BE Bloggers Roundtable (May 2010) Part IV: Risers, Fallers

Part I - team-specific review | Part II - surprise teams in the Big East | Part III - the Big East in aggregate

The last in our bloggers' roundtable series asks our intrepid bloggers about the teams they think will move up in the Big East standings next year... and which teams they think will drop.

Big East basketball logoThanks to the following bloggers for their feedback, contributions, and posting/ linking/ tweeting about the roundtable session.

Cincinnati: Bearcats Blog | Connecticut: TheUConnBlog | DePaul: Blue Demons Nation | DePaul: Chicago College Basketball | Georgetown: Hoya Prospectus | Pittsburgh: Eye of A Panther | Pittsburgh: Pitt Blather | Providence: Friar Basketball | South Florida: Voodoo Five | St. John's: Rumble in the Garden | Syracuse: Orange::44 | Villanova: The Nova Blog | Villanova: Villanova by the Numbers

The roundtables should return at the end of June/ beginning of July with more questions on topics such as recruiting, the coming season, and ranking of the teams.

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).

The most popular risers were the St. John's Red Storm (new coach and a number of seniors) and the Connecticut Huskies (past performance, big man development, and a good recruiting class). Connecticut did get a mention in the move down column, however.

The most-mentioned teams to fall in the standings were the Syracuse Orange (falling from #1 in the deep conference is not much shame). But 3 other teams were prominently mentioned by 7 of the respondents: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (post-Harangody, no returning point guard), the South Florida Bulls (one returning guard who had major minutes, and post Dominique Jones), and the West Virginia Mountaineers (also falling from a lofty perch, but losing Da'Sean Butler and other major pieces).

The full responses in table form. First, the (possibly) upwardly mobile:

To Move Up
Cincinnati: Bearcats Blog (BB) SHU St. J G'Town
Connecticut: TheUConnBlog (TUCB) U Conn St. J G'Town
DePaul: Blue Demons Nation (BDN) U Conn SHU DePaul
DePaul: Chicago College Basketball (CCB) Pitt St. J Prov
Georgetown: Hoya Prospectus (HP) U Conn SHU Nova
Pittsburgh: Eye of A Panther (EP) U Conn St. J SHU
Pittsburgh: Pitt Blather (PB) U Conn St. J DePaul
Providence: Friar Basketball (FB) U Conn St. J G'Town
South Florida: Voodoo Five (VF) U Conn Pitt Marq
St. John's: The East Coast Bias (TECB) Cincy St. J Prov
Syracuse: Orange::44 (O44) Lou Pitt Prov
Villanova: Villanova by the Numbers (VBTN) Pitt St. J Lou

And those who may struggle to achieve last year's success:

To Move Down
Cincinnati: Bearcats Blog (BB) Cuse ND So Fla
Connecticut: TheUConnBlog (TUCB) Cuse ND Cincy
DePaul: Blue Demons Nation (BDN) Marq Prov So Fla
DePaul: Chicago College Basketball (CCB) Nova ND WVa
Georgetown: Hoya Prospectus (HP) Marq WVa So Fla
Pittsburgh: Eye of A Panther (EP) Cuse ND So Fla
Pittsburgh: Pitt Blather (PB) Cuse Rut WVa
Providence: Friar Basketball (FB) Cuse ND WVa
South Florida: Voodoo Five (VF) G'Town Cuse So Fla
St. John's: The East Coast Bias (TECB) WVa ND So Fla
Syracuse: Orange::44 (O44) Cuse WVa Cincy
Villanova: The Nova Blog (TNB) Cuse ND WVa
Villanova: Villanova by the Numbers (VBTN) U Conn Prov So Fla

Full responses after the jump! Thanks for reading.


<a class='sbn-auto-link' href='http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-basketball/teams/depaul-blue-demons'>DePaul Blue Demons</a> logoChicago College Basketball: Three teams moving up: Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John's - All of these teams are young and improving. For Providence and St. John's there isn't much room but to go up. The Red Storm have the additional improvement of having Steve Lavin on the bench now. How his coaching style changes the identity of St. John's will go a long way in determining what type of team they are, but a Top 25 finish is possible. I think Pittsburgh will be the class of the Big East next season.

