"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 11, 2009

Marquette Breaks Losing Streak - Gets Ready for Rubber Match

Yes, indeed. In their first game of the Big East Tournament today, Marquette defeated St. Johns by the score of 74-45. Honestly, the game wasn't even that close. The final five on the floor for the last three minutes? Frozena, Otule, Fulce, Butler, and Cubillan... that's how far ahead Marquette was. After two tough weeks, it felt good to see a winning product on the floor.

Here are some recaps, and then let's move on to the next game:

Moving on, Marquette will face off against Villanova for the rubber game of the season. Each team won their home matchup, with MU winning 79-72 in Milwaukee and Villanova crushed Marquette 102-84 in a game that was more noteworthy for McNeal breaking the all-time scoring record. It was also the team's worst defensive effort of the year.

Game time will be about 1:20 Milwaukee time on ESPN

At this point, you probably know all the names on Villanova's team. Feel free to refresh yourselves with their strengths and weaknesses from our last preview, or just check out their Pomeroy Scouting Report. (hint - Villanova is still good at just about everything). Oh yeah, they also have the BE Coach of the Year, and the league's Most Improved Player in Cunningham (cough).

Right now, we see a most likely scenario of only a 30% chance of victory and six point loss. What are the specific stats recommendations?
  1. Prevent them from making shots (eFG% at 50% or less) - 50% is just under their average... but last game against us they hit an eFG% of 69%. We could just call this one "don't let them shoot 74% in the second half"
  2. Force turnovers (Villanova TO% at 28% or higher) - This is highly unlikely, but every turnover that Villanova commits helps. Reggie Redding is actually sloppy with the ball (23%), and both Corey Fisher (19%) and Scottie Reynolds (19.2%) are about average. Good luck trying to turn over Cunningham (15.4%) or Corey Stokes (13.7%).
  3. Protect the ball (TO% at 14% or lower) - This one isn't that crazy. For the season, MU was #9 in the country at taking care of the ball. Even without James, Marquette didn't have a turnover rate higher than 18% during the four game losing streak. Of course, today was a sloppy day, and I'm looking at you Jerel McNeal.
  4. Crash the boards (OR% of 45% or higher) - This is about 17 offensive rebounds, or five more than average. It's also not that crazy, because Marquette was above that rate in their last two games.
That's really it for the keys. The next two recommendations (Villanova OR% below 19% and MU eFG% higher than 56%) are less sensitive than the first four. Still, if MU shoots the heck out of the ball it'll go a long way. In other news, water is wet, but think of the first four keys as way, way more important.

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