Checking In On… The Big East

Posted by jstevrtc on December 2nd, 2009


Rob Dauster of Ballin’ Is A Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Despite the holiday, loyal readers of RTC may have noticed something missing last week.

Where was Checking in on the Big East?  Without BIAH waxing poetic about the happenings within the nation’s biggest conference, how were you able function?

For that, I must apologize.  But, you see, it wasn’t all my fault.  For starters, the editors at RTC are ruthless.  Not only did they have me traveling up and down the eastern seaboard during the busiest travel weekend of the year, they forced me to cover the semifinals and finals of the Preseason NIT for RTC Live.

Brutal, those guys.  I guess that’s why they pay me the big bucks.

Anyway, I probably could have found the time to put together a recap for you, but apparently grandmas don’t realize that having dial-up isn’t the same as having the internet.  Old folks, you gotta love ’em.  She made me a mean Thanksgiving leftover sandwich as a peace offering.  She’s not all bad, that one.  I forgave her, just like I hope you all will forgive me.

Back to the point, since we have a lot to go over, and seeing as the first few weeks of the college hoops season are a bit hectic, the structure of this post is going to be a bit different than future posts.  But never fear, as your trusty Big East expert is here to guide you through it.  So tuck the children in, strap on your seat belts, and, well, you tell them, B.B…

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #3 – Big East

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2009


Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Predicted order of finish:

  1. Villanova
  2. West Virginia
  3. UConn
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Louisville
  6. Georgetown
  7. Syracuse
  8. Seton Hall
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Marquette
  12. South Florida
  13. Rutgers
  14. Providence
  15. St. John’s
  16. DePaul

Preseason Awards.

  • Player of the Year. Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
  • Newcomer of the Year. Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
  • Breakout Player of the Year. Kemba Walker, UConn

big east logo

All-Conference First Team.

  • Kemba Walker, UConn
  • Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
  • Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
  • Greg Monroe, Georgetown
  • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

All-Conference Second Team.

  • Jerome Dyson, UConn
  • Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
  • Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia
  • Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
  • Lazar Hayward, Marquette

All-Conference Third Team.

  • Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
  • Corey Fisher, Villanova
  • Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
  • Stanley Robinson, UConn
  • Samardo Samuels, Louisville

All-Rookie Team.

  • Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
  • Peyton Siva, Louisville
  • Maalik Wayns, Villanova
  • Dante Taylor, Pitt
  • Mouphtaou Yarou, Villanova

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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: January

Posted by zhayes9 on October 22nd, 2009


Last Monday we broke down the top games of November and December as part of our season preview here at Rush the Court. As we examine the best games of the month of January, keep in mind what games during this crucial portion of the season usually represent: separating the contenders from the pretenders. With conference play heating up, the true top-seed players emerge from the pack and leap up their conference standings, while teams that may have overachieved or floated along on a cupcake-filled slate during the first two months begin to fall apart. Here are the games of great importance to circle on your calendar for January:

Ed. Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

January 1- West Virginia at Purdue (#7 overall)– The top game in the entire month of January will be played on the first day of 2010. You won’t find a more bruising, rugged and intense contest played all year with Bob Huggins and Matt Painter’s teams battling it out in East Lafayette. West Virginia is led by the shooting ability of Da’Sean Butler, the super-athletic Devin Ebanks, the two headed point-guard combo of Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant and impact JC transfer Casey Mitchell. Purdue will be entering their third full season with the core of E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and Keaton Grant intact.

January 2- Louisville at Kentucky (#23 overall)– This game has been circled for fans of Big Blue since the details emerged of Rick Pitino’s affair and subsequent extortion mess. They’ll be on Pitino relentlessly for these transgressions because they know their ultra-talented Wildcats can back up the berating on the court. Kentucky fans will also be eager for revenge after Edgar Sosa’s stunning game-winning three a season ago crushed Kentucky in Freedom Hall. Sosa will have to handle sensational freshman John Wall this time around.


