Thursday, November 13, 2008
Brian Johnson's Big East Predictions
1. Connecticut: The Huskies don’t just have the best frontcourt in the nation with Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet, but also have one of the best backcourts. The combination of A.J. Price, Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson and Craig Austrie is deadly.
2. Louisville: Samardo Samuels will make Cardinal fans forget about David Padgett quickly. The Terrence Williams injury will hurt the Cardinals early, but Rick Pitino will get his team running before the Big East schedule begins.
3. Pittsburgh: The Panthers will be as dangerous as they were last year with Sam Young, DeJuan Blaie and Levance Fields returning.
4. Villanova: This year Corey Fisher will emerge as a star guard in the Big East to make the Wildcat mix of Fisher, Reynolds and Stokes an offensive juggernaut.
5. Notre Dame: Everyone’s back for Mike Brey’s Irish including that guy Harangody, but lack of athleticism will stop them from reaching a Big East title.
6. Syracuse: Jonny Flynn is very good and very fast and very dynamic. Eric Devendorf is back to give the Orange the scoring depth with Donte Greene’s departure. Watch for Arinze Onuaku to be even better in the post this season.
7. West Virginia: Devin Ebanks is good enough to give the athletic slashing that Joe Alexander gave WVU, but is he good enough to keep the Mountaineers at the top of the Big East?
8. Marquette: I still think the Golden Eagle’s have enough talent to make the NCAA tournament. Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, Lazar Hayward Wesley Matthews and Maurice Aker is more than enough. I think that will outweigh whether Buzz Williams can coach or not.
9. Georgetown: Roy Hibbert and Patrick Ewing Jr. were too important to the Hoyas for them not to take a hit this season.
10. Cincinnati: Deonta Vaughn is a good player even though he’s a tad overrated, but watch for Rashad Bishop and Mike Williams to have solid years.
11. Providence: Geoff McDermott will have a big senior year and Sharaud Curry is a decent enough Big East point guard to keep Keno Davis from having a very bad first year.
12. St. John’s: Everyone is counting out St. John’s. I say take a look at the roster. Anthony Mason Jr. and Justin Burrell are better than anyone on Rutgers.
13. Rutgers: Mike Rosario is definitely as good as advertised. So, is Greg Echenique. Now, Fred Hill’s coaching needs to start doing the talking. The Scarlet Knights will be greatly improved this year, even if their record doesn’t show it. The Big East is that good.
14. DePaul: Dar Tucker is a borderline first-round draft pick prospect. But what else do the Blue Demons have this year. I mean, Mac Koshwal and Jabari Currie are decent players.
15. Seton Hall: Bobby Gonzalez is in a lot of trouble on a number of levels. Eugene Harvey and Jeremy Hazell are two exciting players. But Gonzalez has talked the talk, but hasn’t walked the walk on the recruiting trail. Frankly, Fred Hill has embarrassed Gonzo.
16. USF: Stan Heath has a very tough task that will take a few years for the results to show. Dominique Jones is very good, and Heath just needs time to show that he’s getting the right players into Tampa.
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sam Young, Pittsburgh
ALL BIG-EAST TEAM
Sam Young, Pittsburgh
A.J. Price, Connecticut
Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Anthony Mason Jr., St. John’s
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia