Updated: Mar 9
Matt St. Jean and Tommy Godin will add their live thoughts from the tournament all day, so check back here for updates!
Matt St. Jean: We are in the building! Tommy and I are waiting for the awards ceremony to commence in a few moments where Shaka Smart, Tyler Kolek, and Cam Whitmore will officially receive their awards. No real surprises there. All three guys deserve the accolades with their performances this season. - 12:25pm
Matt St. Jean: And we have our Scholar of the Year! Congrats to Jack Nunge on that one. - 12:27pm
Tommy Godin: The awards ceremony has finally concluded and Matt and I finally found our way to our seats. Look for us on TV!
Anyways, the awards went pretty much as planned. Jack Nunge graciously accepted his award for Scholar Athlete of the Year and thanked everybody from the coaching staff to his wife.
"Storytelling extraordinaire" Bill Raftery accepted his award with his signature charm. Raftery was asked how he keeps his energy up in these late night BIG EAST games, to which he responded proudly and honestly: "alcohol". The room erupted in laughter and smiles, in appreciation of Raftery's sense of humor.
The next award to be presented was the Freshman of the Year award, which went to Villanova's Cam Whitmore.
Cam Whitmore averaged 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game in his freshman campaign, after missing seven games with a hand injury. Whitmore had a career high 29-point outing versus Xavier on January 7th. Not sure how the voting worked out, but we have to imagine Alex Karaban's name was up there as well.
The next award to be given out was part one of the Marquette sweep in Shaka Smart. The four year starter and three year team captain at Kenyon College, a small Division III school in Ohio, tuned conference Coach of the Year said that he is "so happy to be in the BIG EAST". Well Mr. Smart, the BIG EAST is happy to have you here as well.
Lastly, but certainly not least, was Tyler Kolek accepting his honor of conference Player of the Year. Kolek noted that he could not get all the assists he does without his teammates getting the ball in the basket. He is a selfless leader and more than deserving of the highest honor an individual can get in the conference. - 2:18pm
Matt St. Jean: Butler will be without Manny Bates and Eric Hunter Jr. today due to academic reasons. Not sure I've ever seen that before for a game like this, and neither traveled with the team. That's bad news for a Butler team that has already struggled this season. Jalen Thomas and Connor Turnbull will have some work to do today against Joel Soriano, and Butler's depth at guard will need to handle the ball well against a defense that likes to force turnovers. Should the Bulldogs advance, I'm not sure how this team matches up with Butler down two starters. - 2:26pm
Tommy Godin: The National Anthem has been sung. The introductions have been given. Smells of a classic hardwood basketball court, hot dogs and popcorn fill the air. The teams bands are playing their fight songs and there is a distinct buzz in the air that can not be matched by any other venue in the world. The fans are ready. The teams are ready. The media is ready. It is go time. Are you ready for some basketball?! -3:02pm
Matt St. Jean: If there was supposed to be defense in this one, nobody told Butler or St. John's! We're off to a roaring start here at the Garden. Ten made baskets in the first five-and-a-half minutes, and these teams are going up and down the court. This is the tempo that St. John's likes. -3:13pm
Tommy Godin: This is a great game if you're a fan of high volume offense! We all knew the name of the game for St. John's was to push the pace. They are the number one team in the country when it comes to adjusted tempo, according to KenPom. What is interesting however is going to be the Johnnies lack of depth. They were already without Rafael Pinzon, but defensive specialist Andre Curbelo is also out and appears to be in concussion protocol. Matt highlighted Butlers absent pieces, but St. John's will have to battle through adversity themselves to keep their current lead through the final buzzer. -3:30pm
Matt St. Jean: There's a lot of chaos in this one, as expected. It feels like St. John's is on the verge of pulling away, but Butler isn't letting that happen just yet. Ali Ali barely got that corner three to go, but it did go down. That kept the deficit under ten points for Butler. -3:35pm
Tommy Godin: It was nice of Steph Curry to take time out of his busy schedule to play for St. John's today and wear number zero. Not but seriously, Posh Alexander is on fire. He's up to eleven points on perfect shooting including three from beyond the arc. This is a St. John's team that just took Marquette down to the wire last week. If the Johnnies were to finish this one on top, playing like this, tomorrow just got a whole lot more interesting. -3:47pm
Matt St. Jean: It's a 15-point lead for St. John's at the half, and it really could be more. Butler is not playing well and not making shots, which is not a shock with him this team has looked away from home this season. St. John's looks right at home. The Red Storm are dictating the tempo and playing with confidence, making this a very dangerous group. It sure seems like we're twenty minutes away from the end of Thad Matta's first season back with the Bulldogs. -3:53pm
Tommy Godin: My hands are greasy and my belly is full after demolishing a cheeseburger at halftime. Back to the grind. On the screen there is a dance-off between mascots. Life is good. The Johnnies have put this one in cruise control and Butler just looks defeated. AJ Storr connected on a free throw off of a Chuck Harris technical foul, and, as it stands, it looks like the only thing the Bulldogs have to look forward to is a very, very passionate Michael DeRosa video to hit their twitter feed shortly. -4:20pm
Matt St. Jean: Some news on the next game: No Kadary Richmond or Tray Jackson for Seton Hall. DePaul has a real shot of pulling the upset with those two out.
