"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 31, 2010

MU projects to win 26 games in 2011 & at least 27 in 2012 based on current roster

In an October 22, 2009 post, I projected how many games MU should win in the next couple of years based on the average progression of players from the levels each had achieved in 2009, and the typical impact of 3-star, 4-star and 5-star players.

I will let you go to the above link if you want a recap of how the projections are calculated, but you can see a spreadsheet of the projections for each Marquette player through 2014, as well as the stats for all Marquette players from 1917 to 2010.

Basically, a Win Credit is how many wins a player is worth to a team based on his stats, and projected Win Credits are based on how well a player did in previous seasons or how many Stars he has if he hasn’t played yet, based on the following averages from all seasons since the Big East expanded to 16 teams:

How many wins to expect based on a player's year and stars

0-2 Stars0.

Last year the projections were within a half a game for 8 of 13 players. The three players that exceeded projections were Mo Acker, who was worth 2.7 wins (0.8 projected), Jimmy Butler 5.3 wins (2.0 projected) and Darius Johnson-Odom 3.5 wins (2.1 projected). Overall, that gave Marquette three more wins than projected.

MU one of only 11 to make NCAA 5 straight years, but can they make Sweet 16?

With their efforts, Marquette was one of only 11 teams to make the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, Pitt, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Villanova, Wisconsin and Xavier are the only other 10).

As sweet as it has been to be in that elite company, and reach one in five TVs in America since joining the Big East, the question is now whether or not MU has the talent not only to make it to the tourney, but to break the “25-win/first weekend NCAA exit” ceiling of 2008 and 2009. Given that the roster could change on the April 14 Spring signing day, the good news is that the 2011 roster currently projects 26 wins, possibly enough to get to the Sweet 16, and a substantially better season in 2012.

As excited as we all are about Vander Blue, Marquette’s first 5-star, taking the court next year, I do want to hold expectations down a little by referring to the table above. Last year I noted that the projections indicated that sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom and junior Dwight Buycks could be better players than 4-star freshmen Jeronne Maymon and Erik Williams in 2010. Likewise, a 5-star freshman like Vander Blue (projected 2.4 wins) is usually about as good as a 3-star junior like Jae Crowder (2.1 wins) or senior like Dwight Buycks (2.5 based on average progression from last year).

Jimmy Butler (5.8 wins) and DJO (4.8) project to be the biggest producers by far, and combined with Blue, Buycks and Crowder produce a projected 17.6 wins. When you add the rest of the projections (Junior Cadougan 1.7, Jamail Jones 1.7, Williams 1.3, Joe Fulce 1.1, Youssoupha Mbao 0.9, Reggie Smith 0.8, Chris Otule 0.6, DJ Newbill 0.2), the team looks to be at 25.9 wins for the season, perhaps enough to be just one game better than the 2 and out teams of 2008 and 2009.

The one slight adjustment I made to last year’s table is that I did distinguish between where players ranked among the other 3-stars and 4-stars, so Reggie Smith is expected to do a little better as the 5th best 3-star in the country than DJ Newbill who was lower among the 3-star players.

Certainly some players will produce more, others less. Junior could return to pre-injury form and dominate, or it could be a nagging injury that holds him down. Blue could do a Carmello Anthony and dominate right from the start, etc. However, overall, this method gives an overall assessment of how many wins a roster could produce, and it looks like MU is a little ahead of where the team was even in the 2008 and 2009 seasons due to the much better depth.

What may be even more exciting is where the team projects from there. If all 10 players on the current roster are here for the 2012 season, they project to produce 27.0 wins PLUS whatever additional wins can be produced by three new recruits to fill the roster. Basically, 5-star players typically dominate by their sophomore year, so Vander Blue could explode by then, and at DJOs projection he could be even better with Cadougan, Crowder and Jones all projecting to big seasons and Smith not far behind.

The eight current rising freshman and sophomores would be expected to produce 26.1 wins in 2013 PLUS five additional players by then, so that could be the 30+ win team that really makes a run. The one word of caution there is that 5-stars like Blue are sometimes gone to the NBA by then.

The following is the complete table of projections through 2013:

Projected Wins from each player from 2010 to 2013 seasons

Player2010 actual2010 proj201120122013
Maurice Acker, Grad G, 0 Stars2.70.8GGG
Vander Blue, Fr G, 5 StarsHSHS2.44.76.3
Jimmy Butler, Sr. G-F, 0 Stars5.32.05.8GG
Dwight Buycks, Sr. G, 3 Stars1.72.12.5GG
Junior Cadougan, So. G, 4 Stars0.0RS1.73.14.3
Jae Crowder, Jr. F, 4 StarsJCJC2.13.2G
David Cubillan, Grad G, 0 Stars1.71.3GGG
Robert Frozena, Sr. G, 0 Stars0.00.00.0GG
Joseph Fulce, Sr. F, 3 Stars0.50.91.1GG
Lazar Hayward, Grad F, 4 Stars6.66.4GGG
Darius Johnson-Odom, Jr. G, 3 Stars3.
Jamail Jones, Fr. F, 4 StarsHSHS1.73.14.3
Jeronne Maymon, So. G-F, 4 Stars0.01.7TTT
Youssaupha Mbao, So. C, 3 Stars0.
DJ Newbill, Fr. G, 3 StarsHSHS0.20.91.6
Chris Otule, Jr. C, 2 Stars0.
Reggie Smith, Fr. G, 3 StarsHSHS0.82.03.0
Erik Williams, So. F, 4 Stars0.
Projected Wins on known roster22.019.025.927.0+++26.1+++++

Key = a number indicates how many wins the player is projected to give MU that season, HS is a player in high school that year, G indicates graduated by that year, T indicates transferred out of MU, RS indicates red shirt season, JC indicates in Junior College that season. Each + sign by the season projection indicates additional wins for that many open scholarships to be signed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The offseason snooze

Basketball withdrawal is settling in on Warrior Nation but have no fear, soon enough more substantial news is bound to trickle out of the program. The spring signing period begins on April 14 and we expect Marquette to formally announce the signing of 6'6" junior college All-American Jae Crowder and 6'4" guard D.J. Newbill from Philadelphia at that time.

Yet despite what appears to be a full roster for next season Buzz Williams and his staff are actively recruiting for next year's team. Illinois Prep Bulls-eye reports that Marquette is involved with 6'6" power forward James Siakam from Carbondale, Illinois. 6'8" Davante Gardner (Kings Fork HS, Virginia) visited Marquette several weeks ago and is also considering USF, Ball State, and Virginia Commonwealth. Gardner was named first team all-state this season after averaging 23 points and 13 rebounds per game for the 24-3 Bulldogs.

