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Bearcats Breakfast 5.10.11

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Yesterday I started a project of taking a look at the offensive experience returning to each team in the Big East now that the early-entry period is over. Here is the first half of the blog with the first eight teams in the conference alphabetically (sort of, I skipped Marquette yesterday). Below it will continue with a look at the final eight teams.

Also, Andy Katz put out his latest Top 25 since the early-entry deadline and has UC at No. 19 and the sixth listed in the Big East.

Let's continue...

MARQUETTE

Record: 22-15

Finish: Lost in Sweet Sixteen to UNC

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Darius Johnson-Odom, senior: 25.6%

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Jimmy Butler: 21.4%

Percentage of total points scored returning: 62.2% (46.7 of 75)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 2/2

Analysis: The Eagles numbers don't look spectacular on this scale because the depth they enjoyed last year. However, both Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan -- key cogs in the Sweet 16 run -- are back and averaged more than 19 minutes a game. The Eagles should smoothly cover the loss of Jimmy Butler and be an elite team again. 

RUTGERS

Record: 15-17

Finish: No Postseason

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Dane Miller, junior: 22.4%

Gilvydas Biruta, soph.: 23.4%

Mike Poole, soph: 21.9%

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Jonathan Mitchell: 23.9% 

Percentage of total points scored returning: 46.2% (35.5 of 66)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 2/3

Analysis: The sun is beginning to shine on Rutgers program with some big wins last year and landing nice recruits to go with transfer Wally Judge, but next year will be an uphill battle. Nothing can underscore enough the loss of Mitchell and three of the five players that took up the majority of the team's minutes last year.

SETON HALL

Record: 13-18

Finish: No Postseason

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Herb Pope, senior: 24.2%

Jordan Theodore, senior: 22.8%

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Jeremy Hazell: 26.2%

Percentage of total points scored returning: 46.3% (31 of 67)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 3/2

Analysis: The loss of Jeremy Hazell will severely hamper the Pirates' offense, but Jordan Theodore developed into a top-level Big East point guard last season and if he can become a dominant force at the point, the presence of Pope inside may give the Hall a chance to make the tournament.

SOUTH FLORIDA

Record: 10-23

Finish: No Postseason

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Augustus Gilchrist, senior: 28.3%

Jawanza Poland: junior: 23.6%

Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, junior: 21.0%

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Jarrid Famous: 23.4%

Percentage of total points scored returning: 76.6% (47.5 of 62)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 5/1

Analysis: The Bulls lose half of their twin towers in the middle with Jarrid Famous, but Augustus Gilchrist already was the third-most used offensive player in the conference behind Kemba Walker and Marshon Brooks. That number will only increase for his senior year. With strong PG Anthony Crater back, the Bulls could surprise a few people. Then again, probably not. 

ST. JOHN'S

Record: 21-12

Finish: Lost in first round NCAA tournament

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Zero

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Dwight Hardy: 25.6%

Justin Brownlee: 22.4%

Percentage of total points scored returning: 14.1% (9.9 of 70)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 0/5

Analysis: Welcome to the real Steve Lavin era in Queens. All the contributors from last season are gone and the second-rated recruiting class in the country which runs 10 deep will take over. There will likely be some growing pains, but in a year or two this team will be back on top.

SYRACUSE

Record: 27-8

Finish: Lost in second round NCAA tournament

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Scoop Jardine, senior: 24.7%

Kris Joseph, senior: 22.6%

Brandon Triche, junior: 21.4%

Dion Waiters, sophomore: 21.3%

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Zero

Percentage of total points scored returning: 82.1% (59.9 of 72)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 3/1

Analysis: Nobody does a better job of grooming veteran teams than Jim Boeheim. He's set up to do so again. The loss of Rick Jackson inside hurts, but literally everyone else is returning from one of the most talented teams in the Big East. The Orange should be the runaway preseason favorite in the conference.

WEST VIRGINIA

Record: 21-12

Finish: Lost in second round NCAA tournament

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Darryl Bryant, senior: 25.6

Deniz Kilicli, junior: 26.3% 

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Casey Mitchell: 26.9%

Percentage of total points scored returning: 56.6% (39.6 of 70)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 2/4

Analysis: Bob Huggins boys are losing quite a bit of offense, but it could have been a disaster if Kevin Jones declared for the draft. Instead, the player who spent 87.3% of the possible minutes on the floor last year will be back as the leader of what will be a young team of Mountaineers.

VILLANOVA

Record: 21.12

Finish: Lost in first round NCAA tournament

No. of players used in at least 20 percent of possessions returning:

Maalik Wayns, junior: 27.7%

No. players 20 percent possession lost: 

Corey Fisher: 25.7%

Percentage of total points scored returning: 44.0% (31.7 of 72)

Players averaging 20+ minutes returning/leaving: 2/3

Analysis: Welcome to the Maalik Wayns Show. This should be more entertaining than the other Wayns brothers shows I believe are still showing reruns on WB. The loss of Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes will place a load of pressure on Wayns and a talented, but young corps to grow into larger roles fast. It may take a year outside of their customary Top 15 status before the Wildcats return to the top.

--- What does all this mean? Primarily, it means the depth of the Big East will be strong as ever. The lowest rung teams like DePaul and USF are bringing nearly all their young bases back and only five teams lost more than 50 percent of their scoring.

--- Notre Dame and St. John's will look remarkably different, but few others in the conference will undergo massive overhauls.

--- Syracuse, USF, Marquette, UC, DePaul and Pitt all return their leading scorers from last season.

--- Only two teams aren't losing a 20-percent possession use player: Syracuse and UC. Offensively, both these teams should take major steps forward in 2011-12. That's a scary thought if you are playing the Orange, who could light up the Dome already. It's encouraging for UC which struggled to find buckets during long stretches last year.

--- As for a direct look at offensive experience, the percentage of points returning stat was the most telling. Here is the concise chart of how the teams ranked.

Team             Points%Return

Syracuse          82.1

DePaul             81.4

South Florida    76.6

Louisville          67.8

Cincinnati        66.8

Providence       65.7

Marquette         62.2

Pitt                 59.1

WVU               56.6

UConn             54.1

Georgetown     51.5

Rutgers            46.2

Seton Hall        46.3

Villanova          44.0

Notre Dame     21.0

St. John's        14.1 

--- At the end of the day, next season will be defined by far, far more than these offensive experience stats. Defense, chemistry and injuries all will have a major affect. Yet, over the past few years, the impact of freshmen in the Big East has been minimal. To say that any of the talented recruiting classes will be able to enter and overcome major differentials in stats above would be a stretch. The top offensive teams next year are likely at the top of the above list. The consistent winners have been those with veteran teams, not those relying heavily on youth. That bodes well for the Cats. 

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