Pac-12 Team Preview: Washington Huskies

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on October 28th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Washington Huskies

Strengths.  Washington only has two seniors on its roster, but the pair will be the key to this team’s success. In the backcourt is C.J. Wilcox, who is arguably the top senior in the Pac-12. His pure stroke is enough alone to keep the Huskies in games this season, and he will be looking to top his 16.8 points per game average from last year. Wilcox is as versatile as ever, according to head coach Lorenzo Romar, and as he goes, so does Washington. The other senior is center Perris Blackwell, a one-year fix who spent his last three years at San Francisco. Blackwell provides a much-needed offensive presence and has enough talent to prevent opponents from overplaying the Husky guards like they did last year.

Wilcox Will Be The Key To Washington's Success In 2013-14 (credit: Dean Rutz)

Wilcox Will Be The Key To Washington’s Success In 2013-14 (Credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses. Matching six veterans and five newcomers expected to play immediately will be a challenge. Chemistry is a huge question, and if the Huskies don’t mesh quickly, opponents like Indiana, Connecticut and San Diego State will eat them alive. Wilcox needs to be a floor general and will have to bail out his teammates at times, which could be an uncomfortable spot for the senior.

Non-Conference Tests. Washington’s last three games before taking a break for Thanksgiving will give us a sense of just how improved the Huskies are. They’ll face Indiana and either Connecticut or Boston College on back-to-back nights in New York City before making the cross-country trip home to take on a Montana team that should win the Big Sky. Two of Washington’s first three games in the month of December will be played on the road against an elite mid-major (San Diego State), and one low mid-major (Tulane). Finally, following the road trip to New Orleans will be a visit from UConn, which could be the second Husky-on-Husky match-up in one month.

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Breaking Down Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules: Washington and Washington State

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 7th, 2013

October is here, and that means we are just weeks away from real, live basketball games. In order to prepare you for the first two months of the season, we’re going to break down all 12 non-conference slates over the next couple of weeks. Up first; the Washington schools.

Teams are listed in order of which they will be played. Last season’s RPI in parenthesis. Potential opponents (one round in advance) are italicized. All times listed are Pacific.

Washington

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Lorenzo Romar’s Program Is on Shaky Ground Right Now (Geoffrey McAllister, AP)

Cream of the Crop: vs Indiana (8), @ San Diego State (30)

Washington has a pair of marquee opponents on its non-conference slate this season. The Huskies will face Indiana in New York City on November 21, in a game to be televised by ESPN2 at 6:00 PM. The Hoosiers finished 2012-13 with a 29-7 record and lost to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. Replacing their two leading scorers (and lottery picks) from last year will be of top importance heading into the season, and Washington will be IU’s first test. Equally as tough will be the trip to Viejas Arena to open the month of December. Senior guard Chase Tapley, and of course, the raucous student section known as The Show, will be waiting for the Dawgs. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network at 12:05 PM on December 8.

Solid Names: UC Irvine (126), vs Boston College (113), Montana (74), Long Beach State (115), @ Tulane (178), Connecticut (49)

Connecticut headlines the second tier, and Washington could actually face the other Huskies twice this season, depending on how the 2KSports Classic shakes out. The scheduled match-up will be the final game before Christmas break, tipping off at 12:30 PM on ESPNU. When the two teams met last season in Hartford, freshman Omar Calhoun picked apart UW in UConn’s eight-point win. Now that Lorenzo Romar and company will get them in front of their own Dawg Pound, it says here that Washington gets a big revenge victory heading into the holiday. Northwest rival Montana could present a challenge. The Huskies always seem to drop a head-scratching home game or two (South Dakota State two years back, Albany and Nevada last season), and the Grizzlies are a likely candidate to continue the tradition. Seniors Mathias Ward and Kareem Jamar, both who averaged over 14 PPG last season, will lead a balanced Montana attack on the offensive end of the floor.

