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.
Share this story

Around The Blogosphere: August 10, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 10th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Steve Adams Heading to America Soon: “Well, I won’t bury the lead in this. In a story that gushes over Steven Adams is this big, big nugget. ‘Adams is set to graduate High School in New Zealand at the end of this year and will then transfer to Notre Dame Prep for the 2011-12 season to gain some American high school experience. He becomes eligible to play for Pittsburgh in 2012-13.'” (Pitt Blather)
  • Mark Emmert Says “Thanks But No Thanks” To Pay For Play: The NCAA president opposes the proposed pay for play ideas. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Villanova Loses to Senegal 69-64: “The Villanova Wildcats opened their summer playing tour in Europe with a loss to the #36 ranked (FIBA) Senegal National Team, 69-64 in a game played in suburban Paris.” (Villanova by the Numbers and VU Hoops)
  • Cal Men’s Basketball Scrimmage Highlights: Video clips and impressions from the scrimmage. (California Golden Blogs)
  • Cal Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Features UNLV, SDSU, Georgia: “Whether through luck or planning, Mike Montgomery’s Bears have faced an unusually tough non-conference schedule over the last two years. 2010-11 included eventual top seeds Kansas, Notre Dame and San Diego State. In 2009-10 Cal had Ohio St., Syracuse, Kansas and New Mexico. Both sets of tough schedules were mixed blessings – Cal generally had solid RPI and strength of schedule numbers, but they also suffered a number of early losses that seemed to damage Cal’s national reputation – for whatever that’s worth. For better or worse, that almost certainly won’t be the case next year.” (California Golden Blogs)
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.08.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 8th, 2011

  1. John Pelphrey’s doing fine, thanks, and he appreciates your asking. The firing from Arkansas still stings a little, but he’s back at Florida as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a position he’s held before to considerable acclaim. While he seems happy to be back in a familiar place doing a job he loves, being a head coach again at a “network conference” school is something he won’t (and shouldn’t) allow to fall off his radar. We like following the career arcs of coaches in situations similar to the one Pelphrey’s in right now, to see how and where they bounce back.
  2. Last week, SI.com’s Luke Winn stepped up with yet another tour de force, this time an in-depth examination of the “commitment behaviors” of players listed as top-100 recruits in the recruiting rankings. Winn and his staff put some serious time into this investigation, so we don’t want to give away all of his findings, but his data revealed — and this is just one interesting factoid among many in the article — that kids who transferred high schools were almost twice as likely to eventually back out of a college commitment. Fascinating stuff here in the midst of these days of extreme college basketball “fickleness,” as Winn describes it.
  3. It’s only a matter of time until those rudimentary free markets and the walls at, say, People’s Basketball Collective #17 are awash with Duke merchandise and photos of the inestimable Mike Krzyzewski, if they aren’t already. We hope they’ve packed their guidebooks and downloaded those vocal translator apps, because the Blue Devils are off to China next weekend with a little side jaunt to Dubai thrown in there, too. Not only will the 13-day trip help Coach K see how his five new incoming frosh fit in with his returning charges, but, as Krzyzewski says, it also helps forward their “initiative to become a global entity.” Wait, you mean…they weren’t one?
  4. Last month, Notre Dame incoming freshman Eric Katenda was in Washington DC playing a pick-up game. He went up for a rebound, came down, and an opposing player went for the ball, but hit Katenda in the left eye…severing his optic nerve. While there’s plenty of research out there aimed at regenerating optic nerve tissue after it’s been cut, medical science isn’t far enough along right now to help Katenda regain his vision in that eye, so his college basketball career is already in question and he hasn’t even fully enrolled yet. We hate hearing things like this and we can’t imagine the disappointment Eric is feeling, but we were happy to read that Notre Dame still plans to honor the young man’s scholarship, whatever happens.
  5. Herb Magee has amassed 922 wins in his coaching career, ALL at Philadelphia University, and as of 48 hours ago he assumed his rightful place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. We’re sure you’ve already heard of Coach Magee and his coaching excellence, and how he’s known as The Shot Doctor. But that’s not just because he’s good at helping others with their form from distance. In his day, Magee could — actually, he still can — make it rain. He scored 2,235 points in his career (that’s 24.0 PPG) and was known as Baby Jesus, a nickname you don’t earn in Philly unless you deserve it. If he’d have had the three-point line, his numbers would have been even more impressive. The Philadelphia Inquirer did a great piece on Magee and his shooting prowess a day ahead of his HOF induction, and we recommend it highly. We love how Magee’s friends rib him about how his #4 jersey that hangs in the gym’s rafters isn’t so much his jersey number as it is his career assist total. Outstanding.
Share this story