Big East Superlatives

November 11, 2010

Best Non-Syracuse Game to See At The Verizon Center:

Pitt was arguably the Big East’s biggest surprise last season, finishing in a tie for second despite only returning one starter from the previous year. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Panthers enter this season as the preseason confrence favorites, returning four starters and seven of their top eight scorers from a 25-9 team.

Like the Hoyas, Pitt will need leadership from their experienced guards this season, with senior Brad Wanamaker and junior Ashton Gibbs forming a lethal backcourt combo. Meanwhile, Coach Jamie Dixon will look to reproduce the Big East’s number one scoring defense to secure Pitt’s tenth straight 20-win season. A victory against this top five opponent would be the perfect pick-me-up after the first day of spring semester classes on Jan. 12.

Most Likely to Revive a Great ’80s Rivalry:

St. John’s was once a perennial powerhouse that posted five regular season Big East titles and dueled with Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas in the 1980s. But in recent years, the Red Storm have fallen on tough times. So this summer, when the school hired former UCLA coach and ESPN analyst Steve Lavin as head coach, the campus buzzed with optimism.

St. John’s boasts commitments from some of the nation’s best class of 2015 recruits. But the Red Storm will be no slouch this season, either, thanks to star swingman D.J. Kennedy and the return of seven of their top eight rotation players. Whether the Johnnies return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002 remains to be seen, but this program is clearly headed in the right direction.

Most Confounding Superstar:

Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell is a pre-season All-Big East First Team pick and a serious contender for the conference scoring title after posting 20.4 points per game last year. Yet the senior, who has never seen a shot he didn’t like, lacks many of the qualities of a team player—he averaged just 1.5 assists last year, despite having the ball in his hands on almost every possession. Meanwhile, Hazell took over 16 shots per game and led the nation in three-point attempts.

The Pirates will live and die by the guard’s streaky jumper, but they will also rely heavily on the interior play of junior Herb Pope and senior Jeff Robinson as they try to secure an NIT bid or perhaps even a trip to the Big Dance.

Least Likely to Match Last Season’s Success:

The West Virginia Mountaineers are coming off a historic year for their program, making their first Final Four since 1959 after earning a two-seed in the NCAA tournament with a 27-6 record (13-5 in the Big East).

However, they will desperately miss the contributions of Wellington Smith, who graduated last year, and current Los Angeles Lakers forward Devin Ebanks, who left school early for the NBA draft. Hoya fans will also be happy to know that Big East Championship hearbreaker Da’Sean Butler has graduated, too. Versatile junior Kevin Jones will need to have a breakout season if Bob Huggins’s team is going to make this more than just a rebuilding year.

Name That Hoyas Will Be Eager to Forget Again:

When Carmelo Anthony left for the NBA in 2003 after carrying Syracuse to a national title, the Hoyas took comfort in knowing the brief reign of Melo had come to an end. This season though, another Melo is donning orange: Fab Melo, a Brazilian 7-footer who could easily become one of the most formidable big men in the Big East.

Widely considered the top center in this freshman class, Melo will help replace the departed Arinze Onuaku’s interior presence and NBA lottery pick Wesley Johnson’s rebound skills. Melo is hardly the only Orange newcomer Hoyas have to hate (future star free-scoring guard Dion Waiters could replace Andy Rautins’s sharpshooting), but with Georgetown’s frontcourt situation very much unsettled, Melo could wreak havoc with his combination of height and talent.

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments