Marquette is now 4-0 after defeating Brian Wardle's UWGB Phoenix and South Dakota. I'll do a few bullet points on each game and then get to the Duke preview.
- MU dominated the first half of this game, and was up by 20 points at the half. They played tenacious defense, forced a ton of turnovers, and shot an impressive 53% and 50% from the field and beyond the arc, respectively. The second half was flat, and Marquette won by a final score of 89-69. Aside from the first 3-4 minutes, this game was never close.
- Solid performances from the first-year players. Vander Blue chipped in 14 points, with 2 of those coming from him forcing a steal and taking the ball coast-to-coast for a layup. Jae Crowder, WOW. I'm pretty sure this guy can do just about anything on the basketball court. He positioned himself well in the paint for put-back points, made good passes in the post, and even knocked in a 3-ball from the baseline. He ended the night with 17 points, 9 boards, 2 steals and a block. Davante Gardner once again proved to be an effective player in the late stages of the game, putting up all 11 of his points in the second half.
- 3-point defense and turnover % were poor. The Phoenix shot 47% from long range, which was lower than Marquette's, but they also took 9 more 3's than we did. MU also turned the ball over on 17% of its possessions, which I'm sure is higher than Buzz wants to see (in case you're wondering how I figured out total possessions, I'll be getting into that as well as other stats later on in the season).
- Solid points distribution amongst the team, as 6 players scored in double-figures.
- This game was a little closer than Wednesday's, but Marquette controlled this won for the majority of the game, and won 82-69.
- Jimmy Butler had the type of performance that people were expecting of him as the unofficial leader of the team with 20 points, 9 boards and 3 steals. Keep up the good work Jimmy.
- MU was HORRENDOUS from long range, going 1-9 on 3-pointers. Who had the lone three you ask? None other than jack-of-all-trades Jae Crowder. Aside from that, he had a quiet night with just 7 points (a pretty good sign when a "quiet" night is scoring 7 points in your fourth game in D-1 basketball)
- The Golden Eagles turned the ball over 16 times on 85 possessions, or 19% of the time. Not good boys, that needs to change quickly.
MU takes on Duke Monday in Kansas City in the CBE (College Basketball Experience) tournament. The last time these two met in the CBE, Marquette shocked the world and defeated Duke in the championship game. Here's to hoping history repeats itself.
For the fans that regularly watch college basketball each year, Duke is an easy team to scout. They are televised just about every week, so by default you'll end up watching them play at least 6 times each year. In case you haven't gotten a chance to watch Duke recently, here's what you need to know:
- The Blue Devils have great shooters. Year-in and year-out Duke always has good 3-point shooters (JJ Redick, Jon Scheyer, Demarcus Nelson, etc.), and can quickly change the momentum in a game with a couple quick 3s. Through their first three games, they have 5 players that are shooting .500 or better from downtown. Those numbers will come down as the season wears on, but just for frame of reference, they had 4 guys on the team last year that shot 38% or better on 3-pointers.
- They run a motion offense. This directly compliments their great shooting, in that they are constantly creating open looks from the perimeter. Defending this requires a lot of discipline in that players need to constantly and quickly shift matchups to prevent the open looks.
- They share the basketball. There are currently 5 guys on the team that are averaging 12 points or more, including Seth Curry, the Liberty transfer and younger brother of former Davidson star Stephen Curry. It's very difficult to shut these guys down offensively.
- They play great defense. Last year they allowed 86 points for every 100 defensive possessions, 4th best in the country.
- Did I mention they have a hall-of-fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski? Having a coach with 4 national titles and a plethora of Final Four appearances isn't a bad thing to have on the sidelines.
As I had noted before, I don't have a ton of confidence in us beating these guys (and it's not just because there's a #1 next to their name), and everyone at Cracked Sidewalks agreed in their preseason predictions as well. There's a lot of talent and experience on this Duke team that MU lacks. According to Ken Pomeroy, we have about a 12% chance of beating these guys. I'll say we have about a 20% chance of winning, since it's a neutral court and there's more room for big upsets at the beginning of a season. The keys to MU winning are playing good field goal defense, winning the turnover battle, and winning the battle in the paint with points and rebounds. This is Marquette's first true test of the season, we'll see what they're made of Monday night. Tip-off is at 6:30 CST.