deconnor's Blog

Coach Desko, Marasco, Megill and Maltz excited about Monday's championship match-up with Duke

Less than 24 hours before Syracuse faces Duke in the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Division 1 National Championship, head coach John Desko and a few players talk to the media.

On Saturday, a Derek Maltz rebound goal capped a comeback that sent the Orange to the national championship game. Today, head coach John Desko, seniors JoJo Marasco and Brian Megill, and Maltz met with the media to discuss the upcoming title game against seventh-seeded Duke (15-5). Here are some highlights from the press conference:

Marasco and Megill on playing a Duke team that ended the Orange season last year:  

Marasco - “We're here playing in the National Championship and we're playing a great Duke team, and it's been since last year every day you go out there and practice you hope you have another chance to play against Duke.  When they took our season away last year we look forward to having the opportunity to play them in the National Championship game tomorrow at 1:00, last game for Syracuse, wouldn't want it any other way and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Megill - “You dream to playing in these types of situations.  It's a rematch for Duke after beating us twice last year. Its just more fuel to the fire.  But being a senior, last game, playing for a National Championship for one of the most prestigious programs in lacrosse history, it seems like the stars are aligning.

Megill on a potential ACC rivalry with Duke in the future

Megill - “The ACC is just going to be a powerhouse of teams, but it's a tremendous opportunity to start something new.  We've had so many rivalries in the past that are ‑‑ have come to the dome or we've gone to their place and it's just such a hostile environment, and to be able to play in the ACC against those teams and get the road trips, the plane trips, it'll be a really cool experience for those guys.

Marasco on the importance of the title game

Marasco - “When you speak to the media it's easy to say you come here to win a National Championship, but they don't see all the hard work you put in.  To be a senior and finally make it here is a huge thing for our entire team, and I'm so proud of these guys.  We're definitely going to try to go out with a bang tomorrow, and we can't wait to get out there and just prove people wrong and show them how talented this team is.  Being a senior, every day you practice to be in this game, and you dream about it since you were a little kid, and to finally be here, emotions are running high, and I can't say enough about the team again and the coaches, and hopefully we show up and play tomorrow.

Desko on the challenges that Duke presents

Desko - “Well, I think their attack is very dangerous with Wolf.  I think they really understand their offense.  They know where people are going to be, and they understand when the other team slides from a certain person or a certain spot on the field what their looks are, whether to throw down or back up or look to the inside, and again with those two middies, especially the two middies up top, I think they really can stretch your defense because of their ability to shoot from the outside.

A win versus Duke be the 12th national championship in the esteemed program’s history and would break a single-season wins record (17). Tune in Monday, May 27th at 1pm on ESPN to watch the Orange face the Blue Devils, as seniors Marasco and Megill look to finish their careers with a national championship victory.

The Orange stun the Bulls

Facing a 20-point deficit at halftime, Ryan Nassib connected with Alec Lemon to give Orange football a one-point victory on the road.

What Happened: Syracuse overcame a 20-point halftime deficit and edged South Florida 37-36 with a one-yard touchdown pass caught by Alec Lemon with just three seconds left in the game. Lemon’s touchdown capped the final drive where the Orange marched 75 yards in under two minutes. SU outscored USF 34-13 in the second half as Nassib connected on four touchdown passes. 

How It Happened: Whatever Doug Marrone said in the locker room worked. At the half, the Orange was down 23-3 and looked depleted. The second half was a completely different story. SU came out with energy in the third quarter and scored three touchdowns in seven minutes to put itself back in the game. 

What It Means: Syracuse is now firmly in contention to win the Big East this season with an impressive 3-1 conference record. After a 2-4 start, many wrote off Marrone and the Orange, but SU has played impressive football in the last two weeks. 

My Take: Finally, I’m seeing a team that believes in itself. This was an emotional game for Syracuse. That one-yard touchdown from Nassib to Lemon could have a momentous impact on the remainder of the season. Coming back from 20 points is never easy, let alone on the road in conference. The Orange have work to do, but if Syracuse makes a bowl, we’ll look back at this game as the pivotal point of the season.

Carmelo to return to the Dome

The Carrier Dome will be home to an exhibition game between the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers in October.

According to a article, this fall, Carmelo Anthony will be returning to the friendly, memorable confines of the Carrier Dome. This time, however, he’ll be suited up as a New York Knick, as Anthony’s squad will face the Philadelphia 76ers in a preseason matchup on Mon., Oct. 22.

