Big East M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 5th, 2012

  1. St. John’s 81-65 loss on the road at San Francisco may have seemed like just another non-conference game in preparation for the Big East gauntlet which kicks off in early January. To Steve Lavin, though, this game meant a whole lot more. Steve’s father Cap Lavin played guard at San Francisco in the early 1950s, and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 1997. With his son’s trip out west, the school honored Lavin at halftime. San Francisco Chronicle writer Steve Kroner’s piece on this father-son relationship is an excellent read. Where many sporting parents may push their children towards athletics, Cap never put any pressure on Steve, but instead made sure that his career goal of becoming a basketball coach wasn’t him taking “the path of least resistance.” Steve’s relationship with Cap was also instrumental in helping him triumph in his recent bout with prostate cancer.
  2. The Big East Tournament has always been a big event for Connecticut faithful, and this spring’s tournament, with the impending departure of rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh, promised to be even more meaningful… until, of course, UConn was banned from all postseason play for poor APR scores. School president Susan Herbst is still fighting the ruling, citing the school’s stronger, more recent APR scores as evidence that the program has learned and improved upon past academic failures. Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs theorizes that if UConn wants to overcome the “chaos” that has befallen the program and be readmitted to the Big East Tournament — and on a larger scale, be seen as having a strong athletic department again — they need to quiet Jim Calhoun. As we discussed in yesterday’s Big East M5, Calhoun recently stated that he would “never say never” in ruling out a return to coaching. Jacobs believes that Calhoun’s thirst for attention, which doesn’t seem to have dissipated even after his very public and odd retirement, is undermining the program.
  3. While the Syracuse low-post trio of Rakeem Christmas, Dajuan Coleman, and Baye Moussa Keita have combined for a solid 18.2 points, 15.6 rebounds, and nearly four blocks per game this season, Jim Boeheim still believes that this group is the one that must progress the most if the team wants to make a championship run this season. The Orange’s 2-3 zone has been especially active and long this season to the tune of 81 steals through six games, but their corresponding interior defense has been a bit weak at times. Boeheim is worried that a good mid-range jump shooter or a strong offensive big man could do some damage against his defense. Syracuse could also use a strong presence inside on offense when the shooting stroke from outside runs cold, as it did for stretches against Eastern Michigan on Monday.
  4. USF (the Big East one this time) seems to be gaining its sea legs after a rough few games to start the year, and are prepared to take on #23 Oklahoma State in Stillwater tonight. One can point to the improved health of Anthony Collins as one reason for the Bulls’ improved play. After missing a game against Stetson due to a lingering calf injury, Collins had one of his best games of the year against Georgia, scoring 17 points and adding 10 assists. A win in Stillwater would give USF a solid non-conference road win, and re-energize the thoughts of a second straight NCAA Tournament berth. After the Oklahoma State game, USF has a 13-day break to focus on practice and schoolwork, so look for the Bulls to come out with a very strong effort knowing that rest is on the way.
  5. Pittsburgh could get back junior swingman Trey Zeigler as early as tonight for the Panthers’ City Game against Duquesne. Zeigler, who transferred from Central Michigan after his father Ernie was fired as head coach, was charged with a DUI on November 26 and was suspended indefinitely from the team. The scoring guard was a highly recruited player coming out of high school and had averaged 6.2 points per game for Pitt before his suspension — during his two years with the Chippewas, he averaged around 16 points per game so he could provide a great offensive spark for the Panthers if he gets back into a rhythm.
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Set Your DVR: Opening Weekend

Posted by bmulvihill on November 9th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The college basketball season is finally here! This season Set Your DVR (ed. note: sadly, nobody has TiVos anymore) will be a twice-weekly column outlining the must-see games for the upcoming week and weekend.  This column will lay out the key factors in each game to focus on and how those factors could affect the outcome. It’s a military-themed weekend of hoops with three games taking place on aircraft carriers and one game taking place at a military base located across the Atlantic Ocean.  Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Game of the Weekend

#16 San Diego State vs. #5 Syracuse – 4:00 PM EST, 11/11/12 on FSN HD (*****)

