Archive for the ‘Big East’ Category

It is now official.  The ongoing uncertainties with the status of Fred Hill as the Head Coach at Rutgers have come to an end. After being told that he would be brought back for the final year on his contract, Hill created a scene at a Rutgers-Pittsburgh baseball game (Hill’s father is the coach of Rutgers).  Hill was asked to refrain from attending any future baseball games, but disobeyed the schools orders.  As a result Rutgers made the decision that it was time for Hill and them to part ways.  Now after two weeks of negotiations the two parties have come to a settlement and Hill has resigned.  The settlement is allegedly a $850,000 deal with benefits.

Well while things have been better in Friartown, things have certainly been better in Piscataway.  The Hill standoff finally comes to an end after two weeks, but is right during the spring signing period.  Already the Scarlet Knights have lost there most talented recruit in Gilvydas Birutas.  Adding to that Mike Rosario committed to become a Florida Gator.

The Knights have lost their coach, recruits, and their only McDonalds All-American in school history in a very short period of time.  Not to mention the departure of a number of other players from the team.  The Rutgers Basketball program may have hit rock bottom in the last couple of weeks.  But maybe things have to get to rock bottom before you can make any progress.  We don’t know, the facts are that Rutgers was a struggling team that is even in a worse position.

Looking forward Rutgers short list includes recent 76ers coach and former Rutgers standout Eddie Jordan, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, and former Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien.  It seems like Eddie Jordan is a major possibility here.  We will keep you updated… because we know just how much Rutgers basketball means to you all.

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St. John’s University has decided upon a successor for Norm Robets.  ESPN Analyst and former UCLA Bruins Head Coach Steve Lavin, will be announced as the new head coach in a press conference to take place tomorrow.  The Daily News is reporting that Lavin agreed to a six-year deal worth between $9-9.5 million.  During his tenure with UCLA, Lavin compiled a 145-78 record including five Sweet 16 appearances and an Elite 8 appearance.  He also won at least 20 games in all his seasons at UCLA except for one.

As many know, Lavin is a west coast guy.  He lives in Los Angeles, and most of his recruiting ties are out that way.  he is expected to bring in assistants who will help in recruit in New York and Tri-State area.

It is clear that St. John’s was looking for a big time name that would increase there relevance in the competitive New York Media Market and that would stand out to recruits.  After missing on Florida’s Billy Donovan (it would have killed us to see him go to a BIG EAST school other than Providence… and we don’t think he would do that to us anyway), and Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt, the Johnnies landed on Steve Lavin.

We are unsure how this signing will turn out.  We know that St. John’s is returning all five of their starters and 94% of their scoring from a much improved team.  A change of coach with a group of players who have spent three years in another system can always be difficult.  However, in the future, although he is a west coast guy, he may be able to start winning back some of the recruiting battles in the New York City/Northern Jersey areas from the Seton Hall’s, the Villanova’s, and even from the out of conference powers.  It might be difficult at first, but than again it wasn’t too long ago that St. John’s was a national power.

But this is all getting way ahead of ourselves.  Honestly, besides looking at his track record and his resume we don’t have much to go on here, mostly because back in elementary school when Steve Lavin was coaching, we didn’t watch basketball the same way we do now.  Besides clinics and camps, Lavin has been out of the coaching game for a while now; however, he has stayed very close to the college game.  It will be interesting to see how he does in his return to the sideline with a very experienced team and what kind of mark he can make in the St. John’s recruiting scene.  We wish him well (except against the Friars) and hope that maybe he can get the Johnnies back on their feet.

**Also interesting to note that St. John’s has a home-and-home series signed for next season against UCLA.

Seton Hall has hired Kevin Willard to take over as the Head Coach of the Men’sBasketball team. Friar fans may remember Willard from his trip to The Dunk this past season.  Willard is the three year coach of Iona College out of the MAAC.  In his three years he was able to turn around the losing Gaels team he inherited and was given MAAC Coach of the Year Honors this season.  Willard signed a 5 year deal with a total compensation package of about $1 million per year.  Willard who has close ties to both Rick Pitino and Lou Lamoriello is only 34, but is the foreseeable future for the Seton Hall Pirates.  So congratulations to Kevin Willard, now we have to wait and see what will happen with the other coaching vacancies and DePaul and more interestingly St. John’s.  We will stay updated.

