Tag Archives: Big East Basketball Preview

2009 Big East B-Ball Preview

#4 Louisville Cardinals

 

image from courier-journal.com

 

Previous Posts

#16 DePaul

#15 USF

#14 Providence

#13 Rutgers

#12 St. John’s

#11 Cincinnati

#10 Seton Hall

#9 Marquette

#8 Syracuse

#7 Pitt

#6 Notre Dame

#5 Georgetown

Last Year In A Nutshell:

31-6 (16-2 Big East)

Lost in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament to Michigan St. (were a #1 seed)

Coach: Rick Pitino

If I Were Coach Pitino I Would Start:

Edgar Sosa (G, Sr.) – Quick guard can take you off the dribble.  Played the point a lot last year which was probably out of position for him.  Not a great shooter.

Jerry Smith (G, Sr.) – Lock down defender and dead-eye shooter.  Pretty scrappy on the boards as well.

Samardo Samuels (F, So.) – Had a fantastic freshman year last year.  Was extremely strong around the hoop, and will most likely improve this year.

Terrence Jennings (F, So.) – Very long and athletic for a power forward.  Very strong around the hoop, though and has some terrific post moves.

Peyton Siva (G, Fr.) – Freshman is a pure point guard.  Excellent decision maker.  Sees the court well.  Not sure how he’ll translate in the college game.

Other Key Contributors:

Preston Knowles (G, Jr.) – Was the first man off the bench last year.  Pretty good shooter, but a defensive specialist.  Good hustle guy.

Jared Swopshire (F, So.) – Long and very fast for a big guy.  Needs to get a little bit stronger to play in the Big East.

Mike Marra (G, Fr.) – Incoming freshman.  Scouting report says he’s a great shooter with unlimited range.

Stephan Van Treese (F, Fr.) – Another new guy who needs to prove himself.  Runs the court well (a must for a forward in Pitino’s system) but can also get on the glass a bit.

George Goode (F, So.) – Struggled with injury and academics last year.  Very physical guy, but not very skilled down in the post.

Overall Thoughts:

Louisville had a rather rough offseason with a ton if distractions.  Lucky for them, I don’t believe in distractions hurting a team.  It’s more about talent.  On the court, the Cardinals another in the long list of Big East teams that lost a lot to graduation last year.  The Cardinals will have to do without Earl Clark, Terrence Williams and Andre McGee.  The difference with Louisville is that they have another class behind them that showed a lot of potential last year while getting their feet wet, and are poised to step in right away.  In the frontcourt, Samardo Samuels was one of the best freshmen in the Big East last year.  Terrence Jennings also showed some good things down low.  The backcourt has Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith coming back, so they should be in good shape.  I’m not sure if Pitino will go with experience in the starting lineup in Knowles or potential in Siva.  My guess is Siva.  The only issue I see here is that the Cardinals bench will be young and unproven.  But in this conference this year, that’s a small problem to have.

Coach Pitino loves to gather a lot of really long bodies who are really athletic and just run the floor with them.  They pressure on defense and they turn the game into a track meet on offense.  They do not, however, force things.  There is a fine line there.  If you show that you can run with them, they won’t put up stupid shots.  They are very capable of running an offense and getting an open look.  They also benefit by having a lot of offense come out of their extremely aggressive defense.  They play a really tight half court defense that is always looking to double team and/or steal.  They are one of those teams where everyone on defense is in constant frenetic motion so it forces the opposing offense to get antsy and make bad decisions.  And that’s assuming that you get the ball up court.  They’re also very famous for playing a very good press.  If you let them score or take an out of bounds in the backcourt, you can bet that Louisville will make it difficult for you to cross the time line.  This team should play the exact same way with the exact same type of players.  Pitino is one of those coaches who has a formula that works and just recruits players that fit the system.  It’s a big reason why they reload much more often than they have down years.

