Marquette-Louisville: Not Quite Over the Hump
Last night I ended up at the Marquette-Louisville game, something I hadn’t planned on, but for the second consecutive night, my friend Dez hooked me up with a ticket. At the end of the season I’m going to have to buy that guy a car or something. After this season’s first meeting, which resulted in a 47-point Louisville win, it was encouraging to see Marquette hang with the Cardinals. In the end, though, Marquette still couldn’t close, and the Golden Eagles left the court heartbroken as Francisco Garcia drilled a 3-pointer to win the game. Game night thoughts below:
1) I was running late from work, otherwise I would have walked over to the Bradley Center rather than pay for parking. Even though it was bitter cold last night, I’m also infinitely cheap. That’s why it hurt so much when I pulled into the same parking garage I did for the UWM game last night and instead of forking over $5, I had to give up $15. Let that be a lesson to me to always be on time. And I should note, while last night’s game was more fun than the UWM game the evening prior, it was definitely not three times more fun. Someone should tell the parking people about this. Oh, and a note to parking attendants—I think I can figure out the intricacies of shoving my credit card into a slot without your instruction.
2) One of the interesting quirks of sitting with Dez and his season tickets is that there are two really excited guys in their early 30s seated directly behind him. And they’re tremendous nerds. Dez refers to them as “The Male Cheerleaders.” The first time I had to sit in front of them, it was kind of novel and entertaining to hear their chatter. Last night, they started to get on my nerves really early. First off, I can’t think of a moment when one of them was not talking about something. Even I shut up from time to time. Silence is occasionally needed. Secondly, their game analysis is laughable, from their lamenting the miss of an early 3-pointer (“No! It would have been good to be up 16-5.” What? Being up 13-5 on a team that beat us by 47 last time around isn’t good?) to their calls for Ryan Amoroso to enter the game, but pleas for him not to shoot once he did enter. There was also their constant loud whistling, which was strikingly painful on the ears. And perhaps my favorite annoyance of the evening, the guy behind me yelling two sections over to try to get the attention of his friend Joe. Yeah, because there aren’t 30 guys between you and him named “Joe.” Jackass.
3) Lots of people will tell you that Travis Diener had a bad game last night. Well, if you’re talking about shooting, you’re right. I know that Diener had at least 11 assists, though, and he was probably the most effective person on the floor at working the refs. If 11 assists is a bad game, I wish more of Marquette’s players would have bad games. I guess it just shows what a high standard Diener has set for himself.
4) Tom Crean perplexes me sometimes. On one hand, last night he actually had a handful of plays off of timeouts that were executed well, and resulted in either points or good shots. Then at the end of the game, with just under 50 seconds left, he has his team run the shot clock down to almost zero before taking a shot. Two problems with this. First, Marquette hasn’t exactly proven itself adept at getting off the quick score at the end of the shot clock this year. Second, running the shot clock down doesn’t make much sense to me at this juncture. Does anyone honestly think that a Rick Pitino team isn’t able to get a good shot with 12 seconds left? I’d have just let my team play for a good shot. It’s better than having someone chuck up a wild shot with 3 seconds left and praying that Louisville can’t get a shot of in 10 seconds.
5) One of my favorite moments in the game came as I was watching Chris Grimm set a baseline screen and I looked at Dez and started to say “Chris Grimm is the only guy in the world that makes me nervous when he sets a screen.” I got cut off at the word “makes,” however, as Grimm got called for a moving screen on his next move. At least you know where you’re getting your fouls from him.
6) Hey Marcus Jackson—you were wearing the gold uniforms last night, so where’s the gold t-shirt that you’ve been wearing below your blue uniform? Oh, I see—you try not to wear t-shirts when they would actually match your uniform. Makes perfect sense to me.
7) I was going to say this anyway before he hit the shot to win the game, but I now understand why Francisco Garcia is an all-American candidate. The guys moves so well, and as we saw at the end, can hit a clutch shot. He’s one of the best I’ve seen this year.
8) I think that God is blocking me from seeing the Ryan Amoroso foul while blocking out on a foul shot—a foul that ultimately led to a Louisville tying the game. I still haven’t seen the play. I wasn’t really watching him when the foul was committed, since who really watches guys blocking out on a foul shot? I missed the replay on the jumbotron. I missed something like 3 replays on ESPN when I got home. Everyone tells me that it was a pretty blatant foul, though, and even Tom Crean admitted such on the post game show (which he’s actually been appearing on as of late). I’m sort of glad I haven’t seen it, since it would probably just make me mad.
9) Where has Ousmane Barro gone? I’ve heard Tom Crean say that he’s hit the “freshman wall,” but two weeks ago the guy was starting. He’d have to hit the wall pretty hard to go from being a starter who shows promise to not getting a single minute. And Dameon Mason didn’t start either. I’m all for guys needing to earn their minutes, but at some point shouldn’t you have some concept of a consistent starting lineup?
10) In the end, I don’t know that to think of this game. On one hand, I never expected Marquette to keep it this close. On the other hand, something’s wrong when a team goes on what seemed like an endless scoring drought at the end of the game. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is an NIT team, and I’m looking forward to next year. In the meantime, there’s no way I’m paying $15 for parking when I go to the first-round NIT game.
And so I called it a night after waiting in a long line to get out of the overpriced parking lot. I got home in time to catch the second half of a shocking Virginia Tech upset over Duke. And after my trip this past summer to the surprisingly wonderful Tech campus, I can assure you that the students had a lot of fun last night. Probably even more than me, which is tough to do. Have a happy, basketball watching weekend!