May Big East Bloggers Roundtable: Part I

The Big East season has long come to a close, but the team-specific bloggers still have some basketball on their minds. As do I.

Big East basketball logoSo I asked some other bloggers to answer a few questions for me and for you on the blogs, or perusing the message boards, or searching for information on your favorite team. Earlier roundtables have been very successful, and the group who are answering questions for this round have done a really good, thoughtful job. Barring any late responses, your cohort for this month of questions are:

Cincinnati: Bearcats Blog (BB)

Connecticut: TheUConnBlog (TUCB)

DePaul: Blue Demons Nation (BDN)

DePaul: Chicago College Basketball (CCB)

Georgetown: Hoya Prospectus (HP)

Pittsburgh: Eye of A Panther (EP)

Pittsburgh: Pitt Blather (PB)

Providence: Friar Basketball (FB)

South Florida: Voodoo Five (VF)

St. John's: Rumble in the Garden (TECB)

Syracuse: Orange::44 (O44)

Villanova: The Nova Blog (TNB)

Villanova: Villanova by the Numbers (VBTN)

After you're done reading this post, please check out their websites; some very good stuff being covered around the Big East, for sure. And this month's questions are:

1. What was your team's overall record and Big East record? Did they surprise/ meet expectations/ send you running for mind-altering substances or activities (pick one)? Also, please give a description of your team in 50 words or less.

2. Good or bad, who was the most surprising team in the league?

3. Quick thoughts on the Big East as a whole this past season?

4. Pick 3 teams to move up in the standings and 3 teams to move down. Why? (We'll revisit this in a few months as more info comes in about player development).

I will be posting the answers to these question-by-question; look out for another one this afternoon. And to feed your basketball jones, look out for more roundtables, about once near the end of the month, during the summer. On to the answers for the first question, which take a look back on the 2009-2010 college basketball season for these Big East teams. Feel free to post (with credit) and comment. Enjoy, after the jump.


1. What was your team's overall record and Big East record? Did they surprise/ meet expectations/ send you running for mind-altering substances or activities (pick one)? Also, please give a description of your team in 50 words or less.

Syracuse Orange logoOrange::44: Syracuse finished the season 30-5 including the NCAA Tournament. They were 15-3 in the Big East Regular Season and lost in their first game in the Big East Tournament. This was by far a surprise that the team was this good this season.

[Syracuse was] The best defensive team in the Big East this season period. Syracuse also was the best team this season in that they played the best together and had the best teamwork of any team in the nation. They were a lot of fun to watch, and winning never hurts.


Villanova Wildcats logoThe Nova Blog: Villanova finished the year with a record of 25-8, while going 13-5 in the BIG EAST. I think before the season, that overall record wouldn't have shocked me, though I thought we'd do much better than 5 losses, even in the toughest conference in the country.

 

The biggest problem was that 'Nova started off the season so hot, the freshman were not playing like freshman, and we looked like a solid pick to return to the Final Four. Then, something happened. I still don't know what. And yes, that made me drink a lot harder.

[They were] incredibly talented, and incredibly frustrating to watch play.

Villanova by the Numbers: Villanova earned a 25-8 overall record, and a 13-5 record, good for #4 seed in the Big East Tournament. 25-8, a Top 10 ranking virtually all season and a #2 seed in the NCAAs would have to be interpreted as a successful season. With about 12 teams in the conference who would kill for that season, why do I feel mildly dissatisfied? Opening with a 20-1 run only to finish on a 5-7 run explains a lot of that disappointment.

Villanova Wildcats logoFrankly though, after watching the Wildcats blow a first half lead at home to West Virginia with a #2 seed to the Big East Tournament on the line, then drop their quarter final game to Marquette in New York City, my expectations were much lower going into the NCAAs. While I would have liked to see the Wildcats run to a fourth consecutive Sweet Sixteen, I knew they were not playing well enough to justify it.

In a word, [the team is] evolving. The Four Guard Offense (with it's attendant label as "Guard U") has proved a mixed blessing. While Villanova finds itself on the short list of many elite guard prospects across the country, the program needs a long (though not necessarily large) front court presence to win a National Championship.

And judging from the type of recruits the staff has brought in since 2005-06, it is clear the staff knows that. Using Ken Pomeroy's "Inside/Outside" stat (100*(FTA-3FGA/FGA)) as a rough measure (zero is neutral; the more negative the number, the more "outside oriented" the squad, the greater the positive number, the more "inside oriented" the squad), Villanova's squads have gone from -2.68 (2006) to 3.12 (2007) to 3.97 (2008) to 9.94 (2009) and 9.43 this season. Expect the Inside/Outside stat to be greater than 10 in 2010-11 as more offensive touches go through the low post (Yarou, Armwood, Sutton and Pena).


Pittsburgh Panthers logoPitt Blather: 25-9 overall and 13-5 in the Big East. This was more than a little surprising since I expected hovering around 20 wins overall and .500 in the Big East. Technically, only 3-4 games difference, but definitely far exceeded expectations.

[The Panthers were] grinding, gritty and more than a little bit of luck involved when a team goes 8-2 in games decided by 5 points or less or involves overtime.

Pittsburgh Panthers logoEye of A Panther: Pitt's overall regular season record was 24-7 and their Big East record was 13-5. They exceeded most expectations by a great deal. Many figured they would be a borderline NCAA tournament team. At the beginning of the season, I predicted 23 wins, so the overall result didn't surprise me that much.

