Big East M5: 10.19.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on October 19th, 2012

  1. Marquette blog Cracked Sidewalks cites a new article by Dan McGrath as symptomatic of the growing cognitive dissonance suffered by MU fans, boosters and administrators, as they try to reconcile integrity with the realities of building an elite basketball program. The sex scandal involving basketball players that rocked Marquette last summer is the kind of sensational event that forces introspection and re-evaluation. The schism between fans who strictly prioritize success and those who stress doing things “the right way” is a theme that resonates throughout college basketball, but is an acutely sensitive topic at the Catholic Big East schools. CBS’ Jeff Goodman had recently raised doubts that the ambitious Buzz Williams and hyper-vigilant athletic director Larry Williams could coexist without stepping on each other’s toes. It remains to be seen if their priorities are entirely compatible.
  2. According to Jeff Borzello at CBS, Providence coach Ed Cooley floated the idea of redshirting Kris Dunn during Big East Media Day. “It’s a possibility. But I’m trying to get him for every Big East game. I need him,” Cooley admitted, before qualifying, “but I’m in it for the long haul.” Should Dunn return, the Friars’ coach plans to use him and fellow point guard Vincent Council simultaneously, leaning on a talented starting lineup to carry a pretty shallow depth chart. Cooley did suggest that Providence could have “the best backcourt in the country” next year, though it’s hard to imagine Ledo sticking around for a second year unless his draft stock arbitrarily plummets. (h/t Friar Blog)
  3. John Thompson III ended the week empty handed on the recruiting trail. Roddy Peters committed to Maryland earlier in the week, and on Thursday Memphis forward Johnathan Williams III picked Missouri over the Hoyas, Michigan State and Tennessee. The Casual Hoya depicted the scene as a bizarre caricature of a commitment ceremony: “After an endless slideshow to the tune of R. Kelly’s “World’s Greatest,” a moving speech by his Aunt Lynn and a sermon by some guy in a blue shirt, ‘JW3’…put on a Missouri hat while leavings hats for Georgetown, Michigan State, Tennessee and George Mason on the table to high five themselves for dodging a bullet.” Ostentatious announcement notwithstanding, it’s hard to characterize missing out on a top-50 recruit with Williams’ length and skill as “dodging a bullet.”
  4. Rick Pitino –– a constant fixture in this week’s M5 –– made some interesting comments to St. John’s blog Rumble in the Garden on Wednesday about a flawed recruiting philosophy in the post-Carnesecca era, which he believes had stunted the program for years. Pitino explained, “The mistake that St. John’s made after Louie was that they didn’t recruit outside the city… In Louie’s time, he could do that, when it wasn’t the world of AAU basketball.” New York City basketball has developed a kind of diaspora in the last couple decades, concentrated in prep schools across New England whose blue chip recruits seldom return home. Pitino points out that St. John’s is taking the correct recruiting approach under these circumstances: “Lavin can go to Chicago and to Indiana (to recruit), because now the kids from all over the nation want to come here.” Quinn Rochford astutely points out how unthinkable it would have been 20 years ago to envision a St. John’s team whose best players are from Houston, Los Angeles, Ohio, Nigeria, and the Dominican Republic.
  5. On Wednesday, USA Today published a comprehensive look at the basketball-crazed triumvirate of Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville, and the intense rivalries that develop at the geographical nexus of this year’s top title contenders. One Pitino quote in particular insinuated that having three basketball-centric schools dominate the national consciousness headed into the season is good for college basketball in general. Perhaps having fervent fan bases in such frenzy will counteract the recent common tendency to subordinate basketball to football, and view college sports through the lens of football-driven realignment.
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Big East Mount Rushmore

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 22nd, 2012

With all due respect to the legions of legendary players the Big East has produced in its storied history, the Big East has always been a coach’s league.  This makes perfect sense given that the conference was conceived by, and molded through the eyes of a coach.  It was the vision of that coach which propelled the Big East and college basketball to new heights beginning in the early 1980s.  The Mount Rushmore of the Big East resides in its foundation and backbone.  In many ways these are the four fathers of the conference.  They all made long-term and lasting contributions to the league, and their statures grew in-kind with that of the conference as a result.  These four men are your pillars.

