Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Preseason Big East power rankings : College Basketball

Published on November 9, 2011 by Scott Shirley   ·   5 Comments

Here are my preseason Big East power rankings for the 2011-12-college basketball season.

 # 1. Connecticut

Coach: Jim Calhoun (24 seasons at Connecticut 607-230). Overall 855-367, 39 years

2010-11: Record: 32-9 overall, 9-9 in Big East (Tie/9th)

Starters Returning (4) Lamb, Oriakhi, Smith, Olander

 UConn won the national championship last year, and they may make another run this year. The Huskies lose superstar Kemba Walker, but bring back the next 4 leading scorers, and in comes 3 very talented freshmen. The versatile Jeremy Lamb (11.1 ppg) became a star during Uconn’s title run, and he will score even more this year without Walker. Lamb is such a smooth shooter. Shabazz Napier (7.8 ppg) returns at point guard; he was second on the team in assists last season, but he will have to become a better shooter. Freshman Ryan Boatright will also play a lot in the backcourt, but his eligibility could be in question. One trouble spot for the Huskies will be that they really lack depth in the backcourt. The Huskies were going to have a pretty good frontcourt, but when Andre Drummond committed to the Huskies and enrolled for this semester; the Huskies now have one of the top frontcourts in the country. Drummond is a top 5 recruit, and just a freakish athlete. Joining him up front will be Alex Oriakhi (9.6 ppg), who led the Big East in rebounding last season. Look for Roscoe Smith (6.3 ppg) to start at small forward; he is a great athlete. The Huskies will have tons of depth up front. Niels Giffey (2.2 ppg), Tyler Olander (1.5 ppg), Michael Bradley and Enosch Wolf (1 ppg) all return and they will be joined by very talented freshman DeAndre Daniels.

# 2. Syracuse

Coach: Jim Boeheim (34 seasons at Syracuse 829-293)

2010-11: Record: 27-8 overall, 12-6 in Big East (Tie/3rd)

Starters Returning (4) Joesph,Jardine, Triche, Melo

Syracuse could have been number 1 on this list; they are neck and neck with UConn. Jim Boeheim brings back 6 of his 7 top scorers, and also brings in 3 talented freshmen. The Orangemen’s best player is Kris Joseph (14.3 ppg): he does a little bit of everything for them as a versatile small forward. Look for him to continue the trend of scoring more points each year. Syracuse has the best backcourt in the nation, led by point guard Scoop Jardine (12.5ppg). He tied for the conference in assists. Brandon Triche (11.1 ppg) is a very good three-point shooter, but he had an off year shooting last season. They have quality depth in the backcourt led by Dion Waiters (6.6 ppg). Also supplying the depth will be freshman Trevor Cooney and Michael Carter-Williams, both of whom are highly rated. Mookie Jones (3.5 ppg) is a solid shooter off the bench at small forward. Fab Melo (2.3 ppg) and Baye Moussa Keita (2.2) return in the frontcourt, but Melo has legal troubles and Keita can’t score. Look for C.J. Fair (6.4ppg) to start up front; he came on as a freshman. Also look for freshman Rakeem Christmas to start ; he is a top 10 recruit. James Southerland (4.9ppg) also provides solid depth up front.

# 3. Louisville

Coach: Rick Pitino (Nine seasons at Louisville 245-96), overall 597-229, 25 years

2010-11: Record: 25-10 overall, 12-6 in Big East (Tie/3rd)

Starters Returning (3) Siva,Smith, Kuric

The Cardinals lose their top scorer, and their best inside player, but they do bring back a lot of quality players and a top recruiting class. They are led by point guard Peyton Siva (9.9 ppg), who despite his size can attack the rim. He is also an excellent passer, but needs to work on his shooting. Joining him in the backcourt is Kyle Kuric (10.8 ppg); he is a deadly shooter. The Cardinals have excellent depth in the backcourt. Chris Smith (9.4 ppg), who is also a great shooter and Mike Marra (6.4 ppg) supply the depth.  Smith might start at the 3.  The Cardinals took a hit when freshman Kevin Ware was ruled ineligible for the fall semester and freshman Wayne Blackshear will miss the season due to injury. Also providing depth in the backcourt is Russ Smith (2.2 ppg) and Elisha Justice (2.4 ppg).  Rakeem Buckles (6.8 ppg) will be the leader in the frontcourt. He will put up better numbers with more playing time. Center Gorgui Dieng (5.7 ppg) put up solid numbers in limited playing time. This unit will get a boost with the return of Jared Swopshire from injury. Stephan Van Treese (2.9 ppg) will provide depth. Also providing depth here will be 3-quality freshman. They are center Zach Price, power forward Chane Behanan, and small forward Angel Nunez. Behanan has the most talented of the bunch.