Marquette is also mentioned with 6'9" Reggie Murphy from Los Angeles (Westchester HS). Murphy led the Comets to the California state title last week finishing with a record of 32-3. Marquette, TCU and Arizona are all said to be in pursuit of Murphy. Marquette is also pursuing 6'4" Patrick Swilling, 6'6" former Louisville commit Josh Langford, 6'10" power forward Gorgui Dieng from Huntington, West Virginia and 6'8" strong man Godwin Okonji from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.

I'm sure these names are just the tip of the iceberg for MU's spring recruiting push. Given the range of skills Williams is actively recruiting could MU sign two more kids next month? We should expect roster attrition from the program in the next 60 days.

A few more noteworthy items

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fulce and Cadougan sit down with MUTV Sports and more

Well the season's over but MUTV Sports is still cranking out great content. In this first clip Todd Warner interviews Joe Fulce.

Brad Galli is next up with an interview with Junior Cadougan who talks about teaming with Vander Blue next season.

What folks saying about MU

Also, click on this link to watch Buzz Williams' season recap press conference from the official MU site.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crowder, Blue and Newbill lead teams deep into playoffs

March Madness is more than just the NCAA Tournament as Marquette recruits Vander Blue, D. J. Newbill and Jae Crowder surely know.

Crowder, the 6'6" forward, led the Howard College Hawks to the 2010 NJCAA National Championship over the weekend. In the title game the Hawks overcame a 10 point deficit and needed overtime to top Three Rivers Community College (Mo.), 85-80. Crowder finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds in the title game and as was named to the all-tournament team. Crowder will fit right in at MU -- in the NJCAA title game he was matched up against a seven-footer.

The Hawks finished with a gaudy 33-2 record and returned home to a celebration on campus. The comeback kids could not be stopped at Hutch this year -- realize the Hawks overcame a 16 point deficit in the semifinals to advance.

Turning to high school recruits, 6'4" Vander Blue led his Madison Memorial Spartans (23-5) to the state title game over the weekend but they failed to repeat as champions, falling 72-51 to Hartland Arrowhead. Blue struggled on 4-15 shooting from the field, winding up with eight points in the title game. The MU commit also finished with eight boards, seven steals and six assists. Madison Memorial appeared in the state tournament seven years in a row, winning the title in 2005 and 2009 and finishing in second place in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Blue talked about the end of his high school career after the game. Also, Mark Miller offered an honest perspective on Blue's journey at Memorial.

Blue was a unanimous choice for first-team all-state but was not named Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball. Despite the loss and the snub, Blue's talents continue to draw national attention. Blue recently accepted an invitation to attend the 2010 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team Training Camp. The USA U18 National Team will compete in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in San Antonio in late June.

At Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion High School D.J. Newbill is drawing rave reviews from opposing coaches as he leads his team through the state tournament. In the state quarterfinals Strawberry Mansion topped Holy Cross 59-55 behind Newbill's 19 points. Strawberry Mansion takes on Imhotep Charter in a Class AA semifinal on Wednesday evening.

"My coach said he wanted me to be more aggressive scoring," said Newbill, who averages 25 points per game but had settled for 15 in Mansion's 61-54 second-round win over St. Pius X on Wednesday while spreading the ball around. "If it's open, I'm going to take [the shot]. I'm not going to force shots."

This video showcases Newbill's performance in the win over Holy Cross.

Strawberry Mansion takes on Imhotep Charter in a Class AA semifinal on Wednesday evening. Newbill has been clutch throughout the season -- check out this game winner from earlier in the campaign.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lazar ranks among MUs 30 All-Time Greats

Before turning full attention to the 677th player to take the court as a Marquette player at some point during the 2010-11 season (Vander Blue, Jae Crowder, Jamail Jones, Devonte Newbill or Reggie Smith), allow me my annual update of the greatest players in Marquette history through the 2010 season.

Based purely on the database figures, Lazar ranks as the 27th greatest of 676 MU all-time players. Because a small percentage of a player’s rating is based on being drafted and/or playing in the NBA, Lazar could move up a few spots if www.nbadraft.net is correct in just moving Lazar up as a projected FIRST ROUND draft pick. Explanation below, but here is my updated Top 30 based purely on the numbers:

Greatest 30 Players in MU History
1 Dwyane Wade 2002, 03
2 Maurice (Bo) Ellis 1974, 75, 76, 77
3 Alfred (Butch) Lee 1975, 76, 77, 78
4 George Thompson 1967, 68, 69
5 Dean Meminger 1969, 70, 71
6 Jim Chones 1971, 72
7 Maurice Lucas 1973, 74
8 Don Kojis 1959, 60, 61
9 Jerel McNeal 2006, 07, 08, 09
10 Earl Tatum 1973, 74, 75, 76
11 Terry Rand 1954, 55, 56
12 Dave Quabius 1937, 38, 39
13 Jerome Whitehead 1976, 77, 78
14 Tony Smith 1987, 88, 89, 90
15 Larry McNeil 1972, 73
16 Travis Diener 2002, 03, 04, 05
* Lazar Hayward (moves up to 17th if he has as good a rookie year as Wesley Matthews)
17 Jim McIlvaine 1991, 92, 93, 94
18 Lloyd Walton 1974, 75, 76
19 Glen (Doc) Rivers 1981, 82, 83
20 Wesley Matthews 2006, 07, 08, 09 (moved up 2 spots due to rookie NBA season that has moved him into 18th on the all-time CAREER NBA scoring list among Marquette grads)
21 Bernard Toone 1976, 77, 78, 79
* Lazar Hayward (moves up to 22nd if drafted or makes NBA roster)
22 Dominic James 2006, 07, 08, 09
23 Ed Mullen 1933, 34, 35
24 Gary Brell 1970, 71
25 Michael Wilson 1979, 80, 81, 82
26 Bob Lackey 1971, 72
27 Lazar Hayward 2007, 08, 09, 10 (even if not drafted, ranks 27th)

28 Sam Worthen 1979, 80
29 William Chandler 1942, 43, 44, 45 (broke Top 30 after new records from 1940s discovered)
30 Raymond Morstadt 1934, 35, 36

I outlined these rankings through the 2008 season in the Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University, but for the record, I am not trying to sell more books when I update this every year. The stat geeks like me who wanted the book bought it two years ago, I don’t think anyone has bought one in over a year, so I just like to keep the rankings current through www.crackedsidewalks.com.

For those who haven’t read my work on this in the past, the ratings are based on three areas:

1. Statistical. The biggest part of the rating is based on the player’s statistics, but in the context of the team defense played, to put players from all eras on equal footing. So when Dave Quabius averaged 9.9 points per game in his All-American year of 1939, that was 30% of what MU needed to win each night since they were giving up 32.6 points per game. That’s about the same as Lazar scoring just over 18 points per game while MU was giving up 64.6 points this year.