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Morning Five: The Morning Of Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 8th, 2013

morning5

  1. If you though the Rutgers fiasco was  nearing an end you would be wrong. Honestly, we could do an entire Morning Five just on every story that is going on with this case. On Friday, Tim Pernetti‘s letter of resignation was posted on the school’s official site and outside of the usual apology Pernetti claims that he tried to fire Mike Rice, but was stopped by the school. Obviously the school is refuting that, but as The New York Times illustrates the decision on Rice involved more than just Pernetti. Meanwhile, the people back at Robert Morris, Rice’s former employer, will reportedly look into his treatment of players during his time there as new allegations come out that Rice exhibited similar behavior while at Robert Morris. As for the next coach at Rutgers that remains up in the air as Danny Hurley, who was identified as a favorite for the job, appears to be staying at Rhode Island.  The current rumor is that Rutgers is targeting Ben Howland (they might want to read George Dohrmann’s article on Howland’s time at UCLA first) and Howland is interested. Oh, and Eric Murdock (the “good guy” in the entire mess)? He is being investigated by the FBI for possible attempts to extort Rutgers.
  2. We would not be shocked if several players transferred from Rutgers in light of what has come to light (and even more what has not been revealed), but we are at a loss for what is going on at Tulane where four players including the team’s top two scorers were granted transfers last week and two more are in the process of doing so. Now the team is in flux and the administration has to be asking serious questions about what is going on with the program. Losing four players is bad enough, but now the program must enter damage control mode to prevent other players from transferring and perhaps more importantly keep recruits interested in coming there. The strange thing about this is that the team had a decent season going 20-15 overall and we haven’t heard any rumblings of improper conduct at the school. Still when half of a team transfers you begin to ask questions.
  3. The other big off-court story of last week was the accusation against Ed Rush that he offered officials incentives to call a technical foul on Arizona coach Sean Miller. As we noted in Friday’s Morning Five, Rush stepped down from his post and on Saturday he tried to explain his actions (also available as the full transcript). Rush’s answers are about what you would expect from somebody who said something really dumb whether or not it was a joke. In the end Rush’s problem probably was not the joke, it was his reputation for targeting certain players and teams that made his incentive/joke such a hot button topic.
  4. It may not be quite as nasty as the Rutgers story, which is much more fresh, but the fight between Miami and the NCAA is one of the nastier disagreements between the NCAA and a member institution that we can remember. On Friday, The Miami Herald released Miami’s request to the NCAA asking that it drop the case against the school based on a number of procedural errors (cover letter and full request here). The NCAA responded with its own 42-page letter to Miami saying that Miami is attempting to “deflect attention from the significant allegations that remain in the case”. This may be true, but the NCAA has screwed this case up so much that those allegations/acts are overshadowed by the incompetence of the governing body. The NCAA likes to pretend it has legal authority compelling individuals to testify, but doesn’t want the responsibility of acting like anything more than a kangaroo court.
  5. The NCAA has been taking a lot of criticism from almost every angle, but as Dan Wetzel points out they hit a home run with their idea to bring the Division II and III Championship games to the Final Four. We have seen several amazing finishes over the years from those games, but very few of them live and never in person as the events tend to get relatively few fans as they try to compete with the Division I Championship for fans and that will clearly never work if they are looking for big numbers. So this year the NCAA decided to bring the fans to those games and as an added bonus made the tickets free. With the games being played on the Sunday between the Final Four game days it should continue to bring in quite a few fans exposing them to players and programs that they otherwise would never have seen play in person.
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Big East M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 27th, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. If nothing else, fans of the current Big East are going to have plenty of channels to catch their favorite schools on when the schools all go their separate ways. The ACC is taking over Big Monday and should have an increased presence on ESPN, the Big East (Catholic edition) will be on FOX, and the soon-to-be-the-conference-formerly-known-as-the-Big-East just inked a deal with CBS, which will get first dibs on the conference’s games through 2019-20. Oh, and West Virginia seemed to be on ESPN like every week this year… so good for the ‘Eers.
  2. Louisville was the number one overall seed in 2009, much like it is this year. That team hoisted both the Big East regular season and tournament trophies, and made a run to the Elite Eight before falling to Michigan State. That team featured excellent former Cardinals like Terrence Williams, Andre McGee, and Earl Clark, and apparently those guys won’t stop talking about that season. Peyton Siva would like to reclaim bragging rights over the 2009 squad with the one trophy they weren’t able to claim — a national title. “I don’t know a lot (about 2009), I just know T-Will and Dre were on it and they always brag about being the No. 1 overall seed… Our whole goal for the year — they had Andre’s picture on the wall from that ’09 team — is to take him off the wall.”
  3. Otto Porter is a finalist for the Naismith Award this season, and for good reason. A very good argument can be made that there was no player more important to his team this season, and it showed in Georgetown‘s best games — Porter scored 33 points in front of over 35,000 raucous Syracuse fans to stun the Orange at the Carrier Dome — as well as their worst — Porter could only muster 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting in Georgetown’s shocking loss to Florida Gulf Coast last weekend. While Porter is up against stiff competition for the Naismith Award, he already has accolade in his back pocket as Basketball Times has named the forward its National Player of the year.
  4. Expansion fever — catch the excitement! Today in schools moving conferences, the old Big East continues it’s mission to restore the halcyon days of mid-2000s Conference USA. Brett McMurphy reports that Tulsa will become the 12th member of the conference, calling the addition “imminent.” According to McMurphy, the Golden Hurricanes will join up in 2014 with Tulane and East Carolina, who will be elevated to full-member status to balance the conference numbers and fill the critical role of having basketball-playing Pirates in the league.
  5. The Journal-Sentinel sat down with former Marquette great Brian Wardle, currently the head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay, to discuss the state of Warriors basketball. Wardle was obviously thrilled with the success that the program has had under Buzz Williams, and before him, Tom Crean, stating that MU has entered the ranks of the elite in college ball. “The level that Marquette basketball is at now is an elite level that it has not been in for a long time… they’ve gone to three Sweet Sixteens in a row, a Final Four, everything takes time to build. Nothing happens overnight. You’ve got to go through some failures to succeed. You’re seeing Marquette in the Sweet Sixteen every year with the Michigan States, the Dukes, with Kansas.”  There is no denying the success that Marquette has had recently, though dropping the ‘e’ word seems a bit strong.  Until Marquette makes a few more Final Fours or captures a national title, they’re a rung or two below the nation’s elite schools, at least to me. However, they’re not far behind, and with the consistent success that Buzz Williams has had with the program, it may only be a matter of time until they break through.
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Big East Tournament Day Three: Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 14th, 2013

