Posted by mlemaire on November 9th, 2012
- Given how well coach Jay Wright recruits guards, it should never be surprising when one of those guards finds themselves as the odd man out in the rotation and leaves the program. The latest to see the writing on the wall at Villanova is sophomore New Jersey native Tyrone Johnson, who played just nine minutes in the team’s scrimmage against Carleton University last week and is expected to transfer according to a release from the school yesterday. The Wildcats appear ready to hand over the point guard reins to freshman Ryan Arcidiacono and there wasn’t going to be a lot of playing time to go around for Johnson, a Montrose Christian Academy product. Johnson struggled as a freshman in trying to play too fast at times, but he would still have been a nice player to have for depth purposes. This does however give Wright another scholarship to play with next season, when a few big names may be keeping their eyes on the ‘Cats.
- For those intimately familiar with Big East basketball, the hallmark of Jamie Dixon-coached teams at Pittsburgh is their defense and toughness. That focus treated the Panthers well as they became one of the conference’s premier programs. But last year, one of the primary reasons Pittsburgh slipped so drastically was because their defense fell all the way to 151st in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. Dixon isn’t about to let that happen again and has emphasized creating turnovers and pressuring the opponents on defense. The Panthers will still run a physical man-to-man scheme, but they may look to be more opportunistic this year as they try to bounce back. If the Panthers can maintain the offensive efficiency they achieved last season and regain even a portion of their defensive prowess, they will be a team to be reckoned with.
- Anyone who tuned in to Louisville‘s exhibition game against Bellarmine was treated to some of the ugliest basketball the Cardinals are likely to play all season. The Cardinals looked ragged, abysmal shooting the ball, and tired, which may have actually been the case since apparently coach Rick Pitino put them through a rigorous practice session earlier in the day. The Cardinals did a lot of shooting, ran zero set plays, and basically looked terrible against a team coached by former assistant Scott Davenport. The moral of this is that Rick Pitino is probably heartless inasmuch as he is also a master motivator. His team has enormous expectations surrounding them this season, and this may have been an opportunity for Pitino to show his team that they are not immortal. What else can you say? There is a reason why the guy is considered a legend in the sport.
- Notre Dame coach Mike Brey has made a reputation off turning less-talented teams into winners but this season will be a departure from that familiar storyline as Brey is finally blessed with not just talent but also depth. Two four-star freshmen, Cameron Biedscheid and Zach Auguste, are major reasons why. The duo left high school as consensus Top 100 players in the country and play will play significant minutes this season as Brey and the Fighting Irish try to avoid a letdown after last season. Neither of the freshmen will be expected to start right away, although Biedscheid has the type of offensive versatility that is hard to keep off the floor, but they give Brey a luxury he isn’t used to having — depth.
- On the eve of the start of the season, Johnette Howard at ESPN gives the Big East a send-off of sorts with this lengthy piece that assesses the state of upheaval the conference now finds itself in. It spends a little bit of time explaining how Rick Pitino‘s recent tiff with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim serves as a perfect example of the sort of potent cocktail the Big East has become, especially this season. Let’s just say that I am excited for the season to get started.