Happy Thanksgiving from the RTC Big East microsite!
- After Patrik Auda re-injured his right foot last week, many thought he was definitely gone for the season. After being examined on Monday, it appears that Auda could return as early as one month from now. Coach Kevin Willard said “In a nutshell, he didn’t do anything major to the screw or re-break the bone. What he did was aggravate the area that got repaired. In essence he kind of planted wrong. It’s good that he didn’t break it; if he broke it, that would have been the season.” This is great news for Auda and Seton Hall as it would be terrible to see Auda miss two seasons in a row for the same reason. Seton Hall will be very happy to have him back for the majority of the conference schedule. Hopefully they survive the next month and Auda’s absence could become a positive if a player uses the extra playing time to impress the coaching staff and turn into a major role player.
- St. John’s coach Steve Lavin reinstated Rysheed Jordan after suspending him indefinitely last Friday. Jordan played well and contributed eight points and four assists in his best game so far. Jordan violated team rules according to Lavin, but it is good to see that Jordan is back and playing so quickly. With the Johnnies struggling to score at times last night, they can use all the playmakers and scorers they can get. Jordan figures to be an important role player this season, preparing to lead the team next season.
- Marquette was without junior guard Todd Mayo in their loss Monday night at Arizona State. Mayo suffered a sprained ankle in practice, but luckily for him it is apparently nothing serious. Mark Strotman of PaintTouches.com points out that Buzz Williams used a three-guard lineup for almost all of the second half, when Marquette went on a big run and stopped their offensive incompetency. This lineup is similar to what they have used in recent seasons and had the most success with. The backcourt is more experienced and talented, but the three guard lineup works best in Williams’ system. With Derrick Wilson, freshman JaJaun Johnson, and Jake Thomas having breakout games, Williams may be more inclined to increase their minutes and trust them to score more. Mayo is a proven scorer and should find plenty of minutes with three guards on the floor, as long as he chooses his shots wisely, an area of weakness in the past.
- Big East teams hauled in tremendous recruiting classes this year. Adam Finklestein of ESPN.com graded each of the teams -besides St. John’s because they didn’t sign anybody- and the Big East would end up with a very high GPA. Xavier, Seton Hall, and Georgetown received A’s while Marquette and Providence were given A-’s. All five of these schools brought in stellar players and several should have instant impacts. Seton Hall’s future point guard Isaiah Whitehead is a personal favorite and one of the most exciting players you will watch play. Xavier has the best ranked class with three top 100 recruits. The Musketeers, Seton Hall, and Providence are not known as recruiting powers, but their great classes should help increase the popularity and visibility of the programs. Not to be forgotten, Villanova (B+), Butler (B), Creighton (B-), and DePaul (C+) each have signed a player or two who will become important players, but will probably not be instant contributors.
- Thanksgiving is best known for sports fans as a big day for NFL football, but college basketball may have the best games of the day. Five Big East teams play on Thursday with Creighton and Marquette playing in the Wooden Legacy Tournament, Villanova and Xavier going to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis, and Butler travels to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic. A full preview of the weekends big games will be up later today, but this weekend will begin to weed out the contenders from the pretenders in the Big East. All the fields have great teams so if you find yourself tired from eating turkey, stuffing and pie, sit back and enjoy some top notch basketball.