Tag:Big East
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:55 am

Big East set to lose another with WVU to Big 12

By Matt Norlander

Our Brett McMurphy is reporting West Virginia is beginning to take the suitcases off its closet's top shelf.

With Missouri to the SEC imminent, the Big 12 will need another program to pilfer and keep its league at 10 teams. That program is West Virginia, who is all too pleased to be leaving the molding carcass that is the Big East.

The Mountaineers invitation to the Big 12 is contingent on Missouri leaving for the SEC. Once Missouri notifies the Big 12 it is leaving, the Mountaineers' official invitation could come within "24-48 hours," a source said. 

The Mountaineers would be the latest to leave the Big East Conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced they are leaving for the ACC and TCU will join the Big 12 next season.

Basketball-wise, Missouri in the SEC doesn't do much to improve its stature or NCAA chances. If anything, this is a lateral move. But the school should make more money, so that's why it's going. West Virginia in the Big 12? A little out of sorts in geographical terms, but when has that stopped a league from making a move? The Mountaineers probably stand a slightly better chance at league titles and basketball fruition in the Big 12, though it's not a notable step up.

Football-wise? What a jump. And now the Big 12 looks relatively secure, something that, honestly, didn't seem possible as recently as a month ago.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 7:09 pm

Video: Mike Brey stage-dives into crowd of co-eds

By Matt Norlander

Channeling his inner metalhead, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey decided "F it, let's do this" and gave up his body to the Irish undergrad faithful at Friday's football pep rally.

Brey gave a brief speech on his team before taking his majestic flight. He landed safely, and as you'll see. The victorious fist pump is spectacular as well, but soon after, he's sucked up by the crowd, never to appear again.

One last thing: beware the BREYBELLLY.

(H/T, Searching for Billy Edelin)

Posted on: October 21, 2011 11:35 am

Notebook: Big East Media Day news and notes

By Jeff Borzello

NEW YORK – Conference media days are a dream for writers that want a lot of information and people in one place. Simply put, they provide a treasure trove of nuggets on each team in the league. There were too many leftovers in the notebook to leave out and not share with everyone. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits gathered on Wednesday at Big East Media Day.

- Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis was recently suspended for four games after the NCAA ruled on a violation he committed three years ago. “We tried to fight it, but a rule is a rule,” Abromaitis said. “I accepted it.”

- Who will replace Ben Hansbrough at the point guard spot? Sophomore Eric Atkins (above), who led the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio last season. “He was our sixth man last year, but he’s ready to elevate his game,” Abromaitis said.

- Sophomore Jerian Grant received rave reviews for his work over the summer and in the early part of the fall. “He’s playing really well,” Abromaitis said. “He’s learning things as a player, moving without the ball, guarding his man. That’s what we’ll need him to do.”

- DePaul received three pieces of bad news in the past week. Junior forward Tony Freeland will miss the season with a shoulder injury, while freshman Montray Clemons is done for the year after rupturing a tendon in his knee. Moreover, the NCAA ruled freshman Macari Brooks ineligible. “We thought we were pretty deep,” head coach Oliver Purnell said. “We can’t afford any more injuries.”

- Purnell thinks Cleveland Melvin (right) is somewhat underrated on a national level, after averaging 14.3 points and winning Big East Rookie of the Year honors. “Probably so,” Purnell said. “He had a good freshman year and a really good summer.”

- Rutgers brought in a highly-touted freshman class – and the incoming guards are impressing early on. “Our guards have a little more experience than our big men,” forward Dane Miller said, pointing to Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears. Coach Mike Rice, however, thinks Eli Carter could make more of an impact than both of them. “He might lead my freshman in points per game.”

- Rice is impressed with Kansas State transfer Wally Judge. “He’s a physical specimen. He just has to develop that consistency.”

- Forward Kadeem Jack will likely be out until mid-January with a foot injury. Jack was looking like he would have a major impact in the frontcourt. “He’s somebody where the light was already on,” Rice said.

- Marquette forward Jae Crowder is pegging sophomore Vander Blue (right) as a true breakout performer. “He had a great summer, played in the Pro/Am, played for USA basketball,” Crowder said. “His confidence is up; last year, he lost confidence. A lot of pressure is on him.”

- Out of the freshmen, California native Juan Anderson has stood out the most to Crowder. “He’s athletic, he goes hard, has a great motor,” Crowder said. “Buzz [Williams] loves it, I love it.”

- Despite the loss of three starters from last season, West Virginia forward Kevin Jones thinks highly of this year’s team. “This is the most talented team I’ve been on,” he said – and that includes the Elite Eight group that had Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks.

