Well the first week of Big East conference play is officially in the books and I think it's safe to say that we are all pleased thus far. What can I say about yesterdays game against Cincy? To sum it up I will say two things.......1) Unreal! 2) Forget about it. To shoot 60% from 3 point land while having ~20 attempts is fantastic yet not our game, a blip on the radar if you will, so as Buzz always states "enjoy it until midnight, then forget about it". I can say great things about damn near everyone, so without stating the obvious about those who stuffed the stat sheet I wanted to give out props to James for his performance not only against Cincy yesterday but essentially what he's done throughout the season. When you can hold Deonta Vaughan, a Big East first team candidate and the opponents leading scorer, to zero pts on 0-8 shooting.....you've definitely brought your lunch pail to work and earned some mad props (did I mention theat Vaughan has never been held scoreless in his entire collegiate career). This of course followed the Villanova game in which James seemed to frustrate Scottie Reynolds whom had a poor shooting night and a quiet 15 points (of which I think 5 or so came in the final minutes when the game was out of reach). James also held Trevon Hughes in check in the Dec 7th game against Wisconsin, limiting Hughes to 14 pts and only 2 assists. So while Dominic hasn't been scoring at a clip similar to his fresh and soph seasons, I think that he has concentrated on improving the overall team play by playing great defense and distributing the ball to his teammates on the offensive end.
I also wanted to point out the nice minutes that O'tule provided. He didn't exactly look like the Alonzo Mourning of G'town out there, but considering he missed the first 8-10 weeks of practice and has played limited minutes in only 4 games, he really seemed to hold his own out there and was aggressive against a decent Big East team. Had 2 nice blocks, a couple of boards, and dropped in some shots from the post. Now I know his post moves weren't pretty, but when was the last time you saw Burke (our starting center mind you) score points from the post? Hek, when was the last time you saw Burke catch the ball in the post, make an offensive move, and not turn it over? So pretty much any production from the 5 is welcomed, and will be much needed down the road.
Early thoughts on the other Big East teams......While many of us have been trembling in our shorts regarding the matchups with the upper echelon teams of the conference (ie. Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn, G'town, Pitt, etc.), I firmly believe that while they are all very good teams they too have weakness and are beatable.......even by MU. Notre Dame returned the same team this year.....a team that we beat 2 out of 3 times last year and had the potential to beat a 3rd time of Blackledge can handle a hot pass after a steal with under a minute to play.....yet they are hailed as Big East contenders while we are predicted to be more pretenders. After watching them at Depaul (Reid as my witness), I claimed that they didn't look so hot this year and were as sieve like defensively as any team in the Big East. Dar Tucker and Koshwal looked like all-americans against their defense. It seems as if they addapted the Phoenix Suns philosophy of "try and outscore us". They pulled out the game at Depaul followed that up with a turd of a game and lost at a horrible St.Johns team who also did not have their best player. Louisville looks out of sorts.....losses at home to Western Kentucky and UNLV and against Minnesota. Kentucky also played them tight yesterday and needed a bomb of a 3 pointer from Sosa......very Reece Gaines-esque which of couse brought back some bad memories. G'town goes on the road to beat UConn, then follows that up by losing at home to Pitt whom I think is the best team and a team that we always seem to play tough regardless of the favorite. So in summation, I still think we've got a great shot at 10+ wins in conference play. If we can continue to take care of business at home and win some against the lower level teams on the road, we'll be ok. If Jerel and Lazar continue to shoot like this all year......we win 12 games. You heard it here first folks!