"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 10, 2005

Frustration in Fort Worth

This is one of those games that has got to keep Coach Crean up at night. It certainly kept me up, and I'm still down about it today. Marquette held a 10-point lead with 7 minutes to play last night, and everything was very rosy as I sat listening to Homer and McIlvaine calling the game on the radio while watching the Duke-UNC game.

Then, total disaster strikes. A very frustrating loss-- one that probably sealed Marquette's fate as an NIT team. Obviously, I did not see this game on TV, and I typically am not one to harp on officiating. However, Marcus Jackson and Steve Novak each fouled out (some of these fouls were questionable according to Homer and Mac), and an apparent missed call helped lead to our demise. With about a minute to go and Marquette up two, TCU missed a shot and Diener went up for a rebound. At that point, a TCU player went over Diener's back to grab the rebound and make the putback. Obviously, I didn't see the play, but according to McIlvaine, it was a clear "over the back" call. So, rather than TCU having that last shot, Marquette would have had a two point lead with Diener at the line and very little time on the clock.

Having said that, we should have won even without that play, and this is a hard pill to swallow. The only chances we have at making the NCAA's now are to either beat some teams we shouldn't (Louisville and Cincinnati) or make some improbable run in the conference tournament. Of course, unless we somehow win the conference tournament, we're also going to have to win the games we should win (East Carolina, Houston, Saint Louis). Ultimately, either scenario seems highly unlikely, and in all probability, Marquette will once again be in the NIT.

I am certainly sorry to see Diener go out like this. What a great kid and a great competitor. It is too bad we couldn't have made one last run to the NCAA's with him. Ultimately, injuries, illness, and lack of depth because of transfers led to our downfall.

Keep rooting for Marquette this season, Marquette fans! Diener, Jackson and Townsend deserve it. But also know that the future looks brighter as we move East. Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews and Dan Fitzgerald are coming, and Marquette will compete at the very highest level.

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