NEW YORK - Good morning from the Theater at Madison Square Garden. It's Big East men's basketball media day, and Villanova is very much in the spotlight.
The Wildcats have been picked to finish No. 1 in the preseason poll of the conference's coaches. It's the first time the Wildcats have been picked to win the Big East since the 2005-06 season.
Here is the full poll:
1. Villanova, 218 points (10 first place votes)
2. West Virginia, 215 (5)
3. Connecticut, 185 (1)
4. Louisville, 179
5. Georgetown, 161
6. Syracuse, 152
7. Cincinnati, 135
8. Notre Dame, 132
9. Pittsburgh, 119
10. Seton Hall, 110
11. St. John's, 82
12. Marquette, 78
13. Providence, 52
14. South Florida, 44
15. Rutgers, 43
16. DePaul, 15
Here are the preseason player honors:
Player of the Year: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Rookie of the Year: Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
All-Big East First Team
F Sr Lazar Heyward, Marquette
F Sr Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia
C So Greg Monroe, Georgetown
G Sr Deonta Vaughn, Georgetown
G Sr Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
All-Big East Second Team
G Sr Jerome Dyson, Connecticut
G So Kemba Walker, Connecticut
G Jr Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
G Jr Dominique Jones, South Florida
F So Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
F So Samardo Samuels, Louisvills
At the bottom of the post you'll see a player with all the audio I gathered today. As you can see, I got to a lot of coaches. Some of the tracks are long, but that's for the better. It won't surprise you that Jay Wright, Rick Pitino and Bob Huggins are among the longest. But I figure you want to hear from them, so you'll get plenty. It's worth your time.
I also am putting together a video in which I asked some of the top Big East beat writers in the room for their opinions of how this season will play out. You'll hear from Joe Juliano of the Inquirer, Mike Kern of the Daily News, Liz Clarke of the Washington Post (who is a great friend of mine, if I may say so), Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune and Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Yes, that's the same Shannon Ryan who used to cover Villanova and other sports for the Inquirer. And many of you know Mike Waters as the compiler of the annual Big East writers' preseason poll. Villanova finished first in that vote as well.
For the record, it took until almost eight minutes had passed in Rick Pitino's interview session for any reporters to ask him about the extramarital affair he revealed this summer. He was asked much earlier than that, though, about not suspending two players - Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith - after they fought with off-campus police at a party a few weeks ago.
Pitino said that having previously coached in New York and Boston, the pressure he is under this season is relatively easy to handle.
"I'll hit the triple crown some day if I ever take a job in Philadelphia," he quipped. "If I ever take the Drexel job some day, I'll have the triple crown."
I spent the morning providing updates via this blog's Twitter feed.
If you don't follow my tweets (or even if you do) you can see them right here on the blog. Scroll down a bit from here and you'll tee that The Big Dance has returned.
You might recall The Big Dance from last season. It's a compilation of college sports-related tweets from fans and journalists across the web.
All you have to do to join the conversation is hashtag your tweet #bigdance and it will show up. I'm also happy to share the widget code if you want it for your blog; email me and I'll send it to you.
I'm also unveiling a completely new feature this morning: Full Court Press. It's an aggregation of blog posts from some of the top college sports websites out there.
At any given time, you'll see the 10 most recently updated blogs from the dozens I've set up in the system. If you want your blog included, email me and I'll add it to the list.
Full Court Press replaces the old blogroll. That's probably a good thing, because it was getting really long. The statistical reference links are still there, though.
Stay tuned to this page for updates throughout the day from MSG.
And welcome to the unofficial start of the new college basketball season.