"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

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Surging Marquette looks for fourth straight win

The Marquette Golden Eagles, winners of three straight, will look to extend their win streak when the struggling Rutgers Scarlet Knights visit the Bradley Center this afternoon. After playing uninspired basketball for nearly a month, Marquette (19-6, 9-5) recaptured its early-season intensity and rhythm late in the loss at Notre Dame and promptly pounded their next three opponents, two of them on the road.

The Golden Eagles appear to be peaking at the right time, and much of the credit for the recent run goes to improved play of Dominic James. In the last four games, James has a gaudy A/TO ratio of seven to one. 7 to 1! Perhaps not so coincidentally, James has also seen a spike in minutes played, logging at least 31 minutes in each of the last four games - his longest stretch of consecutive 30+ minute games this season. For MU the equation is simple once more -- good things happen when James is healthy and taking charge on the floor.

With James playing well and Jerel McNeal turning in back-to-back solid performances, Marquette is a confident bunch. Contrast this with Rutgers, who come to town riding six-game losing streak. The Scarlet Knights played Notre Dame tough last week before falling 73-68 at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights are led by 6'9" JR Inman at 12ppg, though the bulk of the scoring from this group comes from the backcourt. Guards Corey Chandler, Anthony Farmer and Mike Coburn combine to average thirty points per game.

Regardless, points are tough to come by for RU. The Scarlet Knights are last in the Big East in field goal percentage (39%) and make just 65% of their free throw attempts. Still, shooting percentages aren't the only numbers that kept Fred Hill awake all night. Rutgers' Big East worst turnover margin and assist totals don't add up to success against a team with a veteran backcourt, particularly when Marquette is one of the best in league at both steals per game and turnover margin.

Marquette stands to be a hellish matchup for the Scarlet Knights.

With a 13-1 home record this season, MU has every reason to be confident on Saturday. Still, there are plenty of concerns for coach Tom Crean:

  • Lazar Hayward: The sophomore has struggled in the last two outings, hampered by foul trouble and a lack of touches on offense. With Trevor Mbakwe in the mix and commanding more playing time, will there be a net loss of effectiveness in Hayward's offensive game?
  • Ousmane Barro: The big fella remains an enigma. Barro followed up his 14 point, 12 rebound effort against Pitt with a 6 point, three rebound, five foul effort against St. John's. The Golden Eagles are 18-2 when Barro scores 10 points or more. With odds like that, Barro needs to deliver. Thankfully, it looks like the Great Dwight Burke Experiment is largely over, so Ooze should have a chance to contribute more down the stretch.
  • Maurice Acker: The little fella has played himself out of the rotation, logging an average of just four minutes per game in MU's last four outings. Acker's disappearance only increases the pressure on David Cubillan to deliver quality minutes at the point. While Cubillan remains a legitimate three-point threat, his east-west tendencies when directing the offense run counter to MU's up and down strengths. Still, it's clear that Acker's minutes are flowing more to James than Cubillan -- and Crean is content to increase James' workload.
With a win, Marquette would earn its 20th victory of the season for the fifth time in the Tom Crean era. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm CST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Full Court, channel 696 on Directv, as well as SNY.

Media Updates/Links


Anonymous said...

Nice preview. Fred Hill will get things done at Rutgers, but it'll take time.

Anonymous said...

More important than James' 7 to 1 turnover ratio is that he has made a total of zero outside shots while taking care of the ball. This bodes for 2 reasons: 1) He is not an NBA ready player and will be back next year and 2) He will look to distribute more and shoot less. If it's not a layup or a free throw, he shoots a whopping 15% if that. Please give us that statistic if you can preview guy. I would love to know what Dominic's shooting percentage is minus layups. In the last 10 games I would bet it's under 15%.

Anonymous said...

Kind of funny how you inclded the link to the Journal Sentinel article about Cubillan but not the one Michael Hunt wrote a couple of weeks ago. Let me guess b/c Hunt's column questioned the program and this one by Rosiak is positive about Cubillan??!! You guys are ridiculous homers.

TB said...

"Kind of funny how you inclded the link to the Journal Sentinel article about Cubillan but not the one Michael Hunt wrote a couple of weeks ago. Let me guess b/c Hunt's column questioned the program and this one by Rosiak is positive about Cubillan??!! You guys are ridiculous homers."

Actually it had more to do with being out of the country for work, dealing with sick kids, and under pressure to do a day job.

Other than that, you nailed it.

Dale said...

I think you guys might have ticked off Michael Hunt based on these reoccurring comments. Regardless, this guy needs to man up and post his name.

Anonymous said...

Good win, but getting a Big East buy got tougher with Nova's win and ND coming back against Pitt this week - due to BE tiebreaking system. We probably have to win all 3 Big East games to have a chance at a bye (No. 4) seed and have
After Nova’s upset of UConn tonight, a No. 4 seed looks tough because we not only need to win at Nova and Syracuse, as well as at home against Georgetown. Even if we win all 3, we need Georgetown also lose to Louisville in the season finale so that both Georgetown and us finish with exactly 5 losses and we get the tie-breaker by beating them next Saturday. Almost any other scenario we lose the tie-breaker, because if UConn or Louisville finish with 5 losses, then it is a head-to-head of ALL the teams tied with 5 losses and if that comes up even, we compare the teams records to the No. 1 team, then No. 2 team, etc., and we lose almost all of those whether it be Louisville or UConn.

The only other realistic scenario is that UConn lose two more games after being upset tonight to finish with 6 losses.