"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 21, 2008

Ray Floriani recaps the MU win over St Johns

Ray Floriani, the noted high school and college basketball reporter from New Jersey, covered last night's Marquette win in the Garden for Cracked Sidewalks. Earlier this morning, Ray filed this report:

The press room coffee is exceptionally strong. Kind of like Starbucks. Stronger the better but I’m not sure what kind of omen that gives on tonight’s contest.

20:00 -15:46 – On the game’s first possession Anthony Mason Jr.’s first shot is rejected by Jerel McNeal who goes coast to coast for a layup. Undaunted, Mason Jr. makes a few nice penetrations. Both clubs start in man to man.

9-6 Marquette

15:46-11:31 – A fan hollers ‘put (Larry) Wright in the game’. Justin Burrell of St.John’s shouts back to the stands, ‘he’s f___ing hurt.” Not a good sign concentration wise when you get distracted by fan comments. Dominic James finishes a pretty layup and avoids contact in the process.

13-6 Marquette

11:31-6:32 – Despite a lead, Marquette appears flat. They are beaten on a rebound off a St.John’s missed free throw. On another occasion a missed three by the Red Storm is dropped out of bounds by a Marquette rebounder who was all alone. St.John’s is zoning on defense. Red Storm went about 7 minutes without a field goal but is still hanging around.

20-14 Marquette

6:32-3:55- Dan Fitzgerald and McNeal bury threes, time out St.John’s. James finishes another penetration layup. The lead is double digits and the boos are audible.

30-16 Marquette

3:55-0:00- Ousmane Barro scores on a beautiful pick and roll after the media timeout. Marquette is still ahead by a dozen with 90 seconds left. They are in command but objectively you can’t say this is a vintage performance.

Half 36-24 Marquette

Attendance is listed just over 6,000. Factored in are ticket purchasers who are ‘no shows’ because it looks like roughly 4,000 and change. A fair amount of Marquette fans are on hand.

Possessions : MU 34 St.John’s 37

Offensive Eff. MU 106 St.John’s 65

Second Half:

20:00-15:33 – On the first possession McNeal scores on a penetration. St.John’s comes down and turns the ball over. Mason jr. continues to fire away. McNeill has all 4 Marquette field goals the first four minutes, two penetrations and a trey.

45-27 Marquette

15:33-11:36Marquette defense looks better. They are forcing turnovers , igniting the break and are working on all cylinders. Trevor Mbakwe looks good posting up and attacking the glass.

53-31 Marquette

11:36-7:54- Dele Coker of St.John’s misses from close inside. The next possession the freshman center scores from about the same area. ‘Progress’ says a press row neighbor.

59-44 Marquette

7:54-3:38- Paris Horne of St.John’s buries a three and cuts the deficit to 12. A shot clock violation by Marquette stirs the St.John’s faithful. Red Storm make a run , not coincidentally, with Mason and Burrell on the bench. Missed shots close in and unconverted free throws are still killing St.John’s. During the run, Marquette continues to show patience in half court offensive execution.

65-50 Marquette

3:38-0:00- Marquette is not in a full delay but they are eating more clock on each possession. St.John’s is within 10 with 1:41 remaining. Still, they mount no serious threat those final hundred seconds.

Final : Marquette 73 St.John’s 64

Poss : Marquette 69 St.John’s 73

Off. Eff. Marquette 106 St.John’s 88

McNeal led the way with 20 points while James added 19. Mason jr. paced St.John’s with 20.

Notes from the post-game press conferences

  • En route to the interviews I meet a writer from Marquette.com and some fans seated behind the Marquette bench. I then discuss my officiating and having worked several St.Anthony’s games with MU signee Tyshawn Taylor. Group was really interested and loved hearing some St.Anthony’s and Bob Hurley anecdotes. Also reminded them that St.Anthony’s is on ESPN tonight.
  • Saw legendary Lou Carnesecca en route to interviews. The former St. John’s coach is very gracious and always cordial. Deep down, the situation with the St.John’s program must be devastating him.
  • St.John’s coach Norm Roberts was generally pleased with his club’s effort. Roberts noted that St.John’s defended well for most of a possession then Marquette would make a play. “They are a veteran team,” Roberts said of Marquette. ‘They have juniors with experience. We have freshman who we are asking to play like juniors.” Roberts notes that St.John’s was 23 of 40 from the line. Those 17 missed free throws were obviously huge. “We’re teaching our kids how to win,” Roberts said. “Marquette knows how to win but our kids WILL learn.”
  • Tom Crean credited St.John’s toughness and refusal to quit. He credited Roberts and feels with a young group they will see better days. The Marquette mentor was happy with James and the play of David Cubillan off the bench. He didn’t like “zero offensive boards from the four and five positions.”
  • Crean went on to praise McNeal whom he calls one of the best defenders in the Big East. “No one spends more time at the Al McGuire Center working on his game,” Crean said. “That’s a credit to his (McNeal) work ethic and our assistant coaches.
  • Basically it all came down to a reminder. “Every night you have to polay the full forty minutes in this conference,” Crean said. “(Team) Records mean absolutely nothing in this league.”
  • On the way out I met assistant coach Tim Buckley. Spoke with Buckley a few minutes and found him very knowledgeable and personable. A class act.
  • Exiting MSG the thought occurs that Marquette will be back in only three weeks for the Big East Tournament. Still, there is some important basketball to be played.
Ray, thanks very much!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ray. Great recap. Loved the bit about the St. Johns' player responding to a fan.