Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #10 South Florida

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 22nd, 2012

After starting the year at #14 in Big East preseason coaches poll, the USF Bulls went an astounding 12-6 in conference last year and earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the school’s first in 20 years. The Bulls went on to defeat Cal in one of the First Four games and Temple in the Round of 64 before losing to the upstart Ohio Bobcats in the next round, but overall, last season was a year of almost unprecedented success for Bulls basketball. The school loses a few key players this year, but they’re getting much more respect this preseason with a #8 spot in the 2012-13 preseason coaches poll.

2011-12 Record: 22-14, 12-6

2011-12 Postseason: NCAA Tournament (Third Round)

How will Stan Heath’s young Bulls squad respond to increased expectations in 2012-13?


The Bulls should be able to compile a number of wins before entering Big East play as their non-conference schedule is not the most daunting. USF opens with rival and future Big East foe UCF at home on November 10, before returning the favor with a road game in Orlando right before conference play opens in a rare non-conference home-and-home series. USF also takes on Georgia and George Mason at home and Oklahoma State on the road. In conference play, USF has home-and-home series with Villanova, Louisville, Marquette, and Connecticut.

Who’s In

USF brings in a lot of new yet experienced faces to plug in some holes this season. Senior forward Kore White should see immediate playing time in the frontcourt. The 6’8″, 241 lb. White transfers in from Florida Atlantic where he averaged 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in just over 23 minutes per game last season. Guard Martino Brock is also eligible to play after sitting out a year following his transfer from South Alabama, where he scored 14.2 points per game two seasons ago. Sophomore Musa Abdul-Aleem comes in from Georgia Perimeter College as a junior college transfer. Both Brock and Abdul-Aleem are big (6’5″) and physical guards, which should allow them to fit in well in the rugged Big East conference. Both are expected to see a lot of playing time due to their defensive contributions.

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Big 12 Summer Update Summary

Posted by dnspewak on August 8th, 2012

With two months remaining until Midnight Madness officially kicks off the 2012-13 season, there’s no telling how the rest of the summer will shake out in the Big 12. We’ll watch intently as the NCAA rules on the eligibility status of TCU’s Devonta Abron, Texas Tech’s Blake Nash and Oklahoma State’s J.P. Olukemi, and we’ll cross our fingers each day not to log online and read of a new injury, suspension or arrest. A lot can happen between now and mid-October, but it’s already been an eventful summer in the Big 12. The league added two programs in West Virginia and TCU, several teams picked up late signees from both the high school and junior college ranks, and the coaching carousel spit out the old and welcomed Bruce Weber and Trent Johnson to the fold. Here’s a look at the major happenings from around the Big 12 during the past four months, incorporating both the good and bad this summer (click through for the complete summary):

  • Iowa StateRoyce White made the unsurprising decision this spring to leave after a season for the NBA, but coach Fred Hoiberg signed an extension and Utah transfer Will Clyburn is tearing up summer league. The Mayor will be just fine.
  • KansasSo there’s a minor scandal involving an alleged drug dealer running around the 2010-11 Kansas basketball team. This could turn messy eventually, but for now, Bill Self is celebrating the late additions of freshmen Milton Doyle and Rio Adams, both deemed eligible by the NCAA to play this season.
  • Kansas State: We’re still not exactly sure why Frank Martin left a rock-solid program for one of the worst jobs in the SEC, but it’s Bruce Weber’s team now. He assembled a staff of familiar faces this summer, including former Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery, to lead a team returning almost every key piece from last year’s NCAA Tournament squad.
  • Oklahoma: All is quiet in Norman. Thank God. After Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel dragged Oklahoma’s basketball program through enough scandal to last a lifetime, Lon Kruger dealt only with a transfer from reserve point guard Carl Blair. Besides that, he’s using the summer to mesh a team with several individually talented returners, a few stud freshmen and impact transfer Amath M’Baye.
  • Baylor: Even amidst mass defections to the NBA, legal trouble from a former player, and an NCAA punishment/probation for impermissible phone calls and text messages, Scott Drew is still sitting pretty with a loaded roster for 2012-13. A few summer roadblocks won’t be enough to derail what he’s built in Waco.
  • TCU: The Horned Frogs hired Trent Johnson to lead them during this time of conference transition, and he’s fighting an uphill battle in almost every respect. His facilities still lag behind the rest of his league, as does his overall fan support and, most importantly, his sheer level of talent on the roster. He’s still waiting to learn the NCAA’s ruling on Arkansas transfer Devonta Abron, who’s appealing to play immediately.
  • West Virginia: Bob Huggins added a third major transfer last month in Boston College guard Matt Humphrey, who used the graduate school loophole to gain immediate eligibility. He’ll join Juwan Staten (Dayton) and Aaric Murray (La Salle), and together they must lead a group of fairly unproven but improving returners.
  • Texas: J’Covan Brown left school a year early, meaning Rick Barnes must now rework his roster this summer without his do-it-all scoring guard. Good news is that point guard Myck Kabongo decided to stay in Austin, and everybody’s already raving about the early performances of freshmen big men Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh.
  • Texas Tech: Six players transferred this offseason, allowing Billy Gillispie to ink nine newcomers for the Class of 2012. With questions still lingering about the scholarship situation, we’re not exactly sure who’s going to suit up for the Red Raiders in October. One freshman already left the team, and top recruit Wannah Bail’s academic issues forced him to briefly leave campus. Plus, South Florida transfer Blake Nash is waiting to hear about his hardship waiver, so this team is really a mystery right now.
  • Oklahoma State: All other problems in this league seem trivial compared to Oklahoma State. A jury convicted former forward Darrell Williams of rape in front of a courtroom full of teammates and head coach Travis Ford, the latter of whom testified on Williams’ behalf. Adding to those woes, Ford suspended center Phillip Jurick after a marijuana arrest last weekend, so it’s been a difficult summer for the Cowboys. On the plus side, freshman Marcus Smart’s performance at the U-18 Championships this summer already has coaches buzzing about his potential.
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Big 12 Weekly Five: 08.02.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on August 2nd, 2012

