Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Big East Roundtable: Part II

Already a two-time All-American in his first three seasons, it's no surprise that Doug McDermott is consensus choice for Big East Player of the Year honors. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Following the first half of our Big East roundtable, we bring you its conclusion, where our nine panelists offer their picks for the conference Player, Rookie and Coach of the Year; as well as the all-Big East first team, and surmise the rest of the league in a game of word association. Finally, each of our representatives will get the opportunity to win over casual fans in a shameless plug for the teams that they cover. Our own Jaden Daly will once again serve as moderator, but before we resume, let's reintroduce the panel:

(Click here for the first half of the roundtable)

Representing Creighton: Patrick Marshall, White And Blue Review (Twitter: @wildjays, @whitebluereview)
Representing DePaul: Dan Stack, We Are DePaul (Twitter: @WeAreDePaul, @StacDemon)
Representing Georgetown: Andrew Geiger, Casual Hoya (Twitter: @CasualHoya)
Representing Marquette: Mark Strotman, Paint Touches (Twitter: @PaintTouches)
Representing Providence: Daniel James, Friarblog.com (Twitter: @TheWarriorFriar)
Representing St. John's: Norman Rose, Rumble In The Garden (Twitter: @ECoastBias, @rumbleSBN)
Representing Seton Hall: Jason Guerette, South Orange Juice and New Jersey Newsroom (Twitter: @JPGuerette)
Representing Villanova: Chris Lane, VUHoops.com (Twitter: @VUhoops, @chrisjjlane)
Representing Xavier: Brad Dobney, Banners On The Parkway (Twitter: @BannersParkway)

Question #5a: Who will be the Big East Player of the Year?
Results: Doug McDermott, Creighton (unanimous)

Why McDermott?
Patrick Marshall: He has done everything asked of him in the MVC. Outside of the conference, he has had big games against all of the big name competition. He was already a two-time Player of the Year in the MVC. How many people can say that they were the Player of the Year in two different conferences? That would be pretty remarkable.
Dan Stack: Is there any doubt?
Mark Strotman: He may be the best player in the country.
Brad Dobney: Yes, he's been in the MVC for the last three years, but I think his shooting ability plays anywhere. Everyone knows he can score, but his defensive rebounding percentage was over 20 and good for 159th in the nation last year.

Question #5b: Who will be the Big East Rookie of the Year?
Results: Rysheed Jordan, St. John's (4 votes), JaJuan Johnson, Marquette (3 votes), Brandon Austin, Providence (1 vote), Brandon Randolph, Xavier (1 vote)

PM: This is really tough. Again, not knowing the league real well yet, they are all newcomers and rookies to me. Since Xavier has a lot to prove and they are likely to throw Brandon Randolph into the mix right away at point guard, I'll go with him.
DS: JaJuan Johnson. Fits in nicely with the departure of Vander Blue.
Andrew Geiger: Rysheed Jordan.
MS: Rysheed Jordan. Might be the easy way out since he's the highest-ranked incoming freshman, but the playing time will be there, and he's talented.
Daniel James: Brandon Austin.
Norman Rose: JaJuan Johnson or whichever Marquette guard gets minutes.
Jason Guerette: Rysheed Jordan.
Chris Lane: JaJuan Johnson.
BD: Rysheed Jordan.

Question #5c: Who will be the Big East Coach of the Year?
Results: Buzz Williams, Marquette (4 votes), Ed Cooley, Providence (1 vote), Jay Wright, Villanova (1 vote), John Thompson III, Georgetown (1 vote), Kevin Willard, Seton Hall (1 vote), Other (1 vote)

PM: If I'm going with Georgetown as the league champ, then I will have to go with John Thompson III as the Coach of the Year. Really, whoever navigates themselves through this league as the champion deserves to have the Coach of the Year. However, I would like to see Greg McDermott get it, as he was kind of snubbed after Creighton's outright MVC championship last season; and if Creighton can win the Big East, that would be some redemption for him.
DS: Buzz Williams. With all teams relatively close to each other in talent, the team with the best record; and I picked Marquette, will likely have the Coach of the Year, although I like Ed Cooley as a sleeper pick.
AG: Buzz Williams.
MS: Jay Wright. I think Villanova will be near the top of the conference when it's all said and done, and that earns Wright the nod here.
DJ: Buzz Williams.
NR: Sham award based on popularity and win-loss record.
JG: Buzz Williams.
CL: Ed Cooley.
BD: I see a lot of possibilities here, and I'll probably hate this pick come the end of the year, but I'm going with Kevin Willard. I honestly believe he is turning Seton Hall back into a national power.

