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    Wednesday, December 07, 2022

    Big East media day rundown

    UConn and Syracuse were picked as co-favorites in the Big East preseason poll.

    The Huskies and Orange both received 209 points. UConn had seven first place votes and Syracuse five.

    Louisville (3 votes), Pittsburgh (1) and Cincinnati round out the top five.

    UConn's Andre Drummond is the preseason rookie-of-the-year.

    UConn sophomore Jeremy Lamb joins Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom, West Virginia's Kevin Jones, Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis, Syracuse's Kris Joseph and Pitt's Ashton Gibbs, the preseason player-of-the-year, on the first team.

    UConn junior Alex Oriakhi is on the second team. Drummond and sophomore Shabazz Napier are honorable mentions.

    Some news, notes and quotes from Big East media day here in New York:

     -- Caught in traffic, UConn coach Jim Calhoun arrived late for Big East media. He still answered a ton of questions thanks to his rapid fire delivery.

    -- The circus known as Big East media day drew its usual throng of reporters. Napier, Lamb and Oriakhi represented UConn. Lamb appeared a bit bored, yawning and flipping through the Big East media guide while answering questions.

    -- Lamb on UConn earning the top spot in the preseason poll: “We’re definitely going to have a target on us but we knew that coming in. Knowing that, we’ve got to work harder.”

    -- Oriakhi was asked if coach Calhoun has changed since winning the national championship.

    Not a chance.

    “He’s coaching us like we didn’t win anything,” Oriakhi said. “He definitely hasn’t changed.”

    -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was his usual cranky self. He deflected questions about Syracuse leaving the Big East for the ACC.

    And he didn’t have much to say about Syracuse sharing the top spot in the poll with UConn.

    “They don’t mean much,” Boeheim said of the preseason rankings.

    -- Calhoun is trying to downplay any talk about repeating as national champion.

    “We’re not defending anything,” Calhoun said. “We’re on a different pursuit with a new team.”

    -- Gibbs and Abromaitis spoke to the media crowd about their Big East experiences. They were teammates and roommates on the U.S. World University games team last summer, playing in China.

    They took good-natured shots at each other on Wednesday.

    “I was his wing man and he just got rejected by girls pretty much from every country,” Abromaitis said.

    -- Conference realignment was a hot topic.

    “Everybody’s world in the past two months has been turned upside down,” Calhoun said.

    Notre Dame coach Mike Brey says there’s still time for Pittsburgh and Syracuse to change their minds about leaving.

    “Syracuse and Pittsburgh can still come back,” Brey said. “C’mon back. … You can have a do-over. C’mon back. Crazier things have happened.”

    In his opening remarks, Big East commissioner John Marinatto talked about focusing on the present while preparing for the future.

    “I, for one, am happy to be talking about basketball this morning,” Marinatto said.

    -- Marinatto also paid tribute to Big East founding father Dave Gavitt who passed away last summer.

    “It’s because of his vision we’re all here today,” Marinatto said.

     -- Providence College’s Ed Cooley is the only new coach this season. Former UConn assistant Andre LaFleur is on Cooley’s staff.

     -- UConn is off from practice today.

    Former Huskies now in the pros continue to practice with the team. Kemba Walker and Hasheem Thabeet worked out on Tuesday. Ben Gordon is expected to come in this week as well as Rudy Gay.

    NBA scouts also are flocking to UConn to check out the talent. A representative from Phoenix stopped by Tuesday.

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