"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, January 20, 2010

High Comedy

Losing to DePaul?

DePaul, a team that was 0 for 24 in the BIG EAST going back to 2008? O-fer 24, folks.

DePaul
, a team playing without its best player. DePaul, a team that lost its first five BIG EAST games by an average of 19 points. Sadly, a late lead against the absolute dregs of the BIG EAST is not safe with Marquette this season. Today's recipe for defeat included two seniors missing the front-end of one-and-ones in the last 30 seconds. Incredible.

Marquette's ability to close is officially comical. Welcome back, Shelley Levene.



To put it simply, MU has raised choking to an art form.

14 comments:

pcbergan said...

MU sucks!! What a bunch of choke artists... put a fork in them = they are done!! 2-4 -- they will be lucky to win 6 BE games with their inability to finish close games!

Jef said...

Maybe Buzz will want to practice FT's now....go back and look: FSU, West Virginia, Nova (at home), DePaul.

This was a terrible loss. I am an alum who was fortunate enough to have his senior year coincide with the 03 final four run. They are LIGHT YEARS away from any success of that magnitude.

I am also one of the alums who thought the 3 amigos were overrated. 2 tournament wins is what they delivered.

I can't believe they lost to that team.

Matt said...

Valuable insight, pc, really strong analysis.

Let's not fall into the trap of making this bigger than it is. MU lost because of a well-below-average shooting night and an above average turnover night. There's a lot of blame to go around:

Fulce: Back-to-back-to-back jumpers and at least two key blown defensive assignments.
DJO and Buycks: Both looked like they did a month ago, not as they have of late.
Hayward: Zero points in the second half.
Butler: This is one I am worried about. I love Jimmy, but he needs to be more aggressive on the offensive end, especially when DJO and Buycks have off nights.
Acker/Cubillan: Steady. Played as they normally do.

The combination of an off night shooting, not protecting each possession, and DePaul hitting tough shot after tough shot doomed last night's game.

Honestly, anyone really, really believe we don't beat DePaul 9/10 times? We all went into the season knowing this team would lose games they shouldn't and win games they shouldn't. Last night sucked, but it was an anomaly in that each player had a bad night.

This team has so much offensive talent they typically balance each other out. Last night that didn't happen, and we move on.

I feel sick, but I'm sure they feel worse. They're already preparing for Syracuse. It's not worth dwelling on this loss when there's 12 games left, plus the conference tourney.

Matt said...

Oh, and one more thing: Practice free throws? How do you practice pressure free throws? Up until that point in the game they were (if I recall correctly) 12/15 for 80 percent.

Please, I implore everyone to stop focusing on free throws when the season average is a more-than- respectable 74 percent for #2 overall in the Big East and top 35 in Division 1.

James said...

I am sorry Matt, but this isn't something that can be overlooked. 2-4 is a hell of a lot worse than 3-3, especially with a trip to Syracuse coming. Sadly, Marquette's inability to lose close games has been its mantra for the last several years. There is no reason that MU shouldn't consistenly be among the best teams in the country. But, great teams, even good teams make their 1 and 1's to seal the deal.

Looking at the schedule it going to be damn difficult getting to an 8-8 record which I believe we will need to get to the NCAA tournament. In my mind the games at Seton Hall and St. Johns will be critical. I dont know if its possible for us to snag a road win @ Cincy, 'Cuse, or UConn. Plus, Pitt at home will be daunting.

Why the hell do ya gotta dissappoint Marquette?

Michael said...

I was at the game last night (2nd row) and continually yelled at Butler to get involved. He was a nonfactor with 4 points. I agree with an earlier comment that he needs to become more aggressive. Dare I say that Buzz was outcoached by a interim coach? DePaul wanted it more and were about to hang around at half. We knew this team wasn't very good, but close losses to Nova, WVU and NC State have us expecting more from this underachieving team.

Hillmen66 said...

Jef, I want to thank you for recognizing what so many student here on campus have failed to over the last few years. The "three amigos" were nothing more than very decent 4-year starters that could never deliver a big win. I recognize this is irrelavent to last night's loss but simply a growing trend that continues to show this program has so far to go to reach the ranks of the very good, nevermind elite.

Matt said...

