You know how when a pitcher is on a complete game or a no-hitter, no one in the dugout is supposed to talk to him because its bad juju? First, I can’t imagine that absolutely NO ONE says a word to him throughout the entire game. Like, the pitching coach or the catcher has to talk a little bit of strategy for the next inning, right? “Hey, Clayton, remember, we can’t throw the curve to Harper next inning.” Second, even if he does sit in silence for the duration of time that he’s still got the no-hit bid, the responsibility is on the players and coaches to stay silent. Fans, on the other hand, have the liberty to talk all they want about what’s unfolding before their eyes. So that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’m going to discuss the fact that YOUR Marquette women’s basketball team is UNDEFEATED in Big East play through seven games.
Side note: I really don’t believe in that superstition that if you talk about it, suddenly it’s going to affect the players’ performance and result in the loss of a no-hitter or losing a winning streak.
Secondary side note: I called it waaaaay back in December (It seems like a long time ago just three days into the new semester) that the Golden Eagles would finish the season undefeated in Big East play. Proof here. And boy, they sure are making me look pretty good at the moment.
Let’s tip-off this article with some facts shall we?
Marquette’s home winning streak actually spans a lot longer as they’ve won 15 straight at the Al McGuire. They’ve won five of their seven conference games by double digits, including a convincing 93-81 victory at home against DePaul who’s currently second in the Big East standings. They have a +6 turnover margin in large part due to their up-tempo play (76.5 possessions per 40 minutes which is 30th in the nation according to HerHoopStats) which makes most teams uncomfortable. A team that has won 15 straight home games games is bound to have a great shooting percentage...and they do. The Golden Eagles are shooting 45.6% from the field which is 29th in the nation. MU has looked dominant for the majority of their games thus far and even in their two games where they grinded out two-point victories against St. John’s and Butler...they made incredible plays to earn the victory.
If you need to refresh your memory, I got the highlights for you. Even if you remember them well, I highly recommend giving them the watch anyway.
What they weren’t able to do in non-conference play, they have been able to do in Big East play, which is win the close games. But like I mentioned earlier, not many have been close at all. Sure, their opponent has found a way to go on runs and get to within a few possessions, but Marquette has pulled away in five of their seven Big East games and has clearly shown their superiority as the powerhouse in the Big East. They have done this through stingy defense and smart offense. They have played within their strengths on both sides of the ball and typically have four or five players hitting double-digit scoring every game. That, combined with MU’s relentless attitude defensively that causes the opposing team to turn the ball over excessively, has led to a very complete Marquette team that looks ready for March.
Hey, uh Besay, aren’t you going to talk about the games that MU has this weekend? Do I really have to? It’s not like Georgetown or Villanova actually present a real threat to this Marquette team. But as you wish...
Big East Game #8: at Georgetown Hoyas (7-10, 2-5 Big East)
To give you an idea of how little the Hoyas actually care about their women’s basketball team, they are having an Avocado Appreciation Night on Friday during the game. Presumably to get more fans to the game, as they have the second lowest average attendance in the conference? Or probably to shift people’s attention away from how bad the Hoyas have played this season, and towards savoring a delicious avocado. I think it’s hilarious and totally unnecessary. But hey, vegetables deserve appreciation (or is it a fruit?) too right? Next week, Georgetown will have tomato appreciation day just watch.
Anyways, Georgetown has struggled this season with consistency. They’ve had a particularly rough stretch recently losing four straight games. Too bad for them it will be five straight after Friday. It is important to note that most of their losses have been close games. Three of their five losses have been by single-digits. They lost to Villanova by two and Butler by nine (the latter of which played Marquette very well). They did get blown out by St. John’s on the road, 64-41, so there’s that terrible offensive display for ya.
The Hoyas have a combined field goal percentage of 26.2% this season. Yikes...it’s no wonder they are 8th in the Big East. They don’t seem to be able to find the open shooter very well as their 11 assists per game is dead last in the Big East. They are averaging more turnovers (13) than assists on the season and that isn’t typically a winning strategy. I talked about their 2-point field goal percentage which is last in the Big East by the way, but their 3-point shooting is also last as they are only connecting on just under five a game. I cannot wait for Marquette to absolutely feast off of Georgetown’s turnovers and lackluster offensive output.
The Hoyas have three players in double figures scoring-wise. Junior guard Diona White (17.5), senior guard Mikayla Venson (14.4), and senior forward Cynthia Pentke (10.6) are really the only offense the Hoyas have. No other player is averaging more than 5.2 points per game for GU, so you can see how badly they’re missing injured star Dorothy Adomako, who will miss the entire season. The Golden Eagles can really focus their defense on stopping those three players from scoring. I expect Georgetown coach James Howard to be pretty frustrated at the lack of offensive production by his squad Friday night.
Onwards to a game that figures to be more competitive...
Big East Game #9: at Villanova Wildcats (14-4, 4-3 Big East)
Remember when Villanova was ranked in the top 25 in the AP Poll? Hahahahahaha, good times. Yes, I know, Marquette dropped of the poll, too, so we shouldn’t laugh. However, conference play has been tough on the Wildcats as they’ve dropped three of seven games after starting the year 11-0. They were cruisin’ until they were stopped dead in their tracks in their Big East opener against Creighton. A 69-54 loss in Omaha. Then, in their first game of 2018 they lost another not-so-close game against Butler 76-53 at home. And after going on a nice little win streak of three games, they’ve dropped the last two to St. John’s and Penn. As you can tell, conference play has brought about some inconsistency from the Wildcats.
However, they’ve still only lost four games all year and have some quality wins most notably against current #15 ranked Duke. It’s also important to point out that the AP Poll has the Wildcats in the receiving votes category with two more than Marquette. Although they’ve been inconsistent of late, they are still getting some national recognition on the cusp of a top 25 spot.
Defense defense defense. That’s what Villanova is all about. They have the best scoring defense in the Big East (and 48th in the country) allowing just 58.4 points per game. That will win you a lot of ball games, as will only giving up 37.7% from the field and 26.5% from threes. That’s tops in the conference in both categories. The key for Villanova is slowing teams down. They average around 64 possessions per 40 minutes which is excruciatingly slow. As a matter of fact, they are the sixth slowest team in the country. But, hey, whatever works right? Maybe teams shoot poorly because they’re falling asleep during games. Coincidentally, Marquette loves to play fast tempo. So we’ll see how this game shakes out with both teams bringing two completely different styles of play to the game. Either way, it’s going to be a difficult road game for Marquette and they will need to bring their A game if they want to come out with a win.
Who are the players to watch for Villanova? Interesting question here because the Wildcats have four players averaging double-digit scoring but none has more than 13 points per game this season. This is a direct result of how slow they play and can still cause Marquette problems if they’re not careful. Kelly Jekot and Adrianna Hahn lead the way with 12.3 and 11.9 points per game. The other two players, Mary Gedaka and Alex Louin, have 10.7 and 10.4 points respectively. They have a decent field goal percentage collectively at 42.3% but more impressive is their 78 blocks this season which is second in the Big East. MU will definitely have to tread carefully when they enter the paint on offense and be smart with their shot selection down low.
This game will come down to which team executes their game plan more effectively. It will be a battle of Marquette’s high tempo versus Villanova’s very slow tempo. Whichever team makes the other more uncomfortable will win the game.