Big East M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 28th, 2013


  1. Jim Boeheim retirement rumor-mongering has become something of a cottage industry in recent seasons, so it’s always relieving when the man himself can add some clarity to the things that bounce around the world of message boards and e-mail chains. In his Sweet Sixteen presser yesterday, Boeheim took the time to end speculation as to whether he will coach the team in the 2013-14 season: “There is no process. There is no process. I’m coachin’ next year, I kid around a little bit and everybody gets crazy when I do so I’m not going to kid around about it anymore, I’m coaching next year, thrilled, got a great challenge, looking forward to it.” That is, unless he isn’t: “About September, if I don’t want to coach, I won’t coach.” That last little bit seems to open the door for a Jim Calhoun/Kevin Ollie situation, although Mike Hopkins has been the established head coach in waiting at Syracuse for years, so that type of manipulation seems unnecessary.
  2. Match-ups between elite programs like Syracuse and Indiana are always great fun for a variety of reasons. Because these types of schools dip into the same small pool of blue-chip recruits, a lot of these players have long relationships, and these back stories can only help build intrigue for the games. IU”s Victor Oladipo spent a lot of time on Wednesday talking about his relationships with Syracuse’s DMV-area forwards Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair. Oladipo is very close with the entire Grant family, and descibed Jerami as a “little brother” while calling Fair a “good player” who is “a real cool dude to chill with.”  Much of the pregame speculation on the Syracuse end of things has been about whom Oladipo will be tasked with guarding. That assignment may very well be Fair, who has been SU’s most consistent scorer all season.
  3. The Marquette-Miami game has its own built-in storyline heading into tonight’s Sweet Sixteen bout. Hurricane assistant Eric Konkol coached guard Trent Lockett, who has come on as a big factor in the backcourt for the Golden Eagles, at Hopkins High School. Both took an unconventional road to this NCAA Tournament match-up. Konkol found himself in the high school ranks after coaching under Jim Larranaga at George Mason while his wife worked on a degree at the University of Minnesota. He rejoined Larranaga in 2010, moving with him to Miami. Lockett spent his first three years at Arizona State, where he averaged over 13 points per game as a sophomore and junior before transferring to Marquette. Lockett had a big game in the Round of 32 against Butler, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbing six rebounds.
  4. Dueling articles are always fun. Think Progress‘ Travis Waldron penned a piece called “The University of Louisville is Everything That’s Wrong With College Basketball“, where his basic thesis is that because Louisville is the most profitable college basketball program but their basketball alumni don’t all matriculate to the NBA and make millions of dollars within a year or two, they’re evil… or something. I’m not a fan of using someone’s alma mater and inherent biases to try to invalidate their arguments, but when Waldron brought up his Kentucky background a lot of things were cleared up. SB Nation‘s Louisville blog Card Chronicle writer Mike Rutherford responded with his own post: “The University of Louisville is Not Everything That’s Wrong With College Basketball“, and I think he sums things up pretty well in response to Waldron – “You forgot the #BBN hashtag as your signature.”
  5. Alas, this year’s sprint towards NIT glory was not to be for the Providence Friars, who fell in the quarterfinals to Baylor in Waco last night.  The Friars had big performances from the usual suspects – Bryce Cotton led the team with 23 points while Vince Council and Kadeem Batts were close behind with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Kris Dunn was the only other Friar to score, however, and Baylor took advantage of Providence’s limited depth to cruise to a 79-68 victory. With Providence now out of the NIT, the three remaining Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament are the conference’s last representatives in postseason play this season.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.25.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 25th, 2013


