The Syracuse Orange have been voted in as pre-season co-champions of the Big East by the conference coaches at media day. They share the honor with their rivals, and defending National Champions the Uconn Huskies. The Orange received five first-place votes, while the The Huskies got seven first-place votes for a total of 209 points. Head Coach Jim Boeheim says the team is ready to live up to the high expectations.
"We've got a veteran team," says Boeheim, "the guys have high expectations for themselves and have already proven quite a bit and they want to have great years."
This is just the third time in the history of the conference that their have been pre-season co-champs. The last time that happened was heading into the 2007-08 season.
Meanwhile, Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine both earned pre-season All-Conference honors, Joseph being named to the first-team, while Jardine was a second-team pick. Both say they were inspired by Rick Jackson's successful mission of making the very most of his senior season.
"You know it going in that this is your last go around," says Joseph, "you don't want to go out on a bad note, regardless of the season. (Rick) went out with a bang. He averaged a double double, and you see that, and you want to follow those footsteps."
"Rick really led everyday by example," explains Jardine, "he went out there and gave it everything he had. I do that regardless, whenever I step on the court, I feel like last year I played like a senior. This year it's more so leading by example off the court."
The Conference Head Coaches voted in Pittsburgh Panthers guard Ashton Gibbs as the Preseason Big East Player of the Year. UConn center Andre Drummond was voted in as BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year.
Click on the video link for more on media day and to hear from Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine.
2011-12 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
2011-12 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year
Andre Drummond, Connecticut
2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh (Player of the Year), G, Sr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, G/F, So., 6-5, 185, Norcross, Ga.
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Sr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, F, Gr., 6-8, 235, Unionville, Conn.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-7, 210, Montreal, Quebec
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Sr., 6-8, 260, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team
Yancy Gates, Cincinnati, F, Sr., 6-9, 260, Cincinnati, Ohio
Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut, F/C, Jr., 6-9, 240, Lowell, Mass.
Peyton Siva, Louisville, G, Jr., 5-11, 180, Seattle, Wash.
Scoop Jardine, Syracuse, G, Sr., 6-2 190, Philadelphia, Pa.
Maalik Wayns, Villanova, G, Jr., 6-2, 200, Philadelphia, Pa.
2011-12 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Andre Drummond, Connecticut, C, Fr., 6-11, 275, Middletown, Conn.
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, G, So. 6-0, 170, Roxbury, Mass.
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul, F, So., 6-8, 208, Baltimore, Md.
Jae Crowder, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-6, 235, Villa Rica, Ga.
Augustus Gilchrist, USF, F/C, Sr., 6-10, 245, Clinton, Md.
NEW YORK (AP) - A year ago Connecticut was 10th in the Big East coaches' preseason poll. Six months later the Huskies had national championship No. 3.
On Wednesday, they were tied for first place in the coaches' voting for 2011-12 with Syracuse, although the Huskies can lay claim to more No. 1 votes, 7-5.
It's hard to imagine Connecticut playing better than it did during the 11-game winning streak that ended with the cutting of the nets in Houston.
This group will have to do it without All-America guard Kemba Walker, who did everything needed to win games.
Coach Jim Calhoun has three starters returning, including sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb, a preseason first-team pick, and junior forward Alex Oriakhi, a second-team selection. Freshman Andre Drummond, a 6-foot-11 center, was chosen preseason rookie of the year.
The Orange return first-team selection Kris Joseph, a senior, and second-teamer Scoop Jardine, a junior who led the conference in assists with a 6.1 average last season.
Louisville, which had three first-place votes was third, followed by Pittsburgh, which had one.
Panthers senior guard Ashton Gibbs was selected preseason player of the year. He led Pittsburgh in scoring (16.8), and led the conference in 3-point shooting (49 percent), and was second in free throw shooting (88.9) He enters the season third on the Big East career 3-point shooting percentage list at 45.4.
The other Panthers to be preseason player of the year are Charles Smith (1986-87), Jerome Lane (1987-88), Brandin Knight (2002-03) and Aaron Gray (2006-07).
Cincinnati was fifth followed by Marquette, West Virginia, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida, Providence and DePaul.
In addition to Gibbs, Lamb and Joseph, the preseason first team included seniors Darius Johnson-Odom of Marquette and Kevin Jones of West Virginia, and graduate student Tim Abromaitis of Notre Dame.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team or players.
Everything about the Big East is in flux right now. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference and TCU, which was scheduled to start competing in 2012, left for the Big 12.
Conference commissioner John Marinatto announced Tuesday that the Big East wants to expand to 12 football schools and reiterated the conference intends to hold Pitt and Syracuse to the league's 27-month notification rule, keeping those schools in the league for the next two years.
He said the conference has looked at 14-team models for next season.