In my humble opinion, there’s a definite break in talent in the Big East between the top 4 teams and everybody else.  You’ll see from here on out that the holes (inexperienced depth for Louisville behind a proven starting 5) are not that big.  I think all 4 will have fantastic years that are mostly spent in the top 25.  Louisville is no different.  I guess the main reason that I have them at number four instead of somewhere higher is the influx of guards in the conference.  A lot of teams got a lot smaller this year, and although the Big East will still be a physically demanding league, a lot more teams will most likely be able to handle Louisville’s pressure.  But that’s just a hunch.  It’s so unusual that a lot of teams may still get tripped up by it.  But that’s the fun of basketball.  They don’t play the games in theory.  In any case, it should be a nice year for the Cardinals and I would be shocked if they weren’t a high seed in the tournament.

 

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2009 Big East B-Ball Preview

#13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights

 

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Previous Posts

#16 DePaul

#15 USF

#14 Providence

Last Year In A Nutshell:

11-21 (2-16 Big East)

No Postseason Play

Coach: Fred Hill

If I Were Coach Hill I Would Start:

Mike Rosario (G, So.) – Hands down the Knights best player.  Could probably start for anyone in the country.  Very fast.  Great handle on the ball, and makes excellent decisions.  Can shoot as well.

Greg Echenique (F, So.) – Huge guy who is very strong around the net.  Averaged over 8 rebounds a game as a freshman.  Demands a double team most of the time.

Hamady Ndiaye (C, Sr.) – Extremely long, and uses it well as a shot blocker.  Excellent rebounder.  Ok post moves.

James Beatty (G, Jr.) – JUCO transfer.  Scouting report says he’s a pure point guard that won’t turn the ball over much.

Jonathan Mitchell (F, Jr.) – Florida transfer.  Can score in a lot of different ways.  Most comfortable down low in the post.

Other Key Contributors:

Mike Coburn (G, Jr.) – Mostly a backup point guard.  Not as athletic as the rest of the team, but a good ball handler.

Dane Miller (F, Fr.) – Very highly rated freshman may see some action.  Can play away from the basket well, but needs some strength to play inside in the Big East.

Patrick Johnson (G/F, So.) – Was unimpressive last year as a swing man.  If he improves, he can contribute because Rutgers doesn’t have another pure wing player.

Overall Thoughts:

Rutgers had done very well recruiting the past two seasons, and it’s starting to pay off.  However, the bare cupboard that Fred Hill was left still looms over him.  Greg Echenique and especially Mike Rosario are fantastic players.  Hamady Ndiaye is very good.  But beyond that there’s nothing.  James Beatty might contribute as a good JUCO find, but that’s it.  They have absolutely no depth.

I think Rutgers is the first team I’ve done so far whose strength will be the frontcourt.  Between Ndiaye and Echenique, the Scarlet Knights have a good combination of strength and agility, while both of them are very good on the boards.  The backcourt will be extremely weak.  They have Rosario and Beatty and nobody else.  Literally.  Coburn has never been relied on for serious minutes, and I’m not sure he’d be able to give them.  And there’s no one behind him.  In fact, the only other guard on the roster is a walk-on (Mike Kuhn).  The problem for the Knights last year was lack of scoring, and with the lack of depth in the backcourt, I can’t see that improving.

As for the style of play, Rutgers has a very free system.  They mostly play a man defense that (not surprisingly) is strongest inside.  They almost totally rely on their athleticism on offense.  I’m not even sure if they run plays half the time.  They’ll take their man off the dribble or pound the ball inside if there’s single coverage.  This means that they can adapt very well to different styles of play by opponents, but it’s not conducive to a short bench.  It’s very easy to get out of control when you’re improvising.

Overall, Rutgers has a fantastic starting lineup.  Maybe one of the better ones in the Big East.  But they can’t all play 40 minutes, and that’s when the Scarlet Knights will get killed.  The young nucleus is there if they stay and some more parts are added, but this might be a rough year in Piscataway.

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2009 Big East B-Ball Preview

#14 Providence Friars

 

image from collegefantasycoach.com

 

Previous Posts

#16 DePaul

#15 USF

Last Year In A Nutshell:

19-14 (10-8 Big East)

Lost in the first round of the NIT to Miami (were a #5 seed)

Coach: Keno Davis

If I Were Coach Davis I Would Start:

Sharaud Curry (G, Sr.) – Only returning starter for Providence.  Very quick guard who can play the 1 or the 2.  Has a good first step, but mostly a shooter.  Can be counted on for some steals on defense.

