If you've been reading the newspaper lately (and of course by "newspaper" I mean "the internet," no one reads actual newspapers anymore), then you were aware that YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles came into the 2012 Big East Tournament with a pretty good head of steam. In the last 5 days they had knocked off the #12 Georgetown Hoyas, finished the season alone in 2nd place with a team record 14 Big East wins, had Jae Crowder named Big East Player of the Year, and became a sexy pick to potentially knock off Syracuse and win their first BET title. There was a real sense that this was the year that Marquette could make some noise in New York City.
Unfortunately, the Louisville Cardinals didn't give a damn about what the good people of the internet had to say about the Golden Eagles. They came in with their own agenda, which involved duplicating last year's tourney match-up with MU, and avenging this season's loss at the Bradley Center while they were at it.
Louisville jumped out and took control early. With the help of some extremely sloppy play by Marquette, and lots of offensive rebounds, the Cards were able to push their lead to double digits within the first 6 minutes of the game. But anyone who recalls this season's first meeting between these squads knew that an early Cardinal lead was no reason to reach for the panic button. And when Gorgui Dieng picked up his second (questionable) foul, and then got a (questionable) technical foul for his displeasure, it appeared as though the door for a similar rally was cracking open.
After Dieng sat down with the 3 fouls, MU looked like they might make their move. Within 4 minutes they had closed the gap to just 34-33, had the ball, and were looking to take their first lead. But that possession resulted in an inexplicable 3-point attempt by Junior Cadougan, which was missed badly. Louisville converted the bad shot into a 3-pointer by Kyle Kuric on the other end, and proceeded to go on a 16-6 run to close the half. And when Jae Crowder picked up his 3rd foul with 1:30 left in the half, anyone with half a brain could see that MU was in deep shit.
The second half was, perhaps, the most frustrating half of the season. More Marquette turnovers, led to more Louisville shot attempts... which they repeatedly missed, then got their own rebound, and then scored. There were a few moments when it looked like the Golden Eagles might make a run at this thing. And certainly, with this team's record of coming from behind, there was reason to feel like they could do it. With 14 minutes left, they had actually gotten back within 4 points. But quicker than you can say "bad pass", Louisville had forced 3 more MU turnovers and extended the lead back to 9. It seemed every time, Marquette would have a chance to seize momentum, they threw the ball into the goddamn stands.
And so it went until mercifully the final buzzer sounded. Another year, another Marquette loss in the Big East quarterfinals.
Awards and more Mr. K crabbiness after the jump
A few more items on the game:
- Turnovers make me crazy. I've come to accept the fact that, because of the speed that Marquette wants to play, there are going to be some turnovers. I get it, and I'm cool with it. But tonight was an entirely different level. TWENTY SIX! Marquette turned the ball over TWENTY SIX times. If you're keeping score at home, that's DOUBLE their season average. That is mind blowing.
- If there's anything more likely to give me a brain aneurysm than turnovers, it might be offensive rebounds. Tonight, MU went for the hypertension double dip by allowing to the Cards to grab 23, TWENTY THREE, offensive rebounds (On the broadcast Jay Bilas said it was 25, but whatever, the point is it was a shitload). It really is a miracle I survived this game.
- Tonight was, quite possibly, the worst performance of Junior Cadougan's Marquette career. The junior point guard was responsible for 8 of the 26 turnovers, was helpless to prevent Peyton Siva from going wherever he wanted on the floor, and launched a few shots that would make Truck Bryant blush. I'm trying hard not to get too down on the kid, because he's a big part of what has gone right this season, but damn this was a rough one.
- Davante Gardner has a ton of heart. I love the guy and I know he's giving it hell out there on that bum wheel. But he was a liability tonight. Let's be honest, lateral quickness and leaping ability aren't really Big Smooth's rappin' forte even when he's at 100%. On a night like tonight, when he appeared to be playing at about 60%, he struggled - especially on the glass.
- Louisville did not play well in the second half. If MU had been able to get their shit together, they could have come back in this game. Unfortunately, that never materialized.
- Officials: They all suck. Just wanted to throw that out there since I'm already bitching.
- Hello #4 seed? Definitely a possibility. However, I don't know that this loss will drop us below the teams that most of the pundits have seeded in that line now (Florida St., Wichita St, Wisconsin, Indiana, Louisville), unless one of them makes a lot of noise in their respective tourney. But never underestimate the committee's ability to underseed Marquette. I'm just hoping this didn't drop us to a 6.
- I'm sure there is some sort of silver lining to be found in tonight's faceplant, but I'm way too cranky to try and figure out what it is.
Jae Crowder Player of the Game: Darius Johnson-Odom came to play tonight. He led all scorers with 23 points, on 8-18 shooting, grabbed 6 boards and had 3 assists. He also had 6 turnovers, but I think everyone in blue and gold, even people in the stands, had that many turnovers tonight. At times he may have looked like he felt like he had to do it all himself, but I can't blame him - I felt like that too.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: With Jae Crowder saddled with fouls most of the evening, Jamil Wilson was called upon to do most of the heavy lifting in front court. He notched 13 points on 6-10 shooting, grabbed 8 rebounds and blocked 3 shots.
Davante "Big Smooth" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: When Marquette was making their run in the first half, Jae Crowder came up with a steal and threw a low, two-hop outlet pass to Vander Blue. Vander caught it in stride, took off and threw down a dunk. It was one of those typical plays where he takes off and you think "there's no way he can dunk that," but then he does and you are amazed. Or at least I was.
Up Next: It's Selection Sunday! This year, the Golden Eagles will await their fate in a far more relaxed atmosphere than in the past couple years. "What seed?" will be the only real question. All will be revealed on CBS NCAA Selection Show, this Sunday at 5:00pm CDT (don't forget to change your clocks!). Be sure to stop by Anonymous Eagle for your Selection Sunday preview and the Selection Sunday open thread. See ya then!