That is right, the DePaul Blue Demons grabbed their first regular season conference win since… well too long to remember with a win over Marquette last night.  After trailing for essentially the whole game Marquette missed the front end of two one-and-one attempts and, Blue Demon, Mike Stovall hit a tough jumper giving DePaul their first and only lead, 51-50, with only 0.7 seconds left on the game clock.  Marquette could not score in the last 0.7 seconds and DePaul’s 24 regular season BIG EAST  losing streak came to an end.  The win was the first for interim coach Tracey Webster, who has been at the helm for the Blue Demons for three games.  He had this to say after the game.

“Our guys did a great job of battling, battling, battling.  That’s all we ask for. To battle and battle for loose balls and really don’t give up. I thought they did a really, really good job of not giving up.”

And for the fans who made the trip all the way to All-State Arena saw exactly that… a battle.  DePaul didn’t give up and got a very big win.  Will Walker played big and Stovall was a hero.

Obviously we don’t follow DePaul basketball very closely here, but you have to feel good for them and their fans.  A 24 game skid is a lot to take.  It was a big win for them and a very exciting one at that.  And what is even better is that on a night where Rutgers, barely showed up in a losing effort to Villanova, the Blue Demons officially pulled themselves out of 16th place in the league for the first time in a very long time.

From our point of view this makes that 30 point beat Marquette hit us with hurt a little bit more.  We mean DePaul beat this team, thirty was a lot to loss to them by.  But we were missing Greedy (so maybe we would have only lost by 15) and as we all know anything can happen on any given night in the BIG EAST.

From a Marquette point of view this one really hurts.  We have been high on Marquette this season despite their rocky 1-3 start.  They beat Georgetown and killed us, but this loss really hurts their credibility.  It is one thing when you lose to the Syracuse’s of the league but DePaul really hurts.  And being the team they end their streak against adds some insult in injury.  And for the teams that have played Marquette already, those wins maybe don’t look as good as they did a day ago.  Villanova beat the Golden Eagles twice by two each time.  Clearly one game does not dramatically effect other teams wins but it is a bad sign for MU.  When you loss to the teams better than you but also give up wins against the teams you are supposed to beat, that will land you near the bottom of the BIG EAST… and that hurts you and the teams that play you.  A trip to the Carrier Dome is next for Marquette.

But congratulations to DePaul.

Jim Calhoun is taking a leave from coaching the Huskies.  Calhoun has had medical leaves prior to this, but this issue is unrelated to any previous medical condition.  Prior leaves have been due to bouts with skin cancer and prostate cancer.  Jeff Jacobs of the The Hartford Courant wrote earlier that Calhoun’s leave may be due to stress. The recruitment issues UConn has been facing, along with the grind of basketball coaching on a 67 year old man may have been enough to disrupt Calhoun.

There is no time table for when Calhoun will be back on the sideline for the Huskies, but he will definitely miss tonight’s game against St. John’s, and it is likely that he will miss UConn’s upcoming game against the Texas Longhorns as well.  In his absence associate head coach George Blaney will take over until further notice.  Blaney has had experience had the helm before due to Calhoun’s other medical leaves.  UConn Athletic Director, Jeff Hathaway had this to say:

“Our primary concern is Coach Calhoun’s health and his complete recovery. We will do everything possible to support Coach during this time. Jim and I both know that the men’s basketball program is in very capable hands under the leadership of associate head coach George Blaney.”

UConn is our enemy no doubt about that, but you have to hope this medical issue with Calhoun isn’t anything to serious.  He is a great coach, and like him or not, he adds a lot to every game he is involved in.  So we hope Coach Calhoun gets better and is patrolling the UConn sidelines very soon.