- Freshman point guard Jabarie Hinds was cleared to play late in the process, but he’s already been impressive. “He had to catch up,” Jones said. “But he’s looking real good, doing the right things.”

- With Czech Republican native Patrik Auda and Latvian guard Haralds Karlis in the fold, Seton Hall has taken a foreign turn recently. “It’s fun,” guard Jordan Theodore said. “I’m trying new foods, trying to teach them slang.”

- Fun fact: Auda knows five languages – Dutch, Spanish, Czech, English and Russian.

- Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson said the Hoyas still laugh about the infamous brawl in China over the summer. “It was a great bonding experience,” Thompson said.

- Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green, Dwyane Wade and other NBA players came back to Georgetown to work out during the lockout. Thompson said the one who benefitted the most was Henry Sims, who played against Hibbert on a regular basis.

Photo: US Presswire (Eric Atkins, Cleveland Melvin, Vander Blue)

Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 3:45 pm

Pitt looks to take the next step this season

By Jeff Borzello

NEW YORK – In terms of winning percentage in the last decade, only Kansas and Duke can compare to Pittsburgh.

What separates the Panthers from the upper echelon of basketball powers, though, is the lack of Final Four appearances and national championships. They have reached the Sweet 16 five times in the last 11 seasons, but only advanced past there once. That happened in 2009, when Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds went coast-to-coast to knock off Pittsburgh in the Elite Eight.

“It hangs over our head,” senior guard Ashton Gibbs said. “The fact is, we built a tradition like this. Everyone is looking at us.”

“It’s a motivator,” senior Nick Rivers added. “We haven’t reached our goal yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying to reach it.”

Season tips Nov. 7

Heading into this season, Jamie Dixon’s troops are on track for another 25-30-win season, ranking No. 10 in the CBSSports.com Preseason Top 25 (and one). They return seven of their top 10 players from last year, when Pittsburgh won 28 games and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament before suffering a heartbreaking loss to Butler in the second round.

Moreover, the Panthers bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the country, including five-star big man Khem Birch.

“We’re good enough to win a national title,” Gibbs said.

It all starts with Gibbs in the backcourt. The preseason Big East Player of the Year decided to return to Pitt for his senior season, and is ready to shoulder a bigger load with Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee all moving on from last season’s group.

Gibbs is one of the top 3-point shooters in the country, knocking down nearly 47 percent of his long-range shots en route to a 16.7 ppg clip.

“He’s gotten better each year,” Dixon said. “It’s more of the same.”

Replacing Wanamaker on the perimeter will be a combination of players. Travon Woodall, who was second on the team in assists last season, will help Gibbs at the point guard position, while junior Lamar Patterson and redshirt freshman Cameron Wright are also getting rave reviews for their work so far in practices.

Up front, senior Nasir Robinson returns as a starter – but he will miss three more weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. Juniors Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor are expected to take a major step forward this season.

With so many players fighting for spots, practices have been filled with energy and hustle.

“There’s a lot of intensity, like I’ve never experienced before,” Rivers said. “It’s wide open. There are a lot of good players. It’s going to depend on who’s consistent, who listens and who works hard.

“We’re a matchup nightmare. You never know who you’re going to have to play against.”

The key for Pittsburgh could be the arrival of Birch. Originally a class of 2012 recruit, Birch decided to reclassify to 2011 last November and play at Pittsburgh this fall. The 6-foot-9 Canadian was one of the best big men in the high school ranks last season, and will look to make an immediate impact.

“He has a great motor, runs the court really well,” Gibbs said, also mentioning fellow freshman Malcolm Gilbert as an impact player. “We just have to see if he lives up to the hype.”

Pittsburgh will be versatile, deep, talented and hungry this season – a difficult combination for most opponents.

Of course, the Panthers will also be as physical and tough as ever.

“We’re going to play Pitt basketball,” Robinson said.

This season, they hope that includes a Final Four berth.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: October 20, 2011 9:16 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 10:03 am

Cincinnati's Yancy Gates finally stress-free

I've fallen behind a bit in my tour that began last week on Tobacco Road and has taken me though Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Butler, Indiana and Purdue. Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room in gorgeous Goshen, Ind., which is about halfway from West Lafayette to East Lansing, Mich., - my destination later today.

Anyway, I found it fascinating to speak to Cincinnati big man Yancy Gates two days ago - who was brutally honest about the hometown stress that became too much to handle a year ago.

By Jeff Goodman

CINCINNATI - Yancy Gates couldn't take it anymore.

He cracked.

Everywhere he'd go around town, the homegrown Cincinnati product would hear it.

"Do this," they'd say.

"No, you should do this," another would chime in.

