Player of the Week
Sir'Dominic Pointer – St. John’s (G, Sr., 6-6, 196, Detroit, Mich.)
Finally! Pointer has cracked my top spot as the Big East Player of the Week. With the way he’s been filling up the box score all season (especially since the start of 2015), it seems long overdue. I never gave him the top spot due to St. John’s inconsistent conference play. His impressive individual numbers have not always translated into wins for the team.
Things were different this past week, as Pointer was able to lead the Red Storm to two consecutive wins behind dominating performances. It began when he recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists, three blocks and two steals in the Johnnies 85-72 victory over Seton Hall. Pointer’s elite athleticism and fearlessness was on full display as he helped St. John’s to its fifth straight Big East home victory. His acrobatic layup in the second half, which led to a 3-point play, gave the Red Storm a 72-61 lead with 5:25 remaining.
In the following game against Xavier, St. John’s win didn’t come as easily. They escaped with a 58-57 victory at Madison Square Garden. Still, Pointer was on his game going for 19 points, nine rebounds, six blocks and four steals to lift the Red Storm to its second win in three days. The senior guard/forward from Detroit, Michigan, entered the game 11 shy of 1,000 career points. That milestone was reached at the 6:34 mark in the first half when he scored on a tip-in, becoming the 50th St. John’s player to score 1,00 points. The bucket was part of his hot start to the game, as he hit five of his first six shot attempts.
Through both games, Pointer averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals. He shot a scorching hot 59 percent from the field as well.
Luke Fischer – Marquette (C, So., 6-11, 245, Germantown, WI)
When I decide on my Player of the Week, I always consider how his team did record-wise over the course of those seven days. Considering a team’s record when picking a "Who’s Hot" or "Who’s Not" player does not apply. Therefore, we have Luke Fischer. Marquette lost both of it’s games this past week and is currently on a four-game losing streak. However, Fischer was outstanding for the Golden Eagles in the two games. In the loss to No. 6 Villanova, the 6-foot-11 big man scored 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting. He added five rebounds and two blocks, which were both team-highs. Fischer followed up that performance with another 17-point effort in the team’s loss to Butler, this time on an almost perfect 7-for-8 shooting night. He also had a team-high three rebounds and three blocks.
Joshua Smith – Georgetown (C, Sr., 6-10, 320, Kent, WA)
Smith was dominant against DePaul’s frontline in the Hoyas 68-63 home win. He picked up his sixth double-double of the season with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting, and a game-high 11 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Six of his 11 rebounds were offensive. His knows how to use his big frame to effectively box out and move people out of the way, which allows him to get so many rebounds.
Jayvaughn Pinkston – No. 7 Villanova (F, Sr., 6-7, 235, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
The 6-foot-11 senior forward scored 14 points on 50 percent shooting, and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds in the Wildcats’ win over Marquette. He ended the game needing just four more rebounds to become to the 11th player in Villanova basketball history to record 1,500 or more points and 700 or more rebounds as a Wildcat. It was only fitting that he accomplish the feat in Villanova following game against Providence, which was also senior night. Pinkston and senior teammate Darrun Hilliard II were honored prior to the contest before a sellout crowd of 6,500. He went on to connect on 7-for-11 field goal attempts on his way to 16 points and eight rebounds. He ended the game with 1,524 points and 704 boards for his career. He’s not finished piling on those totals just yet, though.
Myke Henry – DePaul (F, Jr., 6-6, 226, Chicago, Ill.)
Early in the season, I considered Henry to be one of the best players in the Big East. I had him ranked up there with LaDontae Henton and D’Angelo Harrison because of his hot start to the season. But since the middle of December, his game has seen a drop in production. Through the first nine games of the season, Henry averaged 17 points per game. In 16 games since, he’s averaged 10.2 points per game. That isn’t terrible of course, but he hasn’t been able to recapture the shooting stroke that he had before his numbers began to take a dip. In the last two games for the Blue Demons, he’s scored seven and five points respectively and didn’t attempt more than six shots per game. Henry isn’t the focal point of the offense like he once was.
Matt Stainbrook – Xavier (C, Sr., 6-10, 270, Bay Village, OH)
Stainbrook has played very well this season, but he’s hit a rough patch during Xavier’s last two games. In the team’s upset win over No. 19 Butler, the Staintrain was just 2-for-5 for four points in 18 minutes. He didn’t have to play that much because the Musketeers were handily defeating the Bulldogs for the majority of the game, but his touches were limited and he never found a rhythm. The Ohio native was then 1-for-6 for six points in team’s one-point loss to St. John’s. On the bright side he did have 10 rebounds.
