#1 - Harry Froling is probably your center for the rest of the season
After the Northern Illinois game where Harry Froling made his debut and only racked up three minutes, I wrote that head coach Steve Wojciechowski probably didn’t trust Froling as much as the other big men and that was why he played so little. I’m going to say that Wojo trusts Froling a lot more than I originally anticipated.
How many of us would have expected Froling to get 20 minutes in a hotly contested BIG EAST opener against the #6 team in the nation? If you said you were expecting him to get 20 minutes, which was nearly what Matt Heldt and Theo John got combined, you are a liar, crazy, or have some type of clairvoyance and in that case please DM me the lottery numbers for tomorrow @Superfanmubb. I am not saying that Matt Heldt will no longer be your starting center or that Theo John won’t see the court, but I am saying that from what we saw last night, Harry Froling will be seeing a lot of playing time at the end of games in crucial situations.
His numbers were not all too gaudy with 3 points on 1-of-2 from the field with 8 rebounds (5 on the offensive end) and a pair of assists. However, it wasn’t the number that made me think that Froling will lead the centers in minutes the rest of the year, it was his fluidity and vision. With six minutes left in the game, the ball was inbounded from under the basket to Froling who was way out on the perimeter, the Xavier big who was guarding Harry tried to steal the pass but Harry managed to tip it to himself, and rather than holding the ball and waiting for a guard, Froling saw the opening and took a few dribbles into the paint where he then kicked the ball to a wide open Markus Howard for his first (and as it would turn out, only) three of the night. The level of fluidity that Froling showed on that play driving to the hoop then kicking the ball out, along with his baseline spin for a basket elsewhere in the game makes me believe that he will get the lion’s share of minutes at center going forward.
#2 - Jamal Cain’s Coming Out Party
Jamal Cain has been a tough defender who does a great job of blocking shots and creating steals with his length and athleticism for Marquette this season. I don’t think anyone would have been shocked if I told them that Cain would have four rebounds, four steals, and two blocks against Xavier. However, I think anyone would have been surprised with the fact that he scored 16 points on 4-of-6 from behind the arc, all of which may have come from the left corner. Cain still has plenty of things to improve on when playing defense but his rare mix of athleticism and, from what I have heard and seen, great work ethic, the sky's the limit defensively. If you add onto this a consistent spot up three point shot which he demonstrated last night, Marquette could really have a special player going forward and past that, it turns out there is an association that some guys play in after college that loves 6’7” athletic wings who can shoot the ball and play defense.
As I mentioned earlier with Harry eating away at the other center's minutes, Cain could quite possibly do the same with the other wings. Most every Marquette fan appreciates what Sacar Anim has put into his game this year, becoming probably the best defender on the perimeter, however, he only played 15 minutes last night (and only three after halftime) compared to Cain’s 29 because he couldn’t put the ball in the basket as well. Anim is probably the team’s best defender, but the gap between him and Cain is shrinking, and with Cain’s ability to knock down an open three along with his touch at the rim (when he’s not trying to dunk on the whole state of Ohio), Cain could be in line to see a large bump in playing time.
#3 - BIG EAST BASKETBALL KICKS ASS
I could talk about another great all-around performance from Sam Hauser, clutch shooting from Andrew Rowsey, J.P. Macura’s offset chin, or any other number of things you have already heard about. Instead my final take away from the game last night is HOW DOPE IS THE BIG EAST???????
Talk about a great product, being broadcast on a national network, with no college football bowl game talk cause neither team has a football team (like that stuff even matters for all but 4 teams anyway) to distract from the game. The idea for a basketball-centric conference works and games like last night prove it 100%. Whatever you think of Xavier and their program, you cannot deny how exciting that game was and that anyone who wouldn't want to watch two BIG EAST programs go at it like that doesn’t like sports, America, or puppies! BIG EAST basketball is the best, even if J.P. Macura is the worst, and I can’t wait for January 24th so we can see Andrew Rowsey and J.P. Macura face each other again!
P.S. That may have not even the best game last night in the BIG EAST when considering Butler and Georgetown went to double overtime after the Hoyas blew a 20 points first half lead.