Grades for Marquette vs South East Louisiana:
Marquette had a huge size advantage going in and attacked through its bigs early on, getting into the bonus quickly both halves. However, Davante Gardner and Chris Otule weren’t nearly as efficient as they normally are under the basket. Gardner shot 8-14, bricking some gimmee lay-ups in the first half. Otule had some issues with his conditioning and turned into a defensive liability when on the floor for more than three minutes at a time. You can’t complain too much with your centers leading the team in scoring, combining for 28 of 64 points. And although Jamil Wilson played poorly when it came to scoring the ball, he was much more aggressive on the boards, grabbing a team high seven rebounds.
Junior Cadougan was decent, tallying six points and five assists. He hit a big three to push the lead in the middles of the second half, but he had a huge size advantage over his 5-foot-9 defender and rarely made him pay. As a senior, Cadougan needs to assert himself offensively more often as this team is challenged on that end. His partner in crime Vander Blue was aggressive in the first half, getting to the line four times, but disappeared in the second save for a clumsy charge. When your guards can’t create their own shots, it makes it difficult to run an offense. Jake Thomas, Derrick Wilson and Jamal Ferguson were all a non-factors. Trent Lockett missed almost all of the first half with because of foul trouble (and a possible concussion) and never got into a groove, although he did have the poise to get to the line late in the game and hit all six free throws.
There is no disguising it. It was bad. Rotations were slow and communication was nonexistent. The Lions got a ton of open looks from long range and had they not gone ice cold from three in the second half (1-9) may have won the game. More of a worry were the easy baskets. There is no excuse for giving up as many points in the paint as Marquette did (24) with such a big advantage in terms of size and athleticism. Buzz Williams’ system does takes some time getting used to, but a cupcake as poor as South East Lousiana should not be getting to the line 17 times in one game. (One disclaimer is that Buzz himself said he was very pleased with his team’s defense, and he is the one that gets paid the big bucks.)
There isn’t much that Buzz and Co. can do when the ball refuses to go into the basket, but it was apparent early on that Marquette was incapable of getting points from its guards. The adjustment was finally made late in the second half as Gardner and Otule were fed each and every time down the court. They should have been the first, second and fifth options the whole game, and not just when the game was on the line. The substitutions are difficult to criticize, as its early in the season and all the minutes Ferguson and Taylor get now will hopefully pay off down the road. It is also important to note Buzz said in his press conference that he left his guys out there to test their mettle, trial by fire and all.
Not to belabor the point, but that was an ugly, ugly victory. The Lions lost by 40 to Wisconsin on Sunday, and it wasn’t even that close. It’s clear Marquette has its work cut out for it when it comes to scoring from the outside. Until they can hit open looks from three consistently, Gardner and Otule will continue to be double and triple teamed, severely limiting their effectiveness. It’s games like these that will have fans begging for Todd Mayo to get his act together.