I don't mean to suggest overlooking it. It sucks, of course it does.

But I disagree that MU should be one of the country's great teams - and there a lot of reasons why. I love this program and this university, but at no time do I expect it to be year-in-and-year-out a top-10, even a top-15 team. Ours is the type of program that should make the tourney more often than not, threaten to make a run depending on matchups and talent of that particular year.

Having said that, this is a transition year, and Buzz already has shown an ability to get real basketball talent into the program. It's abundantly clear that his gameplans and scouting have put the players in a position to win in each of their conference games, 4 of 6 mind you against deeper, longer, higher-ranked, more talented squads.

Once the roster is full with his guys (not to mention healthy), they'll be in position to challenge for the top 4-6 of the Big East on a regular basis. The leftovers from Crean, by Buzz's own admission, aren't even Big East-caliber players, with the exception of Lazar (and he's had to play out of position his whole career). I am as impressed as I am frustrated with how this conference season has progressed.

They played terribly last night, but they're better than that. The bottom line is they missed shots throughout the whole game, many of them in the flow of the offense, shots that we've gotten used to them making of late.

Packer Pat said...

Buzz does not shoot these pressure 1 and 1's... the kids do and they have choked. He's doing a good job.
We we unfortunately get blown out of the gym this weekend. Next year we will be much better. I'm not too worried and knew this year would be challenging. No NCAA's, get over it guys. Look for a trip to MSG for the NIT Semis, that's something to shoot for.

Jef said...

Matt- I agree with MANY of the contributors to the loss that you had mentioned. I felt like not taking care of the ball (dwight, djo, even lazar on a big possession late in the game) was also paramount in addition to the missed 1&1's.

I do, however think that there's no harm in practicing Free Throws. Pressure or not, and Buzz has said this himself- Free Throws are a reflection of concentration. But more than anything, free throws are repetition. It's like lining up a putt or delivering a pitch. Practice and good mechanics make those things seem like second nature. If the team was hitting at 76% instead of the respectable 74%, they'd likely be 14-4 with wins over two top 10 opponents. Looks a lot better than 11-7 at this point. You can't argue with that.

Maybe they do practice Free-Throws now, but I remember back when Buzz got the job he said the team wouldn't practice them. My point in writing the comment was more of a reflection of this team needing every point it can get in every game it plays rather than a "free throws lost the game" type argument. They just don't have the talent and wiggle room to miss freebies like that and to toss the ball away and escape with W's. No knock on the players--It's a combination of what Crean left behind and the recruiting "lull" that comes with a coaching transtion.

I do think Buzz is doing a good job. At the end of the day, he's not the one out there playing the game. They kids are.

I guess I am just a frustrated MU fan who wants a program year-in and year-out that will compete for conference championship and make "nice" runs in the post-season. Look at Pitt..I consider Pitt to be a sister program to MU. Under Howland/Crean, both started peaking at the same time, same type of program, same styles of play, etc. But it seems like since 03 MU's leveled off whereas Pitt just holds keeps on truckin every year: Top 15 program, nice post-season runs, 20+ wins. I think Pitt lost a little more than MU did coming into the year (Young, Blair, Fields, et al) and they are doing quite well for themselves at the moment.

Hillman- thanks for the kudos. I agree that the 3 amigos were fantastic to watch and were very talented players. But they just didn't have enough to get over that hump and win the big games. It didnt take long for BE teams to figure out that once novak and fitzgerald graduated, playing zone vs. MU was how to play the 3 amigos.


NIT, here we come.

Again, I am a big fan of the team and university and live for every game, so maybe this is my fault for getting my hopes up early in the year with the impressive early season wins, but I expect to at least beat DePaul.

Matt said...

Spot on, Jef. Agree completely. Every point is so valuable, as is every possession. As Coach Buzz says, "This team has zero margin for error." So yes, missed free throws are frustrating. But using your logic, if they were shooting 70 percent from the line, they likely wouldn't be in a position to win at the end, as they have been in every loss. Chicken/egg, I know.

Great comparison with Howland (esp. when you consider they both jumped ship), but it breaks down in the light of what kind of recruiter/coach Crean turned out to be. Whereas Howland - and now Dixon - have been able to bring guys in and develop them class after class, Crean didn't.

