Really, does it get much better in early December than last night? Surely you know by now, but Jae Crowder hit a late-game three to take MU to the victory. It was a very entertaining game, featuring 15+ lead changes (mostly in the second half), and all kinds of highlights. Plus, it was on the big stage of Madison Square Garden with the full muscle and might of ESPN behind it. Last night's game and victory were BIG TIME. So big that for a while Jae Crowder was the #1 trending topic on Twitter.*
*filed under phrases I never thought I would type two years ago. For about ten different reasons.
Two minutes in the game, Marquette lost Otule for the game. Without their best rebounder and space eater, MU got slaughtered on the boards and had trouble adjusting defensively. And they still won. Two games in a row, MU was down a starter in a big-time game. And they still won. Marquette really did not play all that great last night. And they still won.
Despite all the positive vibes, there are a few reasons to be concerned. For one, the bad defense showed up last night. Last night's game was so entertaining because it was all offensively driven (well, that and the myriad of highlights from both teams). Marquette just couldn't get stops. After opening the season with four out of seven games of a defensive eFG% less than 40%, Washington had an eFG% of 53% for the game. The Huskies shot 57% in the first half! And when UW wasn't hitting on a high percentage of shots, they were grabbing an offensive rebound on almost half of their missed shots. If that final shot from Jae doesn't go down, the entire story of this recap is "what the #$%^& happened to the defense?".
Can all that be attributed to the loss of Otule? Certainly, UW was a bad matchup to lose your tallest player, considering they are one of the tallest teams in the nation, and offensive rebounding is one of their strengths. However, Syracuse, UConn, and WVU are all taller. Heck, UWGB and LSU are taller than Washington. Marquette needs to get their defensive mojo back, especially if Otule misses any amount of time. The extra days off until Saturday will help for sure. Just remember that it's been the defensive improvement this year that has made the biggest difference.
Despite those comments, there's a LOT to like about this year's team. They have added experience to their toughness and hustle. As we put out there, last year's team probably doesn't win this game (Vanderbilt / Louisville). Good morning, 8-0!
- I've long said that I'll believe a freshman contributes when a freshman contributes. Mayo is that freshman. His missed dunk was embarrassing, but the kid is efficient, confident, skilled and aggressive. He'll be a three year starter.
- Jamil looked good again last night for the second game in a row. A few more of those shots go down (and they will), and we're talking about him being a monster. If that rebound-tip doesn't get stuck, it's probably a Sportscenter highlight. And that wasn't the only time I rewound a play of his wondering, "how'd he get that rebound?"
- Loved Vander turning his opponent into a poster. It was an NBA-type play.
- From Enlund's blog, Post-Game Quotes from the team
- The official JSOnline recap
- Paint Touches posts their thoughts from the win
- Anonymous Eagle has a post-game jubilation thread
- Here's the view from Seattle
- Jeff Goodman has a great post about MU and toughness (should MU try to shed the label?)
- ESPN has a rapid reaction blog post