"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

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.


Gary B said...

Great post. Helping me get over a tough loss. I would have been sad when this season was over regardless of when it came. Was expecting to watch sub-par basketball the whole year and it was one of the best seasons to watch in awhile really. Can't wait for next year. Thanks Zar, Mo and Cubi. You gave it your all this year.

mccoymike said...

That "poor shooting team having a career night" was in reality having the most easy looks at the three point line I have seen all season. I was leaping off the couch yelling "shoot shoot" with all the wide open shots. A poor night of perimeter defense by the Eagles? Or something Romar and the Dawgs saw and exploited tonight?

I was very impressed the offensive speed and finesse of Marquette. The follow up game convinces me that the huskies will be in the sweet 16.

Unknown said...

Great post. I was at the game and you nailed it. I live in California so I don't get to see MU in person often. I took my two kids out of school a bit early today and they attended the game with my wife and I. Even though MU lost, I'm glad that I attended the game. The Warriors played fantastic basketball — especially on offense — and represented the program well. Lazar's foul situation totally changed the game. Our interior defense was already suspect earlier in the game and became positively porous when he had to back off. Plus, the Huskies shot the 3 really well too. Lastly…. this is the first time that I was able to see DJO play in person. If he cures his turnover problems he could be phenomenal. The UW fans in back of me were in awe of him, especially after he broke a guys ankles with a wicked crossover.

TB said...

"That "poor shooting team having a career night" was in reality having the most easy looks at the three point line I have seen all season." -- you nailed it mccoymike. MU's failure to contest UW's long looks was surprising.

great post John

Unknown said...

"OUR POWERFORWARD HAD MORE ASSISTS AND STEALS THAN A GREAT GUARD USUALLY GETS." Really?? Because Washington's PG had 19pts and 8 assists while only turning it over once. Hayward led Marq. with 5 turnovers. How many close games does Marquette have to lose before you start looking at your coach...you guys had a really good team this and some really good players, but could never close or hold on in the end. You had a 15pt second half lead...

MUJourn said...

Jamie -- Thank you, thank you, thank you . . . I assume that you are a Washington supporter, but your comment is a breath of fresh air in this blog.
To answer your question as to how many close games MU has to lose before they start looking at their coach, the answer is clearly that it does not matter.
You will see all kinds of responses to my post here re: the consecutive overtime wins (St. John's, really?), but the bottom line is for the second year in a row, Marquette could not close out an NCAA tournament game and despite the fact that he may be a nice guy, it falls on Buzz and his staff.
No other way to spin it, I'm afraid.

TB said...

Jamie - Thomas had 17 of his 19 & 5 of his 8 assists in the 1H... looks like Buzz made some fine adjustments on him at the half. Thomas was neutered in the second half and was not the reason MU lost. MU's inability to contest UW's three's and the teams' failure to own the glass late were fatal.

While MU lost several close games they won more than their share of them as well (see NCAA record of consecutive road OT wins). Considering MU only went 1 or 2 players deep due primarily to injury and in-season attrition, the coach did a fine job.

This was a bitter end to what was a surprising season. Buzz answered a lot of questions with this year's performance.

TB said...

and MUJourn .. Buzz had no answer for the Huskies offense last night, no argument there.

MUJourn said...

. . . and Tim, I appreciate the comment as to Thomas' first half stats, but that is really the point -- Buzz may have made an adjustment as to Thomas in the second half, but then the lost lead and the manner in which the loss, itself, unfolded clearly show the Washington's coaching staff effectively countered that halftime adjustment . . . and then where were we?
When the wheels are falling off the bus, the camera cuts away to Buzz and he is busy studying his "cheat sheet" . . . maddening. This is not baseball where you go to the "charts" for your next move; the game is fluid and adjustments are made in real time.
If Buzz did "counter" at half, the Washington staff easily countered back during the second half and we were left with no like real time, in-game response.
That's it -- "Cliff's Notes" on the past two years at MU; no need to read the book.

TB said...

MUJourn -- not sure what Buzz could have countered with. When Acker and Lazar picked up their 3rd fouls (and 4th in the case of Acker) MU's defense collapsed. With a shallow roster Buzz's options were severely limited at that point. In the end, UW bullied MU on the blocks in the last four minutes to take the game.

Nevertheless Buzz is not getting enough credit for excelling in what really was a transition year for the program. It's tough to see that after a tough loss.

MUJourn said...

Tim Blair said...
MUJourn -- not sure what Buzz could have countered with.
Tim -- I'm fairly certain that Buzz was "not sure" either . . . . Again, that's my point, although I'm pretty sure it was not listed on his "cheat sheet" . . . . .

Anonymous said...

I might mention the refs too. Not in a "we got screwed by the refs" whine, but in a realization the Marquette failed to adjust to the game not being a Big East game. Welcome to "Foul: Away from the Ball." It's why the national media overrates the Big East and thinks other conferences are soft... and maybe why the BE failed so miserably yesterday.
There was one foul in the first half where the MU guys stood there together in disbelief after the whistle. It's a different game outside of the Big East.

Matt J said...

I am a big sports fan, I love all my teams, but there is something about Marquette Bball that makes me like them more than the others and it's always so hard to watch us loose in the tourny and see the seniors leave when you get so attached to them. Im usually the one to point the finger but not today, we lost to a more talented team with more depth and still could of easily one, maybe if we had one 6-8 post player this year it would of been differn't.

Unknown said...

It is amazing the slack Buzz gets this year...would Crean have lost that many close games this year??

I think not

EastCoastMidwesterner said...

I think Crean would have, and I do not think Crean would have this team in the NCAA.

Let's be honest, nobody thought this was a tourney team preseason. I will credit Buzz for playing with a small team and overachieving

Unknown said...

