Beast of the East

Player of the Week

Daniel Ochefu - Villanova (F, Jr., 6-11, 254, Baltimore, Md.)

Daniel OchefuDaniel OchefuDominant inside presence? That’s an understatement when it comes to explaining the play of Daniel Ochefu in two Villanova games this week. In the Wildcats’ first loss of the season, a 61-66 loss at Seton Hall, the junior forward scored 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the floor, and was monstrous on the boards with 24 rebounds (16 defensive, eight offensive). His 19 points and 24 rebounds were both game-highs and personal bests. Ochefu’s 24 rebounds were the most in a game for Villanova since 1971.

He followed his breakthrough performance against Seton Hall with another double-double, scoring 13 points and collecting 13 rebounds to go along with four assists and one block in Villanova’s 90-72 win over No. 24 St. John’s. His rebounding skills were on full display. He re-started a possession following a missed free throw after he knocked back a rebound, which led to a three-pointer by teammate Kris Jenkins. A minute later, he grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw then proceeded to throw down a powerful two-hand dunk. Ochefu also played a key role scoring the ball in Villanova’s second half surge. He converted six of his seven field goal attempts in the period, including a stretch of four straight basket’s against smaller defenders with Red Storm big man Chris Obekpa plagued by foul trouble. He also had a big block on Red Storm forward Christian Jones.

In the last two games, Ochefu has averaged 16.5 rebounds. During a 46 minute span between both games, he had pulled down 33 rebounds. He’s had a string of performances like this as of late. Last week against N.J.I.T., he had nine rebounds. In the team’s New Year’s Eve win over Butler, the Baltimore native pulled down 10 rebounds. His numbers have improved across the board from last year. In his sophomore campaign, he averaged 5.7 points on 59 percent shooting and 6.1 rebounds. This year, the junior has been averaging 10.1 points on 65 percent shooting and 8.7 rebounds. Over the last two games, he has averaged 16.0 points, 18.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.5 blocks on 81 percent shooting.

Who’s Hot?

DAngelo Harrison - No. 24 St. John’s (G, Sr., 6-4, 204, Missouri City, Tx.)

Harrison just may be the conference’s best player. He’s been playing with great urgency and passion all season long as St. John’s undisputed leader. The Johnnies are on a three-game losing streak, which includes two straight home losses against Butler and No. 8 Villanova. Nonetheless, he’s continued to be superb. Against the Wildcats, the senior guard made several tough shots on his way to 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go along with four rebounds, two assists and one steal. He also went 7-for-8 from the free throw line. He tied his season-high in points when he scored 31 (16 in the first half) on 10-for-21 shooting against the Bulldogs. It was his third 30-point game for the Red Storm. Harrison added five rebounds, three steals, two assists, one block and was 9-for-11 from the charity stripe. Through both games, he averaged 28.0 points on 50 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 blocks and 2.0 steals.

The Big East’s second-leading scorer survived an injury scare at the end of the first half of the Villanova game. Refusing to allow an easy layup by Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono, he went up for a block attempt before landing awkwardly and tweaking his right knee. Harrison stayed down for a few moments then limped back to the locker room. He would jog back out to the court before the second half and returned to the game.

LaDontae Henton - Providence (F, Sr., 6-6, 215, Lansing, Mich.)

Over the last two games, Henton has shot 41 percent overall, which is seven percent lower than his season average of 48 percent. However, the senior forward still managed to put up good scoring numbers in both games. He scored 28 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in a 75-66 loss to Marquette. He made consecutive three-pointers to help the Friars cut Marquette’s lead to 58-52 with 7:23 remaining. In a 66-62 win over Butler, he scored 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Eleven of his 18 points came in the second half. His three-point shooting was key in both outings. Henton shot 47 percent from deep over the two games. Through both games, he averaged 23.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 blocks.

Joshua Smith - Georgetown (C, Sr., 6-10, 320, Kent, Wa.)

Smith led five Georgetown players in double-figures with a game-high 16 points in the Hoyas’ 76-61 win over Creighton. He was near perfect in his shooting, making five of his six attempts from the floor and six of his eight free throws. The 6-foot-10 center was in some foul trouble, having picked up four fouls during the game. He also had three rebounds, two steals, one assist and one steal. Smith picked up his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds in Georgetown’s 65-59 victory over Marquette. His big although quick hands allowed him to come up with three steals as well, with all of them coming against Marquette’s big men in the post. The Kent, Washington native averaged 16.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals while shooting 81 percent from the field and 83 percent shooting from the foul line in both games.

Who’s Not?

Austin Chatman - Creighton (G, Sr., 6-0, 175, The Colony, Tx.)

The Creighton Bluejays have lost four games in the row. Chatman’s play as of late has been a reason as to why. Despite averaging team-high 34.3 minutes per game, including 34. 7 over his last four, the senior guard has shot just 27 percent during the losing streak. He’s shot the ball even worst from long range - 13 percent. Chatman, the Bluejays leading score with a 13.1 points per game average, turned in his worst shooting performance of the season when he shot 1-for-8 for eight points in the team’s 76-61 loss at Georgetown this week. He went 0-for-5 from the three-point line. It didn’t get much better for him in the team’s 70-60 loss to DePaul when he shot 4-for-10, including 1-for-5 from long range for nine points.

Jaren Sina - Seton Hall (G, So., 6-2, 185, Lake Hopatcong, N.J.)

