Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hammered: The Marquette-Louisville Story

A 47 point loss? A 47 point loss? Wow, it doesn’t get much worse than that. There isn’t much of a bright side to look at in this game if you’re a Marquette fan, but I suppose the only two positive things I can say are that a) The game was played without the services of the team’s leader and All-American level point guard, and 2) Mississippi State lost by 49 to Alabama not too long ago and are still in the top 25 (which I find inexplicable). Let’s get to my game thoughts:

1) I’ll start off with my most important thought of the day. Hear me out on this one—Tom Crean did a smart thing in holding Travis Diener out of this game. I don’t have any illusion that Diener agreed to rest his ankle, so you know that Crean had to tell him to sit down last night. Now comes the bigger challenge for Crean. I also don’t believe that Diener’s totally healthy yet. However, you know he wants to play, and a 47 point loss is a pretty motivating reason to let him back on the court for the upcoming St. Louis game. If he’s not healthy yet, though, giving in to this temptation could be the difference between a reasonable season, and a mediocre, or even poor one. A terrible week is a lot better than a lost season.

2) Where have you been Todd Townsend? Last night we not only got Todd Townsend’s one fantastic dunk that used to come around every 3 games or so, but now only comes every 5 games or so. We also got a couple of 3-pointers out of him. He was playing like sophomore Todd Townsend, who was ready to take a leap into becoming a solid starter, before his complete and inexplicable loss of confidence. I sure hope this guy shows up again, since he didn’t look like this year’s bad version of Townsend, and his dunks are pretty cool.

3) If I’m Joe Chapman or Niv Berkowitz, I’m not feeling real good about myself right now, since it appears I’m not the backup point guard after all. Dameon Mason took the reigns last night, instead, though he is clearly not a point guard. And he promptly put up 6 points and 3 assists before fouling out with 12 minutes to go. So if I’m Chapman or Berkowitz, not only am I not the backup, I’m behind a guy who’s not that great at what’s said to be my position. I suppose that only consolation is that Chapman’s still getting minutes at off guard, and Berkowitz still has to know that he’s not ready after coming aboard second semester.

4) Watching Louisville start the second half, I tried to imagine what Rick Pitino said to his squad at halftime. Whatever it was, it likely centered around increasing the already furious tempo and running Marquette into the ground, because when the Cardinals came out in the second half, they were flying like I hadn’t seen before.

5) I was hoping to say that in the defeat, we at least got to see some players who don’t normally get in get some minutes. And it was nice to see Berkowitz, who didn’t overwhelm anyone, but didn’t look bad, either. However, I was highly disappointed by Mike Kinsella, who looked soft, and took several shots from no more than 5 feet away from the basket without making one. I hope he’s still reeling from his injury, because if he’s not, Marquette got sold a bill of goods. Of course, I’m not so quick to judge injured guys after seeing a healthy Marcus Jackson this year.

6) Someone get a bucket of water—Larry’s O’Bannon’s on fire! Sometimes you just can’t stop a guy, and O’Bannon hitting his first 5 three point attempts was a good sign that he was such a guy last night. It’s a bad sign when someone other than a team’s two best players gets this hot. When O’Bannon’s going off for 30 points, Marquette’s generally not winning. They definitely aren’t without their best player.

7) The defining play of the game? That would have to be in the second half when Ryan Amoroso turned the ball over by passing it to Steve Novak as Novak was preparing to check back into the game from his spot on the bench. The only way it could have been a more telling moment is if Amoroso had passed it about 5 feet to Novak’s right to Travis Diener. At least we know now that Novak cuts hard when he goes to the scorer’s table.

8) Rick Majerus did his best to be cordial to his alma mater, but after awhile he sure was struggling. There was a lot of talk about showing heart and not quitting, which I suppose happened, but I think Majerus was just trying to come up with something positive. I commend him, as it’s pretty tough for me to do so today.

9) At the end of the day, it occurred to me that the Marquette-Louisville games weren’t so different. Both UWM and Louisville used tempo and press to wear out their foes. Both Marquette and Purdue have teams that rely too much on one player. Unfortunately for Marquette, unlike Purdue, their player was in street clothes.

And thanks to the magic of DVR, I was done in just enough time to watch the end of the Duke-Maryland game. Rough night for the Golden Eagles, and hopefully they can bounce back in the near future. I’m just glad the Big East isn’t here until next year…


At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two Points...

1) Majerus did do a commendable job, however what was better was the previous night when Kentucky was up on Tennessee and he made a reference to finding Ashley Judd so that he wouldn't have to go home and watch any adult movies. Thank you for catching that one Andy Pollin.

2) I don't think Jackson was wearing his gold tshirt under his blue jersey. Maybe Myles Brand IS doing something in that position.


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