by Dan Gardella
It seems like every week when I write a new column of Risers and Tumblers, I find myself saying the same thing over and over like a broken record. No game in the Big East is easy. After a crazy first week in conference play, it would be tough to top it.
It came pretty darn close.
Providence upset #5 Xavier Saturday afternoon. It was the first time the Friars have taken down a top five team at home since 2009.
Marquette’s Markus Howard scored 89 points in two games this week including tying the Big East record with 52 points in the Golden Eagles’ overtime victory over Providence.
After this week was said and done, Seton Hall stands as the only unbeaten team in conference play through two weeks.
Here is the newest edition of my Big East Risers and Tumblers:
It’s awfully hard to wrap your head around just how great and historic Markus Howard’s week was. Tying the Big East record for points in a game with 52 is impressive. But to score 42 of those in the second half and overtime made the performance even more mind-boggling. He then went into Philly and dropped 37 against Villanova, one of the better defenses in the conference. Howard, who now averages 23.5 points a game (Tied for 7th best in the nation) has some strong momentum heading into next week’s action.
As for the rest of the team, they complimented Howard as best as they could for someone who averaged 44.5 points per game during the week. After back-to-back 30 points performances himself two weeks ago Andrew Rowsey struggled this past week, shooting a mere 25% against Providence and Villanova. Sam Hauser averaged 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists over the two contests. Throughout non-conference play Marquette did not have a “go-to guy”, just a lot of good options. Now it seems that Howard has the hot hand and has been the most efficient shooter. It would be smart for the Golden Eagles to ride Howard’s hot shooting for as long as possible.
Marquette looks to hand Seton Hall its first loss in conference play when they face off on Tuesday in Milwaukee. Following that, they take a trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on Butler Friday night.
If you told me that Seton Hall would be the last team without a loss in conference play before the season started, I wouldn’t believe you. But here we are. The Pirates have passed every test that has been thrown at them within the first two weeks. In their only game of the week, the Hall went into Indianapolis and escaped with a three-point victory over Butler. The biggest storyline has been the explosion of Angel Delgado. The double-double machine averages 19.3 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists a game along with shooting 50% from the field in three Big East games this season. While I don’t anticipate these numbers will stay this high (If they do…oh boy), the Pirates have a lot of other firepower. The other senior leaders in Khadeen Carrington (15.1 PPPG) and Desi Rodriguez (18.6 PPG) have provided stability for Seton Hall along with having incredible senior experience for a rather young team outside of their core.
What stood out to me the most about Saturday’s win over Butler was how Carrington, Rodriguez, and Delgado showed their leadership and put the team on their backs. With standout sophomore Myles Powell battling the flu which resulted in him only playing 21 minutes, the trio combined for 76 of the team’s 90 points. When it comes down to the crucial games toward the end of conference play and tournament time, performances like the one we saw against Butler will be expected from the trio and they’ve proved that they are ready for the challenge.
The Pirates face Marquette on Tuesday followed by welcoming Georgetown to Newark on Saturday.
Something’s wrong in Queens. Heading into conference play, the Red Storm prided themselves on defense. Through four games, they have allowed an average of 84.5 points a game, close to 24 points higher than what they allowed in non-conference play (Allowed 62.8 points per game in non-conference slate). After their 91-74 loss to DePaul Saturday afternoon, junior forward Marvin Clark II said in the postgame press conference that he felt the team was not playing for each other and were going to get a players-only meeting together to try and find the problem.
The main issue with St. John’s is their physicality. Against DePaul, they were outrebounded 46-30 and allowed DePaul to grab 15 offensive rebounds which resulted in 20 second chance points. While it is still early in Big East play, players such as Clark II, Tariq Owens, and Justin Simon need to crash the glass more aggressively to reduce the amount of extra possessions. It does not help that Marcus LoVett’s return to action is uncertain with a sprained MCL but it cannot be an excuse for the Johnnies.
St. John’s has two games at Madison Square Garden this week as they welcome in Georgetown Tuesday and Villanova on Saturday.
At this point in the season the Hoyas have had many opportunities to prove that they are a stronger team than everyone is giving them credit for and they have not shown that so far, blowing a 20-point lead in their conference opener and starting off Big East play 1-3. Georgetown has not protected the pumpkin well, turning the ball over 19 times per contest against Big East foes including 15 times in a 24-point blowout against Creighton on Saturday.
It seems that the Hoyas are struggling to find any source of consistent offense and turning the ball over as much as they do does not help their case. Junior forward Jesse Govan is relied on heavily, leading the team in scoring and rebounding along with minutes played. Govan is currently fifth in the country in rebounding, grabbing 11.7 a game.
Georgetown looks turn the ship around this week when they face St. John’s (Which looks winnable) on Tuesday, and Seton Hall on Saturday.