Blog Entry

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

Posted on: January 29, 2011 5:43 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2011 6:11 pm
Jae Crowder drives on Rick Jackson

Posted by Eric Angevine

Talk about a huge game for Marquette. Since becoming a member of the Big East, the Golden Eagles had never beat Syracuse. That changed today, with a 76-70 home victory in front of an ecstatic crowd at the Bradley Center. The Orange dropped their fourth game in a row.

The obvious difference in this game was rebounding. The 'Cuse starters combined to grab just 12 boards all game long, and the team as a whole had only four offensive rebounds over 40 minutes of play. Ouch.

6-foot-6 junior transfer Jae Crowder had 25 points for his best scoring performance since dropping 29 on West Virginia. He grabbed six defensive rebounds as well, doing his part to keep the Orange off the glass and jump-start the Marquette offense.

Marquette showing up big late in the season after a slow start is nothing new to fans of the program. Head coach Buzz Williams basically admits that his teaching style takes a while to catch on.

"We're slow in November and December because I'm not teaching them offense," he said in an interview at the beginning of the season. "By late January, we have rhythm and flow and they're not overthinking."

Right on cue.

The emerging flow was evident in the way the Golden Eagles dealt with the Syracuse zone. Using transition to score quickly and quickness to exploit gaps in the 2-3, Marquette's players were able to find enough room to shoot. Senior Jimmy Butler went 6 of 10 from the floor and 2 of 2 from deep to score 19, Darius Johnson-Odom had 17, and  Dwight Buycks put up a nice all-around line of 6 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists in the win.

Scoop Jardine had 13 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort, and much-ballyhooed freshman big Fab Melo continued to disappoint, scoring just 2 points to go with 2 rebounds. Another freshman, Baye Moussa Keita, continued to outplay Melo, garnering 4 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks before fouling out.

Both teams are now 5-4 in the Big East, and have a lot of ground to make up in order to join the upper echelon of the sprawling league.

Photo: US Presswire

Since: Nov 12, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:08 pm

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

Trashing Paul Harris is a joke.

SU is a all time top 10 program (all time wins) who is in the top 25 and the NCAA tourny almost every year.   Look where Paul Harris ranks on their list of top 100 rebounders, and scorers ... in 3 season of play.     Not bad. 

Is he one of the all time greats?   Well, no.  Did he play a solid 3 seasons and put up some nice numbers at the high major level?   Yes.   At 6-4, as a small forward, the NBA was probably always a long shot.    Leave the kid alone. 

Since: Nov 12, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:04 pm

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

re; Waiters

Rumor around the 'Cuse is that Waiters is serving a 1 or 2 game "unofficial" or unannounced "suspension" for his blow up (F Bomb directed at JB) on the bench the previous game before Marquette. 

Since: Nov 12, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:02 pm

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

So much to cover.   SU started Southerland, instead of Fab (Jackson started at center).   SU lost both, and Southerland who had been playing well off the bench as of late, imploded.  

SU D's hasn't been the issue as much as its offense.   It has failed to score, and has failed to score at key moments.   

Since: Mar 26, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 1:07 pm

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

Fabricio's development has definitely been disappointing, but this seems to be the trend for SU big men initially as Freshman over the years under Boeheim (i.e. - Rony Seikaly, Etan Thomas, Damone Brown). Rick Jackson wasn't exactly lighting it up when he was a Frosh either, and I think if Fab Melo wasn't so highly touted coming out of high school then people wouldn't be so quick to judge his progress. He simply doesn't have the conditioning to play big minutes right now, and his slowness on the court is evident, but he is slowly starting to rebound and score a few baskets here and there. I think if he can limit his fouls and turnovers then SU will be able to compete better in the first halves of games. The issue is that this team feels they can get down a bunch of points and will magically come back in the 2nd Half (like last year's team often did), but this is simply not happening. Another dilemma facing the Orange lies in the fact that the Big East is the best Conference in College Basketball, and learning on the job isn't something SU can afford if they want to have a chance to get back towards the top of the division. 
I think the top of the 2-3 Zone is just as much to blame with the 'Cuse's recent losing streak as is Fab Melo and the lower half of the zone. The guards are letting too many open shots occur and that is why opponents are shooting 50% or better from the field and nearly that total from 3 point range in their four straight losses. They clearly lack the experience, quickness and length that was present during last year's squad.
The road won't get any easier traveling to UCONN and still having to facing G'Town twice, but luckily it is still early enough for the Orange to right the ship and remember how winning basketball games feels. Jim Boeheim will get the message through to a team that is immature and clearly still living in the past glories of recent seasons. Right now it appears this team feels entitled to success and have yet to really earn it on the court. I believe that being ranked in the Top 5 has hurt this team as they started to believe in their own media hype. This losing streak must act as a wake-up call, and hopefully make them understand that they must forge their own legacy if they want to make a final push towards revelance come March.

Since: Nov 28, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 12:15 pm

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

Melo being a project is fine; however to syart him in the middle every game has lead to many of the slow starts the 'cuse has had since big east play began. Either start Keita in the middle or Jackson with Sutherland and Joseph on the wings. You lose nothing in size and begin with an outstanding shooter on the wing with 150% more athleticism.
thanks, Rocket from Ridgewood

Since: Oct 9, 2010
Posted on: January 30, 2011 10:23 am

Marquette learns how to hold a lead vs. Syracuse

Interestingly I see that Waiters did not play at all in this game.  It seems like Boeheim is sending him a message after his lack of effort in their last game.  I also read that at one point in their last game he told his coach to   Hopefully that is just a freshman growing pain and not a sign of things to come.  In the Big East you are going to be in constant pressure situations and pressure games, and if you fold under that pressure and can't take criticism from your coach in a game that you're getting smoked.....well enough said.  Cuse got rid of the head cases from a few years ago, which is why last year's team was such a breath of fresh air.  Hopefully the Seniors and Juniors on this squad retained some of the leadership from last years Seniors and can use it to pull this team through this rough patch.  As for Fab, I personally am not worried about him.  Anyone who knew the whole story about him was aware that he was an athlete with raw basketball skills.  He was such a high recruit because of his athleticism not his b-ball skills or b-ball IQ.  We've seen the coaching staff do wonders with other big men who came to Cuse with more significant deficits and less athleticism than Melo.  So as long as he stays through his Junior or Senior season, he will cash in on his potential and be a stud.  Also if Cuse can land the big guy from Jamesville-Dewitt then there will be a nice insurance plan in place in case Melo decides to bolt for the NBA before his potential is outweighed by his performance, if he isn't able to make huge improvement, as often happens these days (see Paul Harris).

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or