1. The Big East revealed the second installment of its men’s basketball weekly awards on Monday. Syracuse senior forward Kris Joseph earned the Player of the Week award as he led the Orange to an NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off win, averaging 19.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in the tournament including 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals in the final against Stanford. Rookie of the week honors went to Connecticut freshman center Andre Drummond who responded to his newfound starting role by posting averages of 11.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in three games, including a near triple-double in the Bahamas against Florida State (12 PTS, 10 REB, 7 BLK). As for the Honor Roll, Pittsburgh’s Tray Woodall checks in with his second consecutive appearance (10.3 PPG, 9.0 APG) powered by double-doubles against La Salle and Robert Morris; Sophomore Cleveland Melvin has DePaul off to a 4-1 start and backed up his Old Spice Classic All-Tournament Team selection with this conference honor; Georgetown senior guard Jason Clark who averaged 23.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in Maui including 26 huge points in an overtime victory over then No. 8 Memphis; Seton Hall double-double machine and last week’s Player of the Week, Herb Pope, posted two more double-doubles, raising his Big East-leading season total to five; and West Virginia’s Kevin Jones only had one game this past week but he made it count racking up 23 points, 10 boards and two blocks in a win over Morehead State.
2. Last week was a rough week overall for the Big East with a slew of losses but for the most part the top of the league held serve and maintained their Top 25 rankings. Connecticut, on the heels of their 68-63 upset at the hands of Central Florida, represented the only Big East team to record a drop in the Associated Press poll as they slid four spots to #8. Syracuse shook off the Bernie Fine controversy to win in the Garden and earned a one spot promotion to #4 while Louisville bit back at the injury bug and jumped up a notch to #6 while Marquette (#16) and Pittsburgh (#17) stood pat as compared to last week to help the Big East maintain a total of five ranked teams. Georgetown is within shouting distance of becoming the sixth, receiving 46 votes which would be good for 30th, and has a date on Thursday with #12 Alabama in the SEC-Big East Challenge that could propel the Hoyas into next week’s poll with a victory (assuming they get by N.J.I.T on Saturday).
3. Speaking of the Big East’s less than glorious week, there are currently seven teams with two or more losses in the early going: Notre Dame, South Florida, Providence, Villanova, Cincinnati, St. John’s, and Rutgers. Clearly the most, and perhaps only, surprising inclusions on this list are Cincinnati and Villanova as they were predicted to finish fifth and eighth respectively in the Big East pre-season coaches poll. Presbyterian over Cincinnati was a clunker for sure but even including the Blue Hose’s (had to work that in) 3-3 record, the teams that beat Villanova and Cincinnati are a combined 18-5, including a now ranked St. Louis squad (#25). Further, Villanova gave up the last ten points of the game in a one-point loss to Santa Clara. As far as the single-loss teams go, Pittsburgh and Connecticut falling to inferior teams has to be mentioned, but it is not time to panic just yet. Plus this gives us yet another chance to remind you where UCONN was when the Big East tournament began last year and where they ended up. OK, enough with the ifs and buts. Here’s the bottom line: While it is not likely this year’s ninth place finisher takes it the distance again, all that has gone on thus far is a testament to the truth lying somewhere between the conference not being as strong and deep as it was a year ago and the fact that there are simply so many good players and coaches out there today that the big boys need to bring it at a high level every night or risk getting tripped up.
4. Jim Boeheim has found himself moving closer to the center of the Bernie Fine controversy as discussed here at RTC Big East yesterday. The latest has a number of public cries by interested parties, including support and advocate groups for sexual abuse victims, for the head coach’s job whether by firing or resignation. While Syracuse officials have remained tight-lipped, the NCAA is keeping tabs and issued the following statement on Monday:
NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke today with Chancellor Nancy Cantor to let her know the NCAA is carefully monitoring the developments at Syracuse University, and Chancellor Cantor pledged her full cooperation in determining the facts. The accusations of child sexual abuse reported in the media involving a former assistant men’s basketball coach are deeply troubling. Furthermore, to have similar allegations involving coaches at two of the nation’s major universities saddens every member of the Association. As facts emerge, we will determine what actions may be necessary regarding NCAA bylaws. As always, criminal justice proceedings, if any, take precedence over any NCAA actions.”
In further news, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick’s concerns were heard and addressed as Syracuse police agreed to provide Fitzpatrick’s office additional information regarding the case after he called them out as failing to provide.
5. Louisville continues to roll with the punches and get wins despite the revolving door to the trainer’s room. One game after junior guard Peyton Siva returned from an ankle injury, sophomore guard Elisha Justice was forced to miss last night’s game against Long Beach State after breaking his nose in practice. Despite the continued shuffling of personnel, Rick Pitino’s Cardinals continued their winning ways, surviving foul trouble and fighting off tough 49er squad en route to a 79-66 victory. Senior guard Chris Smith led the charge with 18 points, including four three-pointers, in 33 minutes of action. Siva turned the ball over six times, but also stuffed the stat sheet with eleven points, three rebounds, five assists and five steals. Freshman Chane Behanan continued his solid play with 13 points and seven rebounds. Louisville (6-0) faces a test on Friday versus #20 Vanderbilt (5-2 after last night’s overtime loss to #11 Xavier) in their leg of the SEC-Big East Challenge.