What To / Where To: Providence vs Marquette Game Preview

dave@friarblog —  January 21st, 2012 11:40 AM —  Comments
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The last time the Friars played the Marquette Golden Eagles, it was quite the bittersweet moment. Sure, it was another disappointing showing at Madison Square Garden in the BIG EAST Tournament as Providence got blown out by Buzz’s boys yet again. However, it was also the final game of Keno Davis basketball we had to suffer through. The pain finally ended that night!

As Marquette heads to the Dunk in the snow this evening, they are without question going to see a different team than the one they’ve beaten now 7 times in a row. The Friars have been playing hard, have had a full week off, and finally have the regular starters all ready to play. Unfortunately for PC, they will be up against the usual kind of tough basketball from a team looking to make some noise in the top of the conference standings.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 7:00PM EST

Opponent: Marquette (15-4, 4-2)

Location: The Dunk

Spread: Marquette -7.5

ESPN Accuscore: Marquette 73.8, Providence 70.7 (Marquette wins 59% of over 10,000 simulations)

CBSSports Daily Picks: Marquette 74, Providence 67

Four Factors

Hit up the rest of the preview after the jump.

WHAT TO: LOOK FOR

DJO: Darius Johnson-Odom was one of the many winners of the “Random Dude Who Had Career Games Against the Friars” Award from two seasons ago in scoring 22 points in a 30 point Golden Eagles blowout. Nowadays, he’s not so random as the teams leading scorer. If Keno’s teams did anything, it was identifying the budding stars of the BIG EAST. So there’s that.

Fast pace: Marquette typically plays quick, with an adjusted tempo of 70.7 (ranked #32 in the county). While the Friars excel in the open court with Council and Coleman, the old use up the whole shot clock strategy has worked well at times.

Friars 2nd chances: Aside from slow starts and small spurts of offensive stagnation that seem to plague Marquette, preventing opponents from grabbing offensive rebounds is probably the team’s biggest weakness. Opponents have put up a 33.9% offensive rebounding percentage against them, ranking them #278th in the country. The Friars have a surprisingly good 45th ranked OR percentage of 35.4%, so it’s up to Kadeem Batts, Brice Kofane, LaDontae Henton, and Bilal Dixon to excel in grabbing PC’s misses to exploit this weakness.

Unselfish ball: Marquette likes to spread out the scoring, and make sure all of those points come way of the assist. 65% of their buckets have an assist attached to them, good for #7 in the nation.

Tough Twos: Ed Cooley’s favorite mantra is always important, but will be key against Marquette. The Golden Eagles aren’t a particularly great three point shooting team (33.8%, ranked #188 nationally), but have a 63rd ranked percentage in twos (51.3%).

Geez, more steals: After facing Seton Hall with Fuquan Edwin and Syracuse twice, PC needs a break from ball hawks. It’s not going to be this game – Marquette is ranked #22 in steal percentage with 11%. Jae Crowder is 4th in the conference in steals to go along with his 16.2 points per game.

WHAT TO: READ

StatSheet.com: Pregame

Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]

Scouting The Golden Eagles: No. 21 Marquette has posted a 15-4 mark overall and a 4-2 record in BIG EAST play. Head Coach Buzz Williams’ team is led by senior Darius Johnson-Odom. He is averaging 18.2 points per game. Senior Jae Crowder is the team’s top rebounder (7.4 rpg). He also is second on the team in scoring (16.2 ppg).

GoMarquette.com: No. 21/22 Marquette Hits The Road To Face Providence Saturday Night

Marquette has been victorious in each of its first four BIG EAST Conference matchups at home, but is still in search of its first road victory in league play.

The Golden Eagles dropped a pair of tightly contested outings to top-10 opponents earlier this month, falling 73-70 at No. 9/9 Georgetown and 73-66 at No. 1/1 Syracuse. MU led by as many as 17 points in the second half against the Hoyas and closed a 23-point deficit to just two points before falling to the Orange.

In two of the last three seasons, Marquette has claimed at least five victories in conference action away from the Bradley Center and has finished with a .500-or-better record on the road in three of the team’s previous six seasons since joining the league in 2005-06.

The Golden Eagles have seven remaining road games in 2011-12.

Providence Journal: Window is closing on Big East hopes

“I think Providence is playing very, very well,” said Marquette coach Buzz Williams. “I think what coach Cooley has done there, both on and off the floor, speaks to him and his staff. I think we’ll have our hands full when we get to Providence.”

CBS Sports: Marquette @ Providence

“If the games were 33 minutes, we’d be really good,” coach Buzz Williams said. “I really like when we are us. When we are us, we’re pretty good. When we are not us, we’re pretty bad.”

“We’ve got to get out of (starting slowly),” said Johnson-Odom, averaging a team-best 18.2 points. “It’s been working, but I don’t think we want to continue that going forward.”

That may be especially true at Providence.

ESPN: Wooden Award watch list snubs (INSIDER)

Let’s start by looking at the Marquette Golden Eagles. To be sure, senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom is one of the best players in the country. He made noise as a sophomore with his lights-out shooting and has since evolved into a more complete player. To complement his long-range shooting (37.5 percent on 3-pointers), Johnson-Odom has worked on his midrange game and is converting 2-point field goals at a rate of 49.6 percent. The guard has the highest usage rate on the squad (23.4 percent) but surprisingly, for a player who utilizes such a high percentage of the shots taken in the Marquette offense, DJO is not the most efficient Golden Eagle. That title belongs to senior forward Jae Crowder, who has a higher PER (28.48, third in the Big East) than Johnson-Odom and a usage rate of just 19.1 percent. Yet Crowder’s offense rating (1.24, per Ken Pomeroy) dwarfs any of his teammates, and he has connected on 60 percent of his 2-pointers and a shade better than DJO on 3s (37.9 percent).

