The Big East Tournament is back! College basketball fans received a glimpse of the madness to come during the Big Ten Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Now, the insanity that is conference title week is about to get underway. The Big East was one of the most competitive conferences in the country this season.
Who will emerge as the champion when the chips fall? Let’s take a look and find out.
Xavier won its first ever regular season Big East title, securing the number one seed in the tournament. Villanova, although they swept Xavier in the regular season, fell to the number two seed due to a slippage of play down the stretch. Both of these teams are projected number one seeds in the NCAA Tournament and are the heavy favorites to go head-to-head in the title game.
The next five teams in the Big East conference are fairly even in regards to record. Seton Hall, Creighton and Providence all sit at 10-8 while Butler and Marquette ended up at 9-9 Big East records. The egalitarian nature of the Big East conference resulted in numerous back-and-forth match-ups and unpredictable upsets.
Georgetown, St. John’s and DePaul make up the bottom of the conference. The Hoyas and the Red Storm each showed flashes of competitiveness throughout the season, with Georgetown losing to Xavier in overtime and St. John’s toppling Villanova at the Pavilion.
Trevon Blueitt helped Xavier capture its first Big East regular season title (Rob Carr/Getty Images).
Ever since the creation of the new Big East, the conversation has started and ended with Villanova. Coach Jay Wright’s squad has been blowing opponents out of the building all season long. Wooden Award favorite Jalen Brunson has steered Villanova through injuries to be in a position to lock up a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament once again with a strong showing in the Big East Tournament. With Phil Booth returning from a fractured hand, the Wildcats are in prime position to defend their 2017 Big East Tournament title.
Xavier is Villanova’s primary threat to defending their championship. Even though Xavier won the Big East regular season championship, Villanova drubbed the Musketeers twice during the regular season in convincing fashion.
Xavier is led by senior All-Big East first team guard Trevon Blueitt. Blueitt averaged 19.4 points on 45.2 percent shooting per game this season. Streaky shooting plagues Blueitt at times, but when he is on, Blueitt is near impossible to slow down. Surrounded by a strong supporting cast that includes Quentin Goodin, J.P. Macura and Naji Marshall, it is now or never for the Musketeers.
The darkhorse: Seton Hall
Angel Delgado and Myles Powell have Seton Hall primed for a Tournament run (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images).
While Seton Hall is a three seed in this tournament, they have the same record as the four and five seeds. There is also such a drop off between the top two teams record-wise that anyone aside from Xavier and Villanova has to be considered a darkhorse.
Seton Hall is an appealing choice because Coach Kevin Willard always brings out the best of his team during the Big East Tournament. Willard led his team to a Big East Tournament win in 2016 and nearly toppled Villanova in the semifinals last season.
The Pirates, after falling into a four-game losing streak, are peaking at the right time. They have won four of their last five games with their lone loss being a 69-68 overtime defeat at the hands of Villanova. Seniors Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado are capable of taking over any game with their physical style of play. Rodriguez and Delgado average 18.1 and 15.6 points per game respectively. Delagdo also averages 11.6 rebounds per contest.
Khadeen Carrington’s play-making abilities (four and a half assists per game) and Myles Powell’s outside shooting further enhance the offensive capabilities of this Seton Hall team.
The Champion: Villanova
Jalen Brunson should propel Villanova to their second straight Big East title (Laurence Kesterson/AP Photo).
If the bracket holds true, Villanova will face an explosive offense in Marquette and then Seton Hall. The Wildcats outgunned Marquette twice this season as they are capable of beating the Golden Eagles at their own game: high volume scoring. Villanova-Seton Hall Big East tournament slugfests are becoming something of a tradition nowadays. The pesky Pirates will push Villanova, but the Wildcats’ experience, solid guard play and crafty defending will be too much for the Pirates to handle.
