Three Up, Three Down in the Big East

Posted by George Hershey on January 27th, 2014

Every Big East team played on Saturday. Some had impressive outing, while others fell flat and disappointed. Here we highlight some of the positives and negatives from the weekend’s action with Three Up, Three Down.

Three Up

The Providence Role Players, Including Denton, Are Stepping Up

The Providence Role Players, Including Denton, Are Stepping Up

  1. Providence’s Supporting Cast. Coming into the season the emphasis was placed on senior scoring machine Bryce Cotton. In the non-conference slate, the team fared well but started with a poor 0-2 mark in conference play with a bad home loss to Seton Hall and a blowout defeat to Villanova. In those early losses, players like LaDontae Henton, Kadeem Batts, Tyler Harris and Josh Fortune had rough performances. They turned the ball over too much — 15 from the starters vs. Villanova — played poor defense, and failed to make the key plays that win games. More recently, Providence has been on a roll and these players are the primary reason for the difference. In the Friars’ win on Saturday against Xavier, four starters had at least 10 points with Henton dropping 23, Harris and Batts scoring 12 each, and Fortune hitting a key three as he was fouled to stymie a Xavier run. Carson Desrosiers was also very impressive on the defensive end, with six blocks against the Musketeers. Providence has now won five in a row to move to 5-2 in league play, good for third place in the conference standings. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big East M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on January 9th, 2013


  1. DeAndre Daniels went off against DePaul in UConn’s 99-78 win last night, pouring in a career-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting. More importantly, the 6’8″ Daniels grabbed eight rebounds, marking the first time he’s collected more than five in a game since November. The Huskies rank #307 in the country in rebounds per game, and last night was their first dominant performance of the season on the boards, out-rebounding the Blue Demons by 20. In thumping DePaul, UConn scored its most points in a league game since the six-overtime battle with Syracuse in the 2009 Big East Tournament. After failing to eclipse 70 points in six of their first nine games this season, the Huskies have become more prolific since mid-December, scoring 80 in three of their last five.
  2. DePaul certainly didn’t help its cause against UConn last night when news broke hours before tipoff that Donnavan Kirk and Charles McKinney had been suspended for a violation of team rules. Kirk is the Blue Demons’ tallest player at 6’9″, and appropriately leads the team in blocks at 1.9 BPG. The suspensions also left a combined 11.4 PPG on the bench. It’s unclear how long the players will be out, and it will be interesting to see who picks up the slack on both ends of the floor. DePaul returns home to face Cincinnati and St. John’s next week.
  3. Just when it seemed as though Louisville had returned to full strength at the perfect time, we learned yesterday that Chane Behanan would miss seven to 10 days with a high ankle sprain he suffered in practice on Monday. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by freshman power forward Montrezl Harrell, who acquitted himself well in extensive play during Gorgui Dieng’s injury but lacks Behanan’s aggression on the boards and polished footwork in the low post. As Card Chronicle’s medical advisor points out, high ankle sprains require, on average, “three to six weeks” to fully heal, so there’s no guarantee we’ll see Behanan in the Syracuse game in 10 days.
  4. After dropping its first two Big East games, Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh squad rebounded by traveling to D.C. and handing Georgetown its “worst loss of the JTIII era” last night. The 73-45 drubbing, which was statistically over with six minutes left, “exposed Georgetown’s limitations like none of its predecessors,” says Casual Hoya. The Hoyas have scored 46.5 PPG through two straight Big East losses, and it’s hard to visualize JTIII’s team as the contender we envisioned in the preseason given their many offensive handicaps.
  5. The Big East reportedly hit up ESPN for $300 million in annual television rights during their exclusive negotiation window this past fall. This revelation was obviously met with derision and mockery across the Internet. Lost in the Big East’s implosion and subsequent media rubbernecking is the fact that the league was in the midst of negotiating a pretty lucrative television contract before the wheels finally came off. As The UConn Blog pointed out on Twitter, such an exorbitant request would have only been made to force ESPN’s hand in closing its exclusive negotiation window with the Big East, allowing the league to shop around with other networks.
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DePaul: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by mlemaire on April 16th, 2012

Our apologies for plagiarizing borrowing the ideas of our colleagues over at the PAC-12 microsite, but we liked their post-mortem team breakdowns so much that we decided to replicate them with our conference. So over the course of the next two weeks, we will break down each team’s season, starting from the bottom of the conference standings. First up is DePaul.

