Big East M5: 02.18.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on February 18th, 2013

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  1. Providence defeated its second ranked opponent in as many weeks after pasting Notre Dame 71-54 in The Dunk on Saturday. The Friars’ four-game Big East winning streak is their first since 2004, and a tangible affirmation that Ed Cooley has his program trending toward relevancy after a long series of setbacks. There was a lot for Providence fans to celebrate in Saturday’s win: Vincent Council became the school’s all-time assist leader; Bryce Cotton broke out of his shooting slump; and the Friars shut down the league’s second most efficient offense. But it was junior center Kadeem Batts who Mike Brey singled out after the game as his choice for the Big East’s Most Improved Player. Coming into the season as a question mark whose production and minutes had decreased in 2011-12, Batts has become the centerpiece of his team’s turnaround, particularly in the aftermath of Sidiki Johnson’s leave of absence.
  2. Louisville reopened its recruiting pipeline to Seattle over the weekend, as 6’7 junior guard Shaqquan Aaron committed to the Cardinals over UCLA, Syracuse and Arizona, among others. Aaron concluded Louisville was “a perfect fit” after probing current players about the rigors of playing for Rick Pitino during his official visit. “I want to play for a coach that is going to be hard on me. I like how coach P is going to push me every time.” The California native attends the same high school as former Louisville point-forward Terrence Williams, and would carry the mantle of Emerald City transplants for Pitino after Peyton Siva graduates this year. The commitment also reestablishes a presence in Seattle after the Cards’ staff struck out in the highly visible recruitment of Tony Wroten in 2010.
  3. Georgetown may be one of four nine-win teams atop the Big East bottleneck, but it’s unquestionably the hottest one after winning its seventh consecutive game on the road in Cincinnati. After Otto Porter picked up his fourth foul with more than seven minutes remaining in a three-point game, the specter of a fifth consecutive loss to the Bearcats probably loomed over many a Hoya fan’s living room. That Georgetown remained committed to its defensive game plan and rebuilt its lead on the road, against a style of opponent they’ve traditionally struggled against, quells any doubt that John Thompson III’s team is a leading Big East contender.
  4. After collecting praise and accolades in the first months of his Pittsburgh career, freshman guard James Robinson has hit a dramatic scoring slump in the past seven contests. The 6’2″ former Big East Rookie of the Week has shot 16% from the field and failed to score more than one basket in any game during that stretch, despite averaging 21 minutes per game. Moreover, Robinson has failed to score from the field at all in three of those seven contests. He continues to contribute in other ways, like hitting all eight of his combined free throws in the past two games. Nonetheless, Cardiac Hill suggests it might be time to curtail his playing time for the time-being.
  5. On the Catholic Seven front, we learned last night that the nascent league will pursue a 12-team structure by recruiting either Richmond or Siena (?) to join assured invitees Butler, Dayton, Xavier and St. Louis. More importantly, we learned that nobody wants to lead the Catholic Seven: that task fell to Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, “in large part because of a lack of interest on the part of the presidents of St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, DePaul, Marquette and Providence.” The quote illuminates the kind of visionary initiative you would expect from the league that elected to cast its lot with DePaul rather than UConn and Cincinnati. Then again, they’re on the verge of stumbling into a huge payday. VU Hoops still voices some anxiety over the symbolism of allowing fairly trifling logistical concerns to dictate that the league is courting the likes of Siena and Detroit Mercy rather than Creighton.
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The Freshman 10: The Best and Worst of Big East Newcomers

Posted by mlemaire on December 6th, 2012

The season is only a month and some change old but it is never too early to check in on the progress of some of the conference’s most heralded and surprising freshmen. While young bloods like Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Nik Stauskas of Michigan have made an instant splash on the college scene, the Big East’s crop of rookies have made a more muted impact.  There was no methodology when it came to selecting which freshmen to analyze, so we just chose 10 of the most interesting freshmen to follow. Of course, conference play hasn’t even begun yet, so evaluating their body of work is somewhat of a trivial venture. But don’t you worry, we will be back later in the year to check in on some of these players again.

DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse)

The Learning Curve For Prized Freshman DaJuan Coleman Has Been Steeper Than Some Expected

It is still far too early to make a judgment call on what type of player DaJuan Coleman can become this season. But those who expected the highly touted forward to come in and immediately start anchoring the paint for the Orange probably need to adjust their expectations. To his credit, he seems to be getting better each game. But in six games against subpar competition, Coleman hasn’t seen much playing time and has shown only promise and inconsistency when he does play.

Anyone with eyes can see the wide-bodied forward is going to be an excellent rebounder and considering he is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game in just 16.3 minutes of playing time, he is already on his way to validating that obvious observation. But he isn’t a shot-blocker which is fine so long as he is an efficient scorer in the post and an elite rebounder. He has an impressive skill set and nimble feet for a man his size, but the ball rarely makes it back out to the perimeter if it goes to Coleman in the post, and he will need to take better care of it and make smarter decisions if he wants to continue to receive looks in the paint. His downfall offensively may be his sketchy free-throw shooting (55 FT%) as he is the type of strong interior player destined to draw a lot of fouls, and if he can even make his free throws at a 66 percent clip, he will be a much more productive scorer.

Jakarr Sampson (St. John’s)

It should come as no surprise that Sampson has adjusted to college basketball quickly because the Akron native was supposed to be suiting up for the Red Storm last season before lackluster academics forced him to return to prep school. But now that he is on the roster, he has wasted little time making his mark on both ends of the floor and is the clear front-runner for conference rookie of the year honors. The lanky 6’8″ forward already had a well-deserved reputation as a sensational dunker, but his game is more nuanced than that. Sampson has thus far started all nine of the team’s games, averaging 30.8 minutes per game, and he ranks second on the team in scoring (13.8 PPG), first in rebounding (6.6 RPG), and second in blocks (1.6 BPG).

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Top Incoming Freshmen Battling For Under-18 USA Team

Posted by EJacoby on June 8th, 2012

Who are some of the most college-ready freshmen players heading to school next season? Gain insight into that answer by following the USA Men’s Under-18 National Team tryouts, whose roster was announced this week. Twenty-three of the country’s top young players, comprised mostly of recent high school graduates, are fighting for 12 spots to compete at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship. It’s a short tryout, as the team will fly out for competition on June 12. While there are plenty of factors that go into the team’s selection, the final cut could give us some insight as to which players’ games are most developed at this point. Of the group of participants, 15 are recent high school graduates. There are also seven high schoolers from the class of 2013, and the final player is Jarnell Stokes, already at Tennessee after reclassifying up last year to join the Volunteers in the second semester. Our biggest interest involves which of the 15 high school graduates will make the squad, perhaps proving that their college teams can expect big things next season after outperforming their peers and gaining some international experience.

Rasheed Sulaimon Has a Strong Chance to Play on the U-18 Team USA (AP Photo)

The 15 high school Class of 2012 participants are as follows:

  • Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
  • Robert Carter, Georgia Tech
  • Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
  • Kris Dunn, Providence
  • Shaq Goodwin, Memphis
  • Jerami Grant, Syracuse
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
  • Joel James, North Carolina
  • Jake Layman, Maryland
  • Rodney Purvis, NC State
  • James Robinson, Pittsburgh
  • Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
  • Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
  • Robert Upshaw, Fresno State
  • Adam Woodbury, Iowa

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Pittsburgh: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by mlemaire on May 18th, 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. Next up is Pittsburgh.

What Went Wrong

For a team that began the season in most pundits’ Top 10, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call Pittsburgh’s season an unmitigated disaster, especially given the consistent high level of play we have grown accustomed to from Jamie Dixon’s teams. It started with a casual loss to Long Beach State at home in the third game of the season, and after a disappointing loss to Wagner a month later, the free fall began. Shortly after the loss to The Beach, star point guard and offensive catalyst Travon Woodall got hurt and missed the next two months of the season.