And then there is Xavier. Although Xavier won the Big East title during the regular season, they will fall to the Wildcats for a third time this season in the title game of the Big East Tournament. No team will be strong enough to derail the inevitable: Villanova-Xavier Round Three. However, the Musketeers’ signature 1-3-1 plays right into Villanova’s strength: three-point shooting. In Villanova’s 95-79 win at Xavier, the Wildcats shot 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The x-factor for this Villanova team will be Donte DiVincenzo’s offensive production. If DiVincenzo can find his stroke during this tournament, Villanova will be close to unbeatable. DiVincenzo has been prone to shooting slumps, but when he is on point, his offensive versatility shines through as defenders have to respect his shot.
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As college basketball inches closer towards postseason play, the Big East may be the most intriguing conference in the nation. Villanova has dropped two of its last three games, allowing Xavier to increase its lead. However, two teams sitting in the cellar of the conference have put the remaining conference members on notice with their play as of late.
St. John’s, previously winless in Big East play, has won its last four games. They knocked off then-No. 4 Duke and then-No. 1 Villanova in back-to-back games before defeating Marquette and squeaking past DePaul. Coach Chris Mullin has his team flying high and playing with a high level of confidence.
Meanwhile, the Georgetown Hoyas pushed No. 4 Xavier to its limit in a crushing 96-91 overtime loss. The Hoyas failed to close out the Providence Friars in a 73-69 loss due to a controversial foul call with under five seconds to play. Coach Patrick Ewing’s squad responded with convincing victories over Seton Hall and Butler.
The recent increase of competitiveness in St. John’s and Georgetown certainly raises the parity of play in the Big East down the stretch. The race to avoid falling into the seventh seed and face the prospect of playing St. John’s in the opening round of the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden has opposing coaches nervous. Let’s examine the factors that have allowed both of these teams to secure noticeable upsets of late.
During the resurgence of St. John’s, sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds has been unstoppable. During the Red Storm’s four-game winning streak, Ponds has averaged 32.3 points, five assists and 2.3 steals per game.
After sophomore guard Marcus Lovett was ruled out for the season with a left knee injury, Mullin called on Ponds to carry the load even more so than before.
Ponds has always been a talented scorer off the dribble, but he has worked to involve his teammates more during this stretch. To couple this, Ponds has notched up his defensive intensity, harassing opposing guards all night.
Mullin typically rolls out a six-man rotation each game. As a result, Ponds has played all 40 minutes in every game during the Johnnies’ four-game winning streak. Fans of the Red Storm have to be slightly concerned about Ponds developing fatigue come postseason play as his playing rate is not sustainable.
Georgetown: A Big One-Two Punch
Junior forward Marcus Derrickson celebrates after nailing a game-winning three against Seton Hall. (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)
Back in November of 2017, Ewing told the media that if Georgetown was going to remain competitive come Big East play, they needed a big season from junior center Jessie Govan. Govan, while having some ups and downs in Big East play, has largely lived up to the hype. Govan has been a reliable rock in the Hoyas offense, averaging 16.7 points while shooting 50.2 percent and grabbing 10 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
However, the player who has brought Georgetown to the next level this season has not been Govan, but junior forward Marcus Derrickson. Derrickson has been the go-to player in the clutch all season, nailing two game-winning 3-pointers from NBA range against St. John’s and Seton Hall. Derrickson served as the offensive catalyst in Georgetown’s 87-83 upset at Butler, scoring 27 points while shooting 84.6 percent.
Govan and Derrickson arguably form the most formidable one-two punch on the block in the Big East. Georgetown has had difficulty in some games properly utilizing both of them as opponents have effectively doubled both big men, forcing the Hoyas into turnovers.
However, Ewing has seen more production from his guards, in particular graduate transfer Trey Dickerson, who scored 18 points off the bench against Butler. This newfound scoring threat has forced opponents off the double, allowing Derrickson and Govan to feast on single coverage.
St. John’s: Scoring by Committee
Outside of Ponds, Mullin lacks a consistent scoring option, which could prove problematic come postseason play. However, the Red Storm have survived by getting key contributions from different players night in and night out based on matchups.