Jim Boeheim takes the Orange to the USS Midway to take on San Diego State

  • The USS Midway provides the backdrop for an exciting opener between Syracuse and San Diego State. SDSU returns four starters including Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin as well as Chase Tapley, James Rahon, and Xavier Thomas. Keep a close eye on the match-up between the Aztec guards and Syracuse point guard Brandon Triche. Triche is taking over for Scoop Jardine and faces a tough test against this crew. Steve Fisher’s squad will have to improve in two areas if they are going to start beating top-tier programs like Syracuse – shooting and offensive rebounding. The Aztecs grabbed only 30.8% of their offensive rebound opportunities last season, so if they are only going to hit 33% of their three-point attempts and 49.8% of their two-point attempts like they did in 2011-12, it’s going to be difficult to beat the best teams in the country. Watch to see if transfers Dwayne Polee II and J.J. O’Brien can help the Aztecs grab more of those missed shots.
  • After losing four starters to graduation and the NBA Draft, Syracuse is in a much different place than SDSU. Jim Boeheim’s ability to fill the talent void will be a key factor in determining if this Orange team can beat an experienced Aztec team. The ‘Cuse returns two significant contributors from last year’s team – C.J. Fair and Triche. Both players need to improve their sub-50% eFG in order to prevent the team from taking a step backwards.  The key to the Orange’s success in this game and in the future, however, may be 6’8” senior forward James Southerland. In a somewhat limited role last year, Southerland put up some impressive shooting numbers from inside the arc. Keep a close eye on Southerland’s ability to take advantage of his size inside the three-point line. Syracuse will also be able to throw additional size at the Aztecs with 6’9” sophomore Rakeem Christmas, 6’10” junior Baye Keita, and 6’7” 275 lb. wide-body freshman, DaJuan Coleman. Read the rest of this entry »
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The Big East’s Top 25 (or so) Non-Conference Games of 2012-13

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 9th, 2012

While Big East basketball is always a spectacle, this conference season has even more added juice with the impending departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and (eventually) Notre Dame.  However, before we get to conference games, the Big East is involved in some really intriguing non-conference games this season. Big East teams will be playing all over the United States, Germany, and on a few aircraft carriers. Let’s take a look at the best that the Big East has to offer in the non-conference slate this season.

Syracuse and San Diego State tip off the season on the deck of the USS Midway this Sunday (AP)

25. Pittsburgh v. Oakland, November 17, 7 PM

The Panthers have a rather light non-conference slate this season, but don’t expect them to look past the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland has a history of playing tough schedules, and won’t be intimidated by the Zoo. Oakland is coming off of a bit of a down year in 2011-12 when they finished 20-16 (11-7), but made the NCAA Tournament in both 2009-10, when they were knocked out in the first round by Pittsburgh, and 2010-11.

24. DePaul @ Auburn, November 30, 9 PM

Look for DePaul to try to do the conference proud when they head down to take on the Auburn Tigers as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge. This DePaul squad should be better than it has been in years past, returning dynamic forward Cleveland Melvin and dangerous guard Brandon Young.  Auburn is coming off of a poor 15-16 season, and could be ripe for a big non-conference road win for the Blue Demons.

23. Rutgers v. Iona, Madison Square Garden, December 8, 9:30 PM

One of these New York metropolitan-area teams is coming off of a great season that ended in a heartbreaking NCAA tournament loss to BYU. The other is continually striving to build its program, and aspires to have such success.  It almost seems backwards that Iona is the more accomplished team at the moment, but isn’t that what makes college basketball so great? A big performance by the Scarlet Knights at the Garden could go a long way in setting the tone for a run at a tournament berth in the Big East.

22. St. John’s v. Detroit, November 13, 2 PM

The Johnnies tip off their season against a very dangerous Detroit squad led by superstar Ray McCallum. St. John’s has a number of impressive young players themselves, and head coach Steve Lavin will return to the sideline after battling cancer last season. While many look forward to what should be a fun match-up between McCallum and D’Angelo Harrison, the St. John’s star was recently benched in the team’s final exhibition for disciplinary reasons. If Lavin continues to have issues with his top guard, it could prove very problematic for the Red Storm next week.

