#1 - Inexperience Showed
I am not going to lie. When I saw that Marquette was playing Eastern Illinois on Monday night, I thought Marquette was in for an easy 20 point win. Apparently so did the team. Marquette did not look prepared at all on the defensive end with EIU shredding our pick-and-roll defense throughout the first half for numerous easy buckets. After Marquette had spotted EIU a 10 point lead in the first six minutes of the game, they came back to take the lead just over the halfway point in the first period. However, instead of continuing the push, Marquette seemed complacent and let EIU hang around in the first half go into half with a three point lead. To me, this screams inexperience. An experienced team takes an early punch, keeps pushing, tightens up their game, and win by 27 (or so). Marquette on the other hand continued to sleepwalk and throw lazy passes which were turned into easy points by a pretty athletic EIU team and nearly cost Marquette the game.
With Haanif Cheatham transferring, Andrew Rowsey is the only upperclassman who routinely handles the ball. It is now up to Rowsey to take even more of a leadership role and show the younger players how to put teams away, something Marquette did not do well at all last season.
#2 - #TheThing has gone to Andrew Rowsey’s head
This may be considered sacrilege to many Marquette fans (sorry @Mubbnation) but Andrew Rowsey was far too reliant on #TheThing against Eastern Illinois.
For people who are not familiar with #TheThing, it is when Andrew Rowsey pump fakes a three point shot and then draws a foul on a defender who has jumped to contest it. He’s aware it’s a thing that the MU faithful are watching for, and it was a constant refrain from Jay Bilas and Dan Shulman on the ESPN broadcasts in Maui.
Even though he was reasonably effective drawing fouls, the Eastern Illinois players did not fall for it nearly as much as previous teams and Rowsey started to pump fake even when he had wide open shots. I understand that #TheThing is a very effective changeup from simply shooting the ball, but when you start looking for it — and it absolutely looked like Rowsey was hunting for it against EIU — it results in the ball stagnating and letting the defense recover. Rowsey is a lethal offensive weapon with or without #TheThing and I’m not saying he shouldn't use it. If he were to focus on just playing and utilizing all of the moves in his arsenal, it would only make #TheThing more effective when he decides to use it.
#3 - Greg Elliott (and the team as a whole) showed grit
Marquette had no business winning this game. They were sloppy, looked disinterested at times, and unable to stop a team that shot under 42% from 2s coming into the game from getting easy buckets near the hoop. However, Marquette did come back and win, and that in itself is commendable.
Marquette showed grit as a team coming back from down seven with eight minutes to play. The player who showed the most grit on the team was freshman Greg Elliott. He pestered opposing ball handlers all night, gathering four steals and four blocks. With Eastern Illinois averaging 1.11 points per possession, those four steals are worth about 4.5 points, the four blocked shots around the rim are also worth about 4.5 points since EIU shot 58% from inside the arc. For those who are not mathematically inclined, that's around 9 points taken off the board by Elliott alone. It’s pretty safe to say without Elliott’s defense, we would not be walking out of the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a win last night, and that’s without mentioning his clutch layup with 27 second left in the extra session to put Marquette up three. His truest example of grit was when after he missed two free throws with 14 seconds left in the extra session and Marquette up just one, he used his Inspector Gadget arms to block a go ahead layup from D’Angelo Jackson with seven seconds remaining in the game. It would have been easy to half-contest that layup for fear of picking up a foul, but Elliott gave it his all and made an awesome play. Overall, it was an ugly affair that I would like to put in the past, but it did teach our guys not to take any teams lightly and even if they make a few mistakes to put those behind them and make the next play.
BONUS THING: I would have had Sam Hauser’s 30 points on a great shooting night as one of the three things but honestly I expect Hauser to do great things and I felt these three things were worth more of a discussion.