In its 81-77 win over Duke, St. John’s saw senior guard Bashir Ahmed and junior forward Tariq Owens score 19 and 17 points respectively. Ponds and Owens capitalized on Duke’s porous interior defense while Ahmed shot 75 percent from 3-point range.
However, in St. John’s upset win at Villanova, Owens and Ahmed remained relatively quiet on the offensive end. Instead, sophomore guard Justin Simon poured in 16 points along with 10 rebounds and seven assists.
While effective, this playing style can be dangerous at times. In St. John’s 86-78 victory over Marquette, the Red Storm required a herculean effort from Ponds to escape with a win. Ponds accounted for more than half of their points with 44. The only other player to reach double-digit scoring for Mullin’s crew was Simon, who scored 16 again. This shows that if opponents are able to limit scoring production outside of Ponds, the Johnnies will have difficulty creating offense in the half-court.
Georgetown: The Kids are Growing Up
Looking beyond Govan and Derrickson, the key to this Hoyas team might be freshmen Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair. Pickett was Ewing’s prized recruit this past season after backing out from his commitment to Ole Miss. Early in the season, both freshmen struggled with shot selection and limiting turnovers.
As the season has progressed, both freshmen have progressively increased their level of play. Blair sparked the Hoyas offense in Georgetown’s overtime loss against Xavier, scoring 19 points and shooting 50 percent from 3-point range. Blair only turned the ball over twice in this contest.
Pickett has become more comfortable utilizing his 6-foot-7 frame to shoot over defenders and alter shots on defense. Pickett scored 18 points and blocked two shots in Georgetown’s 83-80 win over Seton Hall.
While Ewing has seen encouraging steps of growth from both players, Blair and Pickett are still freshmen, which means that struggles will not magically disappear. Blair’s shot has seemingly been flat the past two outings, resulting in him forcing shots outside and taking contested attempts off of wild drives to the hoop.
Pickett still has difficulty taking defenders off of the dribble, which is something that Butler took advantage of. Pickett ended up turning the ball over five times in that contest.
Featured image by Wendell Cruz/Finish First Photos.
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College basketball’s conference play is in full swing. The Big East is one of the most balanced conferences in the whole country.
The Marquette Golden Eagles picked up a road win in Providence Wednesday night. It proved to be a coming out party for their backcourt in a huge conference win in overtime.
Here’s a backcourt that many people around college basketball aren’t talking about. The Golden Eagles are 11-4 this season and lost to all three of its ranked opponents.
Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard are two guards you may never have heard of. They are the two starting guards for the Marquette Golden Eagles.
They are both shooting over 46 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three. They are combining to score 44.6 points a game on a team that averages 83.5 points a game. In other words, the two combine for just over half the team’s points.
On Wednesday night, the two combined for 68 points of the team’s 95. Howard scored 52 by himself on 17-29 shooting. He shot 15-21 in the second half alone and carried the Golden Eagles to a win.
What Rowsey and Howard can both do is carry a team. By no means should the Golden Eagles have won Wednesday night. Howard and Rowsey made key plays to constantly keep their team afloat.
Rowsey has been Marquette’s most consistent player this season. He has constantly put on big performances in almost all games and has had his biggest performances in loses.
One of his best performances came in a loss against No. 6 Xavier where he had 31 points. He then followed that performance up by scoring 35 in a win against a young and talented Georgetown team.
He has scored under 20 just six times in 15 games this season. In those games, either Howard or Sam Hauser has scored over 25 points. Rowsey is the senior leader in the backcourt.
Markus Howard, (WRN.com).
Haanif Cheatham has left the team, and Markus Howard is receiving some of those minutes. Since Cheatham has left the team, Howard has three games with over 30 points. He has nine games with 22 or more points this season and is shooting 40.3 percent from three.
