Three Up, Three Down in Last Night’s Big East ActionPosted by George Hershey on November 20th, 2013
Last night three Big East teams played important non-conference games and all three escaped with wins. Here are three positives and three negatives from the Butler, St. John’s and DePaul on Tuesday evening.
- Khyle Marshall down the stretch: Butler was able to beat Vanderbilt in large part to Marshall’s outstanding play in the last 10 minutes of that game. Marshall scored 16 of the Bulldogs final 23 points, including outscoring the Commodores by himself in overtime. Marshall took control of the game when his team needed him the most and it was truly stunning to watch him go to work. To begin overtime, he scored on a layup, using a nifty spin to get by his defender, then had two similar falling 10-footers, using his quickness and size to create the necessary separation. In a tight game against a solid SEC team, Marshall stepped up and was a joy to watch as he continually got into the lane and finished with eight made baskets around the rim.
- DePaul’s Seniors: Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young put on a clinic against Wisconsin-Milwaukee last night. They both played 36 minutes in a tightly contested game. Melvin shot the ball great all night, finishing with four made threes and 20 points. Young distributed the ball nicely as well, assisting on four three-pointers, and adding 19 points. Maybe most impressive was their contribution rebounding the ball. With an inexperienced front line, the seniors stepped up and constantly helped to rebound against a tough team, combining for 16 boards. It was great to see the seniors give the extra effort on the glass to add to their usual offensive performances in order to come away with a win.
- St. John’s is athletic: The Red Storm were able to survive against Bucknell because of their superior athleticism. After being down for most of the game, St. John’s took the lead when it started to get out in transition and switched to a zone defense. Their length on defense was a big difference as Chris Obekpa finished with seven blocks and Orlando Sanchez added four. JaKarr Sampson and Sir’Dominic Pointer were great offensively when they committed to attacking the basket. The Red Storm had their best looks when players drove into the lane and looked for the open teammate.
- Butler’s free throw shooting: Butler managed to win the game in overtime, but they almost threw the game away by going 18-of-31 from the free throw line. Leading scorers Marshall and Kellen Dunham each missed key free throws in the second half, allowing Vanderbilt to stay in the game. If it weren’t for the Commodores’ poor foul shooting themselves (20-of-30), the Bulldogs could have easily lost, as Vandy guard Eric McClellan missed a free throw that would have given his team the lead with 11 seconds remaining. Those missed free throws add up and in a close game like this one, it can make the difference between a big road win and a coulda/shoulda-been painful loss.
- DePaul’s jerseys: The Blue Demons wore a blue jersey with black lettering that makes it very difficult for those watching on television to read the names on the back. The Blue Demons played well last night, so this is the lone criticism for Oliver Purnell’s squad.
- St. John’s shot selection: St. John’s has arguably the most individual talent of any Big East team, but game after game, it is easy to see why they fail to win the big games. There were too many wasted possessions against Bucknell where they would either dribble up the court and within 10 seconds take a tough jump shot, or they would stand still and wait until someone took a jumper with a hand in his face. The Red Storm players are not great shooters, as their greatest strength is in their ability to get into the lane. When D’Angelo Harrison forces up seven threes and hits only one, it makes it difficult to get into any rhythm. With about five minutes left in a very close game, Sir’Dominic Pointer came upcourt, and with plenty of room to operate, took a 15-foot jump shot with a man right on him. St. John’s had been rolling before that play and a shot like that ruins a team’s momentum and flow. If not for Phil Greene IV hitting some outside shots, the Johnnies would have been hopeless in a game they were lucky to escape with a win.