Marquette vs. Duke: The Positives and Negatives

Chris DennisContributor INovember 23, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 22:  Chris Otule #42 of the Marquette Golden Eagles blocks a shot by Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils during the CBE Classic game on November 22, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Marquette men's basketball team (4-1) continues to show a ton of potential every time they suit up. 

That didn't change in Monday night's loss to the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils. The young and, in large part, inexperienced Golden Eagles fought very hard and it seemed that they might be headed for another upset of the Duke Blue Devils in the same tournament (the CBE Classic Championship in Kansas city) that they defeated them in four years ago. 

A few reoccurring problems reared their ugly heads in the end as our Golden Eagles fell victim to the top ranked team in the country, 82-77.

The Negatives

- The MU basketball team, at least in recent memory, has always struggled with skilled big men due to their lack of interior size and skill. 

6'10, 240 lb Junior Forward, Mason Plumlee absolutely dominated the game on both ends of the floor last night. He consistently caught the ball deep inside and finished strong around the hoop all evening.

Plumlee went 12-16 from the field (mostly on lay-ups and dunks) and he also found his teammates on a few very nice passes in route to a three assist performance. Plumlee also dominated the glass and the defensive interior adding 12 rebounds and swatting five shots. 

Plumlee is one of the better big-men that MU will face all season but I know many MU fans had loftier expectations for the improved underclassmen, Chris Otule and Freshmen big, Devante Gardner.

- Darius Johnson-Odom (DJO) and the rest of the MU basketball team's love affair with the three ball has to cease when your shooting a putrid 20% from deep. DJO didn't even record a field goal until the second half and him, Dwight Buycks, Vander Blue, Jae Crowder and even Jimmy Butler seemed content settling for jumpers during points in the game when they needed a bucket. 

Jimmy and Jae both finished with pretty strong offensive performances (22 pts, 15 pts respectively) but this team is clearly best when they are attacking the hoop. In their defense, Mason Plumlee's dominance in the paint may have deterred them from continuing to go to the tin.

- My final gripe is the offense when Dwight Buycks is running the offense. Dwight has clearly improved his overall game since arriving on campus at MU, but I'm not sure he's the distributor that this team needs this season. 

This team is clearly loaded with offensive talent and a PG committed to running the offense and finding the open man would definitely help the flow of the offense. I'm not saying that I don't think Dwight can be that guy, but I do think there may be better options for that job on the current roster. 

The Positives

- MU fans have got to be more than encouraged with what they saw from sophomore PG, Junior Cadougan last night. Junior was an excellent change-of-pace floor general against a tremendous basketball team. He was a huge reason for MU's run that tied the game early to mid-way through the second half. Junior finished with seven assists and took what the defense gave him offensively as he finished with 5 points on 2-3 shooting.  

These numbers aren't flashy, but again, if you can find a PG committed to getting the talent around him the ball where they like to receive it; this team could be very scary.

- Creating turnovers. That's how our Golden Eagles stayed in the ball game. They baited Freshmen standout, Kyrie Irving and National Championship holdover, Nolan Smith into a whopping 11 turnovers just between the two of them (19 overall). 

Vander, Dwight and especially Jae displayed excellent hands as they stripped the ball from Duke's studs several times. 

Otule and Gardner will improve MU's interior defense this season but Buzz Williams will have to preach play-making and staying opportunistic for this defense to be considered strong.

- Interior scoring was ample against a tough interior opponent. Devante once again displayed  a pretty good offensive arsenal inside (nine points, 4-7) and Chris Otule was average which is pretty much all you can ask from him when hes going against Mason Plumlee. Jae Crowder has also shown the ability to score inside and out.

- The Talent! I know the experience and chemistry isn't there yet, but you've got to admit that this team has the potential to be something special.

MU didn't play their best game and they stuck with the best team in the country. They will only get better from here on out.

The Golden Eagles have another chance to make some noise against the # 18 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in the consolation round of CBE Classic Championship tonight at 6:45.

Gonzaga (2-2) has lost to two very tough teams in Kansas State and San Diego State.  Gonzaga's 7 ft Center, Robert Sacre may give Marquette problems but I see this being another close game. 

I don't make score predictions but win or lose, we'll see some encouraging things from this team.


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