Posted by Will Tucker on November 1st, 2012
- Connecticut kicks off its season tonight with an exhibition game against American International College (AIC), The game is an important opportunity to “set a better tone,” according to Shabazz Napier. It’s an opportunity they can’t afford to squander, as the Huskies travel to Germany to play Michigan State in a little more than a week. UConn opened 2011 with a 78-35 drubbing of AIC that showcased the team’s individual athleticism but obscured systemic problems. “Last year we let our talent and our athleticism win those games early on,” Tyler Olander told the Courant, “And I think that was a big part of what happened [later in the season]. We can’t do that this year. We don’t have as much talent, we don’t have as much depth.” Multiple players reverberated the motif of “setting a better tone,” so it’s likely the main point of emphasis for Kevin Ollie as his embattled team enters a season with few expectations.
- In the last two weeks, we learned that sophomore Louisville forward Chane Behanan had been suspended for both of the Cardinals’ upcoming exhibition games and banned from media interviews during the fall semester, after multiple unspecified “incidents” over the summer drew the ire of Coach Pitino. On Tuesday night, Pitino revealed that sophomore guard Kevin Ware would also ride the pine during tonight’s season opener against Pikeville (KY) for similar transgressions. The announcement came as somewhat of a surprise to Louisville fans, who have heard Pitino praise Ware as the team’s most improved player all summer. In Louisville’s first two intrasquad scrimmages, Ware showed remarkable growth as a well-rounded playmaker, averaging 16.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG and three steals per contest. For Louisville’s sake, hopefully the suspensions are not symptomatic of distractions off the court that could erode the team’s focus during the season.
- In related news, Nick Fasulo over at Big East Coast Bias writes this morning that Rick Pitino has “cemented his legacy and bound himself to the Cardinal basketball program for all of eternity.” He points out that forty-two percent of the 843 games Pitino has coached have taken place during his tenure at Louisville. If we extrapolate 10 more seasons for Pitino (however unlikely), then he will have coached sixty percent of his career games at Louisville. Fasulo argues this will finally redefine the average fan’s perception of the man who built so much of his public mythology at the University of Kentucky: “When you think of Pitino, you’re going to think of Louisville, and everything else will become an afterthought.”
- The folks at Rumble In The Garden concluded their coverage of St. John’s media day by excerpting some of the most noteworthy recent Red Storm coverage in the New York City media. One common thread in much of the writing was the excitement many players have expressed to have Steve Lavin’s energy and personality back on the bench. It’s no secret that former acting coach Mike Dunlap rubbed several of the players the wrong way. Sir’Dominic Pointer articulates the difference well to the NY Post: “[Dunlap] was a different voice, he was more of an enforcer-type role;” “Coach Lav is great with players. He knows how to talk with players in a different way.” Sophomore Phil Green reiterated that characterization bluntly in talking with ESPN NY: “It’s totally different…”[Lavin] brings a different energy to it. It’s more exciting. Basically more fun. You want to play. It’s not like a job.” The enthusiasm around the St. John’s program is palpable heading into the season, and it’s one of the reasons we predicted a stronger Big East performance from the Johnnies this season.
- Casual Hoya has been running a series of Georgetown player profiles to get everyone amped for 2012-13, and today’s piece on junior big man Nate Lubick is highlighted by “The Most Interesting Man at Georgetown,” a student election campaign video from 2011 that Lubick appeared in. If you’ve never encountered it before, it’s worth 46 seconds of your time, simply because it’s so painfully Georgetown.