So amid that bit of chaos, you’ve got Red Storm coach Chris Mullin yelling at Hoyas coach John Thompson III, and Georgetown assistant coach Patrick Ewing, Jr. needing to be restrained.
I feel like that sentence would be very confusing to someone in 1992.
So would “Ninth-seeded Georgetown and eighth-seeded St. John’s matchup in Big East tournament opener,” but that’s kind of where we are at the moment.
Clearly, neither of these programs are at the place they were in the heyday of the Big East, but some good old fashion bad blood is a nice reminder that while the Big East has been reconfigured, it hasn’t lost its soul.
Big East Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards
Josh Hart confirmed what was almost unanimously believed in November: he was the best player in the Big East. The senior wing averaged a conference-leading 18.7 points — shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three — to go along with his 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for first-place Villanova. One of the best two-way players in the nation also had some of his best single-game performances outside of the conference slate.
Big East Coach of the Year: Ed Cooley, Providence
Two days before Christmas, Providence closed out the non-conference slate with a loss at Boston College. The Friars followed by dropping the first two conference games. All three losses were by a dozen or more points. Yet, this team — without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil — is in possession of another 20-win season, and tied the highest finish Providence has had since the conference’s relaunch. This is a competitive race, especially when you consider what Chris Holtmann and Steve Wojciechowski has done. And that doesn’t include Jay Wright’s continued dominance. But Cooley took a young roster with all the makings of a rebuild and turned it, in all likelihood, a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
First-Team All-Big East
Josh Hart, Villanova
Andrew Chrabascz, Butler: The statistics don’t jump off the page, but the senior forward impacts the game in so many different ways for a Butler team that was projected to finish sixth, but ended as the No. 2 seed.
Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Taking the full-time ball handling duties this season, the sophomore averaged 14.8 points per game, shooting 54 percent from the field. He also registered a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: The nation’s leading rebounder (13.1 RPG) has recorded 24 double-doubles this season. He’s also improved his offense, posting 15.7 points per game.
Marcus Foster, Creighton: The transfer guard is second in the conference in scoring at 18.5 points per game. He’s taken on a bigger role since Watson’s season-ending injury.
Villanova brought the Big East the national championship in 2016, ending critcism of the program’s shortcomings in March and providing the league with an added level of legitiamcy it yearned for since its relaunch in 2013.
So, what will the Big East do for an encore? The conference might send 70 percent of its members to the NCAA Tournament.
Like the previous three seasons, the league was dominated by Villanova, which won its fourth consecutive regular season championship. Butler finished second, and spent much of the year in the top-20. Creighton looked every part of a Final Four contender until Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL in mid-January. Xavier, which began the season ranked, has struggled since Edmond Sumner suffered the same season-ending injury. Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall have all made late pushes for at-large bids, resulting in a wild finish to the regular season. Four days in New York should be eventual, to say the least.
This should come as a surprise to no one. This reigning national champions enter the World’s Most Famous Arena as the top seed for the fourth straight season. Villanova has at its disposal the conference’s player of the year, another unanimous first-team selection, a national coach of the year candidate and the athleticism and versatility not many teams can brag about. Depth is a concern, with Phil Booth out for the season and Darryl Reynolds, the only true big man in the rotation, recently returning from injury. It’s also worth noting that two of three Big East losses came against the same opponent.
And if they lose?: Butler
The Bulldogs have twice defeated the Wildcats. They did so in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, handing Villanova its first loss of the season. Butler went for the sweep by knocking off the Cats on Feb. 22, the only time they lost at the Pavilion this season. In both contests, Butler made the key plays down the stretch for hard-fought victories. Butler has an improved defense from last season to compliment with its always-efficient offense. With a big like Andrew Chrabascz, the Bulldogs are more equipped to match up with Villanova. Also, Kelan Martin, since his move to a reserve role, has caught fire in the last five games of the regular season.
Providence: The Friars have won six straight, with wins over Butler, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette. Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock may not be Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they are anchoring a hot team that could give Providence its second postseason championship in four years.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles are the only Big East team team other than the Bulldogs to defeat Villanova. They have a nice balance with a deep roster. Five players average double-digits in points, and Andrew Rowsey, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and Katin Reinhardt have been huge in the second unit.
Sleeper: Seton Hall
The Pirates played strong basketball down the stretch last season to win the Big East Tournament championship. Isaiah Whitehead is playing in a different borough now, but Seton Hall is rolling, winners of seven of nine. The defense isn’t as strong as it was during last year’s run, but Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez are capable of a repeat performance.
