Player of the Week
Markus Howard, G, Sophomore, Marquette Golden Eagles
No surprise here for the Player of the Week, which goes to one of the best shooters in the country. Howard went off on Wednesday for 52 points on 17-29 shooting and knocking down 11 three-pointers in the Golden Eagles 95-90 overtime victory against Providence. After only having 10 points at halftime, he exploded for 42 combined points in the second half and overtime.
The performance vaults him to the tops of many lists. He tied the Big East record for points in a game with Providence alum Marshon Brooks who had 52 in 2011. He also set the high in all of college basketball in points in a single game so far this season, overtaking the 42 scored by Oklahoma’s Trae Young.
Howard led the nation in three-point percentage last season as a freshman, so it comes as no surprise that he could get that hot from beyond the arc. He is the most important scoring cog in the Marquette offense, an offense that led the nation in three-point percentage last year and ranks second in the conference this year. Howard makes this team go and when he is on, not exactly having to score 50+, Marquette is a very scary team to play.
Marcus Foster, G, Senior, Creighton Bluejays
I’ve gone on and on about how dominant Creighton has been so far this season and how surprising the success Greg McDermott has gotten out of his team has defied expectations. One of the biggest reasons for their success that has them sitting at 12-3 and 2-1 in conference play is senior guard Foster.
Foster 19.4 points per game and is shooting at a very efficient 52.1% field goal clip. He has scored in double figures in every game, including seven of at least 20 points and has four games of knocking down four or more threes. He has been especially good since conference play has started and over the last week, where he went for 18 points against Providence and 25 against St. John’s, both of those games resulting in victories. He forms a lethal combination in the backcourt with Khyri Thomas and he has done a great job in taking efficient and good shots. After the loss of Maurice Watson Jr. in the offseason, the role of leading guard seemed open. Foster has done a solid job taking on that role and helping lead the Bluejays to early season success.
Kelan Martin was the Player of the Week last week for Butler and the Bulldogs get back on the list for good reason. After a harrowing, narrow overtime victory over Georgetown on the road, the Bulldogs returned home on Saturday and stunned the No. 1 team in the land in undefeated Villanova. They beat the Wildcats and outright Big East favorites 101-93 and shot the lights out, shooting 63% from the floor and leading comfortably throughout. Martin led the way again with 24 points and Kamar Baldwin led with nine rebounds and seven assists. Butler was able to overcome their 13-4 turnover loss to Nova in the game with better rebounding and a more efficient offense. Butler got their groove back as conference play began and now they are fully back in the hunt for the Big East title.
DePaul and St. John’s
These are two teams who got off to different starts this season but now both find themselves in the same boat. St. John’s got off to a hot start and quickly got to 10 wins, but since the injury to star guard Marcus LoVett, they haven’t hit stride and remain winless in conference play to start. DePaul never got any rhythm this season, as they were never predicted to finish well in conference anyway this season, and they are off to a winless start in conference play as well. St. John’s should get back on track at some point with their great talent and experience, but it’s odd to see the only two winless conference teams having such different stories coming into the season.
Nate Watson, C, Freshman
Watson is an up and coming freshman at Providence who picked Providence over several large suitors like Kansas, North Carolina State and Miami. The 6’10”, 260-pound big man averages just 15.6 minutes per game, but he makes the most of his time averaging 8.4 points per game. He had his best game of the season on New Year’s Eve against Creighton, going for a season high 20 points in just 20 minutes. Watson has great intangibles to be great not just in college, but maybe even in the pros. He had the size and shooting touch to score and his back to the basketball game is already good and can be better.
Top Offensive Teams in the Big East
1. Villanova Wildcats
This comes as no surprise as Jay Wright usually puts out the best offense and is one of the best offensive minded coaches in the game. For year, Nova has been a guard heavy team and produced some of the best backcourt players in the country. This year continues that trend, with stellar scoring guards in Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo and Phil Booth. They have five players currently averaging 10 points or more per game and as a team in conference, they rank second in points per game and field goal percentage and first in three-point percentage.
2. Creighton Bluejays
Creighton is first in the conference in points per game and field goal percentage. Greg McDermott is a great offensive mind and coach and has found unique ways to exploit the best offensive games out of his players over the years. They also rank fourth in the country in assists per game at 19.6. Three players average 10 or more points, Foster, Thomas and Martin Krampelj, and all of them have made this blog so far this season.
3. Xavier Musketeers
Even though Xavier doesn’t rival the previous two schools in statistics as much, they are still easily as good an offensive team as the rest. They are third in many offensive rankings in the conference, but one play they excel is the free throw line where they lead the Big East in team percentage with 78.9 %. This team made it to the Elite Eight with the help of two of their best scorers in Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura. Bluiett leads the team with 19.8 points per game and is a premier Big East Player of the Year candidate, while Macura is a sharp outside shooter who can catch fire.