Big East players to watch

Roy Hibbert, Georgetown’s 7-foot-2 senior center, helped his team make it to the NCAA Final Four last season, averaging 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds for the year. He has already received critical praise this season, as he was named the 2007-08 Big East Pre-season Player of the Year by a vote of the league’s head coaches. Hibbert played a major role in Georgetown’s successful 2006-07 season, racking up a 71.2 percent shooting percentage – the highest in the Big East. Hibbert’s dominating presence inside will be difficult for the Johnnies to handle, but St. John’s will have to rise to the task as they host the Hoyas on Jan. 30.

The Syracuse Orange have a tough task this year. It will have to replace three key seniors that graduated, and, in the process, will have to overhaul its starting frontline. Junior Eric Devendorf is perhaps Syracuse’s best offensive player, and will be the team’s major scoring threat. Last season, Devendorf averaged 14.8 points and 4.1 assists. What’s more, he can play either guard position, making him the go-to guy for Syracuse this upcoming season. Devendorf and the rest of the Syracuse Orange will host St. John’s on Jan. 2.

Marquette has only been in the Big East for two seasons, and in each, they successfully made the NCAA tournament. Dominic James was a key part to that success. The junior guard averaged 14.9 points per game and 4.9 assists. In fact, James seriously considered entering the NBA draft, but decided at the last minute to stay with Marquette. With James already putting up similar numbers to last year, he looks to be another major force in the Big East this season. The Red Storm will have their hands full with James when they host Marquette on Feb. 20, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2.