2009-2010 Big East Basketball Preview: Part of 3 of 5


by: David Kay

Part three of our week long Big East Hoops Preview focuses on my predictions for the fifth-eighth place teams that should be dancing come March.  Louisville captured the regular season and conference tournament titles last year but lose two major players in Terrence Williams and Earl Clark.  Syracuse loses three starters including Jonny Flynn, who made last year’s team run.

Seton Hall and Cincinnati are wild cards.  Both squads return a lot of players from last season and have talented newcomers who should make an immediate impact and in my opinion, get their respective teams into the tournament.

5. Syracuse (6th, 11-7, 28-10, Sweet 16)

2009-2010 Outlook:
Losing Jonny Flynn was understandable as he ended up being the sixth overall pick, but why Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris left early still baffles me.  Despite losing their top three scorers, the ‘Cuse shouldn’t fall off too much.  Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson will be a major addition on the wing and getting redshirt sophomore Scoop Jardine back should fill some of the void at the point.  Adding freshman DeShonte Riley alongside upperclassmen Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson will give the Orange one of the best frontcourts in the Big East.  Depth will be an issue though for Jim Boeheim.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Arinze Onuaku (Sr)/DeShonte Riley (Fr)
PF: Rick Jackson (Jr)/Kris Joseph (So)
SF: Wesley Johnson (Jr)/Mookie Jones (So)/James Southerland (Fr)
SG: Andy Rautins (Sr)
PG: Scoop Jardine (So)/Brandon Triche (Fr)

Gone: PG-Jonny Flynn, G-Eric Devendorf, G/F-Paul Harris, F-Kristof Ongenaet, C-Sean Williams (transfer-Cal State Fullerton)

Player to Watch: Johnson- Boeheim has spoken very highly of the former Cyclone this summer and thinks he will be a very special player this season.  Syracuse will need the long, athletic Johnson to pick up a good chunk of the scoring slack left behind by Flynn, Devendorf, and Harris which he should be able to do with his ability to break down defenders off the dribble.

6. Louisville (1st, 16-2, 30-6, Elite 8 )

2009-2010 Outlook:
56879913Don’t expect another re-peat of conference regular season and tournament champs for Louisville.  The loss of T-Will and Clark is huge as Rick Pitino will struggle to find someone to replace their leadership and all-around game.  The Cards’ guard play should be solid which means their full court pressure will once again be prominent.  There is young talent up-front, but the wing play will determine how good L-Ville will be this season.  It will also be interesting to see if Pitino’s off-the-court escapade serves as a lingering distraction throughout the season.

Projected Depth Chart
C: Samardo Samuels (So)/George Goode (So)
PF: Terrence Jennings (So)/Jared Swopshire (So)/Rakeem Buckles (Fr)
G: Reginald Delk (Sr)/Kyle Kuric (So)/Mike Marra (Fr)
G: Preston Knowles (Jr)/Edgar Sosa (Sr)
PG: Jerry Smith (Sr)/Peyton Siva (Fr)

Gone: G/F-Terrence Williams, F-Earl Clark, G-Andre McGee

Player to Watch: Jennings- The 6’10 sophomore is the wild card for Louisville.  He showed definite signs of improvement at the end of his freshman season.  If he can combine with Samardo Samuels to be a formidable duo down low, it will open up more opportunities outside for the guards, thus making the Cards a more rounded team.

7. Cincinnati (9th, 8-10, 18-14)

Cincinnati Shovels Out Basketball2009-2010 Outlook:
The Bearcats made nice strides last season and that should continue as they return almost everyone from ’08-’09.  Adding super-freshman Lance Stephenson is a major get as long as he behaves himself and becomes a team player at Cincy.  This team could be the sleeper in the BE especially with Cashmere Wright, who missed of all last season with an injury, back and healthy.

Projected Depth Chart
C/F: Steve Toyloy (So)/Anthony McClain (So)
PF: Yancy Gates (So)/Ibrahima Thomas (Jr)/Rashad Bishop (Jr)
G/F: Lance Stephenson (Fr)/Darnell Wilks (Jr)
G: Deonta Vaughn (Sr)/Dion Dixon (So)/Larry Davis (Jr)
PG: Cashmere Wright (Fr)/Eddie Tyree (Jr)/Jaquon Parker (Fr)

Gone: F-Alvin Mitchell (dismissed from team), F-Mike Williams

Player to Watch: Thomas- The Oklahoma State transfer will be eligible for the Bearcats after the fall semester, just in time for Big East play.  He started seven games for the Cowboys last season and should form a double-threat inside with Gates.  He could be the x-factor for a potential Cincy run to the tourney.

8. Seton Hall (11th, 7-11, 17-15)

2009-2010 Outlook:
hazellFour of their five starters are and transfers Herb Pope, Jeff Robinson, and Keon Lawrence are eligible this season, adding some much needed depth for the Pirates.  I would by no means be shocked if they finished above .500 in the conference as their experience should be a major plus, and think they have a very good chance of making the tourney.  Jeremy Hazell might be one of the better players in the country who receives little love on the national scene.

Projected Depth Chart
C: John Garcia (Sr)/Melvyn Oliver (So)
PF: Robert Mitchell (Sr)/Herb Pope (Jr)/ Matt Cajuste (So)
G/F: Jeremy Hazell (Jr)/Jeff Robinson (So)/Ferrakohn Hall (Fr)
G: Keon Lawrence (Sr)/Jamel Jackson (Jr)
PG: Eugene Harvey (Sr)/Jordan Theodore (So)

Gone: C-Mike Davis (transfer-St. Francis, NY), PF-Brandon Walters (transfer-Siena)

Player to Watch: Pope- The New Mexico State transfer averaged 11 points and almost seven boards a game in his freshman season with the Aggies.  The Pirates starting five is in tact from last season, but they lacked a boost off the bench which Pope should be able to provide, especially inside.

Monday: Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Tuesday: Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Thursday: Teams 1-4
Friday: Post-season Award Predictions