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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: at DePaul

Can the Golden Eagles go to Wintrust and snap their three game skid?

St. John’s v DePaul Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

I am running out of things to say about Marquette women’s basketball.

This is what happens when a team is on a three game losing streak and you can tell that the problem is the same problem that existed when the team was 7-1 and ranked #24 in the Associated Press poll. The problem is the offense. We know that Megan Duffy is going to get her team to defend. That’s not a debate. That’s why Marquette currently ranks #30 in the country in Her Hoop Stats’ defensive metric.

But you can’t subsist on defense alone. We’ve seen that repeatedly this season as Marquette has been locking down nearly every single team that they play..... but the offense isn’t there to pick them up even a little bit. HHS has MU clearly 0.90 points per possession just twice this season. Once against Holy Cross when they got to 1.00 even and again against Loyola Chicago when the offense generated 0.92 points per trip down the floor.

MU is a middle of the road offensive team, slightly propped up by good offensive rebounding. They don’t shoot the ball well as a team, no matter which shooting percentage you want to use. The Golden Eagles are a great free throw shooting team.... but they’re one of the worst teams in the country at getting to the line to take advantage of that. The offensive problems aren’t because they’re sloppy with the ball, ranking #63 in the country in turnover rate. They just can’t get the ball to go in the bucket.

There’s an argument to be made that Marquette should be shooting more three-pointers. Jordan King, Claire Kaifes, and Nia Clark are all quality shooters so far this season, especially King at 41%. But King’s most effective when doing something other than spotting up for three, so that limits her effectiveness at that skill. Kaifes and Clark are struggling to get playing time, and the same goes for freshman Emily La Chapell who went 3-for-4 from long range against UConn last time out to raise her season shooting percentage behind the arc up to a respectable 32%.

If MU started taking a few more threes — they’re bottom third in the country in attempt rate — that could start to create a little bit more space on the interior for Liza Karlen and Chloe Marotta to get things done. A little more space means a little bit easier time shooting it, which leads to defenses getting a little more frazzled, which leads to more open space for shooters to hit open shots, etc., etc., etc.

Is that the answer for Marquette? I don’t know, but as they are mired in a three game losing streak with two road games against high quality opponents on deck this week, something needs to get going for the Golden Eagles on the offensive end.

Stat Watch: Chloe Marotta needs nine rebounds to tie and 10 rebounds to pass Mary Spellacy for the 12th most in program history.

Big East Game #6: at DePaul Blue Demons (10-5, 3-1 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Streaming: FloSports with Matt Menzl, Patricia Babcock-McGraw, and Kacy Standohar on the call
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 33-49 all time against DePaul. After MU’s Big East tournament quarterfinals victory last March, the Golden Eagles have a slight edge, 6-5, in the last 11 contests, but they have also won three of the last four.

The Blue Demons had a rough start to the season, falling at Northern Illinois, losing overtime at home against Cleveland State, and then throwing away the benefits of beating #14 Maryland in an event down in Fort Myers by wrapping the event up with a loss to Towson. They were just 4-3 overall at that point and it was impossible to try and figure out exactly what they were as a team.

Right after that loss to Towson, DePaul ripped off five straight wins, and while none of those games are top 100 NET opponents, it was more important for Doug Bruno’s team to just stack up victories at that point of the season. They are just 1-2 since then, but it’s an explainable 1-2. They lost by 14 at home to a Louisville squad that’s a bit lost themselves this season after starting off the year in the top 10 of the AP poll, and then after a nine point win over Providence, DePaul’s most recent game was a 10 point home loss to then-#21 Creighton. Imagine if DePaul was 13-2 right now, and think about what the prevailing opinion of the Blue Demons would be if they didn’t have those uncharacteristic losses in their first seven games.

A little bit of DePaul’s early problems can be explained by the fact that the team they are now is not the team that head coach Doug Bruno thought he had at the start of the season. Jade Edwards is a two-time All-Patriot League performer, and she tore her ACL in the first quarter of the loss to Northern Illinois. She started in both of DePaul’s first two games and while she didn’t score a point in the 29 minutes she played, it’s clear that she was supposed to play a notable role on this team. Same goes for Kierra Collier, who played 24 minutes a game last season, mostly off the bench. Given how much the Blue Demons lost from last season, Collier had to at least be in consideration for a starting spot if not a super sub role. With Collier sidelined and Edwards suddenly not available, that left DePaul in a rough spot, and that’s how you take losses that maybe you really shouldn’t have taken.

This has ultimately led to DePaul asking their starters to play at least 30 minutes a night. Four of them are between the 37.4 per game that Darrione Rogers averages and the 32.2 from Notre Dame transfer Anaya Peoples. Jorie Allen has been the fifth starter 12 times this season while playing in every game, and she has played less than 26 minutes as a starter just one time this season while averaging 28.0 minutes per game. Bruno really only relies on two bench players in Keke Rimmer and Zaria Hurston, and both of them are averaging less than 15 minutes per game. Freshman Tara Daye had been getting regular minutes, but she hasn’t appeared in any of DePaul’s last three contests.

Somehow, even though DePaul doesn’t really have the horses to pull this off, they’re still operating with the same “let’s go nine million miles an hour” attitude, currently ranking #41 in the country per Her Hoop Stats in possessions per 40 minutes. That’s definitely a choice, and they’re not doing it by generating a ton of turnovers on defense to create quick possessions, as they’re really just middle of the road nationally speaking in turnover rate.

DePaul does tend to shoot an awful lot of three-pointers, which is pretty much business as usual for how Doug Bruno goes, but there’s a big “what are you doing here exactly” attached to that idea. Kendall Holmes and Darrione Rogers are doing a big chunk of their scoring behind the arc, and that’s great. Holmes hits 43% of her 5.3 attempts per game, and Rogers is #2 in scoring on the team thanks to hitting 36% of her team high 8.4 long range attempts. Cool, great, totally fine, good way to run a team, especially when neither of those women are the #1 option.

Aneesah Morrow is the #1 offensive option with a usage rate of nearly 39%. Intelligent people can quibble about whether or not that’s good for a team, but given that 1) the 6’1” Morrow is a great basketball player and 2) DePaul’s got injury issues, it’s hard to disagree with the intent here. What we can all agree is bad is Aneesah Morrow attempting six three-pointers a game. Not because she’s one of if not the most dangerous post player in the Big East..... but because she’s hitting just 21% of them. Not 31%, just barely under that effective field goal percentage efficiency mark, 21%. Just a bit over one out of five. The worst part about this for Marquette? They can’t let her shoot. Morrow is 5-for-11 behind the arc in DePaul’s last two games. This raises a question about why Bruno let her shoot those threes when she was under 18% on the year before that, but that’s a different issue.