The Bubble Dwellers:
Xavier: The Musketeers lost six of seven to close out the season. They have two wins in the past five weeks: both against DePaul. A loss to the Blue Demons on Wednesday night could burst Xavier’s bubble.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles should be safe at this point. Sure, they earned a come-from-behind win against Villanova, but that won’t stop critics from poking holes in their resume on Sunday, especially when four wins against Xavier and Creighton came after injuries to Edmond Sumner and Mo Watson.
Providence: A six-game winning streak and a third-place finish should mean the Friars are safe, but most bracket projections have them as one of the last at-large four bids.
Defining moment of the season: Marquette, down 17 points, comes back to stun No. 1 Villanova, starting a run for the NCAA Tournament.
CBT Prediction: Villanova
Jayson Williams says Charles Oakley lent him $20K while at St. John’s
How, exactly, do the Red Storm figure in? Well, the story comes courtesy of former St. John’s and NBA standout Jayson Williams, who spoke to Gio & Jones of CBS Sports Radio.
“So, how we did it at St. John’s was when you were in your senior year, and the guys who made it before you goes to the NBA, that guy would give you,” Williams said, according to CBS Sports, “let’s call it like a loan so you don’t have to go out and get an agent or put St. John’s in any trouble with the NCAA. So when my year was up and I was a senior, it was Mark Jackson. Now if anybody knows Mark Jackson, Mark is the greatest human being on Earth – but cheap as the day is long. That man is so frugal.”
As such, Jackson didn’t lend Williams any money, but his teammate on the 1989-90 Knicks, Oakley, did. More from Williams:
“He said, ‘Come here, man. Once you ask somebody once and they ain’t going to give it to you, you don’t beg. What you do is follow me home after.’ Went home and he gave me 20 (and said) ‘When you get drafted, I’m going to want 25 back.’”
And after that the two became fast friends, even if Oakley charged Williams “mafia rates” on return, Williams said. Williams has been one of many outspoken defenders of Oakley, who is in a very public dispute with Dolan after an ugly incident at MSG.
Williams averaged 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his final season with St. John’s before being taken. in the first round of the 1990 draft.
Oakley was one of the few people that came to prison to visit Williams in prison after Williams was sentenced for fatally shooting a hired limo driver in 2002.
“Charles Oakley came to see me once every month like clockwork,” Williams said. “This is why people are so adamant about supporting Charles Oakley.”
The arrest only adds to the list of issues for Brown as he was charged with a felony of credit card and robbery in May 2016. He was also dismissed from a school in Connecticut not long after enrolling after allegedly getting into a fight.
At one time, Brown was a top-10 recruit in 2017 and committed to UConn, but his off the court issues has resulted in the diminishing on-court opportunities available to him.
An old Big East matchup ended with an old-fashioned beatdown.
St. John’s went into the Carrier Dome and defeated Syracuse, 93-60, on Wednesday night.
Now that you’ve done a double-take, here it is for a third time: Yes, St. John’s, which has losses to Delaware State, Old Dominion, and LIU-Brooklyn to its name, won by 33 points on Jim Boeheim’s homecourt.
The Red Storm shot 53.1 percent overall and made 12 of 29 (41.4 percent) from 3-point range while holding the Orange to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor and 4 of 24 (16.7 percent) from distance. That disparity in percentages is a sure-fire way for there to be a monster disparity on the scoreboard.
Really, it was a lot about 3-point shooting. Chris Mullin’s St. John’s teams is one of the best in the country from long range at 41 percent, and they shoot a ton of them. That held serve Wednesday. The Orange aren’t far behind at 39.4 percent, and they too are reliant and making shots from beyond the arc. That obviously didn’t happen this night.
The Big East reunion tour hasn’t been kind to Syracuse this season as they also dropped games to UConn and Georgetown, putting them at 0-3 against their former familiar foes this season.
For St. John’s, it’ll be interesting if this is a sign of life after a rough non-conference schedule or more of a fluke. Don’t forget last season when the Red Storm knocked off the Orange at home in similar surprising fashion, but proceeded to lose to Incarnate Word and NJIT in the first two of 16-straight losses and a 1-17 Big East season. After a difficult season-and-a-half to start Mullin’s tenure, St. John’s has to be hoping this represent some sort of turning point.
Yankuba Sima will transfer out of the St. John’s program, the school announced on Friday.
“I want to thank the coaching staff and the administration for all of their support since I arrived at St. John’s,” said Sima. “I enjoyed my experience at St. John’s, but right now I feel it is best for me to explore options that will be a better fit for me as I work toward my goals.”
“We wish Yankuba the best of luck,” said head coach Chris Mullin. “I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him, but we respect and understand it. He’s a good basketball player and a good person with a bright future ahead.”
Sima started 26 of the 34 games he played with the Johnnies, including eight starts this season. He was averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 boards this year.