Monday, December 3, 2007

Vinny Pezzimenti Moment -- Week 3

It turns out it was all a terrible mistake. Vinny Pezzimenti did not in fact vote for George Washington University as alleged by CBSSportLines' Gary Parrish. VP voted for George Mason (a reasonable choice), but the tabulators over at AP mis-recorded his vote. He responded, via his blog -- College Hoop King -- both quickly and (refreshing for the internet) civilly to those who contacted him directly (one or two irate Villanova fans were among the letter writers I imagine). Thank you Vinny, and my apologies for any questions I may have raised about your professionalism.

My Big East Blogger Poll for this week:

1 - Georgetown
2 - Pittsburgh
3 - Louisville
4 - Marquette
5 - Villanova
6 - Providence
7 - West Virginia
8 - Connecticut
9 - Syracuse
10 - Seton Hall
11 - Notre Dame
12 - St. John's
13 - South Florida
14 - DePaul
15 - Rutgers
16 - Cincinnati

Player of the Week: Draelon Burns, DePaul

Rookie of the Week: Dominique Jones, South Florida

Who's Up...Who's Down...
Not much movement since the teams are not playing each other yet, nor do they have many common opponents, though Seton Hall and Rutgers will have one or two common New Jersey opponents by the end of the week, and Villanova and USF share UCF (would appear to be a push since both Nova and USF beat the Golden Knights by 8). While the top and bottom remained "as is", the middle moved as Connecticut and Syracuse both took their second loss of the season while Providence and West Virginia continued to win. And I adjusted my ballot accordingly. The Friar's victory over Boston College was impressive as the Providence was up by over 25 before losing momentum (to put it mildly...) and eventually the lead to the surging Eagles. Both Geoff McDermott and Brian McKenzie fouled out in the last 5 minutes of regulation after they helped "stabilize" the Friar's fading lead. When McKenzie sat down the Friars, looking thoroughly disillusioned, finally yielded the lead. And 2 years ago that would have been the game. But the Friars picked themselves up due to some gutty post play by freshman Jamine Peterson and incredible outside shooting by junior Weymini Efejuku & transfer Jeff Xavier). Peterson continued to provide McDermott's trademark interior passing to feed the the post and Efejuku, who lost his starting job to McKenzie in the Peach Jam Tournament last week hit, along with transfer Jeff Xavier, some must-have 3 pointers to tie up the game in regulation. And then the reinvigorated Friars toasted BC in the overtime period. Last season it was an unexpected win over BC that triggered a nice run for Providence and got them going well into the beginning of the Big East season. Providence and Rhode Island meet on Tuesday, the winner will be the best basketball program in New England (Holy Cross may want to dispute that, it seems none of New England's brand names wants to play the Crusaders...). Rhode Island will be a big test for the Friars, and a big confidence builder if they beat the Rams. I continue to be skeptical about West Virginia. I started the Mountaineers at #10 in my preseason poll. But they have dropped only one game, a 2 point loss to the #12 Tennessee, so far. The wins have been by large margins over not very good teams (Maryland Eastern Shore, Prairie View, etc.). The two best wins to date, a 14 point victory over New Mexico and a 17 point win over Winthrop, both came against new coaches. Coach Huggins is definitely making the 'Eers into his team.

Making room for Providence and West Virginia, someone had to move down. Connecticut and Syracuse made this an easy decision as both lost this past week. UConn dropped an 11 point decision to Gonzaga at a neutral site in Boston, while Syracuse lost by 7 to UMass in the Dome. The good news about Connecticut should be back. The Husky frontcourt is coming around nicely, though Thabeet and Robinson need to be more consistent. Price is scraping the rust off his game...he should be ready by the start of conference play. I will be disappointed if I am still ranking the Huskies #8 or #9 6 weeks from now. Syracuse is another story. The Orange have flirted with defeat from virtually their first game. They have a nice collection of talented players. But they are not a very good team right now.

There were some very good games played this week. Efejuku's heroics in Boston Garden are worth a nod. And Kentrell Gransberry's third double-double of the season, coming against UCF, is not bad. But Draelon Burn's 32 points in 33 minutes against Texas A&M - Corpus Christi caught my eye. His performance included an 8-8 DePaul record 3 pointers. His heroics come at a critical time. There are rumblings in the Blue Demon Nation over the team's second consecutive inconsistent start under Coach Wainwright. DePaul's freshmen Mac Koshwal and Dar Tucker also contributed double digit scoring to that victory. Hopefully the team can build on it. I also considered Greedy Peterson (and the DePaul twins) when going over my choice for freshman of the week. But in the end it had to be Dominique Jones, a 6-4, 205 lb guard out of Lake Wales, Fla, who plays for the South Florida Bulls. Jones dropped 30 points on the Golden Knights of Central Florida in USF's 75-67 win Saturday. Jones shot 10-13 (4-6, 6-7) and 6-11 from the line. He also grabbed 4 rebounds and 4 steals while dishing 5 assists to help the Bulls. Earlier in the week he scored 14 points (4-8, 0-0, 6-8 from the line), snagged 5 rebounds and 2 steals (with 2 assists) in USF's 77-69 win over Florida International. 44 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals and 7 assists isn't a bad week's work for a rookie.

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