Coaches not concerned by preseason rankings
Coaches and players throughout the Big East were surprised at the preseason poll released at the conference’s media day on Wednesday.
“Preseason polls are tough,” said Kevin Willard, head coach of the 14th-ranked Pirates. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a team picked high and we always finish better than what we’re picked. To me it’s good motivation for the players and for us coaches. It’s kind of irrelevant.”
The biggest issue taken with the rankings was Providence’s as the lowest ranked Big East Team. Louisville was the unanimous first-place selection. Their senior guard Peyton Siva, who was named Preseason Big East Player of the Year, said Providence being ranked last shows the strength of the conference
“I think how special the Big East is,” Siva said. “We have Providence who’s ranked 16th and they smacked us by 31 last year. So it just shows how deep the Big East is, and how talented it is.”
Providence head coach Ed Cooley said he was looking forward to speaking with his players at practice on Wednesday night about the ranking.
“Our players are going to be pissed off about that, because how far we’ve come to do what we’ve done in a year’s time,” Cooley said.
Providence has the No. 6 recruiting class in the country, including two ESPNU Top 100 players, according to ESPN.com.
Friars senior point guard Vincent Council was named to the Preseason All-Big East First Team, which was another reason Cooley said he was surprised about the last-place ranking, but he said he is only concerned about how the team finishes.
“I don’t know if there’s ever been a preseason first team guy and his team picked last,” Cooley said. “We’ll use it as motivation, but it really doesn’t matter what the number is right now. We’re more excited to see where that number is in March.”
Some coaches, such as DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell, said they did not care much about their team’s ranking.
“What was it?” Purnell said. “I don’t even know what it was. I just don’t pay that much attention. I didn’t expect us to be ranked high coming off the last two seasons. It gives us an opportunity to prove it on the floor.”
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said DePaul, who was ranked 13th in the preseason poll, could be the surprise team in the Big East this season.
“DePaul this year I think is going to make a quantum leap in this conference,” Pitino said.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said he could not predict who the surprise team would be.
“I’ll tell you I have no idea,” Boeheim said. “There will be a couple because teams that are picked low always win. I don’t know who it will be . There’s a lot of balance, a lot of good teams down there. And some team is going to get hot, get going, and make a big jump.”
Pirate junior forward Fuquan Edwin, who led the nation in steals last season, said the Pirates will shock the conference.
“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Edwin said. “We’re young and experienced.”
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.Brennan@student.shu.edu.