John Rothstein projects his top-five breakout players in the BIG EAST this season and #1 on his list?
JEFF ROBINSON, SETON HALL
It takes time for any transfer to get acclimated, and there's no better example than Robinson. After an adjustment period in his first 13 games of last season, the 6-foot-6 combo forward blew up in Seton Hall's final 11 contests, scoring in single figures just once while averaging an impressive 15.45 PPG. Confident, athletic, and a load inside, Robinson should get easy baskets thanks to Pirates junior point Jordan Theodore, who more and more is looking like he could be the best floor general in the Big East.
JRob as Rothstein's #1 breakout player in the conference and JT considered for best PG in the BIG EAST? I'd agree on both counts. Although, Willard hasn't been exactly reeling in big-time recruits for 11-12 as of yet, there's little doubt about the possibility of a special season, THIS coming year.
Jeff Eisenberg of Rivals, looks at five BIG EAST story lines to watch this season:
5. Will three new coaches lead a New York basketball renaissance?
Lavin and Rice have already made inroads on the recruiting trail, but the coach with the best chance to enjoy some immediate success next season is likely Willard at Seton Hall. Mississippi transfer Eniel Polynice arrives and high-scoring guard Jeremy Hazell, talented forward Jeff Robinson and elite rebounder Herb Pope each return from a Pirates team that fell just a few wins shy of the NCAA tournament last season.
Fans want immediate progress on the recruiting trail when bringing in a new coach and understandably, they will become vocal if they don't believe that progress is being made. What's so troubling this offseason is why Willard isn't receiving the credit he deserves for THIS SEASON. He talked every player on the fence into staying (outside of Melvyn Oliver, who had his own issues outside of KW's control). Willard was able to get Fuquan Edwin to keep his commitment that was made under Bobby Gonzalez. He brought in a very talented player in Patrik Auda, landed a 6'11 young big man in Aaron Geramipoor and brought in the multi-faceted Eniel Polynice who will play THIS SEASON, after being granted an exception to play immediately.
So in a sport where coaches are forced to live and be judged by a, "what have you done for me lately," mentality, Kevin Willard deserves more credit than what has been thrown his way. Sure, mainstream journalists haven't started attacking him yet, but all it takes is a visit to the message boards to see fans are in quite a panic as RU and SJU have been busy landing recruits for the future. Give it time, let the coach do his job, give this regime chance. As of right now, we are better positioned to win THIS SEASON than RU and SJU, yet many fans are more concerned with how we are positioned for the future in relation to the other local schools.
Obviously, we want it both ways, we want to win now and be in a good position for the future. Considering the unknown surrounding recruits and whether they'll live up to their hype at the collegiate level, what's more important? Winning THIS SEASON or being set up well on paper to POSSIBLY win in the future?
The BIG EAST Schedule still isn't finalized, Eamonn Brennan believes we should blame LeBron:
The Big East is usually one of the last conferences to get its schedule arranged because so many Big East schools play all or some of their games in arenas that are also home to NBA and NHL teams. The NBA and NHL teams get to pick their dates first and then the college teams like Georgetown, Villanova, Seton Hall and St. John's get to choose from the leftovers.
Well, this year the NBA didn't release its schedule until after LeBron James (and all of his fellow 2010 free agents) decided who they would sign with. That pushed the release of the NBA schedule back a couple weeks from its usual mid-summer announcement.
I'm all for blaming LeBron. For everything. Including why my Dallas Cowboys lost on Sunday. He was in attendance. Blame Lebron.
Kevin Willard and Anne Donovan will be speaking at the Pirate Blue's Beefsteak Tip-Off Dinner. Limited tickets still available.
Seton Hall is offering a buy one get one free sale on season tickets this season, purchase yours here.