All-Big East First Team
PM: Jamil Wilson, (Marquette) Markel Starks, (Georgetown) Semaj Christon, (Xavier) Darrun Hilliard, (Villanova) Doug McDermott (Creighton)
DS: Doug McDermott, Bryce Cotton, (Providence) JaKarr Sampson, (St. John's) Semaj Christon, Markel Starks
MS: Doug McDermott, Bryce Cotton, D'Angelo Harrison, (St. John's) Kadeem Batts, (Providence) Markel Starks, Davante Gardner (Marquette)
NR: Semaj Christon, D'Angelo Harrison, JayVaughn Pinkston, (Villanova) Doug McDermott, Davante Gardner
JG: Doug McDermott, Davante Gardner, JaKarr Sampson, Fuquan Edwin, (Seton Hall) Markel Starks, Bryce Cotton
CL: Semaj Christon, D'Angelo Harrison, Doug McDermott, JayVaughn Pinkston, Davante Gardner, Markel Starks
BD: Doug McDermott, Markel Starks, D'Angelo Harrison, JayVaughn Pinkston, Bryce Cotton

Word Association (panelists were asked to describe each team in the Big East, including those that they cover, in as few words as possible)

PM: Questionable
DS: Respect
AG: TooBadBradStevensLeft (that can also be a hashtag)
MS: Makeover
DJ: :(
NR: Plucky
JG: Hinkle
CL: Unlucky
BD: Barn

PM: Solid
DS: Wise
AG: Nebraska
MS: Doug
DJ: Rivals?
NR: Cornfed
JG: Offense
CL: Farm
BD: Midwest

PM: Rebuilding
DS: Intriguing
AG: Embarrassing
MS: Improving
DJ: Her?
NR: Hyperspeed
JG: Perpetual
CL: Who?
BD: Horrible

PM: Legend
DS: Physical
AG: Casual
MS: Questions
DJ: Overrated
NR: Dependable
JG: Grind
CL: 1985
BD: Classy

PM: Rivalry
DS: Consistent
AG: Buzz
MS: Gritty
DJ: Unstoppable
NR: Solid
JG: Hustle
CL: Tough
BD: Buzz

PM: Trendy
DS: Upswing
AG: Emerging
MS: Potential
DJ: Sleeper
NR: Black
JG: Cooley
CL: Marinatto
BD: Underrated

St. John's
DS: Talented
AG: Undisciplined
MS: Talent
DJ: Underrated
NR: Hyped
JG: Pressure
CL: Unpredictable
BD: Garden

Seton Hall
PM: Lost
DS: Transitioning
AG: Snooki
MS: Pope-less
DJ: Soon
NR: Uninspiring
JG: Overachieve
CL: Ahoy!
BD: Comeback

PM: Spoilers
DS: Shooting
AG: Cocaine
MS: Underrated
DJ: Enigma
NR: Clobberin' time
JG: Retooled
CL: Armani
BD: Dangerous

PM: Popes
DS: Imposing
AG: Jesuit
MS: Bubble
DJ: Hard-nosed
NR: Sneaky
JG: Tough
CL: Forgotten
BD: Semajic

Shameless Plug (panelists were asked to give a brief analysis of the team they cover to give casual fans an idea of what to expect, a potential sales pitch, if you will)

PM: Over the past three seasons of Greg McDermott running this team, it has been a nice surprise to see how things are run on offense. With McDermott's previous teams, he was very deliberate on offense and focused a lot on defense. However, since coming to Creighton, there is a lot more of a run and gun style, but a controlled run and gun style. Doug McDermott is just fun to watch. If you haven't watched him before, you will question how he makes the shots that he does being off balance in the post, making spin moves and then being dead-eye from three. A big part of Creighton's success in the past has been with the three-pointer, and there is no reason why it won't continue to be that way. No one is afraid to shoot it from deep. When you throw in sharpshooter Ethan Wragge and add in Isaiah Zierden off the bench, it could be raining out there at times. A new dimension this year is the addition of some mobile guards in JUCO transfers Devin Brooks and James Milliken. Pair them on the floor with point guard Austin Chatman, and defenses may be on their heels a little bit. Creighton also has a lot of veteran players. Jahenns Manigat starts and doesn't get a lot of recognition for what he does on the court. Will Artino broke out toward the end of the season last year, and should fit in nicely in an expanded role. Of course, you can't forget Grant Gibbs. His play will be the key to keeping things together, as well as getting the ball to McDermott so he can score. The Bluejays are a deep team, and they hope to use that depth to wear opponents out. Expect it to be a fast-paced game, which might be a little different for the Big East die-hards who have been subjected to grind-it-out games over the years.