He is a guy teams can’t lose in transition and someone who can both catch and shoot as well as bring the ball up and drive to the basket.
He is 45 for 45 from the free throw line this season and is proving that in clutch time, he is the go to guy for the Golden Eagles.
In an age where backcourts dictate success, the two stars for the Marquette backcourt can take the Golden Eagles as far as they want to.
Marquette’s Big East rank
Marquette is in the top tier of the Big East. Do they have enough fire power to compete with Xavier, Villanova or Seton Hall? Probably not. They very easily could finish as high as fourth in the Big East and could possibly fall as low as seventh.
They are an extremely talented team, but if one of their talented backcourt members doesn’t show up to play, they will struggle against good teams. The Golden Eagles will make the NCAA tournament and be a tough out come March.
Featured image from anonymouseagles.com.
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The Golden State Warriors are the 2017 NBA champions. Now that the Finals are over, the entire basketball community will be focusing on the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22. This is a prime opportunity for teams to either deepen their roster or build playoff caliber teams. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0.
1: Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
(Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are working on a trade so that the 76ers can select Markelle Fultz. Even if the trade doesn’t get finalized Fultz will be the number one overall pick in this draft.
2: Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Los Angeles is not going to pass on a player who will make those around him better and has the star power that Lonzo Ball has. These rumors floating around about the Lakers falling out of love with Lonzo is all a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the first two picks have been decided and they are just trying to keep people interested and on their toes.
3: Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas
This pick is just like the first overall pick. It is likely going to be Boston drafting in the third position and they will take Josh Jackson. This is a sign that the Celtics may put all their faith in Isaiah Thomas as their point guard. Jackson can fit right into the culture they are building in Boston and he will help them get closer to compete for a championship.
4: Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
The Suns are just unlucky. Phoenix was supposed to have a top three pick but fell to fourth when the lottery took place. Now they are going to miss on Josh Jackson by one pick. Jayson Tatum is flying under the radar but will be a very good NBA player.
Tatum has a polished isolation game and can score from anywhere on the floor. Tatum will be a solid second option to Devin Booker.
5: Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)
Reports coming out of Sacramento say that the Kings are absolutely in love with De’Aaron Fox and are even willing to trade both the fifth and tenth pick to move up just one spot to get him.
Fox should be around at five and the Kings can draft their franchise point guard. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox would be a promising backcourt that would help the Kings get closer to the playoffs.
6: Orlando Magic: Johnathan Issac, F, Florida St.
Orlando has been terrible ever since Dwight Howard left. Johnathan Issac has been recently compared to Kevin Durant, but he is not the scorer that Durant is. Issac will bring tons of athleticism to the Magic. He has proven he can play an all-around game but has been very inconsistent. If developed correctly, Issac can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA and an All-Star.
7: Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
The Timberwolves are already loaded with young talent and in a perfect world, Tom Thibodeau would like to acquire more veterans in the locker room. Minnesota might be looking to make a trade in the future and will take the best available player which will be Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring machine capable of going off at any moment. He is the best scorer to come out of college since Kevin Durant and will easily average 20 points per game in the NBA.
8: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
New York has always been a city of immigrants. The Knicks are going to follow that mold it seems, as they already have Kristaps Porzingis and are in love with Frank Ntilikina.
Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.
9: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
Dennis Smith is arguably a top five player in this class. The Mavericks have a chance to find their franchise point guard who can help lead them back into the playoffs. Smith can score, pass and rebound with the best of them while in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.
10: Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
The Kings currently have two core pieces in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. If they take Fox earlier in the draft then it becomes an even better core. Lauri Markkanen could then take this team to even better heights.
Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside. Markkanen would fit alongside Cauley-Stein because he can stretch the floor.
Getting Fox and Markkanen would make the Kings one of the best young teams in the NBA.
11: Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
Donovan Mitchell was projected to be a late-first round pick around a month ago but has lately been flying up draft boards. Teams who have worked Mitchell out have been really impressed by the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Mitchell is a shot creator and that is something the Hornets need. Charlotte could create a dangerous backcourt by pairing Mitchell with Kemba Walker.