The quarterfinals are here, which means the Big East tournament is in full swing, and the top four seeds will get their chance at the league as-we-know-it’s final crown.  Georgetown and Cincinnati open today’s festivities at Noon, followed by a 21st century ACC donnybrook between Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

#9 Cincinnati

Cincy

The Bearcats knocked off Providence 61-44 yesterday afternoon.

No. 9 seed Cincinnati had a strong showing against Providence yesterday afternoon, defeating the Friars 61-44 behind 17 points from Sean Kilpatrick and 15 points and 10 rebounds from JaQuon Parker.

Next game: Cincinnati will look to upset top seeded Georgetown at Noon.

  • Best Case: Cincinnati nearly took down Georgetown at Fifth Third Arena in February, losing a tight one, 62-55.  Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright were a combined 3-of-15 from three point range in that one; if Cincinnati’s guards can knock down some shots from the outside they should not have much of an issue keeping up with Georgetown’s scoring.  Consistent guard play is the key for the Bearcats; if Kilpatrick keeps up his solid play and Wright finally returns to the level that he was playing at before he missed time due to injury, Cincinnati can make a run in this tournament.
  • Worst Case: The Bearcats get frustrated against Georgetown’s probing Princeton offense and Otto Porter flashes his normal brilliance, and the Hoyas run away with a double-digit victory.  Cincinnati’s next conference tournament game is played in front of 4,000 fans at the Izod Center against Tulane.

#5 Syracuse

C.J. Fair continues to act as a steadying presence for Syracuse.

Syracuse struggled down the stretch of the regular season, but a strong second half propelled them to a 75-63 win over Seton Hall. The Orange dropped their game at The Pete earlier this year, but were without forward James Southerland. Will an Orange-friendly crowd and Southerland’s three-point prowess make the difference for Jim Boeheim’s squad?

Next game: Syracuse faces No. 4 seed Pittsburgh in the 2:00 PM slot.

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Where Do UConn, Cincinnati, USF Turn After Loss of Catholic Seven?

Posted by Will Tucker on December 24th, 2012

Last week, the Catholic Seven quashed any hopes that the Big East could reconstitute in the image of its former self. In a final stroke of tragedy, that group seems to have absconded with the lucrative television deal that evaded Mike Aresco for months. All of the sudden USF, Cincinnati and Connecticut look to be the only programs in the current Big East standings that won’t head for greener pastures in 2014-15. So how do these Big East incumbents position themselves in the new conference landscape? Do they control their own fate, or are they destined to wait patiently in the widow’s walk for their own realignment lifeboat to reach their shores?