Both meetings this season were decided by two possessions, and that was a healthy Seton Hall group and an injured DePaul one. Obviously, this is also a Seton Hall team that just beat the doors off Providence without those two players, so the Pirates could still run away with this one. -4:31pm
Tommy Godin: Now wait just a minute, Butler isn't done yet! St. John's has gone ice cold from the field and have missed their last four field goal attempts. The Bulldogs are on a 7-2 run over the last two minutes and change. Butler once trailed by 21 in the second half, now they will head to the line with a chance to cut the lead to single digits. Here we go! -4:39pm
Matt St. Jean: This game is back to going back-and-forth, and that's not good news for Butler. The Bulldogs are going to need some stops to come all the way back, and St. John's has been able to keep this as a double-digit margin for the whole second half. With the lead at twelve and under four minutes to play, it'll take something crazy for Butler to pull this off at this point. -4:47pm
Tommy Godin: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's safe to sharpie St. John's on to Thursday of the BIG EAST tournament. A Joel Soriano hammer would put the Johnnies up 15 and they would never look back. -4:57pm
Matt St. Jean: After a quick stop for a sandwich and some soda in the media room, we're back for Seton Hall and DePaul. And this one has been a slog so far. Not nearly as much scoring as in the first game, which is as expected. -5:46pm
Tommy Godin: Hello! I'm back from the press conference. It was a quick one, but here's what I got:
Mike Anderson: “Play, survive advance. The first game is out of the way, so now we get a chance to play a second”
“We see his development and his confidence has continued to grow, and it’s been a big plus for our basketball team” on AJ Storr’s progression
Posh Alexander: “Just getting out of my own head. I was in my head in the beginning of the year and I talked to my family and I basically told them I’m just trying to figure out things to win and things to help my team win” on his new mindset
Joel Soriano: They are a very well coached team” .. “They’re a team that likes to speed teams up, but if we play our style of basketball, we’ll be alright” on their matchup against Marquette
Thad Matta: “After the course of the season they have played some really, really good basketball. But we were not connected. We are just not that talented” on the teams fight after being down 20 UPDATE: The official quote from the conference was as follows ... "when we are not connected, we're not that talented". There were conflicting transcriptions on our end, but it has since been cleared up. -Fri 11:37am
“We started the game we were not connected, not together, transition rebounds and definitely defensive rebounds. But, you know, like I said, those guys got it to 20 and we just kept chipping away, chipping away” on his team’s effort
Simas Lukosius: “I’m really happy for him. It was great to see you know, I love him to death. I see how good he is and how hard he works every day in practice. I’m proud of him, I wish it wasn’t over” on his relationship with Myles Tate
“I don’t have a secret. Clearly. I’d be on the winning side if I had a secret.” on his secret to success at Madison Square Garden
“I study sports media at Butler and I can definitely be more focused on that now. I probably should” said Lukosius when asked what he is studying now. “I can second that” added Matta jokingly. -6:19pm
Matt St. Jean: Not a good first half for Seton Hall! Their offensive explosion at Providence on Saturday did not carry over into this one. DePaul led for over eight minutes and scored ten points off of nine Seton Hall turnovers to lead 32-28 at the break. Shaheen Holloway will need to get his guys going in the locker room for the second half. -6:24pm
Tommy Godin: We got a game here brewing at The Garden! This is just about all you can ask for in the seven/ten matchup. The Pirates came into this game red hot but DePaul is holding strong. There have been eight lead changes and counting and we are currently on the see-saw with Seton Hall holding a one point advantage. Let's hope the ending is as good as the beginning, and that the cheerleader that got domed by a ferocious Nick Ongenda block is okay. -6:53
Matt St. Jean: Tyrese Samuel just had the moment of the tournament so far. With 0.7 seconds on the shot clock, he slammed home a dunk off the inbound pass over Yor Anei. Seton Hall is on a 12-2 run and has taken a five-point lead here in the second half. DePaul hasn't made a basket since the opening minute of the half. -6:59pm
Matt St. Jean: The last five minutes have just existed in this purgatory where DePaul can't close the gap but Seton Hall can't pull away. Nick Ongenda has had a fantastic half to keep DePaul in this. Feels like it should come down to the final minute. -7:17pm
Tommy Godin: The nets are on fire in the big apple! This game has had everything you would expect in a Seton Hall vs DePaul matchup. Tough defense, spurts of great offense, sloppy play and even a Tyrese Samuel monster-slam. The Blue Demons have hit five of their last seven shots. We got a one possession game with 70 seconds left. -7:28
Matt St. Jean: Now THAT is why the Big East Tournament is so great. What an ending, and the building was rocking for all of it. Nick Ongenda was a beast in the second half, and he made the game-deciding block. Credit to the refs for getting it right, too. And we've got eight more games! -7:50pm
TOMMY GODIN: MY CAPS LOCK IS STUCK!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
I don’t think words can properly convey the vibe in the building after this game. It was a weeknight past 7:00pm and Madison Square Garden was ROCKING. The Jalen Terry stepback, the scramble for the loose ball, THE TURNOVER. The absolute ONIONS from Umoja Gibson. THE GOALTEND. THE BLOCK. THE BLUE DEMONS. THIS IS MARCH!!!!