What Went Wrong

Plenty went wrong although at a program with a recent history like DePaul the shortcomings should be taken with a grain of salt. The Blue Demons headed into the season with only two upperclassmen scheduled to play any meaningful minutes so coach Oliver Purnell had to know there would be growing pains and there were plenty. The problems started when the team lost talented freshman Montray Clemons for the year when he went down with a knee injury before the season even started and they only got worse once conference play began. Unable to stop anybody (#235 in adjusted defensive efficiency), the Blue Demons lost 14 of their final 16 games and were bounced easily in the first round of the Big East Tournament. The problem was depth — which DePaul had very little of — and Purnell’s focus should be building it via recruiting.

Oliver Purnell had his hands full leading DePaul's depleted roster this season.

What Went Right

For a team that won just three conference games, there were a surprising amount of bright spots that should give the program hope for the future. Sophomore stars Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin turned in impressive sophomore seasons and form a formidable foundation for Purnell to build upon. Another sophomore, Moses Morgan, emerged as a legitimate sharpshooter and freshmen Jamee Crockett and Charles McKinney got plenty of experience thanks to the lack of other options. The bottom line is that there is talent in the program, now it is Purnell’s job to surround that talent with more talent and ensure that the players already on campus continue to develop.

Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take I


Top Storylines

  • The Realignment Circus Continues: The latest blow to the Big East came just recently as West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12. That leaves the Big East with 13 basketball schools remaining and a handful of others (football schools) desperately trying to flee the sinking ship. Commissioner John Marinatto has said he is committed to holding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the 27-month notice provision in the conference’s bylaws but one has to wonder if a financial settlement will be worked out in order to expedite the transition and move the conference into rebuilding mode. It’s going to be quite awkward if these three schools remain in the league until 2014. All of the current Big East members should eventually find a stable home in one form or another, but the days of Big East basketball as we know it will soon come to an end. Enjoy the 2011-12 season because it just might be the last year of this remarkable 16-team behemoth.
  • How Many Bids This Year?: After sending a record 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, can the Big East reach that mark again? That seems unlikely but you never know how things will truly play out. I’d say there are ten contenders for NCAA bids and to make 11 you would need all of those teams plus one of the three New York City-area schools to have a wildly successful year and snatch a bid. The Big East is quite possibly the best conference in the land yet again but 11 NCAA teams is far-fetched. Eight or nine bids this season would seem to be much more realistic.
  • Can Connecticut Repeat?: The technical answer is yes but it will be extremely tough to do. There’s a reason only two teams have gone back-to-back in the last 20 years. College basketball is as deep as ever in terms of talent and quality teams, plus there’s someone missing from last year’s Connecticut team. Kemba Walker is now in the NBA and, despite Jim Calhoun’s impressive recruiting haul, there is a major leadership void to be filled. This team is stocked with talent but Walker was a one-of-a-kind leader who took complete control in Maui and parlayed that into a way of life for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lamb figures to take control but remember how young this group is. They’ll get better as the season progresses and may even win the Big East but when the chips are down in the NCAA Tournament, they won’t be able to call on Kemba and that’s why I feel they will not repeat.

Calhoun Won't Have His Mr. Everything Around This Season

  • Cautious Optimism at Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia: These traditional powers lose a lot of talent and figure to be lodged in the middle of the conference. All three programs return key cogs but the departures of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla leave more questions than answers. These teams all need someone to step up and become a deep shooting threat while maintaining a low post presence. Guards win in college basketball but you also have to be able to rebound and score inside occasionally. Hollis Thompson, Mouphtaou Yarou and Deniz Kilicli must become better all-around post men if their respective teams hope to make the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7”, 205 lbs., Thompson isn’t one to bang with the big guys but he’s going to have to score in the paint at times. Each team has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s up to the returning players to make the ultimate difference.
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