I don’t think we learned anything particularly interesting about Marquette in their season opening win over Longwood. The Golden Eagles won by 50, Allazia Blockton was really great in blowout limited minutes, they looked like they lived up to their billing as the third best team in the Big East against a vastly inferior opponent, etc., etc.
Tonight, they’ll host St. Francis for their second game of the season. There’s a certain amount of “trap game” involved here, because #18 Arizona State comes to the Al McGuire Center on Saturday afternoon. Saturday will serve as an official measuring stick on the season for the Golden Eagles as they look to make it back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, but they have to get past the Red Flash first.
One thing we’re going to have to keep an eye on is Marquette’s three point shooting. Hitting on 29.4% of their long range attempts against Longwood wasn’t really an issue because they were never really in danger of losing that game. However, they shot 34 times from behind the arc, which was 43% of their total shots, and that’s kind of a lot if you’re missing that much. MU finished with an effective field goal percentage of nearly 52% because they were so good inside the arc, and again, it kind of didn’t matter against the Lancers. Marquette wasn’t a particularly good long distance team last year (32.7%), so hopefully they can iron out these problems.
Marquette’s five newcomers appear to be a work in progress for head coach Carolyn Kieger. Last year, MU relied heavily on a seven player rotation, and when you combine that with most of those seven being freshmen, things worked out pretty well for them, all things considered. One of the major reasons for optimism regarding Kieger’s squad this season is the fact that the roster has been bolstered by five new players, four freshmen along with Chelsey Gibson, who returns from a knee injury that kept her out all of last season. Gibson and Lauren Van Kleunen weren’t even dressed to play against Longwood, while the three freshmen that did play only grabbed up a total of 20 of the available 200 player minutes in the game. In a game where Marquette led by 13 after 10 minutes and by 30 at halftime. Like I said: work in progress.
Game #2: vs St. Francis (PA) (1-0)
This will be the third ever meeting between Marquette and St. Francis, with each team taking one win each in the first two contests. MU got the most recent win in 2009, while St. Francis got the W in the first ever meeting back in 2002.
The Red Flash is off to an exciting start to their season after opening up with a 103-100 victory over Wisconsin. SFA went on a 10-3 run to close the game, which sounds pretty cool, but.... it took 3:19 of game time to complete. This was not a particularly well played game, as the two teams combined to commit 45 turnovers.
The big takeaway for me from that SFA-UW box score is the Red Flash’s outside shooting. 15-of-44 is barely acceptable from an efficiency standpoint, but a majority of these shots came from just two players. Jessica Kovatch went 4-for-11 against the Badgers, while teammate Maya Wynn went 4-12. Kovatch, who was NEC Freshman of the Year last season and started out this year on the preseason all-NEC team, isn’t just a shooter, as she managed to go 5-for-9 in between her long range attempts. Wynn is a little different bit of a case, as the junior from Maryland went 4-12 on the long balls and only attempted one two-pointer in the entire game.
As mentioned above, Kovatch was named Freshman of the Year last year in the NEC after averaging nearly 21 points a game and shooting 36% from long distance. She’s one of five players honored on the preseason All-NEC team, and that helped boost St. Francis to be picked to finish third in the league this season. The Red Flash did get one of the 10 first place votes, so there is a notion of uncertainty as to who the favorite really is in their conference.