"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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Marquette defeats Savannah State. Big East play next

MU overcame a sluggish first half in which they only led by one point to ultimately cruise to victory 69-51 and finish 13-2 in their non-conference slate. MU will now enjoy the New Year and begin Big East play on Thursday at Providence in their Big East opener. Providence was crushed last night at Florida State by 30 points but played without their best player who was recently suspended. Providence is currently 9-3 on the season and expected to be back at full strength.

MU was led by Dominic James and Wesley Matthews who each scored 22 points this afternoon. No other MU player finished in double figures. Lazar Hayward finished with only 2 points on the afternoon and Jerel McNeal suffered a terrible shooting day (1 of 9) to finish with just 6 points. McNeal also turned the ball over 6 times and was benched to start the opening of the second half in favor of walk-on Craig Kuphall.

MU defensively did not generate the turnovers we have become accustomed to. Only 14 turnovers today, however Crean's club did hold SSU to 34% shooting overall and just 21% from beyond the arc.

Offensively MU was fairly efficient with the exception of McNeal's struggles. 15 assists, a very solid 50% FG percentage and nearly 42% from beyond the arc. Wes Matthews was a torrid 7 of 8 from the field including a perfect 2 for 2 from deep. As a team, MU shot 67% from the free throw line, respectable by Golden Eagle standards this year.


AP Recap

Photos of the game courtesy of MUScoop can be found here.

Todd Rosiak recap

Quotes from the game via GoMarquette.

Here's the MarquetteHoops recap.


Anonymous said...

Again we saw at most one half of good basketball and mostly flat game. Very disappointing after the complete game played last game. Hopefully they will play complete games in the Big East as it isn't really possible to play down to an opponent because of the quality of play.

Great to see the free throw shooting looking good right in time for conference play. In the first month-plus Marquette would be been trailing at half and it would have been close for almost the entire game. Foul shooting makes all the difference, and at 66.7% there's still some room for improvement.

James seemed to show up late in the first half instead of during the second. It would still be nice to have him not be a ghost for the first 15 minutes or so. It was very nice to see him making his free throws and getting some assists.

If Crean was trying to prove a point to McNeal by starting Kuphall in the second half, I'm not sure if I agree with the decision or not. This is something I would have embraced in the past, but with McNeal's recent play I would be reluctant to sit him during a funk. Still, McNeal was shown that he shouldn't be too comfortable and get guaranteed minutes if he keeps making mistakes even if he can carry the team at other times. McNeal seemed to respond well in the second half with his passing and defense. Either way, Crean seemed angry at someone and confident in his decision in the post game interview.

Great to see Matthews take on the offensive burden and put up some points. For awhile it seemed like he couldn't score like the other two guards, but he really took charge. It was also nice to see a complete game from Matthews instead of one of his scoring bursts and then silence for the rest of the game. A little more work on his jumper would really help his scoring become consistent, but it again proves my point that he has to hold the ball awhile to score as he got to 22 points without a single assist.

Why is Lazar Hayward allowed to miss one or two threes every game? He's shown no ability whatsoever to hit from long range. He was supposed to be ready to showcase his game by conference play, but it sure doesn't look like he's caught up yet.

What's wrong with Cubillan? He started the season exceeding all expectations but he really hasn't shown up much lately. It's questionable whether he can even be counted on as a backup point guard right now. Hopefully Cubillan will realize that the decision to play Kuphall in the second half is as much of a message to him as it was to McNeal.

Well, with the freshmen not performing, that problem can be expanded to the entire bench. Four points is terrible. It only takes one or two players contributing to have a good bench, and the ten-deep rotation Crean wants seemed like only a dream today. Sure they're not involved as much in the offense but 3 field goal attempts and 10 rebounds in 60 minutes between the bench players is ridiculous.

Another win, another good half, but a lot of improvement needed to win at Providence.

Anonymous said...

Good thing Wes showed up today--where was McNeal?! His inconsistency worries me. Washington and Wichita State both lost yesterday and today, respectively, so MU might rise a few more spots in the ranks.

Finally...Big East time.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that McNeal was benched after halftime not because of his first half performance, but because of something that occured in the locker room at half? I can't see benching him because of one poor 20 minute stretch, especially with his recent string of quality performances.

Of course it's speculation, but to me this is similar to the mysterious halftime issues during the Valpo game.

Anonymous said...

It is intriguing how Crean is so willingly bench his best players...James & now McNeal. I think because these guys are so young, they may be reading the papers too much on "how good they are" and Crean is doing his best to keep their egos in check. Crean is such a hard worker...it goes against his grain to see a lack luster EFFORT...not necessarily performance. Just my take.

Anonymous said...

Still, is benching McNeal for Kuphall just going with the extreme to try to really convey a message? Cubillan has not played well, but it would still make sense to play Cubillan if McNeal is benched. Was Crean trying to send a message to the underperforming Cubillan too or was it all on McNeal?

Anonymous said...

Awesome picture of DJ. Can he get in the air or what.