Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big East Previews -- Links & Thoughts

Pico Dulce over at the east coast bias blog conducted his second roundtable of the 2011 season, graciously allowing all of the participating bloggers (there were about 19 of us, at least one from every Big East team...) to repudiate our earlier projections and rewrite history based on the OOC results so far. Pico asked about each blogger's team, the surprise team(s) so far, the disappointing team(s) through this point in the OOC and which players were exceeding expectations and which were not and how the order of finish in conference play. He was kind enough to compile the results and organize a series of posts...
Part 1 -- Team Expectations
Part 2 -- Surprise Team
Part 3 -- Most Disappointing Team
Part 4 -- Players Who Surprise; Players Who Disappoint
Part 5 -- A Revised(?) Order of Finish
The answers were very interesting and worth the time it takes to read through.

Brian Lerner over at the Hoya Prospectus blog published an offense/defense aerial of the conference on the eve of conference play along with a few observations on the comparative efficiencies so far. In addition Brian, in an effort to assess the home/away schedules through the front end of conference play, compiled a rough estimate of strength of schedule. Brian's Big East Preview is a must-read for those who want some context for the first month of play.

Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated reworked his annual "Warning List of Pretenders and Contenders". A compilation not limited to Big East teams, but Winn's premise and conclusions are always a conversation starter, especially when the team you love is identified as a pretender, a sentiment many in the Nova Nation remember from last season. Winn added an Andy Glockner-inspired metric, the Adjusted Scoring Margin, (a variant on John Gasaway's efficiency differential, except that Glockner then ranks the teams to identify the elite scoring margins, etc.) Big East teams mentioned in Winn's article include Connecticut (bad news), Notre Dame (maybe bad news), West Virginia (historical reference), Syracuse (good news) and Louisville (a sleeper). The good news for Villanova's faithful I guess is that no news is good news.

...and Thoughts
ECB Expectations -- The Pitt-UConn game last night (Monday) did not refute the Huskies' progress this season, but it does point to the weakness Luke Winn identified -- if UConn's offense is not on, their defense will probably not keep them in many games this season, and that is a departure from the best of the Connecticut teams. If ESPN's announcing crew dwelt long on Walker's scoring capabilities, they were slow to recognize and analyze UConn's lack of ball and shot distribution, especially at the end of the game, when an option #2 would have been greatly appreciated. I have Connecticut finishing somewhere between #9 and #12 in conference play. While UConn's 8-0 start, with wins over Michigan State and Kentucky are impressive and a #9-#12 finish strong hints at a losing record, I still believe this team's ceiling is about 0.500, which is pretty much where Pomeroy has them now. Winn summed up Notre Dame nicely too. If the Irish can put some defense on the floor they will be very good. The question has always been how much defense they will play.

ECB Surprise Players -- Given Cincinnati's success in the OOC, tabbing Cashmire Wright is no coincidence. The Bearcats have been in dire need of a distributing point guard, imagine had Wright been given the room/incentive to blossom last season. I am surprised Darius Odom-Johnson is struggling. While he appears to have his 2 point shot, his three point conversion is down, as are his assists.

Brian's Aerials -- One encouraging development this season has been Villanova's defensive development. A standard of the teams from 2005 through 2009 (with a few exceptions), the ability to disrupt what the opponent wants to do offensively is an important element if the team is to succeed. Compare Brian's aerials from 2008-09, 2009-10 and this season. This season's defense is farther along than either of the prior seasons. This is a promising development.

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