Top Five Players in the running for Big East Player of the Year
Honorable mention: Sterling Gibbs – Seton Hall (G, Jr., 6-2, 185, Scotch Plains, N.J.)
Season Stats: 16.7 PTS, 2.0 REBS, 3.7 ASTS
If this award was handed out in January, Gibbs may have been the leading candidate for it. He put together a run like no other when he took over for Seton Hall in the absence of freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead due to injury. He led the team to wins over Villanova, St. John’s and Creighton, and was the undoubtedly the best player on the court in the Hall’s hard-fought overtime win against Butler. Unfortunately, Seton Hall has taken a tumble in recent weeks, Gibbs and Whitehead have failed to play with any cohesiveness since the freshman’s return, he was recently suspended for two games for elbowing Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacano in the face, and the team has seemed to fall apart around him.
5. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera – Georgetown (G, Jr., 6-3, 214, Indianapolis, Ind.)
Season Stats: 15.5 PTS, 4.0 REBS, 3.4 ASTS
Smith-Rivera was the preseason pick to win the Big East POY. He hasn’t done anything wrong to turn believers into non-believers. Instead, he’s only gone on to score 15.5 points per game while increasing his assist average from 2.7 last season to 3.4 this season. He’s also played very solid defense. However, aside from his assist totals his numbers across the board have fallen, including his shooting percentage. He’s been good this season, but because of his overall dip in production there are a few other guys who I think are ahead of him.
4. Darrun Hilliard – No. 6 Villanova (G, Sr., 6-6, 215, Bethlehem, Pa.)
Season Stats: 14.7 PTS, 3.0 REBS, 2.0 ASTS
Hilliard doesn’t have the best statistics out of everyone in this group, but that’s only because Villanova is so well-balanced. The Wildcats share their scoring load. Despite this, he always steps up in big moments for his team. For example, his 31 points and game-winner against Butler was one of those moments. Hilliard is consistently efficient when shooting the ball, and he may be the best defender on the best defensive team in the Big East. His name should definitely be mentioned even if he’s not likely to win it because of the three guys who listed below him.
3. Kris Dunn – Providence (G, So., 6-3, 205, New London, Ct.)
Season Stats: 15.1 PTS, 5.7 REBS, 7.4 ASTS
Dunn ranks fourth in the nation in assists at 7.4 per game. He’s one of just three players in the country averaging 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. The sophomore’s assist rate of 50 percent leads the nation. His assist rate would rank fifth in the past decade of season — and second among major-conference players behind Marquette guard Travis Diener’s 2005 season. He’s the best playmaker in the country, a good scorer, and he’s active on the defensive end as well. Dunn should be considered for first-team all-defense in the conference. Despite his high turnover numbers, he continues to be the engine that helps Providence go.
2.LaDontae Henton – Providence (F, Sr., 6-6, 215, Lansing, Mich.)
Season Stats: 20.3 PTS, 5.9 REBS, 0.9 ASTS
Henton, also know as “Superman” or “Buckets,” has lived up to both of those nicknames this season. He’s done so be averaging a conference-leading 20.6 points per game on an efficient 45 percent shooting from the field. His scoring average also ranks in the top-10 nationally. Aside from two games this season, Henton has scored in double figures in every contest. He’s also had a few games in which he’s exploded. He scored 38 points on 14-19 shooting earlier in the season against Notre Dame and 35 points on 12-21 shooting against Creighton in January.
1. D'Angelo Harrison – St. John’s (G, Sr., 6-4, 204, Missouri City, Texas)
Season Stats: 18.4 PTS, 5.6 REBS, 1.9 ASTS
Given the Red Storm’s resurgence, and if it continues, Harrison may be the guy to win the award. For much of the season, Harrison and LaDontae Henton have been leading a two-man race for Big East POY. Both of them are definitely to two best scorers in the conference. Harrison has carried the load for a short-handed St. John’s team. He boasts an 18.4 points per game average. Over the last four years, Harrison has been as consistent as they come and has shown great maturity as a leader this season. Ever since he’s donned a St. John’s uniform, he’s averaged between 16.8 and 18.4 points per contest. This season has been his most efficient, as he’s shooting 42 percent from the field. He’s quick and strong, and gets to the line at an alarming rate. He knocks down 81 percent of his free throws and 38 percent of his 3-pointers. He’s also excelled during the times he’s been forced to be versatile on defense due to St. John’s lack of size and depth throughout the season.