You can't learn very much from a 40-point pantsing of a woefully overmatched opponent, can you?
Ordinarily: no. But you can learn a thing or two watching from a floor-level vantage point, when you're not used to seeing the game from that sightline:
- I don't know why DJO, Dwight Buycks, and Joe Fulce ceded their starting spots to Vander Blue, Reggie Smith, and Erik Williams (respectively), but, regardless of the reason, it looked like the message was received: the boys -- starters and reserves -- played with their pants on fire tonight: Prairie View's quick 3-0 advantage gave way to a 37-6 Marquette run over the next fifteen minutes, and that was all she wrote.
- As far as debuts go, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better one than the effort put in by Blue, who got the starting nod and then made it impossible for Coach Buzz to take him out of the game. He was tipping passes, blocking three-point attempts, grabbing rebounds, and penetrating at will, with a couple eye-opening no-look passes to boot. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we might be onto something with that kid.
- Reggie Smith followed his impressive exhibition performance with a forgettable regular season start (2 points, 0 assists, 3 turnovers), but Junior Cadougan -- despite five assists -- was the bigger concern. Junior's lateral footspeed is Diener-esque, and Prairie View's guards routinely beat him off the dribble. For now, anyway, senior Dwight Buycks (9 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers) is your point guard. And I'm OK with that.
- Jae Crowder looked to be a fitting heir to the Lazar Hayward throne, grabbing seven boards, four of them on the offensive end. The free throw stroke was off tonight (1-4), but Jae grabbed his lunch pail and went to work. A very encouraging game.
- Chris Otule's hands haven't gotten any better. He looks to be a fitting heir to the Ousmane Barro "Mitts of Stone" throne.
- Jamil Wilson appeared to have two iPhones 4 on his belt -- or, perhaps, one iPhone 4 and a laser level. Regardless, somebody get that kid a fanny pack!
Quickly, then: the awards.
Player of the Game: Jimmy Butler did whatever he wanted against Prairie View's defense, recording the easiest 18-point, six-rebound, three-assist performance I've seen in quite a while, and freshman big man Davante Gardner poured in 17 points in garbage time. But the POTG nod goes to Vander Blue, who got a surprise start and put together a tasty line of 7 points, 7 boards, 5 dimes, 4 steals, and 3 blocks in his Marquette debut.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: It was a spotty game for the bench brigade, but Gardner showed soft hands and some nice footwork around the basket en route to his 17-point performance. DG also collected five rebounds and two blocks.
Up next: On Sunday, the Bucknell Bison -- fresh off a closer-than-it-looked sixteen-point loss to the always nattily attired Jay Wright and Villanova -- trample into the Bradley Center in a first-round CBE Classic match-up.