  1. We covered this story at length in our West Virginia Summer update, but Bob Huggins learned last week he’ll have Matt Humphrey eligible for the 2012-13 season. After transferring — and graduating — from Boston College, he’ll enroll in graduate school at West Virginia and play one season for the Mountaineers. Unlike fellow transfers Juwan Staten (Dayton) and Aaric Murray (La Salle), Humphrey isn’t a potential star. He spent the first two years of his career as a role player at Oregon, and as a junior at Boston College, he averaged double figures in scoring but did not finish with very gaudy shooting percentages from the field. He probably wasn’t the best fit under three-point trigger happy Steve Donahue, but he was forced to take the majority of the shots on a bad team. Huggins likes his defensive potential with his 6’5” frame in the backcourt — with a different role at West Virginia, Humphrey could have his best season yet.
  2. Hard to believe it’s August already, but that means teams’ non-conference schedules should leak out on a weekly basis now. Kansas State released its non-conference slate, which includes a date in the NIT Season Tip-Off (field not released yet), a road game at George Washington, and two neutral-site games against Gonzaga (in Seattle) and Florida (in Kansas City). It’s a solid schedule for a veteran team in Bruce Weber’s first season, and we’re especially looking forward to those showdowns with Gonzaga and Florida, both contenders in their respective leagues likely to begin the season in the Top 25.
  3. It seems like players have transferred from Texas Tech all summer long, but finally, Billy Gillispie is getting a little good news on the opposite end. Reports are swirling that Blake Nash will transfer into the program from South Florida. The 6’1” point guard has been all over the place during his eccentric career. He hails from Arizona and played a season at Williston State in North Dakota. Then he went to junior college. Then he went to South Florida, where averaged 3.4 points per game and participated — albeit sparingly — in all three of last season’s NCAA Tournament games under Stan Heath. According to the article we linked to, the roster move hasn’t even been verified by Texas Tech yet. Nash apparently has transferred to Tech because his ailing father lives in nearby Plainview, so it’s likely he’d be able to play right away.
  4. Mike DeCourcy from Sporting News caught up with Bill Self a few days ago and discussed his recruiting strategies at Kansas, which has taken him all over the nation during his tenure. DeCourcy gives an inside look at Self’s thought process as he chases players from Chicago, New York, Alaska, Russia and just about every other spot on the map. Lately, of course, Self has found a few home grown products, including Perry Ellis. So that’s cut down on drive time and gas money a little bit.
  5. Speaking of travel, Kansas is heading to Europe next week to play in a few exotic places. The Jayhawks will go to Switzerland and France, leaving on August 5 and returning on August 14. These sorts of trips against professional teams are always a way for the coaching staff to gauge their team during the off-season, but if there’s any team that needs this kind of trip, it’s KU. Self welcomes eight freshmen to his program, so any minute he can spend with them during game competition will help.
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RTC Summer Updates: Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 11th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our Big East update comes from frequent RTC contributor Brian Otskey, co-author of Get to the Point.

