Marquette kicked off its 2015 foreign tour with a hard fought 89-82 victor over Haukar. Paint Touches has assembled some quick reactions to the Golden Eagles’ “season opener.”
• Duane Wilson is the leader of this team. He led all scorers with 28 points and also contributed on defense with three steals. But more importantly, Duane was the spark that ignited two Marquette runs that ultimately won them the game. In the first half with Marquette trailing by ten, Duane finished a layup in traffic, stole the ensuing inbounds pass, and laid it back up for the and one. Duane would miss the free throw but it led to a Luke Fischer putback dunk. That’s six points in three seconds of game time. In the second half, Wilson erased a Hauker jumper with a great block and then ran down the court to set up for a transition three. When Marquette needed an igniter, Duane was the one to answer the call.
• Defense needed a lot of work this game, especially in the first half. Marquette was beaten several times by backdoor cuts, were slow in their rotations, and failed to close out on three point shooters. What’s worse, they allowed several offensive rebounds due to a lack of boxing out. Imagine this will be an emphasis for Wojo going forward.
• Henry Ellenson so far looks like everything Marquette fans hoped he would be. He finished with a double double of 24 points and 10 board. On offense, Henry was an artist in the post. He would make complex post moves to get great position for an easy score and the foul. He took some outside shots as well. He failed to convert on them but they were good looks and no bad misses. On defense, there were some noticeable growing pains. Henry lost track of his man more than once and was slow to close out on three point shooters. And while his rebounding form and effort were fantastic, he often forgot box out, leading to second chance points for Haukar.
• Shooting remains as an area of weakness for Marquette. They were cold from deep for the first three quarters. Traci Carter hit the first three pointer for Marquette with about three minutes left in the first. Free throws were also a struggle as the team shot what had to be under 50% from the stripe. Fortunately, Marquette finally found it’s shot in the fourth which is what secured the victory.
• Golden Bears would be a very bad ass mascot.
• Luke Fischer didn’t wow anybody, but he did all the little things very well and that led him to a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He had good help side defense, was great at “walling up” to avoid blocking calls, and sealing off defenders in the lane. Think of Dwight Burke, except he can score….so actually nothing like Dwight Burke.
• This team will thrive in transition. The guards had very heavy ball pressure and lived in the passing lanes. This led to a lot of runouts which is where Marquette looked its most fluid. We got to see Henry bring up the ball a couple of times in transition which was a thing of beauty. Marquette scored seven of their points on possessions where Henry brought the ball up in transition.
• In the first half, Marquette went on stretches where they forgot to play as a team on offense. Players started trying to break down defenders one on one and it led to some very poor shot selection and some very bad passes. These stretches are when Haukar’s lead stretched to double digits.
• Traci Carter was very solid in his Marquette debut. His defense is definitely ahead of his offense. Carter used tight ball pressure to force at least six Haukar turnovers while still staying in front of his man. On offense, Carter showed no fear as he launched a lot of threes. He also demonstrated a willingness to attack the lane and made some very nice kick out passes. There were some moments where you could tell that he is still adjusting to the speed of the game but those will disappear with time. Carter’s energy earned him the title of “the Engine” from the announcer, a name which should absolutely stick.
• Wojo was already in midseason form, earning a technical after arguing a questionable no call.
• The gym the game was played in was an absolute farce. A lack of air conditioning led to perspiration covering the floor. Just about every player for both teams slipped and fell at some point during the game. Fischer had a particularly scary fall where he landed flat on his back. It was a small miracle that there were no injuries. I’m suddenly more understanding of why the aircraft carrier game against Ohio State had to be canceled.
• It’s only one game, but Traci, Duane, Henry, and Luke appear to be definite starters going forward. There will be some heavy competition at the three position. Sandy got the start and was the best overall performer in that position, scoring in the double digits and grabbing some man sized rebounds. But Jajuan Johnson had a solid game off the bench. It won’t show up in the box score, but JJJ had the best off ball defense of the game, denying his man from getting any touches. He also hounded the passing lanes and forced a few turnovers and scored in transition. Wally was a great energy off the bench, showing great effort on the boards and on defense. Unfortunately, he was the victim of some very ticky tack fouls (very common in European basketball) and fouled out in the third quarter. Sacar Anim spent a lot of time in the post but as effective on the wing as well. Fearless while attacking the basket and showed some strong defense. Add in freshman Haanif Cheatham who didn’t play due to NCAA clearance issues and you have five players who will compete for that last starting spot.
• All in all, the team showed a lot of things that should give fans some reason for optimism. The biggest needs for this team going forward are consistency and fundamentals. The former will come with experience and Wojo can be trusted to beat latter into the team until they are a well oiled machine.
You can watch a replay of the game below.