Three team moving down: Villanova, West Virginia, Notre Dame - All of these teams are losing high possessions usage stars to graduation. Scottie Reynolds (26.5% Poss, 117.6 ORtg), Da'Sean Butler (24.1%, 116.8) and Luke Harangody (32.2%, 112.1) drove their respective offenses last season.

While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish made a nice run when Harangody was injured, I don't expect Mike Brey to be able to sustain it for a whole season. Another thing that concerns me about Notre Dame
- who replaces Tory Jackson?


South Florida logoVoodoo Five:
  • UConn,
  • Pitt, and
  • Marquette go up;
  • USF,
  • Georgetown, and
  • Syracuse are heading down.

DePaul Blue Demons logoBlue Demons Nation: Three teams to go up;

UConn - it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Huskies underachieved this past season. The distraction of the future of coach Jim Calhoun should be behind them, and the NCAA's ruling on potential rules violations should be known well before the season, thus another less distraction. May not be as strong of a team on paper, but the incoming class is among the better ones in the Big East, and the fact that they underachieved, the Huskies should rise back into the top 6 for the Big East.

Seton Hall – it was not looking to be the case a few weeks ago, with a couple of players working out for the NBA draft. However, with those players decided to come back, and with new coach Kevin Willard, the team could reach double digit conference wins.

DePaul – It is more of an indication of improved coaching, plus a solid recruiting class, compounded with weakening of teams at the bottom that the Blue Demons will move up. It may not be a huge climb, as DePaul will need to find a way to replace their two leading scorers, Will Walker and Mac Koshwal. However, with the incoming players, and some individual improvement seen near the end of the year from a handful of players, DePaul could contend for the 12th or 13th spot in the Big East.

Honorable mention. Syracuse – although the Orange cannot go up in the standings this team will be a better team. With the incoming class that the Orange is bringing in, as well as the development of their younger players, this could be a truly elite team for 2010-11.

Three teams to go down:

Marquette – the Golden Eagles overachieved last year, and much of that had to do with the hard work of the heart and soul of the team, Lazar Hayward. With Hayward gone, would have to expect Marquette to drop a couple of spot in the rankings. Their recruiting class is excellent on paper, but a concern has to be that many of their top players play the same position, and none of them are post players.

Providence – What a difference a day makes; yesterday, I would not have put the Friars in this slot. However, with the dismissal of Greedy Peterson, Providence College just got weaker and looks like worthy successors of DePaul for the 16th spot. Gerald Coleman and Joseph Young are stars in the making, but the frontcourt has some big holes.

South Florida – Who is going to step up and fill the huge shoes left by Dominique Jones? The incoming class lacks the star power, and some believe USF overachieved this past season. May only fall a few slots, but had Jones stayed at USF, this would be have a sleeper team in the Big East.


Pittsburgh Panthers logoPitt Blather: Up: St. John's, UConn and DePaul. They have much more room to go up. DePaul also has upgraded in coaching, plus...

Down: Rutgers, Syracuse and WVU. Rutgers is in far worse shape than DePaul so they get the bottom spot this year. Syracuse and WVU finished 1st and tied for 2nd. Big losses, and even with outstanding recruiting classes, they have to drop from those spots.


<a class='sbn-auto-link' href='http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-basketball/teams/villanova-wildcats'>Villanova Wildcats</a> logoVillanova by the Numbers: Up...Down...Whatever...without checking out who is in and who is out (and giving some thought to each team's season), figuring out where teams are headed directionally at this point is still a little more than wishing and hoping rather than analysis.

Three to move up...

