Literally. Pico Dulce over at The East Coast Bias (no, not East Coast Bias) sent out an e-mail last week to many of the Big East bloggers. Since it's quiet around here, I thought I'd post my answers as a blog post, rather than just e-mail back.
Here we go . . .
*1*. What's new with your team since the end of last season?
In: Hollis Thompson, a highly ranked forward recruit who enrolled early (Spring '09), but will be considered a freshman this year (e.g. redshirt). Also new are guard Vee Sanford, a late-rising prospect from Kentucky and Jerrelle Benimon, a forward and local product. Thompson will likely compete with Jason Clark (G), Henry Sims (C/F), Nikita Mescheriakov (F) and Julian Vaughn (F/C) for two starting slots, with Austin Freeman (G/SF), Chris Wright (G) and Greg Monroe (C/F) as de facto starters. Sanford may see some time backing up the guard positions.
Out: Jessie Sapp graduated and signed a contract overseas. DaJuan Summers declared for the draft, went in the 2nd round and now has a reported 2-year contract with the Detroit Pistons. Omar Wattad transferred to UT-Chattanooga.
Sidelines: Robert Burke left as an assistant coach, and joined American U.'s staff. Mike Brennan, an assistant at American (and previously Princeton) joined the staff.
*2*. *Cash or Clunker*: Name the teams that you think will be the top 3 squads next season in the Big East (the Cash)... and the bottom 3 (Clunkers). *Bonus*: which team's finish in the league is most difficult to predict?
Cash: Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville or UConn (?) - I think Nova and WVU are 1 and 1a, then a large second tier.
Clunkers: DePaul, So. Florida, Provy (too young) over Rutgers.
Hardest to predict: Cinci (talented enough for 3rd place).
*3*. The Big East enters the season without a lot of players who have carryover buzz from last season - Luke Harangody and perhaps Scottie Reynolds are the names a casual fan might be most familiar with. Which players will step up and be the “face of the league”?
Kemba Walker - UConn will get plenty of national TV games, and he's the best talent on that team.
Samardo Samuels - Same role for Louisville as Walker for UConn.
Corey Stokes - Nova will be a preseason Final Four contender, but need a lot more than Reynolds. Stokes will get his due.
Lazar Hayward - Marquette needs to win some games for this one, but it will be the Lazar Hayward show.
Greg Monroe - Likely lottery pick, if he lives up to expectations.
*4*. Before practice starts, who would you say is the most pivotal player on your team? Who is your candidate for breakout player in the Big East (and please state how the player will be better than last year)?
Most pivotal for Georgetown: Chris Wright. Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman are more-or-less know commodities for the Hoyas. It will be up to Wright to make the leap (cut down on turnovers, run the offense, improve his shooting) or the Hoyas will struggle. With three All-Big East caliber players, Georgetown can have a very good season.
Breakout player: Devan Ebanks. He does everything well except shoot from outside (why did he attempt 40 3's last year?). West Virginia should be contending for the Big East regular season title - if they can deal with their off-court issues - and I think Ebanks is their star. He'll be better by shooting less from outside, but mostly he'll break out when people realize he's more than just a great athlete.
*5*. Twitter has become influential in broadcasting basketball/ sports information. What's your opinion of the service? Have you adopted Twitter for your blog? What have been the pluses and minuses?
Twitter serves a purpose - spontaneous thoughts, breaking news, etc., but the wheat/chaff ratio can be frustrating. We haven't adopted Twitter for our blog as we normally don't break news and aren't very spontaneous. Other Hoya blogs with boots on the ground use it, to better purpose than we ever could.
*6*. What have you been doing with your time without basketball games?
Being a good husband and father, a real asset at work and a productive member of society. That will all end soon.
*7*. The summer is slow; so when Pitino's "mistake" is made public, or when Calipari's former team is penalized, or when someone posits a way for the Big East Conference to pick up new football members, the story tends to stick around a little longer than it would during the season. What college basketball story are you tired of this offseason?
I've been remarkably SportsCenter-free, and generally television-free, this summer, so I don't have any problems with off-season news. I read about it, then move on. It's liberating to go the day without checking out what's on the Worldwide Leader.
The official season schedule is now posted (pdf). By my count, 14 nationally televised games this year (ignoring ESPNU and MASN).