"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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Marquette Wins Ugly

Lazar Hayward scored a career-high 23 points to go with 8 rebounds and Wesley Matthews added 16 as the Marquette Golden Eagles topped the South Florida Bulls 62-54. Marquette (15-4, 5-3) appeared flat all night, and was tied with just five minutes remaining before Matthews connected on three 3-pointers late to rally the Golden Eagles to victory.

Once again MU was outrebounded. Once again MU started slowly. Once again MU shot poorly. Once again MU's offense relied far too much on isolation plays which put little pressure on the defense. The results? It took MU nearly 12 minutes to reach double figures in the first half. Asked at halftime about the slow start, Crean responded "we're not good enough starting games. We'll get that addressed another day." That day cannot come soon enough since halftime adjustments didn't take hold..........it took MU 15 minutes to score 10 points in the 2nd half.

Another serious problem tonight was Marquette's free throw shooting, which clocked in at a miserable 58% (18-31).

Dominic James was benched for much of the game, and Coach Crean was obtuse during the post-game interview on why DJ was out. James ended up with a career-low 3 points in 11 minutes, shooting 1 for 7, and 1 for 6 from the charity stripe. His running mate Jerel McNeal was also unimpressive. McNeal finished with 6 points on 2-9 shooting, forcing shots and turning the ball over three times.

On the blocks, Marquette was manhandled by USF's Kentrell Gransberry who finished with 15 and 15 before fouling out on a questionable call late in the game. MU had no answer for Gransberry, who just didn't have enough help to help the Bulls break through for a Big East road win.

On to Cincy.

MEDIA UPDATES

"I'm focused on what it takes to win that game, and playing momentum. Sometimes it's just not people's nights, you know? And when you don't have depth there's not a lot you can do about it. When you do, you do something. I thought he did a nice job defensively. But I'm not really worried about all that. We needed to win the game. That's the focus."

41 comments:

Gene Frenkle said...

I'm befuddled by tonight. I just don't know what to say.

Thank God for Lazar? Thank God Wes finally stuck a couple big shots? What was the first 12 minutes of the second half? I think we attempted only one shot beyond 5' from the rim. Just a weird, weird night.

Jerel has regressed for certain the last couple games. And yes, based on Crean's post-game comments, James was basically benched. To his credit, when he re-entered the game in the second half, he played rock solid D and dished the ball well so maybe the message got through.

I don't know if it's lack of confidence or what. But the run and gun team of November-December hasn't been round of late for sure. Obviously, bad rebounding is a huge key that's lead to a lot of the bad stuff. It's all cyclical.

Oh well. I guess I'm happy we got the W and I'd rather win at home over bad B.East teams than lose liek Pitt did to Rugers. Still. This game didn't do much to quell fans questions about this team's toughness (or Crean for that matter).

If there were a lot of scouts at this game - as Crean alluded to on Saturday night - then James' stock didn't go up, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

McNeal has to give the ball up. There are far too many times where he comes down court without a clue of what to do. He ends up turning it over. You can almost predict what is going to happen on a 2 on 1 break. Charge or turnover. I also have not seen someone jump without purpose mare than he does. These guards need to step their play up. Also that little segment about big guys in the Big East. I know it's beating a dead horse, but how does South Florida get a guy like Gransberry. We don't have a guy in our radar even close to that.

Anonymous said...

Call in a team psychologist for the coaching staff and the team. Not a happy group.

Anonymous said...

I am just curious. In basketball, does the coach ever take any of the blame in a loss? Or is it pretty much the standard response "We didn't execute today". Do you ever hear a coach say, "I should of had them practise X in practise instead of Y. Or, I didn't know player Z was so good or I would of employed this defense. Or just the standard response "We just didn't execute today". I am always happy for a win no matter how in other ways we didn't live up to other expectations. Don't know what the problem is, but maybe we are just not that dominating and even a Big East team in the lower parts of the standings are better than the cream puffs we played earlier.

Anonymous said...

Not a happy group of players at all. Up and down, in and out, hot and cold. Team psyche seems very precarious. Thanks God Wes stepped up. If this game was on the road, its a certain loss.

Jack 82

Anonymous said...

I just don't get the happy stuff. When I play a competitive sport I can't say I feel happy out there. Maybe after I win I would, but not in the middle of the competition. Especially if I am losing or it is close.

Gene Frenkle said...

Non-game related question -
Any updates on Otule and how he's doing this season to date?

