Initial reactions: Marquette chokes away 17-point lead in loss to Hoyas

– Just as plenty of credit was given to Buzz Williams for Marquette’s win in Madison, tonight’s loss falls squarely on the coach’s shoulders. Three things stand out. First, Williams’ timeout following Todd Mayo’s 3-pointer to put Marquette up 17 points was questionable. It’s like Buzz to give his short bench breathers from time-to-time, but this was a period where Marquette really could have closed the game with another stop and basket or force Georgetown to use a timeout.

Second was the general lack of inside looks Marquette got in the second half, which falls on Buzz not running any plays or even looking inside. Marquette was draining 3-pointers in the first half but still had excellent transition offense and found Gardner and Crowder down low a fair amount. There was none of that in the second half.

The last mystery that was Buzz’s coaching style tonight was the final offensive possession of the game. With 13 seconds left and Marquette down three, there was plenty of time for Marquette to go for an easy two. Instead, Darius Johnson-Odom dribbled at the top of the key until about four seconds on the game clock and heaved a prayer of a 3-pointer. How Buzz Williams didn’t have a play drawn up (or at least one that worked) was utterly disappointing. For a coach who stresses plays out of timeouts, Marquette never had a play to stop the bleeding during Georgetown’s 34-14 run to end the game.

– Part of Georgetown’s awful first half offense was due to careless turnovers, but that’s no excuse for how poor Marquette played defensively in the second half. The Hoyas shot 76.2 percent in the second half and Marquette turned five Hoya turnovers into just seven points. Darius Johnson-Odom and Vander Blue had no answer for Jason Clark, who had 18 of his 26 points in the second half. It’s all hindsight, but even two stops here and there would have resulted in a Marquette win.

– Buzz Williams may not go with it as his starting lineup, but his closing lineup needs to consist of Vander Blue, Todd Mayo and Darius Johnson-Odom. Junior Cadougan was a relative no-show again in 18 minutes and Blue is proving he can be a non-traditional point guard who excels on the defensive end. The sophomore finished with a game-high six assists and is much more in rhythm when playing at the top of the offense rather than on the wing. Mayo and DJO being in the closing lineup speak for themselves.

– Jamil Wilson’s foul trouble really hurt Marquette down the stretch. Wilson played just six minutes in the second half, which forced Gardner to play 16 second half minutes (31 for the game), far too many for him to be successful. Henry Sims had nine second half points to go with three assists, taking advantage of a restless Gardner down the stretch. Wilson needs to play smarter knowing the front court depth is at a minimum.

– For as good as Todd Mayo was in helping Marquette pull away early in the second half, he had four turnovers in the final 12 minutes, including a costly giveaway with the score tied at 66 with 2:23 to play. He is the Golden Eagles’ third scoring option but he was awfully shaky with the ball in his hands tonight.

– Henry Sims scored, rebounded, and assisted his averages tonight, but Davante Gardner was phenomenal. He showed a defensive presence in the paint that has to have Marquette fans hopeful he can hold down the inside without Chris Otule. He was forced to play 31 minutes tonight due to Jamil Wilson’s foul trouble, and that hurt down the stretch, but Gardner was outstanding tonight. He would have had a bigger game if Marquette found him more in the post in the second half.

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4 Comments on “Initial reactions: Marquette chokes away 17-point lead in loss to Hoyas”

  1. John Moran
    January 5, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    The defense is such an issue and it is such basic concepts that are taught at a young age – the weak side is so slow to get in position because they don’t see man AND ball. And because of bad weak side defense, the rotation gets screwed up leaving shooters wide open for three. I really have stood behind Buzz all this time, but this has been a problem since day one, and he now has had a variety of players, telling me it is his coaching that is the problem – not sure what the fix is….

  2. wildbillsb
    January 5, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    +10!

  3. joe in michigan
    January 5, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    100% agree this loss was on the coach. These horses need to run! Marquette’s fast transition play created opportunities in the first half. Then, we switched to a slowed down “prevent” defense in the second half and tried not to lose. As Buzz would put it, “We need to play like us!, When we play like us we do well”. Slowing down the play took us out of us and took away the inside game with Gardner and Crowder that worked in the first half.

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