Big East Roundtable: What's Changed in the Big East?

The college basketball season is quickly coming on us. Teams are getting their individual practices in, freshmen are getting to know their strength training coaches, coaches are thinking up ways to maximize their team's talent, and bloggers are getting their finger stretches ready. My fellow bloggers of the Big East are beginning to think about their teams and the league; so I asked a number of them questions about their team, their offseason, and more.

Some bloggers were unable to participate this round and will return for a second set of questions in October. This roundtable's participants are below, with links to the pages on their sites with their full answers:

A Raging Bull (South Florida)
Black and Green Irish Blog (Notre Dame)
Chicago College Basketball (DePaul)
Eye of a Panther (Pittsburgh)
Hoya Prospectus (Georgetown)
I Bleed Blue and White (Villanova)

Orange 44 (Syracuse)
The Rumble (St. John's)
U Conn Blog
Villanova by the Numbers

I'll be posting the answers - one question at a time - on this site. There are 7 questions in total, and they should all be up by tomorrow afternoon. It's a big league, after all, and large group of participants. Enjoy, spread on the message boards and forums, and comment freely (but with civility).

- Pico

Q. What's new with your team since the end of last season?

DePaul Blue Demons logoChicago College Basketball (DePaul): There's going to be a number of new faces at DePaul this season. Transfer Eric Wallace comes in from Ohio State and will probably take over for the departed Dar Tucker, who made the still questionable decision to jump to the NBA. Also, freshman Tony Freeland might see a few minutes this season once he's eligible. This though looks like a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Mac Koshwal and Will Walker are going to have to lead the Blue Demons anywhere they go this season.

Connecticut Huskies logoU Conn Blog: The biggest change is that for the first time since 2002, they don't have a guy who looks like he can put in a monster year in the post. Gavin Edwards and a rotation of new faces will see time in the frontcourt, but I have a strict "I'll believe it when I see it policy" on new recruits that Jim Calhoun speaks highly of, so it will be a while before I'm willing to offer any sort of thoughts on how UConn is going to shape up, especially at the 4 spot.

Thankfully, things look a much, much better for the backcourt. All-world sophomore Kemba Walker will start now that A.J. Price has moved on. In addition, senior Jerome Dyson will be back and hopefully healthy, plus, there will be a full year of the consistently inconsistent senior Stanley Robinson. And, with a little luck, at least one of them may have learned to shoot a 3 over the summer.

Pittsburgh Panther logoEye of a Panther (Pittsburgh): Departures, departures, departures. Pitt lost their top three players to the NBA (Sam Young and DeJuan Blair) and overseas (Levance Fields) and they recently lost arguably their top returning player, Gilbert Brown, to academic issues until at least December 20th. On the positive side, they have an incoming McDonald's All-American in Dante Taylor who will help and also a transfer point-guard, Chase Adams, who will help in the backcourt. They also have several other talented freshmen who will probably play immediately.

Syracuse Orange logoOrange 44 (Syracuse): Syracuse obviously took a big loss in losing the face of the franchise Jonny Flynn to the NBA. Picked fifth overall, clearly he was a huge talent and was a game breaker. Additionally, we lost guard Eric Devendorf and forward Paul Harris. That being said, we have picked up quality freshman in guard Brandon Triche and center DaShonte Riley, who should make some impact in their first season, and we also will now get to use top transfer Wesley Johnson, who already has great chemistry with the team and will make an immediate impact.

South Florida Bulls logoA Raging Bull (South Florida): More depth at guard and a bench with some bigs. The return of Mike Mercer will create some freedom for Dominique Jones in the backcourt. Freshman will need to earn their stripes. Not worth a mention yet. USF will be 8 deep with quality players. First time in 7 years.

Georgetown logoHoya Prospectus (Georgetown): In: Hollis Thompson, a highly ranked forward recruit who enrolled early (Spring '09), but will be considered a freshman this year (e.g. redshirt). Also new are guard Vee Sanford, a late-rising prospect from Kentucky and Jerrelle Benimon, a forward and local product. Thompson will likely compete with Jason Clark (G), Henry Sims (C/F), Nikita Mescheriakov (F) and Julian Vaughn (F/C) for two starting slots, with Austin Freeman(G/SF), Chris Wright (G) and Greg Monroe (C/F) as de facto starters. Sanford may see some time backing up the guard positions.

Out: Jessie Sapp graduated and signed a contract overseas. DaJuan Summers declared for the draft, went in the 2nd round and now has a reported 2-year contract with the Detroit Pistons. Omar Wattad transferred to UT-Chattanooga.

Sidelines: Robert Burke left as an assistant coach, and joined American U.'s staff. Mike Brennan, an assistant at American (and previously Princeton) joined the staff.

Villanova Wildcats logoI Bleed Blue and White (Villanova): Villanova lost the most successful senior class in it’s history, but replaced it with a consensus Top-5 recruiting class (you’ll hear the names Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou a lot early on). Oh yeah, and our senior leader Reggie Redding was suspended for the fall semester for possession of marijuana. He’ll be back for the Big East though, so I think we can hold the fort until then.

Villanova Wildcats logoVillanova by the Numbers:Scottie Reynolds put in for the draft, but decided to return for his senior season. Corey Fisher played on the USA team as they took the bronze medal at the World University Games in Belgrade in July. Corey benefited from the competition, and the nearly 3 weeks of structured practice under Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. Reggie Redding (the Wildcat's glue guy) had a run-in with the law and has been benched for the fall semester, though he will attend classes and practice with the team during his punishment. The Wildcats welcome a 4 man class of freshmen to campus this fall. All are Top 100, with 3 Top 50. Two (Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood) will step into the front court. Dominic Cheek will join Corey Stokes on the wing while Maalik Wayns will take his place in the back court. Taylor King, a #3/#4 transfer from Duke, and Maurice Sutton, a red shirt freshman, will suit up this season as well, and join the front court contingent.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish logoBlack and Green Irish Blog (Notre Dame): A lot. Harangody is back, a surprise to few, but the four seniors need to be replaced. At shooting guard enters Ben Hansbrough, a transfer from Mississippi State who made a name for himself in 2008 in a losing effort to Memphis in the second round of the NCAAs. Highly recruited Purdue transfer Scott Martin will start at small forward. Both guys have big upside but are big question marks. Sparingly-used junior Ty Nash will most likely be the other new starter, playing next to Harangody in the post.

St. John's logoThe Rumble (St. John's): Fresh for 2k9? Same core, same staff, and a few new players – Malik Stith who will give Malik Boothe a rest at the point guard spot, Dwight Hardy who will be the scorer, Omari Lawrence who might be an x-factor who I bet will play from the guard to the forward spot (in small lineups) and Justin Brownlee, who will be an outside in athlete/ forward. But not much has changed; one of the reasons for hope for this team is actual continuity and no major talents transferring out. And the team is not dependent on the health of one or two players for a chance at success; there is depth.

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