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Big East M5: 11.02.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on November 2nd, 2012

  1. The hardest part is over for Kevin Ollie, who escaped Gampel Pavilion with a win in his first game –– however unofficial –– as UConn’s head coach. The Huskies rallied to beat American International College 78-63 on Thursday, but the final score doesn’t reflect how uncertain the game was for the first 20 minutes. Ollie’s team missed 10 of its first 11 shot attempts and AIC quickly opened up a 12-2 lead, to the dismay of the 5,349 fans on hand. “When you go 1-for-[11], I’m like, ‘Man, this might be my only time out here,’” Ollie joked afterward to the New Haven Register. UConn never led before halftime, but prodigal freshman guard Omar Calhoun keyed a furious comeback after intermission with his 24 points on 8-14 shooting (including 3-6 from beyond the arc). Ryan Boatright woke up in the second half, finishing with 14 points, and Shabazz Napier added 11 from the two-guard spot. The Huskies have an opportunity to regroup and work out some kinks on Sunday against UMass-Lowell, before an abrupt uptick in competition when they face Michigan State in Germany on November 9.
  2. Louisville enjoyed a more emphatic win in its first exhibition of 2012, thumping Pikeville 93-57 in the KFC Yum! Center after hanging the university’s ninth Final Four banner from the rafters. Before the game, former point guard Elisha Justice received a warm welcome from the crowd of 20,277 on hand when Pitino presented him with his Final Four ring. Once things got underway, the ceremonies didn’t seem to pose a distraction for the Cardinals. Sophomores Chane Behanan and Kevin Ware were glued to the bench after being suspended for the game by Rick Pitino, but their absence was undetectable, thanks in part to a breakout debut from freshman forward Montrezl Harrell. Harrell ended with a team-high 19 points and game-high 13 rebounds, and made a variety of unrelentingly energetic plays. His performance was impressive enough that he’ll have an opportunity to compete for the starting power forward position once Behanan returns for the official opener against Manhattan.
  3. Syracuse handled its business by an eerily identical 36-point margin, dismantling an overwhelmed Pace squad, 99-63. It was a concerted effort for the Orange, as eight players logged 17 minutes or more and five ended up scoring double figures. Everything went according to plan for Jim Boeheim, who acknowledged after the game, “I’m not experimenting. We’re going to play nine guys.” Pace’s undersized frontcourt (whose tallest player is 6’6″) was no match for the freakish length of Boeheim’s big men, and it manifested in a Space Jam-esque block fest: the Orange logged six blocks in the first 10 minutes, and finished with 14. Freshman big man Dajuan Coleman got the start at center, and began his college career with 11 points and three blocks. But it was steady anchor James Southerland (18 points) and promising returner Michael Carter-Williams (16 points, seven assists) who keyed the offensive effort. The Orange open the season on the road at San Diego State on November 9, where they’ll get a chance to test their nine-man rotation against stiffer competition.
  4. Friarblog digs up an awesome New York Times piece by Pete Thamel from 2004, which recounts a late-night gas station rendezvous between Ed Cooley, at the time an assistant coach at Boston College, and former Providence assistant Bob Walsh, as their respective teams prepared for the NCAA tournament. While it “looked like a scene from a bad crime movie,” the coaches were exchanging game film on each other’s first round opponents. The PC staff was acutely aware of the difficulty of finding tape for opponents with few televised games: a recording blunder caused Walsh to accidently tape “Body by Jake” on public access in lieu of the Big West championship game. What makes this kind of story so compelling is that it humanizes the two coaches and gives fans a rare glimpse into the more mundane experiences of their profession. Walsh and Cooley will have an opportunity to catch up on Saturday when Walsh’s Rhode Island College squad visits the Dunk for an exhibition game.
  5. Lastly, South Florida blog Voodoo Five put together a very nuanced appraisal of the Bulls’ chances to succeed playing a smaller lineup this year after the departure of Gus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson Jr. Writer Collin Sherwin points out that Stan Heath’s roster lacks the outside shooting to space the floor with three point shooting: USF finished last year ranked 280th in the country in three-point shooting percentage, and facilitator Anthony Collins shot a dreadful 7-24 on the season. It will be interesting to see how Heath tailors his offense to his team’s strengths. We’ll get our first real glimpse on November 10, when USF hosts its I-4 rival, UCF.
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Big East M5: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 15th, 2012

