NCAA BK

Undersized, up-tempo Marquette ready for tourney

Share This Story

   
 

MILWAUKEE (AP)

This was supposed to be the year Marquette wouldn't have to spend the season talking about how they were going to get by without a big man.

The Golden Eagles had 6-foot-11 Chris Otule and 6-8 Davante Gardner - all 290 pounds of him - as options on their front line. Then they lost Otule to a season-ending ACL injury in early December, and Gardner is just now getting back from the left knee injury he sustained in late January.

Gardner's ability to make significant contributions was unclear going into Thursday's NCAA tournament opener, leaving Marquette's profile looking a lot like it has in recent years: smallish but fast. And while coach Buzz Williams knows that conventional wisdom says their lack of size puts them at a disadvantage, he says statistics tell a different story.

''Everybody just says we're little, and we're going to get pulverized inside,'' Williams said. ''And then if you study those numbers, actually we've been more potent in the paint than any other team we've played, except Louisville in our last game. I think our guys have done a really good job.''

Marquette finished the season at 25-7, earning a No. 3 seed and a Thursday matchup with BYU, which beat Iona 78-72 Tuesday night.

Williams credits his players for adjusting to injuries.

''It was kind of back to the way we were when I was first hired here,'' Williams said, referring to the Golden Eagles' recent undersized teams. ''The problem with that is, nobody on this team was on that team. And so I think for us to have been on the run that we were on despite the injuries says a lot about who our kids are as people.''

Big East player of the year Jae Crowder said playing without Otule, then Gardner, was difficult - but acknowledged that the Golden Eagles' quickness can be an asset.

''I think it's an advantage, if we use it, if we take advantage of our speed and quickness,'' Crowder said. ''But if we play the half-court game, of course, they may have the edge and we have to fight a little harder.''

Forward Jamil Wilson says he can tell that opponents sometimes get gassed trying to match Marquette's tempo.

''You can tell even sometimes at the free throw line, when guys have a little down time to chat,'' Wilson said. ''You exchange words here and there. Some guys, you can just tell by how hard they're breathing. They're not used to chasing someone around like that.''

Gardner missed eight games with a sprained left knee, then returned for the regular-season finale against Georgetown and the Big East tournament loss to Louisville. He had eight points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes in the victory over Georgetown, but hasn't yet shown Williams he's fully ready to handle the pace of an up-tempo game.

''Now that he's back, it's been another adjustment period,'' Williams said. ''But as I said before he got healthy, I'm not going to disrupt the rhythm of who we are. And I'm not going to do that this weekend in Louisville, either.''

Not knowing his first tournament opponent was something of a challenge for Williams, who spent time with his assistant preparing for both Iona and BYU.

''I've slept a few hours, but our whole staff has done as much as we could,'' Williams said.

But that doesn't apply to players; in practice, Williams says the Golden Eagles mostly spent time trying to ''sharpen our own saw.''

''You can't tell 20-year-old kids, `Hey, if we play BYU, they're going to do this. OK, now BUY's over, and in the next 15-minute segment, if we play Iona, they're going to do this,''' Williams said. ''I don't think that's healthy.''

Despite earning a fairly high seed, Crowder said the Golden Eagles have to take the same approach they did as a No. 11 seed last year.

''We were hungry last year, of course,'' Crowder said. ''We felt disrespected, of course. We wanted a piece of that high seed, and that's how it goes in the NCAA tournament. But we still have to have that same mindset - as coach said it, not get fat, not get caught up in the hype.''

Tagged: Marquette, Louisville, Iona, Chris Otule, Jae Crowder, Davante Gardner

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..