Inside the Enemy Ship: Marquette Golden Eagles, Home Edition

Father Wild Celebration Night at the Bradley Center

Welcome to the latest edition of “Inside the Enemy Ship”, once again featuring the Marquette Golden Eagles and insight from our good friend, Jack Goods! With the Pirates looking for their third straight Big East win, the Golden Eagles can play a huge role in deciding which side of the NCAA Tournament bubble they end up on. Check out the interview below for a fantastic preview of the upcoming game!

BBA: Since their loss to Seton Hall, the Golden Eagles have gone 5-4. How accurately does their record reflect how the team has played?
GOODS: It’s been very up and down, as any slate would be when you beat Providence and Butler and lose to DePaul. Marquette shows flashes, but also plays down to opponents like they did against Stetson last week.

BBA: This is a huge game for both teams, who are both trying to end up on the right side of the NCAA bubble. Ultimately, do you think Marquette will make the NCAA tournament?
GOODS: It will be a very tough hill to climb for Marquette to make it into the tournament, especially after losing to DePaul. They’ll need to beat Seton Hall, DePaul and Creighton twice and steal one or two from the Villanova, Providence and Butler. I don’t think this team is consistent enough to do that.

BBA: Now that almost 10 games have passed, do you think Henry Ellenson is closer or further away from winning Big East POTY?
GOODS: I don’t think Henry has much of a chance to win BIG EAST Player of the Year because the incredible talent at the top. There’s no way the conference is passing on Kris Dunn or Ben Bentil to give Ellenson the award. BIG EAST Rookie of the Year is definitely a possibility though.

BBA: What will Marquette have to do differently to beat Seton Hall this time around?
GOODS: Marquette can’t let all of Seton Hall’s scorers be successful. The Pirates were able to get double digit points from Desi Rodriguez (19), Khadeen Carrington (17) and Isaiah Whitehead (16). Marquette would do well in shutting down at least one of the three.

BBA: In this match-up, where Marquette looks to learn from the previous game, who do you think Seton Hall should be most worried about meeting in the court?
GOODS: Henry Ellenson is coming off his best performance of the year, scoring 32 points, grabbing 10 boards and blocking six shots. He wasn’t much of a factor the first go-around. If he plays anything like he did against Butler, Marquette should win this game.

BBA: Final Score Prediction?
GOODS: 78-74 MU

As always, a huge thank you goes out to Jack Goods (@GoodsOnSports) for taking the time to share his knowledge and talk with us. With #11 Providence falling to DePaul last night, the Pirates have a chance to claim the #3 spot in the Big East with a win against Marquette tonight. Tip-off at the Prudential Center is at 8:30, and if you can’t make it, it will be broadcast live on FS1. Before we can turn our heads towards Selection Sunday, lets hope the Pirates win today. As always, Hazard Zet Forward my friends.

Inside The Enemy Ship: St. John’s Red Storm

St. John's Red Storm Cheerleaders and Mascot

Welcome to the latest edition of “Inside The Enemy Ship”, where we will be talking about our Hudson River Rival, St. John’s Red Storm, or as we like to call them, the Johnnies. This time, we had the distinct pleasure of talking to Carmine Carcieri, a contributor to the St. John’s SB Nation page Rumble in the Garden! Check below to see his thoughts on the upcoming game!

BBA: When the season started, what was your expectations for the Johnnies? How did you see the season going?
CARCIERI: With a new head coach and nine new players, it was clear that St. John’s was getting set for a long rebuilding year. Two of those players, center Yankuba Sima (Spain) and point guard Federico Mussini (Italy), were getting set to play American basketball for the first time while small forward Durand Johnson and guard Ron Mvouika were coming off major injuries. The Johnnies had to deal with the eligibility question marks regarding Marcus LoVett and Kassoum Yakwe. Also, all three returning players from last year’s NCAA tournament team combined to average just five points per game so they came into Chris Mullin’s first year with plenty of inexperience. I expected this team to finish in the bottom two positions in the Big East, but this year should not be measured upon wins and losses. Instead, the improvements and the development of coaching staff and players is the most important aspect for this program moving forward.

BBA: What do you think the biggest problem was with former coach Steve Lavin that lead to his firing?
CARCIERI: Steve Lavin did not recruit the New York area successfully and certainly didn’t win enough games with the talent he had on his roster. His last two seasons on the job, the Red Storm had enough shooting, shot blocking ability and desire to be a top 25 team throughout the season. That did not come to fruition in part because of poor coaching and a lack of discipline. There were too many off the court incidents/suspensions and too much drama surrounding the program.

BBA: How big was it for St. John’s when they hired Hall of Fame player and St. John’s alum Chris Mullin?
CARCIERI: It was a terrific hire and has been a great start to bringing the program back to being a consistent contender in the Big East. Mullin brought in a fantastic staff and his Hall of Fame credentials is a huge plus in terms of recruiting.

BBA: How high do you think Chris Mullins can take this team? I have to imagine he can do wonders for recruiting, especially in the NYC area?
CARCIERI: Absolutely, Mullin and his staff have already reeled in some excellent recruits for their 2016 class: four-star combo guard Shamorie Ponds and one of the best JUCO players in the country Bashir Ahmed. While it will take patience and plenty of frustrating losses (especially for the rest of this year), St. John’s is heading in the proper direction.