The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Anthony who led Syracuse to a National Championship in 2003 and has since had the practice facility named after him.

Both squads made the playoffs last season and have added fresh faces this year to make a deeper run. The Knicks added veterans Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas while the Sixers now feature Andrew Bynum.

Tickets are not yet being sold.

This isn’t the first time the NBA has been welcomed to Syracuse for a preseason game. In 2010, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies played in the Carrier Dome, as Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson returned to their college playground.

University set to begin partnership with 23-year-old diversity organization

Starting this fall, Syracuse University will be partnered with the Posse Foundation to increase racial diversity on campus.

Since its inception in 1989, the Posse Foundation has sent more than 4,000 students to 40 different universities on four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships. Starting in the fall of 2012, Syracuse University will be added to the list, after becoming tri-city partners with the Posse Foundation.

The tri-city partnership means that Syracuse will accept a “posse” from Atlanta, Los Angeles and Miami annually. The connection will increase racial diversity on campus and will create a strong network of intelligent and determined Posse scholars.

The foundation places qualified urban-area students in “posses” of 10-12 people. Once the group is carefully selected, they go through a training program in hopes that when they get to their respective campuses, they are ready to be leaders.

SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor brought the diversity initiative to the university after seeing its success at her previous stop, the University of Illinois. Deborah Bial, the president and founder of the Posse Foundation, said the connection between SU and Posse was a natural one.

“At Syracuse, Cantor and her team saw the benefits the Posse program could bring to the campus community, and we at Posse knew that our students would benefit greatly from the first-rate education Syracuse offers,” Bial said. “It was a perfect fit.”

The Posse students aren’t just taking the scholarship and letting time pass by. The Posse Foundation’s alumni report shows 79 percent of its scholars held leadership positions during their collegiate years.

“Posse Scholars have built a reputation over the years for really getting involved on campus. Typically, they go on to found and lead campus clubs, build bridges between different campus organizations and enliven classroom discussions,” Bial said.

To ensure the organization selects the most deserving students, the application process is long and strenuous. In the first stage, which can consist of up to 600 nominated applicants, the students engage in discussion and leadership activities. The field is then whittled down to around 100 students, who proceed to the interview phase.

Twenty-five students are then selected for the final round of the process. They are joined by the dean of admissions from the school they are applying to, as well as respected alumni, who assist in making the final decisions of which students receive the scholarship. The applicants engage with each other and the school representatives in the final phase of the process.

“I thought that was pretty cool, the fact that they actually came and cared about who was getting these scholarships,” said Robert Welch, a current Posse Scholar at the University of Wisconsin.

Once the recruitment and selection process ends, the pre-collegiate training program begins.

On a weekly basis, posses meet to discuss how to help each other in college, study skills, group skills and how to diffuse arguments concerning race, sex and gender, said Welch. He would take the metro after school into Washington D.C. to attend the two-hour meetings, he said.

Ultimately, they are shipped off to college, where they become each other’s support system.

The program started when an overachieving and intelligent inner-city student dropped out of his prestigious university, Bial said. “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me,” Bial recalled the student saying.

After hearing that, Bial, a Harvard graduate, started the nonprofit. The idea seemed to work as 90 percent of its scholars graduated from college.

“When I first heard about the scholarship and how it helped kids have a support group, I was thinking in my head, ‘I don’t really need these people, I’m a sociable guy, I can make friends on my own,’” Welch said. “But, when I came to Wisconsin and saw how big it was, it was really nice walking around campus and seeing the friends I made over the summer and even the older Posse kids.”

The Posse Foundation has found a way to sprout “scholars in every respect,” said Maurice Harris, SU dean of undergraduate admissions. He called the nonprofit the “most significant new diversity initiative” the university has undertaken.

The foundation has given more than 4,000 students the opportunity to attend elite universities for free. Strong academic schools like Vanderbilt University, Boston University, Lafayette College and Rice University are among those aligned with the nonprofit.

These students who, otherwise, may not have even gone to college are now graduating at a high rate, even without family history on their side. Sixty-one percent of Posse Scholars are first-generation college graduates.

The Posse Foundation has found the recipe for developing successful groups of students it seems.

“We’ve found that placing similarly driven, capable young people in diverse teams and offering them mentoring and training in areas such as cross-cultural dialogue, leadership, team building, and academic excellence greatly increases the likelihood of their success,” Bial said.