Once you add in Lazar’s points, rebounds, steals, blocked shots and assists in the context of the 64.6 points per game allowed by the team, the formula calculates that Lazar was worth 6.6 wins to MU this year, the 19th best total in history. Jimmy Butler was worth 5.3 wins, Darius Johnson-Odom 3.5, Mo Acker 2.7, David Cubillan 1.7, Dwight Buycks 1.7 and Joseph Fulce 0.5. Without the great breakthroughs for Mo and David in their seniors season MU would have missed the NCAA Tournament with four or five fewer wins.

The statistical part of the formula calculates that Lazar was worth an additional 19.2 wins while at Marquette (1.7, 4.6, 6.3 and 6.6 for his four years), so estimates that MU would have been 77-61 during his four years instead of 96-42 if he had not chosen to come to Marquette. Without going through the rest of the math, his final Statistical Rating is a 23.0, which is the 19th best ever though quite a bit behind the top three (Bo Ellis 31.2, George Thompson 30.8 and Dwyane Wade 30.4).

2. Impact. The second factor is Impact on the program, and Lazar gets a “7” here for being the best player on a team that made the tournament but was eliminated the first weekend. Bo Ellis is the only “10” in this Impact Rating for his role in two runs to the championship game, but only the leaders on good teams get higher than a “4” on this.

3. Dominance. The last factor is the dominance as judged by people who pick All-Conference and All-American teams, as well as by the NBA scouts and coaches who select players for the NBA. As ticked as I am that Lazar was only given 2nd team All-Big East this year, I’m sticking to the numbers and 2nd team All-Conference gives a player 8 of a possible 15 points. The only players to get a perfect 15 in this category are players who have a combination of All-American awards and dominant NBA performances (Dwyane Wade, Jim Chones, Don Kojis, Maurice Lucas and National Player of the Year Butch Lee).

However, while Lazar only gets an “8” for second team All-Conference, players who are drafted in the top two rounds or make an NBA roster get a “10,” which would move him up to 22nd All-Time.

I don't think our fans fully appreciate what a tiny percentage of college stars ever score an NBA point. For example, when a Maryland fan was on me after the Washington loss and how great all their 2005 National Champion players were, I pointed out to him that not a single player on that title team ever scored an NBA point. Despite all the great Marquette stars over the years, as of today Travis Diener is 15th All-Time among all-time MU with 851 career NBA points, followed by Butch Lee in 16th (778), Steve Novak in 17th (750) and Wesley Matthews already in 18th (626).

If Matthews can keep up even three more years at his current pace, he would move ahead of all MU NBA players except Maurice Lucas (12,312 career NBA points), Dwyane Wade (11,671 through today), Don Kojis (9,931), Doc Rivers (9,418), George Thompson (8.128), Jim Chones (6,283) and Jerome Whitehead (4,531). Being able to play at the next level is rare, and a factor that I believe should be part of the evaluation when rating the all-time greats.

Matthews production to date already has him up to a “12” on the dominance part of the formula, which moved him up two more spots to put him on my All-Time Top 20. If Lazar can become a 5th MU player to put up several hundred points in the NBA in recent years, he would likewise move up into the Top 20.

For those of you who don’t care about ancient history, you can go back to discussing how great Jimmy, DJO and the rest of the guys will be with Vander Blue and company next year, but for us old-timers, that’s the Top 30 as I see it now. My evil database will be used to project the future wins, but for today let's focus on putting Lazar among the All-Time greats, a list that I'm sure Vander Blue will be joining in a few years!

Pictures and sounds from Thursday in San Jose

Honestly haven't had the energy to put these up until now, but here goes. Unfortunately the video and pictures are a bit wanting this year. Solid turnout by the Marquette faithful far from home.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Unlucky? Big East and MU just victimized by 3-pointers yesterday

There’s been a lot of “Big Least” talk from Big 10 fans and others over one lousy day for the Big East. I believe its pretty important that we defend the conference that is getting Marquette on one in five TV sets in the country for three months a year.

The fact is, whether or not 3-pointers fall can create upsets on any given day, and the Big East just had one day of terrible luck from behind the arc. In the opening day of the NCAA tournament, 683 three-pointers were put up and 36.7% (251) fell.

Unfortunately, the only two teams to shoot over 60% were on the same court, at the same time. Washington, which is still not in the TOP 200 in the country at treys, hit 9 of 14 for 64.2%. At their normal percentage, Marquette wins by a dozen.

In fact, if every team had shot their season average on 3-pointers Notre Dame would have beaten ODU 62-54, and even Georgetown would have beaten Ohio 86-82. The shots didn’t fall for Georgetown and Notre Dame, and Washington and Ohio shot out of their minds from behind the arc or the Big East would be 5-0 after West Virginia’s win today.

Give me a break – we aren’t going to have four of the Elite 8 every year, but the Big East is awesome and for those of us who don’t live in Chicago or Wisconsin, is making Marquette a household word among people who couldn’t pronounce “Marquette.” MU gets revenue with every Big East win in the tourney, and exposure all season.

Cheer on Pitt at the Bradley Center and let’s try to get over our depression by cheering on the Big East, then enjoy Vander Blue and Company following up on Lazar’s success in the best conference in the land.

Here are the 3-point numbers for the 32 teams that played yesterday. How unlucky can you be to have the best two in the country in the same game? Next year …
Three-point shooting March 18, 2010

Top 5
1. Washington 9-14 (64.2%)
2. Marquette 12-19 (63.2%)
3. Ohio 13-23 (56.5%)
4. Richmond 10-21 (47.6%)
5. Northern Iowa 9-19 (47.3%)
Bottom 5
28. ND 6-26 (23.1%)
29. ODU 3-13 (23.1%)
30. UTEP 4-18 (22.2%)
31. Sam Houston State 6-31 (19.4%)
32. San Diego State 3-18 (16.6%)
Overall for the day 251-683 (36.7%)

MUTV Sports recap

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Elevator doors close on Lazar - it's over

Lazar Hayward just walked through the lobby to applause, had a 2-year old in his jersey run up and give him a big hug, and then disappeared on the elevator with a quick wave. No head band, no longer an active Marquette player. A wonderful write up in USA Today this morning.

Mo Acker in a hood, all 5-foot-8 of him, got a hug from a family member. I missed David Cubillan if he came thorugh. I watched the Three Amigos walk through the Boise Airport with their hoods on last year, and didn't think I'd ever feel as sad to see my last of three Marquette seniors. I was wrong.

It was different. Four years of memories of Lazar, and him taking over the team this year. But a whole different love for Mo and David as they came from minor role players to stars for a final wonderful, unexpected season.

What more could they have done?