BBA: How big of a win was it against Syracuse? Conversely, how bad was the loss the following game to Incarnate Word?
CARCIERI: The Syracuse game is likely going to be the high point of this season for the Johnnies. And while loses to Incarnate Word and NJIT were brutal, inconsistency was and is expected with a young team trying to mesh together on the court.

BBA: I know this team is almost entirely different than the one on the court from last season; how big is this team’s upside?
CARCIERI: This is a very promising group of guys because of their heart, work ethic and desire to be great. The results haven’t shown in terms of wins and losses but Sima was coming on strong in conference play before his hand injury and Mussini is a crafty guard who will be even better next year when he can slide off the ball. Malik Ellison can attack the basket and nail outside shots, LoVett is a flashy guard with great vision (ineligible this year) and Yakwe is an impressive shot blocker who is working on his offensive game. Bring in transfer Tariq Owens (from Tennessee), Ahmed, Ponds and possibly Rawle Alkins, Thon Maker or Richard Freudenberg and this team will be pointing upwards.

BBA: Looking at their schedule, when do you think they will get their first Big East win?
CARCIERI: The schedule is very difficult and every night is going to be a challenge. The first game I can see them winning is DePaul on February 17th. It’s at home and the Blue Demons aren’t playing particularly great basketball.

BBA: Which players should Seton Hall be the most worried about meeting on the court? Why?
CARCIERI: Mussini and Yakwe. If Mussini is in rhythm, he has the potential to knock down shots from anywhere on the court and can impact the game with his scoring ability. Yakwe is a terrific defender who alters and blocks shots at the rim. He also draws a ton of fouls on the offensive end of the floor.

BBA: Final Score Prediction?
CARCIERI: Seton Hall 68 St. John’s 56

There you have it folks! Once again, a big thank you to our friend Carmine Carcieri (@carminecsju) for taking the time to talk with us today! Tip-off is at the Prudential Center at 7 PM! If you’d like to meet up with the BlueBeardArmy staff before the game, just check the Chipotle right next door. As always, Hazard Zet Forward

Inside The Enemy Ship: Xavier Musketeers

Welcome to the latest edition of “Inside The Enemy Ship” featuring the Xavier Musketeers! In this edition, we have had the pleasure of speaking to Shannon Russell of The Cincinnati Enquirer! Check out below for her amazing insight for the upcoming game!

BBA: When the season started, where did you see the Musketeers going? What were your highest expectations for the season?
RUSSELL: Entering the season it was clear that Xavier had a lot of talent, but the big question was how it would all fit together. The team largely played last year through skilled senior center Matt Stainbrook, who was as adept at passing out of post traps as scoring inside and drawing fouls. Xavier also lost four-year point guard Dee Davis, whose poise under pressure and ability to run the team was another asset. The team this year was picked fourth in the preseason conference poll, which seemed a little low, and quickly showed it was a force to reckon with.

BBA: What do you think of Xavier’s (as of time of writing) 16-2 record? Does it accurately reflect the talent on the team?
RUSSELL: Xavier gained attention with its early-season win at Michigan and deserved the praise it garnered in its program-record 12-0 start. The loss at Villanova is tricky in that the team lost Edmond Sumner early to a concussion and never found its stride (and subsequently was blown out). That outcome is hard to weigh because the conditions were so unusual. But Georgetown played an immensely strong game to beat Xavier earlier this week. So yes, 16-2 is a good reflection.

BBA: During the Villanova loss, Edmond Sumner was injured early in the game. Do you think Xavier would have ultimately won if he had played the entire game?
RUSSELL: Hard to say. Villanova, led by Ryan Arcidiacono, was shooting lights out and the Wildcats were playing very well together on both ends of the court. Had Sumner not been injured, the game likely would have been closer, but it just seemed to be Villanova’s day. We’ll have a better idea when XU/Nova play again Feb. 24.

BBA: Speaking of Edmond Sumner, do you he has a shot at Big East POTY?
RUSSELL: Absolutely. As a point guard, distributor, play-maker, driver and shooter, he is an integral part in what makes Xavier tick. The Musketeers struggled with turnovers in his absence. Sumner’s length and footspeed make him difficult to defend, and he has delivered some explosive dunks that have energized his team. He’s not a perfect player (his defense is a work in progress) but he’s certainly a rare talent deserving of the honor.

BBA: Do you think the Big East is a good fit for Xavier?
RUSSELL: Definitely. Every game is a grind and with the caliber of teams in the mix, Xavier only stands to improve as it continues through the season. Four of the 10 teams in the AP Top 25 hail from the Big East. That alone speaks to the strength of the league. Xavier also lines up tough non-conference opponents, which enhances its strength of schedule.