Season tips Nov. 7
Finally, shortly after the Bearcats NCAA tournament hopes appeared in serious jeopardy early last February, he couldn't deal with it any longer.

Gates exploded.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin tossed his talented big man out of practice and then kept him home for the team's road game at Pittsburgh.

"It just all got to him," Cronin said. "He was having a meltdown. He was just so stressed."

"I watched the game in my room by myself," Gates said. "It wasn't on TV, so I just watched the score."

Gates returned and played sparingly in a road win at DePaul and a home loss to St. John's.

Then he and the coaching staff had a heart-to-heart when the emotions came pouring out.

"We didn't know how bad it was," Cronin said. "It was just too much for him."

Staying home to play at Cincinnati has been a blessing, Gates said. But it's also been a curse at times.

He was that kid who chose to commit to the home school back when the Bearcats were rebuilding as the doormat of the Big East. Just about everyone questioned his decision - why he'd pick Cincinnati over more stable programs such as Georgetown and Ohio State.

Gates was slated as a one-and-done kid by some, but it didn't take him long - a couple games going up against guys his own size like DeJuan Blair and Luke Harangody - to realize he'd be in college for a while.

But the expectations were always there for the kid who dominated ever since his name burst onto the scene in the area.

"It was different," Gates said. "In high school, I'd go up against guys 70 pounds lighter and four inches shorter every game," Gates admitted. "I was criticized for the first time - and that never really happened to me before, so it was tough for me to deal with."

Now Yates appears stress-free. Maybe it's because Cincinnati is coming off a second-round appearance in the NCAA tournament and returns the core of its team from a year ago. Maybe it's because he feels as though he's done his job - to stabilize a program in flux following the departure of Bob Huggins.

"I never thought I would be here all four years," Gates admitted. "But it's been worth it."

The knock on Gates, and he knows it, is that he doesn't play hard all the time. That he should dominate more often, that with his NBA-ready body, he should be a force on the glass and in the paint. He's lighter in his midsection these days and that'll lead to increased mobility.

He's hoping to build on his numbers (11.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) from a year ago - and much of that may come from a clear head.

"I feel so much better now," the 22-year-old Gates said. "I'm stress-free."
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:35 am

UConn's Bradley out 6 weeks with ankle fracture

By Matt Norlander

The player who gave up his scholarship so Andre Drummond could play for UConn this year will miss the first four weeks of the regular season.

Michael Bradley, a freshman forward for the Huskies, tweaked his right ankle over the weekend in one of UConn's first practices. After initial hopes of a sprain, it was discovered he had a fracture in that ankle. He's scheduled to underdog a routine surgical procedure and then endure six weeks of rehab.

UConn's season begins Nov. 11 against Columbia.

It's an ironic situation, given how much attention the school, Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, Drummond and Bradley received over the scholarship issue, which still hasn't been publicly explained by Calhoun. Bradley, who wasn't expected to be a player of large impact this year, grew up in a group home in Tennessee, is on financial aid for this season.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 6:18 pm

Podcast: Midnight Madness storytelling

By Matt Norlander

Today marks the first full week of college basketball season, and so, with diametric diligence, we're going to get after in full, too. From now through the end of the season, we'll be delivering three podcasts per week to you. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays is when you can find the new episodes. Subscribe to iTunes. Or the RSS feed. Or, if you're one of those with a Zune, yeah we've got you covered, too.

Season tips Nov. 7
Goodman and Parrish will appear pretty much once per week, and normally they'll get hump day duty. (This week, however, they'll be on Friday.) Borzello, who joins me on today's podcast, will also be a frequent guest, but in no way, shape or form is he worthy of regularly scheduled appearances.

On today's episode, Borzello and I recap our trips to Syracuse and UConn, respectively, and really expand on who Syracuse is and how successful it can be this year. Then we talk which recruits hit up which schools, and which of those Borzello thinks is most likely not to commit tothe school he was at Friday.

We wrap up things with an eight-minute conversation that tweaks and prods at the Top 25 (and one) Parrish and Goodman compiled last week. Duke too high at 6? What about Cinci and A&M -- are they getting too much respect? And which teams deserved to be ranked that weren't? (I forget to mention my belief Washington is a top-25 team.)

Enjoy. And forgive me for all my uhs. I'm working on that. I will never apologize my nougaty tenor tone, though.

Posted on: October 15, 2011 12:04 am

Buzz Williams serenades the Marquette crowd

By Matt Norlander

Only the charm of college basketball could make me temporarily put aside my seething hatred for this song.

And Buzz looks downright svelte. If only he had the same control over his voice as he does his diet.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com