Louisville is the unanimous choice to win the 2012-13 BIG EAST men’s basketball regular-season crown in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll. 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.
Peyton Siva was tabbed the preseason Big East POY at Big East Media Day
Under coach Rick Pitino last season, Louisville also won The BIG EAST Championship Presented by American Eagle Outfitters 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.
Chane Behanan was named preseason Big East honorable mention
Connecticut is the pick for ninth place. New head coach Kevin Ollie, a former Husky player, follows Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun. Ollie will depend on the talented backcourt of Shabazz Napier, a Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, and Ryan Boatright. Last year’s squad finished 20-14 and earned an NCAA Championship bid.
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) 196
2. Syracuse 175
3. Notre Dame (1) 166
4. Cincinnati 152
5. Georgetown 136
6. Pittsburgh 132
7. Marquette 121
8. USF 96
9. Connecticut 83
10. St. John’s 73
11. Rutgers 63
12. Villanova 61
13. DePaul 48
14. Seton Hall 42
15. Providence 31
First-place votes in parentheses
Siva POY; Dieng, Behanan honored
UofL's Gorgui Dieng was named preseason First Team All-Big East
Louisville guard Peyton Siva has been named 2012-13 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches. It is the first time a Louisville player has earned BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year honors.
Steven Adams, a 7-0 freshman center from Pittsburgh, was named BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year.
Siva, a 5-11 senior, helped lead Louisville to the NCAA Final Four last year season. He averaged 9.1 points per game and was fourth in the BIG EAST in assists with a 5.6 mark. Siva also led the Cardinals to The BIG EAST Championship title and won the Dave Gavitt Trophy as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. A native of Seattle, Wash., Siva was named to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team.
Adams is a native of Wellington, New Zealand. He played prep school basketball at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., last season. Adams was among the top 10 recruits nationally by several national recruiting services.
The 2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team has two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. The seniors are Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley and Providence’s Vincent Council. Cooley, the BIG EAST Most Improved Player last season, averaged 12.3 points and 8.9 rebounds. The rugged 6-9 forward helped the Irish to a 21-12 record and 13-5 BIG EAST mark.
Council emerged as an elite BIG EAST player last season. The 6-2 guard averaged a team-leading 15.9 ppg and was first in the league in assists with a 7.5 average. Council also led the BIG EAST in minutes playing, seeing 38.7 minutes of action each game.
The first team also includes Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, a 6-4 junior from White Plains, N.Y. One of the top shooters in the BIG EAST, Kilpatrick owned a 14.3 scoring average and made a league-high 92 3-point baskets. The other junior on the preseason team is Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng. A 6-10 center from Dakar, Senegal, Dieng led the BIG EAST in blocked shots with a 3.2 average. He also averaged 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds.
The lone sophomore to earn first-team honors is Georgetown forward Otto Porter. A 6-8 native of Sikeston, Mo., Porter averaged nearly 30 minutes per game as a rookie, though he started only eight games. He averaged 9.7 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds.
The Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team includes DePaul junior forward Cleveland Melvin, who is the league’s top returning scorer with a 17.4 scoring average. He also averaged 7.4 rebounds. After Melvin, the second team is backcourt heavy. Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier was the second highest scorer for the Huskies with a 13.0 average. St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison was the BIG EAST’s top freshman scorer with a 17.0 average. USF point guard Anthony Collins was the glue behind the Bulls’ breakout season last year. He averaged 9.0 points and 3.4 assists. Syracuse senior guard Brandon Triche offers Syracuse the same stability as Collins. Triche averaged 9.4 points.
The 2012-13 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention group includes Louisville forward Chane Behanan, Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant, Pittsburgh guard Tray Woodall and Syracuse forward C.J. Fair.
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.