  1. On Saturday evening, word began to trickle out through various national reports that UCLA had fired head coach Ben Howland. Later that night, UCLA issued a statement disputing those reports. And then Sunday evening, the school officially announced his firing. It counts as “news” only in the strictest sense of the word, as exactly nobody was surprised by the announcement, but it does open up what should be an entertaining coaching search as the Bruins shoot for the stars and then wind up with… Mike Brown? Certainly, Jeff Goodman has better sources than I as to the UCLA coaching search, but if Mike Brown is the next UCLA head coach, I’ll walk down Sunset Boulevard in my boxers. Right after I join the UCLA fans rioting and looting with pitchforks and torches at the Morgan Center. Most reports indicate that Shaka Smart is the first choice for UCLA, though it remains to be seen whether he is interested. Other names associated with the search include Brad Stevens, Jay Wright and Washington’s Lorenzo Romar.
  2. The college basketball guys at CBS Sports also have their opinions on who will wind up with the vacant USC coaching job and, as we learned this weekend, it isn’t going to be Jamie Dixon. Other candidates for the job include Smart (apparently on everyone’s wish list), Memphis’ Josh Pastner and Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, although with the UCLA job open, it may be awhile before the USC decision is made.
  3. Certainly by now you all know that Arizona and Oregon are still marching along, while California, Colorado and those Bruins have all bowed out of the NCAA Tournament. But what about those lesser tournaments? Well, after winning the NIT title last season, Stanford’s attempted run to a second-straight lesser title ended on Saturday at Alabama. Arizona State, likewise, bombed out in the second round of the NIT in a barnburner at Baylor, while Washington got dropped by BYU in the first round.
  4. The other thing we see this time of year when teams’ seasons begin to end are players announcing their intentions for the NBA Draft. Oregon State’s Eric Moreland became the first Pac-12 player to officially declare (aside from Shabazz Muhammad having Howland declare for him, that is) his intentions to explore his NBA appeal without the help of an agent, leaving him with a chance to return to Corvallis. However, speculation is that Moreland’s time at OSU is done and that he’ll be playing for pay next season. While there’s little chance that the offensively raw Moreland will earn a guaranteed first round money even in what is considered a weak draft class, his athletic ability could earn him a second round flyer or, more likely, D-League or overseas offers.
  5. Meanwhile, Arizona State fans will have to sweat out Jahii Carson’s decision over the next couple weeks. Carson expects to consult with the NBA to suss out his draft status and “test the waters,” but depending on what he hears back, he could return. Carson’s got the speed, athleticism and moxie to be a very good NBA player, but at the end of the day, right now he’s a sub-6’0” point guard who lacks a completely reliable jumper. The odds are in favor of Carson returning for his sophomore season, but all he needs is one NBA GM to profess his undying love to convince Carson to follow the money. Stay tuned.
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A Pair Of Job Openings In Southern California

Posted by AMurawa on March 23rd, 2013

When UCLA bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in convincing fashion to Minnesota, the Ben Howland era in Westwood ended along with the Bruins’ season (an official announcement is expected in the next couple days). Meanwhile, across town, USC’s first target for their open head coaching position, Pitt’s Jamie Dixon, signed an extension with his current school, effectively eliminating him from contention for that job. With all other coaches in the conferences expected back next season (Stanford has announced that Johnny Dawkins will return, and it looks like Ken Bone will return to Washington State, though no official announcement has been made), we’ll take a quick look at those two jobs and try to read the tea leaves a bit as to what the future may hold.

Ben Howland, UCLA

Despite Early Success, Ben Howland’s Time As The UCLA Coach Has Ended (Jamie Squire, Getty Images)

While UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero made no decisive comment following the game Friday night (“We’ll take stock in the next couple of days and talk like we always do with all coaches,” he said), expectations are that sooner rather than later we’ll have an announcement that the partnership between Howland and UCLA will end. And, regardless of whether Guerrero has an improvement lined up, this is a move that has to be made – for both parties. The relationship has soured, the fickle UCLA fan base has abandoned ship, West Coast recruiting has largely dried up, Howland seems to have compromised his principles, and, the kiss of death, Bill Walton has weighed in heavily in favor of a change at the top of the program. The excitement of three straight Final Four trips from 2006-08 is a distant memory. Howland is still a very good coach, but he’s not a very good coach going forward for UCLA and it is time for both sides to move on.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 8th, 2013


