Author: Gary Leverton, firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo: Marquette Athletics.
Marquette looked pitiful against Iowa on Thursday night at the Bradley Center.
Unmotivated. Lack of focus. Bad. Whatever phrase you want to use, Marquette appeared to be a team that might be worse than last year’s team. At least they were competitive.
Thank god college basketball provides plenty of chances for redemption, and Marquette has an excellent opportunity against the #23 LSU Tigers tonight to wipe that loss away. Or at the very least show they can play against tougher competition.
The storyline of this game will be focused around Henry Ellenson and Ben Simmons, as it should be. Simmons, LSU’s #1 prospect and leading scorer, will be on full display tonight in another nationally televised event. He is averaging 18.7 points and 63.2 percent shooting from the floor. And although this should be one of the more important headlines, the real storyline for Marquette fans should be how this team responds.
If Marquette comes out, plays tough, and possibly steals a win away from LSU, all will be okay in Golden Eagle land. For this to happen, it has to start with Henry Ellenson, who compared to Simmons is only shooting 34.7 percent from the floor. Marquette can’t expect to win this game or many other games if Ellenson plays as poorly as he did on Thursday. 1 of 8 for 3 points isn’t going to cut it.
Marquette also needs to start shooting from behind arc. 23 percent from 3-point-land will not win a team many games. Ellenson, Sandy Cohen, and especially Duane Wilson need to start making some of these shots. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to spread the floor and create driving lanes.
Finally, Marquette has to stop turning the ball over. Examples: Haanif Cheatham turning it over 7 times against Iowa; Marquette giving it away 19 times against Iowa. That is unacceptable and will make it very difficult to win. Every time Marquette turns the ball over, that is another opportunity the other team has. Toss in all the easy transition points that opposing teams are able to get from turnovers, and anybody can see why 19 of them is very bad.
But even as bad as Marquette has looked, we’re still only three games into the season. Just like Aaron Rodgers told Packer fans not to panic when they started 1-2 last year, Marquette fans should do the same. I’m not trying to compare Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ lengthy success to Marquette, but the message still applies. It is way too early to freak out and call for Coach Wojo to lose his job. This team is still young and learning, with plenty of opportunities to play up to their potential and secure some quality wins before the non-conference season is done.
Lose a couple more blowouts, and then fans can start to complain. But until then, just sit back and hope this talent starts to make its presence felt on the floor. And that should start tonight against Simmons and LSU.
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