# 4. Cincinnati

Coach: Mick Cronin (Five seasons at Cincinnati 87-77), overall 156-101, 8 years

2010-11: Record: 26-9 overall, 11-7 in Big East (Tie/6th)

Starters Returning (3) Gates, Dixon, Wright

This will be the best Bearcats team in a while; head coach Mick Cronin brings back his top four scorers. They are led by forward Yancy Gates (11.9 ppg), who led them in rebounding and points. He has the potential to average a double double. The only question for the Bearcats will be who will be the other starter up front and the depth. JUCO transfer Cheikh Mbodj might play right away. Justin Jackson (2.5 ppg) played well in limited minutes. Also look for redshirt freshman Kelvin Gaines and freshman Octavious Ellis to battle for playing time. The Bearcats have a loaded backcourt. It is led by Dion Dixon (11.6 ppg), who really improved his shooting last year. Point guard Cashmere Wright (8.9 ppg) also returns; he has very good court vision. Sean Kilpatrick (9.7 ppg) is the best three point shooter on the team; he will likely play at the three. Competing for depth in the backcourt will be JaQuon Parker (1.5 ppg) and 3-freshman Jeremiah Davis, Ge-Lawn Guyn, and Jermaine Sanders. Sanders is the best of the bunch.

# 5. Pitt

Coach: Jamie Dixon (Eight seasons at Pitt 216-60)

2010-11: Record: 28-6 overall, 15-3 in Big East (1st)

Starters Returning (2) Gibbs, Robinson

 Another year, another Pitt team that has a great regular season, but fails in the postseason. Will this year be different, who knows they have some talent. Pitt will be led by shooting guard Ashton Gibbs (16.8 ppg), who might be the best shooter in the whole country. Travon Woodall (6.4 ppg) will be the point guard; he has great court vision, but he needs to improve his shooting. The question for Pitt will be depth in the backcourt; they will be counting on 3 guys that haven’t played yet in redshirt freshman Isiah Epps and Cameron Wright, and true freshman John Jackson. Pitt will have 2 players battle it out to start at small forward in J.J. Moore (3.7 ppg) and Lamar Patterson (2.6 ppg). Moore has more upside. Leading the way in the frontcourt is the very undersized Nasir Robinson (9.4 ppg). Robinson is just a tough physical player that every teams needs. Look for Dante Taylor (5.1 ppg) to start at center; he has the talent, but needs to put it together. Look for true freshman Khem Birch to challenge for a staring spot; he is a great rebounder and shot blocker. Talib Zanna (3.7 ppg) and freshman Malcolm Gilbert will also provide depth.

# 6.Marquette

Coach: Buzz Williams (Three seasons at Marquette), overall 83-54, 4 years

2010-11: Record: 22-15 overall, 9-9 in Big East (Tie/9th)

Starters Returning (3) Johnson-Odom, Crowder, Otule

 Head coach Buzz Williams hopes the strong play in the NCAA tournament will carry over to this season. The Golden Eagles bring back 4 of their top 6 scorers. Guard Darius Johnson-Odom (15. 8 ppg) is probably the most underrated star in the country. He does a little of everything for Marquette. Junior Cadougan (4 ppg) will get the first crack at point guard. He was second in assists last season. Vander Blue (5.1 ppg) is an excellent back up off the bench. Freshman Derrick Wilson and Todd Mayo will also help out in the backcourt. Leading the way in the frontcourt is Jae Crowder (11.8 ppg). He is a tough player, and despite being undersized he led the team in rebounds. Joining him up front will be center Chris Otule (5.1 ppg). Davante Gardner (4.6 ppg) will probably also start; he did well in limited minutes. Oregon transfer Jamil Wilson, will come home and add some depth, as well as Jamail Jones (1.4 ppg). Also look for true freshman Juan Anderson to get some quality minutes. He was their highest rated recruit.

