ve ever had.”
  2. It just won’t go away.  Karen Sypher says her trial was unfair because Louisville is a small enough town to feel the influence of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.  “I know now there is no justice system,” she told the AP.  And she also says that there was evidence in her favor that her defense attorney didn’t use, and that it will come out later.  Sypher will be sentenced on October 27th.  We’re fine with Pitino facing no disciplinary action from U of L, since this is a family matter more than anything else, but we’re still evaluating AD Tom Jurich’s statement calling his coach a “grand ambassador” of the program…
  3. SI’s Luke Winn gave us stat nerds the warm-and-fuzzies when he broke out some serious numbers to predict some possible breakout players in the sophomore class for 2010-11 (a taste — Nebraska’s Christian Standhardinger makes the list).  His 2008 version yielded eerily accurate results to the point where we have our current crop of RTC interns investigating if there are some prop bets in Vegas on this topic.  And Luke, if you’re reading…yes, we’ll give you a cut.
  4. Seton Hall announced on Friday that Ole Miss guard Eniel Polynice will be joining the Pirates as a transfer student next season.  Polynice will not have to sit out the typical year for transfers, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows early graduates to play their fourth season of eligibility elsewhere if their current school doesn’t offer postgraduate work in their field of study.  Polynice, a communications major who graduated in the spring from Ole Miss, sat out the 2008-09 season as a redshirt student.  He is a very nice late summer pickup for new Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who will need some experienced players to keep uber-gunner Jeremy Hazell under control and tutor a deep incoming class of freshmen.
  5. If we were the president of Florida International University (and just to be clear, we’re not), we’d immediately call head coach Isiah Thomas into our office for a sitdown about a little something called focus.  Coming off a 7-25 season that finished on the high note of nine straight losses, you would think that if Thomas were fully committed to his current job, he wouldn’t be taking on part-time work as a paid consultant for the NBA team he helped destroy, the New York Knicks   The Miami media, to put it lightly, is not amused.