Colgate Scouting Report: Raiders are lost, awful at defending the arc

Well that was some way to start the season.

Just moments before Marquette was set to take on No. 4 Ohio State aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown in the Carrier Classic, a few players noticed wet spots on the court. A quick mop-up turned into a full clean-up job by the crew, players and even Buzz Williams. After about an hour delay, the game was ruled a “no decision” and postponed indefinitely. It was a bitter ruling to a game that was hyped up for months, and in this publication’s opinion, inexcusable.

But the Golden Eagles must move on, with a pair of tune-up games before the Maui Invitational beginning Nov. 19.

First up is a battle with Colgate, considered one of Marquette’s easiest opponents on its non-conference schedule. Ken Pomeroy ranked the Raiders 320th out of 347 Division I programs, and it’s easy to see why.

They lost four seniors last year, all of whom were part of their rotation in 2011. Those players contributed to a team that won just eight games, with just two coming with double-digit margins. By the looks of it, Colgate is in the midst of a major rebuilding project and is catching Marquette at the worst time possible (an antsy team that prepared for two weeks to play Ohio State).

The Raiders’ saving grace this offseason was the addition of Maine transfer Murphy Burnatowski. The 6-foot-7 wing scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting (5-of-9 on 3’s) in a 75-55 loss to Illinois yesterday, and was the only player to score more than 7 points. He also had four steals and blocked two shots.The Jamil Wilson-type “power forward” seems to have improved during his redshirt season in 2011, and will be at the top of Marquette’s scouting report for Sunday’s game.

Another name to watch for is junior shooting guard Pat Moore. He shot better than 43 percent from beyond the arc last year (45.8 percent from the field), albeit with a small usage rate. He’ll need to take on a larger role following the departed seniors, but he’s a player who could light it up from beyond the arc. He made three or more 3-pointers seven different times his sophomore season.

Vander Blue must be stout defensively against a talented Colgate back court. (Photo by A. Martina Ibanez-Baldor)

Point guard and four-year starter Mitch Rolls was stellar from beyond the arc, shooting better than 43 percent on 112 attempts. He’s more of a shooter than a distributor, and the Raiders are looking to play him off the ball more this year. He did have four assists against Illinois, and in the early going may facilitate to keep the Raider offense moving. Sophomore Luke Roh started at point guard last night, and managed three assists in 22 minutes to get Rolls off the ball.

Two guards off the bench, junior college transfer Damon Sherman-Newsome and freshman Alex Ramon will help a weak bench. The former played 17 minutes against Illinois, scoring 4 points and grabbing 2 rebounds.

So while the Colgate back court is in relative good hands, the front court is painfully thin. The bright spot is fifth-year senior John Brandenburg. Once an All-American who started his career at Virginia, the 6-foot-011 center has never put “it” together, but remains a talented player with excellent size.

Two forwards off the bench with potential to make an impact Sunday are Lazar Bogdanovic and Clayton Graham. At 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9, respectively, the two have size but won’t produce much offensively. The Raiders’ best bet is to play through their back court, plus the 6-foot-7 Burnatowski.

Where the Raiders are good

It’s tough to find many areas where Colgate plays well, but the Raiders did shoot better than 38 percent from beyond the arc as a team last year, 23rd best in the country. Departed senior Mike Venezia, however, was the second best 3-point shooter last year and helped contribute to that number (54-of-132). Still, the Raiders’ best shot an upset will be from beyond the arc, and they managed to shoot 7-of-23 from 3 against the Illini.

The Raiders also were one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country last year, allowing just a 29.6 percent defensive rebounding rate. But Nick Pascale, a 6-foot-10 center, graduated as the team’s best rebounder. To put his efforts into perspective, Pascale had a better defensive rebounding rate last year than Jae Crowder did. However, Illinois had 18 offensive rebounds Friday.

Where the Raiders can be beat

Just about everywhere? To pick the main areas where the Raiders are weak, look no further than their turnover rate and steal percentage, where they ranked 345th out of 347 teams in the country. No one on last year’s team had more than 20 steals. In comparison, Davante Gardner had 21 steals of his own in 2011-12. If Marquette does not create unforced errors (Illinois had 7 on Friday), the Golden Eagles will be fine.

Jake Thomas won the dunk contest in October, but he will show off his 3-point shot against the Raiders. (Photo by A. Martina Ibanez-Baldor)

Staying with their awful turnover rate (15.0 percent), the Raiders allowed 73.6 points per game last year and had the 338th worst defensive efficiency. Teams scored at will against Colgate last year, 12 times scoring 84 or more points. With a roster full of question marks, that mark won’t improve much, if at all, in 2012.

The Raiders were one of the best teams from beyond the arc last year offensively, but one of the worst defensively. Teams shot almost 38 percent from beyond the arc in 2011-’12, and those opponents received more than 30 percent of their points from 3-pointers.

Three keys to the game

1. No unforced errors

The Raiders aren’t going to take away too many possessions from Marquette, though it’s easy to get loose in a setting against an opponent such as this. As tough as it may be, the Golden Eagles must stay focused and not get out of their game plan. There’s no real chance the Raiders win this one, but Marquette can keep it out of reach so Buzz Williams can get everyone playing time by taking care of the ball on their own.

2. Test out the 3-point line

Illinois made 13-of-30 3-pointers against the Raiders, right on par with Colgate’s dreadful defense from a year ago. Marquette’s biggest question mark remains outside shooting, so it will be interesting to see how it shoots from beyond the arc. Jake Thomas could be in for a big evening, but players such as Jamil Wilson and Steve Taylor Jr. will be able to test out their range, too. Vander Blue may get to show off an improved jump shot as well.

3. Keep the court clean of condensation

You knew that was happening.

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One Comment on “Colgate Scouting Report: Raiders are lost, awful at defending the arc”

  1. 77ncaachamps
    November 11, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Why do I have a feeling we may be seeing 40 attempts from beyond the arc from Colgate?

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