Friday, October 24, 2008

COLLEGE HOOPS PREVIEW: THE BIG EAST


I know, you've been anxiously awaiting the next installment of the college hoops previews since you read the thrilling Big 12 one I put up last week. I also am pretty sure there will be a hockey post up here soon, or at least there is supposed to be, which will no doubt get much more attention than this, but it's my blog so too bad.

The silly Big East has sixteen teams, so I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on any individual team because I actually do have a job, but here we go.

1. Louisville
It's no secret I'm a big Louisville and Pitino fan, and it's possible I might have a chance to go to a game there this year, but this is not favoritism; the Cardinals are loaded - again. They will miss big guys David Padgett, Derrick Caracter, and Juan Palacios, but an excellent recruiting class combined with returning big time talent will put them in the National Title picture. Earl Clark and Terrence Williams are one of the top 1-2 punches in the nation, Jerry Smith is a deadeye shooter and Edgar Sosa is one of the quickest guards out there. Add in newcomers Samardo Samuels (one of Pitino's highest ranked recruits ever), Terrence Jennings, and transfer Reginald Delk and you have one of the most talented teams in the country.

2. UCONN
It took a while, but the Huskies are most definitely back after that little swoon a couple of years ago. AJ Price is an absolute stud when he's not stealing laptops, but he's coming off knee surgery so hopefully, for UCONN, he's all better and law abiding. Hasheem Thabeet is a more talented version of Roy Hibbert, and he has Jeff Adrien by his side downlow to do the dirty work. Jerome Dyson is a pure scorer, and super talented freshman Kemba Walker should be a star. One time Tubby target Scottie Haralson is here as well.

3. Marquette
Those three ultra talented guards are still around, and for that reason alone I still believe in the Golden Eagles. The frontcourt, for like the billionth year in a row, is a major concern, with only Lazar Hayward a major contributor. Their two top reserves are also guards, and with Trevor Mbakwe all gone and over top the Gophers, who knows what's going to happen, but as long as McNeal, Mathews, and James show up, they'll be a good team.

4. Syracuse
Devendorf and Rautins are back, and they are both very good for a couple of white guards. Devendorf the slasher, Rautins the shooter. Adding them in with Johnny Flynn and Paul Harris is going to make this team very fun to watch. The improvement of Arinze Onuaku last year makes them that much more dangerous. Sure, they lost their leading scorer from last season in Donte Green, but I don't think it will hurt them. Green spend most of his time chucking three pointers instead of venturing anywhere near the paint (a la Rick Rickert). Make no mistake, Paul Harris is an absolute monster.

5. Notre Dame
More like Notre Lame. They have their inside/outside punch back again in Harangody and McAlarney, but the loss of Rob Kurz will hurt. Plenty of other guys back, but the fact that their point guard, Tory Jackson, can't make a free throw is going to be a factor unless he like, learned how to shoot. As an aside, doesn't Harangody look like the dumbest guy you've ever seen?

6. Pitt
I've never liked Pitt, they just bother me for some reason so I always underrate them and I'm probably doing it again but so be it. Sam Young is absolute stud, and Dejuan Blair is pretty solid in the paint. Levance Fields is probably the key, even though he sucks and got hurt again in the offseason.

7. Georgetown
The tradition of studly centers going to the Hoyas continues (Hibbert excepted) as they picked up two great ones in Greg Monroe and Henry Sims, both top 50 freshmen this year with Monroe at #8 according to Rivals. Put them together with the returning players they have back (Jessie Sapp, Austin Freeman, and especially DaJuan Summers) and the Hoyas could easily finish much higher than 7th.

8. Villanova
I'm so tired of the Scottie Reynolds crap already. You know what he does? He shoots. That's it. And he doesn't care where he is or what the game situation is, he just shoots the ball. Over and over. Sometimes they go in and everybody loves him. He's basically a less awesome Chris Kingsbury. Corey Stokes is going to end up being twice the player Reynolds is.

9. Providence
I don't really know what to make of the Friars, mostly because I somehow managed to not watch them play even once last season. My handy magazine assures me that they have four double digit scorers back, so that's good. One of whom is Jeff Xavier, who I know is awesome from his days at Manhattan. Not Luis Flores awesome, but then again, who is? And they have a freshmen guard coming in named Trey, so that's probably a good omen.

10. West Virginia
Losing Joe Alexander and Darris Nichols would usually cause a team to go into rebuilding mode, but this is Bob Huggins here, so you know he's got something up his sleeve. Like, oh, hi Devin Ebanks, the number 11 overall player and #2 small forward. He had committed to Indiana, but when the mess fell apart there was good ole Bobby Huggins to swoop in, probably with a pile of illicit funds. The entire recruiting class was actually very good, no big shocker there. Don't you love how all the West Virginia people were pissy about how Rich Rodriguez jumped to coach at Michigan, when Huggins basically did the same thing to Kansas State?

11. Cincinnati
Deonta Vaughn is really, really good. He's not quite Lazelle Durden level, but he's close. He pretty much had to be a one man show last season, and not much is likely to change this year, although newcomer Yancy Gates is supposed to be pretty good (#22 Rivals), despite having a pretty gay name.

12. Seton Hall
No Shaheen Holloway, no Darius Lane, no Stanley Gaines and no Jamar Nutter. There are a couple of good players here but no standouts. Coach Bobby Gonzalez worked miracles at Manhattan, so give him time. The Pirates will come around.

13. St Johns
Whatever happened to these guys? They've basically completely fallen apart at this point. Anthony Mason Jr. is still here for like his tenth year of eligibility, but after that it's a steep drop off. There are a couple of promising recruits here, but if they don't develop quickly expect a few box and ones.

14. Rutgers
Remember when they had Quincy Douby and nobody was safe going into the RAC? Yeah, that's not really in play anymore. The good news is they aren't losing much, and the really good news is they have a McDonald's All-American coming into to play for them this season. For reals. Guard Mike Rosario is going to be a Scarlet Knight, and they picked up another top 50 player in center Gregory Echenique, so I suppose brighter days are on the horizon.

15. DePaul
Nice arena that's an hour drive from campus and looks like a garbage dumpster. Pretty fitting for this crappy collection of crapitude. They lost probably their two best players, but Will "Wheel" Walker returns with a couple other guys who might not suck too bad. The recruiting class is nothing special. Have fun Krys Faber.

16. South Florida
I went to a game there once and their girls are really pretty. Where's B.B. Walden gone?