UConn needs to set an example of stability by committing to Kevin Ollie (John Woike/Hartford Courant)

Memphis, UCF, SMU, Houston, and Temple are scheduled to fully integrate their athletic departments into the Big East next summer. Boise State and San Diego State already grace next season’s conference football schedules, but it now appears the Mountain West Conference has convinced them to steal a page from the TCU book of cold feet.

Outlook

Leadership at UConn and Cincinnati are still licking their wounds from their latest unsuccessful attempts to escape Big East entropy. Cincinnati is taking proactive measures already to make itself a more attractive candidate in the next round of conference expansion. Athletic Director Whit Babcock poached football coach Tommy Tuberbville from a decent Big 12 program and announced plans to update Nippert Stadium. Emails between administrative leaders illustrated a coordinated effort to flank Louisville and UConn for the most recent opening in the ACC, and UC had briefly flirted with the Big 12 the previous year. Cincinnati is only interested in the Big East insofar as it maintains an environment that will facilitate its exit as soon as possible: Namely, one that provides acceptable strength of schedule in basketball and football, and some enticing names on the home slate to attract a very fickle local fan base to attend games.

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Big East Burning Question: Should The ‘Catholic Seven’ Have Left The Big East?

Posted by mlemaire on December 20th, 2012

We admit it. We blatantly stole this topic idea from our colleagues over at the Pac-12 microsite but hopefully they’ll view this as somewhat of an homage to their creative topic ideas rather than lazy theft. Anyway, the big news over the weekend was the decision by the Big East’s seven Catholic schools to leave the conference for destinations yet unknown. The news has been a hot-button issue in recent days with arguments for both sides landing some excellent points. But what’s the final verdict? Was it a good decision for these schools to turn their backs on the Big East or will this decision be a bad one?

Dan Lyons: The Catholic Seven are absolutely making the right decision by leaving the Big East. In fact, they probably should have done it sooner. The marriage between the football schools and basketball schools was always a very tenuous one, as much fun as it was for the Big East basketball faithful. Because of the huge influence of football money on college sports, it was never going to be possible for these two groups to come to any legitimate consensus on the direction that the conference should take – we saw this play out in the Big East media deal negotiations that ended up being a major factor in the departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. It was unfair to expect non-football schools to share the same vision for their athletic conference as their football-playing peers. On an individual basis, I’m very glad that I was able to see the 16-team Big East as a basketball fan, as unwieldy as the conference was internally. I will forever relish the rivalries, the Big Monday match-ups, the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden, which was an unmatchable event. However, it was only a matter of time before massive defections took place, and though I’m on the outside looking in on the “Catholic Seven” in terms of my personal fanship, I’m glad that those teams will be able to keep their history without having it watered down by trips to SMU and Tulane.  Even without Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Notre Dame, and the panache of being in a “major” conference, the Catholic league should be a fun one to watch.

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Who Won the Week? Illinois, DePaul and Fans Everywhere…

Posted by Kenny Ocker on December 14th, 2012

wonweek

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: The Fans

Oregon Pit Crew student fans support Arsalan Kazemi on the night of his debut as a Duck. (Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll)

Fans, this horrible week is over. You’ve been freed, just like Arsalan Kazemi. (Also, can we please ignore the fact that a UO student misspelled “anchor”? I got my degree from there, and so did this photographer, and neither of us seemed to have any issues with that word.) (Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll)

Let’s face it – this finals week was about the worst thing on record. Save for an upset win over Wichita State by Tennessee, which magically scored more than 40 points to shockingly hand the Shockers their first loss, the week was bereft of interesting match-ups. But the good news is, it’s over. (I’ve got a little bit of bad news though: Winter break’s not much better in terms of captivating contests.) Let’s celebrate that and move on with our lives.

(Related winners: None. Related losers: Anyone who had to sit through games last week.)

LOSER: Halil Kanacevic

The 6’8” forward for St. Joseph’s thought it would be a good idea to show support for his Hawks by flipping the double bird to Villanova fans during a Big 5 game after making his only field goal of the night, a three-pointer to give St. Joe’s a 50-47 lead in the second half. Instead, Kanacevic got popped with a technical foul for the display of unsportsmanlike conduct. Late in the game, he then proceeded to miss two clutch free throws with a minute to go that would have stretched the Hawks’ one-point lead. Instead, the Wildcats came back for a 65-61 home win that helped right their ship an embarrassing 18-point defeat to Columbia and Big 5 losses to La Salle and Temple. For his trouble, Kanacevic got suspended for two games as well.