  1. Following Wednesday’s awful loss to the hands of Washington State, UCLA fans are once again calling for head coach Ben Howland‘s job. The fact that UCLA had won four games in a row, including a road win at rival USC and a home sweep of the Arizona schools, not to mention getting back into the top 25 for the first time since November, apparently doesn’t matter to a fan-base that openly dislikes its coach and athletic director. In late December it was revealed that UCLA was leaning toward replacing Howland, but those talks appeared to cool when the Bruins rolled off 10 straight wins. Now that we have reached the time of year where the coaching carousel begins to spin, the question is, how deep does Howland have to take UCLA in the NCAA Tournament to keep his job? Anything further than the Sweet Sixteen would seem to be enough, but with Bruins fans, you never know.
  2. After the reports that USC athletic director Pat Haden met with former Trojans coach and current UTEP head man Tim Floyd earlier in the week, the search continues to heat up. It was revealed yesterday that Haden was now targeting two coaches back east; Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh and Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. Jeff Goodman says the Orange’s coach-in-waiting would be a perfect fit for SC, being a California kid that can recruit the Southern California hotbed well. As Goodman notes, the Trojan program has the possibility of being a sleeping giant if the right man is in place. Both Dixon or Hopkins would be ideal fits and have the tools to quickly turn things around in Los Angeles.
  3. The Territorial Cup has long been one of the more intense rivalries in the conference, but it’s not exactly recognized as one on a national level. Arizona State assistant Eric Musselman thinks differently, saying “The passion of both universities makes it really unique. There are only so many rivalries like this one across the United States.” Musselman is in his first season on the bench under Herb Sendek, with his latest coaching stops including stints with the Venezuela national team, Los Angeles D-Fenders, and Reno Bighorns. He picked a good year to get acquainted with the rivalry, as tensions will be high on Saturday with ASU needing a win to stay in the NCAA Tournament hunt. As of Thursday night, the Devils are currently in the “Next Four Out” category, according to ESPN Bracketologoist Joe Lunardi.
  4. CougCenter broke down the anatomy of an upset on Thursday, following of course Washington State‘s 12-point victory over UCLA. The key for the Cougars was not settling for shots on the perimeter, and instead working the ball inside to the tune of attempting 45 two-pointers. They made 56% of those twos, and when they did miss, they picked up 62% of the available offensive rebounds. These are numbers that tournament-bound teams put up – good tournament-bound teams – not teams that are on the wrong side of the CBI bubble. But congrats to the Cougs, and who knows, maybe they can continue this type of production and make some noise next week in Vegas.
  5. We close with some important news straight out of Walnut Creek, where the Pac-12 announced yesterday that there would be no additional penalties handed down for Wednesday’s skirmish between California and Stanford. The incident occurr with just over five minutes remaining in the blowout game, and after sorting everything out, six technical fouls were assessed and two players and three assistant coaches were ejected. With Wednesday’s meeting being the final regular season game for both teams, some were worried the altercation would cost the teams later in the Pac-12 Tournament. That turns out not to be the case, and as Adam Butler points out, there is a scenario when we could see these two teams meet again in six days. Now that would be madness.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 6th, 2013


