Marquette vs. Southeastern Louisiana: The Game I Can't Understand
I only watched the first half of the Marquette’s close call against Southeastern Louisiana last night. This was partially due to the fact that the game was on Time Warner Sports, I’m not a Time Warner subscriber, and consequently, my only way of seeing the game was to head to the gym (while I have decent lungs, I’m incapable of working out for the duration of an entire college basketball game). It was also partially due to the outstanding slate of games that was on ESPN last night to cap its annual 24-hours of basketball event. Why watch Marquette-Southeastern Louisiana when Duke vs. Kentucky is on?
So what happened that allowed Southeastern Louisiana, a team that was utterly destroyed by Wisconsin on Sunday, to stick around within two points of Marquette until the final three minutes of the game? Based on the first half, I honestly can’t tell you. This was one of the strangest halves of basketball that I’ve seen, as I could not pinpoint the problem. Marquette’s talent advantage was readily apparent. And when one team has such an advantage in ability, there are a few typical ways in which the inferior team can hang in the game. The most obvious is that they get hot from three point range and continue firing up threes as often as possible (the "Athletes in Action" strategy, if you will). This was not happening for Southeastern Louisiana, whose shooting was mediocre. The next option is for the inferior team to get a lot of second chance opportunities. This also was not happening either, as Marquette was doing a good job of cleaning up on the boards. The final thing that I look for is defensive lapses by the superior team, allowing easy baskets to their opponent. This element was also missing, as Southeast Louisiana was having great difficulty getting penetration, and consequently, spent most of the half taking mid-to-long range jump shots (and as noted earlier, they were not hitting at some sort of amazing rate, either). The Marquette defense largely forced the opponent to do exactly what it wanted them to do.
As much as I’d like to sit here today and tell you that Marquette needs to get its act together and start playing better basketball, I’m sort of at a loss for what I’d tell the team it needs to improve on. Of course, that’s undoubtedly why I’m sitting behind a computer recounting my thoughts from last night’s game rather than actually coaching basketball. Here’s hoping that Buzz Williams has a few more constructive thoughts than I do. I’m thinking that he probably does.