The Sudden Departure Of Prized Recruit Khem Birch Early In The Season Was Only The Beginning Of The Problems For Jamie Dixon's Club.

Two weeks later, prized freshman Khem Birch left the program just as he was showing signs of putting it together and blasted his teammates on the way out. Forced to play the point position with Woodall out, star guard Ashton Gibbs suffered through the worst shooting season of his career and neither Talib Zanna nor Dante Taylor developed into the consistent post threat Dixon had hoped for. The most obvious reason for their decline was the sudden absence of defensive intensity from the Panthers. They had never finished worse than 53rd nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency under Dixon. This season they finished 151st in the category. If you are looking for what went wrong, that is a good place to start.

What Went Right

To be fair, the team did go through a mini-resurgence down the stretch, but it was too little too late. The emergence of Woodall as a multi-faceted scorer and distributor was a blessing and he should be even better next year assuming he stays healthy. Senior workhorse Nasir Robinson was his ultra-efficient self, and increased playing time for sophomores Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore helped them become effective role players who will be counted on to play an even bigger role next season. he number one bright spot for folks on the Main Line was the emergence of Pinkston in conference play. I guess if you want to count winning the College Basketball Invitational Championship as an honor, then you can add that to the list of what went right. To be clear, we don’t count that.

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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 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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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 07.19.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 19th, 2010

Now that we are into the dog days of summer and not much is happening around college campuses across the country, we are going to be shifting a small part of our focus to recruiting. We’re going to be searching out some of the hottest news and rumors while filtering out some of the ridiculous stuff you find online. If you have any tips, send us an e-mail at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

  • Although most people have been talking about the growth of international basketball and its impact on the NBA, we never really saw much of an effect on NCAA basketball other than seeing proven college players get passed over by unproven international talents. Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, anybody? No, we are not talking to you David Kahn! Well, now we are finally starting to see some of the effects. Everybody who reads this site is familiar with the work of Enes Kanter who will play for Kentucky next year (pending a final decision by the NCAA), but it does not stop there as this is a growing trend. Last week Seton Hall received a commitment from center Aaron Geramipoor, who hails from England. [Ed. Note: We’re really trying hard not to make any Bobby Gonzalez-Harrod’s jokes.] Now, Rutgers, Kentucky, and Maryland have expressed interest in 6’6″ wing Daddy Ugbede from Nigeria (cue up the “Who’s your Daddy?” t-shirts and chants in the student section). Ugbede will enroll in a prep school in Washington, DC, but it is clear that college coaches (and high school coaches for that matter) are starting to look more closely at talent from overseas.
  • In May, Georgia head coach Mark Fox surprised many fans by landing Marcus Thornton, which was considered a minor coup given the fact that Texas and Georgia Tech were both offering him a scholarship. This weekend, Fox landed the best recruit to come to Athens in many years when he received a verbal commitment from Kentavious Caldwell, a shooting guard who is ranked as one of the top 5 at his position and top 15 players in this year’s senior class overall by every recruiting service.
  • Last week, Marshall Plumlee, the #5 center in this year’s rising senior class, committed to attend Duke following in the footsteps on his brothers, Miles and Mason Plumlee, raising the possibility that all three could play together at Duke next year if Mason (a potential lottery pick in the 2011 NBA Draft) decides to return to Durham for his junior season. Not to be outdone by Coach K, Roy Williams has extended a scholarship offer to Plumlee’s AAU teammate Cody Zeller, the younger brother of Tyler. Cody, who is the #4 power forward in this year’s rising senior class, has not committed to a school yet and has a pretty big list of potential schools according to local newspapers, but we have heard that UNC and a pair of in-state schools (Butler and Indiana) are in the lead right now.

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