All I can be left asking is what more could the three seniors have done? Lazar had 20 points, 4 assists and another 4 steals – OUR POWERFORWARD HAD MORE ASSISTS AND STEALS THAN A GREAT GUARD USUALLY GETS. Mo Acker handled brutal pressure to hit all three of his treys, both his free throws, and dish out another three assists. David Cubillian had 14 points on 4 of 5 three point shooting, played lock down on Isaiah Thomas in the 2nd half after he ate us up in the first half, and had 14 points.

What more could the three seniors have done to win tonight and prolong the season?
With the addition of a nearly unstoppable Darius Johnson-Odom (19 points, 5 assists), who we will get to watch for another two years, the seniors did everything they could have to win – and they deserved to win.

Everyone will focus on Quincy Poindexter hitting a shot with 1.7 seconds left to play, the virtual road crowd that Washington’s coach went over to thank after the game for cheering on a rally, but the fact of the matter is Marquette went 12 of 19 three pointes (62.9%), 12 of 15 free throws (80%) and stole the ball eight times.

Marquette lost this game because the 236th best three-point shooting team in the country, Washington, which had hit only 32.5% of their treys all year, had 11 of 16 go in tonight for 68.8%. If you don't believe that just was simply a night of everything falling for Washington, consider that they also hit a 90 foot three pointer, all net, at the end of the first half, but thankfully it was waved off due to a Marquette shot clock violation.

If they had hit their season average 32.5% that would have been 5 of 16, and Marquette would be rolling into the game against New Mexico with an easy 78-62 win.

Foul calls on Lazar take away his defense, give him 10 minutes on bench

Outside of Washington’s once-in-a-lifetime three point shooting, the other deciding factor was Lazar picking up his third foul with 14:56 to play.

Marquette had taken over the game in the first five minutes of the second half.

Lazar had toughened up the defense, and MU had slowed the game.

Marquette led 43-42 at halftime, but was playing a tempo that was way too fast – 37 trips down the court in the first half. Marquette's bench is not deep enough to play at that pace. We would have run out of gas and had three guys foul out.

Before the third foul call on Lazar, the offense had slowed it down to only 7 trips in five minutes, a pace that was completely frustrating Washington and let MU jump out to a 60-45 lead a minute later.

However, the game completely changed once Lazar had three fouls. He started having to back off, and Washington realized they could go inside for easy shots every trip. They applied the defensive pressure, and pounded inside, as the West Coast crowd got fired up and the game turned into an away game for Marquette, much as the 1-point loss at Stanford had two years ago in Anaheim.

As I noted before this great run started prior to the UConn game, once it gets down to Marquette having to stop a 2-point shot at the end of the game the odds are so far against us because we don’t have anyone over 6-foot-6 to alter the shot, and how hard that makes us work to block out so we don’t give up the offensive rebound.
The game wasn’t lost when Poindexter’s shot went in with 1.7 seconds to play, or when Lazar’s last perfectly arced shot from behind half court fell left of the rim after the horn.

This great team, that was supposed to just keep the seats warm while the program was rebuilt, did everything that they could have done to win. This will always be looked back on as a GREAT season and a GREAT team – but without a poor shooting team having a career night and a game-changing foul halting MU from pulling away, this team would have been playing for at least one more round.

THANK YOU Mo, David and Lazar.


....and the season ends. Washington 80, Marquette 78.

Ultimately the Warriors were unable to protect a 15-point second half lead and showed nerves rather than poise down the stretch. In the game's critical final stages Marquette was no match for the Huskies, committing two turnovers and surrendering five offensive rebounds in the game's final 3:33 which led to four of UW's final six points. Incredibly, UW only had six offensive rebounds on the night but with the game on the line the Huskies gave no quarter.

Marquette finishes the season with a record of 22-12. Senior Lazar Hayward led MU with 20 points. Senior David Cubillan scored 14 points and pulled down eight boards while senior Maurice Acker finished with 13 points and five assists. Gentlemen, thank you for leading this overachieving bunch to such a memorable season.

Rosiak recaps the loss in his blog.
Box Score

Novak in the house, team about to walk through for sendoff - tip off 2 hours away!

It’s my fourth year of following Marquette to their NCAA city in March, and by now I know how the anxiety builds. The Marquette faithful are gathering in San Jose – St. Joseph’s City the day before St. Joseph’s Feast, so you better believe I didn’t miss Mass this morning!

I won’t even try to describe the zone players and coaches are in as they pass in a lobby – laser focus.

And an extra treat this morning as Steve Novak came through and chatted with some alums. Novak didn’t play in the Clippers win over the Bucks last night, and is on the first of three days off. Hopefully he can bring Marquette, and particularly our 3-point shots, the same good luck that Wesley Matthews did when he came to the Bradley Center.

Passed Buzz on his cell phone this morning, didn’t say anything. These guys are locked in and ready to go.

In getting some of the scoop, it really sounds to me like it’s all length of possession. As covered in the preview of the game, Washington loves to turn the ball over and score at the other end. They love to drive to the basket, so it will be them trying to get Lazar and Jimmy in foul trouble and make the game up tempo by stealing the ball.

So far MU has been excellent at protecting the ball, especially when Mo and David are controlling it.

That could be the key because what Washington does not do well is play defense for 35 seconds. Make them be patient on defense, and we will eventually get a breakdown.
Pomeroy says it’s the most evenly matched of the opening round, Marquette the 28th best team in the country and Washington 29th. However, Washington is much more erratic than MU.

When Washington steals the ball they destroy you, winning conference games by 12, 14, 15, 23, 28, 29 and 33 points. However, when they get frustrated they can fall apart, losing by 11, 12, 17, 17 and to former Marquette coach Kevin O’Neill by 26, who completely frustrated them like MU needs to do.

If we control the tempo, I’ll take our 6-6 superstar Lazar Hayward against their 6-6 superstar Quincy Poindexter. They are supposed to go two spots apart in the NBA draft this year.

If we control the tempo, I’ll take our 5-8 guard Mo Acker against their 5-8 guard Isaiah Thomas, even though Mo is a passer and Thomas is a driver. I’ll trust our 6-footer David Cubillan to show the same tenacity against their 5-11 scorer Venoy Overton that he did against Scotty Reynolds.

They do have one big guy advantage in a pretty good 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning, but with Fulce’s improved play we just need our “big” guys to avoid fouling and adding the foul when he gets the easy two.

It’s gut check time. The tension is unreal, but so is the excitement. As one alum just said to me, “I thought I was finally going to take one March off for this rebuilding year, I can’t believe we’re back in another NCAA city.

Game time 2 hours away. The team should be walking through any minute now for our sendoff and the place is going to explode. GO MARQUETTE!

