"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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Derailed MU looks to get back on track

The Orange come to town on Saturday in gut-check moment for the Marquette Warriors.

After a fine start to Big East play the Warriors (13-8) have stumbled to a 4-4 league record, losing three of their last four outings while blowing second half leads in each, two of them commanding advantages. Frustration from close losses and the team's inability to improve in core aspects of the game has fanbase as restless as it has been in years.

Of course, MU fans have seen this movie before. One year ago Marquette was struggling at 3-5 in Big East play, just up from its nadir of 2-5. The Warriors lost those five conference games by a combined 10 points, two by just a point including an embarrassing loss at DePaul. The season turned around with a solid home win against Rutgers followed by a last-second victory over UConn on the road. Momentum built as Marquette surged in the second half of Big East play, winning 9 of their final 11 regular season conference games.

It's time to move beyond this tombstone as a program*.

Rob gripes that technically Marquette had one double-digit loss last year (vs GU in the BET), but then the picture wouldn't be as funny.

Can the 2010-2011 team follow the same path to success? To do so the Warriors will have to beat the 10th ranked Syracuse Orange (18-3, 5-3) for the first time as a member of the Big EAST, on National Marquette Day. The Orange have their own issues, losing three games in a row, including a shocking 22-point loss at home to the Seton Hall Pirates on Tuesday. The tough stretch has fans wondering if it is time to hit the panic button for the Orange.

Great. Not only is our record atrociously bad on National Marquette Day (at least it seems like it is, though MU is roughly .500 in these games per MU) but Syracuse just seems to have our number. And they have a three game losing streak and will be dying for a win.

There's been enough negativity concerning the program this week. Let's talk about why this year Marquette is going to beat up on all the bad vibes, the National Marquette Day record, and Syracuse.

Looking at the numbers, Syracuse is a good, not great, defensive team and is a very good offensive team. The wild card, of course, is the vaunted Syracuse zone which could give MU fits. Syracuse is also dominant on the baseline, leading the nation in blocks and MU will have no match for Rick Jackson. While Boeheim's zone plays to the size of his baseline, the Orange are effective at defending the three-point shot. Expect a high scoring game... a shootout between two desperate teams. We believe that MU, who shoots and plays much better at home than on the road, simply has too much firepower in front of a packed house.

Tipoff is scheduled for 2pm Marquette Standard Time. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU with announcers Mark Jones and Fran Fraschilla. Go watch at a viewing party near you. Also, this weekend is Sneakers and Suits weekend for Coaches vs Cancer, so look forward to Buzz rocking some gear. (not sure why this is special - I wear sneakers with my suits ALWAYS)


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