By: David Kay
Stop me if you have heard this before; Marquette holds a late lead only to miss free throws and have the opposing team hit a shot in the final seconds to beat the Golden Eagles. History repeated itself once again Wednesday night when MU was shocked by DePaul, 51-50, snapping the Blue Demons’ 24-game conference losing streak. Hear that? That sound was me repeating slamming my car door against my head.
In the Big East opener at West Virginia, it was Marquette blowing a five-point lead with a minute to play by missing three of four free throws including the front end of two one-and-one’s, and having Da’Sean Butler make a turnaround, fade-away jumper with two seconds left to give the Mountaineers the win.
The very next game against Villanova, Darius Johnson-Odom misses a pair of free throws late and Lazar Hayward only hits one-of-two from the charity stripe allowing Nova’s Scottie Reynolds to do what Scottie does best; hit a late shot to win the game for the ‘Cats.
Wednesday night against DePaul; more déjà vu. Marquette lets the Blue Demons hang around only to miss the front end of back-to-back one-and-one’s with less than twenty seconds on the clock, allowing DePaul’s Mike Stovall to hit the game winning shot with .7 seconds remaining.
These painful losses do not even include letting second half, double-digit leads slip away in losses to Florida State and N.C. State, or having a 22-point comeback attempt at Villanova fall short due to a late turnover on the possible game-tying possession.
In other words, Marquette is the anti-Mariano Rivera this year.
Buzz Williams was completely right in not sugar coating the disappointment of the loss after the game saying it was “one of the worst losses in recent Marquette history.” DePaul is terrible. Terrible to the point that my friends and I who were at the game were literally laughing out loud at how poorly they were playing in the first 15 minutes of the game. And it’s not like the Demons stepped it up and played out of their mind in the second half, they were still pretty awful. However, Marquette didn’t just play to the level of their competition; they performed seventeen notches below it.
18 points in the second half? 3 made field goals in the final 11:20? Against a DePaul team that has losses to American and Florida Gulf Coast on their resume, was without one of their top players in Mac Koshwal, and currently has an interim head coach? Where was our senior leader, Lazar Hayward, who didn’t score a single point in the second half after dropping 14 in the game’s first twenty minutes? And it’s not like Marquette can even use the “well, it was a Big East road game” excuse because there was as much gold in the half-filled All-State Arena as DePaul royal blue.
This all came from a team who just three days ago absolutely dismantled Providence and was one of the four teams just missing out on the NCAA Tournament in Joe Lunardi’s recent edition of Bracketology. Heading into Wednesday’s game, a five-hundred Big East record and a possible trip to the NCAA Tournament seemed attainable. Instead, Marquette is 2-4 in conference and Saturday visit a Syracuse team that is an absolute nightmare match-up for the Golden Eagles due to their size.
Buzz has said all season long that the margin for error is minute for Marquette. After Wednesday’s embarrassing loss to DePaul, the margin becomes even slimmer and MU will have to steal a couple of wins if they any hopes of dancing come March.
(One other note to pass along: Marquette freshman point guard Junior Cadougan who was supposedly lost for the season after rupturing his Achilles during pre-seson conditioning, once again dressed and participated in warm-ups before the game. With Buzz needing all the healthy bodies he can suit at this point, expect Cadougan to see some minutes soon. While that will eliminate any chance of a medical redshirt for next season, I think it is the right decision if Cadougan is 100% healthy and can be a factor in helping Marquette right away. Plus, seeing as he is the only point guard returning from MU’s roster for next season, any experience he can gain in the next two months will be crucial for the Golden Eagles’ success in 2010-2011. However, if he is going to look like Dominic James did when he tried to hurry back against Missouri in the NCAA Tournament, I say keep him on the bench and allow him to keep that redshirt.)