Warriors look to survive and advance

Underdogs all season long the Marquette Warriors will once again look to silence the doubters when they hit the floor against the Washington Huskies on Thursday. The game pits two of the hottest teams in the country, two teams that rebounded from lackluster starts to make it to tonight's NCAA Tournament opener.

After an 11-8 start the Warriors closed the season on a memorable 11-3 run through the Big East. A pre-season pick to finish 12th in the Big East the Warriors refused to wilt, mastering a unique scheme and style of play that put the team in a position to win down the stretch of nearly every game. Meanwhile the Washington Huskies, a pre-season top 25 pick, won 12 of their last 14 games including the Pac-10 Conference tournament title.

Two hot teams with two very different styles of play in what figures to be a close game.....take one more look at Rob's model for an analysis of what to look for tonight. Survive and advance.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:20 Marquette Standard Time. If you are not sure about the television schedule for your area we have details here.

What folks are saying

"We're going to be facing one of the most mentally tough teams, if not the most mentally tough, that we've faced all year," coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They are a scrappy bunch. Coming out on the short end of the stick just doesn't occur to this team that we're playing. They play 40 minutes and they're going to give you everything they got until that buzzer sounds."
"When you prove everybody wrong, it's the best feeling in the world," Acker said. "It's like, ‘Yeah, look at us now. We made it even when people said we'd do nothing.' I'm so proud of this team."

Let's knock'em out, Warriors

Marquette is turning heads in San Jose

The latest from MUTVSports

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marquette graduate Chris Farley reminds us about the importance of March Madness

A Numbers Look at Washington

Time to break this game down by the numbers with some predictions and recommendations for success. I'm not going to get into where Washington is good (turnover margin, pace, and offensive rebounding), and by now you should know the details on Marquette too. If you want the stories, take a few minutes and read the media update from this morning.

I boiled down the stats for each team (using only Top 100 Pomeroy opponents), and here are the predictions for each team.

MU prediction

Red is bad. The prediction according to the numbers is that Marquette will be worse than average on our field goal percentage, turnovers committed, and offensive rebounding. We are predicted to get to the line much more than normal. Taking this away from the pure stats, and this makes sense. Against an opponent that plays decent defense, forces a lot of turnovers, and commits a lot of fouls, MU should be impacted. Add it all up, though, and our overall efficiency is predicted to be worse than normal. Not so good.

UW prediction

The color code is still red = bad for MU, but it's set against Washington's season average. Unfortunately, Washington is predicted to shoot better than average on eFG% and do better than average on offensive rebounding, but turn the ball over more than they normally do and not get to the line as much. Again, taking it up a level, MU's defensive eFG% isn't that good, we force a lot of turnovers, we are not that strong at defensive rebounding, but we do a great job of limiting opponent free throws.

The bottom line

Unfortunately, the prediction is that Washington wins this game with an efficiency of 103.8 versus our efficiency of 98.7. Adjusted for pace, that's a 69-66 victory for UW. Boo!

Luckily, there is a ton of sensitivity in the prediction. How is it that the Warriors will be able to turn this around and win the game?

The most important three keys to the game

  • #1 - Shoot well (no kidding). On specific numbers, MU needs to get an eFG% of 51% or more. That’s right at season average. MU should fire up a bunch of threes and make them. Marquette is 19-2 when shooting over 49% from eFG%. Our only two losses were @WVU and @VU in that list.
Here is the specific concern... Washington does a good job limiting three point accuracy.

However, the Pac10 is not a three ball conference. Consider this. Marquette is #7 in the country at making three point shots. Want to know who is best in the P10? Cal (#49), and then ASU (#62). Not only that, but teams don't take a lot of three pointers in the P10. Only one team in the P10 takes more three pointers than MU. That’s ASU (#9 overall). Even we don't take that many three pointers overall (#103 nationally). The key point is that UW has hardly faced a team that throws up as many threes as us, and hasn't even come close to a team that makes as many as we do (soft rims, soft rims, soft rims).

Also, please stop taking the long two-point jumper (the McNeal dribble-shoot) jumper. It's the most inefficient shot in basketball. Even when it goes in, it's a bad shot. Please. stop.
  • #2 - Don’t let Washington get easy shots. Hold them to an eFG% of 45%.
Highly unlikely, mostly because our defense isn’t that good (because we’re short), although we are consistent. It's probably easier to say, don’t let Washington get over 50% and try to win other areas.
  • #3 - Offensive Rebounding – If MU gets an OR% of 33% (meaning they get an offensive rebound on 1/3 of their missed shots), that increases their chances of winning significantly.
Marquette averages 32 rebounds per game. The prediction is that MU only gets 7 offensive rebounds against Washington. If Marquette could only get 11 total offensive rebounds, that would shift to a MU victory.

Here is the big concern. Want to know how many offensive rebounds MU had in the BET? Twelve. Over three games. The big concern is that Buzz will follow with his BET strategy (where our OR% was never higher than 15%) in an approach to prevent Washington from getting points on the break. Let's hope for some clutch offensive rebounds by Lazar or JFB.

Secondary importance for the victory

The following set of keys are important for victory, but are far less sensitive to the overall margin of victory.
  • #4 - Protect the ball at a turnover rate of 13%.
Washington forces a lot of turnovers. They thrive on ball pressure, but realize that the Huskies don't force as many turnovers as Louisville, Syracuse, or even Marquette does. MU has protected the ball extremely well this year, and done better than 13% nine times this year, including against Syracuse.

This may be the key to the game according to Buzz’s gameplan. Honestly, I really like our chances with matchup, compared to when we face teams like Pitt, UConn, and Cincy. Those teams never force turnovers. In other words, if protecting the ball is a strength, each turnover is much more costly against teams that never force turnovers.

  • #5 - Keep UW at an OR% of 27%
The Huskies are predicted to get 14 offensive rebounds. This is definitely a strength of their team. Of course, realize that here are teams in the BIG EAST that are better at offensive rebounding (West Virginia, Providence, Louisville, Cincy, UConn, Villanova, and Syracuse). UW would be the eighth best offensive rebounding team in the BIG EAST. We need to keep UW to less than ten overall offensive rebounds.
  • #6 - Turn Washington over at a rate of 25%
This is really unlikely, and speaks to where the sensitivities start to come into play. A better bet is to just make sure that we win the turnover margin battle.


Even though the base prediction is that Washington will win by three, there is a ton of sensitivity in that analysis. Here's how MU will win
  • Take and make threes. Lots of them.
  • Limit UW’s break
  • Keep the Offensive rebound margin close. Don’t get crushed on offensive rebounding 14-7! Keep it closer to 10-10 each
  • Win the turnover margin battle
The bottom line is that this game will probably boil down to a single possession. (What else is new for Marquette?) In situations like that, every little thing matters. Watch the careless turnovers and root for every offensive rebound.