Dr. James K. Duah-Agyeman, the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said he is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the posses and the results that ensue. He is particularly looking forward to seeing Posse Scholars in leadership positions on campus, he said.

He’s excited, he said, to “encourage and challenge these diverse set of leaders to learn to accept and appreciate diversity, so that when they leave and go into the world of work, they can survive.”

Erica Santiago, a former Posse Scholar at Vanderbilt, has done just that. Now working in women’s health, Santiago has been able to excel, thanks in part to what she learned with Posse, she said.

Santiago says the SU community should expect to see “some pretty dynamic leaders and people that have been huge leaders in their high schools and are ready and willing to continue it in college.”

Buckeyes drop Orange in Elite Eight

Three thoughts from SU vs. Ohio State

The quest to New Orleans for a National Championship is over for the Syracuse Orange after a 77-70 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Early foul trouble forced SU out of its typical rotations and the Buckeyes made them pay by getting to the free throw line. Brandon Triche led the Orange with 15 points but the Syracuse offense was unable to get into a rhythm without contributions from Dion Waiters, who faced foul trouble. The loss capped the outstanding careers of seniors Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine. The two will be sorely missed in Syracuse.

Here are three thoughts from the game.

1. OSU owned the glass ...

SU was outrebounded by 15 (37-22) and allowed Ohio State to corral 13 offensive boards. That’s a recipe for a loss. Besides an impressive night from Baye Keita (11 rebounds) no one on the SU roster had more than three boards. The Buckeyes were more physical and were able to capitalize on second and third opportunities.

2. The free throw Line was pivotal...

The Orange made more field goals and three-pointers than the Buckeyes. But the ultimate distinguishing statistic between the two was the disparity at the stripe. Ohio State went 31-42 from the free throw line, which is an alarmingly high number of freebies to shoot in one game. OSU continuously attacked the SU zone and the whistle-happy referees rewarded them by sending the Buckeyes to the line on most occasions.

Syracuse was 20-25 from the line, a good percentage, but it wasn’t enough. Thanks to the 48 fouls called, SU found itself in early foul trouble and without opportunities to ignite its offense in transition. It’s tough to get into a rhythm and out in the full court when the game is being stopped so often because of fouls. This was a major issue for SU. 

3. Keep perspective ...

The obstacles that the Syracuse basketball program faced this year could have derailed the squad’s season. Instead, thanks to the leadership from Jim Boeheim and his seniors Jardine and Joseph, the Orange maintained a focus and hunger rarely seen in college basketball.

This past season was one of the best in Syracuse’s esteemed history, no matter what happened in the postseason. The Orange didn’t lose in the Carrier Dome and were fun to follow with a team full of charming and magnetic personalities. Boeheim did an excellent job of combining the talent into a cohesive unit that maintained a goal-oriented mindset throughout the season. It was an outstanding year for the Orange.

Orange gets past Bulldogs in round one

Syracuse pulled away from UNC-Asheville thanks in part to 13 second-half points from junior forward James Southerland

Syracuse played poorly for 30 minutes but found a way to avoid the upset with some timely shooting and a clutch performance from junior forward James Southerland, winning 72-65. The Orange were down by four at the half as UNC-Asheville found holes in the SU zone, both in the high-post and beyond the arc. The Bulldog’s lead stretched to as large as seven, but Syracuse fought back and re-gained the lead for good after Southerland hit a jumper with six minutes left in the game.

Here are three thoughts from the game:

Southerland Is The X-factor

Southerland struggles to grab rebounds and tends to get shot-happy whenever he’s in the game. But he has stepped it up lately and has become the X-factor for a sometimes stagnant Syracuse half-court offense. Despite being just a 31 percent three-point shooter, Southerland is 8-21 from deep in the last five games. He seems to be hitting his stride. When Southerland is making shots, the SU offense has a new dimension. The Orange will need contributions from him if Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph keep struggling to score. 

The Christmas/ Keita Combo Is Adequate Enough

The two role players played with a little bit more energy than usual and combined for 10 points and eight rebounds. Even with a lackluster overall game for the Orange, Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita were not a weak point. Christmas was aggressive on the boards and looked fluid running up and down the court. Keita had a couple highlight plays and proved he doesn’t always have stone hands. If the Christmas/Keita frontcourt combination can keep playing this well, they will be adequate enough for the Orange to make a run.

