As we've made our way through this oft-times frustrating season, there have been a number of issues that have vexed the Marquette Golden Eagles time and time again. At times, Marquette's been able to hide one (or more) of these blemishes, but the underlying problems have remained the same, and they've never been completely (or even adequately) addressed as the year's gone on.
In yesterday's curbstomping at the hands of the Seton Hall Pirates, each of those issues surfaced at the same time and combined, Devastator-style, into a Perfect Storm of Awfulness:
- Terrible defense? CHECK. Seton Hall is the worst offense in the Big East, and, in a conference that features teams as inept as South Florida and DePaul, that's no mean feat: the Hall averages a paltry 0.96 points per possession in conference play and is 14th in the conference in eFG% (45.8%). And yet Marquette somehow allowed that crew to put together an eFG% of 60.8% for the game and an absurd 70.3% in the first half. The culprit? Horrific three point defense, as the Pirates bombed away and sank ELEVEN first-half triples. Call it scheme -- and I will: at one point in the first half, Coach Buzz switched to a 2-3 defense during a run when Seton Hall couldn't miss from the outside; yes, please, let's use a defense that's designed to give up open looks from deep -- call it execution, call it whatever you want, just make sure you call it BAD, too.
- Big Men MIA? CHECK. Marquette scored 72 points yesterday. Jimmy Butler had 20. Dwight Buycks scored 15. Darius Johnson-Odom managed 13. Combined, Marquette's 4s and 5s -- Jae Crowder, Joe Fulce, Chris Otule, and Davante Gardner -- had 14. Most disturbingly, Crowder showed no signs of being able to overcome his late-season malaise, as he tallied 1 point, 3 rebounds, four fouls in 21 minutes.
- Shoddy point guard play? CHECK. Marquette turned the ball over 14 times yesterday and had only 10 assists on 21 field goals. Buycks was reinserted into the starting lineup with lackluster results; though he put up 15 points, the lion's share of those buckets came in garbage time (read: the whole second half) and he managed just two assists in 23 minutes. Junior Cadougan wasn't any better, as he had three assists and three turnovers in 19 minutes.
Add it all up, and you've got an 85-72 seal-clubbing at the worst possible time, as Marquette probably played itself out of the NCAA tournament in a year featuring one of the weakest fields in the history of the Dance.
Let's finish the post-mortem, after the jump.
- Apparently, Coach Buzz wasn't kidding when he said he'd stick with the starting lineup featuring Erik Williams and Junior Cadougan until the team got beat: following the loss to Cinci, EWill and Junior found themselves back on the bench in favor of Crowder and Buycks. Did the starting lineup make a lick of a difference yesterday? Probably not. Everybody but EWill saw action in the first half, and everybody got run off the court.
- DJO seems to have heard the complaints about his penchant for passing up open looks in favor of his incessant shot fake, because he was gunnin' early and often yesterday: 16 field goal attempts, including 9 attempts from three. He only made five shots and three triples, respectively, but at least he was taking the open looks.
- How bad did it get yesterday? Marquette enjoyed the benefit of the whistles for most of the game, getting to the line 16 times in the first half and earning the bonus with about 13 minutes to go in the second half. Despite that advantage, the largest dent Marquette could put in Seton Hall's lead was when a JFB three-point play cut the lead to eight with seven minutes to go.
- While we're talking JFB: I would like to petition the NCAA to give Jimmy an extra year of eligibility. There's something called a hardship rule, right? I think I can make a case that it applies when you're carrying the team (11-13 on free throws, 5 boards in 38 minutes) while your teammates wilt around you.
- Not breaking any new ground here, but let's say it anyway: Vander's jumper has to be torn down. And while we're talking Js: EWill needs to start chucking from three-point land. The kid looks terrified on offense, like he knows that one questionable jumper is going to earn him a seat next to Coach Aki. He can shoot. Let him.
- Coach Buzz loves his metaphors, but he's apparently unfamiliar with the one about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: for some reason, Coach and Co. felt it necessary to have an hour-long, closed-door meeting after the game. What, exactly, you're hoping to accomplish with a meeting like that when you've just torpedoed your season, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe they were deciding what kind of cake to get for Buycks' birthday. (The only acceptable choice: FUNFETTI.)
Jimmy Butler Player of the Game: I'm really getting tired of saying that Jimmy deserves better. I just wish it would stop being true, that's all.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Jamail Jones got a bit of run in this one and notched his first Big East bucket. That's the only nice thing I can find to say about the bench crew, so I will say no more.
Up Next: Having limped across the finish line in the Big East regular season, Marquette finds itself seeded 11th in the Big East tourney, and a first-round date with the Providence Friars and Marshon Brooks waits on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. CST.