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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: at St. John’s

The Golden Eagles head out to New York to take on the Red Storm and hopefully avoid the winter storm.

Big East Tournament Quarterfinals: St. John’s vs Creighton
I’ll stop using the picture when it stops being funny.
Getty Images

Normally I spend this space of the preview talking about big picture type things for Marquette women’s basketball. Since the Golden Eagles are at the midway point of the Big East calendar with a record of 7-3 (and maybe a little bit past it since it seems that UConn game is not getting rescheduled), it would definitely be a quality time to talk about big picture items.

But we did just talk about the big picture for Marquette heading into Wednesday night’s game against Seton Hall (a rousing 62-43 victory), so I wanted to take this moment before MU plays a Big East team for the first time this season to highlight something that I felt happening during that game against the Pirates.

In her two-plus seasons at Marquette, Jordan King has not been what you would call a dead-eye shooter. This season is a career best from the field for the junior from Illinois, and she’s only connecting on 41.5% of her shots overall. King’s shooting proficiency over her career so far has been buoyed by her accuracy inside the arc, because her outside shot have never come together at the Division 1 level. King is a career 26.3% three-point shooter, but her inability to connect on that shot regularly has clearly been at the forefront of the coaching staff’s minds. After firing off 114 triples as a freshman, King shot it from downtown just 73 times as a sophomore and she has let go just 29 times this year for what converts to a career low 1.5 attempts per game. She’s only hitting 31% of her three-pointers this season, so you won’t hear me shout too much about King needing to shoot it more.

Except.

And you felt that “except” coming, didn’t you?

In Big East play this season, King hasn’t started shooting more than she has on the season as a whole. She’s averaging 1.6 long range attempts per game, ever so barely over her season average. Based on the 188 attempts before this season started, King knows she really shouldn’t be shooting that shot.

Except.

You felt it again, right?

Jordan King is connecting on 37.5% of her three-point attempts in Big East play. In Marquette’s last three games, King is shooting 4-for-6 from long range.

Now, I’m not expecting her to hit 67% of her three-pointers for the rest of the season. In fact, based on the odds of her career so far, she’ll probably go 0-for-1 in Sunday’s game in New York, and that’s fine. But if the shooting light has gone on in her head, if Jordan King is turning into a reliable outside threat, something in a department where Marquette strongly needs a secondary option next to Karissa McLaughlin…..

Well. As I said during the Seton Hall game when she hit one of her two makes on three tries in that one: If Jordan King has figured out this whole shooting thing, everyone else in the Big East is in a lot of trouble.

Big East Game #11: at St. John’s Red Storm (6-12, 2-6 Big East)

Date: Sunday, January 30, 2022
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
Streaming: FloHoops, with Matt Ambrose, Mike Watts, and Meghan Caffrey calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

PLEASE NOTE: I am writing this before St. John’s plays DePaul on Friday night. The timing of the universe is such that it had to happen that way. If I waited until Saturday to write this, it would have never happened at all. Unless DePaul forgets how to play basketball for 40 minutes, I suspect that nothing in this will be wildly different.

Marquette is 18-10 all time against St. John’s. After winning at Carnesecca Arena in the second meeting last year, the Golden Eagles have now won five straight contests against the Red Storm and nine of the last 10 meetings. The only loss in that run? A trip to Carnesecca Arena in February 2019 when MU was ranked #8 in the country.

On Tuesday night, St. John’s went down to our nation’s capital and waffled Georgetown, 80-52. This is terrific news for the Red Storm. Why? Well, because they hadn’t won a game since December 11th. Between two non-conference losses, a handful of cancelations/postponements, and a six game Big East losing streak, the Red Storm had gone over a month without a win. I don’t think I need to elaborate that this season is not going well for the Johnnies.

They don’t even have “well, we challenged ourselves and it went poorly” as an explanation for their 4-6 non-conference record. They played two top 100 NET teams — admittedly away from home, so good for them — and lost both. They also lost a road game at Wagner (currently #231 in the NET) as well as a home date against Brown (#320) right before the turn of the year. Honestly, St. John’s was lucky to lose that one against Brown by only three points, as they were down 32-24 at halftime and got a last second three-pointer by Kadaja Bailey to make that margin look better than it actually was.

What’s wrong with the Johnnies? We probably should in fairness point out that they have played just one home game since the start of the new year, and that was their visit from UConn. Other than that, quite simply, they can’t defend. They can shoot it, ranking #33 in the country in two-pointers and #56 in effective field goal percentage according to HerHoopStats.com. They probably shouldn’t lean on shooting threes as much as they do since they’re a middle of the road team in terms of conversion rate, but given that they’re playing at a top 40 pace, that’s not that big of a deal.

That’s all on the offensive end, though, and like I said, defense is the problem. HHS says that the Johnnies rank #236 in the country in Defensive Rating, and they rank #306 in raw points allowed per 100 possessions. They’re ranked below #250 in the country in whatever shooting percentage metric you want to use, and they’re #248 in terms of the rate of three-pointers that they allow. That one is ultimately not helpful to Marquette, but it is what it is.

SJU is also an atrocious rebounding team, ranking #325 on the offensive glass and #259 on the defensive end. If they were an elite level defense or even a passable level defense, you could look at the refusal to grab offensive rebounds and say “yes, well, but they get back to get stops and they play fast, so it’s fine.” That is absolutely not what’s happening, and the fact that their opponents get a second chance on 34% of their misses is not helping the ol’ defensive efficiency.

If Marquette plays Marquette’s brand of basketball — defense and rebounding the hell out of the ball on both ends — this should be a relatively tension free game because St. John’s major weaknesses either A) help MU’s weaknesses, in this case not being an elite caliber offense, or B) play straight into MU’s strengths, in this case treating every missed shot like it already belongs to them.

As you could have probably guessed at the start of the year, Leilani Correa and Kadaja Bailey are the top two names on the scouting report for opponents. They are the only two women on the team averaging north of 10 points a game with Correa topping the chart at 19.4 per contest heading into their Friday night clash with DePaul. Correa is SJU’s most likely three-point shooter with over six attempts a game, but she’s not the most accurate one. That title goes to Camree Clegg, who is knocking down nearly 40% of her 3.1 attempts per game. The 5’5” Clegg is also St. John’s leader in assists at 3.4 per game, although Correa, Bailey, and Unique Drake are all north of two helpers per game as well.

When it comes to rebounding, Marquette has to put a body on Rayven Peeples. The 6’3” forward from Michigan has only played in eight games this season: SJU’s first two and then their most recent six. She’s averaging 10.5 rebounds per game, including 4.5 on the offensive end. I suspect that the Red Storm’s overall rebounding problems would be a lot better if Peeples hadn’t missed 10 games, but there’s nothing they can do about that now. 6’2” Danielle Patterson is no slouch at 6.0 caroms per game and I’d imagine that she’s getting a little bit more free for grabbing misses with Peeples back in the lineup.