Five Point Play: Getting ready for Ohio State

Deonte Burton has been a bright spot in the Marquette freshman class through two games. (USA Today)

Deonte Burton has been a bright spot in the Marquette freshman class through two games. (USA Today)

Remember these? Thanks to our buddy and former Marquette Tribune co-worker, Matt Trebby, who is now working in Seattle, Paint Touches is proud to announce the return of Five Point Plays this season. We begin with a doozy, as Marquette puts its 27-game home winning streak on the line against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon. Since these will be quite long, let’s jump right in:

1. Has Derrick Wilson been good, bad or average through two games?

Andrei Greska, Paint Touches: Good. His post feeds have been timely and in perfect position, and he hasn’t made many careless mistakes. Would it be better if he could hit an open jumper? Yes. But as of this moment, it hasn’t stopped him from being efficient and effective.

Michael LoCicero, Paint Touches: Is there a choice between good and average? Fair? I think he has facilitated the offense as well as can be expected for a guy who hasn’t been a starter in his two seasons in Milwaukee. His 10-assist, 1-turnover performance against Grambling State was impressive. I don’t expect him to do the same against Ohio State, but his performance Tuesday should act as a confidence boost. He must improve his free-throw shooting, however.

Anonymous Eagle (Andy Fleck): Relative to freshman/sophomore Derrick, he’s been good. Elevated minutes, 4.3/1 assist to turnover ratio, twice as many free-throw attempts as field-goal attempts… what’s not to like? Relative to what Buzz Williams said on his radio show last week Wednesday, Derrick’s been bad. Buzz said that a team is only as good as the point guard’s ability to finish at the rim. The short version of Buzz’s point was that the PG getting to the rim causes dysfunction in the defense. Derrick has two field-goal attempts in his 54 minutes on the court, both 3-point attempts, both misses. That’s bad, especially for a guy who was 1-of-9 from behind the arc for his career coming in to the season.

Matthew Trebby, The Seattle Times: He’s been good, but I’m not excited about the “good” because there unfortunately doesn’t appear to be any upside. Defensively Wilson is a monster, and offensively he doesn’t give the ball away that much. Luckily, he has guys around him who can score. He’s been good, though, but people shouldn’t expect it to get any better. For Marquette, that is just fine.

Mark Strotman, Paint Touches: Wilson has been good. It’s not fair to judge this after two games (I was the one who wrote the questions) but the lack of scoring shouldn’t scare off anyone just yet. He’s been a fantastic facilitator and has played lock-down defense, albeit against weak opponents. Saturday will be an outstanding measuring stick, but for now he’s done enough on both sides to say that’s he’s been good this year.

2. Should Todd Mayo and/or Davante Gardner start Saturday against Ohio State?

AG: No. They have the tools and talent to start, but people should understand by now that Buzz likes to bring some pop off the bench. They will both get 24+ minutes and be in the game down the stretch. That is all that matters.

ML: You could certainly make the argument for either player, but Buzz likes sticking with what works, even if it’s not the conventional opinion among fans. Actually, especially if it’s not the conventional opinion among fans. Davante didn’t get off the bench until about 8 minutes in Tuesday and only played 14 minutes. I think Buzz was resting the big man for Saturday, but I think Davante would tell you he is more comfortable coming off the bench because that’s what he’s done his entire career. Todd proved a little bit Tuesday why he’s so inconsistent. Yes, he is possibly the only player who can get to the paint at will on this team, but eight points against one of the worst teams in the country isn’t going to cut it. He will be a starter soon, however.

AE: I will give Jake Thomas the benefit of the doubt for his 3-of-5 performance behind the arc against Grambling, even if there is a little bit of Grambling inflation involved there, and not advocate for Mayo to start in his place. It’s possible that Thomas is the kind of guy who needs minutes to be effective as a 3-point shooting threat, while Mayo can come off the bench and start hitting shots no problem, so maybe the current situation can work out.

Gardner should absolutely not start against Ohio State. In Tuesday’s game against Ohio, the Buckeyes went up 9-0 after 2 minutes, but they were unable to create separation from the Bobcats and ended up winning by 10. In this game, 6-foot-11, 250-pound starting center Amir Williams played 27 minutes and back-up big man Trey McDonald (6-foot-8, 240 pounds) played 8 minutes. I don’t know who played the other five minutes in the middle for them, but one thing is obvious: I have no idea how they’re going to handle Otule and Gardner switching off for 40 minutes, especially with both men in the top-20 in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes.