Everybody is talking up the NCAA Tournament

More media updates on Marquette hoops' fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance:

- The Seattle Times' Percy Allen notes love for the Huskies in this first round matchup though there is plenty of the same for MU.
- The Seattle Post Intelligencer on how MU succeeds despite shortcomings.
- The Anonymous Eagle brings us insight from a die-hard Washington Huskies fan
- Buzz Williams plays the underdog card despite being the higher seeded team.

“Anytime you play on the West Coast against a Pac-10 team,” Williams said as his team prepared for Thursday’s game in San Jose, “you’re definitely the underdog.”

- A preview of the game from the Seattle Times
- The AP says the Huskies will use size to go after smaller Warriors -- and an update on Isaiah Thomas' injured hand.
- The Kitsap Sun stays on the bigs v. smalls theme
- The Indianapolis Star blogs about MU's pod in San Jose
Not well-versed in Jesuit basketball history? Here's a primer.
- Blogger So Dear previews the East Region
- KU Sports Blogger sees MU as the most likely upset victim
- Fox Sports comes up with this team capsule on MU - here's the key weakness they cite:
WEAKNESSES: Marquette keeps every game close. The Golden Eagles don't put teams away, and have a tendency to get sloppy on offense when they have a lead. Marquette doesn't have much size on the interior -- Hayward, at 6-feet-5, is far from a true center, even if his hops and wingspan help him play bigger than that -- and when Maurice Acker and David Cubillan are in the game the Golden Eagles are very short on the perimeter as well. Free throws late in games have been a particular problem, so if the team is still shooting one-and-ones in the final minutes, no lead is safe.

We have a theme -- Lazar Hayward and Quincy Pondexeter played together on a USA National team last summer. The former teammates are featured in this syndicated article from McClatchy, this from the Journal Sentinel and this one from The Seattle Times. Team USA coach Frank Haith had this to say about Q and 'Zar

"They both are stars on their team, but going into this event they both accepted the role of we're going to do whatever we need to do to help us win," Haith said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "And they both fell into that. That shows you a little bit about those two kids' character.

"They worked well together. Lazar was kind of a combo player. He played the 3-4. Quincy was more of a perimeter player. He played the 2-3. You saw their character come out on the basketball court. They were very committed. They did the little things."

Buffalo's Lazar Haywars is ready to shine --be sure to watch the video at this link....Lazar Hayward, Sr. talks up his son.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One man's opinion - this will come down to how tight the game is called by the zebras

Normally I do not get caught up in the zebras determining an outcome of a game. Of course they have influence in each game, but by and large they seem to let the players play and determine the ultimate outcomes.

This game could be different. Washington is a free throw shooting machine of a team....as in free throw shooting attempts. They have attempted an incredible 855 shots from the charity stripe this year....MU has attempted 645. To give you some perspective, last year's Marquette team went to the line last year (prior to the NCAA tournament) 862 times. The 2008-09 MU squad was one of the most proficient in MU history at getting to the line and this Washington Huskies squad visits the charity stripe with near equal frequency.

The flip side to this issue is the fouling itself. MU only fouled opponents 560 times while Washington was whistled 711 times. UW takes more foul shots but they also foul more.

How tight the zebras call this game will be critical for Marquette. The Huskies love to get to the foul line while Marquette has a short bench not capable of giving up many fouls. If this game is called tightly, MU could be in real trouble. UW also fouls If this game is called in a manner that lets them play, MU should be ok.

So how are games called in the Big East vs the Pacific Ten conference? Using the eyeball test, I'd say the Pac Ten officials call a much tighter game after watching games out west for the last 30 years. I'm sure there is some data out there that could state in a more scientific fashion if one conference is more foul prone than the other.

The wildcard? What type of officials will we see? The Pacific Ten variety or the Big East variety?

Go Warriors

Know Your Opponent: Washington Huskies


It's time for a primer on the Washington Huskies, a talented pre-season top 25 team that is now playing up to that level. Joining us today is Don Ruiz, the Washington Huskies beat reporter from The News Tribune in Tacoma. Don and his colleagues follow the Huskies closely in print and on their blog. Don was good enough to give us an in-depth look at Lorenzo Romar's Huskies in our latest installment of Know Your Opponent.

Can you give us a rundown of the Huskies' big four -- Thomas, Pondexter, Bryan-Amaning and Overton?

Not all Washington fans would necessarily relate to the idea of a Big Four. Most would think of a big two -- Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah Thomas -- and then some role players ... role players whose growing understanding of their roles has been crucial to the Huskies' late-season improvement.

Pondexter is the team's lone senior. He led the Huskies in scoring and rebounding and was in the top three in the Pac-10 in both categories. He also led the league in offensive rebounds. He scores primarily from mid-range and in -- pull-ups on drives and turnaround jumpers when posting.

Thomas is 5-foot-9, yet he gets most of his points by going to the rim. He'll get blocked sometimes, but he's relentless -- a pure scorer who always believes the next shot is going in. He' has really improved his defense this season. And while NBA scouts still want to see improvement in his passing and outside shooting over the next season or two, he has a knack for coming through when it matters.

Bryan-Amaning frustrated UW fans for his first two and a half seasons, because he has an NBA body and potential that he hadn't fulfilled. However, coach Lorenzo Romar benched him midway through this season and had a talk with him, challenging Bryan-Amaning to simplify his game -- fewer moves, just go to the hole. Since moving back among the starters in mid-February he has been a difference-making guy in the middle: double-digit points, 6-8-10 rebounds, shot-blocking and defense.

Venoy Overton -- and forward Justin Holiday -- both made the Pac-10 all-defensive team. And their defensive intensity has been crucial to the Huskies' recent improvement. Overton also is the team's assists leader, and he is the team's best free throw shooter when the game is on the line.

Though not mentioned, the other two key role guys are Elston Turner and Scott Suggs, either of whom can sometimes provide outside shooting on a team that otherwise doesn't have much of it.

Washington was a preseason Top 25 team but struggled early. The Huskies now have won 12 of their last 14 including the Pac 10 tourney title. What is clicking with his team right now that was absent earlier in the season?

That's the topic of my story in the Tuesday paper. The short version is that the Huskies had a pair of problems that were hard to overcome: no dependable scoring around the basket, but also no dependable outside shooting. It proved especially difficult to overcome on the road -- UW lost its first six games away from home. The emergence of Bryan-Amaning as an inside presence and third option helped a lot. Justin Holiday's insertion into the starting lineup on Jan. 14 also helped everyone buy into the defensive pressure. And that attitude just snowballed when they noticed how defensive pressure often transitioned into easy baskets. They seem to understand now they they have little margin for error, and therefore they're bringing full effort pretty regularly -- as Washington State coach Ken Bone said today, 'Not just every game, but almost every possession."

