"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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crucial test failed. MU at season crossroads

Marquette had a golden opportunity tonight to win a key game at home against a quality St. John's club and take a step closer to a NCAA tournament bid. In the process, they would be on their way to possibly another double digit win season in the Big East, a record they have never missed since joining the conference. It would require passing a crucial test against a club that has been iffy on the road this year in the Red Storm. The Warriors failed this test on Al's night and now faces a critical crossroads in their season.

MU found themselves in a similar situation as other games, a solid lead in the second half (7 points) only to watch it whither away in a matter of moments. This time, however, MU couldn't claw back and almost seemed to accept their fate.

It all started to unwind just after the 16:50 mark with MU up 45 to 38. In the next five minutes the Johnnies go on a 15-5 run with no MU timeouts called (there were two tv timeouts in that period). That followed with another run of 7-2 before Buzz called a T.O and the Golden Eagles trailing 60-52 with 9:21 to play. The game was effectively over right there. The Storm pushed the lead to 13 points before MU was able to claw back to within 8 briefly. By the time the game ended, MU had dropped an 80-68 decision and a significant blow to their NCAA tournament hopes.

Another dismal defensive performance as MU gave up 80 points on their home court. A whopping 18 turnovers were committed, the highest in the Buzz Williams era we believe. What's worse, the offensive juggernaut that was the mainstay of MU seems to have disappeared. The third straight game of scoring less than 70 points as MU shot an anemic 22% from beyond the arc and less than 44% overall. The Warriors free throw shooting was about the only thing keeping them in the game.

Box Score

Buzz Williams and MU now face a critical crossroads to their season. They are 6-7 in the Big East and 15-11 overall. Their RPI after the loss now sits at 66, below such teams as Michigan, Penn State, Marshall, Dayton and a slew of other teams considered outside of the NCAA tournament discussion. Was tonight the fatal blow for their chances or do they gather themselves and turn it around? They will be favored to win 3 of their final 5 which would leave them with a 9-9 record. It is not inconceivable to see them go 4-1 with a win at Seton Hall, but it's equally not inconceivable to think the team might have given up. I don't think Buzz will let them do that, but the body language in this game was difficult to watch. A few boo birds came out amongst some of the crowd, either as a result of frustration or what might have been perceived as a lack of urgency in such a crucial game.

With a NCAA field of 68 teams, largest in NCAA history and a team that has been largely viewed as "safely in" the field the last month, the latest turn is not good news. A lot of pride and a season can be salvaged over the next five games, beginning with a must win against a tough Seton Hall team at the Bradley Center this weekend. It's do or die time, a loss to the Hall at home would be the final blow. Time to regroup because there is time for nothing else.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Buzz William's is showing that he was not ready to coach at the highest level in the best conference in basketball. He cannot compete from a coaching perspective against some of the country's best coaches. Playing hard and fighting every position doesn't mean you will win. I'm sure Duke's player fight just as hard. His games strategy fails time and time again. Maybe he just is trying to be too simplistic in his scheme's. That's going to be a problem in recuiting. Why would a top recruit play for someone who can't get them ready for the NBA or a run at an NCAA title. This leads me to my next point.

Buzz has over recruited JUCO players which seem to be lacking in 3 area's - basketball intellect, leadership, and skill. I'm sorry, but no matter how good you were in JUCO there is still a reason someone didn't take you in the the NCAA (grade's is a B.S. excuse here). No one has remotely stepped up to the lead the team. I would say Butler is the closest, but he hasn't. DJO is a f*cking moron. I have to say that - he does some of the most bizarre things on the court that hurt the team. They just seem to lack basketball smarts. The teams very fundamentals I question, hence their passing last night.

I was going to purchase tickets in MKE to see them play Seton Hall, but I will not spend 1 dime to see this joke of a team. Pathetic. Disgrace.