  1. Where many midnight madness events favor glitz and glamour over basketball substance, Louisville‘s event at the Yum! Center was all business. The Cardinals are a few months removed from a Final Four berth, and enter the 2012-13 season as one of the favorites to return, so it is little surprise that the team is taking their practice time seriously. Point guard Peyton Siva said as much about Louisville’s midnight madness event: “It’s definitely all business here,” Siva said. “I wish we could Midnight Madness and play around, but Coach P is a business-first type of guy. We have our fun after practice, but once we lace it up and step on the court, it’s all business and that’s how we play.” Don’t worry though, the Cardinals did find time to dance to “Gangnam Style”, because it is still in fact the fall of 2012.
  2. Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams continues to receive praise from various publications in their preseason lists and rankings. Today, it is Athlon Sports, who lists Adams at the top of its “Top Impact Freshman of 2012-13″ rankings heading into this season, noting that Adams is the highest-rated recruit to ever sign with Pittsburgh, and that though he is raw, his talent should allow him to be very productive for the Panthers this season.
  3. That whole “will he stay home in Syracuse or join Kentucky’s stellar 2012 recruiting class” thing?  Syracuse freshman big man DaJuan Coleman said that was never even much of a debate for him. “I wasn’t close at all,” Coleman told the Post-Standard’s Donna Ditota. “I had a feeling I was going to come here since my junior year. I just wanted to go through the recruitment and everything.” Coleman joins former high school teammate Brandon Triche at Syracuse this season, and unlike some other recent Syracuse freshman bigs, many believe that Coleman has the polish to be an effective player on both ends of the court immediately. If anything, the bulky Coleman should help shore up the major rebounding problems that plagued the Orange in 2011-12.
  4. It is no secret that this basketball season in Storrs is going to be a trying one for all involved. The players have no postseason to play for, Kevin Ollie is fighting for a multi-year contract, and the administrators who need to make decisions that will impact the program going forward will be doing so under the gaze of legendary head coach emeritus Jim Calhoun, who is expected to remain a major part of the program. With all of the pressure that is being heaped on the Connecticut program, Ollie’s utilization of a sports psychologist with the whole team may be a very wise move early in his tenure. UConn is working with Dr. Joe Carr, a psychologist who worked with UMass last year en route to a strong year for the Minutemen, to work through many of the chemistry issues that plagued the Huskies in 2011-12.  Carr is no stranger to helping teams come together, as noted in the Courant’s article, and he describes the positive effects of sports psychology further: “If we can get players to develop blind trust and buy into a principle, they are going to outplay a lot of people. They are playing for something else, and that’s each other. The teams that win are usually the ones that make the most sacrifices.”
  5. Prized recruit Tyler Roberson is on the radar of many Big East teams, but he chose to head to Rutgers for this year’s midnight madness.  Roberson would be an absolute recruiting coup for Mike Rice and company, as he holds offers from Big East rivals Syracuse, Villanova, and rival-to-be SMU, as well as perennial national power Kansas.  Kentucky is also involved, as Tyler Roberson is an elite high school basketball player, and that’s sort of their thing.
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Where This Year’s McDonald’s All-America Class Fits In Next Season

Posted by EJacoby on March 30th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

It’s never too early to start talking about next season. Wednesday night showcased the very best high school basketball players in this year’s senior crop as part of the McDonald’s All-America game. There’s not a whole lot of analysis to do from Wednesday’s glorified exhibition game, but we can start to project how these elite talents are going to fit in next season. All 24 All-Americans are headed to a power conference school, so let’s break down how each conference could be impacted by all of these newcomers.

