This will be a post of epic length, so I will keep this short. I asked the following Big East bloggers:
Cincinnati Bearcats Blog (Twitter) | Connecticut The UConn Blog (Twitter) | DePaul Blue Demons Nation | DePaul Chicago College Basketball (Twitter) | Georgetown Hoya Prospectus | Marquette Cracked Sidewalks (Twitter) | Pittsburgh Cardiac Hill (Twitter) | Rutgers On the Banks (Twitter) | Seton Hall South Orange Juice (Twitter) | South Florida VoodooFive (Twitter) | St. John's Rumble in the Garden (Twitter) | Villanova By the Numbers | Villanova The Nova Blog (Twitter) | Villanova VUHoops (Twitter) | West Virginia The Smoking Musket (Twitter)
... to tell me what changed. Pittsburgh is last in this list because little has changed; Villanova returns a lot of talent; West Virginia's changes come mostly from within. So we start with the tumultuous offseason of Connecticut, and the schools with new coaches, and we shall learn what's changed in the participating Big East schools... after the jump>>
It's been a quiet offseason for the UConn basketball program. Nope, nothing happening over here.
But yeah, other than those pesky NCAA allegations, UConn is basically bringing in a brand new team, ridding itself of four major contributors (Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards and Ater Majok), and replacing them with a, shall we say, intriguing recruiting class.
This could be an interesting season, kind of like that disastrous 2006-07 season when UConn went 17-14 with 8 freshmen. Of course, the difference this time is that the Huskies have a first-class point guard to lead the youngins.
As for the newbies: Calhoun is already comparing Lamb to Richard Hamilton, and Napier was drawing some rave reviews as a potential sleeper recruit towards the end of last season.
Smith, of course, was one of the top small forward recruits and appears to be the leader at a crowded 3 position. (Coombs-McDaniel played quite a bit there last season, and one of the freshman German imports, Niels Giffey is supposedly a solid all-around wing too.)
Oh, and yeah, Calhoun is raiding Europe now, like the Viking that he is. Giffey I just mentioned, but there's also Wolf, a 7-footer, who will arrive in the second semester and will presumably play the part of Dirk Nowitzki Jr.
Mike Rice, the new coach of Rutgers, has really hit the ground running. He's landed a huge recruiting class for 2011 and brought in 5 new faces: Poole, Biruta, Austin Carroll, and transfer Robert Lumpkins and injured Tyree Graham. Besides Graham, all should see playing time. Rice will also bring a new, aggressive defense to the team. Hopefully it's the start of something good for RU.
Too many [changes from last season to] count. Gilvydas Biruta and Mike Poole are getting good reports out of workouts and are expected to contribute.
Hamady N'Diaye was drafted by the Washington Wizards last year.
Mike Rosario transferred to Florida and is sitting out this season. Greg Echenique transferred mid-season and is expected to play and contribute for Creighton this season.
Kevin Willard replaces Gonzo. Willard brings a focus on defensive intensity that was lacking over Gonzalez's tenure, yet KW will display a sideline presence that is required in order to not embarrass the daylights out of Seton Hall.
Willard is beginning to open up an overseas recruiting pipeline in bringing Canarias Basketball Academy teammates (Canary Islands), Patrik Auda and Aaron Geramipoor to South Orange.
The new? You may have heard that there's a new coach on the sidelines. Steve Lavin is new and he is exciting people. Maybe over-exciting them. There is buzz; one new player in forward Dwayne Polee who is a dunking highlight reel. The team has lost Omari Lawrence to transfer and Anthony Mason Jr. to graduation.
There's a new coach in Oliver Purnell and gone are center Mac Koshwal and guard Will Walker. The offense now needs to find something else. Incoming are three freshman in Brandon Young, Moses Morgan and Cleveland Melvin. All should get an opportunity to play a lot early.
Eric Wallace was just declared out for the season on Tuesday with a broken left leg. He played his first season with DePaul last season after transferring from Ohio State, but he was expected to blossom in Oliver Purnell's system. Cleveland Melvin wasn't on the roster until fall classes started because he didn't enroll for the summer.
With Purnell’s new system, look for DePaul to be more of a full court team, with pressure defense. Top two leading scorers Will Walker and Mac Koshwal did not come back, as Walker graduated and Koshwal opted to stay in the draft.
Improved incoming class, with Brandon Young and Moses Morgan expect to pick up big roles with the team; spring signee Cleveland Melvin will be pressed into action, with Eric Wallace nursing a leg injury.
Greg Monroe left for the NBA. We traded one recruiting-minded assistant (David Cox, to a Rutgers Associate HC job) for another (Robert Kirby, longtime Rick Stansbury Asst). We bring in a four-person class, including Top 100 recruits Nate Lubick and Markel Starks, top late signee Moses Ayegba and sleeper Aaron Bowen.
Incoming freshmen always play in Georgetown's Kenner Summer League, competing against local college players and a few pros. No player stood out as a superstar, but all looked like contributors this year, including unheralded Aaron Bowen, who played with Quincy Miller in High School.
Last we talked, the 2011 class wasn't looking all that good. Since then, the staff has gotten verbals from Philly wing Jabril Trawick (who had a great summer) and Top 50 Big Mikael Hopkins. They also got a commit from Top 100 2012 big Brandon Bolden, who many think will move up the rankings.
Like most USF offseason's there was a lot of change as we lost our entire backcourt to either graduation or the NBA Draft. New players would include Kansas St transfer Ron Anderson who should jump right into the post rotation, JUCO guards Jawanza Poland, Hugh Robertson, and 5'10 Shedrick Haynes who has a 42 inch vertical. I can only hope he goes after one of the stiffs during non-conference play and posterizes him. Also joining the team are high school guards LaVonte Dority and walk-on Jordan Heath. Yes Jordan is Stan's kid, and yes he is the last guy off the bench.
