Player of the Week

Markus Howard, G, Junior, Marquette Golden Eagles

For the second time on this young Big East season, Markus Howard dazzled enough to make Player of the Week. And it’s really no surprise.

Howard is already tied for first in the Big East with 22.4 ppg and he upped his average in a big way last Saturday. With the Golden Eagles hosting the 12th ranked Kansas State Wildcats, who went to the Elite Eight last season and were 6-0 coming in, Howard helped Marquette to an 83-61 win. Howard exploded for 45 points on 11 made field goals with 17 total shots, four 3-pointers and a career-high 19 free throws on another career-high 21 makes. His 45 points were his second highest career total, only to 52 last season.

Howard is the undisputed leader in Milwaukee. He leads the team in scoring and can single handedly win a game if he gets hot. He is fourth in the conference in assists with 4.78 per game, first in free throw percentage at 91.1 and is the leader in the Big East in total points with 202 (the only player over or close to 200). Marquette was predicted to be a favorite to compete in the Big East this season and Howard is making a name for himself and his program.

Who’s Hot

AJ Reeves, G, Freshman, Providence Friars

Providence lost a great amount of talent coming into the season and needed help right away with production. They are getting a lot of that production back with Reeves.

So far, Reeves is second on the 7-2 Friars in scoring with 14.9 ppg. He is a potent scorer, especially from the outside where he leads the team and is tied for eighth in the conference with 23 3-pointers made. He is doing good work in his 27 minutes per game, with a solid 51.1 field goal percentage and is shooting just under 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Arguably his best stretch of the season thus far came this past week. Against rival Atlantic 10 Rhode Island, Reeves scored 15 points and shot 3-6 from beyond the arc in a 59-50 Friars win. Three days later against another rival in the ACC Boston College, the freshman from Roxbury, Massachusetts poured in 24 points on eight field goals made and four three-pointers in a Providence 100-95 overtime win.

Head coach Ed Cooley is liking what he’s seeing thus far from the freshman guard and his production has been key in pairing up with Alpha Diallo. Providence looks ready to get into conference play with an identity and some confidence from young stars.

Who’s Not

Kamar Baldwin, G, Junior, Butler Bulldogs

It’s tough to find someone in the Big East who is significantly underperforming this week, but Baldwin was the greatest.

The junior, who averaged close to 20 ppg coming into the week, had two very underwhelming performances that left Butler 1-1 in those contests. In a hard-fought loss to a talented St. Louis on the road, Butler fell 64-52. Baldwin scored a season-low six points, probably a low he will never hit again this season, on 3-17 shooting, 0-3 from beyond the arc and zero free throw attempts. Thankfully, the Bulldogs rebounded (no pun intended) with a 70-55 home win against Brown four days later. Baldwin, however, only contributed 12 points on 5-12 shooting and a couple of 3-pointers. He again had zero free throw attempts.

For Baldwin, it looks like he will bounce out of this tough stretch he is in where he is shooting just 8-29 and 27.5 percent in his last two games. Baldwin is the facilitator and go-to scorer for this young Butler program and he will need to get out of this funk if Butler is to go into conference play at a high level.

Top 5 Big East Teams Right Now

5. Georgetown Hoyas

The Hoyas are off to second consecutive hot start in as many seasons with Patrick Ewing at the helm. Their 7-1 start is second best in the conference thus far. Jessie Govan looks sharp and ready to dominate conference play and freshman James Akinjo has shown flashes of facilitating the offense. Lack of experience and the unknown of conference play put them at five.

4. Providence Friars

The veteran coaching experience of Ed Cooley and his ability to get an average or above average team to the NCAA Tournament cannot be overlooked. After losing talent and production from last year, he has found more with Alpha Diallo and A.J. Reeves as centerpieces for the season. Never count them out of an upset or a ballgame.

3. Marquette Golden Eagles

Coach Woz lost some talent from last year, but returned Markus Howard, Sam Hauser and his brother Joey Hauser. The offense is there to compete and beat anyone, it has been for years. Their inexperience and inconsistencies on defense, and sometimes offense, are suspect going forward. One thing is for sure: when they are on, they are virtually unbeatable.

2. Villanova Wildcats

Jay Wright. Two titles. That’s enough to get them to the top of the conference alone. Even after slipups against Michigan and Furman, the Wildcats have rebounded (another pun no intended) to get momentum back on their side. They still have Preseason All-Big East Teamers in Eric Paschall and Phil Booth. They have been there and done it multiple times.

1. St. John’s Red Storm

The only undefeated team in the conference at 8-0. They have flexed their muscles plenty of times and won close games to start the season. Shamorie Ponds is showing why he was voted Preseason Big East Player of the Year. The addition of Mustapha Heron has paid HUGE dividends offensively. Head coach Chris Mullin gets his guys ready to play defense every game and with offense now going, this is a legit team to win the conference and run the table. Scary, scary stuff going on in the Big Apple for the rest of the Big East.