Tommy Godin: I kid you not, the building is still buzzing from the ending of the previous game. Nevertheless, we move on and this (mostly Villanova) crowd is fired up for the start of this one. A plethora of three point attempts and lack of three point connections has the Wildcats in a 8-6 deficit to open this one up, but Eric Dixon will have a chance to knot the score up when we get back from commercial break. -8:21pm
Matt St. Jean: DePaul Head Coach Tony Stubblefield was very proud of his guys after that one. "These guys really stuck with it, didn't put their heads down," he said following the thrilling victory.
"I was extremely excited. I knew it was a block, for real," said Nick Ongenda about his game-winning block for DePaul. ""I'm good at blocking shots."
"He looked like a DB out there," said Umoja Gibson about Jalen Terry's steal that set up Gibson's winning free throws.
DePaul entered Wednesday night on a twelve-game losing streak. "We felt good snapping that streak," said Jalen Terry.
"I was in a slump during the first half." Nick Ongenda scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime. He said his coach and teammates told him to "keep his head up" after struggling in the first twenty minutes.
Seton Hall's Shaheen Holloway looked devastated at the podium following the game. "We just couldn't do it tonight."
He indicated Seton Hall would accept an NIT invite if the team were to receive one. -8:28pm
Tommy Godin: Villanova's defense is really starting to lock in now. Georgetown has gone over five minutes scoreless as I am typing this. Nevermind they just scored on a Brandon Murray floater. Talk about a jinx. Anyway, Villanova holds a ten point advantage halfway through the first half. -8:32pm
Tommy Godin: Guys, I think I'm just going to go out on a limb and say it: I don't think Georgetown's defense is very good. Controversial take, I know, but someone had to say it. Five different Wildcats have connected from beyond the arc tonight, including Brendan Hausen. Villanova's lead is one shy of twenty here in the waning minutes of the first half. I wouldn't mind if Justin Moore and Jordan Longino, who are admittedly not 100% healthy, got some much needed rest in the second half.
Matt St. Jean: This game has been everything you would have expected based on how well Villanova and Georgetown were playing at the end of the season. The first half was bad for the Hoyas, and the second half did not start out any better. Barring something inexplicable, it'll be Villanova and Creighton in the late game tomorrow. -9:25pm
Matt St. Jean: We've got a sellout to start the Big East Tournament. And let me tell you, it felt like it. The energy during the Seton Hall and DePaul game felt like the Big East Championship. In the tenth season of the new Big East, it is hard to call it anything but an overwhelming success. -9:30pm
Tommy Godin: Not too too much to write home about in this one, folks. Villanova is a bucket away from doubling up Georgetown with fifteen minutes to go in regulation and look to have this one in the bag (yes, I knocked on wood). In other news, Caleb Daniels and Mark Armstrong were honored at that last commercial break for their individual awards. Congratulations to the both of them!
Matt St. Jean: With a whimper, not a bang, the Patrick Ewing era should be over now. Villanova cruised to an 80-48 win that was never in doubt. For the Wildcats, the next step is a rematch of last year's Big East Championship right back here tomorrow night. For Georgetown, that next step likely involves a lot of soul searching followed by some coach searching. -10:16pm
Matt St. Jean: That'll do it from the Garden for tonight! We'll be back in the morning. Here's tonight's podcast episode. -11:38pm