2009-2010 Big East Basketball Preview: Part 1 of 5


by: David Kay

Yes, it is still just the end of September, but the college basketball season is a little more than five weeks away from tipping off. Aka, I am beginning to shake like Amy Winehouse after going a day without a fix.  EVERY WEEKDAY until the season starts, thesportsbank.net will provide in-depth pre-season conference previews and predictions to get you up to speed on what to expect this season.  This week is all about the Big East.

During the 2008-2009 season, the Big East Conference made college basketball history.  It became the first conference to have nine teams ranked in the Top 25 at one time and the only conference to ever send five teams to the Sweet 16.  Two teams represented the conference in the Final Four, though both failed to advance to the championship game.

While last year was a remarkable year in the Big East with teams constantly battling on a game-to-game basis, 2009-2010 won’t provide near the excitement due to some of the top talent in the league moving on to the next level.  Still, the conference figures to be highly competitive with as many as 12 teams having a legitimate chance to be dancing come March.

Our Big East preview begins with a look at the likely cellar dwellars.  These are the bottom four teams that will struggle mightily this season and figure to be the whipping boys for the rest of the conference.

13. Rutgers (15th in BE, 2-16 in BE, 11-21 overall)

2009-2010 Outlook:
The Scarlet Knights continue to be the prey to the mighty predators of the Big East.  They haven’t gone dancing since 2001-2002 and continue to search for an identity.  Former McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario had a promising freshman season, but will not have the supporting cast he needs to lead Rutgers out of their recent rut.


Projected Depth Chart
C: Hamady N’Dyiae (Sr)/Brian Okam (Fr)
PF: Gregory Echenique (So)/Austin Johnson (Fr)/Tomasz Kokosinski (So)
SF: Jonathan Mitchell (Jr)/Patrick Jackson (So)/Dane Miller (Fr)
SG: Mike Rosario (So)/Muhamed Hasani (Fr)
PG: James Beatty (Jr)/Mike Coburn (Jr)/Mike Kuhn (So)

Gone: PG-Anthony Farmer, G/F-Jaron Griffin, PF-J.R. Inman, SG-Earl Pettis (transfer-La Salle), G-Corey Chandler (dismissed from team), C-Christian Morris (transfer)

Player to Watch: Mitchell- A former New York Mr. Basketball, Mitchell becomes eligible this season after transferring from Florida.  He is a tough match-up due to his size, strength, and inside/outside game and should likely be in Rutgers’ starting line-up from the first day of practice.

14. South Florida (14th, 4-12, 9-22)

dominique-jones-200-0217092009-2010 Outlook:
Jones is one of the most talented scorers in the conference, but has very little help around him.  There are a lot of young, unproven players coming off the bench which will put a lot of pressure on the starters.  Ohio State transfer Anthony Crater should help out at the point guard spot when he becomes eligible after the first semester.  (Yes, Jordan Dumars is the son of former Piston Joe Dumars.)

Projected Depth Chart
C: Alex Rivas (Sr)/Jarrid Famous (Jr)
PF: Augustus Gilchrist (So)/Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (Fr)
G: Dominique Jones (Jr)/Jordan Dumars (Fr)/Mike Burwell (Fr)
G: Chris Howard (Sr)/Mike Mercer (Sr)/Shaun Noriega (Fr)
PG: Justin Leemow (So)/B.J. Daniels (So)/Anthony Crater (So)

Gone: G-Jesus Verdejo, F-Mobolaji Ajayi, F-Aris Williams, F-Eladio Espinosa

Player to Watch: Gilchrist- His length and athleticism make him an interesting player for the Bulls.  However, he will need to get more physical inside as he only averaged 4.4 rebounds a game last season which is surprising considering his 6’10 height.  There were times when he looked like a legit number two option, but just as often failed to show up.  Gaining consistency will be a key if SoFla is going to make any noise in the conference.


15. Providence (7th, 10-8, 19-14, NIT)

2009-2010 Outlook:
Keno Davis’ crew surprised some last season, but loses five of their top seven scorers to graduation.  They will rely heavily on their backcourt this season as they are very young and inexperienced up-front.  It will definitely be a re-building year for the Friars who won’t cause near the commotion in the conference this year.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Ray Hall (Jr)/James Still (Fr)
F: Bilal Dixon (Fr)/Jamine Peterson (So)/Kadeem Betts (Fr)/Russ Permeneter (Jr)
G/F: Marshon Brooks (Jr)
SG: Brian McKenzie (Sr)/Duke Mondy (Fr)
PG: Sharaud Curry (Sr)/Johnnie Lacy (Fr)/Luke Burchett (Sr)/Vincent Council (Fr)

Gone: SG-Weyinmi Efejuku, F-Geoff McDermott, G-Jeff Xavier, F/C-Jonathan Kale, C-Randall Hanke

Player to Watch: Dixon- Due to an influx of veteran talent last season, Dixon was red-shirted.  Davis was quoted as saying he would have been able to make an impact in limited minutes last season and will need to step in right away for a very inexperienced, unproven group up-front this year.  If he can become an inside presence, the re-building process at Providence could be a lot smoother than anticipated.

16. DePaul (16th, 0-18, 9-24)

jerry-wainwright-depaul-blue-demons2009-2010 Outlook:
The Blue Demons should at least win one game in conference play this year, but not many more.  Dar Tucker bolted early and ended up not being drafted.  Had he returned, DePaul would have potentially been a middle of the pack squad.  Mac Koshwal tested the NBA waters and should continue to improve as a post player.  Will Walker can light it up from deep, but the rest of the roster is a question mark especially with Tony Freeland yet to be cleared by the NCAA.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Mac Koshwal (Jr)/Kene Obi (So)/Krys Faber (So)
PF: Devin Hill (So)/Tony Freeland (Fr)
SF: Mario Stula (Jr)/Mike Stovall (Jr)
G: Will Walker (Sr)/Eric Wallace (So)
PG: Jeremiah Kelly (So)/Michael Bizoukis (So)

Gone: SF-Dar Tucker, C-Matija Pocsic, G-Jabari Currie

Player to Watch: Walker- Dude loves to slang three-pointers like it’s going out of style.  He came on strong at the end of last season and will have to pick up the scoring slack left behind by Tucker.  If his trigger from deep is on, it should only help Koshwal operate inside and keep the Blue Demons from being a complete laughing stock like last season.

Tuesday: Teams 9-12
Wednesday: Teams 5-8
Thursday: Teams 1-4
Friday: Post-season Award Predictions