Thomas is playing great right now, winning the Pac-10 Tournament MVP award. Is his play the barometer for the Huskies' success, or does something else key the team?

Thomas has been pretty consistent. He was second team all-conference as a freshmen, and moved up to the (10-member) first team this season, while increasing his points, rebounds and assist numbers and vastly improving his defense. I wouldn't say his play is the barometer. UW can get by with either Thomas or Pondexter having an off night. But they can't get by with both having an off night.

Washington protects the ball very well -- is that a product of the skill of the team or the nature of the Pac-10 this season?

Coach Lorenzo Romar tends to recruit guards and athletic swingman-type forwards. Therefore while the team has no single amazing ball-handler point guard, just about everyone is comfortable handling the ball. However, they play an uptempo game, so Romar is generally happy if turnovers don't creep up much over a dozen.

However, the conference might have something to do with it, too. This used to be an aggressive man-to-man league. But several teams have gone primarily to zone this season.

Conventional wisdom is that the Pac10 is weak this year. How is the conventional wisdom off?

It's not. The Pac-10 lost 22 players to the NBA draft over the past two seasons, including 14 first rounders. UCLA lost its starting point guard to the NBA for the fourth consecutive season. Many of those departures were underclassmen, and this season it really created a league of teams led mostly by underclassmen. Arizona's a good example: Their 25-season streak of NCAA tournament appearances ended this season when the Wildcats went with a roster made up of one senior, one junior, six sophomores and seven freshmen. California was the preseason favorite -- and ended up winning the league -- because it was the only team that was built around upperclassmen.

But the fact is that 60 percent of the league made the NCAA tournament last season, and only 20 percent -- Washington and Cal -- this season.

Looking at the stats, Washington favors an uptempo game, winning the turnover battles, and aggressive offensive rebounding. What's their kryptonite?

On limited evidence, maybe their kryptonite is physical opponents. USC is the most physical of Pac-10 teams, and it was the only Pac-10 team to sweep its two meetings with the Huskies this season -- once by 26 points. And another of UW's less competitive games came against Georgetown, another team with size and muscle the Huskies couldn't match.

However, since opposing coaches can't simply instruct their teams to be bigger, most opposing coaches seemed to try packing their defenses tight and forcing the Huskies to shoot from the outside. However, it hasn't worked consistently, because while the Huskies don't really have a traditional post game -- or didn't until Bryan-Amaning's recent emergence -- they are a good driving and offensive rebounding team that can generally find alternative ways to get the ball into the paint. Plus, they have enough OK outside options where they can usually find someone with an acceptably hot hand. And when they don't, offensive rebounding sometimes bails them out.

Maybe this true issue is more hemlock than kryptonite -- meaning UW's real problems are usually self-inflicted. This team doesn't have great margin for error, so when they don't bring it -- when they don't hustle, defend and share the ball -- that's when they're going to have trouble.

Don, thanks very much.

Fans you can follow Don on The News Tribune blog site or via Twitter. Be sure to check in with Don throughout the week, and see our answers to his questions over there.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will the game be on tv in my area? 6% will see the game for sure. Find out where you stand

The Marquette vs Washington game will be seen by only 6% of the country on Thursday in a "constant state" where it's the only thing being shown. And additional 25% will be able to "flex" to the game depending on what CBS does.

Of course, you can always watch online with MMOD or purchase DIRECTV's Mega March Madness and watch all the games in HD.

Jim McIlvaine talks up Marquette in the Dance

We're pleased to welcome Marquette hoops legend Jim McIlvaine back for his take on the Warriors as Buzz Williams' crew moves into the NCAA tournament once again. Rather than focusing in on the Washington Huskies we've asked Jim to set the stage for the team as they transition from Big East play into the tourney. As a reminder you can stay in touch with Jim on his own blog over at ESPN Milwaukee.

For the past two months MU has played against teams it is very familiar with. How difficult is it for a team to reboot for an unknown opponent?

I think there's enough technology and television coverage out there now, that it doesn't take long for any team in college basketball to get up to speed with their opponents. MU's video coordinator, Jake Nelp, even had video ready for me within an hour of the announcement. I also know at least two people who I plan on calling, who are fairly familiar with Washington and I'm sure our coaches have far more connections in that regard, which will give them a pretty comprehensive picture in a short amount of time.

Do you expect the West Coast travel and start time to be a factor in Marquette's performance?

The team is leaving tonight (Monday) and should be well-adjusted to the time change by game day. I'm not sure what our record is for the season, based on start times, but Coach Williams indicated to us during the Big East tournament, that the guys seem to respond well to early start times.

As a six seed MU enters the game as the favorite, a role it rarely played in high-profile Big East games. This season MU thrived as the underdog -- how do you think the team will respond to the pressure of being the favorite?

I think Coach Williams has done a very good job the past two years in keeping his players grounded and not letting rankings, predictions or other accolades interfere with the task at hand. I do think Washington feels like they have something to prove, not just for themselves, but for their conference. All season long, the Pac-10 has been getting slammed and the NCAA tournament is the best place to make a statement about the strength of your conference, especially when teams from Power-6 conferences match up head to head.

Did you see anything in the Big East Tournament that concerned you about the team heading into the NCAAs?

The only thing that has worried me all season long has been foul trouble, especially given our short bench. It has gotten to the point though, that the guys seem to have adjusted well to playing short-handed, just as they have adjusted to playing with a short lineup.

Is there one aspect of MU's game that you expect to be the biggest determinant for success in the NCAA tournament? (good or bad)

I haven't looked closely at Washington's (or anyone else's) roster yet, but the teams that seem to have given us the most trouble this year, are those that feature long, athletic players. I think our quickness and outside threat has done a good job of neutralizing teams with 6'10-7'0 post players, because they have trouble defending us at the other end of the floor. However, teams like Syracuse and West Virginia, who do have the personnel to match up with us defensively and also hurt us on the glass seem to have given us the most trouble. If an opponent can field a team that can defend dribble penetration and three-point shooters at all five spots, we'll have our hands full. Fortunately for us, that's not easy to do.

Thanks as always, Jim.

Fans be sure to check back often at Cracked Sidewalks, we have plenty of content lined up to get you ready for Thursday's game.

What folks are saying...

....about Marquette hoops this morning. I'll cut to the chase -- read Dave Heller's thorough national roundup on the Warriors matchup with the Washington Huskies.

Also, Don Ruiz from the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Lorenzo Romar's program for their reaction to earning a bid, their seed and their opponent. The official MU site has great content as well.

