Before I begin, I want to say that it’s difficult sometimes to learn something new from the team after blowing out a subpar opponent that you were supposed to beat handily. Thus, a lot of things were reaffirmed for me on Friday night. For example, Marquette’s defense has gone from sneaky good, to the best in the Big East as noted by one of the announcers. We knew that. Joey Hauser is for real. And Theo John has made great strides in his second year and is in the running for the best big man in the Big East. However, I want to emphasize three things that were confirmed in this game.
MARKUS HOWARD IS A CHEAT CODE
As I was eating some delicious tacos with my family at Velvet Taco somewhere in Dallas, I pointed at each of my family members and said, “Two words, Markus Howard. Remember that name.” This happened at halftime of the Marquette game that I was watching on my phone because yay for technology. So around 8pm Central Standard time, I was calmly pointing to my family and ingraining Markus Howard’s name into their brains. Why is this important? Because at 8pm Markus had a perfect game shooting. He was 8-8 from the field, 5-5 from three, and had made both of his free throws. His 23 first half points outscored Southern’s 17 total points in the first half.
We’ve heard of of perfect games in baseball when a pitcher gets 27 outs without giving up a hit or a walk. But it’s a lot harder in basketball to be perfect. Well Markus was perfect in 11 or so minutes of first half action. He tacked on another three early in the second half to finish with 26 points in 16 minutes of play. But you know this if you watched the game or read Brewtown Andy’s wonderful instant recap.
I say all this to make this declaration: Markus Howard is the best shooter in the country. At first, I was skeptical of this Big East POY talk coming in to the season. He was, at times, inconsistent last year in the scoring department but still averaged 20 points per game. Markus has been playing much more efficiently this season and has been more consistent, especially over the last month. I want to highlight three games that are surely fresh in your minds: Kansas State, Buffalo, and Southern. Against K-State, Markus scored 45 points on 17 shots and made 19 of 21 free throws. Efficient and explosive. Buffalo was even more impressive as 40 of his 45 were scored in the second half and he hit 9 of 13 threes with a perfect 12-12 from the line. WILD. Then you think, maybe he’ll have a quieter performance in a buy game after Christmas...NOPE! 26 points in 16 minutes.
He makes shots that no one else in the country can make. Step back threes with a guy in his face, sometimes a guy who’s nearly a foot taller than him as was the case with Buffalo’s Nick Perkins. At times the way he releases the ball you think nooo way that goes in. But it does. And it does a lot. If you’ve watched these games you’ll agree with me that Markus is the best shooter in the country. If you haven’t I am deeply sorry for you and you should watch his highlights. Seriously, do yourself a favor and search Markus Howard highlights on Google.
Cam Marotta is officially an MU legend
I kind of feel sorry for Southern because they were down by 40 points when Cam Marotta pulled up from three with time winding down and did the unthinkable. He drained a step back three that made the Fiserv Forum go bonkers. For a second, I thought I was watching Markus Howard. The confidence that Cam displayed was awesome. He motioned everyone off and knew exactly what he was going to do. He took a few dribbles then stepped back and let it fly with ease. All those days practicing at the Al finally paid off. After the game the team almost carried him off on their shoulders. He has the fan vote to be enshrined in the Marquette Basketball Hall of Fame and a statue of Cam hitting that shot should be erected in front of Fiserv Forum. Here’s Cam’s reaction after the game:
After he swished the three, he patted his chest and pointed to the heavens as if to thank the good Lord, or perhaps just saying hi to his departed father, Marquette icon Marc Marotta. It meant a lot to Cam that he made that shot. This was just his second career field goal (both threes) wearing the blue and gold but I guarantee you the one he hit back in the 2016-17 season wasn’t as magical as this one.
Chartouny and Bailey are confident shooters
Shooters gonna shoot! And they did. Joseph Chartouny and Brenden Bailey hit three-pointers in this game. Who cares if we see Chartouny as more of a passer? And let’s not talk about the fact that Bailey air-balled a three and hit the side of the backboard with another. I love the confidence they showed shooting in the extended action they got in the second half. Chartouny proved to me that he can make threes when he’s confident with his shot. That’s huge if he can display the same confidence against high level competition. I’m not saying I want him jacking up threes all over the place, but the fact that he has this in his repertoire is nice when its needed (rarely if Markus keeps playing like this).
Bailey showed me that nothing can stop him from throwing the ball towards the basket. He loves to shoot. He put up 10 shots and made two of them. Now if he can be a little more accurate, that would be nice. But I love his confidence. Over time, I’m sure his shot will improve. On a related note, Bailey played well defensively with four rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and one steal. I know it’s Southern, but it’s still good to see these two guys out there playing hard and shooting with confidence.