Sheriff Bullock

Big East Blog: Week 6 (12/16 – 12/22)

Player of the Week

Rodney Bullock, F, Senior, Providence Friars

Rodney BullockRodney BullockThe 6’8”, 225-pound senior forward for Providence had been playing like the rest of the team until this week: inconsistent and shaky. Some games he went off and dominated, others he struggled and barely showed up in the stat sheet. Providence already has four losses on the season, mostly to strong teams, but drops them near the bottom of the Big East standings before conference play.

Bullock has started turning it around as of late, though, and he’s fueling the Friars. He went for 24 and 31 points, respectively, his past two games. He’s recorded eight or more rebounds as well in four of the last five games. He slated to be the Friars lead man coming into the season and when he goes, Providence does much better. The Friars are still looking for their spark to get them going, but Bullock is coming alive at the right moment before conference play.

Who’s Hot

Justin Simon, G, Sophomore, St. John’s

Chris Mullin, now in his third year as the head coach had big expectations for the Red Storm coming into the season, but rebounding needed to improve. Simon is a transfer from Arizona and he had done a great job so far this season.

He is averaging 10.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He has four double-doubles this season in points and rebounds and he has five games of double digit rebounds. He has provided the spark and energy down low for St. John’s, defensively and on the glass, that is complimenting the great backcourt. Simon has been key as a mismatch guard and he should continue to help St. John’s win games.

St. John’s Red Storm

Staying on the St. John’s train, the whole team comes in on the Who’s Hot list this week. They are currently 10-2 and sitting pretty heading into conference play. The biggest strength of this team is their backcourt and led by sophomore Shamorie Ponds. Ponds, averaging 20.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, is on pace to be a First-Team All-Big East player. He has six games seven games of at least 20 points and three games of 28 points or more. After a strong freshman season, he is quickly establishing himself as one of the Big East’s top guards.

Their play on the defensive end has been top notch. They rank first in the Big East in scoring defense, blocks, steals and turnover margin. Defense has been emphasized by coach Mullin in a big way and it is propelling the Red Storm to a very strong start in 2017.

Who’s Not

“Black Saturday” (12/16)

Last Saturday comes in as the Who’s Not winner this week because, well, it was a tough day for the Big East. There were five Big East team’s playing out of conference opponents, two of them ranked, and four of those teams lost. Butler lost by 15 to then No. 17 ranked Purdue, then No. 15 ranked Seton Hall lost on the road to the Big Ten Rutgers Scarlett Knights by six, Georgetown suffered their first loss of the season at home against Syracuse by seven, a team the Hoyas beat last season and DePaul lost a nail bitter to Northwestern by two. The lone winner of the day was then No. 10 ranked Xavier, who trailed East Tennessee State by as much as 22 at home and came back to win 68-66. It was a hard-all-around day for the Big East who fell to teams they were supposed to beat, lost to teams they were not favored to beat and one that barely escaped at home to a game they were heavily favored against. Ouch. Very tough day for basketball.

Prospect to Watch

Khyri Thomas G, Junior, Creighton Bluejays

Thomas is a junior at Creighton who has taken over as one of the main scorers, second on the team with 15.3 points per game. He has established himself as a great shooter, both from outside and inside the arc. He is shooting 53.5% and 43.6% from three and a solid free throw shooter at 82%. He has scored in double figures all games this season except for one. He has good length for his size and speed for such a great scoring guard, at 6’3” and 200 pounds. If Creighton continues to play well and stay ranked, he should have a good audience to showcase his potential NBA skills.

Top Big East Games to Watch

1. Villanova vs Xavier (1/10, 2/17)

These were and continue to be the unanimous favorites to win the Big East this season. Villanova, still the No. 1 team in the land, will face a tough task in a well-coached No. 9 ranked Xavier twice this season. If Nova can get by them, it would put them in prime position to win the conference again. If not, Xavier is well equipped to take the reins.

2. Villanova vs Seton Hall (2/4, 2/28)

The next biggest challenger to Villanova is most likely Seton Hall. The Pirates made the Big Dance last year and are led by one of the best big men in the country in center Angel Delgado. Delgado has rebounded the life out of the ball so far this year, as he did last year, and could present a big problem to Villanova’s frontcourt.

3. Xavier vs Seton Hall (1/20, 2/14)

This should simply play out as a battle of who will be the No. 2 team in the Big East behind the Wildcats.

4. Villanova vs St. John’s (1/13, 2/7)

This could actually shape out to be the most intriguing matchup of all Big East teams this season. Villanova has always been known as a guard heavy team under Jay Wright and rightfully so. Now, Chris Mullin has two very talented guards in Ponds and Chris LoVett who could do a great job matching up with Jalen Brunson and company. Villanova may be the better overall team, but the backcourt battles should be entertaining.

5. Any Georgetown Conference Game

Georgetown finished second to last in the Big East last year and many predicted first-year coach Patrick Ewing to be back at the bottom this season. Not the case so far, as the Hoyas are already at 10-1 in out of conference play. It should be interesting to see how they matchup with the Big East and if they can carry their momentum and play now into conference play.

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