2009-2010 Big East Basketball Preview: Part 4 of 5


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by: David Kay

After running down my predictions for who will finish 5th-16th in the Big East, it’s time to take a look at the conference title contenders.  While the BE loses a lot of talent from last season, Villanova and West Virginia should be the teams to beat this season and could potentially be real contenders to make the Final Four.

UConn has some big shoes to fill on their roster but Jim Calhoun is a proven winner and has a re-loaded team loaded with talent.  Georgetown should be ready to bounce back from a very disappointing 2008-2009 campaign.

1. Villanova (4th in Big East in ’08-’09, 13-5 in BE, 30-8 overall, Final Four)

2009-2010 Outlook:
The Wildcats boast one of the best backcourts in college basketball, but as usual, will not have a lot of size down low.  They have a very talented recruiting class and if those in-coming freshmen can replace the three seniors ‘Nova lost, they should be the team to beat in the Big East.  The newcomers will have some early chances to show their potential as Reggie Redding has been suspended for the first semester after being found with marijuana in his car.  The addition of Duke transfer Taylor King should make the Cats even more lethal from the outside.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Antonio Pena (Sr)/Mouphtaou Yarou (Fr)/Maurice Sutton (So)
F: Reggie Redding (Sr)/Isaiah Armwood (Fr)
G/F: Corey Stokes (Jr)/Taylor King (So)/Russell Wooten (Sr)
G: Corey Fisher (Jr)/Dominic Cheek (Fr)
PG: Scottie Reynolds (Sr)/Maalik Wayns (Fr)

Gone: F-Dante Cunningham, F-Shane Clark, G/F-Dwayne Anderson

Player to Watch: Fisher- As a sophomore, Fisher averaged almost 11 points per game coming off the bench.  He will have an expanded role as a starter this season and should take some of the point guard responsibility off of Reynolds’ shoulders which should open Scottie up to be more of a shooter.  Fisher could be poised for a break-out season as he has a tremendous scoring ability.

2. West Virginia (7th, 10-8, 23-12, NCAA First Round)

2009-2010 Outlook:
The big off-season drama centered around point guards Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla who were suspended indefinitely for off-the-court issues.  Both players were recently re-instated which makes the Mountaineers a serious contender for the conference crown.  Once again, WVU will rely on their defense and long, versatile, athletic forwards to carry them.

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Wellington Smith (Sr)/Cam Thoroughman (Jr)/Deniz Kilicli (Fr)
F: John Flowers (Jr)/Kevin Jones (So)/Dan Jennings (Fr)
F: Devin Ebanks (So)/ Dalton Pepper (Fr)
G/F: De’Sean Butler (Sr)/Casey Mitchell (So)
PG: Truck Bryant (So)/Joe Mazzulla (Jr)/Johnnie West (Jr)

Gone: SG-Alex Ruoff Josh Sowards (Sr)

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Player to Watch: Ebanks- His freshman season didn’t get off to the start that many hoped, but Ebanks really elevated his game the last two months of the season.  He might be one of the most versatile defenders in the country which fits perfectly with Huggins’ style.  If he can become a more consistent threat from the outside, watch out!

3. UConn (2nd, 15-3, 31-5, Final 4)

Connecticut Indiana Basketball2009-2010 Outlook:
Another trip to the Final Four seems highly unlikely for UConn as Jim Calhoun loses three major weapons in Thabeet, Adrien, and Price.  Walker should step into the full-time point guard role without missing much of a beat while Dyson and Robinson will be counted on to pick up the scoring slack.  The question will be up-front where newcomers Oriakhi and Mojak (who won’t be eligible until mid-December) will be asked to step in and contribute right away.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Alex Oriakhi (Fr)/Charles Okwandu (Jr)/Jonathan Mandeldove (Sr)
PF: Gavin Edwards (Sr)/Ater Mojak (Fr)
SF: Stanley Robinson (Sr)/Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (Fr)
SG: Jerome Dyson (Sr)/Donnell Beverly (Jr)/Jamaal Trice (Fr)
PG: Kemba Walker (So)/Darius Smith (Fr)

Gone: C-Hasheem Thabeet, PG-A.J. Price, PF-Jeff Adrien, SG-Craig Austrie, SG-Scottie Haralson (transfer-Tulsa)

Player to Watch: Dyson- The Husky shooting guard missed the final seven games of the season and the entire NCAA Tournament due to a knee injury.  He will need to come back at full strength as he is the only established outside threat UConn will have.  Calhoun will also likely count on Dyson to emerge as the team’s go-to scorer, a change from his previous complimentary role.

4. Georgetown (12th, 7-11, 16-15, NIT)

monroe12009-2010 Outlook:
After a very disappointing 2008-2009 campaign, JT3’s Hoyas should be back near the top of the conference.  For that to happen, Greg Monroe will need to establish himself as a dominant player which he is very capable of doing.  Depth will be a concern for G-Town especially on the wing.  Their freshmen will need to contribute right away if Georgetown is going to finish this high.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Greg Monroe (So)/Henry Sims (So)
PF: Julian Vaughn (Jr)/Jerrelle Benimon (Fr)
SF: Nikita Mescheriakov (So)/Hollis Thompson (Fr)
SG: Austin Freeman (Jr)/Vee Sanford (Fr)
PG: Chris Wright (Jr)/Jason Clark (So)

Gone: F-DaJuan Summers, G-Jesse Sapp, G/F-Omar Wattad (transfer-Chattanooga)

Player to Watch: Sims- The highly recruited freshman failed to make a major impact in his first year.  Both he and Macklin were unable to provide the Hoyas with the inside presence the team needed.  In order for Monroe (and ultimately Georgetown) to take his game to the next level, Sims will need to establish himself beyond the 1.9 points and 1.7 boards a game he averaged in less than ten minutes per game last season.

WEEK LONG PREVIEW:
Monday:  Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Tuesday: Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Wednesday: Teams 5-8 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Seton Hall)
Friday: Post-season Award Predictions

Comments

  1. mswollering says:

    I hope you archive all your work during these glory years, David. Because when you’re old and 85 and losing it, you can look back on insane life’s work worth of basketball genius and realize how much time you dedicated to it. Your grandsons will flip that their Grandpa David was the nerdiest genius to date.

  2. my apologies to Pete for not writing “Peter Christian’s Boy” when referring to Scotty Reynolds

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