Facilities wise, we are building the 50,000 square foot Muma Basketball Facility right next to the dome. I'm excited that the players don't have to practice at the Rec Center anymore with guys like me.
Haven't heard much on Howard or Mercer, but DoJo is already in the rotation with the Mavs. Looks like he's already the steal of the draft. As far as kids for next year, Arizona State transfer Victor Rudd is already on campus, and will sit out this season. We also just picked up a verbal from JUCO big guy Andre Johnson.
The Bearcats added Justin Jackson and Kelvin Gaines, both big men. They also bring back Rashard Bishop, who was suspended at the end of last season.
The coaching staff is mostly stable (we lost the video guy), which is a novelty at Marquette. This off-season MU fans were mostly arguing about players getting cut from the program (see the D.J. Newbill fiasco) or discussing the merits of starting a football program. Of course now the paranoia about recruiting is setting in too.
MU had a couple players get "Buzzcut" from the team, including little used 7’2 stringpole Mbao and incoming recruit D.J Newbill. Top 100 player and local kid Jamil Wilson transferred to MU from Oregon and will be eligible in 2011-2012.
2010 freshman Vander Blue played on the USA U18 championship team during the summer and comes to campus as one of the highest-rated recruits in recent memory for the Warriors. Plus he signed with MU after de-committing from the Badgers, so Vander is already a fan favorite. Also, National JUCO POY Jae Crowder is expected to be an immediate contributor this winter replacing NBA-bound Lazar Hayward.
The only recruit that could have an instant impact on this year's team is in-state product Noah Cotrill at PG. The only reason for that is because Truck Bryant is about as unreliable as a Chevy Corvair.
The biggest thing to point out is that there's really nothing new to this team. In a league like the Big East where pretty much every team lost at least one significant piece, Pitt has virtually everyone coming back. Gone is starting SG Jermaine Dixon, but he suffered through ups and downs last season and while a good defender, wasn't what you would consider a star player. Pitt has three incoming freshman, but only one, J.J. Moore, may not be a candidate for a redshirt. PG Isaiah Epps is expected to be a pretty good player, but couldn't enroll early as Moore and fellow freshman Cameron Wright did. So he's already a bit behind. Moore is extremely athletic and can provide some offense off the bench.
Pitt has three incoming freshman as I mentioned in Moore, Epps, and Wright. The biggest surprise, if you want to call it that, may have been Epps not getting on campus until late in the summer. He wasn't eligible to participate in the summer league that many players attend and also didn't play on the team's six-game tour in Ireland. Take away those games as well as the practices and it's easy to assume that he missed about a 1/2 season of development. Pitt has experienced guards in Gibbs, Woodall, and Wanamaker and with Moore likely being ahead of him at this point, it's looking more and more like Epps could take a redshirt - something that wasn't even thought of when he committed to Pitt as one of the top point guards in the country.
Villanova may see some action from freshman JayVaughn Pinkston -- he was a McDonalds All-American last year as a forward, but he is planning to transition to the backcourt while at 'Nova. Pinkston may see time at the 3 or 4, depending on where he's needed. James Bell was also expected to get some minutes as a SG, but his stress-fracture surgery may keep him sidelined all season.
The off-campus schedule was expanded notably this year to use the Wells Fargo Center a lot more -- a total of 8 games, including an exhibition against the University of DC and non-conference tilts against Delaware and Maryland.
Other than that, the Wildcats return pretty much every player from last year's squad, except starters Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding, who are both playing professionally in Europe now. Jay Wright returned for yet another season in charge, but assistant coach Doug West has left his staff, with former Director of Basketball Operations, Keith Urgo, moving onto the bench and former walk-on Baker Dunleavy has come back to the Main Line to replace Urgo.
I expect the rotation to go 9+ this season, with Wayns, Cheek and Stokes drawing nearly equal minutes in a back court rotation. Armwood, Pinkston and Sutton should see front court minutes, but expect various combinations of Cheek, Stokes, Armwood and Pinkston on the wing (#3 and #4) spots. There are scorers, inside and outside, throughout the squad, the question is which combinations will match up best and play defense. The rotation will probably shorten to eight when the staff decides which rotation works best.
Taylor King left the program in June. Though he originally planned to finish his degree work at Villanova, he decided, after he returned home to California, to take up basketball at (possibly) a Division II school. Last word had him going to Concordia in California. Doug West left the staff to pursue business opportunities and Kyle Neptune left to take an Assistant Coaching position on Joe Mihalich's staff at Niagara College. They were replaced by Keith Urgo (promoted) and former squad member Baker Dunleavy (hired). Russell Wooten graduated in May 2010, but given the state of the job market, decided to pursue a graduate business degree and returned to the squad for one last season.
Villanova will play a total of 7 competitive games at The (newly named!) Wells Fargo Center in downtown Philly. We're takin' the money and runnin'. Jayvaughn Pinkston out of Brooklyn, NY - a McDonald's All-American, joins the fray along with James Bell (currently sidelined with stress fractures). You might have heard that after 9 season, Scottie Reynolds has moved on.
Reggie Redding is playing in Cyprus I believe, while Scottie Reynolds is in Italy after a great training camp with the Phoenix Suns (he also ran for the money). James Bell, an incoming freshman, is currently sidelined indefinitely with stress fractures in his legs, but apparently was in the gym looking very good last week.