UConn upset, Cuse wins NIT, Abromaitis out for year – Weekend Review

UConn loses to Central Florida – Huskies blow a 17-point lead and struggles against a 2-3 zone. Need lots of work if they want to top Syracuse. Ryan Boatright played his first game Saturday in a 78-76 overtime win over No. 20 Florida State. The freshman had 14 points and three assists. He adds another ball handler and will help this team in the long run.

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Weight

Syracuse wins NIT – The Orange, in the wake of the Bernie Fine scandal, won the NIT Season Tip-Off in a convincing win against a solid Stanford club. This Cuse team is deeper than usual. Also Fab Melo looks great since dropping over 30 lbs. in the offseason. Right now tops in the Big East.

Louisville sneaks out win over Ohio – Rick Pitino won his 250th game with Louisville in a close one, but I like Louisville right now. They beat Butler without Peyton Siva, who is their key player and would I picked to have a breakout season.

Villanova downed by Saint Louis – This loss isn’t terrible because I believe that Saint Louis is an overlooked team, they’ll compete against Xavier and Temple this year. The Wildcats are young, but Maalik Wayns had a career-high 29 points.

Cincinnati upset by Marshall in OT – I really think the Bearcats could take that next step and be a legitimate Big East contender this year, but after this loss I don’t know. The Thundering Herd could be the second-best team in C-USA, but this is a win Cincy should have had at home.

Pitt takes care of Penn/Robert Morris– Panthers had a little hiccup in that loss to Long Beach State, but I think they’ll make up for it if they can get good wins over Tennessee and Oklahoma State. Also Khem Birch recording 10 boards in his first start against Penn is a positive. The freshman added 11 in a 10-point win against Robert Morris.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Wickham

DePaul moves to 4-1 – The Blue Demons picked up a pair of wins against Texas Tech and Arizona State this weekend. I like this team. Oliver Purnell shows he can rebuild. He’s got two good young pieces in Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin and from this point on a pretty easy non-conference schedule.

South Florida takes care of FAU – A couple of nice wins against Georgia Southern and Florida Atlantic without Augustus Gilchrist. They need the big man back soon with road games against VCU and No. 14 Kansas coming up.

Notre Dame loses Abromaitis – Senior forward Tim Abromaitis is out for the season with a torn ACL. Abromaitis was averaging 14 points and seven rebounds on the year. Mike Brey is a great coach and will see how good he is in the coming months.

St. John’s loses to Northeastern – It’s a young team and a short rotation. Also not favored by a tough schedule. The Red Storm have losses against No. 16 Arizona and No. 18 Texas A&M. Coming up is a game against soon to be No. 1 Kentucky.

Friars lose first two – It’s going to be a process by I feel Ed Cooley has this team on the right track. This year is just going to be a tough one for Providence. However Vincent Council has a had a good year averaging 18 points and 5 dimes.

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Tuesday Top 5: Players Ready for a Breakout Season

5. Augustus Gilchrist, senior F – South Florida

Photo courtesy of SUBasketball/Flickr

Last season Gilchrist averaged 13 points and six rebounds a game. He is a long body at 6-foot-10. Gilchrist has battled through injuries in the past, but if he can remain healthy this guy is primed for a big season.

Once again he’ll be the focal point of the offense. He has a lot to offer on the offensive end, as he is one of the few big men with a solid mid-range jumper, which expands the defense.

4. Cleveland Melivn, sophomore F – DePaul

Photo courtesy of SUBasketball/Flickr

Melvin surprised a lot of people when he averaged 14 points per game on his way to Big East Rookie of the Year honors. Barring a sophomore slump, Melvin should have an even better season. He will be the leader of a young, but talented DePaul team.

After a year of Big East basketball under his belt, expect big things from this sophomore forward. At 6-foot-8 and 210-pounds, Melvin is tough matchup due to his size and mobility.

3. Yancy Gates, senior F – Cincinnati

Photo courtesy of Pat Strang/Flickr

The senior forward, Gates averaged 12 and seven last season for an improving Bearcats team.

Gates is a handful on offense, he can step away from the basket and shoot, although his shooting needs to improve. He can also punish defenders in the paint.

Gates may not have eye-popping numbers this year, but he could be a name you hear often, as he will be the headlining attraction to an up-and-coming Cincy team.

2. Peyton Siva, junior G – Louisville

The Louisville Cardinals point guard returns after an improved sophomore campaign. Siva averaged just under 10 points a game, dished out five assists, and recorded three rebounds a game even though he is listed at 5-foot-11.

Siva is ready for a breakout season because he crafty and strong point guard. Siva penetrates as well as any guard in the conference and is a tough defender (two steals per game 2010-2011).

He improved a lot from his freshman to sophomore year, let’s see if he can improve from sophomore year to junior year.