Buzz's players are so much different from Crean's players. It's early, but already he's shown a penchant for staggering classes and building a deep, talented bench.

MUJourn said...

Matt -- Put down the Kool Aid -- an "anomaly" -- you can't be serious!

Feel free to do what you wish, but I have stopped making excuses for or defending this Marquette team . . . . excuses being thrown around like injuries, defections, too few scholarship players, none of that matters if we execute in the closing minutes of now four games -- WVU, Villanova (twice) and now DePaul (and that's not even mentioning the FSU and NC St. games).

Those excuses are valid if we never get to the closing minutes with a chance to win, but when we get there and lose so many close games, those excuses go out the window. If they were not an issue for the first 38 minutes of the game, they cannot be an issue for the final two minutes. We could be 6 - 0 in the Big East, and nationally ranked. Instead, after last night, the season might as well be over (or more accurately, is over)as far as the NCAA tourny is concerned.

I know Buzz clearly has his supporters on this blog, but in my opinion, that is poor coaching, plain and simple. I acknowledge that Buzz cannot make free throws for his players, but setting aside the misses, with proper execution of both defensive and offensive situations in those tight closing minutes, we still could have won all four games, even without the free throws being made. There is no excuse for poor preparation and then execution in those situations.

Guards failing to recognize a not so cleverly disguised half-court trap and obliging by picking up their dribble and losing the ball on several crucial occasions; Lazar waiting to be fouled in a double team rather than quickly reversing the ball and advancing up court to use up time prior to being fouled; fundamentally poor defensive footwork by DJO and Buycks, resulting in the complete inability to stop dribble penetration . . . the list goes on and on. If the coaching staff is not responsible for that, then what are they responsible for?

I will be in the Carrier Dome on Saturday, and I will cheer for the team in what will probably be a blowout loss, but at least on this blog, let's not pretend after the fact. Buzz is and has been in over his head; the current players would be decent role players on most elite level Div. I programs, if that; and most importantly, last night was not an anomaly, it was reflective of the season to date, and it's not going to change before March.

Reality, it's a bitch . . .

Matt said...

MUJ: That trap was so frustrating, you're right. DJO and Acker both got caught in it.

I'm just citing stats, not getting drunk on Kool-Aid. They were below team season averages and player season averages in just about every category and that led to scoring 20 points below their per-game average (70) in conference - or the lowest point total of the season. So yes, that's, by definition, an anomaly. And yes, just as everyone struggling in one game (DePaul) is an anomaly, so too is everyone firing on all cylinders (Providence) an anomaly. So the truth: somewhere in the middle, losing two against Nova and one against WVU, both top 10 teams, and beating Georgetown, a top 15 team. I'll take that this year.

Jef said...

All good comments. I think our frustrations are just coming to fruition.

Consider this week the "bottom" of the season.

I like your take on Howland/Dixon/Mr. Indiana Indiana.

MUJourn--At the time of hiring, a piece of me did think that Buzz was the kneejerk hire (and a piece of me still does). Instead of making the hire that would have made sense for the long-term success of the program..MU settled for the guy who could keep Erik Williams' LOI and keep the 3 amigos from jumping pro. BUT, that does not mean that he is a bad coach at all, nor does it mean he won't be able to move MU forward (nor am i insuating that you think so). He will grow with the program. But you are completely right about last night being more of a microcosm of the season and how its going to play out. MU will end up below .500 in conference play (6-10 by my estimation) due to their bad habits (not closing, turnovers, lack of depth/BE talent).

Hopefully next year, with a healthy Cadougan and strong class, we can move forward. I gotta tell you thoug--im scared for the future. I really am. As a top-line BE recruit, it's going to be tough to pick MU when you have offers from Pitino, Calhoun, Boeheim, and Huggins. (Not to mention Dixon and Brey) and it's reflective in this roster. I know Buzz built it on the fly, and it has been decimated by injuries and transfers, but the season's over, fellas. I'd take Pieper, Miller, Eford, and Key over this team (and last year's team any day)....i'd even take Crawford, Abraham, McCaskill over this team.

oh well..at least us FIBs have the Cubs to look forward to.....PFFT!