The bite of fall is coming. But we'll remember a few things about the summer, and one of them will be the "cash for clunkers" frenzy, where Americans traded in crap for credits towards a new car. Not that basketball teams can be traded in - you're a fan through thick and thin - but which Big East basketball team are closer to cash, and which can be described as a clunker this year? My fellow Big East bloggers weighed in.
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:
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 in a few days. 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). Part 1 was published earlier.
This question was about the top and the bottom of the league next year, framed in a "Cash... or Clunker?" question.
For the top of the league the bloggers agreed that Villanova was at the top of the league, returning lots of talent and bringing in a highly touted class to replace the talent that has left. West Virginia was next, and Connecticut was also considered a top-3 team. Louisville and Georgetown got multiple nods; and Marquette got one on the strength of the incoming talent.
At the bottom of the Big East, DePaul's name got called with most frequency. A winless regular season in conference and the loss of the team's most frequent shooter will do that. Providence and Rutgers were the next popular picks to bring up the league's rear, with their youth and lack of success, respectively; South Florida and St. John's also received multiple responses, with their history of being league doormats. Seton Hall was singled out by a single person.
The hard to predict response ran the gamut. The teams called out were Pittsburgh (twice), Notre Dame (twice), Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida, and St. John's, speaking to the wealth of heralded talent and the paucity of returning minutes in the Big East.
Q. Cash or Clunker: Name the teams that you think will be the top 3 squads next season in the Big East (the Cash)... and the bottom 3 (Clunkers). Bonus: which team's finish in the league is most difficult to predict?
Cash - The Gold may not Glitter quite as brightly this season, but my choices are West Virginia, Villanova and Louisville. The 'Eers and 'Cats were installed as the front runners since oh...April 6. Louisville may have lost their studs (Clark and Williams) but returns everyone else. And "everyone else" is very good. They add Peyton Siva in the back court and reinforce the front court with Rakeem Buckles and Stephan Van Treese. Whether the staff decides to play Knowles and Smith together on the wing or go with a "twin towers" look - Jennings and Samuels together in the front court, opponents will be challenged to counter.
Clunkers - DePaul, Rutgers and (this one really pains me...) Providence. Like the Cash, DePaul and Rutgers have to be a consensus pick. If the lack of talent does not do in the Demons, the uncertainty over the staff's future will. The Friars return 6 players from last season's squad, but Curry, McKenzie and Brooks are the only ones who logged significant time. They have a four players over 6-6, but none logged any minutes in Providence last season (3 red shirts and a JUCO). Davis is recruiting New England very hard, and will have the Friars back - in 2011.
Cash: Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville or UConn (?) - I think Nova and WVU are 1 and 1a, then a large second tier.
Clunkers: DePaul, So. Florida, Provy (too young) over Rutgers.
Hardest to predict: Cinci (talented enough for 3rd place).
I'll be honest, I'm a huge homer, so I'll go with the consensus picks of WVU and Nova, plus through in UConn on the strength of the backcourt. Hey, someone has to come in 3rd.
As for clunker, take your pick: DePaul, USF, Rutgers, St. Johns.
The Cash - Villanova, West Virginia and UConn will be the Top-3 this season. I don’t think anybody will really gripe with that. The league is deeper this year, but it lost a little at the top.
The Clunkers - Rutgers, St. John’s and DePaul. In my opinion you could give a couple others a look here, but I like their coaching situation a lot better than these three.
Bonus - I’ll admit I have no idea what South Florida is going to do. Their home court advantage was stellar last year, and they have some guys who can really play, and I like their coach too. They are either ready to make some noise or you will forget they are in the league.
Cash: Villanova, West Virginia, and Georgetown, I think. G’Town can’t be as bad/ unlucky as last year? The guards have to improve on distributing and turnovers, right?
The Clunkers: DePaul, South Florida, and… let’s say Providence.
Hardest to predict: I could say Georgetown for having talented recruits and the same cast, but I will say Notre Dame. They have a lot of new players, and the transfers are good. But last year they seemed to miss all the little things Rob Kurz did well… can they put performing players around Luke Harangody? Can they play a little defense, win games at the end?
In no particular order, I'd say West Virginia, Villanova, and Georgetown could be the best three.
I'd put South Florida, DePaul, and Providence at the bottom.
Pitt is going to be very difficult to predict. In the Ben Howland/Jamie Dixon era, they've never taken a serious step back despite losing players, but they've never lost so much in one year. Louisville is in a similar situation losing Terence Williams and Earl Clark.
Cash - Everyone has question marks, but I think UConn stays near the top this year. 'Nova could really break through with Jay Wright's first team that can contend for the league title. After that, maybe West Virginia or somebody else, but I think there's a big drop from the top two.
Clunkers - Rutgers/South Florida/DePaul. You pick the order. That's all the time I'll devote to that.
Unpredictable - I'll put the Irish here. This program just never finishes where they are expected. With such low expectations, we could make a run for the top 4 if everything falls in place. Of course, a complete disaster (10-12 in the league) is very well within the range of possibility.
Cash: Villanova, Georgetown, Connecticut.
Clunkers: Providence, Rutgers, DePaul.
I think an older St. John's team is probably the most difficult team to predict. They've got a bit of talent and a balanced team. I could see them finishing in the top-middle of the conference, but I could also see them in the bottom quarter of the conference again.
Cash: Villanova will be great this year, like last year, as Scottie Reynolds will embark on his senior season. Louisville will also be money in the bucket, as they will be lead by Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings. They will be a fun team to watch again. Finally, I had a hard time picking between Marquette and Pittsburgh, but I’ll go with Marquette. They have a great recruiting class coming in, and have some genuine dynamic scorers.
Clunkers: I will go with DePaul, Seton Hall, and St. John’s. DePaul has never been good in this league, and that will continue. Seton Hall literally has one great player, and everyone else fails to measure up in this league. Finally St. John’s will have all their scorers back, and will have Anthony Mason Jr. for the season, but their team just again does not measure up to the mid to top teams in the league.
Most difficult to predict will be either Pittsburgh or Connecticut. UConn loses quite a lot of players, some better than others. The players left are not as good as the ones before them. Pittsburgh had DeJuan Blair, their best player depart, and leaves the team with players that would seem to be talented, but are mostly untested. Both teams could have great years, or fall to the middle of the pack with tough scheduling stretches in the league.