(Related winners: Villanova; Temple, the likely Big 5 favorite. Related losers: St. Joseph’s; Langston Gallaway, the Hawks guard whose six three-pointers and 22 points were lost in the shuffle.)

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IV

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 3rd, 2012

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

  • I LOVED… the challenge that John Calipari has on his hands. He proved that he could win a title last year, but the question in coming years is whether his one-year-and-out philosophy can continue to bring home the hardware that UK fans believe should be the norm. Several bad losses in a row, however, are showing that this group is not at the talent level of last year’s champs. In many ways, this should be a great test – if UK is not the most talented team in the country, does Calipari have the coaching chops to keep them in the conversation? Stay tuned.
  • I LOVED… thinking about upcoming Louisville battles with Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse after the Cardinals were selected to replace Maryland in the ACC. While I’ve had about enough of this whole conference realignment fad in the last couple years, the addition of these two Big East powerhouses to such a basketball-crazy conference is definitely reason to smile (and the folks over at ESPN just might feel the same way).
  • I LOVED Larry Brown. There are only a few coaches out there who can walk into an under-the-radar (nice-speak for “not relevant”) program like SMU and declare that they’re going to be “pretty good pretty quickly.” Fortunately LB has the resume and personality to do just that. Do I think they will be? No way. But just hearing his enthusiasm made me smile and think – now wouldn’t that be something….

Larry Brown Is Off to a Good Start at SMU

  • I LOVEDRasheed Sulaimon’s assertiveness as a freshman. This kid is going to be good, but more importantly he’s exactly the type of wing playmaker that the Blue Devils have been missing all the way back to Kyrie Irving’s injury, if we’re being honest. Sure, he probably takes a few more heat checks than Coach K might like, but he puts constant pressure on the D with his quickness and aggressiveness, has a promising stroke from deep, and should allow Duke’s other guards (read: Seth Curry) to spot up and reap the benefits of inevitable double teams from penetration. Duke is very good this early in the season, and if they’re still around in April, Sulaimon will be a big reason. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big East M5: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 3rd, 2012

  1. While conference realignment has been almost entirely football-centric, there are also major ramifications for the Big East‘s non-football playing schools as well.  Washington Post‘s Liz Clarke spoke with Jay Bilas, Bill Raftery, and Jim Boeheim about the future of the Big East and the direction that the basketball schools should take. Jay Bilas described schools like UCF, Memphis, and Tulane as not passing “the straight-face test” while Raftery and Boeheim think that the schools should move forward with the new additions and make the best of it, saying that the conference still has accomplished programs and could be viable going forward.
  2. While Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng garnered most of the preseason accolades for Louisville, Rick Pitino has gotten irreplaceable performances from players who almost didn’t make it with the program. At different times, Pitino told both Russ Smith and Stephan Van Treese that they may have been better off to go to other schools where they could see ample playing time. However, both stayed, and Smith seems to be having a break out season, while Van Treese has been filling in admirably for the injured Dieng. In the Cardinals’ close 69-66 edging of Illinois State over the weekend, Smith and Van Treese led the team in minutes.
  3. Cincinnati helped contribute to the Big East’s drubbing of the SEC in this year’s SEC/Big East challenge with a win over Alabama Saturday, but the Bearcats still aren’t content with where they are as a team this season. Cashmere Wright was able to cash in on a buzzer-beating jumper to defeat the Tide, but Mick Cronin found plenty to work on in the win: “Obviously, we’ve got a lot of areas we’ve got to improve… Offensively we have to get more ball movement, more assists, get more touches on the ball. We stand around too much They did a good job keeping us off the break.Once again we get a 13-point lead and start looking around instead of continue with the pace of play that we want to play at for 40 minutes.”
  4. Just when we think we’re done with the Bernie Fine case, something pulls us back in. This week, Syracuse police chief Frank Fowler stated that he believes that the first two Fine accusers — Bobby Davis and Mike Lang — are credible, as well as the fourth accuser, Floyd Van Hooser, who had last publicly recanted his accusations against the former assistant coach. The last bit of Fine news had come a few weeks ago, when the federal investigation of him had closed without any charges or arrests. With so many variables and chapters in this case, it is unlikely that we will ever have full closure, especially with the passing of the statute of limitations at the state level.
  5. The Providence Friars may be the walking wounded these days, but that didn’t prevent them from getting in on the Big East win party this weekend. The Friars came out on top against Mississippi State, 73-63, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Saturday, and currently own a 6-2 record. The Friars entered the game with two injured players – freshman standout Kris Dunn and star senior Vincent Council – and lost point guard Bryce Cotton late in the first half.  Using only six players in the second half, the Friars played effective defense and were able to hold the Bulldogs to 35.9% shooting from the floor and just 2-22 from three-point range. Junior forward Kadeem Batts paced Providence with a career high 32 points in the win.
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Big East M5: 11.28.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 28th, 2012

