Marquette Close Enough To Hope, But Missing Their Clutch Shooter Is Hurting Them

Steve PopowskiCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2009

About three weeks ago, before PG Dominic James broke is foot, I argued with my friends that on this team, if someone were to go down, I thought that if James went down, it would hurt the team less than if Wes Matthews, Jerel McNeal, or Lazar Hayward went down.

I felt, and still feel like the Golden Eagles have more depth at the guard position than at the forward position.

Over the last few weeks, I feel like the points that I had made during my initial argument had proven themselves worthy statistically. Since being given the full time gig, Acker has averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 assists per game with a 2.85:1 A/T ratio.

Also, backup guard David Cubillian, who has been on the bench most of the year, has been playing well off the bench scoring 9 points in the last two games along with three steals. Granted, James put up far better numbers, Acker has shown that he is worthy if given playing time.

Coinciding with the improved play of Maurice Acker is that of F Jimmy Butler.

Since James went out, Butler is averaging 10.1 ppg and 6.9 rpg, teaming with Lazar Hayward to give a decent front court and giving a glimpse of what next years team will be like with him, Hayward, and incoming recruit J.Maymon shift the team from fast paced play to inside-outside.

What James brought to the team that nobody else has been able to do thus far is closing out games. James had always been the one to take the last shots of the game, and rarely made bad plays on the offensive end in the closing seconds.

If you have been watching the last five games, the Golden Eagles have been in all of them, even Pitt.  Looking inside the numbers:

vs. UConn 93-82 L....Marquette led 74-73 with seven minutes left.

@ Louisville 62-58 L... enough said.

@ Pitt 90-75 L...Tied at 61 with 11 minutes left.

vs. Syracuse 86-79 L OT...enough said.

vs. Villanova 76-75 L...lost on a last second shot.

If James was still playing, would the Golden Eagles have lost all of these games...who knows..but since his departure, Butler and Acker have picked up where James left off statistically, but when it comes to closing out games, without James, the Golden Eagles lack the big shot.