12: Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, PF, Duke
Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.
We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.
Giles has had a lot of injuries but if he can get healthy he has the skill and potential to be the best player in this draft class.
13: Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins, PF/C, Gonzaga
(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)
Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.
Collins is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.
14: Miami Heat: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.
T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.
15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS, PF, WAKE FOREST
John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.
16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON, C, CREIGHTON
(Photo Credit: Chris Machian- The World Harold)
Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.
Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.
NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.
17: Milwaukee Bucks: Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous. The talent they already have and can acquire with Adebayo will allow the Bucks to get closer to the Eastern Conference finals.
18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Luke Kennard fits the new style of the NBA. He is a pure shooter and can be a valuable scorer in the NBA. Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise but as a sidekick to Paul George, he could thrive. George wants the Pacers to add talent so they can compete for a title adding Kennard would help go a long way in the Pacers effort to keep Paul George when he becomes a free agent.
19: Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Dwight Howard is aging and no longer a top center in the NBA. The Hawks must prepare for the future and that could be in the form of Jarrett Allen. Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.
20: Portland Trailblazers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need help and Justin Jackson would fit perfectly with this team. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Blazers back into the playoffs.
He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.
Jackson needs to add weight but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished.
21: Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
OG Anunoby will improve the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor immediately. In college, Anunoby was able to defend all five positions and that kind of versatility will make him a valuable player.
He also shot 36 percent from three in his career and will help take some pressure off of Russell Westbrook.
22: Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, C, California
The Nets will not be good for a long time which means they can be patient with the development of Ivan Rabb. He has lots of potential to grow offensively.
Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and that is what the Nets will try and bottle up and turn into a consistent output.
23: Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany
Isaiah Hartenstein is a bit of an unknown but is an old school big man. He plays an extremely physical style and is a great rebounder. Hartenstein is also a great shot blocker and the Raptors really need an inside presence. He has very little experience but the success of Kristaps Porzingis helps Hartenstein.
Isaiah Hartenstein will need a lot of developing on his offensive game but with the Raptors current roster, he can fill the role of rebounder and rim protector without having to rush his offensive development.
24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN, PF, PURDUE
The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.
Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.
25: ORLANDO MAGIC: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Terrance Ferguson has been very hyped up as of late. He attacks the basketball and can also be a spot up shooter. Ferguson will need to develop defensively but would be a good fit with the Magic who need some more scoring.
26: Portland Trailblazers: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Semi Ojeleye is an athletic freak. Ojeleye can handle the ball, shoot threes, create his own shot and get to the rim. Semi Ojeleye is going somewhat underrated in this draft because of his lack of perimeter defense. The Blazers have enough picks to take a shot on Ojeleye to continue building the depth needed to compete in the West.
27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL, PF, OREGON
(Photo Credit: http://247sports.com)
Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.
28: Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
Josh Hart is a leader and a winner, and the Lakers could use some of that in their locker room.
Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. Hart doesn’t have to be a starting shooting guard to make a big impact. Every team needs a bench scorer and Hart can fill that void for the Lakers as they continue to build towards a championship.
29: San Antonio Spurs: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
Any player that the Spurs take should celebrate as if they won the championship. The Spurs will develop Thomas Bryant into a solid NBA starter. Bryant is an excellent rebounder and has a knack for getting offensive boards. He has some decent low post moves and with Gregg Popovich coaching him up he can turn decent into dominant.
30: Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse
Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Utah as a solid role player.
31: Atlanta Hawks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon
32: Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SF, Florida St.
33: Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma St.