# 7. West Virginia

Coach: Bob Huggins (Four seasons at WVU 101-42), overall, 670-241, 29 years

2010-11 Record: 21-12 overall, 11-7 in Big East (Tie/6th)

Starters Returning (2) Kevin Jones, Darryl Bryant

This will be somewhat of a rebuilding year for Bob Huggins, whose team only returns 3 players that saw 6 minutes a game. Look for their best player Kevin Jones (13.1 ppg) to score a lot more this year, and he is also a dominant rebounder. Deniz Kilicli (6.6 ppg) will join Jones up front, he has the talent, but he needs to be more consistent. The depth in the frontcourt will be very inexperienced. The depth will come from freshman Tommie McCune, Pat Forsythe, redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen, and JUCO transfer Dominique Rutledge. Look for freshman Keaton Miles to start at small forward. Darryl Bryant (11.3 ppg) will be the man at point guard; he’s a very flashy point guard, who needs to work on his shooting. At this point the other starting guard position will be a battle between three players all freshman, Jabarie Hinds, Gary Browne, and Aaron Brown. Hinds was the highest rated recruit for West Virginia.

# 8. Villanova

Coach: Jay Wright (Ten seasons at Villanova 224-111), overall 346-196, 17 years

2010-11 Record: 21-12 overall, 9-9 in Big East (Tie/9th)

Starters Returning (2) Maalik Wayns, Mouphtaou Yarou

Last year was a very disappointing season for the Wildcats, and they lose 3 of their top 4 scorers. Maalik Wayns (13. 8 ppg) is a very quick guard that can attack the rim, but he needs to work on his shooting. Joining him in the backcourt will be Dominic Cheek (5.6 ppg), who has the talent to score more. The depth will be from three freshmen Darrun Hilliard, Achraf Yacoubou, and Tyrone Johnson. Johnson is the best here; he should get a lot of quality playing time. James Bell (2.4 ppg) will likely get the nod at small forward. Mouphtaou Yarou (8.4 ppg) will lead the Wildcats in the frontcourt. Yarou will need to score more; he is a very good rebounder. Maurice Sutton (2.4 ppg) will be the starter with Yarou. The question will be the depth here; the Wildcats got bad news when Isaiah Armwood decided to transfer. Trying to supply the depth will be freshman Markus Kennedy. And redshirt freshman Jayvaughn Pinkston returns after sitting out with legal issues.

# 9. Notre Dame

Coach: Mike Brey (11 seasons at Notre Dame 237-119), overall 336-171, 16 years

2010-11 Record: 27-7 overall, 14-4 in Big East (2nd)

Starters Returning (2) Scott Martin, Tim Abromaitis

Head coach Mike Brey was the Big East Coach of the Year last year, if his team finishes in the top 4 in the Big East he will get that award again. The Irish lose 3 of their top 5 scorers. Tim Abromaitis (15.4 ppg) is a big guy who can really stroke it from three. He’s a pretty good rebounder too; he was second on the team last year. He is suspended for the first 4 games of this season because of a silly NCAA rule. Jack Cooley (3.7 ppg) is a big body at center; he will have to score more. The Irish really lack quality depth here. Mike Broghammer (1.8 ppg) and Tom Knight (1.4 ppg) will be the back ups. Scott Martin (9.7 ppg) is a very solid player at small forward. Backing him up will be talented freshman Patrick Connaughton. Point Guard Eric Atkins (5.8 ppg) will lead the backcourt; he was second on the team in assists last year. Redshirt freshman Jerian Grant should get the nod at shooting guard. The Irish really have no depth in the backcourt especially at point guard. Alex Dragicevich (1.4 ppg) and Joey Brooks (1.6 ppg) will see some minutes.

