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RV Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: at #8 Connecticut

The Golden Eagles head to the Nutmeg State with an eye on trying to snap a 15 game losing streak to the Huskies.

UConn v South Carolina Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Marquette women’s basketball is about to go into a rough stretch of basketball. Worse, they’re going into it on a two-game losing skid.

MU’s next three games, all in Big East play, will all be on the road. They’ll be at UConn on Saturday, then start off the New Year with a visit down I-94 to see DePaul next Wednesday, and that gets followed up with a visit to Creighton on January 8th. Three straight road games against teams in the top half of the Big East. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see, not when you’re coming off an awful home outing against Colorado and a lackluster offensive performance in a two point home loss to Villanova. I mean, heck, you wouldn’t want to see that kind of a road stretch lined up if things were going well.

Marquette’s biggest problem remains their offense. While it looked like Colorado was running wild in that game, the fact of the matter is that Her Hoop Stats still clocks the Buffaloes at less than a point per possession. You can win a lot of basketball games holding opponents to no more than 0.97 points per possession. However, MU generated just 0.64/possession against the Buffs and only 0.70 vs Villanova. It almost worked against the Wildcats as they did a good job limiting Maddy Siegrist in the final 30 minutes, but they came up short because the offense just didn’t get it together for a full 40 minutes.

While HHS rates MU at #60 in Offensive Rating, it’s mostly because the Golden Eagles are #63 in offensive rebounding rate and do a good job of taking advantage of their second chances. A quick rundown of Marquette’s shooting numbers:

  • 41.8% field goal percentage, #123 in the country
  • 46.0% effective field goal percentage, #154
  • 45.7% two-point percentage, #152
  • 31.1% three-point percentage, #165

Yeah, it’s all not great. If they were great at one thing or at the very least good, somewhere in the top 100, things would probably be going better. But the way it’s going now, one thing like Liza Karlen going 1-for-13 against Villanova, and the whole thing shakes apart.

Is the answer trying to get better looks from beyond the arc? That would make a lot of sense, as Marquette ranks in the bottom third in the country in that department. Stretching out defenders would certainly open up more paths to the basket, and you’d like to think that would help Karlen get better looks inside. Jordan King, Claire Kaifes, and Nia Clark are all shooting north of 35%, but King’s the only one attempting a long range shot more than twice per game. Should we be worried about Kenzie Hare not playing at all against Villanova since she averages six long range attempts per game, or since she’s shooting just 28% for the year and one for her last 13.... maybe that’s not a problem?

I don’t have all the answers, but Megan Duffy and her coaching staff are going to have to come up with a lot of them over the next three games if Marquette wants to stay on track for an NCAA bid.

Big East Game #5: at #8 Connecticut Huskies (10-2, 3-0 Big East)

Date: Saturday, December 31, 2022
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Connecticut
Television: SNY, if you’re lucky enough to live in the Northeast viewing area
Streaming: Here if you’re in SNY’s home area, if you’re not
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 0-15 all time against Connecticut. This is probably not surprising news to you.

UConn comes into Saturday on a three game winning streak and with W’s in four of their last five contests. The loss in there as well as the most recent victory are perhaps the most instructive recent games for figuring out what the Huskies are. On December 11th, they visited then-#20 Maryland and took an 85-78 loss to the Terrapins. The Huskies were without Azzi Fudd and Nika Muhl AND Dorka Juhasz in that one, and yep, it didn’t go well at least in Connecticut terms.

On Wednesday night, they faced off against #21 Creighton still without Fudd, but with Muhl and Juhasz, but without Amari DeBerry and Aubrey Griffin.... and they smashed the Bluejays, 72-47. UConn went up 10-0 in the first three minutes and didn’t really worry about much after that. Two teams with effectively the same national profile at the time of the game, both games on the road, and UConn just raced through the most recent one after losing to the other one.

Does this mean that Nika Muhl and Dorkha Juhasz are game changers? Well, I don’t know if we can go that far with things, but I am legitimately afraid of Muhl who looks like one of the meanest players isn Big East history when you watch her. I’m sure she’s nice but also I do not wish to accidentally piss her off and find out what happens.

Anyway, UConn has played 12 games this season, and they have just three women who have appeared in all three and just two of them — Aaliyah Edwards and Lou Lopez Senechal — have started all 12. They have three more who have appeared in 11 games, so it’s not like this season has been a completely trainwreck..... but also Azzi Fudd missing the last five games with a knee injury was not on the list of things to do this season after all-everything guard Paige Bueckers went down with an ACL tear over the summer. Same for Dorkha Juhasz missing seven games after starting in the first two games of the year following a season ending injury in the NCAA tournament last spring.

It’s been a lot for the Huskies to deal with on a game by game basis.... and yet somehow they’re 10-2 with the only losses to #7 Notre Dame and #20 Maryland, both on the road..... and they have wins over #3 Texas, #10 NC State, #9 Iowa, and #21 Creighton. I’m not a UConn historian, at least not a deep nuanced level, but there’s an argument to be made that this is one of Geno Auriemma’s best coaching jobs at least in terms of roster management.

It looks like Fudd will remain out for this weekend, which makes Edwards UConn’s leading available scorer at 17.9 points per game. She’s doing that almost entirely on the interior, and at 10.0 rebounds per game, Edwards and her purple and gold braids are a walking double-double machine. While she’s leading the team, Senechal, Juhasz, and Aubrey Griffin are all averaging more than 12 points a game, so they will have no shortage of offensive options without their sharpshooting guard in the lineup.