Marshon Brooks (G, Jr.) – Mostly plays the wing.  Can score in a number of ways.  Very athletic.  Hasn’t had much of a chance to show his stuff yet.

Brian McKenzie (G, Sr.) – Dead-eye shooter.  Went cold last year, but had an excellent sophomore season.  Struggles a little bit with ball handling.

Jamine Peterson (F, Jr.) – Pretty athletic forward who can play away from the hoop.  Very good defender.  Little bit undersized to be playing in the frontcourt (only 6’6″)

Russ Permenter (F, Jr.) – New on the team (JUCO transfer).  Scouting report says he’s pretty physical and he’s got some good low post moves.

Other Key Contributers:

Billal Dixon (F, Fr.) – Redshirt freshman has supposedly been getting stronger, and showed some defensive skills in practice.

Johnnie Lacy (G, Fr.) – True freshman point guard.  Scouting report says he’s very quick and an excellent ball handler.  Not sure if that fits with his teammates, though.

Vincent Council (G, Fr.) – Another true freshman point guard.  This one is more of the classic game manager/distributer.

James Still (F, Fr.) – True freshman who can run the court well.  Little small for the Big East.  May need a year to bulk up.

Overall Thoughts:

Providence had a winning record in the Big East last year (and they beat Pitt), so why am I sticking them down at 14?  Well, they lost 5 seniors last year (I was hoping they’d also graduate the mascot (see above), but I don’t think it happened).  They’re one of the few teams in the Big East that’s probably lost more playing time experience than Pitt this year.  The difference is that Pitt and Marquette (another conference team that was decimated by graduation) both got top 25 recruiting classes, Providence landed a merely good recruiting class.  They have enough experience so they don’t have to start any freshman, but their whole bench will be first years.  The benefit to that is that down the road, they’ll be a surprise team again like they were last year.  The down side is that this year will be pretty rough.

Providence showed last year that Keno Davis’ style is to put up a lot of shots and go after the rebounds.  That’s how they beat Pitt and that’s how they’ve been a thorn in UConn’s side.  Both those teams have pretty weak perimeter defenses.  It worked because they had Randall Hanke and Jonathan Kale down, two experienced big guys, to grab rebounds.  They’re both gone along with Geoff McDermott, the only other experienced frontcourt player.  They have a lot of unproven talent down low.  Their season will go as those guys go.  Last year, Providence showed a lot of 1-2-2 zone.  That’s pretty rare, and it threw off a lot of teams.  I’m wondering if Keno will try that again this year.  Last year he got away with it in his first year in the conference.  This year the other teams will be more prepared for it.  Their stable of guards should still be alright.  Sharaud Curry was a big time contributor last year, and McKenzie and Brooks both saw some minutes.  Curry and Brooks will be the two guys looks towards for most of the points.  That centralized scoring is always dangerous because you never know when someone will foul out or get hurt.  But they’ve always been a good passing team and very unselfish.  I expect that to continue.

Overall, this will be a rebuilding year for the Friars.  That 3-point chucking offense they’ve got will lose them a lot of games when they go cold, but it will steal a few games as well.  That’s why I’m picking them 14.  As this team grows and gels a bit in the next few years, it should be a force.  But, for now, Providence fans just have to be patient.

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2009 Big East B-Ball Preview

#15 South Florida Bulls

image from sportslogos.net

image from sportslogos.net

Previous Posts:

#16 DePaul

Last Year In A Nutshell:

9-22 (4-14 Big East)

No Postseason Play

Coach: Stan Heath

If I Were Coach Heath I Would Start:

Dominique Jones (G, Jr.) – Obscenely athletic guard.  Can shoot or drive the lane.  Does just about everything on the court (points, rebounds, assists…..turnovers).  Far and away the best player on the team.

Chris Howard (G, Sr.) – Very physical guard.  Especially considering he plays the point.  Not the quickest guy, but he racks up the assists.  Also makes a lot of mental errors.

Augustus Gilchrist (F/C, So.) – He plays the 4 position (power forward), but loves to roam the perimeter.  Not much help with rebounds and not very gritty.

Alex Rivas (C, Sr.) – He’s definitely the Bulls only proven post presence.  Needs to bulk up a bit.  Not a great rebounder for a center (only 4.7 per game last year).