(just sitting here thinking about having a "big" that has some offensive skill joining the team next year)

Anonymous said...

Jack 82, I don't get your premise. Is it: If the players lose but look happy that is fine, but if they win but don't look happy that is bad? Duh. Or is it they must look happy and win. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

McNeal plays the way he does because he has never been held accountable for terrible decision making since the day he got here. James has been a petulant, coddled prima donna since his freshman year. Whether its cramping, laying on the floor after a hard foul, a shoulder injury after getting nudged vs. Pitt or getting "elbowed in the gut" it's always something with him.

Quite simply, this just isn't a very watchable team right now. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of crappy shooters who make terrible decisions.

MQ said...

I'm not sure about this "happy" talk either. The bench is always into it. Lazar always has a smile on his face. What are you looking for? Candles? Sparklers? The team's in a rough patch right now, and it's clear their expectations going into the season were as high as ours were for them — so they're going to be plenty frustrated.

It's painfully apparent that this group of six-foot nothings is not going to outrebound many more opponents this year. What really has me worried is the emphasis on guards crashing the boards. This leads, as it did on numerous occasions during the DePaul game and a few times last night, to easy outlets and transition baskets for the opponent.

And as NYWarrior pointed out in today's post, MU's early struggles are not limited to last night. So Crean's comment about "that's something we'll have to address" seems a few weeks late.

Right now there's no easy answers, and it's up to the coaches and the players to right this ship. And until Pomeroy or the AP start ranking a team's Happy Percentage Index, let's worry about how this group executes.

Sadly, the same concerns we all expressed after the West Virginia debacle have evolved from an aberration into a trend.

Anonymous said...

Wow, we are setting attendance records and a post like this appears? What is your beef? James plays incredibly hard. I cannot imagine the beating he does on his body. You would probably end up in the hospital if you ever tried to physically exert that type of effort.

Anonymous said...

My premise is that the NCAA's bring adversity and challenge, and in general, players who get along with each other and the coaching staff tend to bond rather than break under that pressure.

Watching them on the bench and in huddles, I get the sense of turmoil, and that does not bode well for the pressure of a 1st round game.

Want some proof: watch any Miami Heat game and watch a bunch of players who can't stand the coach or each other. Wade gets frustrated with his mates, and 1 on 3 time. How many losses? Then watch Butler or Dayton, and you see guys who seem to get along.

Another poster has surfaced the high turnover rate of the assistant coaches, and I think that plays a roll. Players relate to the assistants, not the head, and they change every year.

Jack 82

mike said...

"Quite simply, this just isn't a very watchable team right now. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of crappy shooters who make terrible decisions."

Exactly. I like Crean, and I like this team, but this is getting hard to watch.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone get it that there is another team opposing ours on the floor? If they were playing horse and couldn't hit a shot then I could see your point.

MQ said...

Jack:

I totally agree that the asst coach turnover affects team chemistry. And your point about the Heat is well taken. I just don't see what you're seeing as clearly. Against DePaul, James was all over Coach Crean while on the bench as they both squatted on the along the sideline and screamed encouragement to the defense. The bench erupts when someone takes a charge or grabs a rebound.

McNeal seems more "frustrated" than anyone else, and for good reason. He's turning the ball over, taking bad shots, and getting into foul trouble. Let's hope the asst coaches can work some magic on him, because the team needs his contributions.

Gene Frenkle said...

I'm with you MQ. I don't get this whole, "they don't look happy" stuff. The bench is always into the game, they support one another. I mean, what do you want, guys running around smiling all the time? If they did that you'd say they weren't taking things seriously or didn't look tough.

McNeal especially looks frustrated right now and for good measure. He's making bad decisions and turning the ball over way too much. The team as a whole isn't moving the ball around much with energy on the offensive side.

Thank God for Lazar. He's our saving grace right now.

And like the other poster said, I love MU and Crean, but this team is hard to watch and figure out right now. And, with rising expectations, frustrations mount by fans w/every tough loss or win.

Three out of the next four on the road. This will be the most telling week for our season I think. Gotta go 2-2 minimum.

prognosticator said...

I would not be surprised if we lost our next four.

Anonymous said...

Awful performance except for Lazar and Wes (and even Wes was out of sync for most of the game) I'm beginning to think the coach's game plan is somewhat responsible. I never see our team trying to exploit another's weakness with certain set plays. We are always helter skelter freelance and when that doesn't work a stagnant half court game. Someone needs to tell me why Fitzgerald is even playing!!! If he has to move 2 feet to get his shot off he misses what seems like 90% of the time . Very disappointed with the team's play, asthey said at half-time - Marquette sure is not playing like a top 20 team.