For UConn this comes at a rough time.  In the midst of a three game  losing skid the Huskies are in a bit of trouble.  They play St. John’s tonight, in a game you figure they should win but that you can’t be too sure of, but then they have a big match up with Texas.  That is a game that would have been tough to win even with Calhoun calling the shots.  Following that the Huskies have a stretch that isn’t too terrible, but without Calhoun will a struggling team continue to struggle even against teams they should beat?  We don’t know.  We will have to see how they rebound from a three game losing streak and the loss of Calhoun tonight against the Red Storm at home.  Also after Texas, Uconn heads over to  Providence (next Wednesday), no word on whether Calhoun will be around or not.

But we wish Calhoun a speedy recovery, and hope to see him on the sidelines when the Huskies come to The Dunk on the 27th.

Another PFB Power Rankings.  Syracuse is still on top of our list although Pitt is really closing in onthem.  But with two big road wins over teams that rarely lose at home in West Virginia and Notre Dame we thought that Cuse deserved the top spot.  We have Providence at number 12.  Their win wasn’t great, and there loss was pretty bad but they continue to beat the teams they should beat.  And here is the link to the NBE Power Rankings. They have Villanova up top and Providence in the 13th spot, but they submitted their votes before the Syracuse/Notre Dame game.  Maybe if that was included they would have had the Orange in the one spot as well.  Here is the link to the SNY Power Rankings.  They also have Villanova in the top spot, but Providence in the 12th spot.

1.  Syracuse

Minus there loss to Pitt the Orange have looked great.  In their last two game they won in two of the most difficult BIG EAST venues in West Virginia and Notre Dame.  They aren’t undefeated in the conference, but Syracuse is proving they can be road warriors, and beat top BIG EAST competition.

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2.  Pittsburgh

It is getting harder and harder to leave Pitt in the two position.  They have beaten Syracuse and all other comers.  They have played tough Pitt basketball and they are rolling.  Jamie Dixon has got to be an early candidate for Coach of the Year Honors and at this rate is a lock for BIG EAST Coach of the Year.

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3.  Villanova

The Wildcats finally brought down a top BIG EAST team in Georgetown.  But they haven’t done near what Pitt and Syracuse have done so they will stay behind them.  The Cats are looking good and Scottie Reynolds is playing well.  They have a very easy week ahead and won’t play another top BIG EAST team again until February when they visit Georgetown.  It will be interesting to see how they fair when they get into the difficult part of their schedule near the end of the season.

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4.  West Virginia

A furious comeback fell just short against the Orange and West Virginia caught there second league loss.  This week they have two OOC games.  Watch to see how they do in the one against Ohio State.

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5.  Georgetown

Georgetown lost to Villanova by a few in Philly.  Their loss to Marquette as well makes you question how they match up against smaller quicker teams.  In both games they did alright, but came away with a loss.  That is something they have to improve upon.  Monroe is playing very well, but the Hoyas have Pitt up next at Pitt, which will no doubt be tough.

6.  Louisville

After a slow start the Cards seem to be getting back on track.  They had a tough loss at Pitt, but that is nothing to hand your head about.  This week they have games against Seton Hall and Cincy.  They need to win both, to stay near the top of the league.

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7.  Marquette

After a very difficult start with some tough losses, it looks like Marquette is back on track.  The Golden Eagles beat down Providence at home.  They have an easy one with DePaul this week, but than have to travel over to Upstate New York to take on the Orange in the Carrier Dome… no easy task.

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8.  Notre Dame

Tough loss to Syracuse but there is no shame in that.  The loss to Cincy hurt and needed to be a win.  This week the Irish have DePaul up then Villanova then Rutgers.  DePaul and Rutgers should be wins, but the Irish could make a statement if they beat Nova… but don’t count on that.

