Hi there, Juicers!
It's been a while since I posted a story- not much analysis to do on games when there are no games, right? (Expect that to change, though, as I'll be at some JSBL games in the next couple weeks)
Anyway, the Big East schedule was released today (home and away only, no specifics yet), and likewise, the Pirates have two new double-up opponents and some nice home games as well. So, without further ado, (Johnny Carson announcer voice): HEEEEEEEERE's THE SCHEDULE!
DOUBLE OPPONENTS: UConn, DePaul, Rutgers
HOME GAMES: UConn, DePaul, Rutgers, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pitt, St. John's, West Virginia
AWAY GAMES: UConn, DePaul, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Syracuse, USF, Villanova, Marquette, Providence
JP's 5 Thoughts:
1. Two More Shots at UConn
Seton Hall sorta, kinda, hasn't beaten UConn in 11 years. It's the white elephant (husky) in the room, and every time these two teams meet, it is a huge game for the Pirates (and sometimes for UConn as well, but not as often). Every time, the Pirates have come up short, the last two times AGONIZINGLY short. The new-look Pirates get two cracks at ending the streak this year. Gone is Kemba Walker, but still in Storrs are Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi, and of course, Mr. Calhoun. Can the Pirates finally get the elephant-husky off their backs??
2. Quality Home Games
The Pirates get to face Georgetown (big name that could struggle this year), Louisville (expected to be one of the top teams in the Big East, plus it's Rick Pitino, every Pirate fan's all-time favorite coach), Pitt (also the class of the conference), Notre Dame (see Georgetown), West Virginia (always an interesting home game), and of course, both local rivals (St. John's and Rutgers) this year at home. The only real dud of those games is DePaul. That's a quality slate of games that makes up for the cupcake non-conference home schedule nicely. Expect good crowds at these home games.
3. Winnable Road Games
With the exception of Syracuse and UConn (possibly Cincinnati and Villanova as well...possibly), every road game is winnable. Providence could finish last in the conference, Marquette is a winnable game, USF is also predicted to struggle, DePaul is DePaul, and Rutgers is a rivalry game. Not only that, but road trips for Pirate fans are possible to Providence and Villanova. Good schedule for a young team because most of the tough opponents are at home.
4. Keep an Eye on Rutgers
No longer should Rutgers be considered a weak opponent. Mike Rice has brought in a quality class that will make winning against the Scarlet Knights much tougher. Yes, the Pirates always play the Knights tough, but the Pirates' edge in talent allowed them to overcome Rutgers in recent years. Rutgers now has the talent edge, and therefore it will be an uphill battle this year in both games. Luckily, Wally Judge doesn't get to play until next year.
5. Did I mention UConn?
Ok just checking. It really is one of the stories of the season, behind the adjustment of the 6 freshmen to the Big East, Herb Pope's getting back to true basketball shape and potentially having a banner year and Kevin Willard's maturation as a coach. Beating UConn at this point is an obsession. I said last year that if ever there was a time to beat them, it would be last year's meeting at the Rock. Well, the Pirates got a gift- another home game sans-Kemba Walker against the Huskies. Hopefully the streak won't continue to a twelfth year.