Big East M5: 01.11.13 EditionPosted by Will Tucker on January 11th, 2013
- When asked after Louisville’s road win over Seton Hall about the five-year contract UConn finally wrote up for Kevin Ollie, Rick Pitino called the situation “a perfect match” and a “tremendous marriage.” He believes Ollie is the kind of charismatic “player’s coach” who can keep a team focused and engaged in the face of an impending postseason ban. “Kevin is the perfect segue into an APR situation… He’ll keep it fun for this team and he’ll have them motivated in the future.” The UofL coach also had some interesting comments about playing in Big East road venues, so check out the linked article.
- Seth Davis took a look at 20 potential bubble teams and whether their non-conference strength of schedules will help or hurt each of them in March. Davis subscribes to the school of thought advocating tougher non-conference schedules, and Big East schools don’t fare well in his appraisal. Pitt (SOS: #257) and Seton Hall (SOS: #260) are the only two conference schools to appear on Davis’ list, and he predicts both will suffer with the selection committee because of their soft non-conference slates. Seton Hall, in particular, “will need to at least finish in the top eight of the conference to feel good about their at-large chances.”
- That UConn out-rebounded DePaul by 20 boards the other night wasn’t an accident, but rather the product of a blue-collar rebounding ethic Kevin Ollie is trying to instill in the Huskies. Ollie was excited to see his guards in particular contribute more effort on the glass: “They’ve got to come down and get their nose in there and get dirty and box out and hit somebody. I saw that, and I want to continue to see that.” With no Andre Drummond or Hasheem Thabeet types around to clean the boards with their size and natural abilities, the coaching staff’s focus has become “to condition guys to play more physical, to hit their man first.” But they concede that process will take time before it pays dividends, and rebounding will likely remain a major weakness of the Huskies as they hit the most brutal stretch of their Big East schedule.
- Tray Woodall played with “a lot more emotion” after Pittsburgh’s recent loss to Rutgers, and it paid off in a big way when he orchestrated Tuesday’s 73-45 win at Georgetown. “This is my last year. It‘s my team. I‘m a senior on the team, me and Dante [Taylor]. There‘s more pressure on me. I want it. I embrace it.” Most importantly, Woodall embraced the challenge Jamie Dixon issued to him to play with the defensive intensity that has eluded his game throughout his career. He held scorer Markel Starks to six points on 2-of-8 shooting, with no assists and four turnovers.
- The ever-affable Jim Boeheim is going out of his way to make new friends in the ACC. Speaking nostalgically of his final Big East road trip to Providence after his team beat the Friars on Wednesday night, Boeheim lamented that he’d have to negotiate the new physical environments in his next conference. “I know where all the good restaurants are now, and now I’ve got to go down to Clemson, South Carolina. I’m sure there’s a couple of Denny’s down there.” The millionaire coach either believes Denny’s is actually a “good restaurant” or he’s painting Clemson with the podunk brush. Knowing Jim’s flair for the cynical and alienating, it’s probably the latter. Bret Strelow and Stephen Schramm at the Fayetteville (NC) Observer provided Boeheim with a helpful map. The good news is that the nearest Denny’s is 14 miles from campus –– a veritable hop, skip and a jump by ACC scale. Closer examination on Google Street View reveals that Jim is one step ahead of all of us: