Posted by mlemaire on December 20th, 2012
- The biggest statement game last evening was Cincinnati‘s dispatching of crosstown rival Xavier 60-45 on a neutral floor. The Musketeers made just 2-of-13 three-pointers and were blown out in the second half thanks to Cincinnati’s physical defense and a steady barrage of shots from Bearcats’ star Sean Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick needed 27 shots to get his 25 points, but he was the team’s best offensive option all night and one of the main reasons the team’s offense came alive in the second half. After the game, talk quickly turned to the future of the rivalry. Bearcats’ head coach Mick Cronin prefers the neutral court, but the Xavier contingent would prefer campus contests in order to cater to their season-ticket holders (read: money-makers). A resolution has not been decided as of yet but as everyone noted, the atmosphere was positive all night, something that may play a role in where the game is played given its sketchy history.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum was Marquette, who didn’t show up to play against a Wisconsin-Green Bay team that only had eight players available for last night’s game, and the result was an uninspired 49-47 loss that snapped the Golden Eagles’ four-game winning streak. Buzz Williams, a man who never saw a hyperbole he didn’t like, called it “the slowest game in Division I basketball this year” because of the Phoenix’s stubborn insistence to play zone defense and run a methodical half-court offense. Of course the strategy paid off for Phoenix coach and Marquette alumnus Brian Wardle as he was able to keep his eight players as fresh as possible and compete against the more athletic and deeper Golden Eagles. As for Marquette, the rebuilding project is still in process clearly after last night’s loss. There are pieces and talent in place, but there is not a lot of experience and even fewer players capable of being consistent offensive threats. Until they fix those issues, they will struggle against any competition, much less conference foes.
- One way Marquette can find some instant offense is if sophomore guard Todd Mayo is able to return to the team after sitting out the fall semester because of academic issues. A blizzard is preventing Mayo’s mother from flying to Milwaukee and Buzz Williams is unwilling to make a decision on his mercurial sophomore until he has spoken to her. Assuming Mayo is able to bring his grades up, it seems likely that he will rejoin the team — which is good — because his offensive ability and shooting prowess make the Golden Eagles a more dangerous team. But you can bet that Williams will have Mayo on thin ice after his numerous off-the-court issues during his time in Milwaukee. Mayo doesn’t have any more room for error, so if he can clean up his act, Marquette will use him liberally. But if he can’t get it together, don’t expect Williams to show him any more sympathy.
- Will UCLA castaway Josh Smith join Georgetown in time to start taking classes for next semester? If the fact that Smith is scheduled to visit the Georgetown campus this weekend is any indication, then things are looking good for the Hoyas. Now whether getting Smith is actually a good move or just a risky stunt by John Thompson III still remains to be seen. The good folks at Casual Hoya took a look at the 300-pound enigma, pointing out that Smith’s soft hands, good footwork, and size make him an offensive weapon no matter how out of shape he is. Of course they also point out that Smith’s conditioning limits his playing time, ruins his defensive positioning, and frequently frustrated Bruins’ coach Ben Howland. They actually used video to back up their points and break down the nuances in his game and it is an excellent scouting report on exactly what is right and what is wrong with Smith’s game.
- Leave it to Providence coach Ed Cooley to think of one of the more fitting sports tributes to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The always eloquent Cooley joined the boys from WEEI in Boston to discuss Providence’s decision to leave 26 seats empty in their last game and wear green jerseys that were then sent to the school. The former Fairfield head honcho was hit hard by the tragedy and spoke passionately and eloquently about his feelings, the tribute, and how it affected him. It is really an excellent interview so give it a listen.