DS: From the outside, many look at DePaul's wretched results from the previous years and see a dormant program, but with two of the top five Big East returning scorers in Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young coming back, and with a solid recruiting class highlighted by Top 100 recruit Billy Garrett Jr. coming in, DePaul shall not be a pushover anymore. While they have liked to run and press in the past, this year, head coach Oliver Purnell brought in more bulk to defend the interior and hit the backboards hard, (see the addition of three 6-10-plus players in Tommy Hamilton, Sandi Marcius and Forrest Robinson, as well as 6-9 JUCO power forward Greg Sequele) and you might see an emphasis on half-court offense. Regardless, Purnell has to deliver, and this might be the year; especially in a conference more suited for them, that the tide may finally swing for DePaul. DePaul can score, but it will be their ability to defend that will define their 2013-14 success.

AG: Dunk City, baby! Except the opposite. This Georgetown team isn't going to break the mold from prior varietals. The Hoyas will make opponents work for shots on the defensive end, and I expect most players on the floor to touch the ball on the offensive end as it finds its way from the hands of guys like Starks and Smith-Rivera on the perimeter into the larger hands of Smith and Hopkins down low. Georgetown doesn't bring the flashiest offense to the floor, but it is efficient, and I expect a lot of scores to be in the fifties and sixties, which is right where the Hoyas want to be.

MS: For the first time since Buzz Williams took over as head coach, the Golden Eagles will be inside-oriented. With three seniors (Jamil Wilson, Otule, Gardner) set to see plenty of time, Marquette will again be one of the best rebounding teams in the Big East and should see plenty of scoring inside. The real question is whether Todd Mayo can stay on the court and contribute in extended minutes, and whether one player from Williams' heralded freshman class can contribute right away. Marquette will be dancing in March once again, potentially late into March again.

DJ: Expect a jump in talent, depth, and size. Providence is now bigger than they've ever been, deeper than they have been in years, and have a filled out team with incoming freshman talents in Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin, leadership in seniors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts, and growing talent in LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn. Also be on the lookout for transfers Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris, as both are extremely talented with plenty of upside to not only add meaningful minutes off the bench, but help round out a very solid roster.

NR: St. John's will have a lot of athletes, will be very good in the open court, will defend, and will make scoring hard. The offense needs to provide pressure and they'll play in more slugfests than one would imagine, while eschewing three-point shots.

JG: For those just acquainting themselves with Seton Hall, they can expect a lot of switching between man and zone on defense, a lot of threes on offense, and an always tough out, especially in Newark. A constant of Seton Hall teams in the last decade or so is that they finish higher than predicted in preseason. Watch for that to happen again.

CL: After a 180-degree turnaround from the disastrous 2011 season and NCAA berth, hopes are high again on the outskirts of Philly. Despite last season's success, four starters and almost all of the bench returning, there's a lack of hype entering the season from a national perspective even though most Villanova fans expect the team to take the next step. A lot of their season will depend on how well Daniel Ochefu fills the shoes of the departed Mouphtaou Yarou. Reports on campus are promising, but it will likely take some time to get the best out of him. 'Nova boasts one of the top backcourts in the conference with Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard and James Bell returning, and they'll get a big lift with Rice transfer Dylan Ennis eligible to play after a year off the court. JayVaughn Pinkston should be fighting for Big East first team honors in the frontcourt. In addition to Ennis, three freshmen join the ranks. Top 100 wing Josh Hart should provide defensive versatility, and another Top 100 recruit, Kris Jenkins, has already been labeled one of the best shooters on the team, a problem area for Villanova in recent years. Darryl Reynolds will provide frontcourt depth. Internally, Villanova will feel they can compete for the conference title, while anything outside of a top four finish would be considered a disappointment.

BD: If you haven't seen Xavier, expect defense. This team tries to take away good shots. The 18.7 second average possession length would suggest they do that quite well. Coach Chris Mack will spend 75 percent of his time exhorting the defense. Offensively, Xavier struggled to score at times last year. This year, Semaj Christon is a year older and he has some help. Expect some speed, a lot of slashing, and a penetrate-and-pitch style of offense.

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