MT: Jake Thomas has been surprisingly good defensively (which is what Buzz loves) but he has become a liability offensively. In a game this early in the season against a team like Ohio State, he shouldn’t play more than five minutes. Mayo is the better player, but Buzz will start who he wants. I’d start Mayo because I wouldn’t even play Thomas unless absolutely necessary, but unfortunately I’m not making the decisions (yet).

MS: Todd Mayo has to start, and it really isn’t a question anymore. Say what you will about it not mattering who starts but rather who finishes, or that if a player receives starters’ minutes it doesn’t matter if he’s on the court for the tip-off, but Mayo needs to be in that lineup. He’s clearly Marquette’s best option at shooting guard, and the Golden Eagles can’t afford a slow start against a great defensive team in Ohio State. Gardner was the Sixth Man of the Year on an Elite Eight team, so there’s no real need to start him. Mayo, however, must take over for Thomas. And I’ll go out on a limb and say he does when the starters are announced early Saturday afternoon.

3. Which 1-on-1 matchup is most important Saturday?

AG: Aaron Craft v Derrick Wilson will be the one to dictate the outcome. Wilson may not be much of a threat to penetrate, but his ability to feed the post is crucial. On the other end he must contain a shifty Craft. I don’t foresee either of these players being the leading scorers, but they are what makes the offenses flow. 

ML: Aaron Craft vs. Derrick Wilson: Much has been made of Wilson’s impressive assist-to-turnover ratio throughout his career. That will be tested by the best perimeter defender in the country on Saturday. Craft is a pest and I mean that in the most positive way possible. I’ve never understood why people have hated him so much throughout his career. Derrick will have his hands full keeping him out of the lane and creating for his more athletic teammates. Wilson must limit his turnovers if Marquette is going to have a chance to win.

AE: Aaron Craft vs. Derrick Wilson. We’re talking about a guy that noted SI stats geek Luke Winn created a Turn-O-Meter (scroll past the GIF of Vander Blue’s title-winner against St. John’s down to #10) for to keep track of how often Craft creates turnovers. During his first three years in Columbus, Craft has been in the top 90 in the country each year in steal rate, or the number of defensive possessions that end in a Craft steal. Meanwhile, Derrick Wilson has resembled an impenetrable fortress where the ball never gets turned over through his first two years at Marquette. It’s the classic unstoppable force vs immovable object debate translated to the basketball court.

MT: Aaron Williams against Davante Gardner. If I’m in Buzz’s position (which once again, I’m not yet) I feed Gardner the basketball. I want to see how efficient Gardner can be against a top team in the country with the new rule changes. He can get to the line against Southern and Grambling State, but if he can do it against Ohio State it will be a big boost to his confidence and the team’s going forward. Also, Aaron Williams is a big fella (6-foot-11, 250 lbs. makes for a good matchup against Gardner).

MS: LaQuinton Ross vs. Jamil Wilson, more so because of Wilson than the Ohio State wing. Ross has averaged 12 points and seven rebounds through two games, he’s getting to the free-throw line and has made three 3-pointers. Wilson may guard a few players on Saturday, but his ability to shut down Ross will go a long way to keeping this a low-scoring game, which could favor Marquette. This is also Wilson’s first chance to prove he’s “the guy” for the Golden Eagles this year. If he plays well (think 14 points and six rebounds), Marquette should extend its home-winning streak.

4. Who has been Marquette’s most impressive freshman?

AG: Deonte “Bane” Burton. Hands down. He has shown an aggressiveness on the offensive end that is unparalleled for a freshman in Buzz system. He hasn’t been efficient, but his strength has helped him overwhelm opponents down low. Defensively, he’s been ok, nothing special yet, but nothing special is better than expected from a freshman. 

ML: Deonte Burton. That’s easy to say after his game against Grambling, but I think he’s going to be the most consistent freshman throughout the year, with Jajuan Johnson coming in a close second. Burton is built like a linebacker and isn’t afraid of contact, which we saw Tuesday. His energy and muscle will be needed Saturday.

