Big East Basketball Media Day for the 2018-19 season is on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York. That means it’s time to quiz the 8 person Anonymous Eagle brain trust and see what everyone thinks about the preseason honors for men’s basketball.
Let’s start with the preseason team poll. We used a simple process: Order the teams, one point for first place, two for second place, and so on. Lowest point total is first, etc., etc., you get the point.
Here’s what we ended up with:
A clearly defined top two teams, with no one else cracking into the top pair, and a strong #3 pick, collecting six of the eight votes in that slot. Things started to vary from there, which is how you get Butler and Xavier so close together, as well as Creighton and Seton Hall so close together. Believe it or not, there’s two ninth place votes out there for DePaul, too.
Let’s turn it over to the guys for some commentary.
Villanova (#1): Not falling for the gambler’s fallacy this year, even when their ceiling is lower.
Providence (#3): I think Nate Watson takes a big step this year and Makai Ashton-Langford gets that Ed Cooley Point Guard Magic sprinkled on him
St. John’s (#4): I think I had the Johnnies at 3 or something last year and they just sucked. With Mustapha “Mufasa” Heron finally being declared eligible for the year, they should be a top 30-ish team, but I’ve been fooled by them before.
Xavier (#5): I credit Travis Steele for patching together a halfway decent roster after Chris Mack and almost all of last year’s roster left, but I don’t think a team of half new transfers/half mainstays all under a first year coach will mesh together that well.
Butler (#7): If you put them at 4, I wouldn’t yell at you.
Creighton (#9): They have a transfer named Connor Cashaw from Rice. I don’t know anything about him, but Cashaw kind of sounds like cashew and if you combine cashews with rice you have like 25% of a delicious pad thai. Of all the Asian countries whose foods are popular in America, Thailand has the best by far. I never did find a great spot during my time in Milwaukee. It’s my biggest regret.
Marco Polo himself can’t even comprehend the difference between Creighton and DePaul.
The number one spot is locked in with ‘Nova. This won’t be the year we see them relinquish their power at the top of the conference. After that, there will be some shuffling with Marquette and St. John’s coming in as the most improved teams in the Big East. If either gets hot, they could seriously challenge Villanova. Marquette’s wealth of talent should get them a top three finish (fingers crossed). Otherwise, it’s pretty routine after that. Butler, Providence, and Xavier will be in the middle of the pack as they aren’t as good as last year but will still battle for an NCAA tournament appearance. I don’t think it’s quite yet Georgetown or DePaul’s time to be contenders and the Bluejays and Pirates will have rough seasons since they don’t possess the firepower like other teams in the conference.
Onwards to the two individual awards we took votes on:
Big East Preseason Player of the Year: Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s (7 votes)
Also receiving one vote: Markus Howard, Marquette
Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year: Jahvon Quinerly, Villanova (unanimous choice)
I don’t think it should be a surprise that either one of these votes went in this direction.
Ponds is the lone all-Big East First Team honoree from the end of last season that’s returning for 2018-19, so you can see how he got the votes here. Howard is the only other player on the Second Team and the Honorable Mentions that returns as well, so we’re not going to fault anyone for kicking a vote in that direction.
Quinerly is the top ranked prospect entering the Big East this season, as he’s ranked #29 in the country according to 247 Sports. The next best prospect in the league is fellow Wildcat Cole Swider (#44), and a pair of Friars in David Duke (#47) and AJ Reeves (#48) round out the top 50 guys coming in this year. While Swider is a quality addition for the Wildcats, it seems likely that Quinerly will be handed a lot of responsibility right off the bat by Jay Wright. As long as he lives up to the rep that he has coming in, it should be a runaway choice for him to pick up the same award in March.
(on Ponds) Not overthinking it. This is the obvious choice for me. I think he’ll carry St. Johns to their first tournament appearance in what seems like ages. Also don’t want to “Madden cover” jinx Markus from having a down year or getting injured *immediately knocks on wood*.
(on voting for Howard) Defense wins championships but offense wins awards. I expect Howard to increase his 3 point percentage with Joey Steals handling the ball for the majority of the time and increased offensive rebounding from a more experienced Theo John and Ed Morrow to contribute to more open kick out threes.
(on Quinerly) It seems all the stars have aligned for this one, Quinerly is a highly talented guard that should thrive under a Jay Wright offense. There should be plenty of playing time available with Jalen Brunson moving on to the league and Nova should be real good again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Quinerly not only win BE FOY but also take a spot on an all BIG EAST team.
Let’s wrap up with the all-Big East team. This is a straight forward ballot: Vote for your five best guys, most votes are on the team.
Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s (unanimous)
Markus Howard, Marquette (7 votes)
Jessie Govan, Georgetown (7 votes)
Sam Hauser, Marquette (6 votes)
Eric Paschall, Villanova (6 votes)
Also receiving votes: Kamar Baldwin, Butler (4 votes); Alpha Diallo, Providence (2 votes); Mustapha Heron, St. John’s (1 vote)
As discussed with the POY voting, the only two true locks to earn enough votes to make it onto the preseason all-league team are Ponds and Howard. They were all-league at the end of last season, and they’re the only two all-league guys that are back this season. You can’t go wrong starting your list there.
After that? It’s honestly a crapshoot as to who you put in there, and I’m almost surprised that we didn’t get more than three extra guys earning votes. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell is likely deserving of consideration, depending on what you think of the Pirates’ chances this season. Creighton’s Martin Krampelj is a strong candidate given what he did before his season ending injury, but he may not be 100% healthy. Villanova’s Phil Booth will likely do a lot of heavy lifting for his squad this season, especially after he just threw 41 on North Carolina in a closed door scrimmage. Part of me wants to mention DePaul’s Max Strus as a candidate here but I can’t get through the thought without giggling to myself about it. If one of the league’s coaches submits a ballot with Strus’ name on it, they should probably be fired for cause immediately.
We’ll wrap up with commentary.
Ben Snider: (on voting for Eric Paschall) I don’t think he’ll necessarily deserve it over Myles Powell, but he’ll be the best player on the best team, which means he’s a sacred calf in the eyes of awards voters.
Pistol Brad: You can substitute Kamar Baldwin for Hauser if you wish but I can’t stand that guy so he is getting left off.
Besay: Obviously I’m a little Marquette biased but I think Hauser will be Marquette’s best all-around player. Howard is one of the league’s best scorers but I don’t know how much he’s improved defensively. Hopefully enough to get around those pick and rolls effectively but we’ll see. Quinerly will have an immediate impact on the Wildcats and will take the league by storm. But he’s not yet better than some other players on the Wildcats namely Eric Paschall. He is one of a few veteran leaders at ‘Nova with National Title Experience. Lastly, we can’t forget about the most dominant big man in Jessie Govan.