Bird of Paradise

Player of the Week

TyShon Alexander, G, Sophomore, Creighton Bluejays

Ty-Shon AlexanderTy-Shon AlexanderComing in at the top this week in the Big East is Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander. Alexander erupted this past week for the Bluejays, leading them to the Cayman Island Classic title.

In the three games of the tournament, the 6’4” sophomore erupted for 67 points, including a season high 36 against 16th ranked Clemson in the title game to lead Creighton to an 87-82 win. Throughout the tournament, Alexander knocked down an incredible 14 3-pointers (7 against the Tigers).

Scoring hasn’t been an issue for Alexander as he leads the 5-1 Bluejays. He is averaging 19.2 ppg and has scored in double figures in each of his six games to begin the 2018-2019 campaign. Creighton lost star guards Khyri Thomas and Marcus Foster from last season, which left a void for a new leader to emerge into. Alexander is taking full control of that early on.

Who’s Hot

Shamorie Ponds, G, Junior, St. John’s Red Storm

It was only a matter of time before the Brooklyn native and preseason First Team All-Big East player landed on this list. Ponds got off to a modest start of the season (for his standards), but this past week he took off like usual. St. John’s rumbled into the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center and took down Cal and VCU in close games to prevail and the champions.

Ponds, in his home borough, prevailed with multiple 30-point outings, including a season high 35 points and the game-winning floater with about four seconds left in overtime to give the Red Storm an 87-86 win.

Ponds has the St. John’s squad, who struggled in 2017 with consistent offense, leading the conference at 82.5 ppg. Ponds is top five in the Big East with 23.2 points per contest and has his team sitting at 5-0.

Myles Powell, G, Junior, Seton Hall Pirates

Other than Villanova, Seton Hall may have lost the most talent from a season ago coming into the year. Program staples Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Ismael Sanogo all graduated and Seton Hall looked like it needed some time to find the production lost. Maybe not.

Powell, who earned good minutes last season, is off to a rip-roaring start in 2018. While the team is just 2-2 with losses to good Nebraska and St. Louis teams, Powell has stepped up with leadership and scoring. He is tops in the conference in scoring with 27.5 ppg and is money at the free throw line, leading the Big East with a 95.2 free throw percentage. He exploded for 40 points on Thanksgiving, a new conference high this season, on 16 shots and five 3-pointers, in a win over Grand Canyon.

He is the catalyst of head coach Kevin Willard’s Pirates and is doing all he can to keep Seton Hall in contention another season, especially in a season many predicted the Pirates to not be successful.

Who’s Not

Eric Paschall, F, Senior, Villanova Wildcats

Villanova as a team could go here for a second straight week. Paschall has struggled out of the gate. Really struggled.

A key role contributor and x-factor last season in the Wildcats title run, Paschall was a preseason First Team All-Big East player and looked on to lead Nova. He had a great start to the season against Morgan State with 26 points, but really fell off since. As of Thursday in his previous four games, he is shooting just 30.9 percent from the field (13 makes on 42 attempts). He has just three 3-pointers in that time.

In Villanova’s ugly blowout loss to Michigan, he registered just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting. In his next outing against Furman, he scored only eight points on another 3-for-14 night. Production went down again when Nova took on Canisius on Thanksgiving, getting just seven points on three more field goals. Maybe the most glaring stat to his start is he has just nine free throw attempts on the season, none against Michigan or Furman in losses.

Paschall was a preseason favorite to win Player of the Year in the Big East, but he needs to settle down and find a new gear to get Villanova’s title defense back on track.

Top 5 Takeaways of the Big East Three Weeks In

5. Alpha Diallo Is The Man At Providence

Diallo was recognized last week on the blog and he looks like the “alpha” for the Friars. Diallo leads Providence in points, rebounds and assists. Wow. Lookout, Big East. This guy means business.

4. Depleted Teams From Last Season Have Answers

Creighton lost Thomas and Foster from last year and had a hole. Alexander seems to have filled it nicely. Seton Hall lost some of the best players in program history. Hi, Myles Powell. Butler lost key figures in Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman. Meet Kamar Baldwin.

All three of these programs, who had glaring holes coming into the season, seem to have answers going forward and this could really shake up the conference.

3. There Are No Ranked Teams After Three Weeks

Each year there aren’t really more than two or three Big East teams ranked at a time. Villanova is always ranked and, in the past, it was a mix of Xavier/Seton Hall/Providence/Butler in the mix. As of week three, no Big East squad finds themselves ranked. Villanova fell out completely with losses to Michigan and Furman. Marquette was ranked really early on but they have struggled and fell off. The next closest Big East team to being ranked would probably be St. John’s. They very well may be in week four.

2. St. John’s Looks Ready To Take Control

In what may have been a make-or-break year for head coach Chris Mullin, his Red Storm have it going on. Defense was tops in the conference for St. John’s last season, but it was offensive consistency that plagued them to the bottom of the standings. The addition of transfer Mustapha Heron has paid big dividends and the offense is now clicking with the defense. With struggles early on to Villanova and Marquette, this may be the year of the Red Storm.

1. Villanova Is Far From Last Year’s Team

It was no secret coming in that the losses of Jalen Brunson, Omari Spellman, Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo would be costly for head coach Jay Wright. I don’t think anyone saw Nova getting dismantled at home so early to Michigan and then upset in embarrassing fashion days later to Furman. The team isn’t knocking down their outside shots with consistency or quantity like last year, their defense is very spotty and shaky and their stars haven’t stepped up yet. They may never become what they were last year, winning each NCAA Tournament game by at least 12 points. They should get it together over time. Wright is too good a coach to let them slide to far down. Patience with Villanova is needed, which is hard to ask.

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