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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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In Sports

Freshman Deonte Burton brings some aggressiveness to the court. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

Golden Eagles looking for an edge


On the opening offensive set of Marquette's home victory over Providence last Thursday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Golden Eagles won the tip, then set up a half court play for freshman Deonte Burton to catch the ball on the right baseline. He took a quick step and was into the lane, drawing a foul.

The shot didn't go, but he went to the basket quickly and decisively.

Unfortunately, and fortunately, that's how Marquette beat the 15-win Friars.

Burton and fellow freshman Jajuan Johnson were the aggressors, getting into the lane, taking quality shots. The same could be said with Todd Mayo and Jamil Wilson.

Defensively, if the Golden Eagles corralled the rebound, they flew out – Derrick Wilson pushing the ball up quickly, distributing to the tune of eight assists.

"I think that takes a lot of pressure off everybody by us playing like that," Derrick Wilson said. "Pushing the ball just makes it easier for everybody. Its easier points for all of us. And you get fouled because everybody is trailing, trying to catch up in rotation."

Yet the Golden Eagles only made 38.5 percent of their shots in the first half, and 40 percent in the second.

The offensive struggles continued over the weekend in a 74-59 loss to St. John's on Saturday, as the Golden Eagles made just three baskets over the final 12 minutes, 45 seconds of the first half – a half where Marquette shot just 26.7 percent.

It's been the story of the year for Marquette (12-10) this season as it hosts Butler (12-9) tonight in need of a win – and the start of a prolonged winning streak.

"Some of our best offensive players are our worst defensive players; and some of our best defensive players are our worst offensive players," head coach Buzz Williams said against Providence. "So, running them in waves the way we did in the first half (against Providence) was kind of a balance of all of it. Not, who started, not how old they are, not where they're from, not what they did the last game or the game before, but what gives us our best chance today, from start to finish, to win."

How can they change it?

Perhaps it will be by making a more concerted effort to run, but run smartly.

In New York, Williams said his team played "a little too fast" in turning the ball over 16 times in 73 possessions. Against Providence, Marquette turned it over 11 times in 62 possessions.

On the road, they went 3 of 14 from 3-point range. At home two nights before, they were 3 of 13. On the road, they got up 15 more field goal attempts, but shot two fewer free throws.

Such consistent inconsistency is one reason the team hasn't been able to win back-to-back games all year have alternated wins and losses dating back to Dec. 17.

They've shown flashes of an edge, when Burton and Johnson beat a defender in a step and get to the basket; when Mayo and Wilson finish above the rim.

Perhaps that's the type of consistency they need to display to overcome the inconsistency found elsewhere on offense.

"I think everybody is starting to realize that that's the easiest way to score, especially with our team," Derrick Wilson said. "We have a lot of athletes on our team, especially on the wings, so I think just getting the ball out like that, it just makes it easier for everybody. Davante, Chris, because they're running straight to the block so (if) the guard's pushing it their man steps up you just dish it down to them. I think it just helps everybody, pushing it."


Talkbacks

TosaJim | Feb. 4, 2014 at 1:36 p.m. (report)

Could it be that they are just not very good?

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