Player of the Week
Joseph scored 27 in a grind it out win over Providence Tuesday night, playing 40 minutes and hitting a career high 4 three pointers. He's becoming the lead guy the Orange hoped he'd be heading into the season, scoring 20 or more 3 of his last 4. His athleticism and defensive potential as a swingman are unquestioned, but if he can continue to improve his outside shot and expand his game off the dribble, look for Joseph's stock to rise as a potential mid first rounder.
On the Rise...
St. Johns knocked off West Virginia this week in what was Steve Lavin's first big win as coach of the Red Storm. Seniors D.J. Kennedy, Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy combined for 54, using their experience and smarts to get to the line and keep West Virginia off of it. The big three combined to shoot 25-26 from the stripe in what was the clear difference in the game. With 5 seniors in the starting lineup, don't expect West Virginia to be the only team the Storm knock off in the Big East.
On the decline...
UConn's unbalanced attack was exposed this past week against Notre Dame, with Kemba Walker scoring 31 points on 27 shots and nobody else hitting double digits. Alex Oriakhi, who came into the season as one of the most coveted prospects in the conference, was a non factor in the loss to the Irish, whose performance was summed up in one sentence by Head Coach Jim Calhoun- "I don't know if he was better sitting or playing".
Most Improved Players
1. Marshon Brooks
It's hard not to talk about a guy week after week when he's scoring 25 plus night after night. Brooks has embraced the role of team leader, looking like the Gerard Butler of the small Spartan Army in "300". After eclipsing the 25 point mark in only 2 games last season, Brooks has notched 25 in 8 straight games to date. If that's not enough he's averaging 8.7 rebounds per game as a 6'5 off guard, which is good for 5th in the conference.
2. Casey Mitchell
Last season Mitchell was merely a seat filler. An extra in a movie. The guy who's eating dinner with his wife in the background while the camera focuses in on Clooney and Pitt discussing their planned casino robbery. This year, Mitchell is in on the heist briefing with the lead role, scoring 17 points per game as the team's top scorer. He looks like a different player as an all around scorer, and has helped make up for the missed production from Devin Ebanks and De'Sean Butler.
3. Kemba Walker
Last year Walker was simply a prospect with explosive athleticism who needed to hone his playmaking skills as a point guard. Walker chose to go a different route this year, bypassing the obstacles of learning the point guard role and embracing the role as go-to player, leading his team, and the nation in scoring. Even if he hasn't proven he can run a team from the point, his overall skills as a basketball player should keep him relevant in lottery talks.
4. Corey Stokes
Stokes has always been a key member of the Wildcats offense, but his increased efficiency and scoring for Coach Jay Wright have been a godsend for a team who hasn't played their best ball. Last night Stokes helped Nova hold on to beat a scrappy Temple squad, scoring 24 points, 15 of which came from behind the arch. With Corey Fisher struggling, Stokes has become the most reliable Corey in the Cat's lineup.
5. Peyton Siva
Siva has been a big part of Louisville's early success this season, who despite putting up pedestrian numbers at 11.5 points and 5 assists, he's been an effective facilitator for a team lacking a true go-to player. He only plays 22 minutes per game- which is probably connected to his high turnover rate, but with a lack of offensive weapons it becomes difficult to restrain from forcing the issue. Siva's 29 point 8 assist performance against Western Kentucky looked like a sign of things to come for the former McDonald's All American.
- In St. Johns win over West Virginia, they attempted 39 free throws (30-39), while the Mountaineers attempted 11 (8-11) . Kevin Jones, who stands 6'8, 255 lbs, has not attempted more than 5 free throws in a game this year. This is a problem.
- Marquette lost a squeaker to Vanderbilt Wednesday night. They forced Commodore sharp shooter John Jenkins to shoot 2-15 from downtown, and still lost. That's like pitching a 2-hitter and losing 1-0.
- Corey Fisher shot 1-6 for 5 points against Temple. He's shooting 37% from the field this season.
- Notre Dame smoked the Hoyas in South Bend. Why? Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark shot a combined 3-17 from downtown. At the end of the day, if you can't make shots... forgetaboutit
- Louisville put up 104 against Morgan State. Kyle Kuric (7-10 from 3) and Preston Knowles (6-9 from 3) helped the Cardinals shoot 17-23 (73.9%) from downtown.