4/5 Villanova vs Marquette
January 25, 2014
1:00 PM CT
Fox Sports 1
Do you remember those meticulous puzzles that your parents made you do when you were a kid? You know the ones. They would have two hundred pieces that after you spent three hours mixing and matching, you would finally be done. Even if the final product was some sort of tree or another trivial object, you felt a sense of accomplishment.
This satisfaction after such frustration can describe how Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams felt on Monday night when Marquette (11-8, 3-3 Big East) beat Georgetown 80-72 in overtime.
Throughout the first eighteen games of the season, Williams has used countless lineups in order to create some kind of offensive consistency. On his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN Milwaukee, Buzz admitted that he does not have a set rotation that he uses every game. In some contests fans would see Jamil Wilson as a point guard, while Steve Taylor battled against guys twice his weight in the post. Against Georgetown, Buzz may have finally arranged his pieces of the offensive puzzle in a manner that will lead to stable success.
John Dawson scored a career high twelve points while playing thirty one minutes at the point on Monday, compared to usual starter Derrick Wilson’s twelve. Dawson’s offensive outburst took me back to the past two years of Marquette basketball.
In both seasons, Buzz was able to construct a remarkable rotation at the point guard position between Junior Cadougan and Wilson. Cadougan, the veteran, played a majority of the minutes because of his superior ability to run an offense. While he did throw passes that literally went into the stands, Cadougan could create offense by either hitting an outside shot or driving to the hole. When he would attack the basket, it would leave shooters like Vander Blue and Todd Mayo open at the perimeter. Wilson on the other hand was used for defensive purposes. He would play three to four minute segments to shut down the opponents’ guards.
At the beginning of the season, with Cadougan graduating, Buzz had faith that Wilson could pick up the slack offensively. Unfortunately, Marquette fans’ fear of Wilson being more of a liability with increased minutes has come to fruition. After his performance on Monday, Dawson has proven he can provide the offensive spark Marquette is seeking at the one.
Another player that showed enormous potential with a boost in minutes was Steve Taylor Jr. What is puzzling about Taylor is that he has only played more than fifteen minutes four times this season. He did have offseason surgery which resulted in people pointing to his recovery as the reason for his limited minutes. Buzz has said repeatedly that Taylor has indeed been healthy but has not solidified a spot in the rotation.
After his fourteen point eight rebound game in DC, Taylor should see a steady increase in playing time the rest of the season. Look for Taylor to replace Chris Otule more often down the stretch in future games. Especially against teams with more athletic big men, Taylor is a superior option.
Buzz finding the proper way to use Taylor and Dawson, resulted in more pieces of the overall puzzle falling into place for the Golden Eagles. The issue that persists is whether Marquette can still salvage the season after digging themselves into a major hole.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup against Villanova (16-2, 5-1 Big East), the Golden Eagles hope to have the pieces in place in order to pull off the biggest upset of their season. Beating a highly ranked Villanova team, 4 and 5 in the last polls before their loss to Creighton, could translate in their stock sky rocketing. With the pieces to the puzzle starting to come into place, Marquette fans hope that the end result is a masterpiece.
To say that guard Jake “The Racine Rainmaker” Thomas has not lived up to expectations would be an understatement. It was unfair to label him as the next Steve Novak when he transferred from South Dakota, as most Marquette fans did. However, Marquette relied on him to be the guy that hit clutch threes when the game is on the line. He does rank seventh in three point shooting during conference play entering Saturday, but he disappears down the stretch. The biggest flaw that Creighton’s 96-68 trouncing of Villanova exposed, was that the Wildcats cannot defend the three. Ethan Wragge hit nine three pointers, while Creighton drained twenty one from long distance in the blowout. If Thomas can find his stroke from behind the arc, Marquette may shock the college basketball world on Saturday.
If Todd Mayo plays in the NBA, I will not be surprised. If there was one player that does not even average ten points a game (9.2) to make it, it will be Mayo. He will go down as the player who could have become the face of the program when he was in Milwaukee, but chose not to. Putting his transgressions off the court aside, Mayo has had games when he lacked the confidence to shoot the ball in crunch time. Against Georgetown, he nailed the three pointer to send the game into overtime. Mayo needs to carry the assurance he gained from that shot, into Saturday.
Steve Taylor Time
With the increased minutes that he is expected to receive on Saturday, Taylor will have plenty of opportunities to prove why he was a highly touted recruit coming out of Simeon in Chicago. JayVaughn Pinkston, while having one of the coolest first names in all of sports, is all that Marquette hopes Taylor can become. Pinkston is what Taylor would look like if he added some muscle. His ability to be a hybrid force down low and from the perimeter has led him to a team high 15.3 PPG. Taylor has the same abilities, he just has to develop them. While Jamil Wilson will still see most of the minutes at the four, look for Taylor to get his chance against Pinkston. If Taylor and the Golden Eagles cannot contain Pinkston, Saturday will be a long day for Marquette fans.
Prediction: Villanova 77 Marquette 66
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