Pittsburgh - True, there is not a lot of upside left when a team finishes #4 in the conference regular season. But the Panthers return all but Jermaine Dixon and back up point guard Chase Adams. Best of all Coach Dixon, whose name appears on virtually every BCS short list, will be back for another season. Dixon has a 0.777 winning percentage at Pitt; his 0.735 the product of a 25-9 season, was a "below average" season. Pegged by most as a #6-#8 place finisher in 2009, the Panthers earned a bye spot going into the Big East Tournament. Their conference schedule should be more challenging next season, but the the team will be more experienced too.

St. John's - Steve Lavin has a year to bring a very large cohort of rising seniors much closer to their potential than Norm Roberts could. The Storm loses senior Anthony Mason Jr, to graduation and Omari Lawrence to transfer. If Lavin can teach this team how to consistently play past the 32nd minute of every game, then they should snag an upper division finish for the Red Storm, and with that, farther into the post season than 2010.

Louisville - The Cardinals will miss Samardo Samuels, and if he had pulled his name out of the draft and returned this would be a much easier call. I think Louisville has had a run of disruptive players and off court distractions in the past 3-4 years. If the off season remains as quiet as April and May have been, then next season's squad has a good chance to pull together, focus on basketball and take a big step back into the conference elites. The team should have been stronger than an 11-7 conference record and a (December) home loss to the Charlotte 49'ers.

Three to move down...

Connecticut -- The program has been all over the lot the past five years.

  • 2006 - a two point overtime loss in the Elite Eight;
  • 2007 - no post season as the Huskies compile a 17-14 record;
  • 2008 - a first round upset loss to San Diego (AJ Price injured early in the game);
  • 2009 - a run to the Final Four and loss in the national semi-finals;
  • 2010 - NIT round 2 loss to Virginia Tech as UConn notches an 18-16 record.

UConn's staff can whisper that losing Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards resolves to addition by subtraction, but no one in that class created locker room disruptions, recruited Nate Miles nor bashed reporters during post game press conferences.

Providence - Sharaud Curry, the last of the entering class of 2006, is gone. With him, the streaky Brian McKenzie has also graduated. Throw in Greedy Peterson's dismissal (Peterson was the leading scorer in 2010), and the Friars are looking at another rebuilding season. The Friars finished #15 last season, and with DePaul, #16 last season, rebuilding under a new coach, it is unlikely Coach Davis' squad will fall farther in the standings, but it is likely that the program, which won four conference games in 2010, will win even fewer games in 2011, and fall farther behind the rest of the conference.

South Florida - I do like the Bulls. Coach Heath was a great hire, and his squad managed a 9-9 0.500 conference record (20-13 overall) last season. The Bulls return Gus Gilchrist and Jarrid Famous, so they won't fall too far, but without Dominique Jones, a first Team All Big East off guard last season, and no Jones-in-training to step in immediately, I wonder where their scoring will come from. Senior point guard Chris Howard, transfers (and two year starter/rotation front court player) Alex Rivas and transfer guard Mike Mercer (an erratic, but occasional prolific scorer) depart, along with occasional sub Ryan Kardok. Howard could score when needed, but saw his role as one who was responsible for setting up his teammates. Coach Heath's specialty at Arkansas was identifying and developing guards. He will do that in Tampa, but next season the Bulls will be hard pressed to win better than 6-7 conference games.


Providence Friar logoFriar Basketball: I’m going to take the easy out and move Syracuse down, assuming they won’t finish first in the conference again. Yes, their recruiting class is outstanding, but the departures of Rautins, Onuaku, and Johnson move them out of the top spot. Boeheim shocked us a year ago with this group, can he do it again? Finding another Wes Johnson isn’t easy and Rautins’ experience and shot making will be very hard to replace.

Notre Dame joins them as my second team to drop in the standings. I like the Jerian Grant signing, but they lose a ton between Harangody, Hansbrough, Jackson, and Peoples.

The losses of Ebanks, Butler, and Wellington Smith may bump the West Virginia Mountaineers out of the top five in the conference. Perhaps youngsters like Kevin Jones, [Deniz] Kilicli, Dan Jennings, and Dalton Pepper are ready to emerge, but Butler was a star and Ebanks had star potential. Tough to lose both and remain a top three squad.

