Connecticut's dominance was expected, as was the individual brilliance of Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist. But the first month of Big East women's basketball has had some surprises. Here are four of the biggest:
1. Lauren Park-Lane
The 5’6 guard from Wilmington, Delaware has been phenomenal for Seton Hall. After averaging 6 points a game last season, Park-Lane has turned into an offensive force for the Pirates.
Her 20.3 points per game is good for third-best in the Big East and she also leads the conference in assists, with 5.3 per game. In a loss to UConn on December 15th, Park-Lane scored 29 points and had six assists. On Wednesday, she put up 27 points in a losing effort against Villanova.
Maddy Siegrist has been a machine, leading the league in scoring and rebounding. But she’s also had support around her.
Senior Brianna Herlihy is averaging almost 15 points per game and Sarah Mortensen is chipping in 13 points per game.
As a team, the Wildcats have done well sharing the ball. Only UConn is averaging more assists per game. Defensively, they’ve been excellent on the glass. They are second in the conference in defensive rebounding behind only, you guessed it, UConn. Add it all up and the Wildcats are 3-2 in the Big East and 8-2 overall.
The two losses come against the best two teams in the conference, UConn and DePaul. It’s still a small sample size, but the Wildcats look like they belong in the second group of teams in the conference, along with Marquette and DePaul-- a much better spot than where they were picked to finish in the preseason.
The Friars have played more conference games (six), than anyone else in the conference and the results have been promising. They were expected to finish 10th out of 11 Big East teams, but so far they have held their own with a 3-3 record.
After getting blown out by Marquette in the conference opener, Providence has beaten Butler twice and Xavier once. They are third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 61 points per game. Providence has also been effective on the other end of the floor, hitting on 35% of their three-point attempts, second in the Big East.
As expected, Mary Baskerville leads the way. The junior is averaging 14 points on an efficient 57% shooting.
4. St. John’s
The Red Storm were picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll, but sit at the bottom of the Big East standings after an 0-3 start in conference.
Leilani Correa and Qadashah Hoppie have both missed games, leading to the team's struggles. The three losses have come against Villanova, Marquette and Providence, three of the better teams in the conference, but this is still not the start St. John’s imagined.
Now that Correa and Hoopie are back (the two played for the first time together in St. John’s last game), expect the Red Storm to make a move to the middle of the conference.