- This week’s Big East accolades are out and Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson has earned Player of the Week Honors after averaging 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in a 3-0 week for the Hoyas. Thompson’s week was highlighted by his game-winning three to give his team a win over then #12 Alabama in the Big East/SEC Challenge. Providence freshman forward LaDontae Henton took home Rookie of the Week honors, scoring 17.5 points and grabbing 8.5 rebounds per game in two Friar victories. Henton backed the honor up on Monday with a career high 19 points versus Brown. Other Honor Roll recipients include Henton’s teammate, sophomore guard Gerard Coleman, Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and Seton Hall’s Herb Pope.
- The latest installment of Top 25 rankings are out and the Big East welcomed a new guest to the party as Georgetown (7-1), fresh off a 3-0 week including the above mentioned road victory over Alabama (the Hoyas’ second victory over a ranked foe this year (Memphis)), debuts at #18. On the strength of a good effort in the Big East/SEC Challenge, all of the conference’s previously ranked squads not only remained so, but four of five moved up. Connecticut (7-1), despite not losing, slid a spot to #9 and looks forward to an intriguing matchup with #24 Harvard on Thursday. Syracuse (8-0) hopped up a spot to #3 after taking down #12 Florida and faces a test tonight against 5-1 Marshall. Louisville (7-0) continued its steady climb, again moving up one position to #5 after beating Vanderbilt and knocking the Commodores out of the rankings. Marquette (7-0) shot up five notches to #11, beating Wisconsin and sending them back seven spots to #14. Lastly, Pittsburgh elevated two steps to #15 with wins over Duquesne and Tennessee. No other Big East team received votes in this week’s Associated Press poll.
- Providence freshman point guard Kiwi Gardner has been ruled academically ineligible to play this season due to an issue with a core course taken at Westwind Prep (AZ), where Gardner studied last year. Gardner had been ruled ineligible prior to the start of the season but Providence appealed the matter with the NCAA and had been optimistic about a positive outcome. The news was announced by Providence head coach Ed Cooley in his postgame press conference following the Friars’ 80-49 victory over Brown on Monday night, adding, “my heart goes out to him.” Gardner was recruited by Cooley and his staff last year while at Fairfield, as well as by former Providence head coach Keno Davis. Shortly after the news broke, Gardner indicated via Twitter that he would remain at Providence despite not being able to suit up this season. The Friars have been playing with just eight scholarship players, as sophomore forward Kadeem Batts has also been serving a suspension for a violation of team rules. As noted here yesterday, it was reported over the weekend that Batts will return for Providence’s December 20 game versus New Hampshire.
- Villanova will be without 6’11” junior Maurice Sutton for a month with a dislocated thumb. Sutton, who injured the thumb in practice, did not play in Saturday’s win over Penn but appeared in all six of Villanova’s previous games, averaging 9.2 minutes, 1.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest for the 5-2 Wildcats. Head coach Jay Wright commented on the injury, “our staff and team is disappointed for Mo. He’s been making a contribution to our team on a daily basis and we’ll miss his presence, especially defensively. But the positive in this is that Mo can still maintain his conditioning while the thumb heals and we look forward to getting him back out there, possibly in time to start the Big East season.” Sutton can only observe as his team takes on #10 Missouri tonight as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
- Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated came out with his annual column highlighting sophomores to watch, and there was a significant Big East presence. The premise of Davis’ analysis is to highlight sophomore breakout candidates. Davis provides sound analysis in that the freshman year often involves a maturation process where prep stars are learning to adjust to many differences both on and off the court. Not to mention the fact that many rookies simply do not play much as freshmen while they wait their turn, and inevitably see an increase in production based on a more significant role in year two. The headliner of the list was Syracuse’s 7’0” center Fab Melo. Melo was the target of significant orange-tinted venom a year ago, which Davis argues was unjustified, as the much-hyped big guy struggled both on the floor in limited duty (2.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 9.9 MPG) and with his weight. Melo came in this year much lighter and seemingly more focused, and this has paid dividends for the as-yet-unbeaten Orange. His playing time has increased (22 MPG) as has his productivity (6.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.4 BPG). Other Big East’ers on the list include:
Marquette guard Vander Blue, who struggled with his shot last year but has put up solid numbers there so far this year (51.2% FG, 37.5% 3FG) for the surging Golden Eagles.
Villanova guard James Bell, who clearly is one of those guys who had to wait his turn. His playing time has tripled to 27 minutes per game, and although a bit inconsistent at times, he has responded with 9.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game overall.
Connecticut forward Tyler Olander has earned minutes in the face of some pretty stiff competition. As Davis notes, Olander came back stronger this year and perhaps has benefited some from the inconsistency and grousing of Alex Oriakhi.
Finally, Georgetown guard Markel Starks, who took a year to develop behind the now departed Chris Wright and is averaging 8.7 points in 25.1 minutes per game.