With another year of college basketball means another year of Big East basketball, along with Big East Media Day. While the event is always something to look forward to for reporters, this may have been the best version yet. With such headlines like the addition of coach Rick Pitino or the transition of coach Ed Cooley from Providence to Georgetown, there were some great storylines to talk about in another segment of Big East basketball.
Who is the next breakout star for Marquette?
When you talk about a great coach like Shaka Smart, there’s plenty of positives that stick out. But, you can’t talk about the Golden Eagles coach without mentioning his incredible development. From Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek to current senior big man Oso Ighodaro, he’s going to get the absolute best out of his players. It’s been a huge reason as to why Smart has gotten his squad to two straight NCAA Tournament berths and with the look of this current roster, it looks like there’s going to be plenty of success on the way.
But, for Marquette to take the next step in their quest toward a potential NCAA championship, it’s going to have to be more than just Kolek or Ighodaro doing the heavy lifting for one of the top programs in college basketball. According to Smart himself, there’s two players this year that he’s expecting to make a huge leap in their game.
“David Joplin and Chase Ross I would say are the two most impressive players on our team over the offseason,” said Smart.
With Joplin, Smart specifically spoke on the conditioning of his prized junior forward, especially his work on the versaclimber where he notably hit two minutes.
“Jop was incredibly dedicated over the course of the entire summer reshaping his conditioning and his body. I think you’re gonna see that on the court,” said Smart.
Joplin’s teammate, star guard Kam Jones, even chimed in with a prediction, saying that the Wisconsin native would slam down at least five dunks before conference play begins for the Golden Eagles on Dec. 19 against Providence.
As for Ross, he came into Milwaukee, like Joplin, as a four star recruit with plenty of potential to make noise with the Golden Eagles. He may not be the offensive scorer like his frontcourt teammate, but he’s going to give big problems for opponents on the defensive end. As a 6-4 guard who played an average of 16.4 minutes for this program, Smart is counting on the young Texas native to take the next step in his progression.
“He’s a dude,” said Smart. “He’s a guy that I think has grown in confidence and he’s grown in his understanding of how good he can be. Now, as a sophomore, you’ll see him put that to use.”
Why Madison Square Garden is so special for Providence’s Kim English
The way that the Friars’ head coach Kim English speaks about Madison Square Garden is one of respect, yet awe at the same time. Ever since he got to step foot on the court in college with the Missouri Tigers and during his time in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons, it hasn’t lost its special feel.
“Just knowing the history of everything. Music. Boxing. Muhammad Ali. Willis Reed running out. Kobe’s big nights. MJ’s big nights. Steph’s big nights. Lebron’s big nights. This is a special venue. The energy of this city permeates through these walls when the game is going on,” said English.
Just as he describes it, the Garden has been a huge part of English’s love for basketball. As a kid, he described sneaking off to watch the Big East Tournament in janitor’s closets in school when it was the old Big East conference. Fast forward to this upcoming college basketball season, he now has a chance to make noise in the tournament he loved watching as a kid, this time with the new Big East.
At age 35, he continues to soak up the emotions of a venue that’s seen the greats of so many different sports pass through it.
“It’s a moment. You are in awe. You look around and you think about where you are,” said English. “It’s a privilege and a treat to have done it a few times as a player and now getting the chance to do it as a coach is pretty cool.”
Ed Cooley: The Rebuilder.
Georgetown Hoyas fans have not had much to look forward to over the past few seasons in the Big East. But, a poor 2-18 finish for the program was the tipping point and as a result, Patrick Ewing was out. Now, enter Ed Cooley, a man with plenty of rebuilding experience, most notably with the Providence Friars.
Are there many storylines bigger than Cooley’s return to Providence on Jan. 27, 2023? While it’s hard to argue that question, you can’t ignore the actual rebuilding job for the Hoyas, a truly tall task for a program that’s looking to get back to its former glory. Even beyond the actual product on the court, Cooley is taking everything into account with the college.
“My championship is seeing these kids at graduation day. If you’ve done it long enough, I’m on year 30, I think we’re alright,” said Cooley.
The biggest thing for the 54-year old head coach in another rebuild is everyday growth. It’s important to not look back on the past, a reality that’s been hard to swallow. Yet, at the same time, as Cooley puts it, it’s about the path forward, not where you’re at.
With nine new players on the court and time to establish chemistry, the pieces are starting to come together. It may not be perfect in year one, but for the first time in a long time, there’s finally some real excitement in the air for Hoyas basketball.