Pico Dulce at the East Coast Bias is putting together a Big East basketball roundtable with a number of bloggers from around the conference. The full summation of everyone's opinions will be online sometime shortly, but since greyCat over at Villanova By the Numbers, Chris at I Bleed Blue and White, and Black and Green decided to post their takes, I figured I'd post mine here.
1. Q: What's new with your team since the end of last season?
A: There's going to be a number of new faces at DePaul this season. Transfer Eric Wallace comes in from Ohio State and will probably take over for the departed Dar Tucker, who made the still questionable decision to jump to the NBA. Also, freshman Tony Freeland might see a few minutes this season once he's eligible. This though looks like a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Mac Koshwal and Will Walker are going to have to lead the Blue Demons anywhere they go this season. 2. Q: Cash or Clunker: Name the teams that you think will be the top 3 squads next season in the Big East (the Cash)... and the bottom 3 (Clunkers). Bonus: which team's finish in the league is most difficult to predict?
A: Top 3: Villanova, Georgetown, Connecticut. Bottom 3: Providence, Rutgers, DePaul. I think an older St. John's team is probably the most difficult team to predict. They've got a bit of talent and a balanced team. I could see them finishing in the top-middle of the conference, but I could also see them in the bottom quarter of the conference again.
3. Q: The Big East enters the season without a lot of players who have carryover buzz from last season - Luke Harangody and perhaps Scottie Reynolds are the names a casual fan might be most familiar with. Which players will step up and be the "face of the league"?
A: This year seems like Luke Harangody's year. He had an awesome season last season, but it got a little lost in the fact that Notre Dame as a team wasn't too good. This year they'll probably be an NCAA caliber squad and he'll get the due he deserves. Two other names: Georgetown center Greg Monroe - the national media loves the Hoyas, and Monroe will be a force; Marquette forward Lazar Hayward - he will the be story of the year if the Golden Eagles do anything this season.
4. Q: Before practice starts, who would you say is the most pivotal player on your team? Who is your candidate for breakout player in the Big East (and please state how the player will be better than last year)?
A: Mac Koshwal is by far the most important on DePaul. He has to play well every game. The breakout player for me seems to be Devin Ebanks of West Virginia. But that's going from above-average to face of the league type breakout. Ebanks looked ready to be a superstar during Big East Conference play last season. Another sleeper candidate is Marquette forward Jimmy Butler. Butler was incredible efficient in the minutes he played last season when he wasn't asked to do too much. It comes down to how he handles being a starter instead of a complimentary player, but he's got the build and skills to be a great player.
5. Q: Twitter has become influential in broadcasting basketball/ sports information. What's your opinion of the service? Have you adopted Twitter for your blog? What have been the plusses and minuses?
A: I really like Twitter (find me @chicolbball). I think that it allows you to share short opinions and links that you wouldn't normally write about. While most college basketball coaches use it as a way to broadcast boring messages, some of the good coaching Tweeters actually give relevant information.
6. Q: What have you been doing with your time without basketball games?
A: Without basketball I've been watching a lot of baseball and analyzing last season's college basketball. Also, I've been simulating college basketball games using Classic College Basketball - when I need a fix.
7. Q: The summer is slow; so when Pitino's "mistake" is made public, or when Calipari's former team is penalized, or when someone posits a way for the Big East Conference to pick up new football members, the story tends to stick around a little longer than it would during the season. What college basketball story are you tired of this offseason?
A: The Big East expansion rumors just get more and more ridiculous. The conference isn't going to go above 16 teams and kicking someone out seems like it would end up being quite the process. Sure, every once in a while Joe Paterno wants a sweeter deal in the Big Ten, but the Penn State isn't going anywhere. We need to let the conferences settle and stay where they are.
Only a month until Midnight Madness!