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#16 Marquette at St. John’s: Three Things We Learned

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It’s always easier to write these after a loss. It’s just not any fun.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at St. John Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

#1 - It’s time to start worrying about Marquette when they’re not at Fiserv Forum.

We’re all aware of the fact that Marquette is 10-0 at home this season but just 1-3 away from the brand new Fiserv Forum. Perhaps more troublesome is the fact that Marquette has not been competitive in two of those games in total: The trip to Indiana as well as the second halves against Kansas and St. John’s.

So, I went ahead and pulled together the Four Factors for those four non-home games, plus the points per possession stats.

Uh, it’s not great.

Away From Home Four Factors

Marquette Category Opponents
Marquette Category Opponents
48.0% eFG% 56.5%
16.8% Turnover % 14.7%
25.0% Off. Reb. Rate 26.5%
25.4% FT Rate 38.7%
1.00 Pts/Possession 1.17

Well, the good news is that turnovers have not been a problem across the scope of four games plus the OT session against Louisville.

The two things that stand out in particular is how badly Marquette is getting beaten when it comes to shooting the ball as well as the lopsided nature of the free throw rate. I suspect that the free throw rate itself is not a problem for the Golden Eagles (it’s not very influential in terms of impact relative to the other three Factors), but what the FT rate signifies may be affecting the effective field goal percentage. Teams are outpacing Marquette’s efforts to get to the free throw line, and that means, generally speaking, MU is committing a lot more fouls than their opponents. Some of that is going to be the nature of road games, of course, but if Marquette is experiencing foul trouble, then all of a sudden it’s going to get a lot easier to start scoring against the Golden Eagles. Theo John and Ed Morrow are at their best when they can be aggressive defenders on the interior.... but they can’t be aggressive if they’re toting fouls around.

There’s eight more road games for Marquette to tackle this season. If they consider themselves to be contenders for the Big East regular season title, they’re probably going to have to win at least four of those remaining games. That means turning around the lopsided nature of their performances on both sides of the ball.

#2 - Marquette needs a reliable secondary scorer in the worst way.

Markus Howard shot 2-for-15 against St. John’s on Tuesday night, including making two of his eight tries from outside the arc and missing all seven attempts inside of it. We can debate the merits of all of that at a different time, but the more important part here is the fact that Marquette should and perhaps needs to be able to win while that kind of thing is happening.

The problem is that no one else was able to fill the void at Carnesecca Arena. Joey Hauser’s stat line makes it look like maybe he is that dude: 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 28 foul plagued minutes. Except.... well, he had 11 of them in the first half. He looked every part of the top 60 prospect that he was in the opening 20 minutes, veering fairly close towards taking control of the game, but that wasn’t the case after intermission. Part of that was his fouls as he committed his third foul 10 seconds into the second half and then sat for the next five minutes as St. John’s started to assert control of the game and ballooned the lead out to 13. Part of that was the Red Storm, as after Hauser scored on his first two shots upon coming back into the game and then left with his fourth foul, SJU held him without a shot for the rest of the game. The younger Stevens Point native played nearly the entire final nine minutes of the game and did not get another shot off. There’s a lot of things at work there, of course, but Marquette needs options, and one of the most prominent possibilities can’t find himself being taken out of circulation.

The same thing goes for the elder Hauser, who is admittedly very much of a “flow of the offense” kind of scorer, but he was held to just eight shots in the entire game. Sacar Anim, who had flashes of brilliance as a scorer last year and had a very important 16 points against Kansas State? Five shots. The best way to make Markus Howard’s life easier is for defenses to need to be looking at literally anything other than Howard. If they can wander off from someone else and tilt towards Howard, that’s how we get things like 2-for-15. If someone else — or, preferably, multiple someone elses — are keeping things honest, then things get a lot easier for Howard to make his shot click.

#3 - I’m getting really sick of Shamorie Ponds in New York.

If I may.

Shamorie Ponds is a junior. Marquette has now lost three straight games on the road against St. John’s: One at Madison Square Garden and the last two at Carnesecca Arena. These two things are not coincidences. At home against Marquette, Ponds is averaging 29.3 points on 54% shooting and 47% from long range along with six rebounds and four assists for giggles.

He is not a secret to the Marquette staff on any level at this point, and really has not been since the moment Big East play kicked off in 2016-17. Even with that being the case, he’s still just completely wrecking the Golden Eagles whenever they come to town. To make matters worse, Marquette does a reasonable job defending him in Milwaukee. He’s averaging 16.5 points in two games while shooting just 32% from the field. Ponds is weirdly a better rebounder and passer on the road in this series (7 and 6 respectively in both games), but the point is that Wojo and his staff have (mostly) figured him out for games in Milwaukee..... but he’s still going bananas when MU goes to his building.

I don’t care for it and don’t wish to see it ever again.