By: Trey Killian
Three takeaways from a well-fought, yet disappointing 49-38 loss to Wisconsin at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Driving on a team that’s bigger than you doesn’t work
Marquette has already had its share of trials and tribulations in the paint this season, and the Wisconsin game represents another ugly chapter. Time and time again Marquette’s guards made horrible shot decisions, often choosing to drive to the basket and get packed rather than kick the ball out or make that one extra pass.
While Duane Wilson’s 1-for-9 performance from the field appeared to hurt the Golden Eagles most, Derrick Wilson held his own in the bricks-off-the-side-of-the-backboard competition going 0-for-5. Matt Carlino outscored the rest of the starting lineup on his own (18-12) and even he had five turnovers.
The few set plays the Golden Eagles did draw up (see Juan’s 3-pointer early in the second half) looked pretty good and were executed well. The Badgers are a very sound defensive team, however, and not every play can run like clockwork.
But surely Marquette could’ve come up with something better than dribbling to the paint and trying to float one over the head of a seven-foot senior Naismith candidate.
The Marquette faithful were left scratching their heads too many times after too many missed opportunities handed out by Wisconsin’s sloppy offense.
The defense looks promising
That was Marquette’s best defensive performance of the season against a multi-talented offensive squad. If you can hang with the Badgers this year, you can likely hang with just about anyone. The pressure was high and disruptive for most of the contest, keeping Wisconsin from achieving any sort of consistent rhythm. But luckily for the Badgers, they didn’t need it.
The disparity on the defensive boards wasn’t as ugly as many probably predicted with the Badgers coming out on top 27-23. Surprisingly, the Golden Eagles gave up just 14 points in the paint. Bo Ryan said postgame that his guys were afraid at points to throw the ball under the basket as “it wasn’t always coming out.”
As an undersized team, instilling that fear of dishing it down low is a key goal of Steve Wojciechowski’s defense every game, and it definitely was a factor Saturday.
What happened to collectivity?
Four of Marquette’s starters not named Matt Carlino played a combined 135 minutes and scored just 12 points. Meanwhile, the bench scored eight points (zero in the first half) over 31 minutes.
This was a game where Marquette could’ve used more Deonte Burton, as he made his presence known when he was out there mostly for better (knocked down his lone field goal and caused a momentum swing), sometimes for worse (turned it over once). It remains hard to call out Burton due to his personal circumstances and the decisions being made under those circumstances.
Jajuan Johnson was silent over his 10 minutes of playing time, going 0-for-4 from the field, but Sandy Cohen III played bigger than his 11 minutes allowed with some key free throws and a very loud 3-pointer.
How to divvy up minutes is becoming a game-by-game discussion with this team, and there’s always going to be second-guessing, but with the majority of the starting lineup continuously floundering, it seemed like playing time could’ve been just slightly more evenly distributed.
Bottom Line: Marquette will be bigger the rest of the way, but the shot selection must improve regardless. Other than that, it was a solid, hope-inspiring performance against a superior opponent. But it never really feels good to lose to Bucky.