  1. So, yeah, quickly, the top candidates for the head basketball coach at USC: something like Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, interim head coach Bob Cantu and, um, former USC head coach Tim Floyd? Wait, run that last one by me again. Floyd is currently the head man at UTEP, a position he’s held for a few years after resigning from the USC gig (something about how he didn’t feel supported by then-USC athletic director Mike Garrett in the wake of allegations that guard O.J. Mayo accepted impermissible benefits from an agent). Floyd has long maintained a complete lack of involvement in the issue and plenty of investigations (both by USC and by the NCAA) have failed to turn up any evidence of wrongdoing on his part. Still, let’s not consider Floyd a leading candidate just yet. The meeting between Floyd and now-athletic director Pat Haden may have just been a way for the new AD to build a bridge over the bad blood in the wake of the parting, and Floyd, for his part, is using the surprising news as a way to get the word out publicly that “hey, I didn’t have anything to do with that.” Still, for a stretch there, Floyd put together four straight winning seasons including three in a row with 20-plus wins and NCAA Tournament invitations, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
  2. Across town, UCLA head coach Ben Howland let it slip, rather innocently and honestly, that Shabazz Muhammad was in all likelihood headed for the NBA Draft. And that’s not the only opinion he has on the state of the NBA, as he mentioned on Monday that he would prefer changes to the NBA’s eligibility rules that would end the one-and-done era. Howland’s plan would be similar to the rules presently used by Major League Baseball, whereby players would have the option to go straight from high school to the pros, but that once they wind up in college, they have to stay for a few years before being eligible again. Howland also knows that there’s not a chance that change gets made, at least anytime soon.
  3. Speaking of the NBA Draft, we posted our opinions here yesterday on the draft prospects of potential early entrants around the Pac-12, including Arizona State freshman guard Jahii Carson (we’re hoping he stays and develops a jumper). But Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek claims that he hasn’t given the idea much thought, preferring instead to focus on this season. Still, we’re not buying the idea that it hasn’t even crossed his mind. Cal’s head coach, Mike Montgomery, however, was right to the point when asked about Carson’s pro prospects: “Doesn’t shoot it well enough yet.” The key there may be the word “yet.”
  4. If Carson does stick around for another season in the desert, he’ll have a new competitor in the state at point guard, as Arizona will unveil Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell as their new lead guard. The Daily Wildcat sees a parallel between McConnell’s skill set and the skills of UCLA point guard Larry Drew II. Compared to present UA point Mark Lyons, McConnell is more of the traditional pass-first, shoot-second floor general (of course, compared to Lyons, Allen Iverson is more of a traditional point guard). As Wildcat fans begin to grow weary of Lyons’ all-or-nothing style, the future is starting to look real good, even if that envisioned future is based on little more than partial information.
  5. Lastly, as we look ahead to this week’s games, Washington may be out of the race for the conference title but it still has a chance for some input, as the Huskies will host UCLA on Saturday night. Head coach Lorenzo Romar is hoping that his team can finish the regular season in style. They’ve put together a 13-3 record in the final four conference games of the previous four seasons, and are well on their way to a repeat of that mark with two wins last week. But with USC and UCLA both playing well, the Huskies have their work cut out for them this week.
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Morning Five: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 6th, 2013


  1. One of the fundamental signs of intelligence is being able to learn from your mistakes so you can imagine our surprise when it came out that USC was interviewing Tim Floyd for its coaching vacancy. For those of you who may have forgotten Floyd resigned in 2009 amid accusations of his players (see Mayo, OJ) receiving improper benefits. It hasn’t been four years since that fiasco, but if you need a refresher you can check out our post from June 2009 on Floyd’s departure. In Floyd’s defense, the NCAA did clear him of any wrongdoing even if many nonpartisan observers remain skeptical. Outside of the obvious strange circumstance of USC interviewing a coach many feel it forced out the door a few years ago we also have to question the timing of the announcement as Floyd’s current team, UTEP, is doing well at 16-12 overall and 9-5 in Conference USA with two more regular season games remaining. It is beyond us why Floyd would admit to an interview with his team still playing meaningful basketball.
  2. Floyd may steal the headlines from that story, but we might be more interested in the second to last sentence of the story, which mentions that long-time Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins has also interviewed for the job (confirmed to a local radio show). Although Hopkins is widely acknowledged as the eventual successor to Jim Boeheim the actual date that Boeheim leaves the Syracuse does not appear to be that close no matter how many cantankerous post-game press conferences Boeheim has. While we are disappointed that our #DausterForUSC campaign has failed to take off, Hopkins would appear to be an ideal candidate for the job with his experience at Syracuse and southern California roots. As we have said many times USC seems like it is the type of program that is just waiting for the right coach to make it a competitive national program again.
  3. We are a little over a month away from the Basketball Hall of Fame and while this year’s class will not generate the controversy that the baseball class will one potential inductee-Jerry Tarkanian–will raise plenty of issues for voters. We have already discussed the case for and against Tarkanian in this space in the past month and now at least one prominent sportswriter (Dave Kindred) is voicing his support for Tarkanian’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. We are sure that there are some members of the selection committee will hold Tarkanian’s renegade reputation against him, but perhaps the NCAA’s recent public relations struggles will make Tarkanian a more sympathetic figure now.
  4. It turns out that the NCAA Tournament is not just big business for the NCAA and television networks. As Chris Smith of Forbes points out John Calipari could make up to $700,000 in bonuses depending on how Kentucky performs in the NCAA Tournament. In Calipari’s case, he is unlikely to collect on those bonuses as the Wildcats are not expected to make a deep run (or possibly not make the NCAA Tournament at all) and the more significant bonuses come in the later rounds. We do not have access to the contracts of other coaches out there, but we would guess that many of them could see a substantial raise above their base salary with deep runs in the NCAA Tournament (Calipari added 21% last year).
  5. One of the more heavily discussed topics in March is that of the bubble. There are countless forecasters who give predictions on who will make the NCAA Tournament through their secret formulas, but if you are looking for something more transparent (and simple) then the Easy Bubble Solver might be for you. Created by Drew Cannon it simply adds together a team’s RPI and Ken Pomeroy ranking then takes the 37 highest ranked teams as its at-large selections. Its 94 percent success rate over the past six seasons is impressive so even you think it is too simple it is worth taking a look at to see where there may be some disparities between what the analysts expect and what the EBS predicts.
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Big East M5: 02.13.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on February 13th, 2013