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9.  Connecticut

UConn has fallen out of the top 8 teams the way we see it.  This team seems to have so much talent, but just can’t put wins together.  We aren’t sure what the problem is but the Huskies are slipping.  Their three loss skid should end this week with St. John’s (but even that isn’t a sure thing), but than they take on the Texas Longhorns who will be looking to get back to their winning ways.

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10.  Cincinnati

Tough to get a good read on the Bearcats just yet.  They seemed like the team most likely to make a jump in the BIG EAST this season, but have been inconsistent.  They have had some  big wins, but some big losses.  They have the talent to beat a lot of teams, but until they get some consistency they are going to stay in their usual BIG EAST position.

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11.  Seton Hall

Seton Hall has still been trapped in their brutal opening to the season.  It doesn’t get any easier with games against Pitt and Louisville this week.  We still think Seton Hall is a very good 1-4 team but they needed another win in their somewhere to prove that.  Wins this week are important but not very likely.  Seton Hall is much improved, but seemingly not improved enough to move up in the BIG EAST.

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12.  Providence

Providence went 1-1 this week.  They had a win over DePaul, but got beat up badly at Marquette.  This week the Friars’ only game comes against USF.  It is a home game and a must win for the Friars.

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13.  St. John’s

After a tough three loss start to conference play the Johnnies have come back to win two straight over DePaul and Cincy.  The Cincy win was big for this team.  This week the Red Storm have two very tough games against UConn and Nova.  A win over UConn is possible and would be big

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14.  South Florida

The Bulls have not had much success this season, but were able to beat Rutgers.  This week they have another chance to get a win when they head to Rhode Island to take on Providence.  They also play Cincy in Ohio earlier in the week.  Jones is good but the return of Gilchrist to the lineup will really help them.

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15.  Rutgers

Not to much to say about the Scarlet Knights.  It is a tough week ahead for them and they don’t play DePaul until February 16.

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16.  DePaul

Like Rutgers there isn’t too much to say about the Blue Demons.  They play Rutgers twice though, so hopefully they get a win one of those times.

After a monster 24 point game in a losing effort to Marquette and a solid game in a win over DePaul, Vincent Council has earned himself BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors.

Council was tabbed as BIG EAST Rookie of the Week after he averaged 14.5 points and 4.0 assists in two games as Providence split a pair of BIG EAST road dates. He scored five points with four assists in a 79-62 win at DePaul and had a career-high 24 points with four assists in a 93-63 loss at Marquette. Council is averaging 8.6 points and 3.7 assists for the Friars.

For us who follow the Friars, there is no need to tell us how good VC is, but it is great to see him get some recognition for the great effort he has put forth so far.  His 24 point performance at Marquette was really great and although he didn’t fill up the stat sheet at DePaul he still had a solid game.  That is the thing about VC, he doesn’t need to score a ton of points or even rack up 10 assists per game.  He is a true point guard in that he makes things happen, runs the offense, is confident, and can play some defense.  And that is why it is really great to see him get some recognition.  So congratulations to VC for a great week and a much deserved honor.  Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see him getting BIG EAST honors… we have a feeling it won’t be.

The U.S. Department of Education reported the basketball expenses for the 16 BIG EAST teams in the 2008-2009 season. At the top of the list was Marquette who had $10,306,548 inexpenses.  At the bottom was South Florida with $2,927,362.  Providence was listed at 11th with $4,637,423 in expenses.

Looking at the list it is a decently apparent correlation between the caliber of team and the expenses.  Most of the heavy hitters were near the top.  Syracuse, UConn, Louisville and Georgetown all were in the top five while the bottom dwellers: USF, Rutgers, and DePaul were the bottom three.  There were a few surprises in our opinions.  For one we were surprised that Marquette has almost 2 million more dollars in expenses than the next nearest school, Louisville.  We were also surprised that Notre Dame was 12th.  They have had better success than the other teams around them… we would have thought the spending would have been higher.  As far as Providence goes, it is about where we would have imagined we suppose.  Maybe we would have pictured them a little lower.