Readers’ Take

Summer Storylines

  • Connecticut Revels In National Championship Glory: Connecticut’s storybook year continued on into the offseason as the Huskies were invited to the White House for an event with President Obama on May 16. The team presented the president with a #1 UConn jersey and posed for photographs after being lauded for their remarkable accomplishment. Connecticut made one of the most improbable runs ever en route to the third national championship in school history, all coming since 1999, going 23-0 outside of Big East regular season play. Nobody could have predicted the way last season unfolded and the NCAA Tournament as a whole was a microcosm of that. Connecticut’s national title made up for a lackluster performance by many of the record 11 Big East teams participating in the tournament. Only one other Big East team (Marquette) managed to make it to the second weekend’s Sweet 16. Life without Kemba Walker has begun in Storrs and while the Huskies will be among the 2011-12 Big East favorites, it’ll be very interesting to see who steps up and how the team performs without its warrior. Jeremy Lamb appears to be ready to take over but the way Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi handle their larger roles will be the difference between a team contending for a Big East title and one that finishes fourth or fifth.

Kemba & Co. Celebrated in Style (H-C/B.Hansen)

  • The Ed Cooley Era Begins In Friartown: After Keno Davis stumbled to an 18-36 Big East record over three seasons in Providence, the Friars desperately needed someone to revive their moribund program. Providence has made only two NCAA Tournaments since its 1997 appearance and the last one was eight seasons ago in 2003-04. Enter Ed Cooley, a Providence-born 41-year-old with the fire in his belly needed to succeed in arguably the toughest job in the Big East Conference. Cooley will instill a system of discipline and fundamentals with a special attention to defense, three attributes of successful programs that were sorely lacking under Davis. Cooley’s Fairfield team ranked #22 in the nation in defensive efficiency last season and he improved the Stags’ record each and every year he was there. Providence, a small Catholic school with hardly any recruiting base along with limited facilities and resources, is an incredibly difficult job even before you have to go up against bigger schools like Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh along with tradition-rich programs such as Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette. Cooley must spend his first season laying the foundation for longer term success. He won’t turn this program around overnight but more discipline on and off the court and hard work on the recruiting trail can turn Providence into a solid Big East competitor. We can’t think of many people better suited than Cooley to get the job done at Providence. While it will be a long and difficult process, brighter days are ahead for the Providence program with Ed Cooley at the helm.
  • Signs Of Life In The New York Area: New coach Steve Lavin and St. John’s brought the buzz back to the Big Apple last winter as the Red Storm earned its first NCAA bid in nine seasons. “Lavinwood” has moved east, but St. John’s now enters a year full of mixed feelings. Cautious optimism as well as uncertainty rules the day with nine new faces, part of the nation’s second-ranked recruiting class, making their way to Queens in 2011-12. Malik Stith is the only returnee of note after Dwayne Polee, II, decided to transfer closer to home at San Diego State. St. John’s may be the most unpredictable team in the Big East entering this season. The potential exists for a terrific year if Lavin can mold all this raw talent into a cohesive unit capable of playing with any team in the conference. However, issues with young players, commonly involving playing time and egos, are also very possible and it takes only one incident to destroy the locker room and wreck the season. The Johnnies have enough talent to make the NCAA Tournament again, but Lavin will have to totally adjust his approach to make that happen. With hardly any experience on the roster, he can’t simply roll the ball out and hope for the best. This season will be the biggest test of Lavin’s coaching career on the court, but he faced an even more difficult challenge last year, coaching the entire season with prostate cancer while keeping it a secret until this spring. Turning St. John’s around with that constantly in the back of his mind is an a commendable achievement and we obviously wish Coach Lavin the best of luck fighting this awful disease.
  • Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Mike Rice and Rutgers appear to be building a program to be reckoned with down the road. The Scarlet Knights have been a dormant program for 20 years, never once enjoying a winning season in any of its 16 years as a Big East member. That may be about to change, although it appears unlikely that Rutgers will crack the .500 mark in league play this season. The fiery Rice reeled in a top 25 recruiting class and now must build on a season of close calls and what-ifs. Rutgers was competitive last year, but could only manage five Big East victories. It’ll take time for the new players to adjust to the collegiate level but bigger and better things should be expected from Rutgers in the years to come. Rutgers, a large state school, has the capability of becoming a pretty good program. All it needs is a commitment from the administration, facility upgrades and great recruiting. Rice is taking care of the latter, now it’s time for the Rutgers brass to provide him with the resources needed to build a top flight program. Rutgers needs major facility upgrades (a RAC renovation has been talked about for over a year), but fundraising has been a major problem. With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie trying to get the state’s financial house in order, there is going to be a lot of resistance to an ambitious project such as this one at the state’s flagship university.

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