Big East Weekly Five: 05.01.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on May 1st, 2012

  1. Coaching changes, along with transfers and recruiting, typically round out the top three themes of most college basketball off-seasons. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. While transfers and recruiting have been prevalent, it has been a slow couple of years in the coaching change department for the Big East. In fact, Ed Cooley taking over at Providence last year represents the lone men’s basketball head coaching change the conference has undergone during that time. Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun has not made it official publicly but, assuming his health permits, it would be a surprise at this point not to see him back. That would leave the conference with no changes at the top this year. Not only do all of the current coaches appear to be secure at the moment but no athletic director would fire a head coach of a high-profile basketball program in late April or early May, right Seth Greenberg? Given this stability, and the name involved, it became a pretty big story when former Louisville assistant Richard Pitino was hired away from his father’s Louisville staff by Florida International University to be their head coach.  To fill the void left by the younger Pitino’s departure, head coach and proud papa Rick Pitino hired former Xavier assistant Kareem Richardson as an assistant coach. Richardson spent one year on Chris Mack’s staff following three years as an assistant at Drake.
  2. St. John’s and Steve Lavin continued their spring recruiting bonanza this week while at the same time scoring their second re-commitment of the year when 6’4” shooting guard Darrick Wood opted once again for the Red Storm. Wood originally signed with St. John’s as a member of the 2011 class, but headed back to Bridgton (ME) Academy and re-opened his recruitment after being found academically ineligible to play in college.  Recent St. John’s re-commit, JaKarr Sampson, followed a similar path. Joining Wood and Sampson thus far in Steve Lavin’s 2012 haul are Monroe (Junior) College teammates: forward/center Orlando Center and guard Marco Bourgault, Texas A&M transfer guard Jamal Branch, sharp-shooting Harvard transfer Max Hooper and high school guard Felix Balamou.  As presently constituted, St. John’s has one remaining scholarship available for next year’s roster.
  3. Seemingly every other minute these days we read about another player transferring, but it was real news when Michael Gbinije, who played last season at Duke, announced he was heading to Syracuse. Jim Boeheim has coached the Orange for 36 years and Gbinije represents just the sixth player to transfer in from a four-year college. A 6’7” guard/forward, Gbinije played in 19 games for the Blue Devils averaging 1.7 points and 5.8 minutes per contest. He was a highly rated class of 2011 recruit, ranked 29th by and 35th by, coming out of Virginia’s Benedictine High School. Interestingly once Gbinije is able to suit up for Syracuse in 2013-14 after sitting out next season under NCAA transfer rules he will have pulled off another rare feat by transferring within the same conference given that Syracuse will be part of the ACC by that time.
  4. There are so many wonderful and encouraging aspects to today’s technology. The subject matter of this item is not an example one of them. Once it became public that one of the more high-profile transfers of this off-season, Connecticut forward Alex Oriakhi, was headed to Missouri he received a number of profane, violent and hate-filled texts and tweets. Messages not only from bitter Connecticut fans but also from schools that lost out on Oriakhi as a transfer. In one instance, as reported by Yahoo! Sports, Oriakhi shared a series of texts he received from one particularly barbaric, and spelling-challenged, Connecticut fan. Unfortunately the overall ignorance level and narrow-mindedness of people has not declined in-kind as technology has advanced. It is clear that the term smartphone is more indicative of the device as opposed to many of its owners. #timetowakeuppeople
  5. Marquette’s roster for next season now has a couple of late openings. Following the release of 2012 signee Aaron Durley from his letter of intent it was reported that sophomore forward Jamail Jones will transfer out of the program. Durley, a 6’10” center from Fort Bend Bush High School in Texas who signed with the Golden Eagles in November has already verbally committed to Texas Christian University. The 6’6” Jones averaged 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in his two years with Marquette. Arizona State transfer and last year’s leading scorer, Trent Lockett, is emerging as a high priority to fill one of Buzz Williams’ open spots. Williams also has the ‘Now Hiring’ sign up on his door as he lost his associate head coach, Tony Benford, who was hired last week to be the head coach at North Texas.
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Big East Morning Five: 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on March 21st, 2012

