If there's anyone who knows the unique challenges of winning in the Big East -- specifically, winning in the Big East with a large crop of untested freshmen -- it's Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. After all, the iconic coach's one national title came thanks primarily to freshmen Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick. It's the one shining example of a freshman-dominated team that won the national title, the best example people can point to when arguing that maybe veteran leadership isn't quite as important in college hoops as we all tend to think.
Whatever your feelings on that debate, there's no question winning with freshmen in a deep, physical league like the Big East presents some noteworthy difficulties. Perhaps that's what prompted Boeheim to tell the New York Daily News that St. John's coach Steve Lavin -- who replaces 10 seniors and transfer Dwayne Polee with an eight-member class ranked No. 3 by ESPNU -- is likely to struggle in 2011-12. From the Daily News:
"He has a lot of young guys coming in … it's tough to win like that in the Big East," Boeheim said Thursday. "He's going to have to find roles for his guys as fast as he can," said Boeheim. "It's not going to be easy for him to win in the Big East at all."
Boeheim is probably right. The Red Storm's lineup isn't going to be peppered with intriguing freshmen players and buttressed by experienced veterans. With few exceptions, the Red Storm's lineup is going to be entirely composed of young players. It's a bit of an experiment, really. Maybe those players are good enough to learn this stuff on the fly. Maybe it will take a year. Hard to say, you know?
In some ways, Lavin will be learning about his team at the same pace as the rest of us. It should make for fascinating viewing, even if things aren't always pretty.