# 10. Georgetown

Coach: John Thompson III (Seven seasons at Georgetown 160-73), overall 228-115, 11 years

2010-11 Record: 21-11 overall, 10-8 Big East (8th)

Starters Returning (2) Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson

Graduation hit the Hoyas hard, as 3 of their top 5 scorers are gone, including all everything Austin Freeman. Guard Jason Clark (12 ppg) does a little bit of everything for the Hoyas; he’s just a complete player. Markel Starks (1.5 ppg) will be the man at point guard; he didn’t play a lot last season, because they had Chris Wright. The back ups will be Aaron Bowen (1 ppg) and freshman Jabril Trawick. They lack quality depth here.Hollis Thompson (8.6 ppg)returns at small forward; he is a solid shooter and rebounder. Backing him up will be talented freshman Otto Porter. Nate Lubick (4 ppg) and Henry Sims (3.6 ppg) will be the starters up front. They are both big bodies that will need to score more. If these two don’t get the job done the Hoyas will have 3 very talented freshmen to replace them in Greg Whittington, Tyler Adams, and Mikael Hopkins.

# 11. Rutgers

Coach: Mark Rice (first seasons at Rutgers 15-17), 88-48, 4 years

2010-11 Record: 15-17 overall, 5-13 in Big East (13th)

Starters Returning (2) Gilvydas Biruta, Dane Miller

Head coach Mark Rice did an excellent coaching job in his first season with the Scarlet Knights; he got everything out of his players. Bad news he loses 3 of his 5 top scorers; goods news he brings in a talented freshman class. Dane Miller (9.2 ppg) is the Knights best all around player at small forward. He led them in rebounds and blocks, and was second on the team in assists. Gilvydas Biruta (9.6 ppg) was a top freshman in the Big East as a center; he is very skilled. Joining him in the backcourt will be the very talented freshman Kadeem Jack. Bad news here though, Jack will be out 3 to 4 months with an injury.  Austin Jackson (4.5 ppg) and Mike Poole (5.6 ppg) are very solid backups off the bench. Freshman Greg Lewis and Derrick Randall will also compete for minutes. The question for Rutgers will be in the backcourt where they are very inexperienced. The point guard will likely be freshman Myles Mack, who has great speed. Backing him up will be another freshman Elijah Carter. At shooting guard look for freshman Jerome Seagears to start; he can get to the rim. His back up Austin Carroll (2.7 ppg) is solid off the bench.

# 12. St Johns

Coach: Steve Lavin (First season at St. Johns 21-12), overall 166-89, 8 years

2010-11 Record: 21-12 overall, 12-6 in Big East (Tie 3rd)

Starters Returning (0)

Wow, no team in America lost what St. John lost. The Red Storm loses their top 8 scorers. Head coach Steve Lavin was a great hire; he got St. Johns to the NCAA tourney when not many people thought he could. Since they lost so many players Lavin brought in a top 5 recruiting class. The only returning scholarship player is Malik Stith (3.3 ppg); he should be the starting point guard. Freshman D’Angelo Harrison will likely be the other starter in the backcourt; he is a pure scorer. Other players that will all be in the mix in the backcourt are Phillip Greene and JUCO transfer Nurideen Lindsey. Sir’Dominic Pointer is the Red Storm’s highest recruit and he will likely play at the small forward position. He is a very tough player and defender, but needs to work on defense. The Red Storm will lack muscle in the frontcourt. JUCO transfer God’s Gift Achiuwa is the only player over 205 pounds. Also playing up front will be freshman Maurice Harkless .  The bad news for St. Johns is two freshman Amir Garrett and Norvel Pelle will be ineligible for the fall semester.

# 13. South Florida

Coach: Stan Heath (4 years at South Florida 51-77), overall 163-164,10 years

2010-11 Record: 10-23 overall, 3-15 in Big East (15th)

Starters Returning (3) Augustus Gilchrist, Jawanza Poland, Hugh Robertson

The good news, the Bulls return 6 of their top 7 scorers, and the bad news, those same players only accounted for 10 wins. Augustus Gilchrist (13.4 ppg) is the Bulls best player. He is a very skilled player for his size. Joining him upfront will be the very physical Ron Anderson Jr. (6.4 ppg), who led them in rebounding last season. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (4.3 ppg) will be a solid back up in the frontcourt. Also providing depth will be freshman Jordan Omogbehin who has great size. Hugh Robertson (8.3 ppg) will be the man at small forward for the Bulls.  Arizona State transfer Victor Rudd will add depth here. Leading the way in the backcourt is shooting guard Jawanza Poland (9.1 ppg). He does a little bit of everything for the Bulls. Poland will be out until early December with a back injury. Backing him up will be Shaun Noriega (6.4 ppg); he is their best shooter. The questions will be at point guard. Look for JUCO transfer Blake Nash to start. The challengers will be Lavonte Darity, who hardly played last season, and true freshman Anthony Collins.

