Big East Basketball: Summer Recap

By Ari Kramer

Some schools have already recalled their students. Others will in a week. Either way, summer as we know it is on its way out the door, and it’s time to recap what transpired over the past few months in Big East basketball.

UConn Loses Appeal – UConn’s low APR scores led to a postseason ban in 2012-13. The Huskies appealed the NCAA’s ruling, but the organization wouldn’t budge, ruling the ban final on April 5. The Big East has since banned Jim Calhoun’s program from its conference tournament because the league doesn’t want its automatic bid going to a banned team. Following the appeal rejection, Alex Oriakhi bolted for Missouri and Roscoe Smith left for UNLV.

Tim Abromaitis Done – Abromaitis missed his entire sophomore season due to injury, and after playing two games in 2011-12, his fifth year of eligibility, he tore his ACL and didn’t play again. Notre Dame hoped he would receive a sixth year, but the NCAA denied his request.

Scott Martin on the Other Hand – Ten days after ruling Abromaitis ineligible, the NCAA granted Martin a sixth year. Martin missed two entire seasons, one as a transfer and one because of injury, and his return gives Mike Brey the same lineup from last year’s 22-win team.

John Marinatto Out, Mike Aresco In – In the wake of founding members SyracusePittsburgh and West Virginia leaving the Big East, John Marinatto resigned as conference commissioner on May 7. It took two months, but the Big East hired CBS executive vice president Mike Aresco to fill the void. The conference’s hire is a pure indicator that a new TV deal is its top priority.

Pair of Transfers Granted Immediate Eligibility – After Central Michigan fired Ernie Zeigler, his son, Trey, chose to transfer to Pittsburgh. The NCAA granted the former ESPNU Top 100 recruit eligibility due to his father’s firing. Similarly, Tony Chennault, a Wake Forest transfer, will be allowed to play this fall, receiving a hardship waiver so he could be close to his family. Chennault’s mother is sick, and his brother passed away this spring.

Montrezl Harrell Spurns Virginia Tech – Rick Pitino could be the biggest winner from the Seth Greenberg firing. Why? Harrell decommitted from the Hokies and signed with Louisville. Now Pitino has an athletic four who averaged 25 points and 14 boards last year at Hargrave Military Academy to complement the likes of Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng in the frontcourt.

Mike Dunlap Goes Pro – In surprising fashion, St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap bolted to become head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. Dunlap was considered one of the top assistants in college basketball, a head coach of the future. But most thought he’d end up at the college level.

Former Stars Go Pro – Dion Waiters went fourth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, the first Big East player selected. Andre DrummondJeremy LambMoe HarklessFab MeloJae CrowderKris Joseph and Darius Johnson-Odom were all also taken, and Hollis Thompson, Maalik Wayns and Chris Smith signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, respectively.

Cuse, Pitt Agree With Big East – On July 16, Syracuse reached a $7.5 million deal with the Big East to head to the ACC next summer, and Pittsburgh followed suit a few days later. More of a “when” than an “if,” the deals didn’t come as much of a surprise.

Aircraft Carrier Craze – The success of last year’s aircraft carrier game between North Carolina and Michigan State led to more schools wanting a game on a ship. Three Big East teams will participate in three separate games aboard aircraft carriers: Syracuse vs. San Diego StateGeorgetown vs. Florida and Marquette vs. Ohio State.

Stan Heath Extended – After leading South Florida to the NCAA Tournament, Heath was rewarded with a contract extension through the 2017-18 season. ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan thinks the extension was well-deserved, and it’s hard to disagree.

Rick Pitino’s Horses – Pitino loves horses. He also loves his basketball players. After Louisville’s run to the Final Four, the coach bought three horses, naming them Gorgui, Siva and Russ-Diculous after players Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, respectively.

So concludes an exciting summer of Big East basketball.  Now we play the waiting game until the teams take the court.

Follow Ari Kramer on Twitter for more on Big East basketball and college basketball.

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