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15 January 2008

Feature: Big East struggles

posted by Foye's Boy
1/15/2008 11:39:00 AM
After a slow start in conference play, I found it necessary to offer my input on what is going on with the 'Cats. These are my reasons for why they are 1-2 in Big East play:
  • Strength and depth of the Big East Conference: It's my opinion that the Big East is the deepest conference in the country. With 4 teams in the Top 25 rankings (G'town - 6, Marquette - 13, Pitt - 16, Villanova - 21), this conference is stacked with talent in every lineup. Cincinnati, which was 2-14 in the conference last year, already has three wins. Here is a good way to look at how any one of the 16 Big East teams can beat each other on a given night: Villanova beat Pittsburgh, who beat last year's Final Four beast Georgetown, but then Villanova lost to Cincinnati. Cincinnati beat Louisville and Syracuse, but then lost to the lowly Red Storm from St. John's. There is so much parity in this conference, and I would not be surprised to see seven, or maybe eight Big East teams in the NCAA tournament. With two recent losses in only three Big East games and the tough schedule that lies ahead for the 'Cats, Villanova really cannot afford to take any games for granted.
  • The overall youth of the lineup: With no seniors and only 3 upperclassmen (Dante, Dwayne, and Shane), the 'Cats have a very young squad this year. Freshman Corey Fisher is averaging 25 minutes a game, and freshmen Malcolm Grant, Antonio Pena, and Corey Stokes are all getting solid playing time. All are experiencing their first Big East action this year, and these youngsters will need time to learn how to play with one another. They have yet to establish the chemistry that Mike Nardi, Will Sheridian, and Curtis Sumpter had last year. Also, the freshmen lack the experience of playing on the road in a hostile and loud arena. It is very difficult to play on the road in this conference, and the 'Cats do not really have a solid road win this year, if you count the Disney tournament as a neutral site. Although this team's youth will help them build for years to come, I feel the lack of experience may be hurting them now.
  • The injury to Casiem Drummond: Casiem Drummond, who has been sidelined the past few weeks with a stress fracture in his right ankle, has yet to see any Big East play. Drummond leads the 'Cats in rebounds per game (7.9), despite only playing 18.6 minutes per game. Casiem had a tremendous start to the season, and has surprised many with a new burst of energy that was not really evident last season. 'Nova is dead last in the Big East in rebounds per game (36.2), and desperately needs to change this if the 'Cats are going to improve their 1-2 start. The Wildcats are not really deep when it comes to big men, and they really need to get Drummond back. It was reported that he is back in practice, and should get some minutes against DePaul on Wednesday night. That is great news for the 'Cats, who are trying to avenge their 84-76 loss to the Blue Demons on January 3.

Although there are many more possible explanations for why 'Nova has started 1-2 (including perimeter defense, among other things), I feel that these three are the biggest factors. Feel free to offer your own input in the comment section, and as always, GO CATS!

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At 12:40 PM, January 17, 2008, Blogger Dewey said...

Using national rankings is a suspect method by which to determine which conference is the deepest, best, whatever. Voters typically don't watch all that many games.

That's why Villanova has a top 25 ranking even though they probably don't deserve it. They've played terribly all too often this year; sometimes they get away with it, and sometimes they don't, but regardless they don't deserve to be ranked until they play with some consistency.

Overall, the Big East looks pretty terrible this year. All of college basketball looks weak this year, actually. At least so far, from what I've seen.

At 2:59 PM, January 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dewey, i completely disagree...

how is rankings a suspect way of determining strength?....and please tell me a deeper conference than the big east? how can you say college basketball is weak?? you're not making a whole lot of sense bro


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