Dave Gavitt:  It is impossible to conceive any reference to the success or history of the Big East without Dave Gavitt at the forefront.  A true visionary who gave life to the Big East Conference when he founded it in 1979, Gavitt relinquished a successful coaching career at Providence where he led the Friars to the 1973 NCAA Final Four to devote his attention to building the league as its first commissioner.  It is hard to imagine where smaller Catholic schools like Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence , Boston College and Villanova would be today without Gavitt’s influence.  He believed that there was an audience for college basketball, a belief that probably saved the relevance of college basketball in the northeast and one that transcended his league, leading to the national television attention and marketing of the sport as we currently know it.

Jim Calhoun: The long time Connecticut head coach epitomizes the tenets of the Big East.  A New England-born no-nonsense guy and tireless worker who always appears ready for a challenge, Calhoun was hired by Connecticut in 1986. He has led the Huskies to three National Championships, including last season’s historic double where Connecticut came out of nowhere from a ninth-place regular season conference finish to win both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.  The Huskies have made 22 NCAA tournament appearances and four Final Fours under Calhoun’s watch.  Further, in this age where football and football money are deemed king, it is important to note that Connecticut has major Division I college football today as a result of the success Calhoun and Connecticut had on the basketball court and not vice versa.

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The Perfect Storm Leads to St. John’s Rout of Duke and Raises Questions About the Blue Devils

Posted by nvr1983 on January 31st, 2011

It was a game with a result that was shocking not so much for the fact that St. John’s beat Duke, but the manner in which they did so. Coming into the game on Sunday afternoon, the Red Storm had lost five of six after raising expectations with a win over Georgetown at the beginning of an unprecedented stretch of eight consecutive games against top 25 teams. That skid had threatened to put a damper on all the hype that had accompanied Steve Lavin‘s arrival in New York City and his much-ballyhooed incoming freshman class, but for one afternoon all of that was forgotten as the Red Storm put on as dominant of a performance against such a high caliber opponent as any St. John’s team has had since the days when they were still called the politically incorrect Redmen, Lou Carnesecca roamed the sidelines, and Walter Berry and Chris Mullin donned the uniform. Today, the newest generation of St. John’s players turned in a performance that certainly made Carnesecca and Berry (both in attendance today) proud.

St. John's Brought Back Ancient Memories This Afternoon

Behind a full court press than left Duke looking sloppy and some hot shooting, the Red Storm ran away with a 93-78 victory that was not as close as the 15-point final margin indicates. In front of a sellout crowd of 19,353 at Madison Square Garden that was nearly 50-50 in terms of allegiance to Duke or St. John’s, the Red Storm played their best basketball of the season and took advantage of the Blue Devils playing their worst. Even though Mike Krzyzewski seemed to imply in his post-game press conference that this game was an isolated incident, it does raise questions about the defending champions. On one hand we can probably discount Duke’s 5-for-26 shooting from 3-point range (and 1-for-19 before a late hot streak after the game was out of reach made the final numbers more respectable) as an aberration, but there were several other aspects of the game that should not be dismissed as easily.

  • Duke’s lack of athleticism: Last season Doug Gottlieb caught some heat from Coach K for calling the Blue Devils “alarmingly unathletic.” While it may not have been the politically correct thing to say, there was some truth to the statement. Outside of perhaps Mason Plumlee, none of the current Blue Devils will amaze any NBA scout with their athleticism. This doesn’t mean that Duke isn’t athletic enough to win the title (their biggest losses from last year’s championship team are Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek, who were probably the two least athletic players in last year’s starting line-up), but it does mean that this Duke team isn’t going to blow any elite team off the court with their athletes, and, in certain situations like today when their shots are not falling, they are vulnerable to inferior teams.
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