AE: BANE. Like I was going to pick anyone other than Deonte Burton. I like the confidence that John Dawson showed against Grambling, but Burton was even more impressive, playing a completely fearless 22 minutes and compiling 14 points, six rebounds, two steals, and a block and an assist. Grambling inflation? Sure. But Burton looked completely in control and comfortable on the court doing all of it.

MT: Deonte Burton and John Dawson have both impressed. Burton’s aggression to the basket is incredible for such a young kid (wow, that makes me feel old). His finishing needs to improve but I’m encouraged for the future. Dawson had glimpses against Grambling State where he ran the break with impressive poise. While it was Grambling State, like Burton, I’m intrigued to see more. I’d say Burton has impressed slightly more than the New Mexico native, though.

MS: The easy answer certainly is Deonte Burton, and I won’t argue against it. For me, though, John Dawson has looked better than I, or anyone, thought he would so early in the season. He was an unknown recruit, playing in New Mexico, but Williams seems to have found a good one here. He has filled the box score in two games and looks comfortable on the court, the most important quality a freshman can have. Williams gave him 20 minutes against Grambling State, which is a lot despite the opponent and score.

5. Predictions for Saturday’s game? X-factor?

AG: Marquette’s 27-game home winning streak is snapped. It won’t be a blowout, but the shooting woes will be magnified with an opponent that actually plays defense in the post. Believe it or not, Jake Thomas will be the X-factor. If he can hit an early 3, it might open up the defense enough to give Gardner and Co. room to work inside. Buckeyes 71, Marquette 63. 

ML: I predicted in our preseason schedule analysis that Ohio State would win, so I’m sticking with that. I think the X-factor is who will guard LaQuinton Ross. If Vander came back, it would be a no-brainer. Do you put Jamil on him and leave the rebounding to Otule/Gardner/someone else? Or put an inexperienced Steve Taylor on him and risk allowing a career night. My money is on Wilson, but I still think Ross has a big game and helps Ohio State win a close one.

AE: I picked this game as a win for Marquette in our non-conference predictions post on our site, and I see no reason to deviate from that now. I’ll say 70-67. As for an X-Factor for the first college basketball game ever broadcast on Fox, there’s only one possibility: LAW OF GUS.

MT: Both teams have a lot of athleticism and are looking for an identity. The X-factor will be Marquette guards’ ability to score. The Golden Eagles will score down-low with Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson, and Steve Taylor. They need to find a consistent perimeter scorer, and I hope Todd Mayo steps up. He’s their most experienced backcourt player and right now the best scoring guard. If the Golden Eagles backcourt finds a way to score against Ohio State, I like their chances. I think Marquette finds a way to continue its home winning streak.

MS: In our season prediction, I said Marquette would come out on top in this game. Though they have looked uninspiring through two games, the Golden Eagles get up for these types of games. Williams will be ready and have a solid game plan ready, most likely one consisting of getting Gardner, Otule, Jamil Wilson and Steve Taylor going early. The X-factor is Todd Mayo, who needs to stay aggressive in his drives to the basket and outside shots. If Mayo reaches 15 points, Marquette wins the game. Prediction? Marquette 66, Ohio State 61.

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2 Comments on “Five Point Play: Getting ready for Ohio State”

  1. November 14, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Great discussion guys but fans please note Anonymous Eagle makes DeW look bad just to make his point: “Relative to what Buzz Williams said on his radio show last week Wednesday, Derrick’s been bad. Buzz said that a team is only as good as the point guard’s ability to finish at the rim. The short version of Buzz’s point was that the PG getting to the rim causes dysfunction in the defense.”

    Yes, this is a short version because Buzz said something like 2 other positive effects – cause the D to adjust to create another opening (like pass out to open outside shot) or create for someone else to finish. DeW has been accomplishing that. It has only been two games. DeW “Paint Touches” are OK. Like Daws, but how many times has he gone in the paint and finished?

  2. Chris Columbo
    November 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Will be hard to win against a quality team without offense from the point guard position. I would expect to see a lot of minutes and touches for Todd Mayo. They need to feed Davante and hope to draw a lot of fouls. The x factor is Jamil. If he has a big game watch out…

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