Syracuse NEEDS to be better in the half-court

Coming into the tournament, half-court offense was an issue for the Orange. Well, it still is. UNC-Asheville slowed the pace and forced SU to beat them when they were in a zone. Like usual, Syracuse hoisted way too many threes (23) and didn’t try to attack or play with urgency until they really needed to. If Syracuse is going to make an extended run in the tournament, they can’t only score in transition. Simply put, they need to be better in the half-court to keep winning.

How to beat the Orange

Syracuse will be without its starting center, but what's the best way to go about taking down the Orange?

Let me preface this by saying that it’s not easy. Simple. But not easy. The Orange is deep, talented and buck wild in transition. However, despite its bulky record, Syracuse is more prone to a loss than one would suspect. Come tournament time, a team that can do the three tasks listed below has a good chance at pulling an upset over SU like Cincinnati and Notre Dame did.

Control the Pace - Time and time again you see the Orange simply run teams out of the building by scoring in transition and forcing turnovers. To beat SU, that has to be limited. Teams have had great success with this before - USF, Louisville (in the first matchup), West Virginia and Notre Dame all ate the shot clock each possession.

It’s no secret why those games were close. Syracuse struggles with its half-court offense. They only run one or two plays, usually relying on pick and rolls and isolations. The lack of offensive structure challenges SU's players when teams force them into slow-paced games.  It’s a tough task though as SU is one of the best teams in the country in running the floor and getting easy buckets. To beat them you HAVE to control the pace.

Pick and Roll Defense - Syracuse uses the PnR (pick and roll) as well as any team in the country. Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Brandon Triche are all dynamic in PnR situations because they can all shoot and drive to the basket. Teams need to look at tendencies here. Triche loves to drive off the screen, especially going to his right hand. Jardine, more often than not, looks to pass to the screener for a lob or to a shooter on the wing. Waiters is just masterful off the PnR. He’s extremely crafty and does a phenomenal job of reading what the defense is giving him. Waiters likes to drive right as well as hide behind the screener for a three-point attempt.

It’s impossible to stop all game but their PnR offense can be sputtered. Whoever is guarding the screener needs to hedge hard. You can’t let the player turn the corner, you need to stop his momentum. This will potentially lead to lobs if the screener’s defender is out of place, but it’s the defensive adjustment that needs to be made. Teams can’t let the single biggest weapon of the Syracuse offense go through a game without trying to take it away from them.

Pound the Post - With the loss of Fab Melo, SU now lacks any semblance of girth inside. Melo’s replacements, Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmas are just built differently. They’re long and athletic but most of all, they’re really skinny. During Melo’s mid-season suspension, Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley just demolished Keita and Christmas inside. Syracuse now doesn’t have a premier shot-blocker or post defender, which will hurt them. Rebounding, which was an issue with Melo, will be arguably even worse now without him. If I’m coaching an opposing team, I’m posting up my best inside scorer against Christmas and Keita because those two are yet to prove they can anchor the zone defense effectively.

Get to know the East region

If Syracuse wants to make it all the way to New Orleans for the Final Four, then they'll have to get by these teams

On Sunday, 68 teams were fortunate to make the esteemed NCAA tournament. As expected, the Orange was awarded a No. 1 seed in the East region.

Let’s take a look at who SU could potentially matchup against in the East and how much of a threat they are to end the Orange’s magical season.

16 Seed - UNC Asheville

The Scoop - A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 and this game won’t change that. UNC Asheville has good guards and gave the UNC Tar Heels a run for their money in the first half, but Syracuse is just too talented.  

Threat Level (1-5, the higher the number, the tougher the game) - 1

Matchup in round of 64

8 Seed - Kansas State

The Scoop - KSU is one of the best teams in America at pounding the offensive glass, which isn’t good for the Syracuse faithful. The Orange are extremely susceptible in that area so this isn’t too favorable of a matchup for SU. However, SU is far deeper and has much better guards. For a comparison, look at West Virginia, KSU has a similar mentality.

Threat Level - 3

Potential matchup: Round of 32

9 Seed - Southern Miss

The Scoop - SMU had a good year in Conference USA but is a little over-seeded as a nine. They finished behind Memphis within the C-USA and have tapered off a bit of late. However, Southern Miss was dynamic out of conference. If they can regain their mojo from November and December, SMU could be a threat.

