What do we have here (again)?
As NYWarrior eloquently pointed out in , "What do we have here?", it's true that Marquette is susceptible to bad matchups. His basic conclusion is that Marquette definitely has a ceiling, and that we are likely to face a first round loss unless the matchup is good. NYWarrior is absolutely right. After all, we are a team that is only 3-7 against top 50 teams. When it matters, we don't beat the good teams. There is legitimate concern that this team will not get it done in the NCAA.
What is causing even more consternation is that this is the most likely window for the team. With the loss of Barro, Fitz, and probably James, we'll lose our most experienced post player and one of the most important members of the team. The post play will be Burke and sophomores/freshmen, and our point guard options will be Acker/Cubillan and freshmen. Despite the return of Matthews/McNeal/Hayward, I fully expect some sort of downslide next year. Couple that with the mantra oft-repeated by Crean-haters of "zero wins without Wade", and the fear is that the team's best opportunity just isn't good enough and the trend of zero wins post-Wade will continue. No true Marquette fan wants that.
I want just one win this year in the NCAA tournament. That is "meeting expectations". It's kind of a bitter pill, honestly, because I had hoped, when the Amigos were freshmen, of a potential Elite Eight / Final-Four type run this year. Now, Sweet Sixteen or beyond is "exceeds expectations". This team has potential and could be special, but let's start with just one win.
Recapturing the Momentum
Heading into the Georgetown game, NYWarrior and I agreed on the following. Excluding Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette needed to win two of the next three games for us to feel confident about the team. This meant beating either Georgetown or Syracuse and winning the first game in the Big East Tournament. The logic behind this statement is that failure to win two out of three would portend that the team was likely to suffer yet another late season fade and NCAA first round flameout.
The opportunity is still there for this team. It's just that the margin of error has been eliminated. Thankfully, the team has the ability to shake out the cobwebs against Florida Gulf Coast. Then, it's time for Marquette to go and step on the dreams of a team just fighting to make the NCAA tournament. Given the right matchups in the BET, MU could even make the semis and win a few games. But it all starts with winning the next two (really three) games and recapturing that momentum heading into the NCAA tournament.
Give Us a Reason to Believe
Here's the deal with the team. We're searching, hoping, and praying for a reason to believe in this team. On Saturday, in front of 19K rabid fans and a national audience, we screamed and we believed and got collectively kicked in the teeth. The team and the fans are heartbroken. Marquette was close to breaking through with a statement win but just fell short.
It's gut check time in Marquette-land.
Give us a reason to maintain that hope. Come out strong against Florida Gulf Coast. Win against Syracuse and we'll believe. The refrain of "We Are Marquette" will ring out loud and clear in Madison Square Garden and wherever we play in the NCAA tournament.
We'll believe that on the first day of the NCAA tournament, MU will meet expectations.
Onto the numbers (with no individual ratings today due to length)
Four Factors Review
Looking at the Four Factors shows something fairly interesting. Each team was able to utilize their strengths. Yet again, Marquette was able to keep their turnovers down and force their opponent into more turnovers than normal. However, Georgetown was able to win the effective Field Goal % battle, which ultimately made the difference. Remember that Georgetown is number one in the country at effective Field Goal defense and number eight in the country at effective Field Goal offense. Although Marquette won the Offensive Rebounding battle and Georgetown won the Free Throw Rate battle, the two percentages were close enough such that the result was a wash.
Of course, there was also another factor at play in the game...
The Fifth Factor
Just kidding, folks. After all, it's not like we've ever complained about officials, ever. Despite what seemed like lots of calls going in Georgetown's favor, Marquette had the opportunity to win and did not. A few more free throws and a non-foul by James and this is all moot.
Time to move on to Florida Gulf Coast and Senior Night. Let's recapture that momentum.
Monday, March 03, 2008
What do we have here (again)?