ACC

There are still five players who have yet to decide their destination next year, but as of now there are more McDonald’s All-Americans (MAA’s) headed to North Carolina State than there are committed to North Carolina and Duke combined. The Wolfpack hauls in an impressive trio that includes point guard Tyler Lewis, shooting guard Rodney Purvis, and small forward T.J. Warren. Purvis is probably the biggest name of the class and showcased quite a bit of explosiveness on Wednesday. NC State is loaded with talent already and brings back its top four players next season (assuming C.J. Leslie doesn’t hit the NBA), so Mark Gottfried’s team is going to be scary. Purvis and Warren are big-time wing athletes while Lewis will be a viable backup point guard to Lorenzo Brown. There’s a strong chance that NC State will be the favorite in the ACC next season.

North Carolina Needs Marcus Paige to Contribute Immediately Next Season (SourceMedia Group/L. Martin)

Marcus Paige is headed to North Carolina, which is suddenly in desperate need of talent after its four best players are now off to the NBA. Depending on who you ask, Paige is either the best or second-best rated point guard in this class, and he will have a great opportunity to contribute immediately for the Tar Heels to step in for Kendall Marshall. Rasheed Sulaimon is going to Duke, and he was one of the most impressive players in the MAA game. A solid 6’4” shooting guard, Sulaimon is a hard worker with a terrific outside shot and should fit in perfectly for the Blue Devils. He seems like a classic Mike Krzyzewski recruit.

Big East

Surprisingly, Providence has the top recruiting class in the conference this year, led by a pair of five-star guards. Kris Dunn is ranked as a top-three point guard in this class and played in Wednesday’s game with some impressive passing skills. He’s not a great shooter but he has good size (6’3”) and skills for a lead guard. Ricardo Ledo was not chosen for the MAA game, but he is a top-five shooting guard in this class as well. Ed Cooley did extremely well in the recruiting ranks this year for a young team that is losing nobody next year. The Friars should have the best backcourt in the Big East.

DaJuan Coleman is a big body headed for Syracuse, which also suddenly is in a huge need for a center after Fab Melo’s deaparture. Coleman is a strong big man and ranked as one of the top centers in a loaded class at that position. He will step in alongside Rakeem Christmas as an impressive young duo in the paint. The Orange are off to the ACC, though, in a couple years. Shaq Goodwin, meanwhile, is headed for Memphis, a Conference USA school, but the Tigers will join the Big East starting with the 2013-14 seson. Goodwin is an athletic power forward at 6’8”.

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Big East Morning Five: 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on March 2nd, 2012