  1. Mike Hopkins is the longtime head coach in waiting at Syracuse, and when he takes over for Jim Boeheim, expect him to bring a more progressive approach to the team, especially when it comes to statistical analysis.  A article by Donna Ditota describes Hopkins and Marquette’s Buzz Williams’ use of advanced statistics in scouting their teams’ opponents. Specifically, the article describes their usage of tempo-free statistics, especially those created by statistics-legend Ken Pomeroy and Sports Illustrated writer Luke Winn who produce some of the most influential stat-based college basketball analysis out there.  As a college basketball fan, it is great to see the rapid adoption of these advanced statistics, especially by two programs as successful as Syracuse and Marquette.
  2. Buzz Williams is not only concerned with his team’s statistics, but he has his own numbers to maintain as well. After Marquette’s loss to Georgetown on Monday night, Williams was asked about a technical foul that he was called for that helped Georgetown extend a three point lead to seven, giving the Hoyas the momentum that they needed to ride out the game. Williams had a quick-witted response: “I was trying to get my average up on technicals. This is my 162nd game in the Big East and I’m averaging one every 50 games. So I felt like I needed to get one because I haven’t had one in two years. That was my fifth technical since I’ve been here. I think any time you get a technical, it’s a bad time.” While a technical foul can occasional help a coach fire up his team, Williams’ timing in this case was extremely poor.
  3. It is really strange that Otto Porter hasn’t had more Big East player of the year love this season. Looking at Georgetown’s point totals all year, Porter may be the single most important player to his team in the entire conference. The prototypical Hoya forward averages over 15 points and a shade under eight rebounds a game for an otherwise listless offense, and as‘s Dana O’Neil notes, he has his squad just a half-game behind arch-rival Syracuse for the conference lead. Porter is the rock in the middle of Georgetown’s lineup, and if the Hoyas make a serious run at a Big East crown this season, it will be on the sophomore’s shoulders. He deserves a bit more recognition for his efforts.
  4. Mick Cronin has this coachspeak thing down pat. When asked about his team’s offensive struggles, Cronin turned the question around and criticized his team’s defensive effort: “There’s going to times when your best shooters miss wide open shots. It’s unfortunate but it happened in the last five minutes against Pittsburgh. The answer when that happens is to be great defensively and to be great on the backboard and we were far from it.” In Cincinnati‘s case, Cronin isn’t wrong. As I saw first hand in the Bearcats’ recent loss at Providence, Cincinnati really struggles in the half-court without great efforts from their guards Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright. Unless they find a forward on campus somewhere who can create for himself in the next couple weeks, Cincy’s best bet is playing a more aggressive brand of defense and forcing more transition opportunities.
  5. Steve Lavin missed most of last season recovering from prostate cancer, and the on-court results left a lot to be desired as St. John’s finished with a 13-19 overall record. The Johnnies have had a solid turnaround this year, and are probably just on the outside looking in at being a possible bubble team at 15-9 (7-5 in the Big East). With Lavin’s status now up in the air as he and his family cope with the loss of his father, Red Storm players aren’t looking to make excuses but are rather looking to gain motivation from this moment as they rally around their coach. Amir Garrett and D’Angelo Williams both echoed this sentiment, with Garrett telling the Daily News that he thinks that the situation can bring the team closer together. A win against Louisville would be a major statement from the Johnnies, especially if they can do it without their leader present.
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Big East Burning Question: Are Syracuse And Jim Boeheim Really Overrated?