# 14. Providence

Coach: Ed Cooley (first year at Providence 15-17), 92-69 overall 5 years

2010-11 Record: 15-17, 4-14 in Big East (14th)

Starters Returning (4) Vincent Council, Gerard Coleman, Kadeem Betts, Bilal Dixon

New head coach Ed Cooley takes over the Friars program with the leading scorer in the Big East Marshon Brooks graduating. The Friars however, do return 4 other starters. Their best returning player is point guard Vincent Council (13. 7ppg). Council led the Big East in assists last season. Joining him in the backcourt will be Gerard Coleman (10.3 ppg). He really came on as a freshman last year. Bryce Cotton (4 ppg)also played quality minutes as a freshman. The depth will be a question in the backcourt, the players here will be two freshmen Kiwi Gardner and LeDontae Hinton. Bad news for Providence as Gardner was ruled ineligible for this upcoming season. Kadeem Betts (7.1 ppg) and Bilal Dixon (5.7 ppg)both return as starters in the frontcourt. Both players provide toughness and great rebounding ability, but they need to improve offensively. The Friars really lack depth here. Sophomores Ron Giplaye (1.6 ppg) and Lee Goldsbrough (.6 ppg) hardly played last season, redshirt freshman Brice Kofane will also be in the mix.

# 15. Seton Hall

Coach: Kevin Willard (one year at Seton Hall 13-18), overall 58-67 4 years

2010-11 Record: 13-18 overall, 7-11 in Big East (12th)

Starters Returning: (3) Jordan Theodore, Herb Pope, Fuquan Edwin

Head coach Kevin Willard did a good job with what he had to work with last year. Now though he will have a real tough coaching job losing 6 of his top 9 scorers, including leading scorer Jeremy Hazell. The Pirates best returning player is point guard Jordan Theodore (11. 0 ppg). He led the team in assists last season; he will likely score more without Hazell. Getting the nod at shooting guard should be freshman Aaron Cosby, who can shoot it. The Pirates really lack depth here, and they will be relying on three freshman Freddie Wilson, Haralds Karlis, and Sean Grennan. At small forward the Pirates are set with Fuquan Edwin (7.9 ppg), who is a great athlete. Up front the talented but troubled Herb Pope (9.8 ppg) returns. Patrik Auda (3.2 ppg) will join Pope up front, for being a big guy he is an excellent shooter. Once again the backups lack experience here.  Aaron Geramipoor hardly played last season, and the other two back up is  freshman Brandon Mobley. Freshman Kevin Johnson will miss the season due to bad grades.

# 16. DePaul

Coach: Oliver Purnell (first year at Depaul 7-24), 401-304 overall 23 years

2010-11 Record: 7-24 overall, 1-17 (last in Big East)

Starters Returning: (4) Cleveland Melvin,Krys Faber, Jeremiah Kelly, Brandon Young

Oliver Purnell’s first season as head coach was rough only winning 1 Big East game. The good news is they return their top 5 scorers. Cleveland Melvin (14.3 ppg) leads DePaul in the frontcourt; he was the Big East Freshman of the Year. Melvin is a skill forward, who does a little bit of everything. Joining him up front is Krys Faber (7 ppg), who is a big body, and led the team in rebounds last season. DePaul will have inexperienced depth up front, Derrell Robertson a freshman will lead the way. They will get a boost when Miami transfer Donnovan Kirk becomes eligible. Depaul took a hit whenTony Freeland (9.6 ppg) got hurt and will miss the season. With that injury Moses Morgan (5.1 ppg) will likely start at small forward. Point guard Brandon Young (12. 6 ppg) showed tons of promise last season as a freshman. Shooting guard Jeremiah Kelly (7. 6 ppg) also returns. He is their best three point shooting threat. Freshman Charles McKinney.will supply the depth in the backcourt; again they will be inexperienced. Two freshman will be miss the season guard Macari Brooks due to academics and Montray Clemons to an injury.

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