Anonymous said...

Well one thing for sure, I will be rooting for MU. I mean, if others want to see the glass half empty, its up to them. Probably why I enjoy watching the games more by myself than having others constantly complaining why MU can't do this or that.

brewcity said...

I would not be surprised if they lost their next 6 games; 4 are on the road and the other 2 are UL and Pitt. I also would not be surprised if they won their next 6. I think they are capable of either right now. The way they are playing right now, it could be closer to the former, but if they can get their shooting hot, they can still blow anyone out of the gym. It's all about getting the momentum turned around.

Anonymous said...

At least we look good:

http://collegebasketball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=764216

Anonymous said...

If I understand correctly that the Marquette "fans" (probably students)were booing the players over missed free throws that is pretty "crappy". The person I hold accountable for this is Crean. He has given the students the idea that they are more important than they really are and can be judgemental about a situation they know very little about. If they are going to boo then the coach is also fair game. Crean has got a mess on his hands in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

When there are problems I put the blame on the "leader" particularly if that person is continuously hyped and very well paid. There maybe criticism about Pitino and his hype, but the guy comes through. I feel sorry for the Marquette players. This is sure not what the three amigos thought there junior year would be like.

I do agree that certain players seem to get spared Crean's dog house McNeal and Fitz esp.

Anonymous said...

I keep forgeting what our record is. Is it something like 4-15 overall and 3-5 in the Big East and ranked 500th in the country? I guess I would be be-otching if that was the case and not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

I think Marquette's fan base is self-destructing much more than the basketball team.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me the Acker/James offense-defense substitution with an 11 pt lead and 2 mins to go in the game? This was as poorly coached game as I have seen in a long time. Offensive sets hmm drive to the bucket even if they can get wide open 12-18 footers all night. Do they have offensive plays besides high screens and drives or an occassional pass to Lazar in the high post? Also, I have no idea why James was benched but why alienate your best player. Didn't Crean say he had his best game against Depaul? McNeal is just a disaster right now. They talk about MU as being strong in transition but they constantly make mistakes, have poor spacing, and turn the ball over. We know this team has no presence inside but they are clearly regressing/underachieving and TC is responsible. Next year is the year we better do something in the tourney. Even w/out James next year will be MU's most talented team since the McGuire Years. Taylor is going to be superb and Mbakwe should be strong inside. Nick Williams is also a stud. Let's call a spade a spade though the big 3 have not progressed during there time at MU. They are so inconsistent and basically just use their athleticism. Yes, they are capable of playing the way they did against Duke but it's hard to feel confident about this team heading into Feb/March. They desperately need a road win in the Big East. There is no reason they can't win 2 of 3 vs. ND, Cincy, and Seton Hall. If they lose all three they have big,big, problems, Maybe the Wisconsin win gets them in regardless, but if they have zero or one road win in the Big East they could be playing in the NIT in March.

Anonymous said...

Ok, let's call a spade a spade. Who got the most talented, stud laden team since the McGuire years to come to Marquette? Yep, Crean.

Anonymous said...

"Stud laden?" According to whom? We are NOT a stud laden team. Getting Jay Bilas or Seth Davis to include somebody on a pre-season list does not make them a "stud." The previous poster is correct. Other than the inevitable improvement brought on by two extra years, I've seen no improvement from James, McNeal or Matthews. Cubillan is improved, likely because of a summer spent in Venezuela and Hayward has improved thanks to a full off season of work. That's it.

bamamarquettefan said...

I love this team. Last night Lazar and Wes both showed they can take over a game - meaning we have four guys who can do it. If we had a strong center I think we could make a run at the national title, but even without one we've got our highest ranked team since 1980 except for the 1994, 2002 and 2003 squads, so the 4th best team since 1980. Also, we are better than 320 teams out there. There is a lot of parity out there, USF isn't great but they have some talent - and did you notice all the other top 25 teams losing games last week, including Dayton losing THREE straigth after whipping a couple of Big East teams earlier. Let's just peak at the right time and stay with these guys. JUST WIN BABY! The UConn loss looked terrible until they went into Indiana short handed and beat the No. 8 team in the country. I think the fans have to show this team they are 100% behind them in bad times (the last several games) as well as in good (when we make our run down the stretch and into the tourney). THE GLASS IF HALF FULL!

brewcity said...