After 22 consecutive winless outings in regular season BIG EAST play, DePaul has decided to fire Head Coach JerryWainwright. After a blow out loss to Villanova, where Wainwright broke his leg, DePaul had seen enough.  This season the Blue Demons got off to a decent 5-1 start but have thus far gone 0-3 in the BIG EAST and are only 7-8 overall.  Despite success at both UNC-Wilmington and Richmond, Wainwright struggled for wins with DePaul.  He came to the team in the 2005-2006 season and since that time has only reached a 59-80 record, with a 20-51 record in the BIG EAST.  His only winning season came in 2006-2007.  Wainwright had this to say at his press conferance:

“Obviosuly I didn’t win enough to achieve the success that was expected in this area. They [DePaul] are not that are not that far from being successful on the court… they do need a bounce or two and something good to happen and something good to happen for them.  And when that happens the sky is the limit.”

For the remainder of the season assistant Tracey Webster will take the helm as the interim head coach.

Obviously you have to feel badly for Jerry Wainwright.  As we at Providence know the BIG EAST is a beast and is difficult to get wins in.  22 straight losses is usually enough to lose you your job though.  We do not follow DePaul so closely, but we could imagine their struggles.  Much like Providence it must be a difficult place to win and to recruit.  Yes, it pulls from Chicago, but it receives stiff competition from Big 10 schools, and usually loses those battles.  Also, it hurts when your best players from your winless BIG EAST team last year leave for the NBA.

We don’t doubt that Wainwright has good coaching ability, just DePaul wasn’t the right fit for him.  Hopefully he recovers, and hopefully DePaul finds somebody who will be able to restore them to the successes of their past… but after we play them of course.

As far as how this changes Thursday nights game… we don’t know.  There have been plenty of instances where a new coach comes in, shakes a few things up and gets a win, but there have been just as many instances where the opposite has happened.  The team will be emotional and they will be on their home court, but we don’t think that there will be a noticeable difference in what DePaul does or how they play.  There just isn’t enough time for Tracey Webster to make that much of an impact.  That said, never underestimate a team in a situation like DePauls.  It could be a tough game, but it is one that we should win.

PFB BIG EAST Power Rankings

Posted: January 6, 2010 in Big East

So we have been away with the Power Rankings for a while now.  The weeks right around Christmas are difficult becausethere is so little action it is difficult to determine who’s playing better and who is fading.  But now with the BIG EAST under way we are back with the rankings.  We will try to get back on track and post them consistently.  We also might try to play around with the format a little in the coming weeks to see what works best.  As always they are nothing official by any means but just how we see it.  As always feel free to disagree with anything on here.

1.  Syracuse (13-1, 1-1)

We still like Syracuse at #1.  Yes they took a bad loss at home to Pitt, but Pitt is much better than a lot of people give them credit for.  They had some bad foul trouble that game and will most likely get back on track.

2.  Pittsburgh (13-2, 3-0)

Wow.  What a great start to BIG EAST play for the panthers.  A 3-0 start including wins at Syracuse and at Cincy gives the Panthers a huge leg up on the competition.  Jamie Dixon is a great coach and he appears to have his team playing well.  We watched both the Syracuse and Cincy game and Pitt plays with their usually toughness.  Watch out for Pitt they are dangerous.  Their next game is at UConn next week.

3.  West Virginia (11-1, 2-0)

Like Syracuse the Mountaineers took their first loss, but it was at Purdue.  They did not have a great showing by any means, but there is usually no shame in losing to the #4 team in the country, especially on their home court.  Look for WVU to rebound against Rutgers, Notre Dame, and USF.

4.  Villanova (12-1, 1-0)

We are shocked that they are ahead of both Syracuse and West Virginia in the rankings.  If we wrote this a few days ago we would say that loss to Temple doesn’t look so bad, but the wins Temple had don’t look as impressive anymore and after what Kansas did to them in their own gym that loss to Temple looks a lot worse to us.  Also, did anybody else think both Redding and King fouled at the end of the Marquette game… we think they got away with a win there.  Marquette will get another shot at them soon, but look for Villanova to win its next couple of games.

