Big East Tournament Takeaways: Wednesday Evening

Posted by Justin Kundrat on March 10th, 2016

The Big East Tournament officially tipped off on Wednesday night with two opening round games in New York City. The first game between Georgetown and DePaul was a tight battle until the second half, when the Hoyas used their 50 percent shooting to pull away for a 70-53 win. The second game featured a wild swing of events, with Marquette relinquishing a 17-point lead over St. John’s before escaping with a win. Here are some quick takeaways for each of the Big East Tourney’s opening day participants.

Georgetown Lives to Fight Another Day (USA Today Images)

Georgetown Lives to Fight Another Day (USA Today Images)

Georgetown (15-17): Senior center Bradley Hayes was back in action after missing six games and the impact was felt almost instantly. Last night’s win was only Georgetown’s second in its last 11 games, but after suffering a number of close losses this season, the Hoyas’ record doesn’t do the team much justice. The key takeaway last night was that, with Hayes back in the lineup and the team facing a season-ending loss, Georgetown finally played with a sense of urgency. The Hoyas’ defense was rock-solid, holding DePaul to just 0.79 points per possession, and D’Vauntes-Smith Rivera put together one of his most efficient games of the season. Things might not be too rosy for Georgetown in its upcoming test against Villanova, but at least John Thompson, III’s squad will head into that game with some confidence.

DePaul (9-22): A disappointing end to a disappointing season is the only way to put it for DePaul. The Blue Demons struggled mightily in conference play, collecting just three wins and proving uncompetitive in a number of its losses. The plus-side is that the team loses just one key contributor, with Billy Garrett Jr. presumably returning for his senior season alongside promising freshman guard Eli Cain. If there’s one key takeaway from this season, it’s the unwavering confidence that Cain demonstrated, attacking the basket at will and serving as one of DePaul’s most reliable shooters. First year head coach Dave Leitao will have plenty to do this summer as he takes a long-term view with his program.

Marquette (20-12): It’s been a wildly inconsistent season for the Golden Eagles and Wednesday’s game personified that statement. After leading by 17 points with 12 minutes remaining, they managed to lose the entire lead before narrowly escaping in the final minute. On the bright side, superstar freshman Henry Ellenson looked unstoppable against some of the best shot-blockers in the conference. His reward for a 27-point, 14-rebound performance? A next-day game against Xavier, where the physical frontcourt of James Farr and Jalen Reynolds will look to capitalize on any signs of fatigue. Marquette’s backcourt also had one of its best games of the season, successfully attacking the rim and limiting its turnovers. Now the focus will turn to winning the rebounding battle, an area where Xavier excels and the Golden Eagles struggle. Win or lose, the biggest achievement for Steve Wojciechowski this season has been player development. Ellenson will likely depart for the NBA this summer, but the remaining core gained much needed experience.

St. John’s (8-24): This was a purely experimental season for new head coach Chris Mullin. He grabbed a handful of graduate transfers while hitting the recruiting trail and making quite a name for himself among the nation’s prep stars. Freshmen forwards Kassoum Yakwe and Yankuba Sima have shown plenty of promise and will be joined by a highly-talented class of recruits next season. Nobody expected St. John’s to do very well this year, so nobody is disappointed. But all signs are pointing up for this young group, and the team showed a great deal of resiliency in its comeback effort last night against Marquette.

Justin Kundrat (119 Posts)

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


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