Everybody: RELAX. Stop all the hand wringing.

It's just a bit of a slump. Two weeks ago, after the Notre Dame bloodbath, we were a deserving top ten team, and now we're NIT bound?!?! We're in 3rd place in the Big East! When the slump is shaken, and it will be, MU will have earned a high spot in the best conference in the nation, and a high NCAA seed. And if they stay hot in the NCAA's, LOOK OUT!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks bamamarquettefan and brewcity. Man those dogs were getting vicious.

Gene Frenkle said...

I don't know if all the overreacting and negativity towards the team and coach is because of enhanced expectations, the propensity of negative people to post more thank those who are optimistic, the number of those with an ax to grind, or just a mixture of both.

Regardless, I've never read so much negativity on this site towards Crean and this program. It's simply ridiculous. Again, is it enhanced expectations? Improved readership of the site?

Who do you guys think we are? We aren't Duke. We aren't UNC. We can't just go and get rid of our second most successful coach ever and expect to pull someone better out of mid-air. I mean, take a reality check.

The team plays in the toughest conferece in the country (arguably) where every game is a tough one. Look back to the Seton Hall game where everyone went nuts over how "bad" we played. that "bad" team now has run off four straight. ND is 4-2. At some point, fans - myself included - need to give the opponents some credit for stepping up against us. And, it's all about the W's.

Last night was ugly. Certainly. But they got it done and Wes finally stepped up when it mattered. All we can do is hope they improve on the mistakes. This team has lost to farrr worse teams in years past than the ones they've lost too so far this season.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "happy" talk. It isn't necessarily happiness, but it is playing with emotion versus going through the motions. Last night they were more of the latter than they were the former.

Anonymous said...

I am sick of people saying you can't boo, or shouldn't criticize Crean. Their scholarships and his high paid contract are being paid by people attending the games, buying Marquette wear. As a fan you have a right to voice your displeasure if you choose to do so. These are grown men, not high school kids. Their treated like Gods on campus, so don't feel sorry for them.

Anonymous said...

whoa dude. These people are your classmates and represent Marquette. I would want to encourage them. They have feelings. I was a student from 1977-82. Bo Ellis, Jerome Whitehead, Butch Lee etc. they were treated like Royalty on campus. It was fun. Has DJ or any other player say you have to treat him that way. No, people just do. No one slammed McGuire. No one was crying they played a lot of cream puffs. If you get off on ragging because its your nature, well so be it. The program is finally emerging from the depths.

Anonymous said...

The best thing MU has going for it right now is they have no bad losses. However, they have 1 road win(a great win but a Dec win). The negativity is because of high expections, and a very fortunate final four run and solid recruiting doesn't give Crean a pass for his obvious shortfalls as a coach. Let's not forget the run in 2003: A game that was undecided until the last 2 mins against Holy Cross, an OT win against Mizzou, a 2 pt win against Pitt, and one the best performances by a single player in the history of the NCAA's which gave Crean and MU a Final Four appearance. That was 5 years ago by the way. He's the 3rd highest paid coach in D1. We have a total of ZERO NCAA wins since 2003. I don't think it's unfair to expect to make a run this year or next year, and I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me what offensive MU runs other than drive to the hoop or shoot a 3.

Anonymous said...

To the boo bird.

You can argue about your god given right to boo all you want. But, one thing is certain - it does not HELP.

(and no these are not grown men, they are college kids)

the dude said...

ok dude, I will blindly support the team. Not voice my opinion about their play. I will mind their feelings next time.

Were you one of the kids that was picked last on the playground?

Anonymous said...

Why does everybody insist that Crean is a "solid" recruiter? He has had one above average class. And it was simply above average...not great. He also had a class that was a complete washout. The current junior class has done nothing to distinguish itself. What other "solid" recruits has he brought it? Basically, other than Matthews and James, every recruit he has is a "reach" or a project. Jerry Wainwright gets better recruits with about a 1/5 of the resources.

brewcity said...

Well, if TC's not a great recruiter, then you have to give him credit for being at least a really good player developer. He has got to be at least one or the other...

Anonymous said...

Gene

I think the issue is expectations. I doubt that I'm alone, but after beating Bucky in Madison, I had MU as a possible 2 seed, and a 4 if things fell apart. Based on these last games, they look like an 8.

But winning will cure most ills. We beat Cinnci on the road and Lville at home and all will be fine.

Jack 82