5.  Georgetown (11-1, 2-0)

They are seemingly still quietly going about their business, but business it good.  They haven’t played a difficult BIG EAST game yet, although St. John’s played them well, but a match up with Connecticut on the 9th may be a better indication of how good they are.

6.  Cincinnati (10-4, 2-1)

This is a tough one between UConn and Cincy, but given the fact that CIncy won the head to head we will give it to them.  They had a tough loss to Pitt, but than again Pitt seems to be rolling in the early going of the BIG EAST schedule.  They have two good games coming up against Seton Hall and Georgetown.

7.  Connecticut (10-3, 1-1)

A very very tough loss to Cincy, but a nice win over Notre Dame.  UConn doesn’t seems to be the dominate team in the BIG EAST this year and probably not a top three finisher as many predicted, but they are a solid team who will most likely only get better as the season goes on.  We are looking forward to their upcoming game against Georgetown.

8.  Marquette (9-5, 0-2)

What heartbreaking loses for the Golden Eagles.  They probably should have won both of the games they lost.  They were victims of a last second shot against West Virginia, and a shocking no call against Villanova.  It must be difficult to be a Marquette fan right now.  They good news is the team is playing much better than people thought they would.  The bad news is their next two games are against Georgetown and at Villanova.

9.  Seton Hall (9-4, 0-2)

Like Marquette they are 0-2 in BIG EAST play, but they looked pretty good in those loses.  And their loses were against top ten teams in Syracuse and West Virginia.  Seton Hall is much improved this year.  There next three games are at UConn, against Cincy, and at Georgetown.  We like them now, but if they don’t pick up two wins in that stretch they will be fading fast and in a fair amount of trouble.

10.  Notre Dame (13-3, 2-1)

We hesitate to put them here but we will.  They shot the lights out against Providence and played UConn tough, but we think that they may struggle with some of the teams that others have behind them right now.  They live and die by the three and when that isn’t falling the Irish will have their struggles.  Harangody can only do so much.

11.  Providence (9-5, 1-1)

We are very happy to say that we have Providence out of the last slot.  A tough loss to a hot shooting Notre Dame team was a bad way to start the season, but a road win over St. John’s was a nice recovery.  Providence has one of the easier early BIG EAST schedules as there next games are against Louisville, Rutgers, and DePaul.  Look for them to grab some early wins, otherwise its back to the bottom with them.

12.  Louisville (10-4, 0-1)

We tried to watch that game against Kentucky, but it was just painful at times.  We aren’t entirely sure what to make of the Cardinals just yet, but we are pretty sure that a Rick Pitino team will be competitive in the end.  They take on Providence and St. John’s in their next two games as they look to start off 3-0 in the BIG EAST.

13.  St. John’s (10-4, 0-2)

The Johnnies got off to a great out of conference start.  They had a tough loss to Georgetown and an ugly loss to Providence at home.  Their next three games are manage

14.  South Florida (10-4, 0-2)

A healthy Gilchrist will do wonders for this team.  Of the movers, it looks like they will be staying out of the top eight, but like we have been saying they are by no means an easy out… just ask Notre Dame who escaped South Florida with only a one point win.  Syracuse and West Virginia next won’t help the  Bulls’ standings.

15.  Rutgers (9-4, 0-1)

A soft out of conference schedule is over so look for Rutgers to catch some loses coming up.  In their next four games they have contests against Providence and USF, so we will look to see how they fare in those games before we relegate Rutgers to the basement.

16.  DePaul (7-7, 0-2)

They have got there big man back in action but are only 7-7 overall with two loses in the BIG EAST.  Coming up they have Villanova, followed by a stretch of some “easier games.”  If the Blue Demons can’t get some wins in this stretch of games they will be looking at there regular season BIG EAST losing streak head of 20!