Big East Preseason Selections Announced

Georgetown and Louisville are the co-favorites to win the regular-season title in the 2007-08 Big East Preseason Coaches' Poll. The two teams tied for first place in the balloting with 217 points.

Both teams received eight first-place votes. The coaches did not place their own teams on their respective ballots. Georgetown's 2007-08 season ended at the NCAA Final Four with a 30-7 record. Along the way, the Hoyas were 13-3 in the Big East and won the conference title. GU head coach John Thompson III will have to find a way to replace Jeff Green, the Player of the Year, but will be able to lean on four returning starters. Senior center Roy Hibbert is the '07-08 Big East Preseason Player of the Year and senior guard Jonathan Wallace made the Preseason All-League Team.

Louisville finished 24-10 last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Cardinals, coached by Rick Pitino, return their top seven scorers, including four starters. Junior forward Terrence Williams led the squad in scoring with a 12.4 average. Williams and senior center David Padgett were named to the 2007-08 Preseason All-Big East Team. Marquette was a solid third-place choice. The Golden Eagles have earned NCAA berths in their first two seasons in the conference. This year, coach Tom Crean welcomes back his top seven players from last season. Junior guards Dominique James and Jerel McNeal were selected to the Preseason Team.

Pittsburgh was tabbed for fourth place. The Panthers are the only league team to play in the last six NCAA tourneys and win more than 10 Big East games in each of those seasons. Coach Jamie Dixon must replace three starters, including All-Big East First Team center Aaron Gray. Senior forward Mike Cook is the team's top returning scorer at 10.5. The coaches slotted Syracuse for fifth. Coach Jim Boeheim has to replace his starting frontline, but SU's history still suggests success. Under Boeheim, the Orange have won at least 20 games in 29 of his 31 seasons. Junior guard Eric Devendorf is on the Preseason All-League Team.

The voting results for the next three places were very close. Connecticut was picked sixth with 149 points followed by Villanova for seventh (143 points) and Providence eighth (141 points). UConn is still a young club, but has its top 11 players returning from last season. Junior forward Jeff Adrien made the Preseason All-Big East Team. Villanova figures to be led by sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds, who was the Rookie of the Year last season. Providence has an experienced squad with a strong junior class. Junior forward Geoff McDermott, one of the league's most versatile players, was picked for the Preseason All-Big East Team.

The coaches selected Notre Dame ninth. Last season, the Irish returned to the NCAAs after three straight trips to the NIT. Coach Mike Brey is excited about three returnees who averaged in double figures last season, but he has two replace the team's top two scorers, forward Russell Carter and guard Colin Falls. West Virginia was chosen for 10th place. The Mountaineers won the NIT crown last season. New head coach Bob Huggins inherits a team that loses only one starter and has compiled a 73-31 record over the last three seasons.

DePaul, which reached the NIT quarterfinals last year, was picked 11th. The Blue Demons and coach Jerry Wainwright will have to deal with the loss of two NBA draft picks, forward Wilson Chandler and guard Sammy Mejia. The league coaches tabbed Cincinnati for 12th place. Second-year coach Mick Cronin welcomes back the team's top three scorers from last year to go along with a large recruiting class. Seton Hall was picked 13th followed by St. John's, Rutgers and USF.

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On the Big East Preseason First Team, Hibbert helped the Hoyas to the 2007 NCAA Final Four. For the season, he averaged 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. Hibbert also was the Big East's most accurate shooter. He was first in field goal percentage in all games (67.1 percent) and in conference play (71.2 percent). A native of Adelphi, Md., Hibbert is the first Georgetown player to be accorded Big East Preseason Player of the Year recognition since Alonzo Mourning shared the honor with Malik Sealy of St. John's in 1991-92.

Teammate Jonathan Wallace is one of 10 members of the 2007-08 Preseason All-Big East Team. Wallace, a 6-1 senior guard, has been a steady contributor since his freshman season. Last year, he averaged 11.4 points, while shooting 50.7 percent from the floor and 49 percent from 3-point range. The coaches made Villanova's Scottie Reynolds a unanimous selection. The 6-2 sophomore guard earned Rookie of the Year honors last season after averaging 14.8 points and 3.8 assists. In league play, he was even more productive. Reynolds ranked second in scoring, averaging 18.4 points, and was first in 3-point shooting at 43 percent.

Marquette also placed two players on the preseason all-league squad. Dominic James and Jerel McNeal are a pair of junior guards who have helped the Golden Eagles to NCAA berths in their first two seasons. James, who was a First Team performer last season, averaged 14.9 points. His 4.9-assist average was fourth in the league. McNeal was the Defensive Player of the Year last season, though he contributed in several areas. Besides his defensive prowess, McNeal averaged 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals.

Louisville, tabbed as a co-favorite with Georgetown in the preseason coaches' poll, is represented by junior forward Terrence Williams and senior center David Padgett. Williams is a 6-6 junior who earned Second Team honors last season after averaging a team-leading 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds. Padgett played through knee injuries and joined Williams on the all-conference second team last year. Padgett averaged 9.5 points and 5.6 boards. The team also includes Jeff Adrien of Connecticut and Geoff McDermott of Providence, a pair of junior forwards. The 6-7 Adrien was a Second Team selection after averaging 13.1 points and 9.7 rebounds. McDermott was an all-around contributor for the Friars, averaging 9.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Kentrell Gransberry is the first USF player to earn Big East preseason honors. The 6-9 senior patrolled the paint effectively for the Bulls last season. He was the only player in the league to average a double-double. Gransberry posted averages of 15.6 points and 11.4 rebounds. His rebound mark was third in the nation.

Eric Devendorf, a 6-4 junior from Syracuse, is one of the league's top offensive threats. He averaged 14.8 points and 4.1 assists, while seeing action at both guard positions. Two of Devendorf's teammates, Flynn and Greene, are expected to make an immediate impact for the Orange. Flynn is a 6-0 guard from Niagara Falls, N.Y. Greene is a 6-9 forward from Baltimore, Md. Both enjoyed outstanding high school careers and they already have experience playing with each other. They were teammates this summer on the USA Basketball Under 19 squad that won a silver medal at the 2007 FIBA World Championships in Serbia.


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