Posted by mlemaire on January 15th, 2013

We are admittedly well late to the party with this question, but amidst all of the fawning articles and celebratory columns remarking on the incredible 900 wins that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has amassed, there was one turd in the punch bowl — CBS Sports college basketball analyst and noted Syracuse agitator Doug Gottlieb. Gottlieb has contended for quite some time that Boeheim is a great coach, but not an “elite” coach, especially when compared to some of his contemporaries who have had more success in the NCAA Tournament such as Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun. Now its true that Gottlieb has a rather testy history with Syracuse, its fans, and its famed head coach, but for the sake of this argument, we will ignore the suspicions of personal bias and just take his argument on its face. So without further delay, we posed the question to the three microsite writers and here is what they came up with.

Will Tucker: It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to lampoon Doug Gottlieb, especially when his subject is a coach with whom he seemingly has an ax to grind. But it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. As Mike points out, when you compare Jim Boeheim’s postseason accomplishments to those of his peers, his 900+ wins––amassed disproportionately early in the season––serve as an indictment in their distribution as much as a milestone in their volume. And Gottlieb’s accusation that Boeheim’s soft nonconference schedules have been a disservice to his team’s toughness is a fair criticism that merits further investigation. But Doug’s aversion to nuance is on full display, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. While Boeheim’s nonconference scheduling is and should be fair game, Gottlieb further attributes Syracuse’s postseason stumbles to feasting on an overrated Big East schedule. This seems more ad hominem than intellectually honest, and Doug conveniently ignores the 2010-11 UConn and 2011-12 Louisville teams that reached Final Fours with nearly ten Big East losses apiece. He also summarily mocks Boeheim’s zone defense as an inferior system nobody else uses with any success. In doing so, he ignores that Boeheim’s protégé Rick Pitino took an offensively stunted group to a Final Four with a variation of that zone last season, and the Cards retain the most efficient defense in the country again this year (Syracuse is hot on their heels at #3). Rhetoric notwithstanding, at the crux of this discussion is a fan’s aesthetic preference between regular season success and tournament success. Sure, the two aren’t mutually exclusive (paging Mike Kryzyzewski), but most coaches fall somewhere toward either end of the spectrum. Knowing all too well how a team’s struggles in the winter can exacerbate my seasonal affective disorder, I’m philosophical about the whole thing. I’ll take a Sweet 16 preceded by four months of big wins, high rankings, and conference championships over an agonizing regular season capped off by an Elite Eight––every time. Gottlieb subscribes to the notion that tournament success supersedes any other measuring stick, and the rigidness of his assumptions leaves little room for us to meet in the middle. Ultimately, I think it detracts from the salient questions his raises about what makes a coach great.

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Big East M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 2nd, 2013