Sina has had several tough outings this season, which continued this week. In Seton Hall’s upset 66-61 overtime victory over Villanova, the sophomore guard went 0-for-6 from the floor and 0-for-2 from beyond the arc in 41 minutes. His four points came off 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line. He followed up that performance by shooting 2-for-8 from the field, including 1-for-6 from long range for five points. Despite his shooting struggles, he’s made key plays in other facets of games. Pirates head coach Kevin Willard has a ton of confidence in Sina and lets him take control of the offense at times. On a team with Sterling Gibbs, Isaiah Whitehead and Brandon Mobley, Sina’s scoring isn’t really needed. But he’ll need to improve his playmaking ability and increase his 2.7 assists per game average because that’s where he’s most valuable.

No. 24 St. John’s Red Storm (Three-game losing streak and will fall out of the AP Top 25)

After three consecutive losses to open up Big East conference play, the St. John’s Red Storm are 11-4 with a 0-3 conference record, and are in 9th place in the Big East standings. There are 10 teams in the Big East, so the fact that the Johnnies are in ninth place with an 11-4 overall record shows how good the conference has been this season. St. John’s will likely fall out of the AP Top 25 Poll next week. Its most recent loss came at the hands of Villanova, 90-72, at home. Rysheed Jordan made his return from a three-day leave of absence against the Wildcats but was completely out of sync, shooting 0-for-6 for two points and three turnovers. Off-court issues, lack of depth, recruiting failures and some disappointing play from key players has the Johnnies spiraling downward despite a promising 11-1 start.

Top Five Newcomers

1. Myke Henry - DePaul (F, Jr., 6-6, 226, Chicago, Ill.)

The DePaul Blue Demons currently sit atop the Big East conference in the standings with a 9-7 record. They are 3-0 in Big East play, which is also the best mark in the conference. Henry, a transfer from Illinois, is leading the Blue Demons in scoring with 13.5 points per game. He’s been a huge difference maker for DePaul and has been an impact player ever since his first game in a Blue Demons uniform. At 6-foot-6, Henry is an athletic wing player who’s a former consensus top-100 recruit. He’s sixth in the conference in scoring and is shooting 40 percent from the three-point line. His size and athletic build makes him a good rebounder and perimeter defender. He’s second on the Blue Demons in rebounding with 5.2 rebounds per game.

2. Isaiah Whitehead - Seton Hall (G, Fr., 6-4, 195, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

The heralded freshman has been everything Seton Hall expected prior to the beginning of the season. At 6-foot-4, Whitehead garnered a ton of hype as he was the Pirates’ first McDonald’s All-American since 2000. He’s been a dynamic scorer for Seton Hall this season, adding yet another threat to a backcourt that already includes Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina. On the season, Whitehead has averaged 11.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 40 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc. He’s one of the most athletic players in the Big East, and uses his strength and ability to drive into the lane and finish through contact to score around the basket. Whitehead has missed the last four games due to a stress fracture in his right foot. There is no timetable for his return as of now.

3. Luke Fischer - Marquette (C, So., 6-11, 245, Germantown, Wis.)

After transferring from Indiana last fall, Fischer made his debut for the Golden Eagles in their Dec. 16 win over Arizona State. He shook off some early moments of rust and went on to score 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots. The 6-foot-11 center has been an absolute force in the paint ever since, proving to be the major upgrade that Marquette needed with the departures of Davante Gardner, Jamil Wilson and Chris Otule. The former top-100 prospect for the Hooisers is averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 81 percent from the field, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He has appeared in seven games this season and has shot no less than 50 percent in each contest, including four games in which he shot 100 percent from the field.

4. Matt Carlino - Marquette (G, Sr., 6-2, 175, Arcadia, Ar.)

After three years at BYU, Carlino transferred to Marquette last April. As a graduate transfer, he was granted immediately eligibility for this season. Through three seasons at BYU, he averaged 12.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds. In his first season at Marquette, Carlino has played well at point guard for the Golden Eagles although his assists totals are down to 3.6 per game. Despite that, he ranks eighth in the conference in assists. The senior guard is averaging 12.3 points and 3.1 rebounds. He scored a season-high 38 points in the team’s Thanksgiving Day win over Georgia Tech. In that outing, he made a season-high eight three-pointers, which is the most made by any player in the Big East in a single game this season.

5. Angel Delgado - Seton Hall (F, Fr., 6-9, 225, Bajos De Haina, Dominican Rep)

The freshman is the third leading rebounder in the Big East, with an average of 8.9 rebounds per game. Delgado grabs 3.4 offensive rebounds and 5.4 defensive rebounds per game. The 6-foot-9 forward is first and fourth in the conference in those categories, respectively. He’s been one of the most efficient players scoring the ball during the season. He shoots 61 percent from the field, good for sixth in the conference. Most of his points come off moves with his back to the basket, putbacks, and layups or dunks from screen and rolls. Defensively, he’s been an impactful rim protector for the Pirates. He ranks No. 6 in the Big East in blocked shots with 1.5 per game.

Honorable Mention(s)

Trevon Bluiett

Bluiett ranks No. 11 in the Big East in scoring with 13.1 points. The freshman forward is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 37 percent from long range this season. He is currently leading the Musketeers in scoring and rebounding (5.1).

Duane Wilson - Marquette (G, Fr., 6-2, 185, Milwaukee, Wi.)

Last year was technically his first season, but he suffered a broken leg just before the season began, which forced him to redshirt. His absence left Marquette depleted at point guard, but the freshman has been a steady contributor to the Golden Eagles so far this year at the position. He’s averaging 10.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 39 percent from the field.

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