In an attempt to avenge a January 3rd loss the Friars will make the trip to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday. One month ago we saw the Friars blow a late second half lead and ended up falling 95-90 in overtime at the hands of the Golden Eagles. Markus Howard led the way for the Golden Eagles scoring a Big East record 52 points against the Friars. Since the victory Marquette (13-9, 4-6) are losers of 5 of 7 with them most recently falling to Butler at home on Wednesday by 20 points. For the Friars this is the last game of their three-game road trip and in their last game they were defeated by Seton Hall 73-57. With the calendar turning to February every game starts to become crucial for NCAA tournament resumes and this game is no different, so with that I give you my keys to the game.
Crier’s Keys to the Game
Seniors Have to Wake Up
To state that the Friar seniors underperformed in the game versus Seton Hall is a gross understatement. On Wednesday night Kyron Cartwright, Rodney Bullock, and Jaylen Lindsey combined for 10 points on 4/20 shooting, 0/8 from 3, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 turnovers. In the words of Dennis Eckersley, YUCK! Bullock played decent (he had all 10 points) but with others playing poorly he should’ve stepped up and been more aggressive. Jaylen Lindsey’s four missed three-point attempts might have been the four worst misses the sharpshooter has had all season, but it was Cartwright who laid the biggest egg against the Pirates. Cartwright was 0/9 from the floor with 0 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists and 4 turnovers. This is a crucial time of the season and the fact that you have three senior starters should be a major benefit. These guys have been through the battles, there really is no excuse for the performance that occurred against Seton Hall. At the same time though it is just one game and there’s plenty of opportunity to make up for it including on Saturday. The Friars are going to need to lean on their seniors if they are going to get a win at Marquette, a place that has typically been a house of horrors. The good news is Cartwright is the type of player that can bounce back in a big way after a bad game and the last time PC played at Marquette he was a monster getting them their first ever victory at the Bradley Center.
Make Markus Howard a Jump Shooter
Stating that the Friars should contain a player that scored 52 points on them seems like a job for Captain Obvious, but I want to focus on denying his attacks to the basket. Howard was most lethal from deep in his 52 point outburst shooting 11/19 from 3-point land. While that may have been the case the thing that frustrated me the most was our defense letting him attack the basket with ease. He went 6/10 from inside the arc and added 7 more points from the free throw stripe due to his ability to drive by defenders and get to the rim. Cooley needs his defense to do a much better job against his dribble penetration and just live with his 3-point attempts. If Howard shoots 19 threes and hits 11 of them again then you just got to tip your cap to him because that’s insane. The Friars should hope to hold him under 30 I think that’s a good goal to shoot for.
All corny finance jokes aside I think Alpha Diallo can continue his hot play against the Golden Eagles. Diallo scored a career high 25 points in his last game out against Seton Hall and has registered a double-double in two of his last three games. In the first game against Marquette he had 16 points on 6/9 shooting and 8 rebounds. If you look at Marquette’s roster they have no one that can defend Diallo, he’s too big for their guards and too quick for their forwards. If I’m Coach Cooley I’m telling Alpha to be super aggressive on Saturday and he can not only come close to his career high but maybe even surpass it. If Diallo is on Saturday and the seniors play a better game the Friars will be a tough out.
In my last post I admitted that Seton Hall was my favorite non-Friar Big East team this year and I can say for certain that Marquette is my least favorite. I don’t dislike the Golden Eagles due to a lack of talent because they do have talented players. Markus Howard is probably the most underrated scorer in the country and I have a ton of respect for him but between Coach Woj and Andrew Rowsey I cant stand this team. I don’t know Coach Woj personally, he could be a great guy, but you watch him on the sidelines and he has this holier than thou way about him. For what? Just because you come from the Coach K coaching tree? Give me a break! Similar to legendary coaches like Coach K and Jim Boeheim, Woj is always trying to work the refs and I cant stand it. The refs will make a call against Marquette and Woj freaks out and gets in the officials face, then few moments later he will get a questionable call go his way. As for Andrew Rowsey, that guy seems enjoy getting fouled taking a three-pointer more than actually making a three-pointer. He is always jumping into players when he shoots threes and the refs keep calling fouls, it drives me up a wall.
Now that I got that rant out of the way I can get to the game. Emotions will be running high on Saturday and both teams will be desperate to get a victory. With 9 losses already Marquette is looking at a must win considering after Saturday they will only have 2 more home games the rest of the season. For the Friars they can afford a loss more than Marquette but they have no good road wins on their resume and they don’t want to go on this road trip empty handed. On top of that if the Friars lose they probably find themselves square on the bubble again. The Friars need to avoid giving up a big scoring run to Marquette or trying to get in an offensive track meet with them. At the end of the day though the Friars are just better than Marquette. The Golden Eagles are just two scoring guards and that’s about it. The Friars have the better starting 5 and the better bench. The lack of offense lately has concerned me but playing a defense like Marquette’s could be the perfect remedy. Look for Kyron Cartwright to bounce back from his last game in a big way and the Friars to get revenge for a game they threw away in January.
Friars 75 Marquette 70