Marquette HoopsCap: Golden Eagles’ Surprise Second Half
This blog is built on having creative titles for posts. I do this so different audiences can be familiar with content that they like or don’t like. I’m so mad I used ‘musings’ for our Badger football recap. ‘Marquette Musings’ would have been dope. This is where I’m going to start and see how it ends up. HoopsCap can be used for Wisconsin as well. For those curious how it will work in non-conference is I’ll try to recap all of the big non-conference games for both Marquette and Wisconsin. Once conference play starts it’s all things a-go.
When Marquette tipped off against Vanderbilt on Friday night no one really knew what to expect from Golden Eagles. Expectations were a bit higher than they’ve been compared to the past couple years, but people didn’t know how good this team could be in the 2016-2017 season. The second half showed Marquette could be a really good basketball team. They blew out Vandy in a 95-71 drubbing that took place in the second half primarily. This is still a very new season, but the early returns are very encouraging.
The forgotten one – Jajuan Johnson
There was so much talk at the beginning of the season about Haanif Cheatham having a breakout season that everyone failed to mention Jajuan Johnson. He came on so strong at the end of last season and showed some legitimate flashes. Friday was his announced arrival. Johnson had 21 points with 6 steals. He made three 3-pointers and made 9 of his 13 attempts from the field. Johnson played a very efficient ball game on both ends of the court. If he’s a 12-15 point scorer for Marquette, they’re in better shape than anyone thought this offseason.
When we did the preview on Friday, I mentioned how this will be a different looking Marquette team because they can shoot threes better than any team under Steve Wojociehowski. Marquette showed it on Friday in the second half with 10 threes in 19 attempts. For the non-math majors, it’s 52 percent. That’s incredible. Johnson, Cheatham and Sam Hauser all had three or more treyballs and helped extend the lead versus Commodores. Hauser is a true threat off the bench. He can absolutely drill it from deep.
Turnovers weren’t an issue
In the last couple years we’ve talked at length about how Marquette turns the ball over too much. That conversation didn’t happen on Friday. Golden Eagles only turned the ball over 12 times. No Marquette player had more than two turnovers in the game. This is a significant upgrade and will make Golden Eagles a better basketball team. Too many times last year and the year before Marquette felt out of control on offense and that wasn’t the case versus Vandy.
Reinhardt, Rowsey and Howard’s rough start
Not everyone had a great night for Marquette to kick off their season. New transfers, Katin Reinhardt and Andrew Rowsey, struggled to get going with only nine points and 1/9 from three. All nine points came from Reinhardt in the second half. He had a couple nice plays actually, and the chemistry Luke Fischer and Reinhardt had already on the court was awesome to see. Rowsey didn’t get much run with only 14 minutes. Markus Howard got the start which surprised many people and he did not score in limited action. Howard had foul trouble all night. All three players will have better days.
Players of the Game: Johnson (Marquette), Jeff Roberson (Vanderbilt) – We already touched on Johnson, but it’s one of his best games of his Marquette career. Vandy had no one with a memorable game. Roberson gets the nod because he nearly had a double-double, nine points and 10 rebounds.
Next up: Marquette plays Howard tomorrow night at their home opener at Bradley Center. They will play Michigan on Thursday night in New York City. Lots of travel to start the year.