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 East Morning Five: 02.14.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 14th, 2012

  1. A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM RTC BIG EAST:  This is not a test. If you have any designs on watching your favorite team take part in their upcoming conference tournament, not to mention the NCAA tournament next month, and have yet to get a Valentine’s Day gift for your significant other, what are you waiting for dude? Are you crazy? Not to worry. This important RTC announcement should post around 8:00 am eastern, which gives you plenty of time to run to your local florist, jewelry store, or car dealership (depending on how badly you want to watch “March Madness” with your buddies) and take care of business. You are welcome.
  2. What a season Jack Cooley is having for Notre Dame. He has been a model of consistency as evidenced by his four selections to the Big East Honor Roll this season but this past week Cooley ascended from steady to spectacular, averaging 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in two big wins for the surging and surprising Fighting Irish to earn him Big East Player of the Week honors. Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston earned Rookie of the Week accolades by virtue of going ham on Providence. Pinkston posted career-highs in points with 28 and rebounds with 14 to lead his team back from a 19 point second-half deficit to overtake the Friars. Marquette’s Jae Crowder stuffed the stat sheet in typical fashion to the tune of 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 steals and earned a spot on the Big East Honor Roll. Rounding out the Honor Roll are Syracuse’s Kris Joseph who went for 29 in a big win over Georgetown; Georgetown’s Otto Porter who averaged 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds; South Florida’s Hugh Robertson who helped the Bulls to two wins by averaging 12.0 points and 3.5 rebounds; and Seton Hall catalyst Jordan Theodore who got the Pirates back on track by averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 assists in two much-needed wins.
  3. I did not watch the Grammy’s the other night but you can bet Mike Brey and his Notre Dame squad are singing a tune and dancing a jig after seeing their name in the rankings. Yes, the Fighting Irish (17-8. 9-3) are your #23 ranked team and let’s just shut down Big East Coach of the Year voting now and give it to Brey. No matter what happens the rest of the way, Brey has defied odds and expectations once again, and deserves all the credit in the world. Notre Dame’s inclusion gives the Big East five ranked teams now as Syracuse (24-1, 13-1) held firm at #2 while Georgetown (19-5, 9-4) went 1-1 but benefited from other upsets and jumped up two notches anyway to #10. Marquette (21-5, 10-3) vaulted a half-dozen spots to #12 after taking out DePaul and Cincinnati. Finally, surging Louisville (20-6, 8-5) popped up five to #19 on the heels of their fifth and sixth straight wins before dropping a heartbreaker to Syracuse last night.
  4. Things are not going so well in Storrs these days. Connecticut is under .500 in conference play (5-7) after dropping two in a row and six of seven. They are facing an NCAA tournament ban next year due to Academic Performance Rating issues that could also bring headwinds for years to come. Further, and perhaps most importantly, the Huskies have been without head coach Jim Calhoun for three games with spinal stenosis and it does not appear he will be back for Wednesday’s game at home versus DePaul.  The Hartford Courant reported yesterday that Calhoun is still in “significant pain” according to those who have visited him recently. Calhoun will continue to seek medical advice and may ultimately opt for surgery that could keep him out for the rest of the season. Long time assistant George Blaney has assumed the head coaching duties in Calhoun’s absence.
  5. Cincinnati came into this season with perhaps the highest expectations and biggest target on its back (save for Connecticut perhaps) of any Big East team. The Bearcats returned their top four scorers from last year’s 26-9 team that reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years, and notched a second round win while they were at it. However it is one thing to get up near the top of the Big East, and a whole other thing to stay there. This has been an up-and-down year to say the least for Cincinnati (17-8, 7-5), but the Bearcats remain in position to grab an NCAA tournament bid if they can finish the season strong. In order to get there head coach Mick Cronin thinks it is time for his team to realize they are now the hunted and no longer the hunters. “Last year, people didn’t respect our team, even though we really were good,” Cronin said. “I watch the way other teams prepare for us. You can tell when other teams think they have to play really well to beat us.” Given that the Bearcats are no longer under the radar, Cronin needs his team to adjust their preparation accordingly because opponents view them differently now. “I don’t think our guys understand that,“ Cronin said. “It’s a hump that we have to get over, and it’s nipped us. Our weakness is we try to be too cool.” Cincinnati hosts Providence on Wednesday.
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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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