Friday Five - Eighth edition

This is the eighth installment of “Friday Five,” a weekly column with analysis and insight on the Orange, the Big East and the rest of college basketball. This final weekend of regular season play whets the palate for the upcoming Big East Championship. Who you taking with you?

Halftime Snack picks the top five in the Big East. The regular season play ends for the Conference on Saturday, and as all 16 teams prepare to head to 7th Avenue, Halftime Snack picked a squad to take to Madison Square Garden:

The starting five:

1 -             Scottie Reynolds from Villanova is the point guard of this squad. Traditionally, Halftime Snack is not comfortable with having the offense led by the score-first lead guard, but Reynolds cannot be left off the floor. Plus, this team’s shooting guard has that assist-per-game rate (4.8) missing from the point.

2 -            Transition right to the most valuable player in the Big East, Orange senior Andy Rautins. The best shooter in the Big East, Rautins squares up on 3-pointers a foot behind the line, that was a foot farther than the old line. After playing international basketball with Canada in the summer, Rautins became more than a gunner. You know about his offense, but it’s Rautins' defense that sets the tone in the Orange zone (conference-leading 2.1 steals per contest).

3 -            Halftime Snack has wanted to play Wes Johnson, Syracuse forward, at his future NBA position since October. Get this leaper out and running a lane, then let him reverse pivot and shoot jumpers until his heart is content. Speaking of reverse pivot, this team will also run ball screens from the wing with Wes (pictured below) involved. The adjustment: Wes sets the screen and then pops out for jumper. Easy points.

Wes Johnson
Photo: Andrew Burton

4 -             Herb Pope from Seton Hall rebounds the ball at 11 per game, with nearly two blocks per game; the rebound/block combination of Wes and Pope wins the possession battle. We love having that one guy on the floor not energized by scoring the ball.

5 -             Notre Dame post Luke Harangody slides into the center spot. Does anybody have so many moves and execute the simple ones time and time again for easy buckets? Tim Duncan at Wake Forest? Christian Laettner at Duke? Antawn Jamison at North Carolina? Gody has a goofy nickname and a goofy look to his game, but few can stop it. Read Luke Winn from Sports Illustrated write about Harangody's ascension.

Big East weekend predictions:

Orange:  Louisville ruined Valentine’s Day for a lot of people in Onondaga County. The Orange love playing on the road and like to ruin parties, too. Freedom Hall is ready to close, so Shut It Down!  (Syracuse 76, Louisville 75)

Other Big East games:

DePaul 69, St. John’s 67
Georgetown 65, Cincinnati 64
Villanova 87, West Virginia 81
Connecticut 79, USF 77
Pittsburgh 74, Rutgers 69
SHU 86, Providence 82

National Scene: Carolina at Duke. If you watch college basketball, you know this game has implications, regardless of rankings, ACC standings or the economic climate. Duke 81, Carolina 80. Tar Heels stay in the game on emotion, but Duke guard Jon Scheyer makes case for league POY with high-scoring final five minutes.

Record last week: 3-5
Overall: 37-24

Stat nerd stat of the week: 

Players changing jersey numbers always drove Halftime Snack nuts. Computer stat programs are predicated on number corresponding to player, and stat nerds need those numbers to translate the coding. Seeing baseball players wearing No. 71, No. 69, No. 63 scrambles our brains. Good can come of it – Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine switched to No. 11 (or swiped from Paul Harris ASAP) and is playing like a top-level guard, a slimming down from his old No. 33.

They said it:

“My grandma, she loves Syracuse, but she LOVES Villanova. Everytime she calls me, she be like, ‘Did you see Reynolds?’ She knows their whole team.” Orange guard Scoop Jardine, a Philadelphia native, after the win over Villanova on Saturday.

Nah.” SU junior forward Wes Johnson told The Post-Standard when asked if he played his last home game against St. John’s on Tuesday night.

Coach (Bob) Knight said this today, and I’ve said this a few times: Everybody has players. There’re good players on every team. Every team in the country, really every team in our league.” SU head coach Jim Boeheim following 'Nova game.

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