"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, December 29, 2009

MU plays WVU brilliantly for 38 minutes and then Greg Norman shows up

Buzz Williams had Marquette playing brilliantly tonight at #6 West Virginia. Despite being outsized at every position, the Golden Eagles took it to the Mountaineers the entire game. Using their quickness, pressure defense and outstanding 3 point shooting, MU led the Mountaineers by 4 points with just over 1 minute to play AND THE BALL.

That's when Greg Norman showed up and the gag was on.



With 1:04 to play, DJO took the ball to the rim and missed, but got a rebound. He had the option of taking it back out with a new clock or go back up for the shot. He chose the latter. DJO was fouled...two shots from the line. The first free throw rimmed in and out. The second one was true, MU now up 5 points with a minute to play.

Buzz Williams instructed his team to foul WVU as the Golden Eagles only had committed 4 fouls at this point. Mo Acker was the first to oblige, fouling with :56 seconds remaining. Nine seconds later, Acker did it again, forcing WVU to again take the ball out of bounds. Six seconds later, WVU was down 3 points after a Kevin Jones layup.

MU now up three with the ball, moved the ball to the front court and DJO was fouled again with 24 seconds on the clock. This time, his free throw wasn't close, barely touching the front of the rim. WVU rebounded with a chance to tie or cut the lead to one point. It took all of 6 seconds for Ebanks to go to the hoop and get an uncontested slam dunk. MU running the OLE defense apparently.

MU now up 1 point with 18 seconds left and everyone in the building knowing that this is going to end like the Florida State game....we didn't disappoint. The ball was inbounded to Jimmy Butler who drove up the sideline and was fouled Joe Mazulla. Butler to the line for a 1 and 1.

Butler managed to miss the free throw and WVU, with no timeouts, took the ball down the court and made a turn around jumper with 2 seconds left. MU attempted a desperation pass and shot to win the game that never had a chance.

MU managed to lose a 5 point lead in the final minute, three times having the ball, making 1 point at the line out of a potential 6 points, and allowing WVU to score at will.

A shame, MU played well for 38+ minutes and deserved to win....something we've seen and heard several times before this year. MU slips to 0-1 in the Big East and 9-4 overall. The Golden Eagles were led by senior sensation Lazar Hayward who posted another 20+ point performance and seems to have found his offensive touch from the outside.

6 comments:

bamamarquettefan1 said...

The only two things I'll add is MUs pressure was relentless much of the time which is good, but we finished the calendar year 1-8 in close games. When Dominic James nailed a 3-pointer in Raleigh on December 22, 2008, it made the Three Amigos 14-9 in close games at Marquette (4 points or closer or overtime games).

Who would have known then that MU would go 1-8 in close games in calendar year 2009? Here are the games:

Dec 29 WVU 62-63, Dec 5 NCSt 73-77, Nov 29 FSU 56-57, Mar 22 Missouri 79-83, March 20 Utah St 58-57, March 12 Nova 75-76, March 7 Syracuse 79-86 OT, March 1 Lville 58-62, Feb 6 USF 56-57.

The good news is that in study after study in every sport things usually even out. A team that loses a lot of close game over a stretch tends to then win a lot more games during the next stretch.

So just playing the numbers, MU barely losing games they were expected to lose by more against FSU (the tallest team in college basketball) and WVU (where all five starters were taller than all five of our starters today) and six other heartbreakers in 2009 should spell a lot of wins the rest of the season.

Obviously the question is whether there is something systemic, such as the lack of size or freezing up on free throws, that is putting MU at a big disadvantage at the end of close games.

Only time will tell. As I outlined in the preview on www.crackedsidewalks.com, we were bound to see WVUs big guys dominate inside, and their starting front line sat only 5 minutes between them and still went 8-13, 8-13 and 8-12 respectively from the field as they got easy shots thorughout.

However, MU was able to rattle WVU for 16 turnovers, including two great stretches. With the score tied
11-11 with 12:50 left, MU forced six turnovers in six minutes to take a 22-18 lead. MU forced no turnovers in the next nine and half minutes as they fell back behind 39-40, but then went on another great stretch, forcing 7 turnovers in the next 11 minutes to build a 57-53 lead. However, after Dwight Buycks steal with 6:15 to go, MU forced only one more turnover in the final 6 minutes as WVU closed on the 10-5 run to win the heartbreaker.

Pretty clear that we can beat even the biggest teams in the country when we are forcing turnovers. When not, we are really at a disadvantage.

To give you a flow, here is the timing of the 16 turnovers: First half - 17:09, 16:35 (DJO steal), 12:37, 10:23 (Lazar steal), 9:33, 8:53 (Cube steal), 8:32 (Lazar steal), 6:30 (capping 6 turnovers in 6 minutes).
Second Half - 16:42, 15:58 (Butler steal), 12:50, 12:27, 9:54 (DJO steal), 7:31, 6:15 (Buycks steal, caps 7 turnovers in 11 minutes), 1:36.

Hilltopper82 said...

As a follow-up to bamamarquettefan's thoughts, I was wondering if anyone knows what MU's free throw percentage has been in the final 2 minutes of a game & in overtime over the past 2-3 years? I would bet it is atrocious. There have been WAY TOO MANY instances of poor free throw shooting in those critical stretches of a game to just pass it off as that "these things will even out". I'm not so sure. Anybody else remember how the Georgetown game ended at home 2 years ago, for example? Outside of the NC State game in December, 2008 or Utah State in March, 2009, I cannot remember a single close game that was won because WE were the team that was "clutch" down the stretch. It's always the opponent that seems to get the job done. So frustrating..........

Beaver said...

I used to think that the team would grow exponentially from the pain these losses inflict....but it is clear that's not happening. Objectively, your hard-pressed to isolate the issue too. So many huge games could go either way in the final minute....we always end up with the loss though.

Completely different team last year too, but same consistency in terms of losing the close games. I don't get it.

Beaver said...

I used to think that the team would grow exponentially from the pain these losses inflict....but it is clear that's not happening. Objectively, your hard-pressed to isolate the issue too. So many huge games could go either way in the final minute....we always end up with the loss though.

Completely different team last year too, but same consistency in terms of losing the close games. I don't get it.

MUJourn said...

"Pretty clear that we can beat even the biggest teams in the country when we are forcing turnovers."
Sorry bamamarquettefan1, but we simply cannot. Hilltopper82 is much closer to the reality of the situation -- we do not close teams down in the stretch and most certainly have not done so in the Buzz era, when we have an opportunity, and unfortunately, things are not going to "even out" over time.
We beat a vastly overrated Michigan team (at the time)and only came close last night against what is also clearly a vastly overrated West Virginia team, based on WVUs recent showings against Cleveland St., Seton Hall and us.
It's frustrating, but it is reality. I will once again this year enjoy reading your "views" as seen through your rose-colored glasses and I admire your undying optimism and loyalty. Keep writing; there are too few eternal optimists left in this world -- I now can say I am aware of at least one!

Attorney Tom Schuessler said...

Buzz has to take some blame for close game losses like W Va. I'm not sure about other games but vs W Va he slowed the tempo down to kill the clock Bo Ryan style. Big mistake with young guys like DJO and Butler who are still not used to high pressure games. They should have kept attacking at a fast pace and shooting, which is what got them the lead. Buzz had them slow down and they tightened up.