Jarrid Famous (F/C, Jr.) – Flip a coin at who starts at forward between him, Ron Anderson and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick.  I would give it to Famous because he’s got some height (6’11”) and can help on the boards.  Move Rivas to power forward.  But I have a hunch it will be Anderson.

Other Key Contributers:

Ron Anderson Jr. (F, Jr.) – More of the classic power forward.  Big guy who can step away or guard the post.  Hasn’t played much up to this point.

Jarrid Famous (F/C, Jr.) – The other man in the running.  Another guy who’s too big to be a forward, but they have too many centers on the roster so they call him a forward.  He’ll get some minutes, but I haven’t seen a scoring touch that says he’ll make use of them.

Justin Leemow (G, So.) – Had a few starts last year, but gets buried under the two star guards on the team.  He’s a sharpshooter.

Shaun Noriega (G, Fr.) – Very highly recruited freshman.  Dominated in high school.  He comes in with fellow freshman guard Jordan Dumars (yes, Joe Dumars’ son) as the airs apparent in the backcourt.  But they won’t be relied upon quite yet.

Overall Thoughts:

USF is by far the toughest job in the conference.  First of all, they’re separated from the rest of the schools by quite a distance.  While the northeast gets pounded with Big East information from November through March, everyone within five states of Tampa gets the same treatment from the ACC.  Second of all, they’re not in the most fertile of recruiting areas.  I know I said that recruiting kids from the city you’re in is a recipe for failure in the last post, but I’m not talking about Tampa.  I’m talking about Florida in general.  It’s a football state surrounded by football states.  But they do have one advantage over the other Big East schools: the weather.  They can bring kids from cold weather areas to the SUN Dome on Florida’s SUN coast and tell them that they can still play in Madison Square Garden a few times a year without freezing their butts off to do it.  That’s what I’d do at least.

Anyway, USF’s problems are a lot like DePaul’s.  They haven’t figured the league out yet.  They have centralized scoring and no frontcourt to speak of.  That’s a recipe for failure in the Big East.  The one thing they do have though (and the one thing that puts them above DePaul), is experience.  They have four starters back.  Just about everyone that makes significant contributions will be at least a Junior.  They’re one of the only teams in the conference that won’t be relying on freshman.  But there’s one problem.  Experience is great, but the experience that’s coming back for USF has a small enough count of career conference victories that you can still count them on your fingers.  Not good.  Unless they really improve in the offseason, they haven’t added anything that will bring an end to the Big East cellar dwelling.  But they’ve been recruiting much better the past few years, and I see a light at the end of the tunnel for this program.  They probably won’t ever be a steady dominant force, but they won’t be a welcome mat much longer.

USF isn’t a physical team at all.  That’s the biggest issue I see with them.  They got abused on the glass last year (especially in conference), and they never had any consistent scoring down low.  Most of their points come from the frontcourt (and Jones in particular), and a lot of those come from outside shooting.  They’re not very disciplined on offense.  They don’t move well without the ball.  They force the ball into the post a lot.  On defense they like a matchup zone, but they mostly rely on their quickness and individual efforts.  Lots of steals and deflections, but a lot of open looks as well.  We’ll see how those 3 frontcourt players (Famous, Fitzpatrick and Anderson) do this year.  If they can improve that area, they could make some waves.  But I don’t see that happening.

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2009 Big East B-Ball Preview

Those that know me well, know that I have an unhealthy obsession with college basketball.  That being said, the basketball season is fast approaching and I’m giddy.  To celebrate, I’m going to preview the Big East conference while making my predictions.  I’ll start with my #16 team in this post and work my way down to #1 (hopefully before the season starts).  I’ll look into key players on the team, what kind of ball they’ll play this year, and how I think they’ll do.  Enjoy!

#16 DePaul Blue Demons

image from sportslogos.net

image from sportslogos.net

Last Year In A Nutshell:

9-24 (0-18 Big East)

No Postseason Play

Coach: Jerry Wainwright

If I Were Coach Wainwright I Would Start:

Mac Koshwal (F/C, Jr.) – Really strong guy in the post.  Tough.  Great rebounder.  Tested the pro waters in the offseason.

