"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

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Predator juiced the Orange

Here is a quick question for MU fans. Which player dominated the second half against the Syracuse Orange?

If you answered Jae Crowder, you're correct.

While Darius Johnson-Odom is rightfully enjoying spotlight for his clutch three-point basket with 26 seconds remaining, the 6'6" Crowder is the player who quietly carried the Warriors to victory and a berth in the Sweet 16.

In the second half, The Predator put MU on his back and delivered 14 of his 16 points to go with a team high seven rebounds and three assists. Realize that as a team the Warriors scored 32 points in the second half, and you'll appreciate just how dominant Crowder was against the favored Orange.

Of course, it was not just that Crowder had his way with the Orange, it was how his play lifted his team in key spots. Lost in the worthy adoration of “The Dagger”, note that Crowder hit the game's most important shot to that point, a confident three-pointer to tie things up at 59 with 2:26 remaining. A pair of free throws with ten seconds left moved the MU lead to five points, capping the Warriors' scoring on the night.

The Predator was effective offensively throughout the final 20 minutes, including a dominant stretch that stopped Syracuse's biggest run of the second half while sparking a 7-0 run by the Warriors. Let’s set the stage. After MU pulled ahead 41-40 with 14:03 remaining, the Orange went on a quick 6-0 run, forcing Buzz Williams to call a timeout. Out of the timeout Crowder stopped the bleeding, cutting the 'Cuse lead to 46-43 with 2:20 remaining.

With the Warriors trailing by the same score one minute later, Crowder delivered a dandy assist on a fast break to a cutting Junior Cadougan, who then completed the old fashioned three point play to tie the game at 46 with 11:19 to play. Less than a minute later, Crowder put MU ahead, 47-46, with a free throw at the 10:47 mark.

In addition to setting up “The Dagger” and sparking that vital stretch midway through the second half, let’s not forget that Crowder went 7-8 from the free throw line. Jae, a 61% free throw shooter on the season, went 4-4 in the final five minutes of the game.

His 16-points were the most Crowder has scored since lighting up the Orange for 25 back on January 29. While Crowder's late-season swoon was a cause for concern as MU headed to the tournament, he has bounced back with three consecutive double-digit outings - the first time he has done that since a four-game streak capped by the win over Syracuse in January. Crowder's resurgence is a key, and overlooked, reason why MU has made their first Sweet 16 since 2003.


Smoove said...

Scoop Jardine needs to learn a life lesson here, namely, how to lose gracefully. Of the 80 minutes Marquette has played Syracuse this year, Scoop Jardine was on the floor for 75 minutes, presumably demonstrating his superiority over his opponents, yet what he has to show for it is exactly two "Ls." It just smacks of immaturity and has "poor loser" written all over it for Jardine to say that his "is the better team." http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/2011-03-20-marquette-syracuse_N.htm Grow up, dude.

theKAYman said...

Agreed Smoove - Jardine needs to shut it and take his beatings like a man! Scoop was jawing at Crowder early in the first half after he hit a 3. Crowder laughed it off and then slowly whooped Scoop/Orange for the rest of the game. Didn't get frustrated, just responded with great play. Awesome game last night.