Local Rivalry Week Continues
As many BIG EAST schools get ready for exams, travel has been reduced by playing local rivals. Five of the 11 BIG EAST games Saturday are definitely bus trips. The MSG Holiday Festival in New York includes St. John’s vs. Fordham and Rutgers vs. Iona. Towson at Georgetown, Wisconsin at Marquette (ESPN2), and Villanova at Penn (NBC SN) are single games. Earlier in the week, BIG EAST teams had success in their local matchups, including Pittsburgh’s 66-45 win against Duquesne.
Shorthanded Friars Off To Strong Start
Providence coach Ed Cooley has had to go through the first semester with only seven players, including one walk-on. However, the Friars are 7-2 after Thursday’s 72-57 win against in-state rival Rhode Island. One loss was in overtime and the other was on a basket at the buzzer. Five minutes into the season, Preseason All-BIG EAST First Team guard Vincent Council suffered a hamstring injury and has not played since. Guard Bryce Cotton has led the attack with a 20.8 scoring average. Help is on the way with transfer center Sidiki Johnson eligible Dec. 18 when PC returns to action. Also, highly regarded freshman guard Kris Dunn, who is recovering from shoulder injury, may make his collegiate debut on the same date.
Early National Leaders
It’s early in the college basketball season, but a few BIG EAST players already have turned some heads and are ranked among the nation’s leaders. The BIG EAST has the two top assist leaders in the latest NCAA statistics. Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, who played only 10.3 minutes per game last year, leads the nation with a 9.2 assist average. USF’s Anthony Collins is second with an 8.5 mark. Carter-Williams is also second in steals with a 4.4 average. Chris Obekpa, a freshman center at St. John’s, is fourth in the nation in blocked shots with a 4.4 mark.