A tempo free look at the Big East shows there is little surprise in Villanova’s outstanding success, 5-2 in conference and 17-2 overall. The leading offenses in efficiency (numbers courtesy of bbstate.com, games through January 27).
1. Villanova 109
2. Georgetown 102
St. John’s 102
1. Villanova 96
2. Providence 97
3. Georgetown 98
Fastest Tempo: St. John’s, 68 possessions per game
Most Deliberate: Seton Hall, 63.9 possessions per game
It is interesting that only five possessions separate the fastest and most deliberate offenses in a ten-team conference.
Every team but one is under the 20 percent turnover rate on offense. The lone “culprit” is Marquette with a 21 percent TO rate. Butler has the lowest and best “care of the ball rate” at 12.9 percent.
Notes and observations from the past week
- The past week was not the best for two players mentioned in conference POY conversations. D’Angelo Harrison of St. John’s struggled, shooting 3 of 18 (11 points) against Marquette on Wednesday. A night later, Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall) shot 2 of 16, scoring eight points, and getting assessed a technical. Gibbs’ Pirates did not fare as well as St. John’s did a night earlier as Seton Hall dropped a 64-60 decision to DePaul. Harrison did have an off night, but the Red Storm senior was there in the clutch hitting two big free throws with seconds to play as the Red Storm stopped Marquette 60-57 at Madison Square Garden.
- Matt Carlino of Marquette scored a game-high 21 points, and it appeared his perimeter touch would give Marquette their first conference road win. Midway through the second half, Sir’Dominic Pointer was assigned to defend Carlino. Pointer’s size and length were factors in the graduate guard cooling off the latter part of the game.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski on the Big East. “There are nights we do a lot of things well. That’s not enough to win in the Big East. You have to go out in this league and do everything well.”
- DePaul trailed Seton Hall by eight with just under six minutes to play at the Prudential Center. The visiting Blue Demons managed to regroup to pull out a big road win. “Belief,” said De Paul coach Oliver Purnell. “These guys have come back before and stay together. They believe they can comeback in situations like that.” Which goes a long way toward securing a comeback win of that nature away from home. Freshman forward Angel Delgado had an impressive 19-point, 19-rebound effort in the loss to DePaul.
- Central Connecticut made their first appearance ever at the Garden on Wednesday. They could not secure a first win, falling to St. Francis Brooklyn 63-51. The Blue Devils fell to 0-7 in the Northeast Conference, while St. Francis, the league pace setter, improved to 6-1. Brent Jones and Jalen Cannon were factors for St. Francis. Jones scored 21 points and Cannon added 15. The senior duo are major reasons for St. Francis’ success due to their contributions on the floor as well as valuable leadership.
St. Francis actually began the year 0-5. “It is tough to be 0-5 and begin a season like that,” coach Glenn Briaca said. “It is a testament to these guys staying together and working. Four of those five games we last at the beginning were buzzer-beaters or one-possession games. It was a tough way to start.” With the winning ways intact at Brooklyn Heights, that rough early going seems a bad distant memory.
- On a night they celebrated the 90th anniversary of Rose Hill Gym, George Washington was not a congenial guest. The Colonials handled host Fordham 79-59. Mike Lonergan’s entire starting five scored in double figures for GW.
- Sunday saw St. John’s fans witness history. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his 1,000th win as the Blue Devils defeated the Red Storm 77-68 at Madison Square Garden. It was a game where St. John’s fans had to vent frustration. A second half lead of ten points dissipated. As has happened before, the Red Storm struggled, especially down the stretch, handling a half court tempo. In transition, Steve Lavin’s club has been effective. Against zones and when forced to run set offense, St. John’s has found it difficult at times, as was the case Sunday against Duke. Duke’s size wore down St. John’s as they enjoyed a 13-9 offensive rebounding advantage. It’s not a big margin, but deceptive as a number of those offensive boards came during that game deciding stretch run.
Yes, a historic day but added with the empty feeling, and not the first this St. John’s season, that an upset could have been realized.
- The St. John’s men may have fallen from the rankings these days. There is a nationally ranked team on campus. The St. John’s Dance team recently finished fourth in a national competition of Division I schools (Division I without IAA football). It was a great showing by an entertaining group.