"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

Monday, March 15, 2010

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.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Hey Jim,

Can I get my 30 mil back?

Love,

Wally Walker