We were a good team. Better than we thought. And being that we absolutely should have made the NCAA tournament. I dont understand how we can take solice in that we were better than we expected and should be happy with that. NO! We underestimated them, they were good and once that became a fact then our goals for this team had ever reason to grow. Our guys, our coach, let us down frankly. The games they lost, were all winnable. We blew lead after lead. I am disgusted. This ranks right up there with Stanford and Missouri. Pathetic.

MUJourn said...

Let's be honest, nobody thought this was a tourney team preseason. I will credit Buzz for playing with a small team and overachieving
EastCoastMidwesterner -- I'm trying to extricate myself from this thread, but I cannot help but marvel at the logic being presented -- no one expected the team to reach the point that they were at yesterday, so therefore any result was fine, win or lose? Does it really matter in March what the team was "expected" to do last November? Is the barometer by which you measure the season simply, "Did we meet the expectations for us that were in existence last November?"
Wow, if that's true, then things sure have changed, but try as I might, I simply cannot buy into that logic. Sorry.

Unknown said...

Wow Jamie, James, sorry you guys felt screwed. Hang in there till next year. Losses hurt, but life goes on.

Unknown said...

You guys won 22 games....any team that wins over 20 in the big east-- side not what now looks like a very over rated big east...is a tourney team....pre-season polls mean nothing...look at the teams in top 25 preseason and what it ended at....does not mean jack....

Unknown said...

Yes - It was a tough loss last night - and Yes, we've had several tough losses this year. And No, I don't think that just because we were picked to finish 12th in the BE that yesterday didn't matter whether we won or loss....
The Big Dance is anybody's game - there have been a lot of upsets this year -- and I am still proud of the way we played last night. We were right in the game the whole time. When any team drains the 3 like they did - they're going to be hard to beat. Granted they had a lot of open looks, but I'd credit Washington's coaching staff for finding a weakness in our defense.
I don't think Buzz and his coaching staff get enough credit for this season. Yes - we were picked to finish 12th in the BE and ended up finishing 5th, but I haven't heard any analyst all season mention that there was a team that played harder than Marquette. DON'T YOU THINK THAT RELATES TO THE COACH? This was only Buzz's second season as Marquette's coach... When Crean left - we lost that entire recruiting class that season. Tyshawn Taylor transferred to Kansas. I loved Crean, but the truth is that if he had this same team this year - we're in the NIT instead. Buzz was able to find every guys ability and maximized it. If you would have told me that Acker and Cubi would have been able to hold up all season and get us to the big dance - i would have been the biggest skeptic. The fact is Buzz and his staff did a fantastic job! This was one of the most exciting seasons (probably since the 2003 season) that I can remember. Thank you Buzz, Cubi, Mo, and especially Lazar for the great season!
And thank you Cracked Sidewalks for all your hard work all season -you guys added to the excitement!
Looking forward to the Vander Blue era to start.... And Buzz to again prove the skeptics wrong!
We Are, Marquette!

MUJourn said...

. . . but I haven't heard any analyst all season mention that there was a team that played harder than Marquette. DON'T YOU THINK THAT RELATES TO THE COACH?
Joe -- My error; next year I will evaluate the season -- pre-, in-, and post-season -- as to whether we "played harder" than our opponents and I will only judge Buzz on that criteria.
My how the mighty have fallen . . . .

JohnPudner said...

Wow, was there another team that was 104th in the RPI to start the year and picked to finish in the bottom 3rd in the conference and was ranked at the end of the year? I think the point is that when you inside options are one 6-6 player who has three fouls, and one thin 6-6 guy, and you can get the game down to the wire, that's a pertty good shoting. It amazes me that even when Buzz is one of 5 or 6 guys mentioned for NATIONAL coach of the year, that there are always still a couple in our own fan base who conclude he is blowing everything! 346 of 347 go out said in college hoops, so if you are watching to "not be satisfied" this is the right sport!

MUJourn said...

To be happy with a "pretty good showing . . " - as I said, "My how the mighty have fallen . . "
As for me, I think I will hold the team to a little higher standard than "a pretty good showing." Just call me unrealistic, I guess.
Enjoyed the banter, though. Let's do it again next year.

Unknown said...

MUJourn -
I guess my biggest question to you is if you are a fan of Buzz Williams? It appears that you aren't - and you will never be satisfied with his coaching. I myself was skeptical of Buzz when he was first hired as head coach - but he has won me over in 3 categories
1. The players play hard for him, like him and appreciate his effort.
2. He's surprised me with his ability to surpass team expectations.
3. His recruiting seems to be as successful as Crean's in his hayday... Now yes, we still don't have a true center coming in - but Vander Blue is our first 5 star recruit coming in since I believe Doc Rivers.

Now onto your concerns about Buzz getting out coached against Washington and Buzz looking at his cheat sheet..

He quite possibly was out coached in the final 5 minutes of the game. And it probably wasn't the first time all season. But I also don't know a coach who hasn't been out coached at some point this year. Does that mean that Buzz isn't a good coach? No. Ask Bruce Weber if he was out coached against Northern Iowa, ask Roy Williams if he was out coached most of the season. These things happen in college basketball - you're coached 20 year old kids - not every time you set up a play is it going to work. I feel Buzz out coached most of the opposing coaches all season long. And that is why we made the tourney run. Our shallow bench played into our struggles all season long. We squandered the lead against FSU early in the season for that reason - and we struggled against Washington when Mo and Lazar were in foul trouble at the end of the game.
I Truly hope the Buzz skeptics do not run him off. You could tell in his press conference after the last Villanova game that they were wearing on him. He is a special coach and I'm proud that he is our coach - and I hope I can say that for a long time! Thank you Buzz and I'm proud to be a Warrior!