Well, the road has finally ended in Boise. What a great (yet nerve racking) four year ride it has been. In regards to today's loss to Missouri let me first say, what a great game! Yes Marquette came out on the losing end, but this team once again showed what they have been putting on display throughout their four year career..........toughness and a never say die attitude. Simply put, these guys are Warriors! I am bummed that MU couldn't pull this one off, but Jerel and Wes put on one hell of a show in the second half. Their frantic offense in the first half and the turnovers that ensued was simply too much to overcome in the end. They fought back, and in my opinion were the better team even without Dom, but the final dagger and unfortunate play of the game came when Hayward hesitated and stepped on the end line when trying to inbound down 2 and 5.5 seconds to play. I haven't seen such an occurrence in, oh I don't know, A DECADE! I feel really bad for Lazar and don't blame him for the loss at all. It just seems that this team always finds unusual ways to lose games.
What seems to be a reoccurring theme with Coach Williams is his utmost confidence in his upperclassmen to run an offense during important late game possessions. In my opinion, the series that led to Marquette's demise was the possession in which MU was up 1 with roughly a minute to play. As the shot clock ticked down to the low teens, Acker tried to get the ball to Jerel but was denied by Missouri. With 11 seconds in the shot clock Acker dribbled towards the top of the key, had an open lane to the bucket, but pulled back and dribbled the ball towards Butler and handed him the ball with approximately 3 seconds left on the shot clock. Butler heaved a 3 with a defender in his face and eventually air balled it which resulted in a shot clock violation. Now I have mentioned this before, and most of the QB has disagreed with me on the issue, but again I think that Buzz should have called a timeout (we had 2 remaining at the time) when the clock reached 11. The offense was stagnant and Jerel/Wes couldn't even get the ball in their hands. This falls squarely on the shoulders of Buzz. In what may have been the deciding possession of the game, Buzz needs to realize that sometimes his veteran players need to regroup and have a play drawn out for them......especially when it's the final minute in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament and you have control of the game. Many of us have pooh poohed the issue, but in our last 3 losses this year (Syracuse, Villanova, Missouri), we have had at least a 1 point lead with under a minute to play and possession of the ball. Not 1 time has Buzz called a timeout to center the teams focus and give them the best opportunity to get points out of the possession .........and as we all know we eventually lost the game in all 3 of those situations. Everyone says play from the front, but for whatever reason playing from the front is a bit of a curse with these guys. Unfortunate when they are good at getting to the free throw line and knocking them down when they get there.
In spite of my opinion on the timeout issue with Buzz, by no means am I calling for his head. Overall I like what he did with the program this season. He was handed a good basketball team, but due to the shake of the coaching staff, he was also handed a program that was in a bit of an unstable state. In a short time period, Buzz was able to restock the cupboard after the decommittments of Nick Williams and Tyshawn Taylor and the transfers of Scott Christopherson and Trevor Mbakwe. So for that I applaud him.
Seniors - While its unfortunate that the season is now over, I am glad that Dominic James was able to put on the uniform and play with the other seniors one last time. Dom played more minutes than was expected, but it was obvious that he hadn't played for 3.5 weeks as he looked unsure of himself out there......something I've never seen out of him in four years. This group was a hell of a lot of fun to watch for four years, and while few gave Marquette a shot at even being competitive in the Big East, these guys were not only competitive but were 1 of 3 Big East schools to post 10+ wins over those four years. That alone defines how successful they really were.
With the mass exodus that's occurring and what sounds like a great mix of players coming in, it's possible that we'll have the next group of amigos in Maymon, Cadougan, Williams, and Roseboro. So keep the faith Marquette fans! Just as the 3 amigos came in and joined Novak to form a competitive Big East team, the incoming class will be joining a very good Lazar Hayward and company so the dropoff may not be as large as some may think. When time permits I will be giving a detailed pre-season report on the '09-10 Golden Eagles.
Ring Out Ahoya!
See you next November.