"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

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Since SOMEBODY has to give you the bad news . . .

At the start of the day, MU had never won at Morgantown, losing on both previous trips--dropping a 78-76 loss in 1995, and a 104-85 decision two years ago. MU did nothing to change that record today, dropping a 79-64 decision at the hands of Bob Huggins' Mounaineers.

For most of the game, it looked like this one had the makings of a classic, with each team making well-timed runs to build or retake a lead, which ranged from an early 10 point West Virginia advantage to a 3 point MU margin midway through the 2nd half.

But as with the Syracuse game last season, after playing even for much of the game, MU seemingly ran out of gas with about 6 minutes to play.

With a slim 53 - 50, Alex Ruoff hit one of his 5 treys with 6:28 to go, and that appeared to be the nail in the coffin for Marquette. The Mountaineers used that trey to start a 13-4 run, extending their lead to 12, 66-54 with 2:30 to g0. After that point, that insurmountable lead resulted in a parade to the FT line, where WVU hit 13 of 14 from the charity stripe down the stretch to seal the victory.

The problems for MU stemmed with the 3 point line--specifically on defense. West Virginia shot 9-18, for 50% for the game. Rebounding was another trouble spot, with the Mountaineers taking a 38-26 advantage in that stat for the game--much of that rebounding advantage built during that final 6 minute stretch.

The game was not without highlights for MU--after a slow start and falling behind 21-11, Marquette turned up the defensive intensity and held WVU without a field goal for nearly a 10 minute stretch in the middle of the first half. FT shooting was the other bright spot, MU posting an 80% performance on 12-15 shooting.

At the start of the season, few (aside from me) at Cracked Sidewalks expected an MU victory in this game. And my thoughts on how tough WVU would be changed after seeing how strong the Mountaineers had responded to Bob Huggins early in the season. I still maintain that this will be one of the four toughest games all season (along with @ND, @UL and Georgetown at home). Still, after seeing how well MU played against Providence last week, hopes of a road victory by the MU faithful were raised, perhaps to unrealistic levels.

MU has a chance to avenge the loss with a quick turnaround game on Tuesday against Seton Hall.

The J/S Online version here.


J. Johnston said...

From a Mountaineer blogger...

Great game today, it was a blast to see. Also, great blog. I followed the link from Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks. I love the layout and content. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on the question if Fitz's play is still due to recuperation?

Gene Frenkle said...

My take was that MU didn't necessarily run out of gas w/six minutes to go. They ran out of Lazar.

MU fans better pray that he can stay out of early foul trouble in games and/or not get hurt this year because he's the most unreplacable, most important cog on this team - in effect, the most valuable to the team's success. Any of guards could go down or get in foul trouble and the team can go on. Losing Lazar for 1/3 to 1/2 the game really hurt today.

I thought the team looked horrible with him not in the game. His two early fouls killed them in the first. He returns, buries a three and leads them on the comeback. Out in the second half, re-enters and sparks comeback again.

The fact that Matthews and McNeal also had three fouls w/12 to go (I think) made their defense a little soft too today.

Need to come back strong and win Tuesday and over the soon-to-be-ranked Irish on Saturday in what could be a big early season test. Better make sure Harongody (or whatever his name is) doesn't eat us up again this year.

Fitz looked awful today. Never wanting to take a shot.

Anonymous said...

Key problem was fouls. We had four before we had a point.

Gene Frenkle said...

Fouls...and turnovers. I think we had four fouls and four turnovers before a bucket. And we had an abysmally low number of attempts in the first half.

Anonymous said...

Fitz needs to start taking some shots. He just keeps passing it on. James joined him in waiving off passes once the air ball chants started. He needs to suck it up and keep playing strong. You can't have 2 of 5 guys on the floor that are unwilling to shoot.

Anonymous said...

When we started forcing up 3 point shots it was all over. We are just not a team that can make forced 3 pointers. When they started chanting "Air Ball" when DJ got the ball, DJ should of just taken it to the hoop for a pull up jumper, drive to the hoop or passed to someone open from the defense collapse. He didn't have to shy away from shooting or prove his manhood by taking more 3 pointers.

Anonymous said...

The elephant in the room is that Matthews is not playing any where near where he was last year. His points all come from free throws or fast breaks. He looks lost near the 3-point line, and can't create his shot. We need him to get his mojo back.

Anonymous said...

Cowbell is correct.

LAzar's performance will prove to be make or break. 2 fouls in the first minute means trouble, Jerel following w foul trouble spelled the end. Weak defense and a sparkplug offensively on the sidelines.

A few questions - why not play Trend more in the weak games if you plan to use him in key situations like in the WV game?

What is up w Fitz? Time to act like a senior.

I would not panick - we made some nice adjustments and some runs durring the game, but did not have what we needed down the strech.

Gene Frenkle said...

I think Wes looks normal at the three point line actually. He hit a few late in the game too. And I also have no problem w/him getting to the foul line. He needs to do that.

He doesn't look at all confidant out there, though. To me anyways. Also, he needs to get some of these buckets to go in.

As a whole so far, he doesn't look himself. But I for one wouldn't complain that he's getting to the free throw line. At least it's a sign of a guy unafraid of going to the hoop. And he has, what, four charges he's picked up the last two games? At least he's trying to get it done at both ends.

Anonymous said...

Matthews is a quiet force on the team. With DJ, Jerel and Lazar having the flash, I am content with Matthews playing good defense, rebounding, getting to the line. There is a lot of talent on this team and only one player can have the ball at anyone time. But that isn't to say the other four aren't contributing.