Oct. 17, 2012
NEW YORK - The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team was selected ninth in the 2012-13 BIG EAST Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The poll was announced on Wednesday morning at the league’s annual media day at the New York Athletic Club.
UConn head coach Kevin Ollie was in attendance at the event along with junior forward Tyler Olander (Mansfield, Conn.), sophomore guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) and junior Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.). Napier was named Second Team All-BIG EAST Preseason.
Louisville is the unanimous choice to win the 2012-13 BIG EAST men’s basketball regular-season. The Cardinals, who have three starters back from last year’s team that reached the NCAA Final Four, received 14 first-place votes and a total of 196 points. The league’s head coaches do not place their own teams on their ballots.
Under coach Rick Pitino last season, Louisville also won the BIG EAST tournament and finished with a 31-6 record. Senior guard Peyton Siva, who was selected 2012-13 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, is the floor leader for the Cardinals. He averaged 9.1 points and was fourth in the league in assists with a 5.6 mark last year. Center Gorgui Dieng averaged 9.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and a league-leading 3.2 blocked shots. Forward Chane Behanan made the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team after averaging 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Syracuse was tabbed for second place with 175 points. The Orange are coming off a 34-3 mark, the best record in school history. They won the BIG EAST regular-season crown with a 17-1 record and stayed in the top five of the national polls every week of the season. Syracuse reached the NCAA East Regional final. Senior guard Brandon Triche and junior forward C.J. Fair figure to lead the Orange this season. Both earned All-BIG EAST preseason recognition.
Notre Dame was picked for third place with 166 points. Coach Mike Brey may have the most experienced team in the league. The Irish return all five starters, including 6-9 senior Jack Cooley, the BIG EAST Most Improved Player last season. He helped Notre Dame post a 21-12 overall record and a 13-5 conference mark.
Cincinnati was picked fourth, the Bearcats’ highest preseason position since joining the BIG EAST in 2005-06. Coach Mick Cronin’s club has won 26 games in each of the past two seasons. Last year, the Bearcats made it to The BIG EAST Championship title game and the NCAA Sweet 16. This season, they will depend on junior guard Sean Kilpatrick, a Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team selection.
The league coaches placed Georgetown in fifth place. The Hoyas finished 24-9 last year under coach John Thompson III and were 12-6 in the BIG EAST. Thompson has to replace three starters, but has a solid young nucleus that includes sophomore forward Otto Porter, a Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team pick.
Pittsburgh is the pick for sixth place. After 10 straight NCAA Championship appearances, the Panthers slipped to 22-17 overall last year, though they did win the College Basketball Invitational. They were 5-13 in BIG EAST play. Senior point guard Tray Woodall hopes to avoid the injury bug which contributed to Pitt’s slippage last year.
Marquette, which placed seventh in the poll, is coming off its second straight NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. The Golden Eagles’ season ended with a 27-8 overall mark and a second-place BIG EAST finish at 14-4. For 2012-13, coach Buzz Williams has three returning starters including a strong backcourt that includes Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan and Todd Mayo.
The coaches tabbed USF for eighth, by far its highest position in the poll since joining the BIG EAST in 2005-06. Last year, the Bulls had a breakthrough season, earning their first NCAA bid since 1993 and won two NCAA games for the first time in school history. Stan Heath, the BIG EAST Coach of the Year, led the Bulls to a 22-14 finish and a 12-6 mark in BIG EAST play. Sophomore point guard Anthony Collins, a critical contributor as a freshman last year, returns to direct the attack.
The coaches have St. John’s 10th. Coach Steve Lavin missed most of the games last season during his recovery period from cancer surgery. He will have a young team again in 2012-13 led by guard D’Angelo Harrison, a Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team selection.
Rutgers is slotted for 11th place. The Scarlet Knights are building under third-year coach Mike Rice. He can build around the sophomore backcourt trio of Eli Carter, Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears.
Villanova is picked 12th. The Wildcats want to bounce back from last year’s 13-19 record. DePaul is 13th. The Blue Demons will be led by junior forward Cleveland Melvin, a Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team pick. Seton Hall was voted 14th. The Pirates are coming off an NIT berth last season. Providence is 15th. Second-year coach Ed Cooley expects improvement as he builds the Friar program.
|2012-13 Preseason Coaches' Poll
|1. Louisville (14)
|3. Notre Dame (1)
|10. St. John's
|14. Seton Hall
|(1st Place Votes in Parentheses)
2012-13 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Peyton Siva, Louisville
2012-13 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
2012-13 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati, G, Jr., 6-4, 221, White Plains, N.Y.
Otto Porter, Georgetown, F, So., 6-8, 205, Sikeston, Mo.
Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, C, Jr., 6-10, 225, Dakar, Senegal
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame, F, Sr., 6-9, 244, Glenview, Ill.
Vincent Council, Providence, G, Sr., 6-2, 180, Brooklyn, N.Y.
2012-13 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, G, Jr., 6-1, 171, Roxbury, Mass.
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul, F, Jr., 6-8, 208, Baltimore, Md.
D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s, G, So., 6-3, 202, Missouri City, Texas
Anthony Collins, USF, So., G, 6-1, 175, Houston, Texas
Brandon Triche, Syracuse, G, Sr., 6-4, 205, Jamesville, N.Y.
2012-13 Preseason BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Chane Behanan, Louisville, F, So., 6-7, 250, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, G, Jr., 6-5, 185, Bowie, Md.
Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh, G, Sr., 5-11, 190, Brooklyn, N.Y.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse, F, Jr., 6-8, 212, Baltimore, Md.