But what did surprise me was the way they played against some of the country's best teams. They were one of the few teams to have three wins over top five teams. Not sure how many others accomplished that. Considering that they lost four players to professional teams (two to NBA teams and two overseas), to get a three-seed in the tournament and reach 25 wins was more than expected.

[The Panthers had an] excellent regular season. The team was very good, but lacked a true 'go to' player to get the team to that next step. I think they met most expectations, but by going out in the second round, to me, the postseason was a bust and big disappointment.


Georgetown Hoyas logoHoya Prospectus: Did the Hoyas surprise me, meet expectations or send me running for mind-altering substances?

Yes.

Georgetown beat Duke, Villanova, won at Pitt and Louisville and beat Syracuse and two others to make it to the Big East Finals, only to lose on a circus shot by DaSean Butler. They finished 13th in the Pomeroy rankings.

Georgetown went 23-11 (10-8) and made the NCAA Tournament as a 3 seed. Given the team's incredibly hard schedule and finishing 7-11 in conference last seed, this was a nice and expected improvement.

Georgetown lost to South Florida, Rutgers, Notre Dame at home and to Ohio in the first round of the NCAA Tourney.

My description of the team:

So often worldbeaters
Yet no show in New Jersey
So inconsistent


South Florida logoVoodoo Five [South Florida]: USF finished the year 20-13, with a 9-9 record in conference play.

Team description: Ya'll come watch Dominique Jones play.


U Conn Huskies logoTheUConnBlog: Record? Why, we were 2-2 against top five teams, winning the two games by 23 points and losing the two by eight points. That was UConn's record last year.

I mean, if you want to look at it rationally, UConn was 18-16, 7-11 in the Big East with a team made with three contributing seniors and a point guard from the 2009 Final Four team. But I gave up rational thought around the same time this team forced me to take up a heroin addiction (so, roughly with 10 minutes left in the second half of a brutal BET loss to St. John's).

[Connecticut] could've won 25 games had a few late bounces gone the other way. But they didn't, so UConn fans will always think of the 2009-10 team as chokers. Unfair? Absolutely. But even with my knowing cynicism of popular opinion, I'm not too unhappy to see UConn start over next year.


Cincinnati Bearcats logoBearcats Blog: 19-16, 7-11. I would say UC disappointed, and at times, sent me running for mind-altering substances. Especially after the St. John's, and West Virginia games.

[The Bearcats were]solid on defense, atrocious on offense. Ok at home, horrible on the road. By the time they played to potential, it was too late.


St. John's red Storm logoThe Rumble: Overall, St. John’s was 17-16, 6-12 in the Big East. If I expected some consistency regardless of opponent, I would have needed to be pretty hammered. The Red Storm did manage to be hard to predict, lasting with most of the top teams in the league until the second half of the games (that West Virginia second half was... unbelievable), winning two road games they were predicted to lose, and yet getting beat down by Rutgers. I also expected the team to be closer to .500 in the league… oh well.

Team description: the hustling, scrappy Red Storm still had little technique or touch. But when they believed in themselves, they beat some decent squads. But it wasn’t enough to advance them in the NIT or keep Norm Roberts’ job. And experience doesn’t cure bad habits, or save a coach's job.


Providence Friar logoFriar Basketball: A relatively young Providence team finished at 12-19 overall and 4-14 in the Big East, closing out the season on an 11 game losing streak. Record-wise the Friars landed pretty much where most had expected, but it was the manner in which they lost as the season closed that was cause for concern.

They twice gave up 109 points during the losing streak and allowed over 90 in six others. You can’t win in the Big East that way. The losses fans expected, the lack of defense was tough to swallow.

[As for the team,] an already shaky returning core has been stripped bare now that 19/11 sophomore Greedy Peterson has been dismissed from the team. Factor in two players being booted for assault, two JUCOs leaving after a year, and two starters graduating and PC will once again be young next year. Shaping up to be a long 2010-11.


DePaul Blue Demons logoBlue Demons Nation: 8-23 (1-17 in Big East) – DePaul fans really did not expect much of anything this past year so the overall record probably met expectations. But with the firing of Jerry Wainwright, I was surprised at how much better the team played under interim head coach, Tracy Webster. However, with a roster that looked out of place in the Big East, the Blue Demons could only muster the lone conference win.

DePaul is the quintessential rebuilding team, with many players a likely better fit for a mid-major conference than the Big East. Will rely heavily on the incoming freshmen, DePaul under new coach Oliver Purnell should be quite athletic, and intense on defense with their press.

DePaul Blue Demons logoChicago College Basketball: DePaul finished 8-23 overall and 1-17 in the Big East. The Blue Demons went quietly into the night in the first round of the Big East Tournament losing 58-49 to South Florida. Overall DePaul mostly lived up to expectations, which is to say that everyone expected the disaster of a season that occurred. That's what happens when you enter with a lame duck coach.

The 2009-10 DePaul season was one of preparing for the future by finally cementing the fact that the old regime just couldn't get it done. Jerry Wainwright was fired following the 99-72 loss against Villanova and while Tracy Webster managed to get one Big East win, it was downhill from there.

DePaul is a team that is struggling for respect and still attempting to regain past glory – mostly from the 1980s. The school now has hope though after an exhaustive coaching search eventually snagged Oliver Purnell from Clemson. There is cautious optimism spreading through the fan base.

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