  1. This evening figures to be an unusual one emotionally for injured senior star Tim Abromaitis once senior night festivities commence prior to Notre Dame’s contest with Providence.  Abromaitis has been forced to watch for the majority of this season due to an ACL tear he suffered in November, and is trying to make peace with the fact that his career at Notre Dame may very well be over. The thing that will keep Abromaitis in a state of emotional flux is the battle between the finality of senior night and the faint glimmer of hope that he may be granted a rare sixth year of eligibility and play for the Irish again next year.  As for tonight, Abromaitis will suit up for show but will not play in any fashion, including warm-ups. To Abromaitis’ credit he is keeping things in perspective and holds no delusions of grandeur when it comes to playing again.  “I’ve kind of looked at it both ways – there’s a chance I’m coming back, so do what I need to do to keep that door open,” Abromaitis told the Chicago Tribune. “But at the same time, I am pretty rational about knowing that it very well could be the last time out there and could be a little emotional for me. I’m just trying to take it in stride and be glad for the opportunities I have had.”
  2. Villanova has not enjoyed tremendous success on the court this season but they could be receiving some good news about their future very soon as top Class of 2013 recruit Allerik Freeman narrowed his choices to Villanova and Kansas according to his Olympic (NC) High School coach Ty Baumgardner.  Freeman, a 6’4” guard who is ranked 13th nationally by ESPN.com and 24th by Rivals.com had been pursued by the likes of Georgetown, Arizona, Kansas State, North Carolina State, Ohio State, and others. Freeman has visited both Villanova and Kansas unofficially, meaning he paid his way, and could decide before taking any official visits.
  3. In keeping with the high school scene, rosters for the All-American Championship were announced yesterday.  The event, which started last year, is an all-star showcase that features four teams who will play a doubleheader on April 1 in New Orleans’ Lakefront Arena.  ESPN3 will carry the games live beginning at 3 PM EST and ESPNU will replay at 9 PM EST. Two highly sought-after Big East 2012 recruits, Nerlens Noel and Chris Obekpa, will be playing in the game.  Noel recently trimmed his list but Syracuse, Georgetown and Connecticut still appear to be in the running.  Obekpa’s list includes Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, St. John’s, Providence and West Virginia. Highly touted high school juniors and brothers, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, will be there as well.  Both are being recruited by Villanova while Andrew also holds an offer from Georgetown. There are also a number of committed Big East players who will appear: Omar Calhoun (Connecticut), Ricardo Ledo (Providence), Dajuan Coleman (Syracuse), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Georgetown) and Cameron Biedscheid (Notre Dame).
  4. Perhaps Connecticut fans will be treated to a Willis Reed-like event, but it is not looking like head coach Jim Calhoun will make his return to the sideline on Saturday as hoped when the Huskies take on Pittsburgh.  Calhoun is reported to be feeling better after surgery on Monday to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by a spine-thinning condition called spinal stenosis as well as a “large disk fragment” that was found when doctors went in, but was not able to attend practice on Thursday.  Should Calhoun not be ready for Connecticut’s practice this afternoon it renders his chances of coaching on Saturday to virtually nil.  The Huskies (17-13, 7-10 Big East) somewhat remarkably remain in contention for an at-large NCAA berth despite their well-documented struggles. A loss on Saturday would certainly figure to firmly put them on the outside looking in, even in the minds of the pundits.
  5. The Naismith Men’s Basketball Player of the Year is obviously a huge honor and just to be considered is certainly something to be proud of.  To that end, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced its somewhat oddly named ‘Midseason 30’, which is a a list of the 30 finalists for the award.  Four Big East players made the cut: Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones, and two from Syracuse in Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters. The Naismith recipient will be announced and awarded during the Final Four, which we presume implies that the second “half” of the season will be played in the next four weeks.
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Who’s Got Next? Gathers Commits, McDonald’s All-Americans Announced And More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on February 10th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Ricardo Gathers Chooses Baylor — Big Get For Bears

Ricardo Gathers Is A Huge Get For Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew.

Top-50 Power Forward Gives Scott Drew A Top-Five Recruiting Class. Three months after backing off his commitment to St. John’s, Class of 2012 power forward Ricardo Gathers committed to Baylor, joining point guard L.J. Rose and centers Isaiah Austin and Chad Rykhoek. The Louisiana native is a terrific fit for Baylor because he’s a double-double machine who can get it done on both ends of the court. He was second in scoring during the Nike EYBL last summer, averaging over 20 points a game while leading the EYBL in rebounding with about 12 a contest. He also recorded 20.7 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 3.9 BPG and 2.3 APG as a junior en route to winning the 2011 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award. An interesting story that has unfolded recently is that Gathers de-committed from St. John’s in the first place to give LSU a chance to land him. According to the player, Tigers’ head coach Trent Johnson didn’t recruit him very hard which turned him off to the program. With the new addition of Gathers, Baylor has a top-five recruiting class featuring two of the best big men in the country (between Gathers and Austin).

What They’re Saying

  • Senior Ricardo Gathers on committing to Baylor: “The coaching staff made me feel like I was a main priority, and with the signing class they have coming in, we have a really good chance of being a potential national champion. That was one of the biggest things for me.”

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Big East Morning Five: 02.10.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 10th, 2012

  1. The 2012 McDonald’s All-American Game rosters were announced yesterday. A prestigious honor for 24 four-year high school seniors, the event will take place on March 28 at 9:30 PM eastern at Chicago’s United Center and be televised on ESPN. The East roster will feature two Big East commits in center Dajuan Coleman who will attend Syracuse and point guard Kris Dunn who is headed to Providence. There are also five Mc-Donald’s All-Americans who have yet to make their pledge, including three who are being coveted by Big East schools. While Duke is rumored to be the favorite for Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson, Villanova remains a strong contender and Connecticut is in the mix as well. The Huskies are also in the picture with Georgia forward Tony Parker, as is Georgetown who would also love to lock up Devonta Pollard, a forward from Mississippi.
  2. Perhaps even more astounding than Villanova’s comeback victory over Providence on Tuesday was that the Wildcats were able to climb back from a 19 point second-half deficit without their leading scorer Maalik Wayns, who was forced out of the game for good with a knee injury prior to the run. Wayns (17.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.0 RPG) has been held out of practice since the game while awaiting results from an MRI he underwent on Wednesday.  Those results came back yesterday and revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee. Wayns’ playing status is day-to-day. Fortunately for Wayns and Villanova they do not play again until Wednesday, February 15 at South Florida, so it is possible Wayns will not miss any game action.
  3. After dropping a close overtime contest to #2 Syracuse, Georgetown received some good news yesterday when it learned that assistant coach Kenya Hunter was released from the hospital. Hunter was not able to make the trip to Syracuse as he was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital upon becoming ill and passing out after the Hoyas’ practice on Tuesday. While in the hospital Hunter underwent tests but no other information about the cause of his illness or current condition have been reported. Certainly Hunter’s release from the hospital was an encouraging sign however.
  4. We always knew Rick Pitino could recruit players, but what about programs? Pitino has been a vocal proponent of Big East stability since things went into flux as a result of conference realignment, and if you listen to Josh Pastner, head coach of newly minted Big East member Memphis, Pitino’s lobbying sealed the deal for his Tigers. “We play Louisville next year as part of a home-and-home series,” said Pastner, “I really believe Coach Pitino deserves a standing ovation when Louisville comes here because one of the main reason we got into the Big East was through Coach Pitino’s public politicking for us to get in.” Memphis represents a welcome addition to the Big East from a basketball standpoint, bringing with them a tremendous hardwood tradition and great backing as evidenced by their average attendance of 16,500 per game.
  5. Like any good recruiter Rick Pitino, despite landing his big fish in Memphis, does not rest on his laurels and continues to work. Yesterday in an interview with Jeff Goodman and Bruce Pearl on SiriusXM’s “Inside College Basketball” Pitino reiterated his desire to see Temple become the next member of the Big East. Pitino said he believes the Big East will add another school and that it should be Temple because, like Memphis, Temple is an inner-city school with football and strong basketball roots. The Owls have been on the Big East’s radar but reports have indicated Temple’s Philadelphia neighbor and current Big East member, Villanova, is opposed to the idea in what they might term a ‘too close for comfort’ scenario. Pitino provided an interesting retort in the interview saying, “I don’t understand because South Florida had to say, ‘Look, we don’t like it but we’ll take Central Florida. If that’s in the best interests of the conference, we’ll do it.’ And Villanova’s going to have to say, ‘If it’s in the best interests of the conference, we’ll do it.’ The Louisville coach also said he texted Big East Commissioner John Marinatto every other day asking when Memphis would be coming. Here’s hoping Mr. Marinatto has unlimited texting because something tells us the ante just got upped.
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Big East Recruiting Round-Up: Volume Two

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on December 2nd, 2011

Big East Recruiting Round-up is a recurring feature that will focus on, well, recruiting.  Rumors, buzz, rankings…..everything potentially shiny and new. 

Nerlens Noel Poll Results!

Nerlens Noel, Heavily Desired by Providence Fans...

When last we met on the recruiting trail, super class of 2013 center Nerlens Noel was a hot topic of discussion.  He had semi-revealed a short list of five schools, four of which reside in the Big East.  So we did what any red-blooded American college basketball site would do and took it to the voters.  The turnout was great and all of the hanging chads have been counted.  They apparently voted early and often in the Ocean State because, as you can see below, the results were overwhelmingly in favor of Providence.  Perhaps we should rename ‘Friartown’ to ‘Nerlenstown.’  If you’d like to get a late vote in, the polls will remain open so go for it!

Will the Bernie Fine Controversy Hurt Syracuse’s Recruiting Efforts?

