Thursday, January 1, 2009

Big East Rookies -- 10 15 To Watch

Samuels and Monroe were named Big East co-ROYs on Media Day back in October, but there will be a team of eleven (including an ROY) that will be named in March. I wanted, as the regular season gets underway, to take a look at number of players who will no doubt be under consideration for the All Rookie Team. I suspect Monroe and Samuels are heavy favorites to take the year-end honor as well, but should either or both falter, the next in line is most likely among the 15 others listed below:

Mike RosarioRUG79.632.553.51.1524.221.0
G EcheniqueRUF73.621.263.11.2689.253.8
S SamuelsVilleC70.026.855.91.2271.051.6
Greg MonroeGTUF/C68.922.957.61.27100.072.7
K WalkerConnG64.915.856.51.3074.262.9
D BryantWVUG59.
J KellyDPUG54.114.944.60.9318.512.3
Devin EbanksWVUF54.019.446.70.9756.029.3
Yancy GatesNatiF50.735.759.11.1922.213.1
Kris JosephCuseF46.515.150.90.9848.118.5
Q RobertsSJG44.
Jason ClarkGTUG44.012.351.71.2769.065.5
E EspinosaUSFF34.812.152.41.1081.047.6
Ashton GibbsPittG28.418.158.51.2326.822.0
Gus GilchristUSFC27.926.037.50.8036.519.2
N RobinsonPittF24.210.647.40.9436.815.8
J SwopshireVilleF20.517.650.01.0350.027.3

[Note -- all data, except for PPWS was drawn from individual Team pages from ESPN's website]

Some Housekeeping...
The players are sorted by playing time, under the assumption that those who play more probably (according to their head coaches...) that which their respective teams need, be it scoring, rebounding, defense, etc. I then sorted (within playing time) by field goal efficiency, though to properly gauge a player's role with respect to team offense, looking next at Shot% may make more sense. Some of the players listed are starting games and logging 25+ minutes per game while others are playing somewhere in the 15-20 minute range. What most have in common is efficient scoring (see eFG% and PPWS, most are >50.0 and >1.05 respectively) while simultaneously taking a large enough percentage of the shots when they are on the floor to be considered a 1st, 2nd or 3rd option on offense.

Oasis in a Sea of Sand...
Rutgers had the defense last season, but Scarlet fans grew understandably weary with measuring success by the margin of defeat (and taking an occasional win against a Villanova or Pittsburgh). St. Anthony's Mike Rosario gave Rutgers their first New Jersey HS POY in a decade, and combined with St. Benedict's Greg Echenique, technically a junior who reclassified and cleared additional credits through the NCAA, provided the Knights with their best recruiting class in a long, long time. Coach Hill wasted no time getting these guys on the court. Both have logged twelve starts in twelve games (through games of 12/30/08) and more minutes than any other players on the Rutgers roster. Should Rosario pull Rutgers out of the cellar this season, I suspect he would, like Dominique Jones of South Florda last season, receive some consideration for the POY. As it is he will most likely have to settle for a unanimous selection to the All Rookie Team. Echenique, a player from Venezuela who enrolled at St. Benedict's two years ago to raise his profile for a possible D1 scholarship (and a college education) provides, when starting next to junior Hamady N'Diaye, a Twin Towers look for Rutgers. And some needed front court defesne and rebounding. Echenique also contributes about ?? points to the Rutgers offense.

Other Favorites...
Should the Samuels/Monroe pair falter then Connecticut's Kemba Walker or Cincinnati's Yancy Gates will be there to take the standard. Gates, like Rosario/Echenique has started virtually every game this season for the already front court-loaded Bearcats, while Walker logs quality minutes often the first player off the bench to mix in with junior pg AJ Price and senior combo guard Craig Austrie. I suspect head coach Jim Calhoun would love to start both Price and Walker, leaving to opponents to figure out who is running the offense. Gates is a DeJuan Blair-style big forward/center who scores and rebounds better than his dimensions would suggest. He, along with senior forward Mike Williams, leads the Bearcats for rebounding. Others who will get notice and are virtually certain to get votes include Darryl "Truck" Bryant from West Virginia. Bryant worked himself into the starting lineup and has stayed there for the last six games. The injury to junior point guard Joe Mazzulla, has put the ball in his hands as he has run the 'Eer team for Bob Huggins. St. John's Quincy Roberts has appeared in virtually every Johnnies game this season, and has started the last two games for Norm Robert's squad.

Late Comer...
South Florida's Gus Gilchrist's waiver application was approved by the NCAA and he has appeared in the last six Bull's games, starting 2 of them. Gilchrist is a work in progress (maybe not as far along as Gates or Blair from last season...), but the Bulls need him now.

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