34: Sacramento Kings: Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia
35: Orlando Magic: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan
36: Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Dorsey, G, Oregon
37: Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor
38: Chicago Bulls: Devin Robinson, F, Florida
39: Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick White, G, Colorado
40: New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas
41: Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
42: Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, F/C, France
43: Houston Rockets: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah
44: New York Knicks: Frank Jackson, SG, Duke
45: Houston Rockets: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA
46: Philadelphia 76ers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia
47: Indiana Pacers: LJ Peak, SG Georgetown
48: Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso
49: Denver Nuggets: Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson
50: Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia
51: Denver Nuggets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain
52: Washington Wizards: Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada
It’s a new era for Georgetown basketball; an era that has been a long time coming. Patrick Ewing, a Georgetown great, took over as head coach earlier this month and is looking to bring the program back to the glory and success that we are all used to.
Patrick Ewing in his press conference earlier this April (Photo/ Nick Wass)
John Thompson III was relieved of his head coaching duties earlier this March. The son of Georgetown great head coach John Thompson Jr. had been at the realm since 2004. Georgetown, with the hire of Ewing, keeps the head coaching job in the Georgetown family.
“If it was any other university, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Ewing said at his introductory news conference earlier this month. “But it’s my alma mater. It’s Georgetown. I’m a Hoya. I just thought it was a great opportunity to come back and try to rebuild the program.”
Ewing’s resume speaks for itself. He had three All-American seasons with the Hoyas, including three national championship appearances in 1982, 1984 and 1985. He captured the title in 1984. He basically put a small catholic school on the map as a college basketball powerhouse.
Ewing was then the first overall pick in the 1985 draft. He was drafted by the Knicks where he spent 15 of his 17 years in the NBA. He put the Knicks back into serious contention for a championship.
He was an 11-time All-Star and calibrated a Hall-of-Fame career. He spent the next 15 years after his retirement in 2002 as an assistant coach for the Wizards under Doug Collins, the Houston rockets under Jeff Van Gundy, the Orlando Magic under Stan Van Gundy and most recently Charlotte Hornets under Steve Clifford.
Despite the impeccable resume, Ewing still has a tall task in front of him.
The Hoyas have missed the NCAA tournament three times in the last four years. They made it to the Final Four in John Thompson III’s third season, but have only made it past the round of 32 once since then.
For a program that has the 31st most wins in college basketball history out of the 347 Division I teams, the Hoyas haven’t seen that type of wining mentality in the past few years. They are looking to regain the top ranks of college basketball with Ewing in charge.
After spending the past 15 years in the NBA as an assistant, the main concern with Ewing was recruiting. As an assistant coach in the NBA or any coach in the NBA, you don’t recruit. You don’t have to ask players to come play for you because they get paid to play for you.
Recruiting is one of the biggest parts to college basketball and is essential in rebuilding a program or keeping it successful. In the past 30 years that Ewing has been in college, it might be safe to say recruiting has gotten a little different.
Patrick Ewing and coach John Thompson Jr. after their National Championship win in 1984 (AP Photo)
Ewing doesn’t see that as a dilemma.
“What I’m going to do is put around myself a great staff who has the ability to go out and recruit and teach me all the things I need to know until I get up to speed in terms of recruiting,” Ewing said. “But I don’t see anything different. It’s all about going out and selling your program. I think that I’m a great salesman.”
Ewing knows he has work to do with kids in high school who have probably never seen him play. “Maybe they know me from Space Jam,” he joked.
All the support is in place for Ewing to succeed. Ewing gets the next best thing after waiting years for an NBA head coaching job. There is no doubt from his supporters that he and the program will succeed.
“He is certainly used to the pressure and he is totally ready as a coach,” Stan Van Gundy said. “The adjustment will be recruiting. That’s the challenge that will determine his success. He will do a great job coaching.”
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On the heels of Big East media day there is a lot of buzz surrounding the conference that produced the 2015-16 champion, Villanova. A conference compiled of non-FBS football schools finally had its major breakthrough. However, there is still plenty to talk about 2016-17.
