"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"I'm sure he'll play....He'll be fresh and ready to go."

It sure sounds like UAB head coach Mike Anderson is more optimistic about Travis Diener's availability tonight than either Tom Crean or the MU faithful. MU hosts the UAB Blazers tonight at the Bradley Center for the last time as conference rivals. During the last several seasons, the Blazers have given MU fits with their high-pressure, uptempo style of play. UAB is doing the same to other opponents as well -- Anderson's crew forced 28 turnovers in their most recent game against USF. For the season, the Blazers force more than 22 turnovers per game from the opposition, which keys a +8 turnover margin. Moreover, the Blazers average 12 steals per contest. A potential advantage for MU is rebounding -- the Blazers are consistently outrebounded, suffering a - 7 rebound margin so far this season.

Nevertheless, have you heard that MU's point guard Travis Diener is injured and will not play tonight?

Despite the advantage of hosting the Blazers on their home floor, finding a way to sneak away with a win tonight will be a tall order for Marquette. Diener is arguably the most valuable player to his team in the entire nation - - - simply put, MU does not have one other legitimate ballhandler on the roster, and Louisville exposed this weakness. Somehow, Marquette will need to find new ways to beat the Blazers' pressure or it could be a long night.

Here's a link to the Journal-Sentinel curtain-raiser for tonight's game.

1 comment:

Steve Susina said...

The other important statistic is that UAB is dead last in CUSA in defending the 3 point shot, while MU is 3rd on 3 point accuracy.

UAB allows nearly 38% shooting on 3 pointers (for comparison, Charlotte is first at 29%). MU is shooting .374 against the league (and still 34% without Diener's 44% shooting).

Couple that with MU's 3rd place overall on 3 point accuracy, and we have an area of UAB's defense to expolit.