Not Exactly Road Warriors: Villanova 60, No. 17 Marquette 56

USA TODAY Sports

Following the familiar script for their all-too-frequent struggles on the road this season, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles coughed up the ball early and often en route to a discouraging loss at Villanova.

This is the tough thing when your blog writes about a basketball team that's populated by 18-23-year-old young men who play ball for free: you're reluctant to put anybody on blast, because, again, they're kids playing ball for free, and it says a lot more about you than it does about them if you're compelled to hammer one of them.

Plus, since we're talking about a team game and not a sport like golf or tennis or even baseball, it's hard to single out one guy and pin a loss on him. And, to be sure, when you have a performance as wretched as the one turned in by YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles in their putrid 60-56 loss to Villanova last night, there's blame a-plenty to be passed around; Davante Gardner was awful, Vander Blue was off, Jamil Wilson saw his shadow and went back into hibernation, and so on, et cetera.

Still: there's been a common thread for Marquette in their six disappointing road losses in 2012-'13, and that's been the miserable play of senior point guard Junior Cadougan, who's looked like an overwhelmed freshman whenever Marquette's ventured away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Witness:

  • 2 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 fouls in just 18 minutes against Florida;
  • 8 points, 6 assists, 5 turnovers and 4 fouls in the disaster at UW-Green Bay;
  • 2 points, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, and getting lit up by Peyton Siva in the dumptrucking at Louisville;
  • 4 points, 5 assists 4 turnovers in the loss to Georgetown;
  • A goose-egg in points, 4 assists, and 2 turnovers in the win at Seton Hall;
  • And last night's effort, where he tallied 12 points -- almost all of them after 'Nova had claimed a double-digit lead and was content to let Marquette hit layups and run the clock -- 4 assists, and 5 turnovers.

For the year, then, Cadougan's averaging 5.3 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.1 turnovers in road games, and that turnover number gets even worse in Marquette's road losses (3.6 turnovers per). I've seen wacky home-road splits in baseball before, and I suppose you can get goofy numbers if a football team plays its home games indoors and then has to venture outside on the road, but I've never seen numbers like this in basketball, where a guy is a top 5 Big East point guard at home and should probably sit on the road in favor of a dude who averages 1.9 points and 1.5 assists per game.

A few other notes on the carnage before the Orange come to town to blow our doors off:

  • Buzz Williams had almost as bad a game as Cadougan: his team was completely flummoxed by a grade-school-level 1-2-2 full-court zone press, he only gave Todd Mayo 13 minutes of run despite the fact that Mayo was the only one who had half-a-clue on offense, and he let Cadougan run the team into the ground for 32 painful minutes.
  • Better late than never for Trent Lockett, who's become the most valuable senior on the squad, at least of the seniors we're sure aren't coming back next year.
  • "Vander Blue was quiet" count: 2.
  • Steve Taylor Jr. is still a freshman. Yesterday was a painful reminder of that.
  • I'm not sure what the hell happened to Davante Gardner, who struggled through another quiet first half and then went completely in the tank after missing two free throws and getting a weak layup attempt swatted out of bounds early in the second half.

Add all of that together, and I'm kind of shocked that Marquette didn't get seal-clubbed in this game; there wasn't a single guy who played really well -- Chris Otule came the closest to turning in a good performance -- while several guys turned in games that ranked amongst their worst of the season. So there's that, I guess.

Jae Crowder Player of the Year of the Game: Chris Otule is really coming on as the season draws to a close, and he was near the top of his game yesterday, chipping in 7 points, 6 rebounds, and a block in 30 minutes.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: On a night when the team limps home with 19 turnovers, we'll award the Fulce to someone who didn't have one: Derrick Wilson's eight minutes weren't anything to write home about, but he kept his mitts on the rock, so: woo.

Davante "Big Smoove" Gardner Smoove Play of the Game: With Marquette down 3 with 11 minutes to go in the second half, Vander Blue bolted down the baseline, took advantage of an excellent seal by Gardner, and threw down a thunderous one-handed jam that brought Marquette within a point of the lead.

Up Next: It's a quick turnaround for your Golden Eagles, as they welcome a wounded animal in the Syracuse Orange to the Bradley Center tomorrow night. Fresh off their own disastrous performance against archrival Georgetown, Cuse is sure to be out for blood. That should be a good time.

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