By the way there's plenty of chatter on Twitter about the game, follow Cracked Sidewalks here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MUTV: BBall Weekly 3/15

Marquette earns 43rd Postseason berth (9th All-Time)

This afternoon the Marquette men's basketball team earned its 28th NCAA tournament bid overall and fifth straight. The 28 bids places MU at 12th on the all-time list of NCAA bids. The NCAA appearance also serves as Marquette's 43rd overall post season bid (NIT and NCAA) in their history, good for 9th best in college basketball Division I history.

MU received the 6th seed and will play the 11th seeded Washington Huskies on Thursday in San Jose, CA. This is the 3rd time in the last 6 years that Marquette has been sent to California to play in the first round. With the bid, the Warriors secured their 5th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. This marks the first time the program accomplished that feat since its legendary run from 1976 through 1980.

Ken Pomeroy will enjoy this matchup, he has MU and Washington as the 28th and 29th top teams in the country according to his formula. Pomeroy predicts a 73-72 win for Marquette.

Marquette is 16-10 all time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (MU received a first round bye in 1979). The time of the game will be announced likely tomorrow morning.

Welcome to Selection Sunday

......Tim Maymon Honorary Selection Sunday, that is.

"They (Marquette) didn't want to play the game right, so now we're going to watch them lose every game. That's just how it works."

Nevertheless, the 22-11 Marquette Warriors will dance once more this March. The Bracket Project's National Bracket currently lists Marquette as a 7 seed. In looking more in-depth at their site it appears MU is the lowest-weighted 7 seed in the analysis because the actual average seed for Marquette is an 8. Perhaps the s-curve will work in MU's favor this afternoon.

If you are not familiar with the Bracket Project, the site aggregates and averages out the predictions from dozens of bracketologists each of whom updated their field over night or early this morning. A 7 seed, while deserved based on the team's strong push in the final weeks of the season, feels high to me. I'm prepared to be disappointed when Marquette is awarded and 8 or 9 seed. Rosiak breaks things down a bit further.

With a bid today the Warriors will earn their 5th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Playing the hand you are dealt

Three games in three days at the Big East Tournament brings to light the strengths and weaknesses of any team fortunate enough to advance. For the Marquette Warriors life in the spotlight was productive, taking home a 2-1 record including a much-needed signature win against Villanova, an RPI top 20 opponent.

The St. John’s game showed once more that MU excels in tight games where the maturity of its three seniors enables the Warriors to maintain a puncher’s chance late, even when the team is not playing well. The grittiness Lazar Hayward displayed late in the game by making the team’s best defensive play of the season followed by clutch free throws was the latest example of Marquette's mettle. In a classic ‘survive and advance’ game, the Warriors did just that. Marquette can win ugly.

In the Villanova matchup, the best game Marquette played against a top Big East opponent this season, the Warriors again showed late-game toughness and displayed the value of the team’s extraordinary effort. The Wildcats simply could not break Marquette from its rhythm in the game’s final eleven minutes where Buzz’s crew reversed the ball on offense leading to improved shot selection while defending well enough to maintain the lead.

David Cubillan’s extraordinary defensive effort on Scottie Reynolds proved this team has shut down capability against an opponent’s best backcourt player. Marquette's defensive effectiveness didn't stop there - note the combined defensive effort on the Wildcats’ Reggie Redding, who struggled on 1-9 shooting thanks to blanket defense keyed by Jimmy Butler.

Another interesting note about the Villanova game was the now predictable result of a team playing two traditional post players against Marquette. While Antonio Pena was superb with 14 points, Mouphtaou Yarou played 15 ineffective minutes on Thursday. Playing both players at the same time arguably made Villanova’s offense less effective (MU won the turnover battle convincingly) and they struggled to defend Marquette’s quicker roster. Once again the Warriors dictated the style of play despite a thinner, smaller and less talented roster.

Georgetown was another story entirely. Greg Monroe was Godzilla last night, destroying every defense the Warriors threw at him. In every way Monroe was the difference and in particular his calm presence with the basketball was the key to Marquette’s misery.

For the first time all season the Warriors faced a team which thrived against their frenetic defense. With Monroe at the center of it all the Hoyas maintained great spacing on its offensive sets, easily manipulating Marquette's defense. With just nine turnovers on the night the Hoyas ran roughshod on MU, shooting 54% shooting from the field thanks to a patient offensive which yielded high-quality looks. While MU was madly scrambling to disrupt the Hoyas’ offensive flow the Warriors’ own offense hit the wall as John Pudner noted in his recap. Don’t expect Marquette to score like a Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament; eight points over 20 possessions was a fatigue-induced anomaly.

Thankfully for Marquette there is no post player in the country like Greg Monroe (consider the results of the Villanova game) and the forgiving NCAA tournament schedule minimizes the need for a deep roster. Heading into the tournament Marquette is still a team opponents don’t want to see in their bracket. As Brendon Desrochers from Baseline Stats pointed out earlier this month the formula for Marquette’s success is unique,

“The amazing thing about this year’s Marquette defense is its ability to combine forcing turnovers with not fouling. Last year’s team didn’t send its opponents to the line but didn’t force that many turnovers, which is normal. There is a strong correlation between forcing turnovers and fouling, as the more aggressive defensive teams tend to do both.

This year, though, Marquette enters the final weekend of the conference season first in turnovers forced (21.7 percent of possessions) and first in fewest free-throws allowed (26.2 free throws per 100 field goal attempts)”

No Monroe. No more three games in three nights. No problem. On to Selection Sunday.

A few Big East Tournament notes:
  • The Marquette Office of Alumni Relations did a fantastic job with pre and post-game gatherings throughout the week. Many thanks to the University for it’s aggressive approach to alumni engagement.
  • According to StatSheet.com Marquette improved its NCAA profile dramatically in New York City. The Warriors RPI now stands at 49 with a projected SOS of 41.
  • The Warriors are 10-2 since February 1, including four road wins and two neutral site victories.
  • Lazar Hayward averaged 15 points per game in 10 career games in the Big East Tournament. Hayward scored in double figures in every game during that span.
  • David Cubillan scored in double figures in the first two games of the Big East Tournament, the third time this year he's accomplished that. MU won five of those six games.
  • At MSG Maurice Acker handed out 11 assists against just three turnovers. Acker did not turn the ball over in his final 69 minutes of action in the tournament, the entirety of the Villanova and Georgetown games. Acker's assist to turnover ratio now stands at 3.1/1 for the season.
  • For fans who didn’t make it to NYC -- hope that Syracuse and UConn lose early every year then book your trip to Manhtattan. The scalper action on the street was easy pickings for casual fans with two of the largest fan bases out of commission for most of the week (the afternoon quarterfinals being the lone exception).
  • MSG is woefully outdated in matters of convenience such as wider concourses and access to restrooms. However at tipoff there is no better place to see a game. The sight lines in the Garden are terrific for hoops, with few if any unobstructed views and a classic bowl that makes even a large crowd feel much more intimate.
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