Davante Gardner is the closest thing anyone has to Gene Teague proportions and skill set. - Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Shorthanded Pirates face uphill climb in Milwaukee.
Injuries suck. That much is certain.
The Pirates will be woefully shorthanded when they take on the ultra-deep Marquette Golden Eagles on the road tonight, but here at the Juice, hope springs eternal, as usual.
Here's what you need to know about Marquette:
#25/RV Marquette (12-3, 3-0)
2011-12 record: 27-8 (14-4 Big East, 2nd place)
The things about Marquette that you can always count on: hustle, offense, and a ridiculously deep roster. Buzz Williams loves to sub players in and out almost every possession, which makes for a broadcaster's nightmare.
This year's team is a little less offensively potent than last year's team was, but they still play their trademark style of basketball. Last season, the Golden Eagles amped up the defense AND their pace, which is something you don't see very often.
However, when you have Darius Johnson-Odom and Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder running things, you can probably do whatever you want. Those two are now gone, and they've taken their out-of-this-world efficiency with them, but as usual, Marquette just comes at you in waves.
Leading the charge this year are Vander Blue and Davante Gardner. Blue has really improved a ton since his freshman year (he's now a junior), when on several occasions he was unsure of which way was up. Now, he's added a passable three-point shot to his game, and is playing a nice all-around game for Marquette.
Gardner is a LOAD down low. He's the only post player who can match Gene Teague's combination of size (6'8", 290 according to the official roster), touch, and quick feet. Watching those two go at it should be fun if foul trouble permits. Also of note is that Gardner is the sixth man for this team, averaging over 20 minutes per game off the bench. He also shoots 80% from the free throw line, probably the best among bigs in college basketball.
Junior Cadougan is still there, this year's entry into the "How has he not graduated yet?" conversation. Cadougan does what he's always done- run the show, be a great passer, take care of the basketball, and not worry about shooting threes (17%). His bulldog-like build also helps him on defense.
Jamil Wilson's an athletic post player with range out to the three-point line and some shot blocking chops inside. He's floated in and out of the starting lineup, but it hasn't affected his production. He's second on the team in rebounding behind Gardner.
Trent Lockett is eligible after transferring from Arizona State, and he brings good size on the wing, and a good rebounding rate for his position as well. He doesn't take many threes, but overall he has really struggled to make shots this year. Also on the wing is Todd Mayo, a shooter/scorer type who's only played in 5 games so far this season, and whose shooting numbers are nowhere near what he is in those areas.
Chris Otule is the tallest player on the Golden Eagles' roster, and is coming off knee surgery. Still, his 2.9 REB in 16 minutes per game is not a good number, but so many of his minutes have been taken by Gardner that it's hard not to cite that as a reason for the low rate. He's primarily a defensive presence down low.
Juan Anderson has made a jump in minutes, and the long, wiry stretch forward has struggled to shoot, but is contributing in other ways as well.
The remaining players include Derrick Wilson, Cadougan's backup who's also good at taking care of the ball and even less of an offensive threat, and Jake Thomas is a transfer shooter who has not shot the ball well this year. Steve Taylor, Jr. is a freshman face-up forward who's played in every game, but is averaging under 10 minutes per.
Seton Hall will win if:
- They stay fresh. I have honestly no idea at all how the Pirates can accomplish this, but something that's never a problem with Marquette is tired legs near the end of the game. Seton Hall will need to keep their stars on the floor, and at the same time keep them from tiring against this deep, deep team.
- They make shots. We've seen it before- sometimes, one team just catches fire, and that's the only explanation for how the game turns out like it does. Seton Hall's going to need one of these tonight, I think. They're also going to need someone to step up big and help Edwin, Cosby and Teague.
Marquette will win if:
- They attack the paint. It is paramount that Gene Teague be on the floor for the Pirates. Backing him up are a still-hobbling Kevin Johnson and a just-got-back Aaron Geramipoor, neither of which are offensive threats. If Teague gets in foul trouble, the Marquette guards will key even more on Cosby and Edwin, and that's something the Pirates cannot afford if they want to have a shot.
On paper this looks grim. The Pirates will be playing with Edwin, Cosby, Maayan, Smyth, Karlis, Teague, Geramipoor and Johnson- 8 scholarship players. Seton Hall will just need to fight through and get to the bye week they have coming up, which should mean Brian Oliver's return to the lineup.