I was going to throw South Florida into this group, but that would be a little too easy.

Moving up?

As we saw with Providence two seasons ago, you don’t have to be all that talented if you have a ton of experience coming back. The 2008-09 Friars were low on talent, but returned seven seniors, good enough to win 10 conference games on guile alone. St. John’s roster is stuffed with returnees and I like what I’ve read about Dwayne Polee. Expect the Storm to make a move out of the bottom rung.

While the loss of Monroe will undoubtedly hurt the [Georgetown] Hoyas, Wright and Freeman will make up one of the best backcourts in the conference. Other than Monroe I can’t think of another impact departure and their recruiting class is solid, led by a kid I saw on a number of occasions in Nate Lubick. The 6’9 power forward has a good back to the basket game, is a terrific passer for a player his size, rebounds and can stick it from 3. Hoyas fans will love him.

While their roster won’t be what we’re accustomed to, I don’t see Connecticut putting up back to back sub .500 seasons. Kemba will be the leader in year three and I expect Alex Oriakhi to improve in his second season. The key for the Huskies will be their recruiting class. Jeremy Lamb and Roscoe Smith are the headliners, but look for undersized point guard Shabazz Napier to explode at least once during conference play. The 5’11 Napier reclassified to 2010 late this season and was the most exciting scorer in all of New England. If this recruiting class falls flat, my prediction will as well, but UConn is adding shooters this year, which they didn’t have recently.


<a class='sbn-auto-link' href='http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-basketball/teams/pittsburgh-panthers'>Pittsburgh Panthers</a> logo Eye of A Panther: With Syracuse losing Johnson, Arinze Onuaku, and Andy Rautins, three of their top five scorers and their top rebounder, I don't see any way that they can win the conference regular season title again.

Notre Dame is in the same situation and will likely not be able to win 23 games again.

Without Dominique Jones, I'd be hard pressed to say South Florida can win 20 games again. And as a special bonus, I'll throw in Rutgers. I really hate to pile on them because they had a tough year last year. But I don't see how they can even match the 15 wins they had last year without Rosario, Greg Echenique, and Hamady N'diaye. Rice is a good coach, but he's basically starting from scratch. I think it could be bad. Real bad.

As for teams I expect to improve, it seems like we were saying this last year, but it's basically now or never for Seton Hall. They found a way to keep all three of their big guns, Jeremy Hazell, Herb Pope, and Jeff Robinson, out of the NBA Draft. I'm picking them as one of my three to improve based on Pope's ability to play next year with his recent health issues.

St. John's would be another. They really only lost Anthony Mason, Jr., who turned into a role player. D.J. Kennedy is back and could turn into a late NBA Draft pick.

Lastly I'll take UCONN. This wasn't an easy pick for me as they lost two of the best players in Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson to graduation. But with so many losses suffered by other teams, I think they'll find a way to top the 18 wins they had last year. After all, they're UCONN. Right


<a class='sbn-auto-link' href='http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-basketball/teams/cincinnati-bearcats'>Cincinnati Bearcats</a> logoBearcats Blog: 3 teams to move up in the standings:
  • Seton Hall,
  • St John's and
  • Georgetown.

3 to move down:

  • Syracuse,
  • Notre Dame and
  • South Florida.

<a class='sbn-auto-link' href='http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-basketball/teams/georgetown-hoyas'>Georgetown Hoyas</a> logoHoya Prospectus: Move Down:

West Virginia. There's still talent, but [Da'Sean] Butler won a lot of games.

South Florida. Dominique Jones is gone.

Marquette. I know I shouldn't doubt them for a second straight year, but [Lazar] Hayward is gone, and a few players shot ridiculously well from outside. Hayward was shooting at Harangody-like levels, and Mo Acker (graduated) and Darius Johnson-Odom shot about 50% from three.

Move Up:

Connecticut. I was a skeptic last year, but they should do better than 7-11 next year. Of course, they have to find a shooter.

