"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, February 17, 2005

And down the stretch they come.....

Marquette's 'season within a season' begins tonight when Tom Crean's troops host the nationally-ranked Louisville Cardinals at the Bradley Center. MU stands at 17-7, coming off a clutch overtime victory over ECU on the road. Marquette is seeking to avenge an historic 47-point defeat at the hands of the Cardinals just weeks ago - - a game where Travis Diener did not play, and the Cards took full advantage.

Ville's Larry O'Bannon expects a dog fight tonight, largely based on Diener's return. ""Diener leads the conference in scoring and assists. He's scoring 21 points, and with seven assists a game he's producing 14 more points, at least. That's 35 points. That's a big chunk of the 47 we beat them by. And he's their leader. He makes everybody better."

Keep in mind that Diener's absence was not the only strike against MU in that last outing. At the time, MU was still in the throes of a flu pandemic that ripped through the team, sapping energy from no fewer than four other key players in advance of the last Ville tilt (Jackson, Townsend, Chapman and Novak). MU is healthier than its been in more than a month, and one has to think the practices this week were much more competitive than they've been in weeks. With Diener in the lineup, Steve Novak instantly becomes a matchup problem for Louisville, and Dameon Mason could have more room to operate as a wing player. I'm a bit concerned about MU's rebounding -- Ville collected roughly a dozen offensive rebounds against the Warriors in their last meeting. Ousmane Barro's effectiveness (and PT) have declined of late, perhaps he'll re-emerge tonight.

All of this bodes well for MU as they take the floor tonight against a team that Tom Crean has dominated since becoming head coach. In fact, Rick Pitino is a mere 2-7 lifetime against Marquette - - somehow MU finds a way to win against Louisville more often than not.

A win tonight would propel MU back into the thick of NCAA tournament contention. As we've said before -- with four of their last five games at home, and with a healthy Travis Diener, the at-large bid is there for the taking.


Corey said...

A win tonight and the tournament is all but guaranteed

Corey said...

Ouch :(