Marquette Tribune: Marquette Men’s Basketball: Road beckons MU with a familiar foe

After a six-game stretch in 16 days, coach Buzz Williams’ group took a much-needed day off Tuesday before beginning preparation for the Friars (12-7, 1-5 Big East). Despite slow starts in each of their last three home games, the Golden Eagles (15-4, 4-2 Big East) mounted comebacks in each and moved into a tie for third place in the young conference season.

Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Golden Eagles adjust to smaller lineup

The Golden Eagles scrapped the blueprint they had drawn in the preseason, have been playing a smaller lineup with Davante Gardner holding down the center position and have forged onward with a new identity.

Coach Buzz Williams says as time has passed his team has gotten more comfortable with the face-lift it has undergone.

“I was kind of getting used to having a couple of guys that looked as though they were big guys,” said Williams. “But all of the things we had done in September, October, November and December (changed) . . . all of the habits and all of the adjustments we had made relative to Chris and Davante playing the 40 minutes at the five-spot.

“But I really like the progression of our team.”

Golden Eagles Blog: Assists tell the tale

The assists column has been a good indicator so far this season on how the Golden Eagles have fared in games.

Marquette is averaging 17.3 assists per game which leads the Big East Conference and ranks eighth in the nation. In their 15 victories, the Golden Eagles have averaged 18.9 assists while in their four losses they have averaged 12.0 assists.

Friar Basketball: What to Watch For: 15-4 Marquette Comes to Providence

Gardner a potential match-up problem: At 6’8, 290 pounds, sophomore big man Davante Gardner could cause problems for an undersized PC frontcourt. Kadeem Batts and Bilal Dixon will be charged with bodying up the big man who has come on of late. His 22 point, 15 rebound effort was the difference in the comeback against St. John’s last week, and he scored 17 points in only 18 minutes versus Louisville Monday night.

A 13 point, 10 rebound game in only 23 minutes against Villanova was among his best of the season.

Cracked Sidewalks: Defensive Table: MU 3rd best defense with Otule, 69th best in next eight games, and now 10th best in last four games

- 3rd best defense in the country while Otule was playing,
- the 69th best defense in the country the first 8 games he was out (0.98 per trip, and even after adjusting for tough offenses faced, a 0.94 adjusted rating), and finally,
- the 10th best defense in the country the last 4 games (0.94, but adjusted to 0.87 due to offenses faced).

Cracked Sidewalks: Gardner-ing Tips

After Davante Gardner’s dominant performance against St. John’s, I began to wonder if it was an outlier, or the start of a very nice trend. Granted, his career highs in points and rebounds both came along with a career high in minutes, but it seemed to me like had THAT Davante shown up against LSU, Georgetown, and Syracuse, Marquette might have a much better record.

Paint Touches: Five Point Play V15: Looking forward to Big East play

2. 1-10, how much of a concern are Marquette’s slow starts?

Mark Strotman, Marquette Tribune: Six. It’s hard to play 40 good minutes in the Big East (Buzz Williams even said only Syracuse has done that this year), and it just so happens Marquette lets teams make their runs to start the game. It certainly isn’t a good trend and playing from behind won’t work against premier teams such as Connecticut and Georgetown and whoever they play in the Big East, which is why it’s a six. But wins are wins, and the ability to come from behind and win games shows something positive.

Cracked Sidewalks: Eight – putting together consistent play for the entire 40 minutes is probably the No. 1 concern.

Mike Nelson: Five. The slow start trend began against Vanderbilt on Dec. 29 and became a greater concern during the previous three-game home stand. It’s not a recipe for long-term success, but Marquette is 4-2 (tied for fourth place in the Big East) and a top-25 team in the country. With Providence, USF and Villanova upcoming, Marquette has some games where it can shake off this slow-start rust.

Examiner: Providence at a glance

Unlike this past weekend, however, the Friars, who have lost their past seven meetings against the Golden Eagles (15-4, 4-2), will have leading scorer and all-everything guard Vincent Council in the lineup after being benched against the Orange, the first game that the junior sharpshooter has missed this season, for undisclosed reasons.

WHAT TO: WATCH

Obligatory Jonathan Xavier video

Marquette Shakes Slow Start, Beats Louisville 74-63

After being down by 9, Marquette came back to beat Pittsburgh, 62-57. Freshman Todd Mayo was key for the Golden Eagles, sparking the comeback in the second half before fouling out. Coach Buzz Williams said that Mayo was the difference maker in this game. Tess Quinlan has more from the Bradley Center

After being down by as much as 23, Marquette came back within 2 against the number one team in the country, Syracuse. This is Marquette’s second straight loss and Coach Buzz Williams said that part of their problem is playing two consistent halves. MUTV Sports’ Tess Quinlan has more from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Georgetown 73 vs Marquette 70 winning three pointer January 4 2012

Vander Blue throws down three solid dunks in Marquette’s route of UW-Green Bay

WHERE TO: FOLLOW

Friars.com: Gametracker

Twitter.com: I’ll probably be live tweeting the game @friarblog. Also be sure to follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.

WHERE TO: WATCH

Cox

SNY

ESPN3.com

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