Gary Leverton, Staff Writer. Photo: Marquette Athletics
12-6 and 2-4.
Reasonable, but not great. Some potential, but not tournament worthy. In a season that has seen Marquette beat Providence at their place, get blown out by Seton Hall, and rally from an 18 point deficit early against Villanova only to get cold in the second half and lose by 15, what should be made of this team?
I’d start with they’re not a bad team. Nor are they a good team. But thanks to good wins over Providence and LSU, combined with only one somewhat bad loss against Belmont, Marquette still has a decent shot at making the tournament.
But if they are going to get there, they need to start scoring more consistently and playing better defense. Long scoring droughts followed by constant defensive breakdowns have crippled this team in many of their losses.
Final scores don’t always tell the story, and for most of Marquette’s games they don’t. Marquette led at the half in the Villanova and Seton Hall game, even if it was only by a point. They led Xavier early 15-6. But in all three of those games, Marquette failed to score for a significant period of time and allowed the other team to build big leads that eventually led to a loss.
Marquette needs to find a way to score constantly throughout the game. Droughts are unavoidable in a game, but the better teams always figure out ways to score when they need to. Henry Ellenson can’t do it all. Wilson, Cheatham, Fischer, Cohen III, and Johnson need to do whatever it takes to break those droughts.
Other little things like making more free throws and turning the ball over less would greatly improve this team. Marquette’s highest free throw shooting percentage is Cheatham at 76.8. The team average is 70%. That isn’t bad, but it could be better. Same with 15 turnovers a game. It becomes that much more difficult to beat Villanova or Xavier if they turn it over that much. The talent is there, but their youth and inexperience seem to be holding them back.
Luckily, the schedule softens up for a few games, which means Marquette should be 15-6 and 4-4 before playing Butler at home. My suggestion. Use these games against Depaul and St. Johns to build some confidence before playing some of the better teams in the conference.
The Big East is good this year, so there will be plenty of opportunities to get some quality wins. If Marquette can grab two more good wins and finish .500 in conference, I would be surprised if they didn’t make the tournament.
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