Tuesday Top 5: Big East games for 2011-2012

1. Syracuse at UConn Feb. 25

The matchup between the projected two top teams in the Big East this season. This could be the last Big East game between the two teams.

2. Pitt at UConn Mar. 2

UConn and Pitt have had memorable games in the past and this game should live up to the billing. It will be the last regular game of the season and both teams should be at the top of the Big East stadings.

3. Marquette at Syracuse Jan. 7

These two teams played a pair of great games, including an awesome third-round game in the NCAA Tournament. With big late-game shooters, Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom and Syracuse’s Scoot Jardine, it would be pure gold if this game is tight in the last few minutes.

4. Cincinnati at West Virginia Jan. 21

This road game for the Bearcats is in between a rough three-game stretch, which begins with a road game at UConn and ends with a home game against Syracuse. If Cincy wants to be considered a top Big East team this season a win at Morgantown could be a big boost.

5. Louisville at Marquette Jan. 16

The Cardinals and Golden Eagles are in the next tier of Big East teams after UConn, Syracuse, and Pitt. This Big East conference game could place one of those teams into the top tier.

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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

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

West Virginia Season Preview

2011-2012 Projected Starting Lineup

PG Jabarie Hinds, freshman

Mr.Doye/Flickr


SG Darryl “Truck” Bryant, senior
SF Kevin Jones, senior
PF Kevin Noreen, freshman
C Deniz Kilicli, junior

Key reserves: Tommie McCune, freshman; Dominique Rutledge, junior; Gary Browne, freshman; Keaton Miles, freshman; Pat Forsythe, freshman

jgrove/Flickr

Bob Huggins has to make up for the majority of the team from last season. Casey Mitchell, John Flowers, Joe Mazzulla, Cam Thoroughman all graduated; Dalton Pepper transferred.

However, the Mountaineers return Truck Bryant, Kevin Jones, and Deniz Kilicli – all starters from last year’s 21-win team.

Bryant will be joined in the backcourt by freshman Jabarie Hinds. Hinds is a scoring threat, which will help if Bryant’s shooting doesn’t improve.

But West Virginia’s top scorer is Kevin Jones. Jones had a disappointing season as a junior, but I think he can be one of the top players in the conference now that he will get more touches, with Mitchell

subasketball/Flickr

graduating.

Tommie McCune, a 6-foot-8 freshman is one of Huggins’ top recruits, but he might be limited for minutes behind Jones.

If Bryant’s shooting doesn’t improve and Jones’ has another so-so season, West Virginia will be lucky if it makes it to the middle of the pack.

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