  1. The good news for Georgetown was with their NCAA Tournament second round victory over Belmont the Hoyas snapped a two-year NCAA one-and-done streak.  The bad news?  A third round loss to #11 seed North Carolina State meant another early tournament upset exit at the hands of a double-digit seed.  Of course this type of thing falls right into the wheelhouse of doomsday embracing fans and nay saying media but, as this Bleacher Report piece by Bryan Toporek aptly points out, to call for John Thompson III’s head at this point would not only be premature, it would be foolish.  Thompson has led the Hoyas to six twenty win seasons in the last seven, including a Final Four appearance in 2007.  He has consistently brought in high level recruits and players that fit his system well and is one of three finalists for Nerlens Noel, the nation’s best high school senior and a potential game changer.  Lastly, even if one could put the previous points aside and still want Thompson III to go, who do you replace him with?  The grass is not always greener on the other side.
  2. This just in.  College kids party. That is why it comes as no surprise to find out that six Marquette players, who are not of drinking age, received citations for being in a nightclub back on January 29. The players: Todd Mayo, Vander Blue, Jamail Jones, Juan Anderson, Derrick Wilson, and Jake Thomas were not believed to be drinking.  Head coach Buzz Williams acknowledged the issue was dealt with later the same day as January 29 was a Sunday.  Reading between the lines it sounds like Williams handled it the old fashioned way with some good old intense physical fitness early on a Sunday morning.  It is not known if the February partial game suspensions of Mayo, Blue as well as Junior Cadugan and Darius Johnson-Odon during Marquette’s February 24 game at West Virginia were related to the nightclub incident. This is also not expected to impact any of the players’ status for the Golden Eagles sweet sixteen contest against Florida on Thursday.
  3. The University of Rhode Island has hired a young upstart coach in Danny Hurley away from Wagner to be its head coach and revive a struggling program that has not been heard from nationally for awhile.  College basketball fans in southern New England only have to look back a year, and a short distance up route 95 north, to when Providence hired Ed Cooley with the same goals in mind. Providence and Rhode Island have a great and long standing interstate rivalry, so it is likely that the comparisons between Hurley and Cooley will be fodder for discussion in the Ocean State for some time to come as their journeys are now aligned. Further, as this article by Kevin Farrahar of outlines, Friar fans should be happy about Hurley’s hire because it gives more cachet to the rivalry, especially if both coaches have overall success, and is good for the suffering state of college basketball in Rhode Island on the whole.  Further buzz will be created by the news that Danny’s brother Bobby, the former Duke star, apparently will join him in Kingston as an assistant rather than moving into the head role at Wagner as had been rumored.
  4. Marquette received a verbal commitment from a hometown star yesterday as Milwaukee’s Dominican High School point guard Duane Wilson, a member of the class of 2013, pledged for the Golden Eagles.  Wilson is ranked 128th nationally by and an grade of 92 (out of 100).  “The main reason that made me go to Marquette was coach Buzz Williams,” Wilson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “That was my first scholarship offer and they stayed on me. I just really liked his attitude. He gets the best out of his players all the time and they just play hard.”  The highly recruited Wilson chose Williams and Marquette over the likes of Missouri and Memphis among others.
  5. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced its All-America teams yesterday and the Big East checked in with three honorees spanning the second and third teams.  West Virginia senior forward Kevin Jones (19.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG) and Syracuse senior forward Kris Joseph (13.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG) were named to the NABC’s second team. Marquette senior forward Jae Crowder (17.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG), who edged out Jones for Big East Player of the Year honors, received third team All-America honors.  The first team consisted of: Anthony Davis (Kentucky), Draymond Green (Michigan State), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), and Jared Sullinger (Ohio State).
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Early Signing Period Starts Today

Posted by jstevrtc on November 11th, 2009

Wednesday, November 11th was the first day of basketball’s early signing period for high school seniors, and several noteworthy prospects signed on the dotted line throughout the day.  A recap (all rankings from the ESPN 100):

jared sullinger

The biggest story came out of Columbus, Ohio.  Thad Matta is flexing right now, as he brought in four players in the top 100, including two players in most recruiting analysts’ top 10-12; Jared Sullinger, an almost unanimous #2 in this year’s whole senior class (pictured above), and #12 DeShaun Thomas, a smooth 6’7 three-position threat.  Also signing with the Buckeyes were top-60 players Jordan Sibert and Aaron Craft, so you can see why OSU boasts the best recruiting class for 2010 to this point.

Perry Jones, considered the third-ranked prospect in the current senior class, signed with Baylor today, thus continuing Scott Drew’s highly commendable rebuilding of that program.  Jones verbally committed back in 2007 but today’s signing made it official.  The 6’10 Jones has the skill set to play the 3, 4, or 5 at the collegiate level.

Other signing notes:  Marquette inked a couple of top-100 recruits in the excellently-named 6’3 shooting guard Vander Blue and 6’6 wing Jamail Jones.  A couple of former NBA stars saw their sons sign letters; Shawn Kemp, Jr. (6’9, 215) signed with Auburn, while Tim Hardaway, Jr. (6’5, 185) pledged his support to Michigan.

harrison barnes

Two of the biggest names in the class of 2010 also revealed their plans to announce soonHarrison Barnes (dunking above) is touted as possibly the best player in the class, and says that he’ll announce this Friday at 4 P.M. ET.  The leaders for his services are said to be Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Top ten recruit Tobias Harris, according to his father, will not sign a letter of intent this week, but will announce his college choice next week; Maryland, Louisville, Georgia Tech, and West Virginia are listed as the top possibilities for the 6’8 combo-forward.

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