1. Maalik Wayns, junior G – Villanova

Villanova has a recent history with short point guards. Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher both had successful careers for head coach Jay Wright. This year, Wayns should take the reigns in the Wildcat backcourt.

Wayns averaged just under 14 points per game last season to go along with four assists. But since January, Wayns really took off. In Villanova’s last 19 games, the 6-foot-2 point guard scoring in double figures 14 times.

Wayns is lightning quick and can get to the rim, but like Siva needs to improve on his shooting.

Villanova Season Preview

2011-2012 Projected Starting Lineup

PG Maalik Wayns, junior
SG Dominic Cheek, junior
SF Isaiah Armwood, junior
PF Mouphtaou Yarou, junior
C Maurice Sutton, junior

Key reserves: James Bell, sophomore; JayVaughn Pinkston, freshman

Villanova has one senior, Dallas Ouano, who only appeared in three games last season.

Babylon and Beyond Photography/Flickr

So it’s safe to say the Wildcats will rely on underclass. Jay Wright’s top seven players are five juniors a sophomore, and a freshman.

This may not be a great Villanova team, but it is a team Wright can build on in the next few seasons.

Maalik Wayns had a breakout season as a sophomore and now as a junior should be one of the top scorers in the Big East. He’s lightning fast and is aggressive getting to the rim.

Out of the other four starters, only forward Mouphtaou Yarou was starter last season. Dominic Cheek, Maurice Sutton, and Isaiah Armwood all saw time, but needed to help carry the load this season.

Babylon and Beyond Photography/Flickr

Villanova has a lot to overcome. The past two seasons the Wildcats have had a good squad, but stumbled down the stretch. Not something you want to do after reaching the Final Four in 2009.

Wright’s a great coach, with 224 wins in 11 seasons in Philadelphia, but if he has another season like 2010 and 2011, his seat could start getting warmer.

Villanova is probably an average team this season, maybe better off than Georgetown, but this may be a team we talk about in 2012-2013.

Preseason All-Big East

Jeremy Lamb, UConn

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 11.1
RPG: 4.6
APG: 1.6

Lamb is also my preseason Big East Player of the Year. He came on late last season and provided that extra scoring option alongside Kemba Walker, which was needed for the eventual national champions. Lamb is a top NBA prospect entering his sophomore campaign. He is a lanky 6-foot-5 with a deadly stroke and moves extremely well without the ball. Lamb can also able to create for himself by getting to the rim. With an incredible wingspan that stretches out over seven feet Lamb is also a good rebounder and underrated defender.

Kris Joseph, Syracuse

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 14.4
RPG: 5.0
APG: 2.1

Joseph could have left for the NBA this summer and probably would have been a first-round pick. But he decided instead to return for his senior season in hopes of winning a national title. Last season Joseph was asked to fill the role of Wesley Johnson and he did a nice job once he began to play his own game. Joseph is a great athlete. He’s quick and is hard to stop once he penetrates the lane. He’s also versatile defender. Jump shot still needs work, but overall it seems Joseph improves each year.

Maalik Wayns, Villanova

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 13.8
RPG: 2.8
APG: 4.5

Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher are both gone. Villanova’s offense this season will go through junior point guard Maalik Wayns. He’s the Wildcats top scoring threat and he’s a good one. He came on later in the season, averaging over 20 in Villanova’s last four Big East games. He is one of the quickest players in the Big East. Despite his 6-foot-1 stature, Wayns has no problem getting into the lane and scoring over bigger opponents. His shot needs to improve and Wayns needs to continue to cut down on the turnovers.

Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh

2010-2011 stats
PPG: 16.8
RPG: 2.3
APG: 2.8

Gibbs tested the waters of the NBA Draft this summer, but decided to return to Pitt. Good news for head coach Jamie Dixon, he retains one of the conference’s best three-point shooters. Gibbs knocked down a remarkable 49 percent of his threes last season. Gibbs has a pure stroke from deep. He can come off the dribble or catch and shoot. Gibbs is steady with the ball and rarely turns it over. With only two returning starters this season for the Panthers, Gibbs will have to step up his game, not just his scoring.

Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

2010-2011
PPG: 15.4
RPG: 6.1
APG: 1.9

Like Gibbs, Abromaitis is another great shooter from deep. Abromaitis knocked down almost 43 percent of his three-point attempts last season. Although he known to stretch the defense with his shooting, the 6-foot-8 senior, is not a bad scoring threat inside. He uses an array of shot fakes and ball fakes to get his defender off balance and then beats them with mid-range jumper or finishes at the basket. Overall, he’s a complete player offensively.

Honorable mention: Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette; Peyton Siva, Louisville; Yancy Gates, Cincinnati; Kevin Jones, West Virginia