Big East Weekend Wrap: Vol. X

Posted by Justin Kundrat on February 3rd, 2015

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

At this point, the Big East is a mess. The conference still ranks second overall to the Big 12 in relative strength, but its individual members continue to pull each other down from each other’s ascent in the conference standings. Villanova and Georgetown are “technically” in first place, but being in that slot in the Big East standings means very little; Providence and Butler are both just a half-game back of them, with four more teams separated from them by two losses or fewer. Below is a list of three key takeaways from the past weekend of chaotic Big East play.

St. John's (USA Today Images)

St. John’s Showed Some Grit in Beating Providence Last Weekend (USA Today Images)

  1. St. John’s rallies to defeat Providence, but is it too late? The Johnnies have been sliding since the start of Big East play, unable to find their footing despite having the most experienced roster in the conference. But on Saturday, the team completed its season sweep of Providence in an impressive fashion. St. John’s held the conference’s leading scorer, LaDontae Henton, to just 13 points on 2-of-9 shooting, seven points below his season average. Additionally, the Red Storm’s attack exhibited even shot and point distribution among their players. It was an encouraging performance for Steve Lavin’s group, but at 14-7 (3-5 Big East) most fans have already written off this team’s legitimate postseason hopes. A failure to close games has haunted them — not only did they cough up a late lead to Duke two weekends ago, but their porous perimeter defense surrendered countless open three-pointers to Creighton in a subsequent three-point road loss. While D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan have been prolific scorers, their lack of composure on the defensive end has put the team in a precarious situation in February. St. John’s needs to win, and it needs to start now.
  2. Isaiah Whitehead’s return pays immediate dividends. Kevin Willard’s team looked relieved to have the freshman Whitehead back on the floor on Saturday as the Pirates set a season high with 90 points against Xavier’s flimsy defense. Despite the Musketeers’ miserable shooting performance (1-of-19 from three), the game was competitive throughout and Seton Hall didn’t pull away until the closing minutes. The important takeaway here, though, was that a win is a win for Seton Hall. Whitehead and Gibbs were brilliant, with the former scoring 19 points and the latter contributing 22 points of his own while looking significantly more relaxed. I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong about the Pirates being better without Whitehead on the floor, as this triumphant return clearly proved otherwise. The 6’4″ guard was all over the floor, putting pressure on Xavier’s bigs to rotate and play help defense. Whitehead’s return to the lineup comes at a major juncture of the conference season for the Pirates, as they are hovering at 5-4 and could make a move now that they are back at full strength.
  3. Butler is quietly making noise again in the Top 25. One of the least discussed teams in the Big East this season has been Chris Holtmann’s group at Butler, which are now back in the Top 25 with a 16-6 (6-3 Big East) record. The Bulldogs are without question one of the toughest defensive teams in the country and their style of play has caused problems for a number of their opponents. While Butler isn’t the type of team to post blowout margins, they are effective in generating stops and have recently seen a number of players emerge alongside Kellen Dunham on the offensive end. In Saturday’s overtime win versus Marquette, sophomore Andrew Chrabascz scored 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting through a flurry of smooth post moves and jump shots. During the previous weekend’s action, five different players reached double-figures. So long as any one of Chris Holtmann’s guys can lend a hand to Dunham on the offensive end, Butler will be tough to deal with in the Big East.

Random Aside: Providence’s Kris Dunn posted the 14th triple-double in Big East history on Thursday night with 27 points, 11 assists and 13 rebounds. He also added three steals and a block. Dunn has quickly climbed the ranks to put himself in contention for Big East Player of the Year.

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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