In perhaps their biggest game thus far this season, the
Marquette Warriors head into Wednesday???s battle with St.
John???s hampered by injuries. In its last outing, Marquette
was defeated by #9 Pitt, 77-71. As painful as it was for
Marquette to lose a game they lead at halftime, the injuries
sustained against the Panthers physical, and sometimes dirty
play could prove to be a tough blow to Marquette.
Making the injuries that much more critical is the fact that
St. John???s is playing much better basketball as of late. The
Red Storm dropped their last two decisions; a 66-61 loss at
home to #11 West Virginia, and a 66-50 loss at #1 UConn. However,
before that they knocked off then-ranked Louisville, and handed
Pitt their only BIG EAST loss of the season, both coming at
Madison Square Garden.
This game is crucial to Marquette???s postseason ambitions. They absolutely have to hold serve at home, with difficult road games at Villanova and Rutgers on the horizon. If they can get to six wins before heading on the road, splitting those two games would be a bonus, not a necessity.
Keys To The Game:
1. The Walking Wounded
Freshman Guards Dominic James and Jerel McNeal were injured in the second half Saturday. Both later returned, McNeal is expected to play, but James??? sprained right shoulder is a source of concern for Marquette. He is day-to-day, and although his status for tomorrow???s game is not certain, he hopes to play. Coupled with Steve Novak???s sprained ankle, Marquette???s three leading scorers are all less than 100% going into a critical conference game. Their health and effectiveness will be a huge factor.
2. Hit The Glass
This seems like a pattern with this Marquette team, but they absolutely have to hold their own in the rebounding battle. St. John???s has out-rebounded their opponents by an average of 10 per game. Lamont Hamilton is their leading rebounder at 7.4 per game. The 6-10 Junior is an impressive player; strong, athletic, and has a nice scoring touch in the paint. Marquette will have to do a much better job on Hamilton than Pitt???s Aaron Gray on Saturday.
3. Push the Ball
St. John???s, for having as many athletes as they do, surprisingly likes to slow the game down, keeping scores in the 50???s and 60???s. St. John???s is also averaging almost 17 turnovers per contest, so if MU can get out and run, as well as pressure the ball defensively, good things should happen. Marquette also has superior depth, which will be a big factor in an up-tempo game.
4. Contain Hill
St. John???s is led by an extremely quick point guard, Daryll Hill. Hill is a poor outside shooter (20%), but makes his living getting into the lane and creating for his teammates. His main beneficiary has been Lamont Hamilton, so if MU can keep Hill out of the lane, and outside the arc, it will help to limit Hamilton???s scoring chances down low as well.
5. Three-Point Shooting
Marquette has a huge advantage in this area, shooting over 40% on the season, compared to St. John???s 27.5%. I would expect to see a good amount of zone defense from Marquette in an effort to make St. John???s take outside shots, as well as taking away their strength- dribble penetration.
Popularity: 7% [?]