Six Things We Learned From Non-Conference Play

Author: Dave Klinger (Editor), david.klinger@marquette.edu.

Halfway done and we’re still alive.

Not in terms of predictions, but technicalities. And here’s why:

  • Outside of Omaha, Marquette has beaten everyone it should and lost to everyone it shouldn’t have. We were in the same situation last year, and everyone knows how awful that turned out, but then again…
  • …we have Luke Fischer now, who turned out to be a complete team and game changer. And…
  • …having Luke Fischer not only puts an asterisk on the non-Luke Fischer losses, but bolsters the positive performances we had without him. The NCAA considers injury or leave of significant players when evaluating a team’s season, and if he keeps performing at this absurd level, this asterisk will only grow in size.
  • The Big East turned out to be STACKED. Well, it’s dropped off slightly since it started off the season 37-2, but it still has a bunch of talented teams that Marquette will face on a game-to-game basis. KenPom has it slotted as the fourth best conference in the nation, a smidgen behind the Big Ten and a cushion away from the SEC. This gives Marquette a heap of opportunities to pick up quality wins, which is something it had close to none of last year.

Again, I state this in terms of technicalities, not my own predictions. I’m not even thinking about the NCAA Tournament at this point. Nope. Not even a low seed. And here’s why:

We still need to consider the (potential) sad reality of our basketball team.

We’re 0-3 against the Top 25. We’ve been inconsistent against inferior squads. Outside of Luke Fischer, we’re a pretty small team. And, oh, Luke Fischer is a human being who is relatively inexperienced at college basketball and will undoubtedly struggle at times on the court. I know, I know, you’re about to Falcon Punch your computer screen with a litany of counterarguments, but at this point, we have to accept the fact that, in terms of concrete results, we’ve seen more mediocrity than even potential.

Luke Fischer has proven himself to be a dominant force on the hardwood.

The guy stretches the frickin’ floor. It’s like upgrading from a cramped apartment to a five-story mansion. And with this added space, the offense runs in a more smooth and consistent fashion. It’s not just the space, however, that Fischer brings to the table. The kid runs the court, blocks the shots near him, and alters all the others. Do I need to pull up numbers? If you read this blog, you watch the games. And if you watch the games, you have witnessed the fact that Luke Fischer has changed this team. We can only hope he continues his success.

This team has the talent, leadership, heart, and intensity that is necessary to compete in season-defining match-ups. 

  • Talent: Everyone, basically, now that John Dawson’s gone. #8strong, amiright?
  • Leadership: From the outside, it seems that Juan Anderson, Matt Carlino, and Derrick Wilson are doing a particularly swell job at being the voice and guide of this young team. We didn’t have that last year, and you need — I repeat: NEED — leadership to have a successful team.
  • Heart: Guys are slapping floors, guys are picking each other up, guys are praising the system, guys seem — no, ARE — proud to wear the Marquette jersey. The players seem to carry an “all in” mantra for the season despite the temptation to label it as a rebuilding year. And, despite their on-court deficiencies, they’ve produced better than we thought they would. I love every second of it.
  • Intensity: As I said before, guys are slapping floors, and… wait, punching dry erase boards? I mean, we knew Wojo was an intense personality from the beginning, but seriously? This tops many of Buzz’s odd, vaguely explained incidents.
6_3270992
The poor dry erase board.
  • By the way, Marquette won this game with a cushioned lead. Wojo also had an early, intense rift with Juan Anderson that turned an 11-point deficit into a 5-point lead. Intense cultures win games.

Speaking of talent, Duane Wilson and Jajuan Johnson have a lot of that. And with talent and inexperience comes inconsistency. They have a lot of that, too, unfortunately.

We expected them (and Deonte Burton) to take over this team. They’ve shown signs of doing that, but they’ve also shown even more signs of the struggles each typical underclassman endures. Duane has had scoring outputs of 30, 19, 18, 15, and 15, in contrast to 2, 3, 6, and 6 as well. Jajuan has started to figure things out recently, scoring 22, 9, and 19 in the past three games, but hadn’t topped 7 points in the preceding seven games, which included two goose eggs. They certainly have the talent to produce in their roles. It’s just going to take some time.

We’re not an NCAA Tournament team (at least yet, if ever).

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: We’ve shown more signs of mediocrity than even potential. Count me out of the March Madness ticket pools for now. Somehow, we need to reach 20 wins, beat a number of good teams (Xavier, Butler, Seton Hall, Providence), and steal one or two from Villanova and Georgetown. We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t shown signs of doing that. So for now, I’m not going to assume that it will happen. But like the rest of us, I hope to God it will.

Welcome to Marquette Nation – a blog and twitter feed of all things Marquette basketball. Follow us on Twitter at @mubbnation for live updates on recruiting, games, facts, and the occasional opinion. For inquiries, contact us at mubb.nation@gmail.com. Our email is flooded with Twitter notifications, however, so just tag us in a tweet or something, okay?

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One thought on “Six Things We Learned From Non-Conference Play

  1. Nicely done sir, as always. Your analysis has gotten me fired up to watch games. Good to hear team has taken on coaches personality. Wojo was a treat to watch as a player.

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