NEW YORK, NOV. 7 -- Surprise, surprise. Even after a recount, Big East Conference basketball coaches have not selected Georgetown or Syracuse to win the 1990-91 conference championship. They liked Connecticut before Nadav Henefeld left, but now they seem to favor Pittsburgh.

However, the cards still may not be completely shuffled.

Hoyas Coach John Thompson said today he is considering having 7-foot-2, 220-pound freshman center Pascal Fleury play, rather than redshirt, this season. Thompson also said sophomore guard Antoine Stoudamire still has not begun practicing because of illness, adding Stoudamire is supposed to receive medical clearance this week.

In addition, Thompson expressed concern about the health of 6-10 sophomore forward Alonzo Mourning, who did not practice Tuesday because of an illness that also prevented him from attending today's annual preseason media gathering.

According to the Big East's official preseason poll, Connecticut has been picked to claim the title it shared with the Orangemen last season. But that vote was taken last spring, when pairings for the ACC/Big East Challenge needed to be set and Henefeld, a 6-foot-7 small forward, was expected to return.

Today, with Henefeld having returned to his native Israel, Pittsburgh appeared to emerge as the coaches' favorite. The Hoyas finished second in the spring poll, the Orangemen tied for third with the Panthers. Even with Henefeld a part of the coaches' considerations, Georgetown received two first-place votes, Syracuse and Pittsburgh one each.

But now Fleury may enter a picture that already includes Georgetown's 7-2 senior Dikembe Mutombo and Mourning. Originally from Haiti, Fleury came to Georgetown from St. Jean-Richelieu, Canada. Thompson said he has been practicing with the team and has shown "an eagerness to learn."

Stoudamire, one of Georgetown's two returning guards, was hospitalized for several days with strep throat. But Thompson said today that Stoudamire also has been battling a virus. Stoudamire has not practiced with the Hoyas since they began workouts Oct. 15.

Mourning, meanwhile, has been playing virtually non-stop since the start of last season, what with his participation in this past summer's Goodwill Games and FIBA world championships.

"Alonzo loves to play and Alonzo has to be run down because he's been going year-round," Thompson said. "He played all summer long, and as soon as he came back, he started playing with Dikembe and Patrick {Ewing} and the kids who were coming down. He needs to be careful because his resistance has to be very low now."

Pittsburgh finished last season with a 12-17 record, but it was undermanned because point guard Sean Miller was sidelined throughout by a foot injury and all five of Coach Paul Evans's big-name recruits failed to meet the NCAA's freshman eligibility standards.

However, Miller is healthy, starters Brian Shorter, Jason Matthews, Bobby Martin and Darelle Porter are back for their senior seasons, and Evans has added new recruits to 6-foot-10 Yugoslavian center Dominic Dumancic, who will be eligible after the first semester, and now-eligible 6-8 forward Chris McNeal.

Excluding his team from consideration, Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun said: "Based upon the fact that they return five kids who have all been involved and they now have some help, I really believe that Pittsburgh will be a tremendous team."

Syracuse knew it would be without Derrick Coleman and Stephen Thompson this season, but Tony Scott and Richard Manning transfered. However, preseason conference player of the year Billy Owens remains. . . .

A limited number of seats will go on sale today at Ticketron for the ACC-Big East Challenge basketball series at Capital Centre Dec. 5 featuring Georgia Tech vs. St. John's at 7 p.m., followed by Duke vs. Georgetown at 9 p.m.