January 9- Kansas at Tennessee (#12 overall)– If Tennessee gets into an offensive rhythm, they can hang with the Jayhawks. Look for Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism to utilize their versatility to move Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson and other Kansas bigs away from the basket while allowing their wings — Scotty Hopson, J.P. Prince –– to penetrate inside and draw fouls while Kansas has to recover. This could be an electric, high-scoring affair that may be decided at the foul line.

January 9- West Virginia at Notre Dame (#24 overall)– How about four top-25 games to kick off the month of January? This Big East clash is one of West Virginia’s toughest road tests in their quest of a conference title. Notre Dame recently had a long home court winning streak and the West Virginia forwards Devin Ebanks, Wellington Smith and Deniz Kilici have to deal with the likely BE POY Luke Harangody. Whether the Irish can receive production from their guards is the key.

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Buzz: On Misdemeanors and Injuries

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2009

Louisville Players Plead Out.  We don’t need to rehash all the things we wrote last week with respect to Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith’s arrest and formal charges by the Jeffersonville (IN) prosecuting attorney.  If you’re interested, you can read it here.  But the handwriting was on the wall from 1000 steps away — these guys weren’t going to face much in the way of punishment.  Sure enough, today the players both pled to a misdemeanor charge of resisting law enforcement and each sentenced to a $500 fine and forty hours of community service.  By way of comparison, we were once sentenced to a $300 fine and forty hours of community service for rolling through a stop sign and speeding.  Imagine if we’d taken a few swings at a cop or three?!?  We wonder if the community service involves practice time – after all, isn’t that giving back to the community?

SIU’s Ryan Hare Booted.  Chris Lowery apparently takes player discipline a little more seriously than Rick Pitino, as returning starter Ryan Hare was dismissed from SIU today.  The second-year guard who averaged 8/3 last season and showed considerable promise as a key contributor was charged last month with felony battery and trespassing, and had been suspended from the team until today’s dismissal.  Coach Lowery stated that he was dismissing Hare based on violation of team policies and rules, but it was unclear whether there was an other incident or if he was referring to the original allegations against Hare.

Reserve Injuries.  Stanford freshman forward Andy Brown tore his ACL in practice and is out for the season.  Iowa backup center Devon Archie will miss 4-7 weeks of practice time, and possibly the Hawkeye opener against Texas-San Antonio, due to a shoulder injury he suffered over the weekend.  He is expected to provide depth to an already shallow frontcourt.  Santa Clara backup center Scott Thompson will miss the entire season due to an unspecified heart condition.  The Broncos were hoping he could step in for departed John Bryant, but that will not be happening.

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Pitino Says Jennings and Smith Will Not Miss Game Time

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2009

We really shouldn’t be surprised by this stuff anymore, but we still allow ourselves to be from time to time. 

Rick Pitino said yesterday that two key contributors who were involved in an altercation with police over the weekend will not miss any game time due to their alleged transgressions.  Two expected starters, Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith, were arrested on Saturday night for mixing it up with police at a homecoming alumni party in Jeffersonville, Indiana (across the Ohio River from Louisville).  In Jennings’ case, he was so resistant to the JPD that he was subjected to a taser – not once, but TWICE – before they finally subdued the 6’10, 230-lb forward.  Smith, a senior guard, allegedly came to his defense, refused to back off, and he too was subdued. 

jennings smith mugs

Both players were arrested and the accompanying police report recommended that each be charged with multiple counts of resisting arrest and battery.   Steven Stewart, the Clark County (IN) prosecuting attorney, had other ideas as last night he stated that they would instead each face a single misdemeanour charge of resisting arrest.  He stated:

People don’t understand that police make a recommendation in the report, but the prosecutor makes the decision what charges will be filed.