  1.  Everyone has already used up all the good “Big East is turning into Conference USA” jokes so I will refrain, but we would be remiss not to mention that two more C-USA teams — East Carolina and Tulaneplan to defect to the Big East and will join the conference in 2014. The move is considered a reactionary decision to Rutgers’ impending departure, and a proactive decision considering the conference, smartly, expects more teams to defect in the coming months (Connecticut and Louisville, we are looking at you). As Big East fans, I wish we could say we were excited, but from a basketball perspective, Tulane and East Carolina hardly move the needle, if they move it at all. Don’t get us wrong, the Big East is trying to stave off irrelevancy and adding more teams is really the only way to do that, but adding mediocre teams from Conference USA is really only a band-aid, especially if UConn and others don’t plan on staying for much longer. I seriously doubt basketball fans are going to pack Madison Square Garden for a Big East Tournament matchup between Tulane and SMU.
  2. Things started well enough for Villanova as Jay Wright’s club began the season 3-0 including a solid win over Purdue in Madison Square Garden. But since then, everything has gone downhill in a hurry. A blowout loss to Alabama was followed by an embarrassing home loss to Columbia, and things hit a low point on Sunday when the Wildcats blew a second-half lead and lost in overtime to Big Five rival La Salle. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Wright and his team, but things were never supposed to get this bad, and the Wildcats have enough talent that they have no business losing by double figures to a mediocre team from the Ivy League. It should also be noted that this sort of embarrassing effort has become commonplace for ‘Nova over the last few seasons, and if they don’t start playing with more intensity and passion, Wright, even with his Final Four pedigree, could find himself on the hot seat at the end of the season.
  3. The biggest match-up involving a team from the Big East will be Thursday’s showdown between Notre Dame and Kentucky in the SEC/Big East Challenge. The Wildcats aren’t the same dominating force they were last year, but as the Fighting Irish understand, they are probably just as supremely athletic, especially in the frontcourt. Notre Dame probably has the advantage in the backcourt, at least when it comes to experience, but it will be extremely interesting to see Jack Cooley square off against Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein in the post as it figures to be a battle between great athleticism and great fundamentals. Cooley isn’t half as athletic as Kentucky’s young frontcourt, but he is more experienced and he won’t get rattled in the post.
  4. With UConn guard R.J. Evans out for at least another game because of a chest injury, coach Kevin Ollie has turned to junior combo guard Niels Giffey to pick up the slack. And if the first six games are any indication, Giffey will be up to the challenge. The Huskies have a talented backcourt duo in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, but Ollie  considers Giffey the team MVP to this point because of his work ethic, intensity, and “glue guy” qualities. Giffey won’t wow anybody with his athleticism or overall skill set, but he can knock down an open three-pointer, rebounds well for his size, and is the type of scrappy player that every good team needs in the rotation. Conference play will really tell us what type of role Giffey has carved out on this team, but it’s not as if the Huskies have played all pushovers, so if Ollie and his team leave an impression this season, chances are Giffey will be a big reason why.
  5. Speaking of role players on teams without a lot of scholarship athletes who are being forced into crucial roles, Providence freshman Joshua Fortune has been playing A LOT for coach Ed Cooley. The forgotten guard in the Friars’ much-ballyhooed recruiting class has been thrust into duty because of injuries and is averaging better than 38 minutes and nearly 10 points per game through six contests. The Friars have very few competent Big East players and the 6’5″ Fortune is one of them. His shot selection and decision-making has been sketchy as he has more turnovers (22) than assists (17), but these are valuable minutes considering he will soon experience the brunt of a Big East schedule. One thing is for certain, there is no way Cooley can expect Fortune to handle this workload all season, as no freshman can. The good news is that fellow guard Kris Dunn should be back some time after the new year, and when he and senior Vincent Council return, Cooley will finally boast one of the best backcourts in the conference.
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Morning Five: 11.28.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 28th, 2012

