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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Men’s Big East Notebook

Boatright’s return key for Huskies

Freshman guard Ryan Boatright has had a rollercoaster of a first year at Connecticut, to say the least.

He was asked to replace the departed Kemba Walker at point guard before the season began, but had to sit out the team’s first six games due to an investigation by the NCAA about impermissible benefits Boatright and his mother may have received before he enrolled at Connecticut.

Boatright then played in 10 games before the school suspended him indefinitely after the NCAA informed Connecticut it was looking into additional information about the investigation.

Boatright was cleared to play on Saturday after the NCAA informed him that he and his family must repay $4,500 in improper benefits from the NCAA’s initial probe, and scored six points in 30 minutes off the bench in the Huskies’ 50-48 loss to Notre Dame on Sunday.

Boatright averaged 10 points and three assists per game in the first 10 games he played and the Huskies went 8-2 in those 10 games.

While it is possible that this Connecticut team does not have as much talent as the team that won the 2011 NCAA Championship, the addition of Boatright gives the team another weapon to complement sophomore forward Jeremy Lamb (17.9 points per game) for the stretch run.

The Huskies (14-6, 4-4 Big East) currently sit ninth in the Big East but are only 1.5 games back of third place. They still have to travel to No. 14 Georgetown, No. 25 Louisville and No. 2 Syracuse, in addition to home games against No. 15 Marquette and the Orange, but there is no reason this team shouldn’t finish worse than eighth in an increasingly-muddled Big East now that Boatright is back.

Don’t look now, but Pittsburgh could be poised to go on a run

The Panthers’ struggles this season have been well documented. Home losses to Long Beach State (86-76) and Wagner (59-54) in nonconference play, as well as seven straight losses prior to opening the Big East portion of the season will take any team off the national radar.

But the Panthers (13-9, 2-7 Big East) finally picked up their first Big East win on Jan. 25, an 86-74 win over Providence, and looked impressive in a 72-60 win over then-No. 9 Georgetown on Saturday.

The return of junior guard Tray Woodall, who has played in just four games since suffering groin and abdominal injuries against Duquesne on Nov. 30, has given Pittsburgh a new sense of identity.

While Woodall only scored four points on 1-of-7 shooting against the Hoyas, he dished out 10 assists and is averaging 7.4 assists per game this season in 11 games

Pittsburgh still has senior guard Ashton Gibbs, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, and got a combined 41 points from senior forward Nasir Robinson and sophomore guard Lamar Patterson in the win against Georgetown.

A favorable schedule the rest of the way, including home games against South Florida and St. John’s, in addition to road games against the South Florida and Seton Hall, could give the NCAA Tournament committee something to think about if Pittsburgh can win two or three games in the Big East Championship tournament.

Still, the Panthers have a long way to go, sitting in a tie for 13th place in the Big East with just nine games to play in the regular season

Player of the week

Jack Cooley, junior forward, Notre Dame (#45)

Cooley picked up his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the Fighting Irish’s 55-42 win at Seton Hall on Jan. 25. The junior forward followed up that performance with eight points and seven rebounds to go along with two blocks in Notre Dame’s 50-48 upset at Connecticut on Sunday.

Cooley leads the Big East in offensive rebounds per game (4.4) in conference play and is fourth in rebounds (9.4) and field goal percentage (56.8 percent).

Game of the week

Connecticut at Georgetown, Feb. 1

This game lost a bit of its luster with both teams losing this weekend, but bothcould improve their NCAA Tournament prospects with a key win against a top-25 RPI win foe on Wednesday.

The Hoyas fell behind by 17 in the first half in a loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday, while the Huskies desperately need a win after dropping their last three games.

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