This is assuredly true, and something that many people don’t understand.  But it would have been nice if Mr. Stewart had provided a little more by way of explanation as to what mitigating factors he considered in making that decision.  In most cases, police don’t wantonly taser people to the ground (there are exceptions, of course).  And when they do it once, they usually don’t have to do it again.  Yet in the heat of the moment here, the cops felt that Jennings was so completely out of control that he needed to be subjected to extremely strong (sometimes lethal!) jolts of electricity twice.  So why would Stewart reduce the charges against someone whom the police thought was extraordinarily out of line on that night?  What on earth could it be?

steven stewart bio

We haven’t even gotten into Mr. Best Year of His Life’s sentencing techniques.  It’s understandable to a certain degree that someone in a political position such as Stewart’s must carefully navigate high-profile crimes in full view of his constituents, but what’s Pitino’s deal?  In one statement he says that “anytime you defy a police officer, it’s serious,” and in another he defends Smith’s actions by saying that “he saw a teammate [on the ground] taking some pretty good blows and tried to help.”

Speaking of serious, is Pitino serious with this hedge?  Defying a police officer is failing to move out of the way when he asks you to clear some space.  It is NOT taking haymakers at officers wearing clearly marked “POLICE” jackets, instigating a fight and causing them to use the taser on you twice (in Jennings’ case).  Furthermore, this isn’t a basketball court environment where you’re taught to defend your teammates — this is the real world.  If the cops are busily tasing your friend/teammate, you should be upset (in Smith’s case); but you should also realize that you didn’t see what led to that incident and the cops must believe it’s fairly serious (rightly or wrongly).  The smart move is to keep your head so that you can learn about what is happening and try to negotiate the heated situation – the wrong move is to refuse to back off and make the scene worse for everyone.

Well, at least they’re running lots of sprints (probably as we speak, right?).  That’ll teach ’em, Coach!

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More Trouble For Louisville

Posted by nvr1983 on October 13th, 2009

When the news broke this weekend about the arrests of Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith, we assumed that they would face minimal charges especially when the Louisville boosters decided to make a few donations for the 2010 elections in Jeffersonville. It turns out that it may be more serious with the addition of battery and disorderly conduct charges particularly for Jennings. According to reports, Jennings was involved in an altercation outside Kye’s. When two off-duty officers (both wearing shirts with the word “POLICE” on it) tried to break up the fight Jennings resisted before being wrestled to the ground. Jennings continued to struggle and the police ended up using a Taser on him twice in order to subdue him. Meanwhile, Smith (the ever-vigilant co-captain) refused to move away from the officers after they had handcuffed Jennings and resisted attempts by the officers to get him to back away. To make matters worse for Jennings, after he was arrested the officers administered a breathalyzer, which showed a blood alcohol level of approximately 0.022. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal as Jennings wasn’t driving and the legal limit in Indiana is 0.08 anyways, but young Mr. Jennings is a little less than a month shy of his 21st birthday, which is the “drinking age” in Indiana. To read the official police report of the incident, click here.

A Not So Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Credit:

A Not So Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Credit:

We’re still awaiting official word from Rick Pitino about the incident and what (if any) punishment will be administered, but we can only hope that he doesn’t invoke 9/11 (again) or applaud Smith for standing up for his teammate. In the meantime, we will leave you with the most recent Tweet from Jerry Smith, who re-Tweeted “Rev Run” of RUN-D.M.C. fame quoting Mister Rogers (my head is about to explode):

RT @RevRunWisdom: Little by Little we are confronted with situations that give us more & more clues that we arent perfect – (Mister Rogers)

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Buzz: Louisville Players Arrested

Posted by nvr1983 on October 11th, 2009

After falling behind Binghamton and Kansas last week for the program making the most negative news this off-season, Louisville is making a strong bid to catch up with the Jayhawks (let’s be realistic: nobody is going to catch Binghamton in this category).  Unlike the other two programs, the Cardinals had been led by their head coach Rick Pitino who has done all the heavy lifting of keeping the program in the news. Wanting to take some of the pressure of their coach’s personal problems, which have made him more delusional than usual, Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith (one of the Cardinals co-captains this season) were arrested for resisting law enforcement after Jennings was involved in a fight around 1 AM this morning. The altercation happened at a Louisville alumni homecoming party at Kye’s (“THE place for your special event”) in Jeffersonville, Indiana. [Ed. Note: I guess Porcini’s isn’t a popular spot for Louisville parties any more.] Pitino told a local television station that “we are aware of the situation and will be handling it internally”. Details on the incident are hard to find at this point, but after looking at Louisville’s schedule, we are guessing that their punishment will be a maximum of 2 (exhibition) games so they will be ready just in time for Arkansas and Pitino’s former player John Pelphrey.

