Big East Weekend Wrap: Vol. VII

Posted by Justin Kundrat on January 13th, 2015

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

The Big East marched along last week, continuing its ascent up the rankings of the power conferences. It reached the #1 ranking for overall conference RPI for a bit before bowing to the Big 12 (only slightly), and the conference now stands at second overall with a sizable gap between itself and the rest. Even more impressively, the Big East has the highest average RPI among its conference members thanks to DePaul’s 3-0 start. As of this writing, the league lists nine of its 10 members among the top 100. Below is a list of four key takeaways from the last weekend’s action.

LaDontae Henton

LaDontae Henton’s Team Has a Legitimate Case to Rank Among the League’s Top Three Teams

Providence makes its push for the top of the standings. As I wrote in an earlier article, Providence has a legitimate case as a top three team in the Big East even though the Friars had largely fallen off the radar in non-conference play. They made a strong push last week, picking up a road win at Butler and then defeating Georgetown in overtime. Neither result was necessarily pretty — the Friars won both by a combined seven points — but the pair of wins catapulted Providence to the top of the league standings with a 3-1 record. Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton continue to carry the load on the offensive end, with Dunn doing a much better job of staying out of foul trouble and remaining on the floor. The duo lead the conference in assists and points per game, respectively.

St. John’s is on the brink of collapse. It’s amazing to think that St. John’s — currently 0-3 in Big East play — was once a top 15 team. It appears that the suspension of Rysheed Jordan and an overall lack of depth is now coming back to haunt the Red Storm. Given the limited offensive skill sets available to Steve Lavin other than with Jordan and D’Angelo Harrison, the key to their success had been great team defense but it has been nonexistent since December. Forwards Chris Obekpa and Sir’Dominic Pointer have been limited with foul trouble in nearly every game, giving teams countless second chance points. The team allowed 14 offensive rebounds and a whopping 90 points (1.30 points per possession) last week against Villanova. Its interior defense is largely to blame, but the team’s general lack of size has forced help defense on the inside and therefore conceded open shots on the perimeter. Steve Lavin’s squad is running out of time to right this ship.

Seton Hall appears a bit homesick. After pulling off consecutive victories at home and earning enough Top 25 votes to rank #19 in last week’s national polls, the Pirates stumbled somewhat in their first two Big East road tests. In a loss at Xavier, the Pirates shot 7-of-26 from deep and looked completely out of sorts — settling too often for jump shots; over-relying on Sterling Gibbs to create offense; and committing turnovers in crucial junctures down the stretch. On Saturday in Omaha, Kevin Willard’s group struggled again. Gibbs turned out to save the day with a game-winning three in the closing seconds, but the team’s overall performance was generally uninspiring. Freshman Angel Delgado found himself in foul trouble, and the a 9-of-26 mark from three belied the team’s overanxiousness. Two things have become clear following the Pirates’ recent road trip — on a youth-laden roster, Seton Hall is a completely different team away from home; and the Pirates desperately need star Isaiah Whitehead back in action.

Villanova clears out the DePaul bandwagon. Against all odds, the Blue Demons got off to a sizzling 3-0 start in the Big East, shooting a remarkable 50 percent from beyond the arc in their last two games and looking fantastic when pairing their wings with the 6’11 three-point shooting behemoth that is Tommy Hamilton. But Villanova, fresh off an 18-point thrashing at St. John’s last Tuesday, was having none of the DePaul bandwagon. The Wildcats shot 53.6 percent from the floor and dished out 23 assists on 30 made baskets, a stark contrast to DePaul’s seven team assists in the blowout loss. DePaul’s previously-hot three-point shooting was nowhere to be found, and they struggled in the half-court all game long, often settling for isolations and off-balance jumpers. The ensuing result was so ugly that Ken Pomeroy cautioned that it was time to get off the DePaul bandwagon — so needless to say, Oliver Purnell’s team appears to have returned to earth.

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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