Andy Edwards (@DLNAndyEdwards)
If Wednesday’s Big East preseason coaches’ poll is any indication, Villanova head coach Jay Wright’s rebuilding task this season might be even taller than expected.
The Wildcats were picked to finish 12th in the 15-team Big East, the conference announced at its annual Media Day in New York City. It marks the first time in 11 years under Wright that Villanova was picked to finish lower than eighth in the conference.
In addition, no Wildcats were named to any of the league’s all-conference teams. In the official preseason poll conducted by the league’s coaches, Louisville was a unanimous choice to win the regular-season crown, receiving all but one first-place vote and a total of 196 points. The other first-place vote, obviously from Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino because coaches are not permitted to place their own teams on their ballots, went to Notre Dame. Louisville returns most of its key pieces from last year’s Final Four run, including point guard Peyton Siva, the coaches’ choice for Preseason Player of the Year.
Villanova received 61 points, just two behind Rutgers for 11th place in the league, and ahead of only Providence, Seton Hall, and DePaul. The Wildcats return only two starters- senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou and sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston- from a squad that finished with a 13-19 overall record, the worst in Wright’s 11 seasons at the helm. Junior swingman James Bell, who earned 18 starts a year ago, is also back, while guards Tony Chennault, a transfer from Wake Forest, and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono join freshman center Daniel Ochefu as a few of the many new faces Wright is tasked with meshing into a cohesive unit.
Louisville was followed by Syracuse and Notre Dame at the top of the league’s projections. Cincinnati and Georgetown rounded out the top five.
Pittsburgh was sixth, followed by Marquette, South Florida, Connecticut, and St. John’s. Rutgers, Villanova, Depaul, Seton Hall, and Providence found out the bottom five.
Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams, a seven-footer from New Zealand who played his high-school ball at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts, was named the Preseason Rookie of the Year. Siva, meanwhile, was joined on the first team by Cardinals center Gorgui Dieng, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley, and Providence’s Vincent Council.
Three Big East teams made the top 25 of the USA Today preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday. Louisville is highest at No. 2; the Cardinals received five first-place votes, the same as intrastate rival Kentucky, which is ranked third. Indiana garnered 21 first-place votes and will begin the season as the nation’s top-ranked team. Syracuse was next at No. 9, while Notre Dame checked in at No. 23. Cincinnati, Marquette, and Pittsburgh were in the ‘others receiving votes’ category.
Big East 2012-13 Predicted Order of Finish
(Total points listed, first place votes in parenthesis)
1. Louisville (14) 196
2. Syracuse 175
3. Notre Dame (1) 166
4. Cincinnati 152
5. Georgetown 136
6. Pittsburgh 32
7. Marquette 121
8. South Florida 96
9. Connecticut 83
10. St. John’s 73
11. Rutgers 63
12. Villanova 61
13. DePaul 48
14. Seton Hall 42
15. Providence 31
Preseason Player of the Year
Peyton Siva, Louisville (Sr., G): 9.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.6 apg
Preseason Rookie of the Year
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh (Fr., C)
All-Conference First Team (2011-12 stats given)
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati (Jr., G): 14.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg
Otto Porter, Georgetown (So., F): 9.7 pgg, 6.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
Gorgui Dieng, Louisville (Jr., C): 9.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.2 bpg)
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (Sr., C): 12.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
Vincent Council, Providence (Sr., G): 15.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 7.5 apg
All-Conference Second Team
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut (Jr., G): 13.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.8 apg)
D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (So., G): 6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul (Jr., F): 17.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg)
Anthony Collins, South Florida (So., G): 9.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 5.2 apg)
Brandon Triche, Syracuse (Sr., G): 9.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg. 2.6 apg)
All-Conference Honorable Mention
Chane Behanan, Louisville (So., F): 9.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.8 apg
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (Jr., G): 12.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.0 apg)
Tray Woodall, Pittsburgh (Sr., G): 11.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 6.1 apg)
C.J. Fair, Syracuse (Jr., F): 8.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.9 apg)