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Optimism Abounds at Big East Media Day

The Big East Conference held its annual media day on Wednesday, and with a new season just around the corner, every coach and player alike remains confident heading into the 2015-16 season. With everyone working with a clean slate, optimism abounds for all 10 teams in the Big East.

Each new season presents new challenges. But each to a man, almost everybody feels their team can compete with anybody.

Xavier coach Chris Mack, whose team last year went a nice run to the Sweet 16, said the strength and depth of this conference is equal to almost any conference in the country.

“You’re talking about the second-best conference a year ago in conference RPI,” said Mack. “On any given night there is not a team in the conference you can’t lose to.”

Before the festivities started, the conference unveiled it’s preseason poll and accolades. With nine first-place votes (no coach could vote for their own team), Villanova was tabbed as the unanimous pre-season favorite. The Wildcats, who steamrolled through the conference last season en route to a 33-3 record (16-2 in the Big East), have been the measuring stick to which all other teams in the conference are measured.

That’s something that Mack also echoed on Wednesday.

“Villanova is the gold standard until someone knocks them off,” Mack said.

No doubt. Most people still think Villanova is the team with the bulls eye on its back.

Villanova has a long-storied reputation of being a guard-oriented team, and they boast one of the better backcourts in the country once again. They return last year’s co-Big East Player of the Year in Ryan Arcidiacono, add the preseason Freshman of the Year in Jalen Brunson (which was announced on Wednesday, too), and also return emerging junior wing Josh Hart.

Watch Arcidiacono discuss about being the hunted once again.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright discussed the abundance of riches he has in the backcourt, as he plans to play Arcidiacono and Brunson a lot together.

“We’re definitely going to play them together,” Wright said about his two stud point guards. “We’ve done that with a lot of our guards. Our greatest tool in recruiting Jalen was Ryan. Those two guys developed great relationship. I look forward to those guys playing together.”

There was also a lot of buzz in the room about perhaps the best player in the country in Kris Dunn.

As you might expect, Providence’s sensational guard was voted as the preseason Player of the Year. He shared last season’s co-Big East Player of the Year award with the aforementioned Arcidiacono. Dunn also won last season’s Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year award. He is the first guard in Big East history to earn Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.

With that high praise and accolades showering him, Dunn will likely have a bulls eye on his back this season. Considering the Friars lost LaDontate Henton, Carson Desrosiers, Tyler Harris etc. from last year’s squad, many think Dunn will have to carry the team on his back if Providence is to have a successful season.

Dunn, however, is super confident in his team and is ready for any challenge. He said he does not feel any added pressure.

“Once you starting doing that (thinking about the pressure), you start doing too much and then it starts affecting the team” said Dunn. “You got to believe in your teammates as they believe in you, and I believe in my teammates.”

Dunn also explained his choice to return to school in this video here:

Below is the 2015-16 Big East preseason poll, as voted by the coaches:

1. Villanova
2. Georgetown
3. Butler
4. Xavier
5. Providence
6. Marquette
7. Seton Hall
8. DePaul
9. Creighton
10. St. John’s

The rest of the 2015-16 preseason All-Big East First Team, besides Dunn, includes Arcidiacono, Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Xavier’s Jalen Reynolds and Butler standouts Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones.

Here are some more videos from Big East Media Day:

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera of Georgetown:

Isaac Copeland of Georgetown:

Isaiah Whitehead of Seton Hall:

Angel Delgado of Seton Hall:

Mo Watson of Creighton:

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