So you thought Villanova was a one time deal? Wrong. Despite the major losses of Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono the Wildcats are still very much a threat. They were the overwhelming pick for the top spot in the preseason poll. Jay Wright’s reigning champions return the preseason player of the year in Josh Hart, championship hero Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson. Jenkins was voted preseason First Team All-Big East and Brunson was given honorable mention.
Kris Jenkins and the Wildcats cut down the nets in Houston. (Photo courtesy of usatoday.com)
The team returns six players that played in all 40 games. This includes sophomore Mikal Bridges. A highly touted recruit, Bridges could be the one to replace Arcidiacono’s production after a productive first tour. The team did take a serious blow in their quest to fill the void left by Ochefu. Five star recruit Omari Spellman likely would have been in the starting five for the Wildcats, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible. This makes Eric Paschall the only notable addition to the team. A Fordham transfer, he is the former 2014-15 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. He did practice with the team last year, thus is familiar with the system.
Despite the departed pieces of the current champs, Nova will have a successful season. There is no reason that they should not win the regular season conference title. Even with all of the talent concentrated at places like Duke, Kentucky and Oregon, the Wildcats should be in the running for another NCAA title. At minimum they should make the Elite Eight. Anything other than that would be a let down.
The Xavier Musketeers finished second in the preseason poll, right where they did in the 2015-16 standings. The Musketeers had an early exit from the NCAA Tournament due to Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig’s fall-away jumper in the second round. Chris Mack’s team loses two big bodies in Jalen Reynolds and James Farr, as well as former Indiana transfer Remy Abell.
Trevon Bluiett (5) and Edmund Sumner (4) are two of the best returnees in the Big East. (Photo courtesy of zimbio.com)
The team does return Big East preseason first teamers Edmund Sumner and Trevon Bluiett. The two were the leading scorers on the team in 2015-16. Bluiett showed improvements in several statistical categories including a seven percent increase from deep to 39.8%. Sumner is an excellent distributor and will lead the team at the one this year while still grabbing more than three boards per game. Another key returnee would be Myles Davis, however his status for the season is uncertain as he is under an indefinite suspension. The team did add three four star recruits, as well as Florida A&M transfer Malcom Bernard who averaged 14.4 points and 7.0 rebounds along with 2.3 steals per game. Bernard could help the Musketeers on both ends of the floor in place of Abell.
Third in the poll are the Creighton Blue Jays who added Marcus Foster from Kansas State. After sitting out the 2015-16 season, Foster is ready to contribute. Foster would be on the receiving end of Maurice Watson Jr. The former transfer is a prolific creator for those around him. Watson Jr. led the Big East in assists last season after transferring from Boston.
With no notable recruits Foster, Watson Jr. and fellow returnee Cole Huff will be counted on to lead the team in 2016-17. All three are transfers which have become a key part of Greg McDermott luring players to Omaha. Senior Isaiah Zierden will also play a key role. He was among the teams leading scorers last year and his advanced stats show that he also had an impact on the defensive end.
Creighton Blue Jays Transfer Players
Maurice Watson Jr.
*Not eligible for 2016-17 season.
Georgetown, Seton Hall and Butler are all possible contenders, but not likely to make much noise. Seton Hall won the Big East tournament but lost Isaiah Whitehead early to the NBA. John Thompson’s Hoyas did not even crack the AP top 25 last season. Butler lost two program staples in Roosevelt Jones and Kellan Dunham to graduation. Of these three, Butler had the most success last year, but also lost the most going into this season.
Off the Map
The Providence Friars were a power packed team in 2015-16. Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn left early for the NBA as they should have. Dunn was one of the most prolific point guards in the country as a junior. Bentil stepped up and led the team in scoring and rebounds.
With their exit, Providence loses nearly half of its 74 points per game. They will rely on Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright for their team identity. The only other notable addition is four star recruit Alpha Diallo. Diallo possesses the ability to move the ball on the wing, but will need to improve his shot if he wishes to impact the Friars season. The degree of difficulty to replace two talents like Bentil and Dunn likely means a rebuilding year for Providence.