Threat Level - 2

Potential matchup: Round of 32

5 Seed - Vanderbilt

The Scoop - Vandy just won the SEC championship after beating Kentucky, so you know this team is for real. The ‘Dores have a great shooter (John Jenkins), an inside presence (Festus Ezeli) and athletic wings (Jeffrey Taylor, Lance Golbourne). At the same time, Vandy doesn’t always play hard defensively. A preseason top-10 team, the Commodores have all the tools necessary to pose as a serious threat for the Orange. It’s just a matter of them putting it together on the defensive end and playing with consistency.

Threat Level - 4

Potential matchup: Sweet Sixteen

12 Seed - Harvard

The Scoop - This isn’t your typical Ivy League team. Harvard is one of the stronger non-BCS teams in the country. They defend the heck out of the ball. The Crimson is a tough team that could very well win a couple games.

Threat Level - 2

Potential matchup: Sweet Sixteen

4 Seed - Wisconsin

The Scoop - The Badgers play at a pace that does not favor the Orange. They treasure each possession, stretch the floor and control the pace extremely well. Defensively, they’re hard-nosed. It’s another tough matchup.

Threat Level - 5

Potential matchup: Sweet Sixteen

13 Seed - Montana

The Scoop - Montana is the conference champs out of the Big Sky. Because they play in the Big Sky and are located in Montana, they don’t get much media coverage but these guys are well-coached and in March Madness anything can happen with a solid coach.

Threat Level - 1

Potential matchup: Sweet Sixteen

6 Seed - Cincinnati

The Scoop - Don’t get phased by the Bearcats win over the Orange in the Garden. One would think SU coach Jim Boeheim could make the proper adjustments if the two teams were to meet again. However, with such a hard-nosed team defensively and one that relies on threes on the other side of the court, the Bearcats will likely still be a difficult matchup for Syracuse.

Threat Level - 4

Potential matchup: Elite Eight

11 Seed - Texas

The Scoop - I’m not sold on Texas as a tournament team, let alone a legitimate threat to take down the Orange or make a deep run. The Longhorns rely on J’Covan Brown to put points on the scoreboard, which he does, but Texas’ frontcourt is really the problem.

Threat Level - 2

Potential matchup: Elite Eight

3 Seed - Florida State

The Scoop - FSU lost to Harvard and Princeton, but beat Duke and UNC twice - talk about an enigma. Under Leonard Hamilton, you know they’ll play defense, it’s just a matter of offensive production. As the season has progressed, so has its offense. FSU’s frontcourt is big, tough and skilled and one of the best in the country.

Threat Level - 4

Potential matchup: Elite Eight

14 Seed - St. Bonaventure

The Scoop - The Bonnies stole a bid by winning the Atlantic 10 tournament. They’re led by one of the top players in the country in Andrew Nicholson. He really does it all - scores, rebounds, blocks shots and leads. For SBU to win a game or two, he’ll have to pay his best basketball.

Threat Level - 3

Potential matchup: Elite Eight

7 Seed - Gonzaga

The Scoop - Gonzaga is a team that doesn’t really like to play defense. They’re a bit soft down low as well, but they make shots and out-score people. The Zags also shoot the ball well from long-range and pose as a threat to teams that play zone.

Threat Level - 2

Potential matchup: Elite Eight

10 Seed - West Virginia

The Scoop - WVU is a disciplined, defensive-oriented squad. If Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones are playing well, they can potentially beat anyone. However, Bryant and the supporting cast have been inconsistent all year. The Mountaineers don’t have great guard play which is important to have in the tourney.

Threat Level - 3

Potential matchup: Elite Eight

2 Seed - Ohio State

The Scoop - OSU could pose as a real problem to SU. Offensively, they run good sets to get Jared Sullinger the ball in the post where he can score and get to the line at a high rate. William Buford is another good scorer and Aaron Craft is arguably the best defensive point guard in the country. The SU zone could give this OSU team a lot of problems, though.

Threat Level - 5

Potential Matchup in Elite Eight

15 Seed - Loyola (MD)

The Scoop - These players have really taken on the personality of their head coach Jimmy Patsos, a former volunteer coach and bartender. They won’t back down from anyone and will always play with energy, especially on defense. Erik Etherly causes offensive mismatches for them and they like to use him both on the wing and in the high post/post. 