Syracuse recruits comment on whether or not Bernie Fine allegations impact their decision. It is important to note that this check-in occurred on November 23 which was before the Laurie Fine telephone call recording broke.  Further, with head coach Jim Boeheim now being called into question it is reasonable to believe some recruits will take a wait-and-see approach.  As noted in our previous round-up, Syracuse has signed two highly-rated recruits out of the class of 2012 in DaJuan Coleman (6’10″ center – Jamesville DeWitt – NY – Ranks: Rivals: 27, ESPN: 14) and Jerami Grant 6’7″ – forward – DeMatha – MD – Ranks: Rivals: 60 , ESPN: 43)

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Who’s Got Next? Britt Chooses Carolina, Jones To Duke And More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 30th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Britt Chooses Carolina, Gives Tar Heels Top Two Committed Juniors

Nate Britt Will Be A Force In North Carolina's Backcourt. (ESPNHS)

Roy Williams Out To Early Lead In Class of 2013. With junior point guard Nate Britt‘s selection of North Carolina last night, head coach Roy Williams has now received commitments from the top two signed prospects in the Class of 2013 — the other being power forward Isaiah Hicks. Britt has dreamed of being a Tar Heel since the age of 11 and will form a nightmare backcourt with Class of 2012 point guard Marcus Paige (North Carolina) when the two are put together. North Carolina is in great shape at the point guard position over the next few years thanks to the duo of Paige and Britt and won’t suffer a large drop-off after sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall leaves. Britt is such a valuable prospect because of his outstanding ability to score in the mid-range, knock down perimeter shots, and his consistency in getting into the lane. He’s an intelligent player who can finish well around the bucket with both hands. Britt is also a great passer and does a good job of controlling the pace of the game. A couple of other top juniors North Carolina is going after includes small forward Troy Williams and power forward Julius Randle. The Tar Heels have a good shot with Randle, although they aren’t the favorite — that would be Kentucky.

What They’re Saying

  • Junior Matt Jones on selecting Duke: “It’s the way they play and [head] coach [MikeKrzyzewski, everybody respects him and what they stand for with academics on and off the court. They can get me to the next level as a person and a man and as a player to continue to improve my game.”
  • Junior Julius Randle on  how Matt Jones’ commitment affects him: “I have to do what’s best for me and find the best fit. I know Matt pretty well and I don’t think he’s going to put pressure on me. He’ll tell me that if I don’t go to Duke he’ll love me either way.”
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Big East Recruiting Round-Up: Inaugural Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on November 23rd, 2011

Big East Recruiting Round-up is a recurring feature that will focus on, well, recruiting.  Rumors, buzz, rankings…..everything potentially shiny and new.  

Class of 2012 Early Signing Period

The early signing period for class of 2012 recruits occurred this past week. Let’s take a look at how the Big East fared.

  • The hauls of  Providence, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have received the highest accolades amongst Big East schools nationally.
  • Providence’s class is currently the conference’s highest rated and most surprising, as Ed Cooley began his rebuilding effort with a much-needed infusion of talent.  The Friars inked consensus top 30 guards in Providence native Ricardo Ledo (6’6″ shooting guard – South Kent – CT – Ranks: Rivals 8,  ESPN 22), Kris Dunn (6’3″ point guard, New London – CT – Ranks: Rivals: 10, ESPN: 29) and sharp-shooter Josh Fortune (6’5″ shooting guard – Kecoughtan – VA).
  • Pittsburgh continued to leverage their connections with Notre Dame Prep (MA), landing premier 6’10” big man Steven Adams (Rivals: 4) along with 6’3″ point guard James Robinson (DeMatha – MD – Ranks: Rivals: 58, ESPN: 48).
  • Syracuse scored two highly rated recruits in local product DaJuan Coleman (6’10” center – Jamesville DeWitt – NY – Ranks: Rivals: 27, ESPN: 14) and Jerami Grant 6’7″ – forward – DeMatha – MD – Ranks: Rivals: 60 , ESPN: 43)

Coleman Stayed Home to Play in the Dome

Links to a few class of 2012 national rankings:

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