Step away from the ledge.
We lost to Winthrop, and that’s OK. Winthrop returned all five starters from last year’s 27-win season, which earned them a #14 seed to the NCAA tournament. Even Gonzaga struggled with Winthrop last year, finding themselves down 35-33 at halftime before rallying to win 74-64 in the first round of last year’s tournament.
One week later, Marquette men’s basketball finds itself on top of the world (geographically) winning the Great Alaska Shootout. Highlighting the weekend was the emergence of sophomore forward, Ryan Amoroso. In the championship game Saturday evening, Amoroso contributed a career-high 30 points and 12 rebounds. Increasing our rebounds on the stat sheet has led to Marquette’s rebound in the standings. After Winthrop embarrassed us on the boards, MU has out-rebounded their last three opponents on their way to their tournament championship.
Only five games into the 2005-06 season, there are four months of basketball yet to be played. Nonetheless, Marquette has already established a new style of play compared to last season.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between this year and last is ball movement. Instead of Travis Diener holding the ball for 30 seconds before making an off-balance shot, we run actual plays.
All five players work to stay active on offense and make the extra pass. The reward has been an increase in open shots and, better yet, open lay-ups.
Through fi ve games, our freshman class has met all expectations. We expected excitement, promise and learning experiences, but what I love most about our young players is their swagger.
If our freshmen are to continue getting playing time on the floor, however, they will first need to stop picking themselves up off of it. Almost every game, it seems that one of our new guys is slow to get up off the ground. To be fair, at this time last year, Matthews, McNeal, and James were deciding which girl to ask to senior prom. Unfortunately, the competition in the Big East is capable of breaking more than hearts.
While Marquette may not yet be Big East strong, we certainly look Big East athletic. Transition dunks, half-court traps, and full-court presses have quickly become mainstays in Tom Crean’s arsenal. Look for Crean to continue adapting his offense to fully utilize our new weapons.
Equally important to a motion offense is improving our perimeter defense. Does anyone else get sick to their stomach every ime the opposing team releases a wide open three? Opponents are averaging close to eight made three-point field goals per game.
Come March, we will still be working on defense, but will we be dancing?
Since its inception, 23 of the 27 previous winners of the Great Alaska Shootout have gone on to advance to the NCAA tournament.
If experience cannot be on Marquette’s side this year, perhaps fate will.
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