Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008-09 Media Day Notes

The Big East coaches ranked Villanova #5 in their preseason poll, released today as part of the Big East Conference's Media Day coverage for men's and women's basketball. The Big East coaches poll, an exercise that has not been particularly strong as a predictor of season performance over the past few years, ranked Connecticut #1 and South Florida #16. The poll (reproduced):

1Connecticut (9)214
2Louisville (3)205
3Pittsburgh (3)200
4Notre Dame (1)195
9West Virginia121
13Seton Hall50
14St. John's44
16South Florida26

Connecticut's ranking is not surprising, Andy Katz and others at ESPN have been hinting at the lofty ranking for several weeks now. The first four teams each received at least one vote, and Notre Dame (#4, 195) collected only 19 fewer votes than Connecticut (#1, 214), suggesting the coaches are as divided as the conferences' fans (and the MSM) about who will win the regular season crown. Unlike prior years however it appears the coaches have developed a consensus that Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are all good candidates for the honor. Villanova topped a second tier of schools that includes Marquette, Georgetown, Syracuse and West Virginia. The next "plateau" holds Providence and Cincinnati, neatly isolated from the teams above and the teams that form the last tier. And I suppose that is as it should be. Conference-watchers and Friar fans have watched as the class of McDermott, Curry, Efejuku and Kale grow from freshmen to seniors, taking Providence out of the conference's lowest tier. How much farther can they go? The same could asked about Mick Cronan's Cincinnati squad. Are they ready make a move? Rutgers looks almost out of place in the #12 slot. But consider the voting again. The Scarlet Knights, like Villanova in the #5 slot, appear to have taken the rank almost by default; the others they a clustered with (Seton Hall, St. John's, DePaul and South Florida) are liked a little less than the Knights. If South Florida escapes the cellar this season at least 13, possibly 14 coaches will be surprised.

Among the individual honors bestowed, 's Luke Harangody was (re)named the POY. Employing the "Noah's Ark" approach to the preseason All Big East team, one of each from the top eight teams (according to the Coaches Poll...) was named to the squad. Scottie Reynolds was Villanova's designated representative. In accordance with their status as preseason #1, Connecticut had two players, Hasheem Thabeet and AJ Price, named to the squad. The outlier this time was Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn; an excellent choice given his progress last season, but where was Dominique Jones? Old reliables Dominc James, Earl Clark and Jeff Adrien were given Honorable Mention nods. In a mild surprise Georgetown's Greg Monroe, a much heralded recruit whose reputation took a modest hit over the past year, was named co-ROY with Louisville's Samardo Samuels.

The official Media Day page contains links to a preview for each team. The link for Villanova's preview is here.

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