Five straight losses to open Big East play. Not exactly the start anyone wants, of course, and probably not even the start that anyone expected, since Marquette was picked to finish in 7th place in the Big East this season. The Golden Eagles already have losses to all three teams picked to finish behind them, with two of those losses coming at the Al McGuire Center. Now, Marquette heads out on the road still looking for their first Big East win of the season, but their next two contests won't be likely candidates for that to happen.
There are three Big East teams getting votes in the Associated Press Top 25 balloting, and all three are currently tied for first place in the league at 4-1. Marquette will visit two of those teams this weekend. That's not promising. Both squads are deep and talented, and both will face DePaul, the third team receiving votes, in the other half of the weekend action. Given that on top of DePaul also entering the weekend at 4-1, and both St. John's and Seton Hall will likely be very ready to make sure they get the win against Marquette just in case they can't swing a win against the Blue Demons.
Big East Game #6: at Seton Hall (15-2, 4-1 Big East)
When: Friday, January 16, 2015, at 6pm Central
Where: Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, NJ
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network's got the broadcast, and live stats are here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
11-0 at home, on a two game winning streak, and winners in 13 of their last 14, and yeah, Seton Hall's pretty good this season. Head coach Tony Bozzella has the Pirates rolling along in his second season at his alma mater. Seton Hall is currently in a four way tie for first place, but they get the benefit of two of those teams, St. John's and DePaul, playing earlier in the day. With a win over the Golden Eagles, the worst result for the Pirates is coming out in a two way tie with the winner of that Red Storm/Blue Demons game.
SHU put two players on the preseason all-conference team, and those two players are currently the top two scorers on the roster. Tabatha Richardson-Smith averages 16.9 points per game for the Pirates, and Ka-Deidre Simmons is *just barely* behind her at 16.8 ppg. Those numbers rank that duo fourth and fifth in the league in scoring, while senior transfer Daisha Simmons also kicks in 15.5 points per contest, which is a not exactly shabby eighth best in the league.
Ka-Deidre Simmons runs the show for the Pirates, averaging a Big East best 5.3 assists per game. Seton Hall gets a lot of rebounding from their stars, but Bra'Shey Ali leads the team in rebounding at 9.3 caroms on average. Senior forward Jamee Johnson also carries some Windex with her, snagging 6.2 rebounds/game.
Big East Game #7: at St. John's (13-3, 4-1 Big East)
So, do you remember that Butler team that Marquette tangled with last Sunday and ultimately came up just short against? Well, somehow, they own a road win over a Red Storm squad that's picking up votes in the Associated Press poll. Go figure, huh? In fact, that loss is one of two losses in the last three games for St. John's. In their defense, the other one was a 16 point loss to Connecticut at MSG, so that's not so bad.
As I type this, St. John's is about to tip off with DePaul at Carnesecca Arena. Given that it's Field Trip Day in Queens, it's a little less than 50/50 that the Red Storm will be thoroughly annoyed and looking hard to get a win to keep pace with the league's leaders by the time the MU team bus pulls up outside on Sunday afternoon. Of course, DePaul's really great, so anything could happen, even in front of a capacity crowd.
Much like his Jersey counterpart, head coach Joe Tartamella has talented players all over his roster. Aliyyah Handford and Danejah Grant are #1 & #3 in the Big East scoring race at 19.8 and 17.7 points per game. Aaliyah Lewis handles the point guard duties with 4.6 assists per game, while Amber Thompson leads the Big East in rebounding at 11.9 grabs per contest. Thompson is the only player in the league averaging more than 10 rebounds per game, but she's still more than 4 points away from averaging a double-double.