Last year, in head coach Carolyn Kieger's first season, Marquette women's basketball opened up their Big East schedule with 10 straight losses.
That was kind of bad.
This year, with Kieger essentially starting the program over from scratch with eight freshmen and just two returning players, Marquette has opened up Big East action 0-3.
That's not great, either.
The disclaimer here is that you can easily make the argument that Marquette opened with the three toughest road tests on their schedule: at DePaul, at Seton Hall, and at St. John's. Two of those games were tightly contested affairs that easily could have turned in Marquette's favor late.
Which leads me to this point: I'm having trouble deciding if Kieger's team this year is developing together quicker than last year. I think I can safely say that it's a more talented team. It's just that the lack of experience at the collegiate level (or in North America for three of the freshmen) may be hampering them at this point.
What will give us an idea as to whether or not this team is better than it was last year is if they can pull out a win this weekend. Friday night against Villanova is Marquette's Big East home opener and their first home game in nearly a month. They come back to the McGuire Center on Sunday afternoon to tangle with Georgetown. On paper, both games look winnable for the 5-9 Golden Eagles. But they have to actually pull off the wins, both to get off this three game losing streak and to (maybe, a little bit) show that Kieger has this ship going in a positive direction. Doesn't have to be both. A split is fine. But marks in the W column are necessary sooner rather than later.
Big East Game #4: vs Villanova (8-6, 2-2 Big East)
When: Friday, January 8, 2016, at 7pm Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the video broadcast, and there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Villanova opened up the league schedule with one pair of games at home and one pair on the road. In each circumstance, the Wildcats won the first game before losing in the second to end up at 2-2 on the season so far. Given their scheduling, I don't think either of the wins or losses are particularly surprising for a VU team that came into league play at 6-4.
One of the things I noted in our league whip around post heading into league play about the Wildcats is their lineup variance. You have to admit it's a little weird when nine different VU players have gotten the starting nod this season. That kind of thing has evened out a bit since conference play has started. Villanova has started the same lineup in three of their four games, and even in the fourth, they had four of the same starters as the other three games.
Four games ago, Caroline Coyer was leading Villanova in points, rebounds and assists per game. Now, after four league games, things have changed. Well, not *that* much. Coyer's still leading in points and assists, and both by a fairly solid margin. She's no longer the rebounding leader, though. Megan Quinn is averaging a double-double in league play for head coach Harry Perretta, going for 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, and that kind of rebounding has vaulted Quinn past Coyer and up to 6.4 rebounds per game for a season long average.
Big East Game #5: vs Georgetown (9-5, 2-2 Big East)
When: Sunday, January 10, 2016, at noon Central
Where: Al McGuire Center
Audio/Visual: FS2 has the TV broadcast and it'll also be on Fox Sports Go. Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Both Villanova and Georgetown are 2-2 in league play this season, and even though they played the same four teams (thanks, traveling partners!), they went about it different ways. The Hoyas dumped their first two Big East games of the season, both on the road, and then followed that up with snagging wins against Providence and Creighton at home over the weekend. (Side note: do Providence and Creighton have a secret advantage on the rest of the league because they don't have to to do the PC/CU in three days road trip?) Georgetown's victories were both by double digits, but we can't ignore that both losses were by less than seven points. The Hoyas aren't that far from being 4-0 in the league right now.
I just want to throw this out there for Coach Kieger and her staff. She can do whatever she wants to do with it. Ready? Ok, here we go: Georgetown is the worst three point shooting team in the Big East. They're the only team that's shooting under 30% on threes, and they're WAAAAAAAY under at 23%. Dionna White leads Georgetown in three-point attempts and three point makes this season...... but she's only shooting 19.6%. They've only got six players averaging more than one three-point attempt per game, and the best shooter of the bunch - Tyshell King - is shooting 32%. If I'm in charge of a defensive game plan, I'm going into this one with the firm decision to let Georgetown to shoot all the three pointers they can get their hands on all game long. Maybe we'll change something up if they hit three in a row or something, but probably not.
While White is awful behind the arc, she's still leading Georgetown in scoring at 14.6 points per game, and she's really good at the charity stripe, knocking down 82% of her freebies. Dorothy Adomako is right behind white at 14.2 ppg, so that makes for a nice 1-2 combo. Adomako is leading GU in rebounding, but that note requires a caveat: Three Golden Eagles average more rebounds than Adomako. White and DiDi Burton are neck-and-neck for the team lead in assists at 3.9 and 3.6 per game respectively, and that lands both of them in the top 10 in the Big East right now.