Will Walker (G, Sr.) – Prolific scorer.  Went over 30 points a few games last year and averaged 19.8.  Can shoot or drive the lane, but isn’t a great ball handler.  He and Koshwal are the far and away best players on the team.

Michael Bizoukas (G, So.) – Will play the point when he’s in.  Fantastic handle on the ball and sees the court well.  He’s a true point man who distributes the ball, but can also drive the lane if you give it to him.

Devin Hill (F, So.) – He’s extremely long and athletic.  He’s 6’9″, but can really run the floor well and can shoot, too.  Pretty good shot blocker.

Eric Wallace (F/G, So.) – Extremely athletic.  Loves to take his man off the dribble.  Decent rebounder for his size.

Other Key contributors:

Jeremiah Kelly (G, So.) – Another true point guard who will split time with Bizoukas.

Mario  Stula (F, Jr.) – Sharpshooter who’s been getting some more playing time at the tail end of last year.

Overall Thoughts:

The Big East obviously brough in DePaul to get a foothold in the Chicago market.  Well, DePaul’s been pretty bad at getting the city’s attention.  I think the general sentiment is  “well, they need to recruit well locally and the talent in Chicago will take care of the rest”.   Even coach Wainright went out and got two assistants over the off-season with strong ties to the local high schools.  I think DePaul needs to look around.  There are a lot of traditional urban catholic school powers that have fallen on hard times: St. John’s, LaSalle, Fordham, etc.  Why has that been?  Well, the way I see it there are two reasons.  One in money.  College basketball became a business in the last 20-30 years or so.  Players will go anywhere with exposure and facilities.  That means big time state schools with large fan bases (that attract TV coverage) and lots of money (from big football games in the fall).  Wonder why Oklahoma and Texas are now premier programs with little to no history and without a fertile recruiting ground around them?  Wonder why Florida won two championships in a state that considers basketball a diversion in the football offseason?  They have money.  The urban catholic schools don’t.  The second reason is that kids from the city don’t want to stay close to home so mom/dad can watch them play anymore.  On the contrary.  A lot of kids from the urban areas grow up around a lot of negative influences.  And their smart enough to see college as a way away from those influences.  Being in a kids back yard is now a disqualification, not a benefit.  Look at the schools that have had success in the city.  Villanova has two kids from Philly on its roster (two kids from the entire state of Pennsylvania, in fact).  Georgetown has one kid from Metro DC on their roster (with a few kids from the suburbs).  They’re not asking kids to stay home, they’re selling the city to kids from other places.

Okay.  That was a little off topic, but I’ll get back to DePaul now.  You can see the problems right away if you read to descriptions of the players up there.  First of all, I said ‘athletic’ a lot.  That’s isn’t a bad thing, but it is for DePaul.  They’re focused too much on athleticism, and not enough on the physical game that the rest of the league plays.  Consequently, they get murdered in the conference slate.  They consistently get pounded on the boards, and their defense is less than stellar.  Most of their guys are more interested in scoring 40 than playing good D, and it shows.  They ranked 281st in the country in scoring defense last year.  That won’t work in the Big East.

Another problem with the team is their lack of depth and experience.  I really had to stretch to come up with some bench players who will contribute.  Actually, most of the starters won’t do much besides Koshwal and Walker.  It’s really a two man team.  Walker is the only senior on the team, as well.  They keep having players leave early, including Dar Tucker this offseason.  They’re young, and there will probably be some growing pains.  Speaking of Dar Tucker, he was a monster scorer that they will miss, but there is a sentiment that he was a ball hog and it may be addition by subtraction.  I don’t buy it.  Tucker WAS a ball hog, and he DID take defensive plays off, but so does everyone else on the team and so will his replacement.

Overall, I really like Jerry Wainwright.  He’s a great guy and really funny to boot.  I’m rooting for him this season.  But, he’s on the hot seat this year, and I don’t see him really saving his job.  Not with this team in this league.  He loves long athletic guys who can really score the basketball, but you need some grit to win in the Big East.  He’d do well in the SEC or the ACC or the Atlantic 10 (he did, actually, at Richmond for a number of years).  But the Big East doesn’t fit his coaching style.  Best of luck in your job hunt, Jerry.

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