"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, March 08, 2006

Preview: MU/Georgetown.

The Marquette Golden Eagles will participate in their first Big East tournament game against Georgetown tomorrow, at 2:00 PM.

5th seeded Georgetown earned their place in this game by beating Notre Dame 67-64 in first round action earlier this afternoon. Brandon Bowman scored a season high 25 points to lead the Hoyas.

MU took it easy today, earning the first round bye on the basis of beating Georgetown in their only head-to-head matchup back on February 16th. The Golden Eagles won that game 57-51. In that game Tom Crean's switching defenses confused the Hoyas, taking away what was thought to be a huge Georgetown inside advantage. After star big man Roy Hibbert started the game with six points in three minutes, MU shut him down, taking him largely out of the offense. When the game turned into a contest between MU vs. Georgetown guards, MU prevailed.

Since that February contest, Tom Crean has regained the services of inside players Jamil Lott and Mike Kinesella. Neither played against Georgetown--Lott because of an appendix and Kinsella due to Mono. Both players are back as part of the active roster for Tom Crean, although the team has been playing well without them.

Chris Grimm, who was averaging about 7 mpg prior to playing the Hoyas, had a coming out party against Georgetown and has been averaging nearly 15 mpg since then. Look to him and Ousmane Barro to anchor the inside. Wesley Matthews, who scored just 2 points in the earlier matchup (his fourth game back after a stress fracture), appears to have regained his shooting stroke, pouring in 18 in the season finale against Providence, and tallying double figures in three of the four games since last facing the Hoyas.

Expect to see the primary offensive attack led by Big East Rookie of the Year Dominic James and First Teamer Steve Novak. But don't be surprised if an additional scoring punch comes from someone like Jerel McNeal, Dan Fitzgerald, or Joe Chapman. In any given game, any of these players can go off for a big night.

The game will be test of how well MU can shake off the rust and take advantage of the fatigue factor. Georgetown is playing on one day's rest, while MU hasn't played since Saturday. MU has had mixed results when coming back off a long rest--a disaster against Rutgers, but a masterful performance on the road against Notre Dame.

Finally, Tom Crean is a master at scouting the other team and his game preparation. In the three previous repeat games this season, MU's performance has improved in each of them.
--DePaul: Improved from a 3 point win to a 15 point blowout.
--Notre Dame: From a last second win to a comfortable 8 point victory.
--Pitt: Went from a 7 point loss to a 6 point win.
This season, through good preparation or sheer will and determination. Crean has the Eagles playing better the second time they face a team.

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