Big East/SEC Challenge isn’t even close — Weekend Review

The Big East, shocker, dominated the SEC, shocker!

Kentucky blows out St. John’s – The Red Storm got blocked 18 times and the Wildcats look like a team that could win a national title, while St. John’s is a young team with a lot of potential. God’sgift Achiuwa had a strong performance with 18 points and 10 boards.

Georgetown upsets No. 12 Alabama – Jason Clark is doing exactly what he has to do and that is dominate for the Hoyas. The senior guard had 22 points, while big man Henry Sims has provided a nice contribution this year. The Hoyas weren’t projected for their typical high seed, but this could be a season changer for G’Town.

Syracuse tops the SEC’s best, Florida – The two top teams in each conference hit the court at the Carrier Dome and better team prevailed. Fab Melo has really impressed me this season and I believe Cuse is a team that can be a Final Four contender. With another tough season of Big East basketball ahead, this win against at top-10 team will go a long way.

Louisville downs No. 19 Vanderbilt – Peyton Siva is clutch, plain and simple. Louisville has impressed me early and I think Siva has the chance to have a special year. He’s proven that he is capable of big-game moments and this Cardinal squad has a backcourt that can compete with the Big East’s best.

Marquette picks up big road win over Wisconsin – No one wins at the Kohl Center, I mean nobody. That is unless you play in the Big East. Even without starting point guard Junior Cadougan, who was suspended for team violations, the Golden Eagles still were able to knock off the No. 7 Badgers. Marquette could be another team that joins the ranks of – Cuse, UConn, and L’Ville as the tops of the Big East in 2011-2012.

Providence 76, South Carolina 67

Ole Miss 70, DePaul 68

Seton Hall 81, Auburn 59

Cincinnati 57, Georgia 51

24 Mississippi State 75, West Virginia 62

10 Connecticut 75, Arkansas 62

17 Pittsburgh 61, Tennessee 16

LSU 55, Rutgers 50

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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.

Throwback Thursday: Chris Mullin, St. John’s

Lynniceman/Flickr

This summer Chris Mullin got inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. A season before he was a part of the 1992 Dream Team that made the trip to Springfield, Mass.

People forget how amazing Mullin was and how he dominated the Big East during his times at St. John’s.

He was an unreal three Big East Player of the Years and led the Johnnies to the Final Four in 1985.

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Cuse, UConn tie at top of preseason rankings

2011-12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll

4screens/Flickr

1. Connecticut (7) 209
Syracuse (5) 209
3. Louisville (3) 201
4. Pittsburgh (1) 188
5. Cincinnati 169
6. Marquette 155
7. West Virginia 132
8. Villanova 127
9. Notre Dame 114
10. Georgetown 104
11. Rutgers 75

Alan Maglaque/Flickr

12. St. John’s 71
13. Seton Hall 56
14. USF 43
15. Providence 40
16. DePaul 27

courtesy of BigEast.org

Tuesday Top 5: Places to Play/Watch

*Did not include Madison Square Garden because it is not St. John’s official home and every team plays there each year. 

KFC Yum! Center, Louisville

Sports Addiction/Flickr

Awesome new building that opened last year for Louisville. Of course nothing could fully replace Freedom Hall, but this is a nice substitute.

Bradley Center, Marquette

Willy P/Flickr

Been a great home for the Golden Eagles. Fans are more excited there than the Bucks fans are.

Harry A. Gampel Paviilion, Connecticut

Sftrajan/Flickr

Not a bad seat in the house. Also never a bad game either, both UConn men and women play there.

Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh

Arthur Wessel/Flickr

The Zoo makes this arena, one of the most underrated fans sections in college sports. I love watching games when Pitt plays at home.

Carrier Dome, Syracuse

Paul Katcher/Flickr

Playing in front of a maximum crowd of 34,616 people is enough for anyone to want to play there.

Honorable mention: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence; WVU Coliseum, West Virginai; Edmond P. Joyce Center, Notre Dame; Verizon Center, Georgetown; Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s

St. John’s Season Preview

2011-2012 Projected Starting Lineup 

Matt Wickham/Flickr

PG Nurideen Lindsey, sophomore
SG D’Angelo Harrison, freshman
SF Maurice Harkless, freshman
PF Sir’Dominic Pointer, freshman
C God’sgift Achiuwa, junior

Key reserves: Phil Greene, freshman; Amir Garrett (ineligible for fall semester), freshman; Norvel Pelle (ineligible for fall semester)

In only his second-year at the helm of St. John’s, head coach Steve Lavin earned the top recruiting class in 2011.

Unfortunately before practice even began he lost three of them.

Amir Garrett and Norvel Pelle both were ruled academically ineligible back in September.

Also Jakarr Sampsona, 6-foot-7 forward, decomitted from the program.

This leaves the Red Storm with a small, inexperienced, and young team to begin the season.

Pelle was projected as the starting center, but with him out junior college transfer God’sgift Achiuwa will have to move to center, which moves Sir’Dominic Pointer up to power forward.

Two of Lavin’s freshman, Maurice Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison crack the starting lineup with guard Phil Greene coming off the bench.

Matt Wickham/Flickr

Lavin has done a solid job, leading the Red Storm to a 21- win season and a birth in the NCAA Tournament. The Red Storm are back to a respectable program, but Lavin nearly lost the entire team.

St. John’s is young, but talented. It will be tough for them to handle losing Garrett and Norvel, but if they are both eligible and can contribute after January, this could be a dangerous team in the second half of the season.

If the Johnnies aren’t contenders this season, they will soon.

Tuesday Top 5: Big East names

5. Cashmere Wright, Jr. Cincinnati

When you have the name “cash” in your name, you better be able to shoot. Cashmere Wright drills 35 percent of his three’s, but only 41 percent overall. Sorry man, that’s only good for fifth place.

4. Kiwi Gardner, Fr., Providence

Kiwi Gardner has some serious handles. I needed to get him into this blog somehow. It’s just that Providence sucks. But this kid is fun to watch with a name to match. Sad this is, his little brother, probably has more handles and a better name: Peewee.
3. Jawanza Poland, Jr., South Florida

Warsaw is the capital of Poland, but in the winter the coolest Poland by far is Jawanza. After seeing this dunk, Poland should legally change the name of Warsaw to Jawanza. Also Jawanza, when I first saw it, reminded me of the movie Juwanna Mann. Also I am watching season six of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm with Vivica A. Fox, who plays Mann’s teammate and love interest. Weird movie.

2. Sir’Dominic Pointer, Fr., St. John’s

I love the apostrophe. Even more I love the title “Sir” in the name. Even if someone doesn’t like him, automatically they show respect for him by calling him by his name. Pure genius. If the prefix “Sir” doesn’t change on in names by 2020, I’ve lost faith in humanity. Sir’Dominic Pointer, would hands down be the No. 1 choice.

1. God’sgift Achiuwa, Jr., St. John’s

God’sgift Achiuwa is by far the best name in the Big East this season. The junior college transfer joins the Red Storm this year. Can you imagine Steve Lavin discussing this year’s recruiting class?
“How’s your recruiting class looking this year, coach?”
“Looks great, I got God’sgift.”
The only thing is there isn’t any good videos of him on YouTube. Shame on you, YouTube, shame on you.

Honorable mention: Shabazz Napier, Soph., UConn; Baye Moussa Keita, Soph., Syracuse; Jared Swoopshire, Jr., Louisville; Vander Blue, Soph., Marquette; Jabarie Hinds, Fr., West Virginia