Villanova. This is stretching, because 13-5 is hard to improve upon. But they have a real chance to move to being a real Final Four contender if their bigs grow up. Scottie Reynolds was very good last year, but they've got plenty to replace him.

Seton Hall. Maybe with a new coach, they'll play some D? Again, I'm not sure I see a lot of teams making huge leaps next year.


Villanova Wildcats logoThe Nova Blog: Syracuse is definitely going to fall, though I think they'll hang in the Top 6. West Virginia will fall as well. Da'Sean Butler meant too much to that team. Finally, I think Notre Dame is going to find itself in the bottom 4. I don't see any way they can deal with losing Harangody, even though he is incredibly overrated.

I don't see anybody really making a huge jump next year, but then again I haven't really dove into scouting everyone out yet. Outside of 'Cuse and G'Town, I have no clue what freshman are coming into the conference.


U Conn Huskies logoTheUConnBlog: Up: UConn, St. John's, Georgetown

Homer alert! Despite not landing any of the big guards late in the recruiting period, UConn brings in a solid class to go with Kemba Walker and the five dwarfs. Two of the frosh (Roscoe Smith, one of Shabazz Napier/Jeremy Lamb) could start right away, and if Alex Oriakhi and Ater Majok develop this summer, UConn could be very good very quickly.

St. John's has had the same team for, like, 8 years. They get everyone back except oft-injured Anthony Mason. I think the upgrade between Lavin and Roberts will be enough to move them into NCAA Tournament at-large contention.

Georgetown will do what they do every year (underachieve), but they bring in an excellent class to offset losing Monroe, and next year's Big East will be wide open.

Down: Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Syracuse

I honestly have no idea of how teams like Louisville, Pitt and Marquette will be next year, hence why I'm using pedantry to knock the Orange down a peg. Syracuse will be a top 15 or 20 team, but I don't know if I see them winning the league again.


St. John's red Storm logoRumble in the Garden: I think a lot of teams could move up or down, with stars leaving from many of the schools in the middle of the standings…

Move up: Cincinnati, St. John’s, DePaul (can’t go any lower). Cincinnati's chemistry and scheme might improve without two guards who think they need the ball all the time; Cashmere Wright is an actual point guard (with Jaquon Parker being the backup, I guess?) and the Bearcats might just pass inside to Yancy Gates, who is tough to handle when he wants to be.

Meanwhile, St. John's will utilize their talent better and hopefully play a better scheme under new coach Steve Lavin.

DePaul won't be 16th. Then again, do they have the athletes to run Purnell's system - especially at point guard, where their athletes are seriously lacking, and at center, where Krys Faber is no speedster.

Honorable mention to Providence. While Greedy was fantastic on offense – and I’m not sure who plays up front besides Bilal Dixon – what the Friars did on defense was unconscionably bad, the kind of bad that deserves a solid housecleaning.

Move down: Notre Dame, West Virginia, and South Florida. Do the Irish have any point guards on their roster? They might have to play Ben Hansbrough at the point or the freshman Eric Atkins (or even Alex Dragicevich, who seems to think he has dribble). West Virginia might not actually move much; but that depends on Kevin Jones, Deniz Kilicli, and the incoming freshman Noah Cottrill being stars. South Florida... it's gonna hurt.


Syracuse Orange logoOrange::44: Seeing as Syracuse was on top this past year and probably won’t be again they will move down but not too far.

Similarly I think West Virginia will move down and the same with Villanova, mostly due to the level of players lost on those teams.

Pittsburgh I think should get a little better and with the other top teams losing big players Pittsburgh will probably benefit the most.

Providence was a shock as to how many games they lost last season. I think they should improve and at least become a middle of the pack team in the league again.

Finally I think probably Louisville will improve slightly from last year, but not by much. I picked Louisville because I think most other teams will either stay where they are or not be as good.

I think Mick Cronin's NCAA Tournament window ended when Lance Stephenson left, and Notre Dame loses almost everyone of note from last year's team. Having said that, the Irish will turn to [inexplicable unathletic white guy] to shoot 45 percent from 3 and will probably win 18-22 games next year anyway.

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