  1. We might as well call this the “Realignment Day” edition of the Morning Five because it will be the dominant theme. Rumors have been swirling all week that the ACC was poised to counteract the Big Ten’s raid of Maryland over the weekend by adding another team in the Terps’ place. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, the ACC presidents are meeting this morning (probably while you’re reading this blurb) to decide if it wants to add a 14th school in all sports, and an “industry source” expects that the choice will be Louisville. Cincinnati and Connecticut are reportedly the other two schools under consideration, but the ACC feels that it can grab those two at a later date if it decides to expand to 16 members — figuring they will be there in the future with a lack of other viable options. Louisville in the ACC makes about as much sense as any of the other crazy realignment moves, but in terms of sheer basketball prowess, can a league harboring Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim really not self-combust into nucler winter wormhole of egomania? If true, this news is astonishing.
  2. Speaking of Maryland, top brass at the school have openly contemplated a reduced exit fee when it ultimately leaves the ACC for the greener pastures of the Big Ten. Only one problem with that idea — the ACC isn’t having it. In fact, the conference slapped a lawsuit on the Terps Tuesday that quite clearly states it expects a check for the sum of $52.26 million payable to league offices as a result of Maryland’s decision to leave. Upon the addition of Notre Dame in all sports except football back in September, the league presidents voted to nearly triple the exit fee to prevent situations like this from occurring — all of the 12 signed except for two, Florida State and Maryland. Whether the league ultimately gets the total amount paid is important in that it could set a compelling precedent if another school — namely, those Seminoles — also feels the draw elsewhere in pursuit of endless television dollars thrown their way by another conference. Even for big-time athletic programs, $50M is a lot of money, and especially so for broke ones like Maryland. This could get ugly before Maryland ever steps foot onto a Big Ten playing surface.
  3. The only “real” realignment news of yesterday was that the Big East added Tulane (in all sports) and East Carolina (in football only) to its ongoing transformation from the best basketball conference in all of the land to a watered-down Conference USA. We are assuming it will only be a matter of time before East Carolina joins for all sports, of course, but it has to be said that this league is becoming an absolute joke. This is clearly a panicked move, but at this point the Big East is probably looking for anything fill in the gaps before the conference falls apart. We have to wonder, though, that if the Big East could put the genie back in the bottle and go back to that ridiculous but ultimately sublime premise of a northeastern-based basketball league anchored by the likes of Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, and St. John’s, if they’d now be willing to turn back that clock. It’s too late now.
  4. Yesterday we referenced an investigation into Missouri’s suspended guard Michael Dixon and later Tuesday a police report surfaced in which the narrative shows that Dixon was accused of forcible rape in August, but was not charged with a crime by local prosecutors. Somewhat similar to the Dez Wells story at Xavier, there was insufficient evidence to reasonably bring charges against Dixon and so the case against him was closed on November 16. Presumably this may have caused some of the strange tweeting by Dixon, Kim English and a woman who claims that Dixon assaulted her over the Thanksgiving weekend, but without knowing the details of the Dixon case, it’s difficult to speculate too much further. A school certainly has discretion to punish Dixon if it feels the facts are warranted, but we have trouble with situations like this one appears to be, where there is insufficient evidence to accuse a player of a crime but a school still feels the need to punish someone. Let’s hope this all resolves itself soon.
  5. The ACC might be bolstering its basketball presence for years to come with a presumed addition of top 10 historical program Louisville, but as of now, the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge fell squarely on the side of their midwestern-based counterparts. Not only did #2 Indiana lambaste #14 North Carolina in the headliner game, but #23 Minnesota ripped #25 Florida State in Tallahassee and Nebraska did likewise at Wake Forest. With #3 Michigan’s solid home win against #21 NC State and Maryland’s strong win at Northwestern coupled with Virginia Tech’s surprising blowout of Iowa, the Big Ten has taken a commanding 4-2 lead into tonight’s action. Why is it commanding — the answer lies in the conference’s two road wins. With three home team all favored tonight — Wisconsin, Illinois, and Penn State — along with a reasonable chance for one of Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State to pull off a road upset, it appears that the Big Ten is well-positioned to win its fourth Challenge in a row. It says here that the final tally will be 8-4.
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