BBA: Who would you consider Xavier’s biggest Big East Rival?
RUSSELL: Probably Butler. The Bulldogs are just two hours away and several players from both teams know each other from AAU ball. Prior to the Big East realignment, the teams were briefly conference-mates in the Atlantic 10. And before that they were longtime non-conference opponents. There have been some memorable games in the series, like the 2009 game in which the clock stopped down the stretch. Officials determined that time had elapsed after a Gordon Hayward putback and the Bulldogs won by one point. Fans from both schools bring great atmospheres to Butler/Xavier games, too, making them fun to attend.

BBA: Best guess, what seed with Xavier be in the NCAA tournament?
RUSSELL: Too early to say.

BBA: Which players should Seton Hall be most worried about meeting on the court?
RUSSELL: Trevon Bluiett has scored in double figures in 17 of the team’s 18 games, with a 19.5-point average in the last four outings alone. The sophomore is by nature a guard but starts at power forward, where he creates a mismatch with his skilled play. He’s also one of the Musketeers’ top rebounders. James Farr has been a monster on the glass this season and continues to make rebounding his No. 1 priority.

BBA: Final Score Prediction?
RUSSELL: Xavier by 10

Once again, we’d like to thank Shannon Russell for taking the time to share her wisdom and insight! Tipoff is today at 2 in Cincinnati. Coming off a “hart-breaking” loss to Villanova, the Pirates look to face their third ranked opponent in as many games. As always, Hazard Zet Forward, and stay safe during the snow storm.

Inside the Enemy Ship: Villanova Wildcats, Home Edition

VU Basketball

Welcome to our latest edition of “Inside the Enemy Ship”, once again featuring the Villanova Wildcats. We will once again be talking to Larry Flynn, a junior English major at Villanova University, as well as an alumni of Villanova (who happens to be a personal friend of mine), Stephen Fortino! Since the formation of the “new” Big East, #4 Villanova is the highest ranked opponent to come to the Prudential Center, and the excitement can be felt all around the campus. Now, we will turn to our Villanovan friends to see what they think!

BBA: Now that we are well into Big East Conference play, how do you see the rest of the regular season playing out for Villanova? Any games on the schedule that are particularly worrisome to you?\
FLYNN: I envision another two losses for Villanova during conference play, finishing the regular season with four losses. The toughest games left on the schedule are probably against Providence and a rematch with Xavier at Cintas Center, but tonight’s matchup against Seton Hall certainly has potential to be a trap game. I’m most worried about this Saturday should be a tough matchup against the feisty, super-talented Providence Friars. Their overall quickness, athleticism, and talent are a bad matchup for any team in America, including Villanova.
FORTINO: You never know in the Big East. On any given day any team can beat their Big East rival. I tend to worry more about Providence this year.

BBA: Do you think Nova will end up as The Big East Tournament Champions?
FLYNN: As I’ve said, I think the Big East is Villanova’s to lose. Unless they experience a maddening heartbreak (like the loss to Seton Hall two years ago), the Wildcats should win the tournament for the second year in a row. It will definitely be tougher this year, however; with a deeper conference, more teams need to make a run in the Big East Tournament to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament (consider teams like Georgetown of Seton Hall).
FORTINO: Yes I do, Providence is the team I worry about. There are several really good teams and as you know, in the Big East, teams just beat on each other. It may be the most physical conference in the country.

BBA: Best guess, what seed will Nova be in the NCAA tournament?
FLYNN: 2, but I might be selling this team short.
FORTINO: I think they will end up a 2 seed.

BBA: Do you consider Seton Hall any sort of rival to Villanova, especially after their important games over the past few seasons?
FLYNN: Most don’t consider Seton Hall a rival, although the geographic connection occasionally makes for an overlap of fans. Any Big East game, however, has added incentive.
FORTINO: Actually Seton Hall has been one of the teams that has been a thorn in Villanova’s side. I know last year SH had just cracked the top 20 and then Villanova crushed them and the slide started for Seton Hall. Seton Hall has a well coached team and you never know.

BBA: In this match-up, do you think the environment of the Prudential Center could prove problematic?
FLYNN: Absolutely. Any road games in the Big East are up for grabs. Don’t forget, Villanova’s only losses last season came on the road, to Georgetown and none other than Seton Hall. The Pirates must use this history as motivation, while the Wildcats will try to forget the past and improve to 7-0 in the conference.
FORTINO: I don’t think so. I think a smaller venue might be more problematic. You might see as many Nova fans in that big building as you would Seton Hall Fans.*

BBA: Which player(s) should Seton Hall be most worried about meeting on the court? Why?
FLYNN: Josh Hart has been the leader of this Villanova team. With an expanded offensive game, Hart has led the team in scoring on most games thus far this season. He will be a load for the Pirates to handle, no doubt about it.
FORTINO: Jalen Brunson is a terrific freshmen, Daniel Ochefu is a force on the inside and if Ryan Archidiacano heats it up look out.

BBA: Final Score Prediction?
FLYNN: 66-59, Villanova wins
FORTINO: 80-68 Nova Win

We would like to thank both Mr. Flynn and Fortino for taking their time to talk with us this week; we literally couldn’t do this segment without you! Tip-off is at 9 PM tonight at the Prudential Center, and can be watched on the CBS Sports Network or online. As always, Hazard Zet Forward.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Very harsh, but hard to argue based on the past. Pirates, let’s prove him wrong today!