Threat Level - 2

Potential matchup: Elite Eight


Three thoughts from SU vs. Cincinnati

Hopes of a Syracuse Big East championship ended with a 71-68 loss to Cincinnati at Madison Square Garden on Friday night

 1. Syracuse Wasn’t Too Upset After the Loss

At the post-game press conference, Jim Boeheim and Dion Waiters made it clear - the goal is to win the NCAA Tournament. For them, the Big East Tournament is pretty much meaningless. It’s not to say that the Orange didn’t put there best foot forward, but I don’t think they played with the same urgency that you’ll see in the NCAA tourney. SU didn’t really have anything to gain or lose except momentum. The Orange will still be a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday. In effect, they didn’t seem too phased by the loss.

2. Half-court Offense Was Once Again Stagnant

Cincinnati stopped Syracuse from running, forcing the Orange to play a slower paced game. SU is at its best in the open floor and forcing turnovers, but Syracuse was unable to do that. They were forced into a half-court game against an aggressive zone that the Orange isn’t used to attacking. They settled for threes and quick shots instead of looking into the high-post and moving without the ball. To win in the NCAA tournament, SU needs to be more efficient in the half-court because teams know how much much the Orange struggle in it.

3. Waiters Is the Closer

Many questioned who the closer or go-to player was for Syracuse. Well, Boeheim has shown that he trusts Waiters and will put the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Waiters is one of the few Orange players who is dynamic at creating for himself and for others. When the game is on the line, it will be Dion Waiters with the ball in his hands. 

Big East Tournament Preview

What to watch for as the Big East gets set for tip-off at its end-of-the-year tournament at Madison Square Garden.

The Favorite - Syracuse

No one in the Big East combines raw ability with length and athleticism like the Orange do.

The Dark horse - Cincinnati

The Bearcats have the guards to make a run and create mismatches with their small lineup.

Knocked out early - Notre Dame

Had a big win over SU, but ND relies too much on the long ball. If they're not falling the Irish will have a short stay in New York City.


Who the Orange have to go through

No. 2 Marquette

The Good - The Golden Eagles have arguably the best tandem of players in the league in Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. Both can take over games and will their team to victory.

The Bad - Coach Buzz Williams historically recruits versatile players who can guard multiple positions, but in effect, Marquette lacks true size. No one on the roster is listed over 6 feet 8 inches tall. 

The Scoop - Marquette’s going under the radar and is a dark horse to make a Final Four run. The Golden Eagles pose the biggest threat to take down the Orange at MSG.

No. 3 Notre Dame

The Good - It seems like every year Notre Dame has a wealth of shooters. This year is no different. The Irish space the floor, shoot threes and play at a contained pace.

The Bad - Notre Dame can be overly reliant on the three and doesn't have any experienced guards. That could haunt them in March. 

The Scoop - ND seems to be tailing off right now, but with Mike Brey at the helm, it remains a threat. However, the Irish are certainly not playing their best basketball right now.

No. 4 Cincinnati 

The Good - This team can play big or small. Yancy Gates is a difference maker down low. If his head is on right, the Bearcats are dangerous.

The Bad - Besides Gates, Cincy has no real big men who are effective. When Gates was suspended, the team went with a four-guard lineup because it had no more serviceable bigs. 

The Scoop - This is my dark horse for the Big East tournament. The Bearcats play loose and together while still playing solid defense.

No. 5 Georgetown

The Good - The Hoyas offense - when clicking - is extremely difficult to stop. Henry Sims is one of the best big man passers in college basketball, and Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson are shot-makers.

The Bad - Former starting point guard Markel Starks seems to be in the doghouse, so the Hoyas don’t have much depth at the position. GU doesn’t have an imposing figure in the paint, so they don’t alter many shots. 

The Scoop - Georgetown got good shots against the SU zone in their first matchup, thanks in part to freshman Otto Porter, who manned the high post and baseline with skill. Despite less firepower than previous years, this team looks dangerous heading into the tourney.

No. 6 South Florida

The Good - USF defends about as well as any other Big East team. The Bulls play at a deliberate pace that keeps them in games and have a heady point guard in Anthony Collins.

The Bad - Their defense keeps opponents off the scoreboard, but their offense keeps themselves off it too. South Florida simply doesn’t have the talent to score at a high rate.  

The Scoop - This is a team that needs a win or two to get itself off the bubble, so don’t be surprised if it plays inspired basketball. It needs the wins as much as any team in the league.  