Louisville Arrest

We are eagerly awaiting Smith’s next tweet as his latest update happened just 12 hours before his arrest:

Start ya day off tellin yourself 5 reasons why lifes great… Haven’t had a bad day since I heard that.. That man knows what he talkin bout

Smith’s next tweet probably won’t be quite so cheery.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Until Tuesday night, it was a relatively uneventful week in the Big East. The teams that should have won got the Ws, while the teams that were supposed to lose generally lost. That is, until Providence knocked off Pitt in front of packed house at the Dunk (for the record, Friar fans had one of the best ‘rushings of the court‘ that I have seen in a long time – they absolutely swallowed up the three Friar players in the center of the court).

Back to the point, not only were there not many upsets during the week, their weren’t that many outstanding performances. Weyinmi Efejuku of  Providence had 31 in a loss to Notre Dame. Ryan Ayers scored 28 in that same game, but earlier in the week struggled as the Irish lost to West Virginia. Luke Harangody had 26 and 13 in the Irish loss, but was non-existent until the final few minutes (when the game was decided) against Providence. DeJuan Blair’s 20 and 18 against DePaul (which should technically make the performance not count … it’s DePaul) is overshadowed by his 17 and 8 (and 5 turnovers and 5 fouls) in the loss to Providence.

You get the point.

Why should I be pointing that out to you? What is the significance of it? Is it just so I don’t look like a fool making my Player and Team of the Week picks?

Not exactly. It should show you that no team or player in the Big East (save for Providence, the damn Friars ruined my whole column) is stepping up to make a run at the NCAAs. As of this moment, the league should expect seven teams. After this win, Providence may be the eighth.

But Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Georgetown all still had a realistic chance to get in by winning. Cincy’s loss to Louisville gives them a two game losing streak. A win at South Florida is not going to be enough for the Hoyas, who have now lost 9 of 11. Even Providence had lost two straight before the upset of Pitt.

Notre Dame is the only team that looks to have a little bit of life left in them. They have now won three of four, including wins over Louisville and Providence, with the loss coming at West Virginia. If the Irish can keep up their winning ways, there is a good chance the Big East could actually end up with nine tourney teams.

For the record, I’m sick of everyone talking about the Big East as the toughest conference in the country.

It isn’t.

Let it go.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Remember all that talk about the Big East getting nine, maybe ten, teams into the dance? It seems like a long time ago now, as it is a legitimate possibility the league only gets seven teams in. The three teams in danger of missing out are Georgetown, Notre Dame and Providence.

The Irish are in the worst position right now. They are currently sitting at 12-8 and 3-6 in the Big East, but they are just 2-7 against the RPI’s top 50. Their RPI is 77 and their SOS is 49, which aren’t great. But the Irish still play four teams in the RPI top 20, and three more in the top 70, which means the Irish have plenty of chances to up their RPI rating.

Providence could also be in trouble. Their RPI is 63 and their SOS is 42. Their record is a little better than the Irish (14-7, 6-3), but they have struggled against the best teams (1-5 vs. RPI top 50, but 3-2 against 51-100). They, too, will get plenty of chances to improve their resume as they have five more games against the top 20.

Georgetown looks to be the safest right now. They have an RPI of 20, have played the toughest schedule in the country (and second toughest in Big East play to West Virginia). They are just 3-5 against the RPI top 50, but they do own wins against Memphis and at UConn. All Georgetown needs to keep in mind is Arizona last year. The Wildcats finished 16-14, 8-10 in the Pac-10 (good for 7th), but got into the dance as a 10 seed based on their tough scheduling (#2 in SOS).

The bottom line is that it is tough to rule out anyone near the bubble in the Big East. With so many quality teams in the league, all it would take for a Cincinnati or a St. John’s is a great finish to the season, and a run to the quarters or the semis of the Big East Tourney.

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