  1. One could say that Kevin Ollie’s first Big East season got going in the wrong directionAfter late game heroics for both UConn and Marquette by Ryan Boatright and Junior Cadougan, respectively, the two teams lined up on the wrong sides of the center circle to begin overtime. Enosch Wolf won the tip, and Shabazz Napier had an open look on what should have been his own basket swatted away by Jamil Wilson on what normally would have been a goaltend.  After reviewing the play, the referees did not count the goaltend for UConn as the Huskies shot at the wrong basket.  However, referee Karl Hess later admitted that after letting the players play in the wrong direction, they should have given UConn the two points. UConn would go on to lose to the Golden Eagles by six, 82-76.
  2. Louisville hasn’t had trouble putting points on the board, as the Cardinals are averaging 78.2 points per game so far this season. However, Rick Pitino is still not happy with his team’s defense. Louisville’s 17-point lead over Kentucky was nearly erased as the Cardinals played tentatively on defense due to foul trouble. That doesn’t gel with the high-pressure full court scheme that Pitino likes to use. Another concern is the team’s interior defense — despite the imposing presence of Gorgui Dieng (out for most of December with an injury), the Cardinals are still only 14th among Big East teams in blocked shots, a number that Pitino would surely like to move up.
  3. Jim Boeheim has been the head coach at Syracuse since the nascent days of the Big East conference, so naturally he has many strong feelings and opinions about the league that he credits for his national championship and Hall of Fame induction. In a two-hour interview with USA Today, Boeheim discusses the past and future of the conference, including the near-“warfare” like atmosphere of the coaches meetings in the 1980s, the Big East media contract negotiations which broke down before Syracuse and Pittsburgh made the announcement that they would be moving to the ACC, and, of course, his future plans to coach the Orange. Boeheim keeps his plans close to the vest and marches to the beat of his own drum, but when he does decide to hang the whistle up, he is confident that the program will survive and thrive under Mike Hopkins – “I don’t have any plans on retiring, right now. Could that change? Yeah, I think that could change. But I don’t have any plans on retiring. I know Mike will be the coach and Syracuse will be in great hands… I told every recruit the last five years that I think I am going to coach but don’t know it. Mike will be the coach. And the (recruits) all came. Most recruits don’t care anymore because they only think they will be here one year.”
  4. Seton Hall was sitting solidly on the bubble last March before a shocking 86-58 loss at league dregs DePaul derailed the Pirates’ dancing aspirations. Seton Hall opens its Big East season with the same road trip tonight, looking to improve on an 11-2 record with a win over an improved Blue Demons squad. While some Big East teams may lack some motivation when playing DePaul, Brandon Mobley and Seton Hall have all that they need: “If playing at DePaul is not motivation, then I don’t know what is… Not only did we lose, we got embarrassed and that cost us the NCAA Tournament. We’re going up there with a grudge on our shoulder.”
  5. In news that is not directly related to basketball but may effect the futures of UConn, Cincinnati, and USF, the three schools who appear to be getting left behind by conference expansion and realignment, Boise State will no longer be joining the Big East in football. There is a good chance that San Diego State, which was also set to join for football only, may follow suit, leaving the remaining three Big East members and their future rivals in an increasingly vulnerable conference. In addition, the Mountain West has reworked its television contract which will give increased revenue to teams who make national television appearances. There have even been rumors that the MW could end up raiding the Big East for a school like Cincinnati. The conference carousel goes round and round…
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Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #2 Syracuse

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 11th, 2012

In our St. John’s preview, we stated that the Johnnies went through about as much adversity as one team could in a single season. If that’s the case, Syracuse was a close second. The Bernie Fine scandal would have been enough to derail most teams, but it seemed to put a chip on the shoulder of the Orange, who spent a portion of the year ranked first in the nation after Kentucky lost at Indiana. The Fab Melo saga was harder to overcome, and came to a head in Syracuse’s Elite Eight loss to Ohio State. Syracuse lost four of its main rotation players from last season – guards Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, forward Kris Joseph, and center Fab Melo – but look to plug in a couple of impressive underclassmen and make another run at a final Big East championship and perhaps a Final Four.

Jim Boeheim has been knocking on the door of his fourth Final Four over the last few years.  Will this young Syracuse squad be the one to break through? (AP)


Syracuse doesn’t have too many marquee games on the non-conference slate. Their most intriguing match-up is their first game against San Diego State, which will be played on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego on Sunday afternoon. SU also travels to Arkansas for the SEC-Big East challenge, and will take on one of the teams filling the void they are leaving in the Big East – Temple – at Madison Square Garden. In the Big East schedule, Syracuse shares home-and-homes with Villanova, Providence, Louisville, and Georgetown. The Hoyas host the Orange in their last ever Big East game, which should be one for the ages.

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