No. 7 Louisville

The Good - The Cardinals attack the rim. Russ SmithPeyton Siva and Chris Smith can all get to the hoop off the bounce and both score and pass effectively once they’re there.

The Bad - They can’t shoot! They’re in the bottom third of Division I in shooting percentage (234th out of 348 teams). 

The Scoop - This isn’t your typical Rick Pitino squad. He loves to use the three, but this season, his team is shooting just 31 percent from deep. They’ve had to rely on penetration from Siva and Russ Smith.  

No. 8 West Virginia

The Good - Like all Bob Huggins-coached teams, these guys are tough and get after it on the floor. Kevin Jones cleans the glass and is one of the most talented players in the Big East.

The Bad -  The Mountaineers lack experience and reliable shooters. From deep they shoot just 31 percent. That’s abysmal. 

The Scoop - WVU has lost seven of its last 10. Looks like it needs to win a game or two in the Big East tourney to go dancing.

No. 9 UConn

The Good - The Huskies offense can be potent. They have shooters, thrashers and players who can score in the post. UConn can put up big numbers.

The Bad - This team lacks any semblance of leadership and has a poor mental makeup.  

The Scoop - UConn is playing horrible basketball at this point in the season. It’s as if the Huskies are doing all they can to play themselves out of the NCAA tournament.  

No. 10 Seton Hall

The Good - Jordan Theodore is one of the best point guards in the Big East. He passes, scores and leads the Pirates.

The Bad - SHU shoots 66 percent from the free-throw line. That’s horrendous. Like embarrassingly awful. 

The Scoop - The Hall isn’t playing good basketball right now. Losses to DePaul and Rutgers in one week won’t help its already shaky tournament resume.  

No. 11 Rutgers

The Good - Head coach Mike Rice has instilled a fiery attitude into his team. The Scarlet Knights play tough, hard-nosed defense and leave it all on the floor.

The Bad - The Scarlet Knights have an extremely young backcourt. Their two leading scorers are freshmen, which bodes well for the future, but not for now. 

The Scoop - Give Rutgers two years and then it’ll be relevant when it comes time to play in MSG.

No. 12 St. John’s

The Good - This team has talent and a lot of athleticism. Moe Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison are not only two great building pieces for the future, but they’re also really good right now.

The Bad - In the rugged Big East, it helps to have girth inside. The Johnnies just don’t have that. 

The Scoop - With basically no bench or experience, St. John’s isn’t exactly built to make a run in the Big East tournament. 

No. 13 Pittsburgh

The Good - Tray Woodall is a steady ball-handler and seems to be one of the only Panthers who is truly poised and comfortable putting the ball on the floor.

The Bad - Ashton Gibbs has been a disappointment. A great shooter, Gibbs went from being a 49 percent three-point shooter last season to just 33 percent this year.

The Scoop - Jamie Dixon excels at coaching the defensive side of the ball with his typical cast of blue-collar kids, but it seems like the players haven’t all bought into the system this year.

No. 14 Villanova

The Good - The Cats are well-coached and play hard. Maalik Wayns can ball, and freshman JayVaughn Pinkston is looking like a top-notch talent. The kid is as tough as they come.

The Bad - The roster is inexperienced and not as talented as it's been the past couple of years. Wayns hasn’t stepped up and shown the leadership that many expected from him.

The Scoop - A run at Madison Square Garden is unlikely. Help is on the way next season with a couple of five-star prospects on their way.

No. 15 Providence

The Good - Point guard is the most important position on the floor, and Vincent Council is an extremely talented point guard. He gives the team a chance.

The Bad - They have some talented guards, but up front, the Friars don’t have much ability. Providence can struggle to defend the interior because of that.

The Scoop - Because Ed Cooley can recruit with anyone, the Friars will be all right in the future. Chances of a run in this year’s Big East tournament though? Slim.

No. 16 DePaul

The Good - For a team in the cellar of the Big East, it has surprising firepower. Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young are both capable of putting up big-time numbers.

The Bad - Besides Melvin and Young, the Blue Demons don’t have much Big East talent. And someone has to tell Melvin and Young to stop shooting threes, as they’re hitting at 22 and 29 percent clips, respectively.

The Scoop - At this point in the season, DePaul doesn’t have much to play for. Don’t expect the Blue Demons to hang in NYC for too long.