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Big East Notebook

November 18, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Big East Notebook

by Kevin Reilly

Don’t Look Over Nova

The Villanova Wildcats will certainly be an interesting team to follow this winter.

How far Coach Jay Wright’s squad will go remains to be seen but the future in Philly is so bright they may be wearing shades inside the DuPont Pavillion.

This team brings with it a nice combination of returning veterans along with one of, if not the top freshmen classes in the nation. The Wildcats finished at 19-13 last year and figure a good bet to improve on that mark.

Seniors Ricky Buchanan and Ricky Wright were both named preseason second team All Big East Buchanan is a sharpshooter and Wright a force inside. Fellow upperclassmen Derrick Snowden and Andrew Sullivan will battle the newcomers to hold on to starting roles as the season progresses. Buchanan has battled injuries in the preseason but will be the settling influence for this program when healthy.

Jay Wright has put together a recruiting class which may be talked about for years to come. The former Hofstra mentor has called in all his metro NY markers. He has managed to bring in five premier players from his old stomping ground to the north.

Randy Foye (Newark, NJ) and Allen Ray (Bronx, NY) are bonafide guard prospects. Jason Fraser (Long Island, NY) projects as a force in the middle. Curtis Sumpter (Brooklyn NY) who could be the sleeper of this talented quintet, and Michael Claxton (Queens, NY) round out the class. Micheal’s older brother Speedy, now in the NBA, helped put Hofstra and Wright on the map in the late 90’s.

Villanova was picked third in their side of the Big East Conference behind UConn and Boston College but their eyes will eventually focus on the top spot.

The Wildcats opened the season Friday, November 15th at Madison Square Garden, with a loss to 19th-ranked Marquette. This was a big time opener for a potentially big time team. Coach Wright’s mission will be to juggle a rotation of perhaps ten players. He must keep the veterans content without hindering the development of the young phenoms.

Many a coach would love his problem, wouldn’t they?

The Butler Still Doing It

In my opinion Caron Butler was the number one player in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

He fell to the number ten pick in the NBA Draft but appears to have found a home down south as a member of the Miami Heat. The former UConn great is getting it done early-on in, under Pat Riley’s tutelage. Through the first 5 games he was scoring over 12ppg while snaring 6 boards per outing.

The major stat for Caron could be the 37 minutes he is playing each night. One question he still has to answer is can he hold up for 82 games. So far so good.

Playing alongside this rising star is another Big East grad Malik Allen (Villanova). Allen, attempting to carry the load for the disabled Alonzo Mourning, is putting up solid numbers in his second NBA campaign.

A Look Back

Many hoop fans may not remember that the Big East conference started out as a seven team league back in 1979. The original schools included: Syracuse, Georgetown, St. John’s, Connecticut, Boston College, Seton Hall and Providence. (Villanova was added
in 1980 for an eighth team). Georgetown was the first league champion and Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr was named to the All-Tournament Team while playing at his alma mater Syracuse.

     

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