Big East Weekend Wrap: Vol. VI

Posted by Justin Kundrat on January 6th, 2015

The Big East Weekend Wrap covers news and notes from the previous weekend’s games.

The opening week of Big East play featured some crazy results: the home teams went 9-1; the favored teams went 5-5; every ranked team lost at least once; and DePaul is 2-0. If nothing else, these results show the level of parity in the Big East this season. Talent aside, teams succeeded in defending their home floor as the only two unbeaten teams in conference play are the ones that have yet to play on the road. Below are five key takeaways from the Big East’s opening weekend:

  1. Seton Hall has been nothing short of impressive. Not only did the Pirates win two conference games without Isaiah Whitehead, but they did so against what was believed to be the league’s top two teams. After trouncing St. John’s behind 10-of-23 shooting from three, Kevin Willard’s group took it to Villanova, jumping out to an early 17-3 lead before relinquishing it all and then ultimately winning in overtime. It goes without saying that junior guard Sterling Gibbs, who led the team with a combined 45 points, has made his way into all-Big East first team discussions. Stripped of his backcourt mate and second leading scorer, Gibbs took the scoring and passing duties into his own hands, easily creating his own shot off the dribble and putting teammates in scoring situations. Alongside Gibbs, three freshmen — Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguz and Angel Delgado – stepped up at different times to propel the Pirates.

    Sterling Gibbs has played his way into Big East first-team discussions. (Getty)

    Sterling Gibbs has played his way into Big East first-team discussions. (Getty)

  2. DePaul has done its best to counter every prediction about a last place finish. Following a string of six straight brutal losses — including defeats to the likes of Ohio and Loyola Marymount —  DePaul appeared to be right on track for its annual January plunge into the Big East abyss. Yet this time, Billy Garrett Jr. decided he’d rather not. In front of their usual half empty arena, the Blue Demons dashed the hopes of both Marquette and Xavier, handing three-point losses to both. By slowing each game down to a crawl (64 possessions each), it didn’t matter that Oliver Purnell’s team is playing defense that ranks among the worst 50 teams in the country or that both of their opponents ranked in the top 40 in two-point field goal percentage. DePaul won by forcing turnovers (30 over the two games) and with Garrett breaking out of his shooting slump — the 6’6″ sophomore played under control, shooting 12-of-16 from the field over both games and matching his career high 10 assists against Xavier.
  3. St. John’s is better than its 0-2 start. First, it needs to be said that the Johnnies rank 339th in the country in bench minutes per game, generally only going six deep with 6’6″ Sir’Dominic Pointer stretching to fill the center position and newly available 6’11” Joey De La Rosa playing spot minutes there. Add that to ongoing attitude problems and a suspension for sixth man Rysheed Jordan, and you’re left with a wildly unproven team outside of its five starters. While Jordan was available for the Seton Hall game, his absence showed against Butler when the Red Storm got only 14 minutes of bench contributions and a single rebound to show for it. On offense, D’Angelo Harrison has had to shoulder the load with the remaining players unaccustomed to the heightened scoring pressure. The biggest issue above all, though, was Steve Lavin’s defense. For a team that held its opponents to 27.5 percent three-point shooting prior to Big East play, it was uncharacteristic to allow Butler and Seton Hall to shoot at a combined 48.6 percent clip.
  4. Luke Fischer struggled with foul trouble. The 6’11” transfer from Indiana picked up four fouls in both of Marquette’s Big East games last week, thereby limiting his available minutes and production. The Golden Eagles still triumphed over Providence, but they will desperately need his size on the low block in tonight’s match-up against Georgetown. His staying on the floor is imperative to this team’s success.
  5. The Georgetown freshmen are blossoming before our eyes. Yes, the Hoyas got run out of the gym at Xavier in a complete clash of tempos that ultimately favored the Musketeers. But against Creighton, with D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera experiencing one of his strangely recurring scoring droughts, L.J. Peak, Paul White and Tre Campbell combined for 37 of the Hoyas’ 76 points. Now if only Smith-Rivera could find some consistency, this team could be three feet high and rising.
Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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